Monsieur and Madame Adelman

Monsieur and Madame Adelman, a movie (Kanopy/Roku), starts off with the ending. It is predictable that Madame is going to tell someone at the funeral her life story. This is the last time you can be pretty sure of what is going to happen, well, until the

ending that explains the ending. At this point, the characters personalities have been built and so one can trust the obvious. As she begins to tell her story, which begins in the 1970’s, it seems as if this will be a typical love story. You can imagine this, though from the onset, Madame comes across as a cynical woman. She is begging you to pay attention. What comes across to the viewer are exceptional performances from Doria Tillier and Nicolas Bedos (he also wrote the score for the film, directed it and they both wrote the screenplay). Or did she, while he supervised? This is an inside joke from the film.

This film is hilarious in a very witty way. The couple is a duo of intellectual compatibles who take a moment to light their fire. There is no holding back with the lines, which I appreciate from the French. They are not trying to be Politically Correct either, as most modern films are today. True film lovers want to be stimulated by foreign films, because it gives one the sense that they are in the native country. Bringing in non-natives only throw off the vibrations of the storyline by having to deal with the non-natives. However, this being said, a favorite line in the film is “Do we live on a plantation now?” (probably not exact but approximately what Monsieur says). This speaks to the entire film community in the sense that it is saying – “Aren’t we in France?” There is also a play on the stereotype of the “Latin Lover,” at one point which is crucial to the turning point in the film. Is it possible that his character was more comfortable with a cliché than someone from his own roots?

This film seems reminiscent of a Woody Allen film; during his New York period. There isn’t a lot of outdoor scenery, so you could almost be anywhere, save for the décor and the language. The names dropped in the film are some of the best writers of our time and the discussions parallel what you might see in “Annie Hall” or “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The children of this couple are somewhat like that in “The Royal Tannenbaums,” misfits created by narcissistic lovers. The first child is a tragedy but in line with making this a humorous tale. A second child is a hint at the controversy, once assumed, with regard to Charlotte Gainsbourg and her father Serge (he is used as a character in a scene).

This real-life couple is in their 30’s and as a result, their aging process on camera is quite interesting to watch. The make-up artist did such a wonderful job, it almost felt as if these were different actors in the role.

The film was released in France, 2017 and is listed as a French and Belgium production. It received many nominations but, sadly, only won Best Narrative Feature in the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Sophia Loren – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

This book is one you don’t devour. You take your time, stirring, simmering and seasoning as if you are making a pot of soup or stew. Sophia is a Virgo, which is most of my astrological chart, except the first dominant three. I sensed a grounded woman almost immediately. A person who has taken her time and made the right choices; which led her down a path that would make her a very happy woman. As a Leo, who has made all the wrong choices, very impatiently and innocently, when you have done these things, only then can you truly appreciate someone who is smarter than you. Patience really is a virtue.

While reading the pages of her book, I immersed myself in everything Sophia. I began to look up films on YouTube, but then as luck would have it, Film Struck dedicated a week to Sophia and I had many of the Italian films right at my fingertips. Thankfully, they devoted most of her footage to the old stock from Europe rather than the cheesy “We need an Italian” American movies. I was rather embarrassed to look at a trailer for Houseboat and see that she was darkened with make-up, since no one, in 1958, was capable of accepting she was Italian without it. Odd, since at that time we had a huge Italian population in America.

As she writes in her book, she is more adept at filming in her own country, when she is portraying herself, her mother, her grandmother, and her neighbors. This is clear because she is more natural, less scripted, in her normal color, unafraid to look worn and “ugly,” and not making us think the entire time “Oh look it is Sophia Loren,” like you do when you watch an American actress on film. I think I like her in films more, when she is in a worn out dress, her hair is a mess, she is in her (what seems like) signature slip on sandals and she is fighting for whatever she is passionate about. This type of role is more of an emotional investment than a film where she is just being a pretty woman. Although in “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” it is interesting seeing her portray three different types of women in various personalities. It is almost as if you are getting a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

I know I always bash my own country when it comes to cinema but being a foreign film fanatic there is such a huge difference. The answer came for me when I read her book. You are not getting a “tell-all” fraught with sexual harassment stories. There is no political agenda or a feminist bitch-fest which is riddled with “What’s wrong with men,” tales. Instead, you find that she is a professional and holds in high esteem her fellow actors that she worked with. When they were on the set, they had cooking contests or pulled pranks on each other. In her case, her mother came to the set with her while she was starting out. The only time this ceased was when she was meeting her future husband for the first time, producer Carlo Ponti.

When I watched interviews with her, she was very careful in the way she answered questions. Very diplomatic, intelligent enough to remain appearing innocent, though you knew she saw the journalists attempt to get her to “dish the dirt,” using her English as her second language as a tool to stall and prepare.

Naturally, I followed some of Marcello’s interviews as well, as he and Sophia were in some very important movies together. I was embarrassed when David Letterman tried desperately to turn him into a player (which he is) and make him seem dirty to Americans. It is a different lifestyle, a player in Europe vs. a player in America. The Europeans have more tact which results in their escapades being very classy and fashionable. Not that I agree with it or condone this, but it is their business. Here we are more focused (in the last couple of decades) on trashing what used to be alluring, exotic, and only for the mature.

When you see Foreign films, you do get a sense of professionals coming together to make dramatic stories come to life. Even when they are quirky and abstract, such as Frederico Fellini or Pier Paolo Pasolini, it comes together like a typical novel turned into a film, only with the long bits chopped out and the most important scenes smashed together through facial expressions. Serious actors who are trained by great directors and who can relax into the role are able to do these things.

Today, in American films, you have the nouveau riche who started out working hard but are now just entitled adults who can only sell overacted pieces. You get the sense that they are all having one big orgy, especially when they spend an interview flirting with each other and behaving like children. The films are not deep and cerebral, they seem geared toward children. Adults playing action heros are no longer spellbinding as “Superman” once was, or the first “Batman.” Now, everyone is doing it so it is cliché.  I am more interested in the craft, being transported into another place and time, people who appear so much in character that you don’t recognize them. In interviews, I want to see grown-ups behaving like professionals. It feels embarrassing to watch because I know they are going to dread these interviews when they become older and are “has beens” desperate for all the money they spent.

When I watch Sophia Loren in her movies, I think how Penelope Cruz has taken after her in her ability to portray women in despair and not utilize her good looks (this is what the modeling world is for). I think of a good friend that I grew up with, who is Hungarian and who naturally has that sense of being European that I am completely incapable of creating somatically; no matter how hard I try. Those nuances which catch you off guard: a tilt of the lips, a shift in the eyebrow, the movement of the hips, for example that can’t be caught on camera through a third or fourth (and so on) generation.

My favorite film with she and Marcello would be “Sunflower,” which I had to disagree with her on. She spoke of Marcello playing a character similar to Don Dummi in “Marriage – Italian Style,” and I think she mentioned the character from “Too Bad She is Bad.” Nonetheless, she was speaking of a character as a bad boy. On the contrary, I was so moved by the story and his character which from a psychological perspective, the background scenery in the film; was captured quite well. One sensed that the Russian wife understood this but the Italian wife continued to have disdain for her lover. Of course the Russian wife (a single parent) was simply looking for a husband that she went looking for one day; while walking through wounded soldiers. Whereas the Italian wife was terribly and hopelessly in love; seeking emotional revenge in the end. Like in a Fellini or Pasolini film, there is one character, a surviving Italian soldier stranded in Russia, who gives us that snapshot or foreshadowing of what is to come. Psychologically, Antonio was not a bad boy. He was grateful to his protector and felt as if yesterday, as an Italian, had disappeared or maybe it was a dream.

Many years ago I saw “Two Women,” the one film she won an Academy Award for. I felt that she should when I saw it. I don’t think the Internet was around at the time I viewed the story so I only learned this from the book. Also from reading her story, I understood that she was playing a character in a time period she had once lived through. This took on new meaning for me.

Last night, I re-watched Marcello and Sophia in “A Special Day,” which was a gay film that isn’t trying to be a gay film like those we hear about in America today. Again, it is the nuance of a phone call; a slight mention that one has to pay close attention to.  His character is discreet, careful, cautious and classy. Later he has to be more obvious because Sophia’s character is too innocent and lacks street smarts. The ending is tragic in a quiet way for Marcello’s character, while Sophia’s appears to be saying silently “Well, I guess it is back to business,” in her household. Terribly emotional and hard to fight back the tears that you feel rising up from your chest. The second ending is the landlady, who has played a small yet pivotal role hoping to divide the characters. She stands in front of her building working a double entendre as she speaks to her tenants. It was perfect. I am not sure young people or new people to foreign films about World War II would quite understand the intent of this scene. Watch a few more films and then come back to it, if so.

What I loved about the writing in this book was how grateful Sophia Loren is for her life. She tells you over and over again, in so many ways, that she does not take one single thing for granted. I am not sure she realizes that she did do all the right things (not to say she was perfect), as she never lived a life where you do all the wrong things. Her gratefulness is her modesty. It is all her characters rolled up into one thanking the directors, the producers, the family, the audience for helping them to be portrayed in such an honest way. For telling the stories that wanted to be told and creating a space for the unsung heroines of Italian heritage.

What I saw is that she wanted to be a star but she didn’t sleep her way to the top. She was desperate but not stupid. As I mentioned, her mother was there. She worked very hard to understand her roles, to study acting, to listen to her directors and respect them. She wanted to be a wife and mother and patiently waited for her turn with Carlo. When she had her children, they became a priority for her. She talks of her love for the children and how they changed her life. It is quite clear that we won’t be getting a “Mommie Dearest,” book from Eduardo or Carlo Jr. She talks of how she consciously looked over her boys, and how she and Carlo Sr. recognized the talents each had to offer, early on. One son became a director and the other; an orchestral conductor. Having seen one of Eduardo’s movies “The Human Voice,” featuring his mother, this is not a famous man’s son doing his best. He is a man who stands alone. I feel there will be more great things to come.

It is so much easier to be grateful when you have done all the right things and good things happened to you as a result. I am reminded of that first line in “Anna Karenina” by Leo  Tolstoy. I continued to learn as I read her book and took it in on a philosophical level. At this stage in my life, almost 30 years behind her, I am looking back at life in a very spiritually contemplative way. It was not an accident that her book happened to be at the library one day in the “used books for sale” room. I love going through there to find stories I can keep and I had been meaning to buy Sophia’s book through Amazon for some time now (on my wish list). Like when I was a young girl and the library presented so many magical surprises, now the same occurs for me as an adult only I am helping fund the library at the same time.

As I came to the end of her book, she mentioned that her husband had been the producer of “Dr. Zhivago,” when discussing an homage that she and her sons put together in memory of him. Suddenly, he became much more than Sophia Loren’s husband and producer of many of her films. I had no idea that he was responsible for such a beloved masterpiece. This was a nice surprise. Their love story was not quite one that I came to really understand and relate to, as I have never been married for 56 years or a long time relationship period. I have never been able to understand women who are with men twenty to thirty years their senior either, as I was never quite mature enough to undertake such a flirtation. Perhaps other women, like my Hungarian friend will cling to this like an old soul.

I was able to relate to her male counterparts that came to nothing more than friendship, soul mates or a missed out on love that probably would have come to nothing anyway. Having watched a great deal of her films as I read the book and viewing photos of she and her family online, I came to respect this very professional woman whom I once saw, only, as another sexy actress. I hope you will re-visit her work as well and see how it impacts your life.

Barre Girl at 55; Do you plié?

If you have ever been one of those women, like me, who has sat by the sidelines for years wishing your mom would have let you be in a ballet class, now there is a new fitness craze created just for you! Barre classes are springing up all over the nation designed to, well, what I call nurture your inner ballerina.

It is hardly a ballet class and yet there is just a hint of it. You will do some plié’s and use first and second position (possibly other positions depending on the instructor) and if you have arthritis setting in, like me, will use the barre more than most people. Mostly you will do planks, downward facing dog, put a ball between your thighs or hold onto it with your back leg in the air. You will do side planks, lift your legs up while in the plank and a lot of other difficult maneuvers (if you are 55). None of this would have been too daunting for me as a 20 year old, back in the 80’s when I was already in advanced yoga and had done gymnastics as a child. It’s a dream class come true a little too late but I am not giving up nor should you. Stick with it and you will begin to have some shape again where the sagging has long begun and if you are young, get going as you will have so much fun!

Recently at one of my classes, taught by Krystal at the Phillip Heit Center in New Albany, Ohio, I began to have an idea for some clothing for the class that I felt would be a great idea. A fun little pun to add to the exciting group we already have (mostly older women) and this was based on what I was already noticing in myself. I started to make a design through a larger outfit who does online DIY clothing but it just wasn’t working for me and I don’t like their pricing or their shipping rates. Then by accident of looking for active wear DIY manufacturers, I stumbled upon a locally owned website called CustomizedGirl. Their prices are more amenable and they offer free shipping for $60 and over which isn’t too hard to spend on there! They also offer some artistic icons to choose from which makes your creations come to life and of course you can also download your own artwork as well.

I created a shop called Enlightened Gal (a name I had come up with a while ago) and got cracking yesterday with my puns. The store sells active wear tops, athletic bag, water bottle, and a few more novelty items for someone in a barre or ballet class. My favorite pun is “I owe my body to a barre,” but I also have “Barre Girl” for young girls as I don’t think it would be appropriate for a little girl in ballet class to be talking about her body (not to mention she hasn’t really formed one yet). But I didn’t stop there, I also have “Do you plié?” on the backs of some of my products or as the main line on hats and mugs. The cutest award goes to a gift item called Teddy Plié in which “it” sports a t-shirt that says “Plié with me.” Awww… I know you have to see it.

Check out the line of clothing I have created (at the moment they only have bottoms for young girls, not misses) and note that while I have most items in grey, pink, black, you can change the colors on some of these items when you go to order them. Keep an eye out though for the sizes when you change colors. Not all sizes are available with each color choice. Also, if you are changing an item from pink to black (for example), make sure to change the font color to white or some other bright color so you can actually see it.

Make sure to like us – Enlightened Gal on Facebook.

Haven’t taken a barre class as of yet? Google search it and find out where the nearest one is to you.

Isabelle Huppert – She’s Not Smug

I’ve just finished watching the 2016 film “Things to Come,” and before this I had seen the movie “Elle,” a few months ago. Both were made (or released) in the same year, starring Isabelle Huppert. She has always seemed to me to be a very smug actress and yet I feel drawn to her. I find her characters deeply moving. No matter that she always seems to portray the perfect psychopath, it feels as if she is on the verge of an aneurism. Most Americans would call her characters intellectual snobs. Partly because she is not funny, unlike Woody Allen who can make a discussion in philosophy seem like a night at a comedy club.  Also because she is a woman and while we try to pretend we are modern here, we just can’t handle the honesty portrayed by characters in French movies in general. We pretend to observe and honor freedom of speech in our constitution but only if people say what is popular for the times. In truth, there is no room for a good debate in America which is probably why the traditional “salons” of Paris never existed here. Once we made very good and intelligently written movies, now we have opted for special effects and pop culture actors who speak in slang because a cerebral film would not be considered a “date night” film.

It is interesting though because when I see Isabelle on screen, I think smug. When I went to look up images of her for this article, I saw something quite different. Real life photos and still movie shots don’t really show a smug woman at all unlike Kristen Scott Thomas, who I find extremely annoying to watch on screen. Ms. Scott-Thomas seems incapable of enjoying the company of women and seems like the kind of woman who would never be married but you would always find her with a betrothed man.  Isabelle’s photos instead show a woman in constant thought. Whether this be wondering what to make for supper or hoping the photo shoot will end so she can pick up her cat at the vets; I could not say. In my imagination she is thinking about the conversation she had last night at a dinner party.

And yet this woman, who appears very strong and powerful on screen, is a very petite woman. I had never actually realized this before but in “Things to Come,” it seemed more obvious. She also sports a ponytail and very casual clothing worn in a very chic and stylish way. French women can carry off the cute girl look of someone in their 20’s because they don’t seem fixated on plastic surgery and often seem so young anyway. The irony of French films is that what you see is not what you get. In this film she was not quite her typical character though. She portrayed a married housewife albeit a professor at a university, but one who still came home to cook and clean while the husband sat in a traditional male role, even though they were equals in academia. I suppose though as she cannot sit still for one minute, he probably gave up and observed a male stereotype or in our generation, expected it. I say she wasn’t typical because there were no bizarre moments where her character does something that one might think but never do.

It was actually very difficult for me to see her in Elle. A character played by Isabelle Huppert being raped? This is not possible. So it makes absolute sense that the part she plays isn’t really about being raped, it is about opening up to an untapped perversion. I imagine most Americans probably saw it as France’s version of Thelma and Louise. I silently laughed at the end because I supposed this would be the case. Perhaps I am too harsh but since most people don’t allow introspection when it comes to art, and it would be anti-feminist to dare to say a rape scene was actually foreplay for what was to come. When you watch the movie like an Isabelle Huppert fan, you can’t possibly take the rape seriously. To me it was not much different than the butter scene in “Last Tango in Paris,” except they did play the Elle scene up a bit to give it a flare for the dramatic; probably to compete for an American audience. The film won a Golden Globe, as did Ms. Huppert and she was nominated for an Oscar.

As I mentioned previously Isabelle Huppert’s characters just can’t sit still. There is constant motion, not like a dance but someone with Severe Anxiety who needs to calm their mind. After watching the film, “Things to Come” this evening, I found myself jumping up to wash dishes I had earlier hoped to leave for tomorrow. Before I did this, I vacuumed the living room floor. Her energy can be very addicting.

My favorite film, released in 2000, was “Merci Pour Le Chocolat.” I have seen this twice because it is somewhat humorous to me. Film Noir often has an element of grotesque; a point in which you want to turn your head. With Merci, it was reminiscent of a Hitchcock type film, such as “Rear Window,” so it is important to see every moment. The Gothic house that looks like it lives in a graveyard and the piano playing which seems to unlock a deep wound in the soul of her husband. He is more like a victim of the Narcissist: helpless, passive, inane, the piano is almost like the strings for a puppet. Actually he plays the piano almost like a patient at a psychiatric ward (a scene from many movies where they are in one).

If you get a chance, watch a few of her films and see what you think. Just don’t expect Geena Davis or Susan Sarandon. Ms. Huppert is in a rich, strongly written, well-acted, league of her own – pun intended.

Women of Exceptional Taste

Women of exceptional taste in todays society are multi-faceted. They are sophisticated, successful in a career, have good taste in clothing, don’t use plastic surgery (if over 40), are involved in various philanthropic efforts and are admired by women around the world. Some of these women speak more than one language a commendable trait.  Many of them have children or grandchildren as well and this is an aside. What is remarkable about our generation is that these type of women can now choose not to have children or wait until they are ready to have children.

Judi DenchJudi Dench began her profession in 1957 and has been on stage, TV and movies in the United Kingdom, as well as a crossover or two in the U.S.

 

 

 

Catherine Deneuve has delighted French audiences since 1957 as well. She was once considered the most beautiful woman of the world and yet all the women here are in this category.

 

 

Amal Clooney is an International Forensic Attorney that has been in practice since 2000.

 

 

 

 

The Duchess of Cambridge came to our attention around 2007 though it was in 2011 when she began to hold her title. She is involved in a great many philanthropic adventures but of particular interest is mental health.

 

 

 

 

 

Helen Mirren began her career on stage, TV and film in 1966, in the United Kingdom. Like Ms. Dench, has crossed over into U.S. films as well.

 

 

 

Penelope Cruz began a career in Spain in 1989. She has been a model, as well as acting on television and film. Her work has also crossed over into the United States. She is thought to be the muse for the Director, Pedro Almodóvar

 

Meryl Streep has been an American actress since 1971 and has crossed over into films around the world, not speaking the language but being known for an ability to take on various accents.

 

 

Salma Hayek is from Mexico and has been involved as an actress, producer, and model. She produced the “Ugly Betty” TV series in the United States and starred as well as produced the film “Frida.” You can find her in both Spanish and English roles.

 

 

Queen Noor Of Jordan. An American woman who once reigned until her husband, Hussein of Jordan died (1978-1999).

 

 

 

 

Isabel Allende is an Author from Chile who has brought us a couple of dozen novels. One of these novels, “The House of Spirits,” was brought to the screen in the United States in 1982.

 

 

These are merely a sample of women of exceptional taste from around the world. Certainly a great many more that are not well known but who forge careers and are worthy of great merit here yet may not be seen in the public eye. A couple of the women noted here would not even be known had they not married a “celebrity,” and yet their careers are what brought them into view of that person of interest.

 

For Women Over 40

This is the age of the Crone. The older, wiser woman begins to emerge around the age of forty. Own up to this and enjoy the best part of your life! This is what I want to say here but it is going to sound a bit confusing when I now turn the conversation over to talking about your body. The aging process brings a whole new set of obstacles to face. This is the time in your life when you no longer look the same as your body begins to let loose and an end to the cycle as a tight and firm young woman is over.  It is a time when all those crazy symptoms of menopause start showing up as you are transitioning through this final stage of womanhood. Some women have stated that their mood swings can go from being a saint to a demon in the span of a day. This does end eventually though and it shouldn’t define you. Instead, this time period should force you to realize how important it is to set boundaries, if you don’t already.  At the same time, women report feeling much more confident at this stage in their life.  There is less of concern about how others think of you. Think of this as a time to have fun, despite the new health problems that are beginning to emerge and the changes in your body.

Allow this stage of your life to emerge and blossom. Go with the flow rather than resist it. As they say, “The more you resist, the more it persists.” Women don’t put up with as much in this stage of their life because they are experienced and understand life better. Divorces can occur at this time.  Even if you are okay with your spouse or partner, you might still feel you are on the verge of discovery. This is a time of self-awareness that pales in comparison to that of a twenty-something wondering about God for the first time. If it is time to leave your partner, know that it is okay to be alone for a while and just enjoy finding yourself. If it is not time to leave the partner, go on a women’s retreat for a few weeks. Many of you have been craving some time to yourself for quite a number of years now. Give yourself a break! In this final stage of your awakening process it is important to cherish this time in your life, embrace your inner self, allow exploration and creativity, and don’t say, “I can’t do that because I don’t know how.” You are a wiser woman now and you will be surprised at what you can do when you allow yourself.

If you take time to love yourself, you will embrace the aging process, as it is nothing more than another phase in life. It astonishes me the number of women who continue to get plastic surgery when it is quite obvious that it looks ridiculous. How many cartoonish women is it going to take before these women get the message? Unless it is for medical reasons and your insurance is paying, leave your body alone. If you work on your body through exercise and eating right, you are going to look like a normal woman who is getting old. Older women do look beautiful when they flow with the aging process rather than resist it. American women are afraid of this change and often times you see women who have given up and look old or we see celebrities going under the knife and/or using Botox. Being old is not a curse. I watch a lot of foreign TV and films and I can tell you that Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, and Juliette Binoche look as lovely and as spirited as ever. Some allow themselves to gain a little weight and enjoy eating the fine foods they couldn’t afford in their twenties. All of these women enjoy successful film careers, though I believe Ms. Loren is now writing and focusing more on being a grandmother. I find it is much more important to find role models who embrace the aging process rather than those who don’t. It helps getting through this stage when you aren’t fighting it every step of the way. Embrace your femininity.

If you are like me and it took you a while to realize you need to reclaim your power and make some different choices in life with men, it isn’t too late. As I mentioned, foreign films have lots of movies about women over forty. None of them have to do with plastic surgery but instead are about adventures and starting over and realizing their power. There are some wonderful films that depict older women as they are and in stories that only we can relate to. Films can help give you ideas, give you something to think about. There are magazines for women over forty as well. Of course there is AARP, but I also took advantage of More magazine for some time. Foreign magazines are wonderful guides to consider when it comes to travel and opportunities you haven’t thought of. Magazines on specific countries, such as France, are available at Barnes and Noble.

When I went to the universities I attended, there were plenty of women and men there older than me. Don’t be afraid to go back to college and get a degree. Getting my master’s degree at the age of thirty-eight was the most rewarding moment in my life second only to holding my son in my arms for the first time. I can’t tell you how happy I felt and how proud I was at that time in my life. Every time I look up at the degree on my office wall, I still have a feeling of excitement. Need money? One place to consider looking for scholarships for women is AAUW (American Association of University Women) which is the largest organization to offer scholarships to women and favors women choosing non-traditional careers.

There are also other things you can be doing. Learn a new language and travel to that country to speak it or continue your fluency. Travel with a volunteer program where you do work in another country. I work with lots of women over forty who seek advice from me on how to start over. It is so much fun seeing the delight in their eyes when they begin talking about what they are passionate about. As they do, I offer hints and suddenly, they are off like a race horse. They already know deep in their hearts what they want; it just helps to get a little validation, even permission from another, that it is okay to do these things.

Explore religion and/or a religious calling. Many women and men, after their partners die, consider this as a profession. It is also a place to go for a retreat and soul searching. Many religions offer inexpensive ways to go away for a while and contemplate your future, spiritually and otherwise. This can be a beautiful moment in your life.

Whatever you choose to do, naturally you will see your body changing more and more each year. You will be forced to set boundaries with people that you never imagined before, such as making bathroom breaks more of a necessity wherever you travel. Keep some tissues in your purse, if you have never carried them before, as they come in handy for many things other than sneezing. Traveling with anti-diarrhea medicine or antacids is a must. Make people aware that you are going through menopause so they don’t become alarmed when you pull out a mini-fan or go into a rage about something unexpected. Of course you may not have these particular symptoms at all and if you do, it might be minimal; it is not the same for every woman.

You are becoming your grandmother but you will look much differently than she did. While you still share her standards and grace, your style is much more modern. Instead of wearing an apron, you are wearing a backpack or “fanny pack” and hiking with your grandkids or taking them off to the zoo. There is so much to teach them and so many stories to share. Don’t allow them to use technology when they are with you. Make the most of your time together, just as you did or wanted to do with your own grandma. Don’t focus on them teaching you how to use the computer. Focus on teaching them about life by getting out of the house and exploring the world with them.

Become an artist. Were you held back from this world because it didn’t bring in money or you had no time for it? Get a camera or an easel or sit down with pen and paper and allow the creativity to come out. How about joining the theater and being on stage rather than in the audience? Create a fantasy garden in your backyard that is the envy of the neighborhood. There isn’t anything you can’t do if you want to. Take classes in your chosen art field or join a club. You will meet new people of like minds and you won’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself or hiding out in the corner of your safe new world.

When it comes to fashion, you want to develop your own style as an older woman. This is hard to do when we are in a bleak fashion period where quality is shunned and it is hard to find pieces that we feel comfortable with. Trying to look like you are still twenty is out because it makes you look foolish. Finding clothes meant for older women isn’t easy when stores cater to young women. Abandon the idea of trying to wear pants that sit on your hips because your hips probably aren’t there anymore. The good news is there are many comfortable shoe styles available so that you won’t have to wear the orthopedic shoes of the 50s. The Beehive hair style your mother had is out so you don’t need to go to the hairdresser every week to put goop in your hair. Now you can wear your hair long if you like and let it go gray. Cut down on the makeup because the more you use, the older it makes you look. Eventually, the oils will find the wrinkles and the lip colors will climb away from the lips. Experiment with less and wear none when you are at home doing yard work or when you are out in nature.

Sunscreen, moisturizer, and lip balm are essential ingredients in taking care of yourself. Look for the natural or organic formulas, which love any face. Wear dresses and skirts instead of pants because they are much more comfortable and so much more feminine. With the changes that your body is going through, skirts and dresses hide so many things when you choose a style that is relaxed rather than fit. Pants can be so restricting, especially when your thighs are getting a little too close together. Be free and comfortable and show the world how wonderful it is to be an older woman.

Thought for the Older Woman: You are never alone in this world when you are in the company of others of like minds.