Feb 022022
 

By now, you’ve all heard the story of how Cheslie Kryst, the 2019 winner of the Miss USA Pageant, took her own life. She left a note leaving everything to her mother. She wrote a post saying, “May this day bring you rest and peace.” And then she jumped from the balcony of a Midtown Manhattan high-rise.

I admit to sitting and crying as I read this story. Cheslie was a beauty-pageant winner, a TV news reporter, an attorney and many other things. Cheslie was what little girls dream of becoming and, quite frankly, that’s an amazing list of accomplishments for a 30-year-old woman. But society said it wasn’t enough. Everyone wants to know why. But I think the clues really lie in an essay she wrote for Allure magazine in March of 2021 as she approached her milestone 30th birthday.

Milestone. 30. If that’s a milestone it’s a beginning milestone. And as I’m almost 40 years older than this beautiful young woman, I’m sure my thoughts are very different. In Cheslie’s world, things were very different. Society disapproved.

NOTE: I put Cheslie’s words in italics to distinguish those words from mine. I have complete quotation marks around each excerpt as I’m not sure if these quotes are in the exact order written.

I’m Too Old

“Each time I say ‘I’m turning 30,’ I cringe a little. Sometimes I can successfully mask this uncomfortable response with excitement; other times, my enthusiasm feels hollow, like bad acting.”

“Society has never been kind to those growing old, especially women. (Occasional exceptions are made for some of the rich and a few of the famous.)”

That’s definitely truth up above, but again. . . 30 is old? Really? Society has a lot to answer for.

When Cheslie was crowned Miss USA at age 28, she was the oldest woman in history to win the title. Pageant fans immediately petitioned for the age limit to be lowered.

“A grinning, crinkly-eyed glance at my achievements thus far makes me giddy about laying the groundwork for more, but turning 30 feels like a cold reminder that I’m running out of time to matter in society’s eyes — and it’s infuriating.”

“Society’s eyes.” Society once more. Running out of time? She had her whole life in front of her. Cheslie, you mattered. You mattered in the eyes of your family and all who loved you. You mattered to all of the little girls who watched that pageant and wanted to grow up to be just like you. Your life mattered. Screw society.

Growing Old Is Supposed To Be A Treasure

“After a year like 2020, you would think we’d learned that growing old is a treasure and maturity is a gift not everyone gets to enjoy.”

“Far too many of us allow ourselves to be measured by a standard that some sternly refuse to challenge and others simply acquiesce to because fitting in and going with the flow is easier than rowing against the current.”

Oh, how well I know this one from my own family. Took me way too long to realize there’s no shame in being different. It’s even refreshing in this day and age of cookie-cutter people.

Norms

“I fought this fight before and it’s the battle I’m currently fighting with 30. How do I shake society’s unwavering norms when I’m facing the relentless tick of time? It’s the age-old question: What happens when ‘immovable’ meets ‘unstoppable?’”

Here we go again. “Society’s unwavering norms.” Society. Who IS society? When did it start caring about people? The answer is that society doesn’t care. It just sets a false standard that most are afraid to challenge. Cheslie challenged it. She should still be here fighting the good fight.

Attorney, MBA, Pageant Winner, TV Host – Sorry, Baby, Not Enough

Please keep in mind that this beautiful young woman earned a law degree and an MBA at the same time at Wake Forest University. She was a track athlete in her undergrad years at the University of South Carolina.

“I joined a trial team at school and won a national championship. I competed in moot court; won essay competitions; and earned local, regional, and national executive board positions.”

“I nearly worked myself to death, literally, until an eight-day stint in a local hospital sparked the development of a new perspective.”

“I discovered that the world’s most important question, especially when asked repeatedly and answered frankly, is: why? Why earn more achievements just to collect another win? Why pursue another plaque or medal or line item on my resume if it’s for vanity’s sake, rather than out of passion? Why work so hard to capture the dreams I’ve been taught by society to want when I continue to only find emptiness?”

Cheslie Kryst was the American dream. She busted her ass to obtain the trophy — the degree or, in her case, DEGREES. Isn’t that what we are taught is important? Grab that brass ring at all costs. Who taught us? In some cases our parents, but in many. . . society, but only if you do it when and how they want you to.

Beauty Is Not Always In The Eyes Of The Beholder

Here’s another part of the equation. Cheslie won her title with a “five-foot-six frame with six-pack abs” and a “head of natural curls” while “pageant girls are supposed to be model-tall and slender, don bouffant hair, and have a killer walk.”

“My challenge of the status quo certainly caught the attention of the trolls, and I can’t tell you how many times I have deleted comments on my social media pages that had vomit emojis and insults telling me I wasn’t pretty enough to be Miss USA or that my muscular build was actually a ‘man body.’”

So society taught her she didn’t count because she didn’t fit what the gawkers wanted to see. She was black with black hair. She was shorter than most. She had an athlete’s body. And she was SMART. Can’t have SMART women running around despoiling their beauty, eh? And to add insult to injury, she wasn’t afraid to speak her truth.

She Had An Opinion (SHOCK, HORROR, GASP!)

“Women who compete in pageants are supposed to have a middle-of-the-road opinion — if any — so as not to offend. I talked candidly about my views on the legalization of marijuana, the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, anti-abortion laws, the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and the successes and failures of criminal justice reform.”

Cheslie Kryst spent her 30th birthday in her apartment, “parading around in a black silk top, matching shorts, and a floor-length robe while scarfing down banana pudding and screening birthday calls.”

“I even wore my crown around the apartment for most of the day knowing I’d have to give it back at the end of my reign as Miss USA. I did what I wanted rather than the expected.”

“Now, I now enter year 30 searching for joy and purpose on my own terms — and that feels like my own sweet victory.”

And Now Her Light Is Gone

I wish I knew what happened to take that “sweet victory” away from this amazing young woman, why she thought she had no other choice but to jump off that balcony. I pray comfort and peace on all who loved her.

And I call down curses on “society,” this narrow segment of the population who feel it’s my way or the highway — no highway option. Conform or else. Cheslie chose the “or else” and we are all the worse for it. But while she was here with us, she spread her light. We needed that light. Damn society straight to hell!

Society Kills

Society kills. I shudder to think who its next victim will be. Please don’t make it you. If you are struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours: 800-273-8255.

The night of Cheslie’s “sweet victory.”

Jan 292022
 

Those of you of an age will know where that title line came from. That lyric came from the musical “Hair” way back when. All of us who were hippies can relate. Hair became the end-all-be-all of both women and men alike. Shampoo, conditioner and specialty product sales went through the roof in the 60s and 70s. And EVERYBODY wanted that streaming, flaxen, waxen hair.

🎵Gimme a head with hair
Long, beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there (Hair!)
Shoulder length or longer (Hair!)
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
HAIR!!!! 🎶

In The Olden Days

I am a teen of the 60s. You know, the days of Cher and Twiggy, right? I had long hair, but it was curly. I spent my entire allowance on a product called Curl Free, which didn’t really work on me, but hope springs eternal. I wrapped my hair on orange juice cans and slept with the devil’s own headache to get it to flow and not kink up. HAH! Who remembers the pink tape? You used to wrap your hair around your head, i.e. using it as a big roller, and tape it down. So much easier to sleep on but after about 20 minutes my curls were bouncing once again. And we won’t talk about how many times my mom chased me with a hair brush, trying to beat my ass for laying my hair out on an ironing board. Ahhhh yes, good times.

Now I’m an old lady and I would LOVE my curls back. Sadly, due to illness, age and a few other things, my hair fell out. SHOCK, HORROR, GASP!!!! And it’s not only me. While searching for a hair loss group on Facebook, I found an entire world of female hair loss out there!!!! And the wig groups. . . oh my. Some folks like wearing wigs for fun. That’s great, provided there’s something underneath that wig. But for many of us, there isn’t. And therein lies the rub, as they say.

What Society Teaches Us

Women are supposed to have long, luxurious locks. That’s what makes us women, right? Our worth is in our hair. Let me be the first one to call a great big BS on that. It’s just like your size. Only certain sizes and looks qualify to get you in the hottie club. These days, it seems you either have to be a Taylor Swift. . . tall, skinny & blonde. . . or a Kim Kardashian. . . dark, sultry and all T&A. Not one of those? Oh well, you don’t count.

So If You Lose Your Hair. . .

But let’s get back to hair. If you have not experienced hair loss for ANY reason, be thankful. Women bust their bank accounts to zero purchasing products found on the internet or in doctors’ offices that don’t work. Oh, sometimes they do, but most times they don’t. Minoxidil, once a heart drug, is now the holy grail of hair loss. Does it work? For some it does. For many it doesn’t. There are lots of other drugs docs prescribe for hair loss, too. But. . .

Depends on how you lost your hair. Many women lose their hair from chemo. That usually grows back. There are many other reasons women lose their hair. In my research I learned that there are as many kinds of alopecia as there are stars in the sky. They each have their own pattern of loss and other symptoms. Some can be helped, some cannot.

If you’re getting the idea that your hair pattern is a crap shoot, you’d be right. The problem is women are valued for their hair. I’ve seen the stories of women who attempted suicide due to hair loss. I’ve also seen women crowing about weight loss while they have Stage 4 cancer, that they finally lost weight. HUH? Girl, if you have Stage 4 cancer you have more things to worry about than losing weight.

My Solution. . . May NOT Be Yours

Sadly, I’m not immune to all the crapola. I’ve bought more than my fair share of non-working “cures.” I’ve bought tons of wigs, some of which I liked and some which I didn’t and passed on. And then a light bulb went on in my brain and it said, “Cut your losses and shave your damn head!!!!” So one night, while the urge was upon me, I asked my husband to take a clippers to my head. I thought I would hate it. I thought I would cry, scream and hit people. I didn’t. I just went to bed. The next morning I put on a hat and that was that. Pretty soon, the hats started coming off. I don’t wear a wig every day either, although my new “do” sure makes it easier to wear a wig!

The Moral Of This Long Tale Is That. . .

✨Female pattern baldness exists.
✨Alopecia in many varieties exists.
✨Snake oil salesmen are out there because they know how vulnerable women are.
✨There is helper hair out there, sometimes better than your own was.

AND. . . THE BIGGIE. . . YOU ARE NOT YOUR HAIR. . . YOU ARE YOU!!!!

You hair or lack thereof does not make you a subpar woman. What’s inside you makes you who you are. If you’re a POS, I don’t care how gorgeous your hair is. You’re still a POS. People should be accepted for their uniqueness and qualities. Sadly, we’re not. We are a very superficial society. However, I have decided to stop playing. Now I do me. And if you don’t like it, you can look in a different direction. You have lots of choices. Keep it up and you will get my mouth and I warn you. . . I passed Profanity 301 with flying colors in a couple of languages. I may be old, but my middle finger still works just fine.

Beautiful Ladies, you are NOT your hair. You are your brains, your heart, your capacity to love, your inner strengths. In other words, woman, you are the bomb dot com!!!! Please don’t make yourself something less because you are too fat or too skinny or. . . heaven forbid. . . your hair is falling out. That’s the icing on the cake that is you. And the cake part of that you is pretty yummy. People need to take a bite of that cake and forget that the icing up top can be fake.

I love my wigs, but bottom line. . . I love ME. I’m a complete woman, with or without hair.

And, yes, that pic at the beginning of this rant is me in one of my favorite wigs.  🙂

And here’s that dastardly song that started all this hair *stuff*. LOL

Nov 132021
 

Have your feet aged? Science reports people’s feet can get wider or simply larger with age whether your weight changes or not. I have many friends who once wore a 7 and now wear a 9. I’ve always worn a 9. Just call me Lady Bigfoot. And since I’ve shrunk dramatically and I’m only 5′ nuttin’ honey, well. . . .to quote my mother, at least I won’t tip over in a high wind.

Aging feet can present some challenges. If your size has radically changed, that means all new shoes. Sweet thought, but not on a fixed income. Cheap shoes are killers. You can find some more inexpensive sneaks that aren’t too bad, but everything else? HAH! So let’s delve a bit into the agony of da shoes for us *mature* folks.

Tie Shoes

At first glance, these seem to be the best option. They are secure. If your feet swell, you can adjust as needed. Even if they stretch a bit with time, you can just tie them tighter. But what happens when you can’t tie them? I love and prefer tie shoes, but. . . my hands are funky now. Makes it difficult. Is your middle bigger? Bending down to tie those shoes may be a real pain in the gut. And the biggie. . . what do you do when they come untied and you’re alone? Yeah, I know, some of us can still bend down easily and tie them again. We hate you. J/K  J/K  J/K  LOLOL But if you can’t. . . I usually run and hide somewhere so nobody films me getting those shoes tied. And that brings us to. . .

Slip-On Shoes

You might think these are the answer and for some of us they are. But you still have to bend and sometimes pull to get into them. I have a heel that juts out so I always have to yank on the back of any shoe to get it on, no matter how well it fits. There are long-handled shoehorns you can get. These are good. What about when they stretch out? You can’t tie them tighter. Then it’s new shoes or heavier socks time. And once my foot starts slipping around in a shoe, I am a major-league fall risk.

Dress Shoes

These are one of the banes of my existence. I LUV dress shoes, but my days of hoochie heels are long gone. When I was in high school in the 60s we used to say we wore sit-down shoes and a stand-up girdle. (Does anyone even know what a girdle is anymore?) If I wore some of those shoes now, I’d be in a full-body cast within 5 minutes, maybe sooner. Try finding dressier flats. They’re out there, but it’s difficult. If you can wear a low wedge, you have a few more options. And if you still CAN wear hoochie heels, you go girl!!!! I won’t tell you what we used to call those in high school as it’s vulgar, but it had to do with Joan Crawford. 😉

Are There Solutions?

I’m not so sure about solutions, but there are some things to help. The aforementioned long-handled shoe horn is one of them if your feet give you trouble about going into shoes.

Shoe stretchers are still available (try the Vermont Country Store or a high-end shoe store) and can help ease shoes which may still fit but tightly so. I’ve also seen sprays that can stretch your shoes and boots.

There are slip-on shoes that look like tie shoes and you can simply step in from a standing position. Witchcraft!!!! LOLOL They’re not cheap, but they’re out there. The one I see all over is the Kizik brand.

Lastly, take some care in choosing your shoes. I understand how tight money can be, but shoes are NOT the place to scrimp once you’re up there in years. And me, the one who likes everything to match and be fashionable, hates telling you this, but black sneakers are just as appropriate as black heels for most things. And a helluva lot more secure. I use a pair of black ballet flats. If it’s really fancy I hook on a pair of rhinestone shoe clips from the 1920s, a prized possession from my beloved Grandmom.

Your feet carry you around and, trust me, it hurts when they tell you to go perform an anatomical impossibility and drop you on your arse. Please don’t ask me how I know. . .

(FULL DISCLOSURE: The brands mentioned here are for you to investigate. I am NOT connected with any of these companies and make nothing from telling you about them. Damn!!!!)

Let’s Take a Trip in the Wayback Machine 😉

Jan 182021
 

People say your attitude about money comes from your parents. My father made good money and spent it. His battle cry was, “It’s only money, Ri, I’ll get more of it!” (Ri is my mother, Rita.) She would have a conniption fit when the man she married, raised in abject poverty and now making it, came home with a new toy. My mother’s battle cry was, “We can’t afford it!!!” Even when we could, we couldn’t. Scarcity Mindset.

Children of the Depression

My parents were children of the Great Depression. Dad grew up in a large family that didn’t even have enough to eat most of the time. Mom grew up in a family that had enough; nothing extra, but enough. My Grandmom (Mom’s Mom) was one of the few people steadily employed during the 1930s. My Mom always told me that Sundays brought folks to the front door who needed a meal because my Grandmom never turned anyone away. She would just water down the soup a little bit more. You would have thought my Mom would have picked up this generous spirit, but she didn’t. She just developed a very advanced scarcity mindset.

Affording It

As my Dad educated himself and took on bigger and better employment, becoming one of the top salesmen in the USA selling portion-controlled food to restaurants, his paychecks went up exponentially. All of a sudden we had nice homes and there were a few more dresses at the beginning of the school year. We went on vacations. New appliances and furniture began to appear. Life got decent and then it got nice because of my Dad. Yet the constant cry of, “We can’t afford it!” never stopped. But we did.

Proof, right?

Now you think that would have been proof positive to my developing mind that she was wrong and he was right. Yeah, you’d think. My husband and I worked our asses off when the kids were little. Could we afford everything? No. Did they always have enough? Yes. But even when things eased up a bit, every time I needed to lay out some money, the Rita in my head screamed, “We can’t afford it!”

And the Torch is Passed

So all through my formative years there was this battle between we CAN afford it and we CAN’T afford it. Why, oh why, didn’t I believe him and not her? I took on that scarcity mindset. My adult life became, “We can’t afford it!” The problem was that although there were some times we couldn’t, there were many times we could.

What it Really Meant

Now here’s the real problem. “We can’t afford it!” meant we couldn’t afford to give either. Donations? “Hey, we’re poor, too.” No, we weren’t. That family needs help! “Oh well, they can get on assistance.” Meanwhile, there was an extra $20 burning a hole in my pocket that could have bought food. Not a lot, mind you, but it could have made the difference for someone.

Selfishness

So it made me selfish. I never in a million years considered myself a selfish person. I gave freely to all. . . of myself. But when it came to opening up the purse strings, well, that was a different story. I would tell myself things like, “Money isn’t everything. They need your time and attention.” Maybe they did, but if someone has a hungry baby they need money for food first!

I. AM. SELFISH. That revelation hit me hard. I broke out in tears with all the years of, “We can’t afford it!” hitting me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I feel like a total failure for all of those years. But guess what? I’m Scrooge and it’s Christmas morning. There’s still time to fix things.

It’s Different Now

Today I give freely to those who need it. I can’t do it all for everyone, obviously, but there are many I can help and I do. I don’t want to be selfish anymore.

This is NOT to say that you should be a spendthrift and give everything you need away to the detriment of your own, not at all. You take care of your own first, of course, but if there’s a few bucks left, trust me when I tell you someone in today’s world could use it. And then. . . more of it will come to you!

And in the End

So the moral of this tale is to not let a scarcity mindset make you selfish. We still don’t have a helluva lot but we have a helluva lot more than many others do. For this I am grateful. And every now and then, when Rita and her damned, “We Can’t Afford It!” starts to infiltrate my brain, I take a deep breath and listen for my Dad. “It’s only money. I’ll get more of it.” He always did. I will, too.

“Magic Penny” by Malvina Reynolds

It’s just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor.

 


Aug 292020
 

This is Chelsie Kenyon, a phenomenal brain trainer and marketing coachDear Chelsie,

I don’t remember how I found you, but I believe I was on You Tube looking for something motivational. Not sure why I clicked on you, but I did. The last thing I thought I needed was some glamour girl Barbie doll telling me what to do. As I was about to click out of there, you said shit ton, one of my very favorite technical terms. 😉 Then you started talking about kicking ass. Somewhere down the line you dropped an F-Bomb. Blonde bombshell or not, dare I think I found my tribe and its name is Chelsie Kenyon?

A Little About Me

I am short and round, an old Nana who is way past her glory, if I ever had any. I have a self-esteem problem. My mother didn’t like me and, to her, I was fat, ugly and good for nothing. She repeated it till her dying day when I was 61. She’s still in my head, but I’m fighting. So your California Golden Girl look was the last person I thought I wanted to listen to. You could have Bobbi Brown do my makeup, dye my hair, carve the tonnage off of me with a chain saw and put me on a rack for a year or so. Not a snowball’s chance in hell of looking like you or even close. But, hey, I’m old enough to be your mother, so. . .

Chelsie, You Kept Getting In My Head

After that first video I looked you up on the net. I found this massively impressive website, chock full of glamour shots. I cringed. But I listened, too. You were real. I found the link to your Facebook group and clicked the join button. To say I was blown away is an understatement. I was still having trouble with the glamour girl look. Jealousy? Not at my age. Maybe regret for what never was and what never will be. After a day or two, I was hanging on to every word you said. And then I did the unthinkable. . . I bought a course from you, Ms. Barbie Doll. Okay, okay. It was a small course, but I bought it.

That First Course

Your course came in two parts. The little second part about building a Campsite link I did first as it looked like something this technoeejit could handle. And I did. I was so pumped! So I tackled the other part, “Quick and Dirty Funnels.” Of course, I didn’t tell anybody that I didn’t know what the hell a funnel was. But I figured I was still teachable, even at my age. So I went through the course once. I went through the course twice. In the middle of the third time I broke down in tears. I had no idea what was going on. Should have saved my money. Every negative voice came rushing back.

But Your Group. . .

I was going to get out of your group, but. . .I couldn’t. I was like the proverbial moth to a flame. Then I jumped in another group with you. And then. . . the photophobic that is me purchased your Fauxtography course, you know, the one that makes you look like you’ve done a pro photoshoot but using just your phone and some props. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

When I look in the mirror all I see is an ugly old lady with wrinkles and a huge nose. Yeah, I know that’s not technically true, but it’s historical conditioning. I’ve done a lot of work in breaking out of that, but WHAM, BAM, THANK YOU, MA’AM. . . . taking a photography course brought it all slamming back like a sucker punch to the gut. The voices in my head told me I was an idiot, a fool, stupid, yada yada yada. But, hell, I paid for it. So I opened it up.

Fauxtography

At first I had every excuse in the book why I couldn’t do this. There isn’t any white space in my house. The tripod doesn’t work right. I don’t know how to use the camera in my phone all that well. I’m gonna look ridiculous. I’m just gonna open up old wounds. And on and on it went. My usual self-hatred. But I kept clicking on the lessons. And a strange thought started appearing, one that said maybe I COULD do this. Every time I closed the course, my brain snuck right back in and snickered, “FOOL!!!” But. . .but. . . but this was really good information. No, I was NOT gonna look like you. I was gonna look like me. That had to be okay. Me is okay. I kept repeating that over and over and over again.

And a Selfie Started It All

The course is not about taking selfies, but I decided to try a few things. I had to dig deep and figure out what was actually fueling my camera fears.

First one was hair. I have very little of it due to medical conditions. And right now what’s left is plague hair, not cut since February. But hair is easy. I have wigs. In fact, I have a wig almost the exact color my hair was in the olden days, kind of like a bright shiny penny. The second thing is I have next to no eyebrows. Then what did I buy the damn Anastasia eyebrow powder for? I went to work. Eyebrows on. Check. Wig on. Check. And here I sat, feeling like a foolish old lady who was playing dress-up.

I started clicking away. I took some ridiculous-ass pics at first. Thank God you can erase them. I would have had to cut up the negatives in the old days. Remember when you had to wait two weeks to discover your photos sucked? LOL But then I got a few good ones. And then I got one that made me sit here with my jaw on the desk. That can’t be me! I sent it to my husband. This man who has loved me for 52 years texted back, “Who dat?” with a heart on it.

“THE Selfie”

Me with a red wig and happy

And Now Push Comes to Shove

Now it was time to do what scared me the most. Me. On Camera. Front-facing. Me and the tripod. Hoo boy!!! I chickened out several times. I repeated several sections of Fauxtography, all the while seeing Chelsie’s beautiful smile and hearing her encouraging me to pull a Nike and Just Do It. So I did. Again, the ridiculous-ass pics showed up. Delete works nicely. But then there were a few. . . I’ll let you be the judge.”

Thank You, Chelsie!!!

I can’t thank you enough, Chelsie Kenyon. You pushed me, you shoved me, you kicked my ass hard. You. Someone I normally wouldn’t even give the time of day with a broken watch only because of how gorgeous you are. How ridiculous is that? But the substance behind that gorgeousness came through loud and clear, even to this faded and jaded old lady. I am so glad I stayed. You now see me all over your groups. I may be the oldest one in there. I absolutely don’t care. I’m in. And guess what? You’re stuck with me, woman. I’m not going anywhere. Oh, and I just bought two more courses. 🙂

Love,
Carla

P.S. Wanna go check Chelsie out? Her name is linked to her site at the beginning of this blog post. Her FB group is The E.P.I.C. Woman Collective – For your Brain and Business. Just click and knock on the door! And for a hella good marketing technique, try The Daily Prompt. You will NOT regret it!!!