I have been reading Diane Gilman’s book, Good Jeans, in which she shares with her readers a ten step approach to aging that allows us to reclaim our identities as women who still have talents, charm, wit, and even sex appeal. Diane is a fashion designer and television personality who has had rave success, most recently, designing fashion jeans to fit the body shape of us 45 years and older women. She talks extensively in her book about her “lost decade” which was the period after the death of her husband when she fell into creative, spiritual, and physical decline. I related very well to her point of view and her journey out of oblivion.
I am just emerging from my “lost decade.” My husband did not die; rather he decided to trade in his family for a different one. In my mid-forties when this happened, I fell into chronic depression, economic hardships, physical frumpiness, and I had lost my sense of self, spiritual direction, and purpose in life. A decade seems a long time to me, to remain in this foggy realm of lost self. Yet thanks to Diane Gilman and her new book, I can put this time into perspective and count it as a “cocoon phase” that I had to go through in order to heal and to remember who I am.
I was already on the journey to becoming myself again before finding this book. Thanks to some persistent health issues, I am now eating much better and losing weight. Thanks to Will, my career coach, I am finding my confidence and figuring out who I am professionally. Thanks to Wendy at Totally Unique Hair Design, I have a wonderful hair makeover. (See before and after photos below.) Thanks to the antique dolls and folk music for re-igniting my long-smoldering creative passions. And look! I’m even writing again! Now, after years of invisibility, my new persona has already turned a few male heads. Okay Diane, I’m ready for that new pair of over 50 form-fitting jeans!
Now you may be wondering what all this has to do with antique dolls. It is this idea of the lost decade. We, as women, may go through this time of lost selves for ten years or so. But we don’t have to slide into the oblivion that society has waiting for us. We can reclaim our selves, and be who we are meant to be at any age. Antique dolls are frequently lost for decades, or for centuries, in attics, in boxes, in closets, in the dark corners of rummage shops. Sometimes they are allowed to decline and molder with dirty faces and matted hair, in rags or in no clothes at all. Sometimes they have been re-dressed in neon bright polyester with synthetic replacement wigs by their well-meaning owners in the decades beyond when they were bright new playthings. Either way, this doll, just like us, cannot shine until her age and inner beauty are taken into consideration. Maybe she needs to be cleaned up, have her old dress freshened and mended, and brought into a light and airy room. Or maybe she needs a new dress that has been carefully researched for the right style, color, fabric, and trim.
When the spirit of the old doll is nurtured, she retains her age and dignity, yet she breathes again, with her original spirit fresh and alive! This is how I strive to get to know each of my dolls. And this is how I plan to let myself live and shine again!
May you also find the right style, fabric, trim, and hair, to let your spirit shine through at the age you are now!