Category Archives: Columns

Body Image After Age 50

Mother Nature is cruel. In addition to hot flashes and night sweats, I’ve gained nine pounds in the last seven months and outgrown most of my clothing.

Going from a size zero to a size four and acquiring a jelly belly may not seem significant. But for someone who runs 25 to 28 miles a week and isn’t much of an eater, it’s pretty disturbing.

At the age of 51, I’m smack in the midst of perimenopause, a term describing the hormonal roller coaster prior to menopause. According to the internet, diminished estrogen levels are to blame for my weight gain. The loss of testosterone has reduced my muscle mass and lowered my metabolism. Online articles by medical professionals offer meager advice: “Move more!” (I already run 80 to 90 minutes four or five days a week), “Cut calories!” (Steamed vegetables comprise my dinner most nights), and the ever helpful, “reduce stress!”

Many products promise relief. There are progesterone patches and creams, herbal remedies, medical grade supplements, and bioidentical hormones.

Given the controversy over hormone replacement therapy, and the fact that I am a wimp who avoids taking medication unless it is really necessary, I opted to start with Estroven, an over the counter product from Trader Joe’s. If they sell it at Trader Joe’s, I reasoned, how harmful could it be? Or how effective? My hot flashes continued, and I struggled not to gain anymore weight.

“Sorry!” The 50-something female cashier said when I returned the product. “I tried this stuff too. It does nothing!”

Tired of listening to myself complain, I consulted my gynecologist. “Eat fewer salty snacks,” she advised.

Since I haven’t eaten a potato chip since circa 2003, I decided it was time to change doctors. My new GYN was much more sympathetic. “The weight will come off once you get through the process,” she reassured me.” But you will lose your waist.”

Lose my waist? That explained the jelly belly. She was a good listener, so I forged on. “My boobs are huge,” I whined. “Huge!”

I explained that in addition to larger pants and tops, it was also necessary to buy new bras, which became too tight within a few months. “Don’t throw away your old bras,” she advised. “Your breasts will return to their normal size.”

I took a breath and started to relax, until my doctor said, “and then they will become pendulous.” Pendulous! I thought, what an interesting word to describe my body, like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe story. I went home and replayed the conversation for my husband “Pendulous, pendulous,” we said it a few times together.     

Mother N. might be cruel, but she is on schedule. I haven’t had a period since last summer, so my doctor thinks I should be nearly finished with the bloating and weight gain of perimenopause.

Until I complete the transition though, I’ve asked my husband to gain a few pounds; take a couple of extra helpings of mashed potatoes and apple strudel for the team. Being the generous guy that I married, he’s made the sacrifice.

 

Beth Herman is an artist and essayist. She enjoys running the city streets of Washington and the hills of Charlottesville in almost equal measure.

 

Bella’s Favorite Beach Reads

Vacations are all about unplugging from life and mentally recharging. Make room in your schedule (and your beach bag) for one of the following selections from our favorite authors. These books are excellent vacation companions, but they are also the perfect escape from reality for your summer “staycation.” We have something for every taste in literature– and we are giving away a copy of each one to five lucky readers this month! Stay tuned to our Facebook page for your chance to win!

Do less: A minimalist guide to a simplified, organized, and happy life by Rachel Jonat
Vacations are about recharging and coming back to the chaos of everyday life refreshed and happier. Use your quiet time on the beach to learn new ways to rediscover the simple moments of a serene lifestyle. In a world where we are surrounded with the notion that we need more to be happy, this guide offers an alternative view and encourages readers to scale back their possessions and commitments to just what they really need.

Corrigan_GlitterandGlueGlitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

We could easily recommend any of Corrigan’s books for your summer travels. Her latest, Glitter and Glue, focuses on her relationship with her mother and how it has changed over time. It also focuses on the difference between traveling and having “life experiences” which is something that even adults in their late twenties often struggle to identify. Corrigan shares the lessons she has learned throughout her life by telling the story of her post-college adventures—humorous and serious alike. Her experiences not only changed the way she viewed the world, but also the relationship she had with her mother. You will laugh, you will cry, but most importantly, you may relate to her experiences—both as a mother and a child.

 

 

Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes
If you are looking for a story that leaves you feeling emotionally empowered, this is the novel for you. Holmes beautifully narrates the story of Penny Carson, a seventeen-year-old girl who places her heart and her future in the hands of farmhand Trent Taylor. Soon he controls every aspect of her life—until a welding accident forces him to allow her to take a job cleaning houses. During this experience, she meets two new friends who help her realize that she possesses more inner strength than the man who abuses her. Holmes, a local author living in southern Virginia, has other novels you may wish to bring on your trip including Dry as Rain and Crossing Oceans. Her latest novel, Driftwood Tides, will be available in September.

The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All by Don Wallace
Set on the beautiful and charming French island Belle Isle, The French House is equal parts romance, adventure, self-discovery and travel literature. In an attempt to further their careers as novelists and to reconcile the near rock-bottom lows of their relationship, Don and Mindy purchase an old house in ruins on the shores of Belle Isle and attempt to rebuild it. Along the way they encounter locals who give them invaluable advice and friendship as they begin to reconstruct not only their new home, but also their relationship and themselves. Wallace’s ability to articulate the honest struggle that most people face while trying to find their place in life combined with his breathtaking descriptions of the French isle’s landscape make this a perfect summer read.

Factory ManFactory Man by Beth Macy

You may have seen Macy’s work in several national magazines and, locally, The Roanoke Times. She is a fantastic author that writes about outsiders and underdogs. In Factory Man, she tells the story of John Bassett III, owner of Vaughan-Bassett, who employs more than 700 Virginians. Bassett’s fight to save hundreds of jobs in our area is inspirational and gives insight into the great globalization debate. Factory Man will be available on July 15th, but we have one to give away to one lucky reader! Stay tuned to our Facebook page during the month of July for your chance to win!

 

Tote bags for all summer essentials!

If you are looking for a beach bag that is truly unique, you will find plenty to choose from at Black Dog Salvage. One of our favorite vendors, Recycled Wonders, creates adorable repurposed totes from a variety of feed bags. From stunning photos of horses and birds to adorable pictures of cats and dogs, they are different from any other bag you will see on the beach this summer. Choose from several sizes and up cycled materials for a style that best fits your personality! Recycled Wonders by Keri Jackson are available for purchase Monday-Saturday at Black Dog Salvage. You can also email Keri at kerijaxson@gmail.com for more information.

Filled with beautiful hand-made treasures, Mariah Amine and Couture in downtown Waynesboro is worth the trip! Not only will you find a wide array of totes to choose from for you beach adventures, you may also leave with a few new outfits for your vacation. However, if you cannot visit their boutique in person, you can always order one of their totes through their website. They offer several patterns in four different sizes. You can order one for yourself, your friends or even your child to carry your beach necessities! For more information, visit their website, www.mariahamine.com.

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Made with 95% post consumer recycled materials, Blue Q shopper and messenger totes are available in a variety of sizes and designs. Many of their products have a very nostalgic feel and are either hand drawn or designed by talented artists. Their materials make the bags easy to clean and comfortable to transport all your beach necessities like sunscreen, a great novel, a few bottles of water and a towel. They are very inexpensive, and you can purchase them locally at Now Then and Again, located on Apperson Drive in Salem. Visit www.nowthenandagain.net for directions and hours of operation.

Visiting Maine in the summer is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. Sea Bags, a Maine based company, creates fantastic tote bags and accessories from recycled sails. Start small, and order one of their wine bags to give to your host or simply transport your favorite bottle of wine to your beach house. If a trip to their store in Portland is not in your immediate plans, you can order one of their creations from their website, www.seabags.com. In addition to their popular styles, you can design a custom creation unique to you.

Pick up the July issue of Bella Magazine for more great summer products!

Do You Take This Dress?

I got married 27 years ago, but weddings still enchant me. Preferring to get my fix unfiltered, I skip most reality TV bridal shows, but occasionally catch Say Yes to the Dress. I lived in New York as a single girl, and the story of Kleinfeld, the store at which the television show is set, was legendary, but for different reasons than it is today. Founded in 1941, the original shop was located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. As I heard it, the building was only open to the public on weekends, when the elevator was not in service. The bride, her bridal party, her mother and sometimes grandmother would have to trudge up numerous flights of stairs in search of the perfect dress.

In 2005, Kleinfeld moved to more sumptuous quarters in Manhattan.They hired my old boss, Frank Jedda, to run their new men’s division. Many years ago, Frank and his wife, Stella, owned an elegant and expensive men’s shop called FrankStella. I began working there while studying English at Hunter College. Frank was warm, funny and generous. As a full time student who only worked Fridays and Saturdays, he knew I sometimes fell short of cash by the end of the week.“Ethbay,” (he always called us by nicknames) Frank would quietly ask, “Do you need some money for lunch?”

Stella worked with me every Saturday. She was the older sister I should have had. She was there the day I met my husband–who, I later discovered, walked into the store after seeing me through the shop’s window.

“I want to buy this tie but it has a snag in it,” he told me. Arthur left the store several hundred dollars poorer, carrying a bag of expensive shirts, ties and my phone number. As we watched him cross 56th Street and fold into the crowd, Stella said, “That’s the one you are going to marry.”

“Don’t be silly,” I said. “You know I am not getting married.” She was right of course. A year and a half later, we tied the knot.

bethherman4At 24, I had no idea who I was. But like any good graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, I had a vague sense of what I wanted to look like as a bride.White was good. Anything traditional or bride-like was not. I tried on silk pants with camisoles, beaded evening wear, and classic white suits. I finally decided on a tea length dress from the department store Bonwit Teller. It had a tight bodice, illusion lace sleeves, and a polka dot tiered lace skirt. A pill box hat with a bow and netted veil completed the ensemble.

New York has changed a lot since the lovely August day when Arthur and I were wed. Bonwit Teller closed in 1990. Frank and Stella split, and the store sold. Garvin’s, the Greenwich Village restaurant where we took our vows and celebrated the future, shuttered its doors. But I still have my dress. Festive and chic, it was the perfect outfit in which to start our wonderful marriage.

Beth Herman is an artist, painter and essayist based in Charlottesville. She enjoys running with her husband every morning, home renovations, and oil painting. Visit her website www.bearpainter.com to view her artwork. You can also find stories from Beth in each issue of Bella Magazine. Go pick up your copy today!

Get to Know Your Neighborhood

The Old Southwest Enchanted Garden Tour

Summer is right around the corner, and that means a lot of plants in our area are in full bloom. For garden lovers, it is the perfect time to get outside, explore different garden techniques, and maybe learn something new from your neighbors. On Saturday, June 14, several gardeners in Roanoke will be available to share their knowledge and expertise during The Old Southwest Enchanted Garden Tour.

New Image123Participating property owners were chosen because of the unique and eclectic aspects of their outdoor sanctuaries. One of the first community gardens in Roanoke will be part of this tour, and the landscape is one that you will not want to miss. Owned by artist, Elaine Fleck, “Rabbit Hill” contains multiple plots that her neighbors rent to grow their desired vegetation. The area is also bursting with color from Elaine’s array of flowers that she uses for weddings and special occasions.

The event is self-guided, but gardeners will be available to answer questions regarding landscaping and the plants in their gardens from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Your ticket will also serve as a map–showcasing the tour itself on the front and the property addresses on the back.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit The Community Outreach program, a local nonprofit organization that takes care of feeding youth from all over the city three nights a week during the school year. Additionally, they offer assistance in school subjects such as math, spelling and reading. For additional information, visit www.oldsouthwest.org.

 

Floyd Artisan Tour

The Floyd Artisan Tour, from June 14-16, is the perfect place to take your bridal party for a weekend long excursion. The three day tour features over 50 locations across Floyd County with activities at artisan home studios; galleries and shops; wineries, farms and farm markets; and restaurant and lodging sites. Some of these stops will offer specials, discounts, or complimentary items to tour visitors. Many of them will offer educational demonstrations. You will have the opportunity to learn the art behind paper-making, pottery, woodworking, coffee roasting, and much more!

Go to www.floydartisantrail.org for a complete list of participating artists and businesses. Plan out your trip with your friends beforehand, or let the staffed information table at the downtown Community Market Pavilion provide you with information throughout the tour. They will have brochures, maps, and updated daily schedules on hand.

Pinterest Inspired

Despite what you may have been led to believe, you do not have to spend $10,000 on your wedding day to make it perfect. Our June issue is full of ideas to cut costs and still host the best celebration your guests will attend this year! Pick up your copy today, and look for our article on Pinterest inspired ideas that will add an inexpensive but personal touch to your wedding!

The traditional cake topper may not appeal to you. Visit www.etsy.com for many shops with unique cake toppers. MeltingPotLove has several to fit almost every couple’s needs. If you do not see a cake topper that matches you and your spouse-to-be, they can create one just for you!

weddingpartyweddingparty1Plan ahead for your “Thank You” cards. Use your family and friends to create memorable photos and cards you can send to guests. Obviously, you are going to want to send them (unless you never want a thank you card or gift for any other occasion). Ask your wedding party to hold letters in one of your photos that spell the words, “Thank you.” Many photographers will let you use the image on websites like Shutterfly to print your cards. (Just remember, ask first!)

Think outside of the box for wedding party gifts. Pinterest has plenty of DIY ideas, but you can also check out Etsy.com for so many wonderful gifts for your loved ones. In addtion to being reasonably priced, they are already made!

wineforawedding1For any member of the wedding party, or for the bride and groom themselves, consider a personalized wine box from Wine for a Wedding. These boxes are perfect to celebrate any occasion, and you can have a special message engraved on the inside of the lid. You even have the option of ordering a bottle of wine to include in the box! They can create a box just for you by incorporating your photos, invitations, specific monograms, or a completely custom design to fit your needs. Visit their website to place your order. Watch our Facebook page this week for a chance to win a wine box of your very own!

 

We are constantly pinning new ideas to our Pinterest boards. Follow us, and stay updated on the latest wedding DIY projects, gifts for your family, and more!

Real Weddings

Our June issue is full of out-of-the box and inexpensive wedding ideas that engaged couples will not want to miss! Also, if you are preparing for ANY celebration, we have several DIY and Pinterest articles that may inspire you.

Join us as we celebrate three couples who are either recently married or will be wed this year. All three are very different, but they each represent the true beauty and raw honesty of love in their own way. Our entire issue reflects our belief that marriage should be celebrated in a way that the couple desires– regardless of the number of previous marriages, children from previous relationships, race, income level or gender.

Most of us do not look like the brides on the covers of magazines. We are real. We have tattoos, a little extra weight here and there, or a dress of some color other than white. The same is true for many grooms, who choose not to wear a tux, have facial piercings or long hair. We decided there should be a wedding issue of Bella to which EVERYONE can relate, and so the idea for our June issue was born.

We hope you enjoy the following preview of the couples we profiled for this issue. Don’t forget to pick up an issue of Bella Magazine, on stands now, for more out-of-the-box wedding ideas! 

kimandc
Photo courtesy of Memories by Whitney Photography

 

The McCormicks

Carrie and Kimberly have been together for eight years. Last year, after seven years of being engaged, they were finally able to get married in Washington D.C.

They are currently planning a second celebration with family and friends once they are granted equal rights in Virginia.

Both feel lucky to have each other and be in a healthy, loving relationship.

“Kimberly’s soul is beautiful,” Carrie says, “I feel blessed by the unconditional love and respect we have together.”

 

 

 

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Photo by Rabiah Khwaja Gohar

The  Leonards
Although they attended the same high school in Botetourt, Joel and Jessica Leonard did not meet until years after graduation. They quickly discovered a mutual love for traveling, backpacking and camping. Their vintage wedding was beautiful, and their month-long adventure honeymoon was a unique way to celebrate what they love most about one another. “I admire Jessica’s appreciation for other cultures, art, learning, music, the outdoors and great foods,” Joel says, “These are all things that I love too, and it really means a lot to me to get to share them with such a great, strong woman!”

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Photo by Josh Gilliland

The Strongs 

Morgan Strong and Tamar Boland met through their employer, Asylum Studios. He proposed to her at the H20 Music Festival in Charlottesville with the help of New Found Glory. “It was actually super stressful,” he explains, “I can’t remember a lot of the songs that played for the rest of the show because I was trying so hard to think of what to say once I got on stage.” Tamar said yes, and the couple are planning a Star Wars themed ceremony for June.

Congratulations to these amazing couples, and to all of you getting married this year! Feel free to share your wedding ideas with us on our Facebook page!

Hair’s The Thing

 The Never-Ending Pursuit of “Perfect” Hair

“When standing among many people, I’m hardly difficult to spot. I have a wild head of curly hair with a mind all its own.”

I wrote those words 33 years ago. They formed the first sentence of my college application essay, but still describe me perfectly today. The difference is -I’ve since made peace with the way I look.

I didn’t get the “good” curly hair. You know, like actresses Andie MacDowell and Keri Russell. Their beautiful tresses grow shinning and cylindrical down their backs. My type of curly hair, on the other hand, shrinks up to half its length while drying, reminiscent of 1970’s male rockers. Bette Midler’s does too, which she admitted in a film to her straight-haired costar, “at least you have hair with weight.”

Since I also have hair without weight, I have opted for hair with height. For the last ten or 15 years, I have worn my curly hair in a ponytail on top of my head, with tendrils hanging down around the sides and front. My husband calls it the ‘Rare Tropical Shrub Look.’ He can always find me in a crowded room. Recently watching a televised gymnastics meet, I noticed the girls competing from of the University of Auburn and Florida State also wear their hair, straight or curly, this way.

Perhaps that should have tipped me off. At the age of 51, I know I am too old for this hairstyle.  I was probably too old at 40.  But the curls hanging down frame my face, and my delicate features aren’t overwhelmed by a hair explosion.

Being blessed with naturally curly hair is challenging and time consuming for me, perplexing to others. Millionaire Matchmaker Patty Stanger claims men hate curly hair and forces her female candidates to have their hair straightened before they can attend her Choose Me mixers. “Men want something they can run their fingers through,” she says.

bethherman1Despite the challenges, curly hair is a big part of my identity, which is perhaps why Stanger’s comments hurt. When I tell people that I am an artist, they often say, “you look like an artist.” I’m guessing this is because of my hair. 

There are many women with curly hair who choose to wear it straight, including my friend CB. Her hair is silken and shiny, reaching down to the small of her back. If my hair behaved like that, perhaps I would wear it straight more often. But my hair has no weight. When straightened, it quietly curls up at the ends, hour by hour, until I end up like the model for the 1970’s hair spray advertisement: Self Styling Adorn

Curly hair is messy and naughty. Washing my hair, coating it with product and getting a comb through it takes time. (I am amused when women ask me if I simply get out of the shower and shake my head.)

On the other hand, it doesn’t need to be washed every day. My roots do not show as readily as they would if I had straight hair.  It can also predict the weather. Having curly hair is unique and fun- a little wacky even.

It’s taken me a long time but I now embrace my hair.  And despite Stanger’s theory, I had no trouble finding the love of my life.  Like blue eyes or a bubbly personality, curly hair is an important part of who I am.

Beth Herman is an artist, painter and essayist based in Charlottesville. She enjoys running with her husband every morning, home renovations, and oil painting. Visit her website www.bearpainter.com to view her artwork. You can also find stories from Beth in each issue of Bella Magazine. Go pick up your copy today!