By Marcie Everhart/ Editor
We usually approach a special woman who has caught our eye to feature in our Spotlight Guest segment by sending them a questionnaire to fill out with their answers.. this time I want to do it a little differently. This is our Love Letter to Elle at The Elle Diaries in New York City. She first came across our radar because she comments on every one of our Instagram posts, kindly supporting us as newcomers to the over-fifty fashion scene. And then we went to her website… omg.
We are spellbound by her style — eclectic and unique, filled to the brim with vintage treasures, combined in remarkable ways. Sisters, she’s not on ANY grinding fashion treadmill. But mostly we are absolutely gobsmacked by her personal bravery, strength, and sense of purpose. I am blending a very personal post she wrote about her autoimmune disease (many of us over-fifty have crazy health challenges) with some of her more iconic outfits, to showcase this clothing ARTIST and the power fashion can have in a woman’s life, as creative expression, as healing, as diversion, as inspiration, as life-embracing. What is more glamorous than taking charge of your own life? Please join me in celebrating this female version of the Medicine Man.
I recently listened to My Not so Perfect Life by a favorite author, Sophie Kinsella. I am a fan of hers and it inspired me to write this post about my illness, which many of you know about. There is nothing chic or glamorous about this post, just real talk. I hope I do a bit of good by sharing.
I have an autoimmune disease that is rare and serious called Relapsing Polychondritis. I don’t like to dwell on being ill. In fact I started my blog to help me cope, as a sort of “picture myself well” strategy. In the below photo, I am bundled up, feeling chilled and achy, with no make up, and terrible indoor lighting.
My disease is serious, but I am fairly stable with good life-style habits, and some heavy hitters as far as medication goes. One of those medications is corticosteroids, not the kinds of steroids that build up muscle that athletes use. In fact this one leads to deterioration of muscle, tendons and fascia, soft bones, insomnia and mood swings.
When I was diagnosed and put on a high-dose Prednisone and injectable Methotrexate, a mild chemo drug, I asked how to keep from getting sick. My doctor cut to the chase: avoid people. I am a people person, so of course I cannot follow this, but I have adapted my life to expose myself to less germs. Mostly, I travel less, and am careful. I keep my hands in my pockets. I have mastered the air kiss!
You see here me looking well , healthy and younger than my years. That is good! I do not want pity. In fact, I am a lucky person, filled with gratitude. Post after post, I look like the picture of health and it is an interesting contradiction. One that I cling to. My not so perfect life is real, and I am okay with that. We all have something to deal with.
I will tell you that spending time not dwelling on my disease, and being outside looking well, has an effective “fake it till you make it” effect. My medications are the drivers of my stable health, but this approach is a good supplement. Appropriate expectations are necessary with aging and illness, and it has taken me decades to come to terms with what I can, and cannot do.
I was hoping to learn French when I was diagnosed, but instead I became conversant in medical-ese. I can write like a doctor, and am fluent in their language. I can read what they read, not quite as well, but proficiently enough, and that helps level the playing field. I know what I know, and more importantly, I know what I do not know. I understand what we currently are not able to know, that medical science is a shifting, drifting thing, a consensus of knowledge that is ever changing.
My not so perfect life means that I cannot travel comfortably. I recently missed a wonderful family vacation and that frankly was a bummer. My not so perfect life means that I have to be hyper-vigilant and proactive, that a busy life is often interrupted with sick days and days at the doctor’s. I walk instead of taking the subway during flu season and wash my hands often. I depend on hearing aids, and can no longer read books comfortably with vision issues.
New York Fashion Week is coming up, so I have to plan and make sure I do not overdo. I also focus on the good things my life is made up of and there are so many. My wonderful family is first and foremost. My lifelong friends, and new ones too, add so much richness to my life and provide me with a tight support system.
I am sure my not so perfect life is one you can relate to. How is your life imperfect? What strategies do you employ to help you in this strange and wondrous journey of life?
A Little Background Music
This book. It sounds wonderful and sooo timely.
*Photos stolen straight from The Elle Diaries. With the utmost regard.