if not now, when?

if not now, when…
buzz cut
northern skies
different generations, no problem

if not now

Sitting with girlfriends, and the discussion turned to time and desires, and, if not now, when? Isn’t that something of what getting older means? With every year, that kind of grey, foggy sort of thought creeps in more and more often. Then a friend dies, and time accelerates. If not now, you think, when? And even though it’s not all doom and gloom, this feeling, it is melancholy. 

You might start chastising yourself: “Should have done it sooner.” “Why didn’t I do it sooner?” “It’s too late now.” 

Is it too late? For some things, for all of us, it is. I will not become a prima ballerina and dance with Baryshnikov. (Although, did you know he was born in Riga, Latvia?) You will not join the airforce and fly fighter jets. But realistically, is it those things we want now? Have we stayed stubbornly attached to dreams that no longer make sense, even if once we felt they defined us?

Perhaps my new goal should be to see Baryshnikov dance again? 

Aging is nothing if not an interesting process, a process, I think, that calls for a good dose of reality. Along with the reality though, it pays to sprinkle in some courage. Courage to change your hairstyle, courage to go back to school, to move to another country, or to bootstrap a business. If not now, when? 

buzz cut

I had always wanted to get my head shaved, if not completely, then that Sinéad O’Connor length. (Read this post, it’s still good.) It was very hot and sticky at the end of summer, and I finally did it.

It’s a testament to having a bit of courage.

I love my new “buzz cut.” It was an entirely attainable desire, that for some reason I had always put off. I think that we women tend to put aside even these small desires, the ones that might make us happy just for the sake of happy. I’m curious, what’s one thing that you absolutely could do, but don’t? Why don’t you?

I think we put these things off because, in the big scheme of things, they seem unimportant, frivolous even.

I read something lately where the woman was commenting on how many of us feel we have to clean the entire house before we get started doing what we want to.

And how this becomes an excuse, “I can’t paint, if the house isn’t in order.” “I can’t write while staring at the messy living room.” I know this syndrome well. I have a messy mind, and it’s true that if I don’t have a certain amount of order around me, my mind refuses to function. 

I’ve always envied those creators who can shut the door, or not, on the mess, and work. They don’t clean, they don’t incessantly check social media, sometimes, they don’t even feed themselves! Their need and their desire pulls them towards creation above all else. Now, it calls to them. Now.

northern skies

I became obsessed with the tram lines in the sky, the lines together with the buildings, especially the Art Nouveau buildings, of which there are many in Latvia. I like the way the upper right quadrant here is filled with birds. I feel like they’re telling me something… I like the bright green net covering the scaffold. 

Do you ever see something and think it’s sending you a message? The fact is, it is of course, because even if it’s your mind that created the message, it’s still a message. I think it’s a kind of fantastical self-care. “Self care,” a term I’ve grown tired of. You? 

Isn’t self-care just living a good, healthy life?

So often it seems like someone creates problems for others to then “brilliantly” come up with solutions for those problems. Social Media? But so many times those solutions bring with them more problems. Notions about “self-care,” “quality time,” “wellness” and “branding,” are ubiquitous, and I believe empty. I suppose these ideas give authors something to write about, but frankly, I’m tired of them. 

I’m not sure many of us could be happy anymore without all of our “solutions.”

What would I do without my self-help books? What would I do without out my color coded planner, filled with my heavy schedule of quality times for husband, girlfriend, kids? What would I do without all of the self-care appointments I run to, exhausted, after work? I’m sorry to say, some of us need to get over ourselves. 

Do I sound like a curmudgeon, a bit tired, or plain jaded? Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about these things. You must have a friend who spends so much time improving herself that she never has any time for anything else? None. But I’m feeling a tide turning, a returning to something simpler.

I have a notion to write a book about living, that’s what it’ll be called, “Living.”

For now, I have to figure out what those birds are telling me.

different generations, no problem

I think the term “ray of sunshine” was coined for people like Lauren Engelke. Lauren is “The Sustainable Stylist,” and honestly, if you can pick up one more thing to read, make it Lauren’s blog. If you can’t, then just follow her on Instagram, where she gives great tips on things like sustainable brands, garment care, and closet editing. 

Lauren and I recently met to work on a Podcast together. She and her photographer came to the Upper West Side to look into my closet. We looked at and talked about thrifted vests, my father’s tuxedo, crowns made in Latvia, and sustainability. I’ll let you know when the Podcast is available for viewing. 

But today I want to say that working with Lauren was the kind of “intergenerational” collaboration that many of us are thirsting for. When things work, the way they did between Lauren and me, there’s a synergy that happens that the world needs more of. 

There was no awkwardness, judgment, or gap between us.

Neither one of us was out to prove anything because both of us understood, that although our experiences and areas of expertise were different, neither ones was intrinsically more important than the others. I’m sure that collaborations like this happen more than I know, I hope so, but I like to think that Lauren and I have the kinds of attitudes and skills that we need to work with those not of our own generation.

I’ve seen and experienced the gap that can exist when millennials and boomers, for example, work in close proximity.

Ageism can travel back and forth between the two groups like lightning, and things can get really mean. 

You’ve heard the stereotypes, and I won’t repeat them because I think it’s more interesting and definitely more productive to think about how to talk about and challenge them. Thoughts?

*Lauren is wearing a Dazey LA t-shirt, Justice Denim jeans, and Veja sneakers, all sustainable brands for you to check out.


“We’re all born naked. And the rest of it is drag.”

—RuPaul Andre Charles




  • Leslie says:

    “We are all born naked and the rest of it is drag”.
    I love that.

    How did you know that I cannot paint until my house is in order? How did you know that if dinner isn’t planned or made that I cannot paint or write? And it is guilt I feel. GUILT. I had a friend (until recently, peccato) who would paint and create first. FIRST. Her house was a wreck, her family unfed. She was disorganized. Always. I had so many mixed feelings about this. Tell me why my gift of creativity is always last on my list. Why? (And the buzz cut, A? It’s smashing!)

    • Anita Irlen says:

      Ha, Leslie, I just knew. These are the questions, aren’t they? I think that it’s mostly two things: the way women are socialized and something deeply innate. The constant “friction” between the two is what’s exhausting. I think that’s why with menopause there comes a rebellion, a disgust, and the deep exhaustion. “I’ve had it!”

      Loving the hair/no hair look 🙂

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