by Tilly Smith Dix

I love all four seasons but I’ve always had a penchant for cold, wet weather. Must stem from my roots as a little girl living on the Garden Route of South Africa. George, our town, had a prolific vehicle numberplate: it started with CAW – translated by many as cold and wet, and so it was but the folks and I loved it, although Dad sometimes said he could feel the cold in his big toe. I thought that was funny and had visions of him sleeping with that one big toe outside the window at night. I was five.

That being said, I do adore spring, when new life is evident everywhere, from those adorable spring lambs clumsily bouncing around the green pastures to bees busily gathering nectar from a newly launched smorgasbord of blooms.

This year, spring is late as we are experiencing winter chills, rain, sleet and plenty snow in our alpine regions nearby. I’ve also noted that in other parts of this blue planet, where autumn is due, they’ve experienced late summers, with absolutely no autumn but an almost instant transition into the cold of winter.

Above, the vista from our kitchen, deck and living room is never short of magnificent.

I’ve never liked the term ‘trans-seasonal’ – it just happens to be something, same as ‘reimagined,’ that sticks in my craw. Can’t explain why. So, I’ve decided to create some new words, or maybe, someone has already done so and I was busy and not paying attention.

I’m working on ‘reimagined,’ and prefer ‘revitalised’ but will keep you posted.

For ‘trans-seasonal,’ I’ve opted for ‘springter’ for the current winter to spring in our magnificent Victoria. Some might feel strongly about this word rhyming with unmentionable parts of the anatomy and my advice to them is to simply take their minds out of the bathroom. I LIKE springter, the fifth season, and I can wear my entire wardrobe in a week and as many of you know, I love fashion. So, layering of slinky basic outfits, covered by cashmere and wool, has become my thing. It does take some planning but the styling sisters of my fraternity will attest, this simply taps into our deep creative fashionista soul and can be a superb form of therapy.

Above, fashion therapy, some gifted to review, others from my vintage closet, featured on Sixty_is_the_new_40 Instagram posts.

For example, you’ve had a rubbish day. Your husband did not like the perfect meal you prepared for him or he had cramp. Then the cat got sick and a client proved difficult as their business is struggling because of the Brexit exit. Whatever.

You make a run for your own little space, short of curling up in your closet, and start planning your outfit for all weather eventualities for the next day. Soon, you’ve forgotten about the stinkers conspiring to complicate your life and it’s just you and your wardrobe. I promise, in no time you become a super styling diva.

Word of advice, do NOT enter ANY confrontational arena at this point. You are in a great headspace now. The cat is fine, curled up and snoring, and hopefully, the Mister too, so no need to fret. Now run a luxurious bath, put all the most delicious bath products you desire in the water, go BIG, and have a calming soak as you are now set for the next day, planning to be fabulous in every way, which, of course, you are.

After this hedonistic soak, get some light reading material, something you know will make you laugh and guarantee happy dreams. My current favourite, which involves no stress or Shakespearian navigation to get the meaning of it all, is Ya-Yas in Bloom. Yes, snigger, but I tell you, it works.

That and the wonderful doTERRA aromatherapy oil I got from my sweet cousin Helen. The Balance oil is guaranteed to relax the most troubled soul and she further produced an additional blend, labelled CALM. Okay, her delightful eldest, Cameron, aged eight, suggested her mom gave me the latter roll-on mix. Obviously at eight that little beauty has a great future as a psychic as I have no clue how she came to the conclusion I was in need of such therapy.

Above, some members of our gorgeous ya-ya South African clan in Melbourne and my delicious linguini pescatore at The Brook in Point Cook.

I digress, so, enjoy your feel-good bedtime story and remember to include me in your gratitude list the next day. You’re so welcome.

I was also, again, gifted with a bottle of delicious Immerse sparkling wine by my charming friend and neighbour, also named Helen. Her and her husband own the superb Immerse Winery and Wedding Venue in Dixons Creek. We always have such an effervescent lunch, albeit not as often as we’d like. Tick another box on the gratitude list.

Above, doTERRA oil, New London Jeans, Immerse bubbles and Rodan+Fields toner.

I’ve been indulging my skin with the rejuvenating Rodan+Fields Redefine Intense Renewing Serum for some time and I can see the difference as my skin certainly seems more refined after several months of use. The lovely Ashley, who is part of our South African sisterhood here in Melbourne, suggested I review the Pure Minimising Toner as well and I am impressed. In fact, it also removes any residue of make-up after normal cleansing. Just colour me grateful, again.

My late mom was no fashionista and hardly wore make-up – not that she needed it as she was beautiful. However, she always advised me to keep my skin clean and keep it moisturised as you CANNOT replace your skin. Grateful to my darling mom Annie, now long departed, for that sound advice.

Mom also loved wildlife, in fact, all animals. She would have been ecstatic watching our birdlife in the Yarra Valley.

Above, juvenile crimson rosellas feasting on grass seeds in our wild back garden.

Speaking of gratitude, I truly try to remember to be grateful every day for so many things I take for granted. For example, the women in my country of origin are standing up and protesting against the murder and abuse of their sisters. This is of grave concern to me and I am grateful to have survived a brutal attack in broad daylight so many years ago, after which I underwent four operations to get my cheekbone and nose fixed after a street vendor from Zimbabwe decided to change my profile. Why? I stood up to him when he was trying to con me. Long story short, he got six months suspended sentence in the court case and had to pay a R2,000 fine to the state for their valuable time. He was the only breadwinner in his family, three children at school and a wife who could not work as she had to tend to their kids in Johannesburg.

Yes, I was bitter and angry for about two weeks and got over it. I had NO time to feel sorry for myself. I was alone and had to keep my new business afloat. Luckily, I worked from home, therefore, bandaged and splinted around the facial bones, I diligently took the painkillers prescribed when necessary and got on with business. I also improved security around my home and my car. Just in case.

I also had the support of the most amazing friends, who generated business my way to pay for the medical bills, whilst strangers tracked me down after the article in the Sunday Times appeared, offering me emotional support. Some wanted me to point the perpetrator out to them to ensure justice was done the vigilante way but I could not agree to that. I believe in karma and I know, that wheel turns.

I am grateful, as I am a survivor, not a victim.

From my career in journalism to my job as a publicist, I was always focused on creating a platform for the clients, with me always in the backaground. I still do. However, this new hobby of fashion Instagramming has resulted in my being the client too. Believe it or not, at times I do feel a bit bashful but then I get over it and just have fun. The support of women following me on the Sixty_is_the_the_40 platform is so encouraging and today, two of them agreed I was their spirit animal! This makes me mighty proud as I admire them immensely too! Grateful for these amazing Insta sistas. I don’t see myself as an influencer, more like an inspirer – as I’m older with more life experience.

I’m also grateful for having the opportunity to live in this amazing country. Nothing is perfect but when we start noticing the small things, the bigger blessings appear like magic. For example, yesterday I was carpooling with a fellow South African lass to join our South African girl-clan for lunch in Point Cook on the western shores of Melbourne.

The gorgeous Janine and I swopped stories about arriving here and finding our feet, at times stumbling over some bumps in the winding road, which is common when changing countries. She is now settled and proudly Australian, and I am grateful for feeling more confident about finding my way around this liveable city and its magnificent surrounds. Google maps only gets consulted for exact address locations now. Almost five years ago, I would break out in a cold sweat trying to find my way around the suburbs and Melbourne’s diverse outskirts, spanning from bay to river to mountains and lakes. I finally feel at home and this makes me grateful.

Needless to say, our lunch with the rest of the clan proved another triumph. Those beautiful, warm, friendly faces, the spontaneous laughter and appreciation of good food and other people’s problems are balm for the soul. I might have developed a few more laughter lines and I must try and be grateful for that too, I guess…

I highly recommend The Brook in Point Cook. We were all happy with our menu choices and the service was efficient and friendly. My linguini pescatore with fresh chilli on the side was a delight. The bubbles went down great too, of course, followed by a hot chocolate, which hit the spot on a cold rainy springter day.

Above, pictures featured on Channel Seven Sunrise in their Melbourne Fashion Week slot, which drove new followers to my Instagram pages.

Something else I feel grateful for is getting gorgeous free stuff of my choice to review, style and Instagram on my Sixty_is_the_new_40 page. We all love a bargain but if it’s free and you embrace fashion and beauty products, I have loads to be grateful for. My husband is also grateful as it means I’m not spending my money.

New London Jeans liked my Instagram shots and we ended up collaborating.  I’m mad for their jeans, which will be part of my slow fashion wardrobe staples onwards as these babies are made to last and the fit is sublime.

My fashion Instagram account also got me signed up with a fabulous modelling agency, which I’ve talked about in an earlier blog. When Wink asked me to audition for Melbourne Fashion Week, I questioned it as, a) I am NOT super-model tall, b) I’m 60-plus and c) designers do NOT create catwalk fashion for petite older chooks like me. However, the agency insisted I should go for the audition as diversity was the theme for this year’s fashion extravaganza.

The job went to a stunning woman close to my age who is very tall and athletic with a boyish haircut. The organisers were kind and actually asked me to walk the hall a second time to have another look at me as they liked my walk, I was told. I was interviewed by Sunrise on Channel Seven and photographed by The Herald. This happened while I was trying to keep up with the two six-foot-five chaps I had to walk the walk with.

This all resulted in my being rather wild-eyed and fluttery, I kid you not. When I saw the footage of me on TV a few weeks later, I cringed as I thought I looked positively loopy but I indeed found several things to be grateful for: I made a delightful new friend, a gorgeous young man called Timothy, who chatted to me on the tram on the way to the audition as he happened to be going there too – he now follows me on Instagram and calls me a legend – his parents raised him to be respectful and kind; I got chatting to Vesna, the fabulous model who got the job for the show as the mature (tall) model and  I knew she’d ace it, AND she’d keep up with those tall boys; and, lastly, the Seven TV producers featured some of the best photographs from my fashion Instagram, which drove new followers to my personal Instagram, from where I directed them to my fashion page. They announced my Instagram was ‘exploding,’ which sounds fantastic but in reality I’m gaining about 200 a week and now sitting at nearly 3,500. Grateful.

Life is full of surprises and I’m embracing them with gratitude. Cheers, dahlings, here’s to the good life – we deserve to always be kind to ourselves.

2 thoughts on “Grateful in springter

  1. Tilly, I believe you have more accurately captured here — more than anything or anywhere else I have ever seen or read before — the pure joy of fashion therapy. A smart alien could read this blog and begin to understand the emotional decompression and heavenly relief that can result from simply dressing up in pretty clothes. ✨✨Fashion Therapy is a REAL CURE! for winter blues (and blues period, for that matter.✨✨ On an unrelated note, what epic photographs of the magnificent view — from your kitchen window!!!!😲 … My one request after reading this fabulous latest blog of yours is more details please in a future article about your roots as a little girl living on the Garden Route of South Africa… You deserve your explosive success. You deserve every minute of this sparkly glory! 💎💎💎🌟✨👑💖💫🥂 I am so deeply proud of you. And the best part, Young Lady, is that you are just getting started!❤️🚀🚀
    ~ Suzana Barton


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