by Tilly Smith Dix

So far, I’ve managed to ease into this new year with quiet resolve, mostly…

We’ve had a pretty good run with this pesky virus since the Holidays but we ended up in a five-day level-4 lockdown after a scare in a quarantine hotel, with international visitors returning to Melbourne.

The new cases were identified and isolated, so, for now, we are back on track, able to travel beyond 5km from our homes, kids back at school and shops and businesses operating again.

Sadly, so many shops have had to close their doors since this chaotic pandemic took hold of our world and I’m making it my mission to support local businesses and local brands. Got to reach out to those with the determination and resources to continue earning their livelihood and creating jobs for others for a fighting chance.

Someone posted on Facebook some time ago how tired they were of all the pearls of wisdom others were sharing as it seemed so cliched. I beg to differ. Proverbs remind us of good, simple old values, often. Actually, I don’t beg at all.

Valentines Day came and went and several folks seemed sad as they either had no Valentine or they were stuck with the wrong Valentine. My pearl of wisdom, to quote a message from one of the greatest songs ever written, sung by the great George Benson and then by the late great Whitney Houston: “learning to love oneself, is the greatest love of all.” Amen to that, darlings.

Years ago, a friend suspected her husband, whom she regarded as her soulmate, was having an affair. She was crushed and whilst she had no concrete proof, she felt he was not as present as he’d been in their first 15 years together.

I advised her to send herself a bunch of roses every week from an anonymous admirer. Yes, she knew she’d sent them but receiving those beautiful blooms with a card that read, “you are loved, never forget,” gave her joy!

At first, her husband seemed amused. By the second week he got antsy. By the third week he had a total freak-out. Her response, “I have no idea who it is but gosh, it’s nice to know somewhere in the world someone is thinking of me with such admiration.”

By the fourth week, her husband started sending her roses. Now, almost twenty years later, they are still together and happy. I think it was the flush of joy on her face that got to said husband every time she received the ‘anonymous,’ blooms.

A further proverb to annoy those who don’t appreciate them, see the worry in my eye, baby, is, ‘when life gives us lemons.’ What to do? Decide what your poison is, whether you prefer to make lemonade, margaritas, or lemon meringue pie. Can’t decide? Feeling a bit overwhelmed?

Take your sweet time to decide. Start by taking quiet time, just for you. Breathe. Look at nature. Detach from the stress. Get lost in a silly movie or a sad one, whatever. By escaping reality temporarily, the mind gets a break and soon, it becomes easier to tap into our inner wisdom – and instincts. This is the gold that seals the cracks in our fractured lives. Be kind to you. It DOES get better, (note to self)…

A walk in the hood

Living in Victoria is pure joy. Spoilt for choice to walk, hike or get serious about physical endurance-testing, it does not get better than this.

One of the trails I enjoy strolling in, in my steady, easy pace so I can still stop to smell the sweet, clean hilltop air, or chat to a kookaburra gazing at me with an inquisitive eye, is the Lilydale Warburton trail. The old rail track is ideal for walkers and cyclists.

Pictured above, scenes from the Lilydale-Warburton trail. A kookaburra quietly focused on lunch…

I don’t enjoy crowds when I’m communing with nature and it never seems crowded on this trail. My most recent meander was on a cool Sunday and it was quiet. The few folks passing me would greet, smile, and move along.

I heard a rustle in the tree above me and looking up, there was a juvenile kookaburra quietly waiting for something in the bush to present itself for a tasty Sunday lunch. I’m not insulted that said kooka ignored me quietly chatting to it. Focus on the prize…and free lunch! Much to learn from kookaburras.

Just driving to my family a mere 35 minutes away is like a holiday. My preferred route is through Wonga Park to Warrandyte. Horses, livestock, alpacas, kangaroos, it is always a panoramic treat.

Pictured above, driving between Lilydale and Warrandyte, clockwise, from left, kangaroos relaxing before sunset, healthy livestock and pretty horses.

Bonding with the sofa

A friend recently messaged me that he was going to propose to his sofa as it is truly his best mate.

My most recent indulgences from the comfort of my trusty sofa include: The Undoing, starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman. Riveting stuff with an unexpected twist.

I got hooked on Big Little Lies, also starring Nicole Kidman. There’s a scene where a narcissistic husband loses the family fortune. However, he salvages something that is of importance to him, at enormous cost. I don’t want to spoil the scene but think of me when the wife’s preferred choice of weapon against the offending treasured toy is a baseball bat. I’ve always wondered what such action would feel like and boy, it looked good…

The location, Big Sur, is a region I fell madly in love with during my visits some years ago. In fact, I spotted Doris Day, then still alive, walking her dog and her smile was just as bright as when she was a young woman. So, it was a little trip down happy memory lane, watching this captivating series.

Another series I’ve really enjoyed, is Firefly Lane. This is a sensational comeback for the talented Katherine Heigl, who is also part of the production team. The always captivating Sarah Chalke needs more PR. The enduring friendship between two polar opposite friends seems so true to life and I am hooked. An Aussie star making headlines in the US, Ben Lawson, does a great job in his role as a self-absorbed TV producer.

Watch documentaries at your peril. Most of them are quality viewing. However, watching the life of Jeffrey Epstein was not ideal viewing before bedtime. It shook me to my core, again being reminded how this sick individual, now gone, and his female companion, who’s name I cannot bring myself to even type, ruined the lives of young women not yet old enough to have been called women. How does a woman do this to other members of her species, especially young girls, or anyone, for that matter? I hardly slept. May justice be swift.

If you appreciate diamonds in the rough, and a saga of ranchers experiencing plenty hard knocks, peppered with some booze, romance and plenty laughter, flick to The Ranch on Netflix. Ashton Kutcher, Sam Elliott, Debra Winger, are included in this sterling cast. Warning, you won’t stop until you’ve seen the satisfying finale.

Remember the beautiful Katherine Ross from The Graduate? She is married to Sam Elliott, my quintessential modern cowboy. He is even more craggy now but still ticks the boxes as an actor and grumpy good guy. Loved him in The Ranch. Salt of the earth.

Fabulous food

Driving to the Mornington Peninsula to have lunch with my best South African maatjie in Aussie, (friend in juvenile Afrikaans), is always special and getting a fix of the azure bay, heady sea breezes and relaxed vibe of the region is food for the soul.

This time, we visited Mount Eliza and I was delighted by the old-world charm and refreshed town centre, and location. As it is mostly a residential village, it was not heaving with holidaymakers.

We had a mezze feast at 1001 Nights, an authentic Turkish restaurant. The service, atmosphere, Covid-safe operations, and food made for a superb lunch. I’ll be back!

Pictured above, clockwise, from top left, my lovely Instagram friend Sue, Turkish mezze platter at 1001 Nights in Mount Eliza, outdoor dining Mount Eliza, salmon eggs at BetweenUs on Maling Road.

My first taste of Turkish cuisine was at Sofra in St Christopher Place, London. Not a tourist in sight, even though it was a tiny Turkish hop from Selfridges but tucked behind the bustle of Oxford Street, with quaint cobble-stoned roads to picturesque mews homes.

It became a favourite haunt of mine during my visits to that bustling city, where I could meet friends, family or even dine solo, observing locals going about their business, especially the view of the deli next door selling scrumptious treats.

Joyful memories of similar eateries around the world and feeling welcome in a place where most folks seem to know each other’s name, truly enhances the dining experience for me. Not apologising for that little quip from Cheers. If you’re old enough to remember the series, cheers, mate.

I also had a delicious catch up with my lovely friend Sue, who spends her time between homes in Hawthorn and Sorrento, lucky little fish, and her adorable silky, Midge, at one of my favourite eateries on Maling Road, BetweenUs. I’ve reviewed the restaurant often over the years and still enjoy the location, service and cuisine.

The historical architecture of the building, refreshed with a modern dash of style, makes for a convivial ambience. In the 1900s it was home to a dentist, which my aged relative used to visit. When she was still firing on all cylinders, she would remind me of this memory from her youth.

Once Covid-restrictions were eased to visit our elderly folks, I popped in to see her and it was so sad to see her dementia having taken hold of that feisty spirit.

Well, suffice to say my sadness about her deteriorating mental condition was brightened by the fact that she still has an eye for the obvious and a tongue that speaks her mind. As I bid her goodbye, trying to hide my sadness about her confusion in general, I overheard her asking a fellow resident, at the top of her voice (she is rather deaf now), “how on earth does Tilly walk around without falling over in those high heels.”

I was about to enter the lift and burst out laughing and continued to giggle until I reached my car. It made my day. She still has spunk and dementia ain’t taking it from her. Silver linings.

When it comes to delicious food, my cousin Jason is a corporate, corner-office magician during the week. Weekends, he offers his gorgeous wife Helen, who juggles husband, three kids, two dogs, one cat and 4 hens, not to mention the wildlife in the garden, a break by doing the cooking. I’d hire him out but he is kinda busy.

The most recent Sunday BBQ was, again, a masterpiece, with J producing the most succulent deboned lamb, perfectly pink in the middle, as their eldest, beautiful, smart Cameron, attested.

Never a dull moment with my adorable family, especially around the dining table. Ashton, now aged three-and-a-half, has some incredible stories to tell. He informed us at table that he had been to the moon. When asked how he got there, he informed us in all seriousness, his sister took him there in a rocket but forgot about him! Intrigued about where this would go, we all wanted to know how he got back home!

Without any hesitation, he retorted, with big baby blues, “it was Batman!” We all cheered that amazing super-hero for bringing our boy home safely.

The imagination of children. We all need to tap into our inner child for some pure escapism and never have we needed it more than now.

In my skin

I don’t often share my beauty regime as, quite frankly, I take for granted that most women know how to take care of their skin.

A kind follower on Instagram recently asked me to share some tips.

My beautiful late mum was not big on make-up, talcum powder, a wet finger to shape her naturally arched eyebrows, a tiny pinch on her cheeks to get them all rosy, and a rose-coloured lipstick simply enhanced her glowing and age-defying skin.

Pictured above, clockwise, from top left, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, Clarins Extra-Firming Lotion, Clarins Double Serum, Lancome Micellaire Water, Aspect Hydrating Mask from Skincare Doctor, Lamcome Cleansing Milk.

She did teach me that we have one skin. Once it is ruined, it cannot be saved through lifting and expensive skin treatments. It is the foundation of our appearance and her simple skin regime consisted of cleansing with Ponds cold cream, then washed with warm water, followed by cold water to tighten the pores before applying Nivea moisturiser over her entire face and eyes, as well as neck and decolletage. It worked for her!

Of course, she also believed in drinking plenty water and eating a balanced diet. Low carb, high protein.

Sadly, my skin regime is more complicated but Mum enjoyed it when I’d be home for holidays to pamper her skin with facials and gifting her with my lotions and potions on her birthdays and at Christmas.

So, here goes. I never go to bed without cleansing my face. Cleanse and feed, I say. I prefer cleansing milk, to be rinsed off and Lancome has always done me proud, my preferred cleanser being, Lait Galateis Douceur.

My preferred gentle eye makeup remover remains Lancome Bi-Facil, non-oily and ideal for sensitive eyes.

This cleansing method is followed by a gentle wipe with Lancome Eau Micellaire Douceur – the miracle express cleansing water for face, eyes and lips.

I then rinse my face with warm water and tone with rosewater after drying, or with my favourite toner of many years, Sukin hydrating mist-toner.

My night-time facial pamper is Clarins Double Serum, for age control, accompanied by Clarins Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate. Why? I believe in feeding my skin at night and lifting it by day.

The morning beauty routine includes rinsing my face with warm water, then splashing it with cold water before toning and applying Clarins Extra-Firming Treatment Essence for bounciness, followed by Lancome Renergie Multi-lift crème and its multi-lift eye cream sister.

If my skin feels a tad tired from stress or lack of sleep, my magic potion for many years has been Clarins Beauty Flash Balm – it brightens and tightens, and the skin feels and looks rejuvenated.

Every two weeks I use a gentle enzyme mask, sent to me early last year from the Skincare Doctor Direct and it is pure beauty alchemy. The Aspect Fruit Enzyme Mask smoothens and soothes. Once it is rinsed off, I tone before applying the Aspect Hydrating Mask for overnight pampering, accompanied by my night-time eye cream and always a lip balm.

On alternate weeks, I use a gentle exfoliator instead of the enzyme mask. Clarins Fresh Scrub works best for me, and again, followed by a simple rosewater toner before applying an eye cream and the Aspect Hydrating Mask.

The sun is good before 10am but after that, I never go out without a sunscreen and a hat.

We also need to feed our skin from within and Nature’s Way’s collagen chewable gummies are amazing! Two of those babies a day, and they taste delicious too. I could see a visible improvement in my skin, hair and nails within weeks! Woolworths had a special on this product recently, so, I suggest we stock up with these yummy super gummies.

I also believe in treating my neck as kindly as I treat my face, so, whatever goes on my face, applies to the neck and chest – they are all closely related, so, treat them as one, needy family. When applying skin cream, use upward strokes as it stimulates the skin – and it prevents stretching skin in a downward motion. We don’t want that!

Glow on, lovelies! You deserve to take care of you. We are so worth it. Hope this was of some use.

Fashion fix

Last, but certainly not least, our love of fashion sustains us on my Instagram feed @Sixty_is_the_new_40 – not only do we share style ideas, but it is also a superb network of women supporting each other. Yes, you get some silly buggers who don’t take the time to peruse our bios, and shamelessly ask for dates, kisses and further inappropriate favours but the middle-finger, commonly known as my social media blocking finger, gets some exercise. Frankly, at my age, I should feel flattered, chuckle!

My diverse list of clients publicised over the years included the School of Etiquette, in which the first course focused on how we present ourselves to the world. The rule was very much about dressing for the position you wish to hold when going to your place of work.

  

Pictured above, clockwise, from left: a classic wrap dress from Poetry, in Hydepark Sandton, of about 7 years ago; classic straight pants at Country Road, about 3 years old; A big white shirt over a linen Country Road dress for layering; woollen ponchos are forever, same as faded blue jeans from Jeanswest, about 5 years old; a classic cashmere blazer from Queenspark, Sandton, about 24 years ago; a linen-knit dress from Country Road about 5 years ago; delicious ice cream pink linen dress at Country Road, still current in blue; pussy-cat tie blouse from Witchery two years ago; a classic pencil skirt from Witchery, still current, teamed with leopard-print bovine skin heels at Pink Inc at Myer; classic straight-leg jeans of about 13 years ago from Zara, London; all Trenery, classic, of about 10 years ago, except the wedge sandals at Midas Shoes, and handbag from Wayne Cooper at Myer; flared pants of about 20 years ago, teamed with a denim blazer from Decjuba two years ago and still current. Ageless style serves our closets well…

Old school, some might say, however, this always worked for me as I regarded dressing for success as showing respect for myself, the workplace as well as the folks I interact with in the workplace.

Some industries don’t require formal dressing, which is fine. However, even when relaxed attire is in order, a clean, neat appearance will make a better impression.

Now that we’re dressed up and ready to attend meetings and business lunches again, some sound advice given by an employer years ago, was to be nice to people you meet on your way up the ladder. Fact, you’ll need them when the next best thing tries to topple you from the top of the business ladder.

So, after this quick lesson in basic business protocol, enjoy feeling fab and caring enough to look your best for any occasion. I honestly believe we tend to feel as good as we look.

Of course, I’m super chuffed that I get huge discounts, receive fabulous vouchers and gifts of gorgeous fashion. The fact that my friends and family also spoil me with such gift vouchers for Christmas and my birthday, is a testament to them respecting my devotion to the finer things in life.

Cheers to the good life, life is (often) longer than we think, death is short… I heard that somewhere and liked it. Double cheers to that!

Pictured, clockwise, from left, wonderful attractions around the world at the moment: the Get a Grip of the Grind Festival in Bright taking place this weekend to encourage women to shine in their careers in Australia – http://www.getagripofthegrind.com.au; waterhole dining at Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Reserve, South Africa – http://www.taugamelodge.co.za; the Sandstone Easter Steam Festival 2021 in the Eastern Free State, South Africa – http://www.sandstone-estates.com

Ends.

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