by Tilly Smith Dix

Losing a beloved relative is never easy. However, watching their deterioration, struggles with memory, and the simple, basic functions of life, is worse. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Cancer, these seem to be the most dreaded enemies of the aged.

When attending a celebration of a long, fruitful, mostly happy life that has left us, we do tend to dwell on the departure of the special soul we are paying homage to, instead of celebrating a life well-lived.

While I was contemplating this thought, a granddaughter of this dearly departed, strong, feisty, clever soul we were paying our respects to announced her and her partner’s excitement in expecting a new little soul, in the summer. I cannot express in words how happy this news made me on such a sad day. It changed the mood into a celebration of life, as it should be.

As the seasons come and go, as lives depart, new life springs eternal and this, I see as the magical circle of life at its best, ever mutable.

Speaking of that magical universal circle of energy, the news has been laden with professors and other experts in psychology labelling some dodgy world leaders and celebrities as narcissists. How to keep ourselves positive and safe from such toxic people, not easy.

If you are working with a narcissist, involved with one, even married to one, these are points to remember:

         A narcissist will never apologise for being wrong, unless it is a means to their hidden agenda; they will never admit to being mistaken; they will rewrite scenarios to suit their agenda; they also love-bomb to get someone to fall in love with them; once they feel they have the power over such a person, they will try to control that person; once they’ve established dominance, they will also use banter to belittle that person in company as the narcissist needs to be the centre of attention.

They are on a spectrum, therefore, often highly intelligent in reading their environment to execute their agenda. They also happen to like losers as they know they can control such people.

They will usually choose a partner who is attractive and accomplished, an asset on their arm. Once such a partner defies their will, war is declared in a catch-22, never-ending battle of wills.

Often, narcissists are indulged by parents in their childhood who fail to instil boundaries and who prefer to be blinded by the narcissistic child’s charms and whims, allowing the foundation of this personality to be cast, believing it a gift to the world.

How do children handle any failure if they believe they are invincible? Apparently, providing a child with too little or too much self-esteem could also trigger a narcissistic personality. If their belief in themselves is totally suppressed by parents, such a spectrum child will create a world of their own, in which they rule. Too much self-confidence? They will always blame others for any failures of their own.

My point? Be aware of children’s behaviours and flaws. If it is evident the child has narcissistic tendencies, have them evaluated and treated by a professional, who’d also provide parents with the tools to help such a child develop into a more balanced individual.

The world has enough problems, let’s try and lighten its load and prevent unnecessary heartache and mayhem caused by such disorderly personalities. Struggling with insecurities and heartache caused by a narcissist? Get therapy. Seeking professional help makes you a winner!

In short, don’t wrestle with a pig, says one expert. The pig likes it, and you get dirty.

Remember, they will try to destroy you, then pretend to help you as they don’t like to let go of people from the past. Just ignore them. The only way to deal with such a person is to remove their power, by denying them your attention. Choose a good life, choose happy.

Continuing with the wonders of life, attending a school concert with my family, in which the eldest, now eleven-years old, was outstanding in her chorus line, was a reminder of happy childhood events. The energy of children, seeing them blossom on a stage, watching the young discover its creative powers, some displaying great promise of comedic proportions too, brought a happy tear to my eye.

Observing how our young performer on the night was supported by her younger brother and sister, was deeply satisfying. As we all know, siblings often bicker, and compete. So, the brief adoration of her siblings put the cherry on her proverbial cake of joy on the night. I drove home with a huge smile on my face, singing Cinderella Rockefeller, from the hilarious pantomime.

Although the circle of life starts with our young, I believe the secret to eternal youth is not looking twenty forever, it is holding on to our inner child and allowing that boy or girl to embrace the simple joys of life, immaterial of age.

I’ve mentioned, in earlier blogs, how often idiotic people are blocked on the Instagram platform I frequent, on which we focus on ageless style, beauty regimes, life, and slow fashion.

Well, some fool recently commented, “sixty is still sixty,” not understanding the IG handle @Sixty_is_the_new_40 – I must also add, this bloke is a keen fisherman, posing with big fish on his posts. Now what interest, in the name of King Fish, would this man have in following mature women discussing fashion, beauty and lifestyle?

Luckily, and boy, am I grateful for being older and a little wiser, I did not stoop to engage in a discussion. The blocking finger is swift – that would be the deadly long finger third from the thumb.

The point of labelling ourselves as Ageless, Proage, Ageing Well, Age Is Just a Number, and the like, is not because we believe we can compete with younger women or look twenty years younger. It is about simply not allowing ourselves to feel old by behaving as if we’re on our last legs.

While we have life, our health, our faculties, (well, most of them anyway), we embrace it, make the most of ourselves and support each other where needed. It’s called Women Supporting Women. It’s a beautiful thing.

Yes, some do opt for cosmetic help to look younger. That is their choice. I specifically follow those who do so subtly, when they do that thing. If it makes them feel better, power to them. My advice, for what it’s worth, though, is, if irresolute about having work done or fillers injected, wait. Look at others who are older and natural. See their beauty and embrace your own.

I have no beef with men following me on IG if they are respectful. Hopefully, they learn a thing or two about women ageing intelligently, happily and stylishly, and will respect such qualities in their partners as they grow older too.

Dining gems

Dining at Stumpy Gully to celebrate a dear friend’s house sale on a cold winter’s day, was an ideal end to a frantic week.

The myriad winery dining gems on the Mornington Peninsula make for easy dining choices but I think this one is going to be my favourite for some time. Stunning location, a mere 20-minute drive from home, convenient for my Mornington and city friends to meet up with because of its proximity to the highway, superb service, scrumptious food, and excellent wine. In fact, I enjoyed the bubbles, with a slight French nose, so much, I could not resist taking a bottle home!

The select menu made for some time to ponder the delicious choices. Settling for the torched blue mackerel (accompanied by dill emulsion, fennel, and nasturtium), followed by slow cooked Gippsland beef cheek (with caponata, parsnip and pine nut za’atar), and broccolini on the side, washed down with the delicious Stumpy Gully Brut Sparkling, tasted like a sublime holiday.

Someone recently told me they did not like looking at winter vineyards. I see beauty of promise in those bare vines, as every season plays its supreme part in creating the promise of a different, lush transformation in progress, and spring is almost here…

Pictured above: Stumpy Gully is a feast for the senses. Another gem in the winery and restaurant crown of the Mornington Peninsula.

A favourite bayside restaurant remains Waves on the Beach at Frankston. You could not dine closer to the water and whatever the weather, even on a drizzly winter’s day, the view remains a marvel. It somehow reminds me of a little hotel I used to stay in overlooking the beach of Monterrey, California, located on Cannery Road.

This is a different vista with a vibe all its spectacular own but linking it with another special place, somehow, enhances the experience even further. Something I love about growing older. We have memories and stories galore! Silver linings, right? Forget the wrinkles, count the stories instead.

So, my chosen family is growing and great friend Rika, now commonly known as my Aussie sister, agreed, we were choosing our fellow expat Len Voster as our Aussie brother. Lunch is always a jolly affair, and Len, who loves the drive to the Peninsula to meet with us, finds it a welcome escape from city suburban life.

Also being a child of the Cape of South Africa, I know how he feels, so, the kindred spirits unite on a regular basis, when the stories and laughter shared during scrumptious meals and vistas, make for great new memories.

I can hardly wait to hear accomplished pianist Len’s recordings of our composer friend Lachlan Brown’s latest marvels. I wrote about how my little antique organ brought us all together in perfect harmony in an early blog this year. This magical circle of life just keeps on giving, we simply have to see…

Pictured above: Len Voster, bay views, pan-seared barramundi, seafood linguine, and seafood jamb-aella at Waves on the Beach in Frankston.

So, having such magical destinations on my doorstep makes my decision not to travel for a while in the wake of this lingering pandemic so easy… cheers to the delightful Mornington Peninsula.

However, if you are planning to visit South Africa in need of a five-star, affordable safari fix, look no further than Tau Game Lodge. I enjoyed this recent review by Sara Essop: https://inafricaandbeyond.com/tau-game-lodge-review

Pictured above, the birdlife at Tau Game Lodge’s waterhole is always spectacular.

Sofa spud

No doubt, there is plenty to watch on the box but sadly, most of it is so violent and obnoxious, they all seem the same in the end! Damned scary too. They could drive me into adult nappies ahead of my time, I kid you not.

However, Queen Bees streaming on Binge, with the now late James Kahn and Ellen Burstyn, produced last year before Kahn’s death, insinuates that 80 is the new 18.

We can snigger but I saw firsthand how romance blossomed in retirement villages years ago, when my now late dad moved in after Mom’s passing. The ladies were on high alert, and he virtually had to hide at times. No, it’s not only the ladies who are often ready to get back on the dating train, as the stories I heard of lonely widowers romancing the gals seemed pretty similar to boys trying to impress girls when I was in my teens!

It’s never too late for love. The stellar cast includes the always endearing Anne Margaret, zesty Jane Curtin, hilarious Loretta Devine, and engaging Christopher Lloyd. Delightfully directed by Michael Lembeck, I felt this movie so relevant as now that one is no longer a spring chicken, you realise, authenticity, honesty, life lessons, love, living, caring, this all becomes profoundly relevant when we are in our mature years. Cheers to love and those who embrace it.

An old favourite movie, also on Binge, brought back such sweet memories from the 80s.  Against All Odds, starring Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges, and James Woods, with the hauntingly beautiful title song by Phil Collins, is still a great movie.

Somehow, watching this movie again after so many years, remembering that era, the music, trends, and memories of people I encountered, made for a magical trip down memory lane.

One such memory was of a visit to the Overberg region in the Cape of South Africa, not far from Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa.

Reminiscing about spending a weekend in the then relatively unspoiled fishing village, Arniston, with friends and neighbours in Cape Town, brought tears of glee to my eyes.

I remembered arriving at my friends’ holiday cottage, walking on the beach on a wintery afternoon and descending into the cave, big enough to accommodate a large yacht at low tide but impossible to navigate at high tide. A remarkable place, also known as Waenhuiskrans Grot, (Wagon House Cliff Cave), way back when.

So, we collected fresh mussels off the rocks, which I was to cook with pasta for our dinner. The men planned to purchase fresh fish, choices including black bream, (galjoen), or dusky cob, (kabeljou) the following day, fresh off the boats.

Of course, as it was a long weekend, they said the only place in town to purchase firewood from was at the Arniston Hotel, which today, I hear, is a luxurious destination, complete with a wellness spa.

So, while friend Debbie and I cleaned the mussels and prepared the meal, adding fresh garlic and plenty parsley, the men took off to get firewood before the weekenders arrived.

Well, given we were in our 20s, and that boys would be boys, three hours later, the men had not returned, and we decided to have dinner without them. In the meantime, we also discovered a striped field mouse and her two youngsters behind a cupboard in the kitchen. We had cheese and after some wine, okay, several glasses, we had just about tamed mama-mouse enough to snatch cheese from our fingers to feed her offspring.

Then, the wine now really at play, we saw headlights driving in the direction of the cottage and realised the boys had finally gotten off the bar stools at the hotel, where they’d obviously been sharing conviviality with some locals.

So, in a fleeting moment, great (wine-soaked), minds thinking alike, we dripped some tomato sauce at the front door, overturned a chair or two, and hid in a dark corner under the dining table.

Revenge was sweet. The guys, at first, sounded full of bravado, with my boyfriend saying this was probably me plotting to scare them and he’s not falling for it.

After half-hour of searching, joking, and looking for us under beds and in the bush, things got more serious. When Debbie’s boyfriend started passing wind on yet another trip into the garden to look for signs of us, Debbie whispered that David only got windy when nervous.

When we overheard them planning on calling the police on the old landline, we emerged from our hiding place, right under their noses!

See what happens when you watch a favourite old movie? It’s like visiting a dear old friend and sharing stories of the good old days, again. Call it therapy.

Spring and late-winter style

Whilst spring is a tad slow in arriving, the sun has been out most days and layering garments is part of the fun during the transformation of a new season.

Getting creative is not always easy but if we build a wardrobe with solid foundation pieces, timeless accessories and quality wraps and cardigans, even ponchos, the battle is won.

Ah, and then there is the luxury of silk, always a good idea. Receiving a French-bow halter-neck silk maxi-dress in my colour choice, copper, from Silk Maison proved ideal to welcome a warmer season.

I could wax lyrical about this forever goddess dress, suitable for any age, but I’m going to make it short and sweet. Using sustainable silk and authentic textiles, including pure wool, I’m smitten with the craftsmanship and designs of their fashion.

For those of you now entering autumn, or who simply wish to stock up on quality, soft, stylish, sustainable winter items now for next year, feast your eyes not only on the dreamy silk dresses, shirts, suits, and sleepwear, but also the luxe coats on offer for the colder season.

Check them out at: https://www.silkmaison.com/ or on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/silkmaison/

The high-quality garments are shipped internationally, and the prices are highly competitive. By using my 25% discount code TILLY, you get Silk Maison fashion for even less than advertised. You can thank me later as these also make for magical gifts any woman of style would treasure and be grateful for. Prices are in US$.

Another superb fashion label I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog, and often on my Instagram handle @Sixty_is_the_new_40 is Gentle Herd.

I’m smitten with their quality and style, not to mention the affordability of such quality! Lucky me, I recently received two items from them and will be wearing the light knit as well as the cashmere knit for many years to come, ideal for colder days as well as on the milder trans seasonal days. Long live quality and the softness of the finest wool and cashmere.

See their latest ranges at https://smarturl.it/o2z0hg

For less 25%, use my discount code TILLY – prices are in US$ and they ship internationally.

Cheers to the good life, living our best life. Not there yet? Start planning and projecting. If we start with the easy stuff, like the beauty of nature, the kindness of strangers, the people we care about us and for whom we care deeply, surely the good life will follow…

 end

2 thoughts on “The Circle of Life

  1. Tilly, I absolutely love your writings. I am so enthralled with you that I am thinking of paying you a visit. At one time, you wrote that you are not into men. But, I would be so different. Is there a chance we could make something work? I am 75, but a website called biological-age.com puts me at 42. Am enclosing a recent photo to prove it (that is the Gloria Ferrer vineyard in the background, northern California).

    Donald Parrot CEO CliniPlan, LLC 17648 Ponderosa Ave. Parker, CO 80134 720-933-9774

    Like

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