Let your freak flag fly

Every once in awhile, you read an article and you think, I love this person. That’s how I felt when I read, “Iris Apfel Doesn’t Do Normcore” in the New York Times this week.

I’d never heard of Iris Apfel before, but I’m going to go on record to say she must be the coolest 93-year old on the planet.

Let me rewind to a side conversation that happened Friday morning. A co-worker came into my office with a new, funky shirt on. We said how much we liked it, even though she started by saying it was different, almost apologizing. I was wearing one of my favourite Aztec sweaters. Every time I wear this sweater or one of my ponchos, someone (usually Dave, since that’s what husbands are for) makes a joke about me being Pocahontas or something.

Then at lunch I read about Iris Apfel. Iris has been a mainstay of the New York fashion scene for decades and is the subject of a new documentary. Here are some “Irisicsms” from the article.

“I think, given a choice, it’s better to be unstylish but happy.”

I love clutter. I think being totally minimal shows a lack of history and soul, and I find it sort of pitiful. I think it’s wonderful to have stuff and live with memories and things you enjoy.”

“There’s no free lunch, baby. You have to give up something to get something else, but that’s a very small price.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to read the article for inspiration, then let your freak flag fly. Be you, wear what makes you happy and be fearless.

Post script: I loved this article because it drew on so many of my blog posts over the past year. See these happy acts for bonus inspiration…

Watch Iris’ movie trailer…

Age is just a letter

This week is my birthday, and let’s just say it has a zero in it. I’m OK with that, because to quote my favourite line from Dumb and Dumber To, “Age is just a letter, Harry”.

I remember once my father-in-law telling me that despite being in his 80’s now and feeling all that the number 80 entails, in his mind he was still 17, looking for the next adventure and ripping it up with his buddies in Harriston.

We may age in our bones, but not in our hearts and minds.

This week’s #HappyAct is to repeat after me, “Age is just a letter, Harry.” You are never too old or too young to try something new, do something silly, learn, grow, love, fail or set out on your next adventure.

Here are some of my other favourite lines from Dumb and Dumber To—watch it on video when it comes out. While I know some critics panned it, I thought it was hilarious and even funnier than the first one!

“Water under the fridge”

Hook, line and sphincter”

“I’ve always wanted to go to India and volunteer at one of those leprechaun colonies,” “I think you mean Ireland.”

Spend time with someone older and wiser

Our family and Audrey
Celebrating with Audrey

Yesterday we celebrated the 85th birthday of someone who holds a special place in many hearts, Audrey Tarasick.

I first met Audrey in 1979 when her daughter Leslie and I became inseparable as teenagers. Audrey lived on a farm north of Kingston where she had moved on her own to set up an alternative school. Fiercely independent, with a zest for adventure and life, yet soft-spoken, patient and loving, Audrey quickly became a unique role model in my life.

She was one of the only women I knew who was an expert woodworker and who converted the entire front section of her house into a workshop to make dollhouses. She was the first to say, “go for it” on hot summer days when she would take us to Eagle Lake for a swim even though we didn’t have our bathing suits.

She has taught us the precise time to sugar off, when the syrup drips deliciously from the ladle to form a silver dollar at maple syrup time. She has steadfastly refused over the years to “babysit” her grandchildren, opting to spend time with them instead, and as a result has close relationships with the 15 grandchildren who love her dearly today. She has taught me about parenting, and has been there for Dave and me during some of the most difficult times in our life.

I have learned so much from this incredible woman. But the thing I appreciate most about Audrey is her different viewpoint on life. Whether it’s global warming, parenting, politics or rural living, Audrey always has a unique and insightful perspective. There’s been many a time in the family kitchen during a heated discussion, I find myself wondering, “I wonder what Audrey is going to say.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to spend time with someone older and wiser than you. Listen to what pearls of wisdom they may share. Here was my favourite from yesterday. Audrey was shooting hoops in the basketball competition, and I teased her that she was grunting like the tennis pros. She said to me, “As you get older, everything is easier if you grunt”. Happy birthday, Audrey. Thanks for being such a wonderful friend and role model.

Audrey shooting a bow and arrow
Audrey trying her hand in the archery competition


Women having tea in a team room
Special girls outing to Spindletree gardens earlier this summer, three generations of two families celebrating together