Proof of life – Tilly the Good Life

Proof of life – Tilly the Good Life

by Tilly Smith Dix

Wearing our character lines like a badge of honour and allowing ourselves to display our emotions on our faces, and with grace, is a gift. I remember my darling mom telling me to stop pulling funny faces behind her back (I then believed she had eyes in the back of her head), as it would remain like that when the clock strikes!

Years later, I was reminded of this wisecrack when sexy Samantha of Sex and the City was telling a worried Carrie not to frown as when she starts ageing, it would show, demonstrating how her own forever upturning facial expressions would age so much better, thereby reducing wrinkles. It was funny at the time. Now I see her point.

The new norm for us to become carbon copies of people who have changed their appearances to such an extent, they’d need to be reintroduced to their parents, does not appeal to me.

Of course, people should make the most of their appearance if they wish. Hook nose? Buck teeth, a lazy eye, a wattle neck far too early in life? However, drawing that fine line between improvement, a gentle nip and tuck, and the ridiculous, should be mandatory and surgeons who encourage those grotesque makeovers should be brought to book as their greed is turning chronically insecure people into freaks. I find it disturbing and heartbreakingly sad.

I recently saw a clip of an acceptance speech during the 1987 Emmys by the late great Rue McClanahan of Golden Girls fame. When she first tried to get into the movie business, she was told she was not photogenic enough for television.

Years later, when she won the Outstanding Actress award, she said: “Every kick is a boost. I won’t mention who kicked me…. but you’ll be in the book!” Yes, I guess she had some cosmetic work done over the years, in that business it’s often compulsory but she still looked authentic. My point? Be you and know your worth!

By a certain age, we all show proof of life in our faces and bodies. Sad eyes, laughter lines, worry lines, frown lines. I knew a handsome man years ago who did not like his teeth as they were not even, yet still attractive. Once his teeth were remodelled to movie-star perfection, he decided he did not like his slight frown lines and laughter lines, so, he had a full facelift. The surgeon tucked his face so tight, he had a permanent grin, with eyes that looked perpetually startled, and one of the man’s friends remarked he looked as if he had been driving against the wind at high speed in his convertible Mercedes for too long.

He went from handsome, with some gorgeous character lines and the beginning of a silver-fox appeal in his early forties, to the ridiculous! He also admitted that he was unable to close his eyes now, so, he wore shades to bed otherwise he could not sleep, even in a dark room.

His girlfriend felt he had now shed at least 20 years of his life, so, she had a facelift and a startling 20cm added to her already generous chest size. Were they happier? No! They split up soon after, perhaps realising they were not unhappy because of the way they looked but the way they felt!

The latest “I look my age” movement does not sit well with me either as I believe it encourages ageism. Do I want to look my age? No! Yes, I want to look good and wear my lifelines with grace, but categorising age and beauty is becoming a tad tired. Just be! Men and woman looking good at any age should suffice. Dame Judy Dench, Emma Thompson, Harrison Ford and Pierce Brosnan are looking naturally great, who cares about their actual age? It’s just a number!

Beauty in our youth is mostly taken for granted and we are lucky if we have good genes. We only appreciate those as we age but life knocks us about and try as we might to deal with it the best way we could, some have more hardships and messy stitches in their tapestry of life, especially when it involves their physical and mental health.

My point is to keep it real. I had several cosmetic procedures many years ago after an assault when I asked a street vendor to replace the broken small foldup table, which he’d sold me the previous day. He did not like me demanding such service, whilst I was naïve enough to believe the Zimbabwean man would be fair, so, when I insisted, he hit me in the face.

The pain of having facial bones reconstructed, involving five surgeries over three years, was no fun but I had no choice! I was not going to go through life with a fractured nose and cheekbone.

I have delicate bones as I’m petite and once these procedures were complete, a cowboy cosmetic surgeon  (he was struck off the medical roll some years later for being a cokehead and allowing his nurses to perform procedures he should have done), not the caring surgeon who had operated on me, tried to coerce me into having Botox as it would even out the discrepancy in my cheeks post-surgery. I declined. I also declined further surgery as I sort of liked my face not being perfect. I just wanted to look normal.

Ageing is not for sissies, but we could add a little grace to the mix. Too many fillers and wearing enough makeup to sink the Titanic is fine for movie roles and the stage but in reality the need to attempt to twin with a celebrity filled to the brim with fillers seems to have spiralled out of control.

However, if anyone chooses this route, I’ll not judge them as it’s damned confusing when we feel and think younger, yet we face that person in the mirror without their glossy trimmings, and they look like the grumpy old man or woman we’ve been trying to keep out… (said with a petrified pout I promptly tried to turn into an upturned Samantha simper)…

I also blame some influencers. WHY are people following them like the second coming, taking every post and word as gospel? Too many of them don’t do their homework and research, and as they are set on fame and often driven by greed, they’ll promote anything that pays them well. Do they share with followers when things go wrong and the possible long-term damage that could ensue by their actions? Responsible posting, especially when one has a large following, is key. Keep it real. Please.

Yes, tripping over the sorry souls who have decided we no longer matter as we have silver tresses and our interesting stories spanning over decades are of zero importance to them, is also a reality. Realising we have nothing to prove as we’ve paid our dues, and still pay our taxes, we focus on savouring every moment of living. In the end, our tribe finds us!

The beautiful Paulina, former super-model, mother, rocker widow, and survivor, wears her emotional scars, grey tresses and facial lines like a crown of honour. She wrote a book about her journey and is part of a select group of women who are once again hitting the headlines and the catwalk for embracing their age and ageing honestly and graciously. She still looks fabulous in a bikini too!

I was outraged when I saw how vile some women were in response to her Instagram posts, reflecting her facial lines and silver-grey hair. Her hashtag of “between Jlo and Betty White,” is so relevant now. Her response was gracious but I’m certain these women, who obviously have no respect for others and less for themselves, had hurt her deeply.

I agree with her response of: “I don’t know how I’m supposed to look at my age. I only know how I look now.” I salute her and my response to those nasty crones? Karma is not a beach, and when she strikes, it’s vicious.

Being ageless in our minds, keeping the old person out, laughing as often as possible, every day, smiling at strangers, smiling at people we adore, and smiling inwardly about our ageing journey is a privilege.

I’m off to my yoga session, where we are constantly reminded by our lovely yoga coach Tee at Soul Essence Yoga in Mt Eliza to, “unclench the jaw, relax the face, just focus on your breath.” After the class, I have a renewed spring in my step, realising all my limbs and joints are still in working order, albeit at times a tad stiff. Celebrating our proof of life? It takes practise… be careful of a negative facial expression when that clock strikes (said with outrageous, self-deprecating chuckles).

Out and about

I often feature the scenic drives through vineyards, hills and along the spectacular oceanfront of the Mornington Peninsula but sometimes a change is truly as good as a holiday and playing hooky for a day, indulging in a leisurely drive to my old stomping ground, Mount Dandenong and its surrounds, commonly known as The Dandenongs (not to be confused with the suburb Dandenong), proved how a day-vacation could be balm for the soul. I was in great company and playing tour guide for a special visitor from abroad.

It was a misty day and knowing the cloud would be thicker at the top of the mountain, where pretty Olinda nestles in the forest, our little party stopped for a delicious chai latte and hearty beef pie, fries and a fresh garden salad at Olinda Café, ideal on a chilly day. My friends declared the butternut soup a triumph too, whilst our shared lemon meringue pie was a zesty burst of sunshine on a chilly day.

Afterwards, we meandered down the winding roads through quaint Sassafras, and further down the misty mountain to Belgrave, where we’d just missed the historical little steam train on narrow gauge departing from Puffing Billy station. Stepping into history that is preserved with care for future generations is always heart-warming and our visitor seemed thrilled with the scenic surrounds, forestry, and picturesque little towns dotted along our route, vowing to relocate here soon!

Pictured above, dining at Olinda Cafe, and not drinking and driving on a misty Mount Dandenong.

Pictured above, scenes from Puffing Billy Station in Belgrave, featuring friends Rika and Barend, and a kookaburra.

Yabby Lake Vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula

My dear friend and I had a starter to share, beetroot cured salmon with orange, fennel, and dill; beef pie with kale and a butternut reduction; cassoulet comprising pork belly, duck leg confit, Italian pork sausage, haricot beans, Emmental cheese, and herb crumb; with the dark chocolate cherry mousse cake, macerated cherries, and mascarpone as a finale.

It was delicious but the kale was tough as an old boot and be warned, prices at most wineries are higher than on the seafront or even in the city. It’s great for a special occasion or if you have a generous budget for dining out.

Pictured above, dining at Yabby Lake Vineyard in Tuerong on the Mornington Peninsula.

Meeting special friends at Blue Train in Southbank for a day out in the city was a treat. Melbourne is a multi-cultural city and the stylish urban crowd, sophisticated eateries, impressive architecture of the old fused with modernity. Strolling along the Yarra River is always a joy. Crossing the river on the impressive Pedestrian Bridge or the Princes Bridge to South Bank, rates up there with some of the most revered cities of the world.

My choice of pan-seared salmon accompanied by honey-glazed heirloom carrots, broccolini pesto potatoes and crumbled feta was pure delight.

Pictured above, a wood duck in a fountain, dining at Blue Train in Southbank, and scenes of Melbourne on a misty day.

Only a few days later, my dear friend Rika and I travelled into the city for dinner at Waterfront in Southbank, where my white snapper pie arrived with an authentic French crust on top, laden with fish and veg in a creamy sauce, and bursting with flavour. For a moment I imagined being back in Paris, overlooking the Seine, dining on creamy French cuisine. This is Melbourne, though, and the view of the Yarra River, the cosmopolitan ambience and friendly smiles from passers-by did just fine!

Pictured above, dining at Waterfront in Southbank, and Melbourne city by night.

Why did I make two city trips in one week? Who could resist a Brazilian Jazz concert with Carlos Ferreira and his group presenting The Golden Years of Brazilian Music at the Melbourne Recital Centre, with plenty old and new favourites but no Girl from Ipanema, which I found slightly disappointing.

I’ve not traversed the city by night for some time and the trendy vibe, friendly locals and tourists strolling along the river, stopping to peruse restaurant dining menus, and cocktail bars both on the river and along Southbank, again proved this to be a most liveable city.

Back on the Mornington Peninsula, fancy an authentic gelato in Frankston or a delicious Italian sweetie? Pop into Lavezzi, it’s like being a kid in a lolly shop and stepping into modern Italy with the quirk of a bygone era, complete with a lifelike mural of the Amalfi Coast. Take the kids, set them loose on the confectionery, and Mom and Dad could have a quiet night sofa bingeing when the little rascals come off that sugar high much later! Take a stroll down to the beachfront and watch the city across the bay in the distance, or marvel at the loveliness of Oliver’s Hill and Frankston Pier.

Pictured above, Lavezzi in Frankston, and driving between Mornington and Mt Martha, with a view of the city across the bay.

A view to a kill – spring safari at Tau in South Africa

Fancy a sustainable safari destination, malaria-free, with eco-friendly values, prolific wildlife, the Big Five and all the smaller animals in-between, with some 27 major game species roaming free in this natural habitat? Welcome to five-star Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, which borders the wilds of Botswana.

Then there is the birdlife. From grey and blue herons, kingfishers, fish-eagles, and the like, to migrating birds such as spur-winged geese, choosing this haven as their annual breeding home. A sanctuary of freedom to over 250 different bird species, safari birding could not get any better.

The endangered African wild dog, respected for its community-oriented spirit, has been breeding successfully in the Reserve for many years. Observing the pups play is equally thrilling to watching lion and cheetah cubs get up to mischief here, where game roam free.

Guests savouring a bush dinner in the Tau Boma overlooking the world-famous waterhole recently reported a lion kill at the waterhole! The lodge’s live webcam captured this spectacle too, when the Chaba pride killed a wildebeest, after which a female not of the same pride, stopped by for a drink with her cubs for some playtime – and a free meal! An elephant delicately stepped around the feasting cats, unperturbed by the event, followed by a giraffe dropping in for a sundowner…

All the chalets, including the standard chalets, offer sublime vistas of the waterhole, which envelopes the lodge.

Pictured above: The infinity pool at Tau Game Lodge and its cocktail bar overlooking the waterhole, and a recent scene of a kill at the waterhole.

The 24/7 Tau live webcam is pure armchair safari heaven at: http://taugamelodge.co.za/main-lodge/live-webcam/

See more at: www.taugamelodge.co.za

Sofa binges

Prime:

Operation Fortune with a full star cast, including Carey Elwes, Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Hugh Grant, and Josh Hartnett (so pleased he is back in action)! Released this year. Slick, stylish, action-packed, funny, witty, with great locations, ranging from LA to Morocco, directed by Guy Ritchie.

Half Moon Street, released in 1978, stars Michael Cain and Sigourney Weaver. Picture Pretty Woman with a PhD from Harvard living in Notting Hill Gate. Political chess.

Apple TV:

Shrinking, a limited new series, starring Harrison Ford and Jason Segel. Loved the punchy one-liners and Mr Ford is proving a delightful comic, smartly side-stepping the ridiculous grandfather roles Robert De Niro has opted for in his senior years. I giggled like a teen at quips such as: “I’m a white guy in Pasadena. Cops will probably just take my car to my house,” said when parking illegally on a pavement. Not PC but hilarious.

Netflix:

This new release of 2023, Heart of Stone, stars Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan. MI6, arms dealers, double-crossers, stunning locations, and Glen Close in a suit! Perhaps Gal should be the new Bond? I was thinking Jamie but Gal has serious action chops!

SBS:

The Chaperone, released in 2001, starring Elizabeth McGovern, is based on Louise Brooks, a dancer and actress of the 1920s. A delightful turn of events, wink-wink…

Focus on Bill Nighy, Wild Target released in 2010, also starring the talented Emily Blunt. A feel-good comedy about an assassin falling in love with a nutty beauty.

A touch of Oscar Wilde is always fun, and The Importance of Being Ernest, released in 2002, starring Colin Firth, Edward Fox, Judy Dench, and Reese Witherspoon, did not disappoint.

Binge:

I got hooked on Wild Scandinavia, with nature at its most beautiful and wild, sometimes cruel, the ebb and flow of tidal sand flats, fjords, majestic rocks, and massive mountains, proved pure armchair escapism.

Style

Changing of the season

Still in winter but layering for mutable temperatures daily, with a slight scent of spring in the air on sunny days, I’m focusing on basic items that are versatile and ideal for layering.

In other parts of the world, many are now preparing for autumn, and for once we are on a similar track, styling for early autumn and a late spring. Black and white basics work agelessly, so does camel. Add colour, or keep it monochromatic or neutral, whatever the mood.

Coats, wraps, ponchos, scarves, and jackets do the trick to keep the chill out. Styling made easy, whilst a knitted dress and a sleeveless woollen dress will serve us endlessly. Worth the ageless fashion investment.

Pictured above: Note the basic items and colours, adding layers, texture and pops of colour as we please for versatile style. The spring items featured in the last row are from Evaless and comprise, left to right: V-neck long leopard print T-shirt dress https://bit.ly/46UK0G8 – SKU: LC6114505-20-S; Flamingo Floral V Neck Casual Dresses https://bit.ly/3rw9HNc
SKU: LC6117161-10-S; Pink Floral Print Casual T-Shirt https://bit.ly/3NRw8E5 SKU: LC25218270-1-S – see @evalessofficial for up to 60% off+free gift+worldwide shipping – use code: Real20

For more detailed outfits, styling and brands on promotion, follow me on Instagram @Sixty_is_the_new_40 and see my latest monthly style article at: https://startsat60.com/media/opinion/bloggers/making-the-most-of-our-body-type-with-style

Cheers to the goodlife, and to savouring every moment of entering this new season, be it autumn or spring –  it’s proof of life…


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