Imagine wearing 16 necklaces at a time. Imagine turning 90, decked out to the max in high fashion, with a colorful array of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and a designer outfit fit for a queen. This is what Iris Apfel does in the documentary IRIS. The mass around her neck seemed like 16, but in truth: at least three items each on both neck AND wrists, at all times. The mere weight of the collections she wore seemed to overpower this petite lady. Wild.
Iris lived a life with flare and individuality. Her over-the-top look turned lots of heads, but she didn’t care one whit. At 90, she was merely living life as she always had, just with, as she puts it “a few more wrinkles.” What used to be called “a pistol” no doubt.
Not long into the movie, envy started creeping in. I wished I had the courage this lady had to enjoy her life to the max no matter her age. It seems silly to attach the word “courage” to just being yourself, but that’s what it takes to be different when there’s always so much emphasis on youth and conformity.
But it’s never too late to change, so…  starting now, I shall henceforth refer to my birth-week instead of my birth-day. I shall remember Iris as I fill this week with ways to pamper myself, starting with my favorite — a massage. I put responsibility aside today and spent an hour with someone who had very strong hands, who seemed to know every muscle in my body and the attention it needed. For less than the cost of a new pair of shoes, it did a body good! A different mood and mindset is already settling in only three hours after this little respite from stress.
My British born mother would have cringed at the thought of spending such money and time on herself. So selfish, she would think, to put yourself first. Putting yourself first so you can better take care of others was an idea unheard of back then. Taking care of yourself, especially when you’re in the throes of parenting, means that your misery won’t be rubbing off on the little ones who live with you. What a concept.
With another heartbreaking school shooting this week, this time just two hours away, mental health is more on my mind than ever. Truth be told, when I wonder if I’m leading the life I love, the answer is not really. I’m still too focused on what needs to get done, but I don’t have a 9-5 job. I am not parenting. I have choices. Silly me.
Living a life of responsibility took a firm hold after so many years, until a wake-up call from Iris Apfel kicked my butt. It looked as though she lived everyday like it was her b-day, and even though this was only a snapshot into her life, the perspective it portrayed stuck — Be yourself. You are worth it.
My birthdays have gotten down-played over the years, and ninety is a long way off, but I’m bringing mine back into the fold way ahead of time. It’s a built-in reminder for me to live a more fulfilling life… starting with that full body massage. Always, always, always at the top of the pleasure list.