Wow. This is the first-person account of the founder of Brother Vellies shoe and accessories line.

Aurora James was totally honest in her memoir. Proving that You Can Do It–whatever you set out to do that you’re supposed to achieve–despite experiencing abuse and trauma.

Aurora James’s life story should empower not just young girls. It should inspire everyone of any age to dream bigger even though obstacles are in our way.

Like I’m fond of saying: Where you start out is not where you must remain.

Aurora James was the woman who designed the AOC Tax the Rich gown for the MET Gala one year.

Listen: “Everybody Hurts” like REM titled their song.

Perhaps if more of us like Aurora James tell our stories we can kindle compassion in a world where hateful rhetoric appears to dominate the media.

Start at the bottom. Rise up. I like that kind of geometric equation.

Skin in the Game

After reading the above book I coined the term Bite of Life as in taking a Bite of Life.

For Beauty Individuality Truth and Empathy. This is what I believe in.

My view runs counter to the Dermalogica founder author. She doesn’t like and use the word beauty. I beg to differ.

Seeing beauty in the ordinary–in the broken; in the struggle; in the people, places, and things no one else deems beautiful–is a gift each of us can give each other.

What I seek to do is Celebrate Life by dressing up; by making art out of the everyday; by spreading joy and optimism in a world full of despair.

Read Skin in the Game to get a shot of confidence. Jane Wurwand’s life story could be any of ours with a twist. She had a failed first marriage by the age of 21–and things could’ve gotten worse.

Wurwand is living proof of what I’ve written before that where you start out is not where you have to remain.

That ambition born of altruism is the right way to lead in business and in life.

Wurwand references Madam C.J. Walker in Skin in the Game. How could she not. Walker was a radical beauty entrepreneur in her time.

Reading Skin in the Game I thought: “She could do it. So can I.”

Though I checked the book out of the library I recommend you buy it. It’s worth taking the gems of advice to heart.

You want to conquer a market. Or succeed in any venture. Be kind and care about people.

That’s what Wurwand made her mission as the founder of a skincare line that grossed $1Million in its first year in 1986.

How to Date Your Wardrobe

How to Date Your Wardrobe is a gift book hardcover packed with ideas and insight.

Page 79 sums up author Heather Newberger’s ethic:

“Instead of wasting your time wishing you were a different person, it’s important for all of us to let go of who we think we should be–so that we may enjoy the individuals we already are.”

This sentence has haunted me as it gets at what I’ve been reckoning with in my life. As hard as it can be to act true to ourselves in a society where you’ve expected to conform, I say being who you are is the only way to succeed in life.

The new electric purple lipstick I bought tells it like I am: The shade is called Unconventional Babe.

As sixty beckons for a lot of us it’s the time to do things differently. I recommend trying out a new haircut or taking up a hobby like cooking or starting to exercise.

It’s the perfect time to date your wardrobe and “revive, revitalize, and reinvigorate your style” like Heather Newberger advocates.

Simply creating new outfits has improved my outlook and given me incomparable joy.

Forget following fashion trends. If you don’t feel comfortable in what you’re wearing you won’t feel good or look good either.

I bought this book and refer to it often.

It’s my contention that when things aren’t going right in your life doing what comes easy to you that you like doing will save you from sinking into despair.

In one instant I changed my thinking. Talking about clothes and fashion isn’t frivolous when doing so can lift up others.

Men are not given grief for talking about and following sports.

Why should women be tsk-tsked for talking about dressing up and enjoying clothes?

I tell you it was liberating to get rid of the donation bags.

When you finally own only what you love to wear it makes getting dressed easier.

Seeing those beauties in my closet puts a smile on my face.

Read How to Date Your Wardrobe. Doing so you just might realize that changing your view of yourself can be as simple as changing what you wear.

Wallet Activism

The above book is the best of its kind that should be required reading by everyone in America.

The author talks about effective ways to tackle pressing issues like climate change and runaway consumerism.

In my life I choose not to travel long distances on airplanes that use fossil fuels. That’s the way I have of making a difference.

The second thing I’ve done is that I don’t eat meat. Not only for health reasons I do it because of the impact of CAFO slaughterhouses on the environment and degrading treatment of the workers there.

The third prime thing I do is to not shop on impulse. I hold onto the clothes I buy for at least five years or longer.

This year I’m going to retire the winter coat I’ve had for 11 years. Hopefully I can find a 100 percent wool coat this fall.

In the last 3 years I’ve donated 15 bags of clothes to the Salvation Army. The reality is most donated clothing winds up in a landfill in Ghana, Africa after being sold to resellers there.

My goal is to only buy clothes I’ll wear until they’re no longer wearable. Instead of accumulating un-wise buys I bring home that I rarely wear.

Cue the violins for the items I call “1990s office worker” shirts that I’m tossing in a new donation bag.

They. Are Not. Who I Am Today.

I turn 58 this spring. On a kick I am to upend the status quo.

Two years shy of 60 if you’re like me you’ll be reassessing everything in your life.

We’re getting closer to what I call the This is It! decade.

With my time here on Earth getting shorter I don’t want to waste my time money energy or effort on things that don’t positively impact my life or other people’s lives.

I’ll end here by saying that none of us should fear becoming older. Or fear speaking out on the things that matter to us.

The author of Wallet Activism revealed that the ban on plastic straws adversely effected individuals with disabilities. A lot of whom cannot use a paper straw to drink.

The list goes on of “green” practices that aren’t really effective when scrutinized further.

Read Wallet Activism and decide for yourself what measures you want to and can take to protect our Planet–and more than that the People living on our Planet.

The Financial Feminist

I checked this book out of the library.

Before raving about the guide I’ll bring up one glaring issue.

Author Tori Dunlap talks about ESG investing–Environmentally and Socially Responsible Investment Funds.

The Republicans in the U.S. government enacted a law to make ESG investing illegal.

In Effect you cannot decide for yourself what companies to invest your hard-earned money in.

These kinds of “Social Choice” funds do not invest money in fossil fuel companies, gun manufacturer, or the weapons industry among other businesses like these.

It would’ve become illegal to invest in companies that put people and the planet before the greed that creates deplorable conditions for workers everywhere.

LL Cool Joe–President Joe Biden–did one thing right. He vetoed the act that made ESG Investing illegal.

So as of today we can invest our money where we’d like if we so choose to invest our money in the stock market.

Should a Republican become president we can kiss this free choice goodbye.

Other than this reality that I was compelled to point out Tori Dunlap’s book should be required reading for those of us–even clueless guys–who need this kind of financial help.

Some of us love balancing our accounts and are aware of exactly what our account balances are on any given day. Not everyone needs to read The Financial Feminist.

Either way I recommend this book to everyone.

The difference is Tori Dunlap’s tone of voice is warm and empathetic. Unlike other personal finance authors she asks you not only to record one month’s worth of purchases. Dunlap tells you to write down why you bought the items and how you felt when you paid for them.

The second part that I liked was the chapter where you create financial goals with a mission and timeline that you want to achieve and how to fund this objective.

After that I stopped reading the book and skimmed only the interviews she featured with other women.

One woman was African American and stated point-blank that if she didn’t budget enough money for grooming her credibility would be trashed interacting with employers.

In one other finance book I read and can recommend the author claimed you didn’t need to adhere to a budget at all. Which makes sense. His belief was that you can use your money “to have anything you want–you just can’t have everything.”

So for some of us we’re going to splash cash on makeup at Sephora. Others are naturally inclined to shop at Walmart for Flower Beauty by Drew Barrymore.

The beef that Tori Dunlap has is that women are told to save money and stop spending frivolously. Men are told to invest money and accrue wealth. This fact is evident in the kinds of results that are given when women and men search on this topic on the internet. Different methods are shown for women than the ones for men in the search results.

I check out a lot of personal finance books from the library. First I check to see if a woman wrote the book. In one guide I checked out a woman told women readers to deduct car loan payments on the tax refund when you used your car for a business. Should every women want to be an entrepreneur? How is that advice supposed to help ordinary woman?

The Financial Feminist is the best book of its kind. Even for readers who are shrewd investors or veritable wealth wizards I recommend reading this Tori Dunlap book.

I’ll end here with the best personal finance books I’ve read:

Balance: How to Invest for Happiness, Health, and Wealth. Andrew Hallam, 2022.

Good Money Revolution: How to Make More Money to Do More Good. Derrick Kinney, 2022.

Money Strong: Your Guide to a Life Free of Financial Worries. Liz Davidson 2023.

Simple Money: A No-nonsense Guide to Personal Finance. Tim Maurer 2016.

Everything You Know About Money is Wrong: Overcome the Financial Myths Keeping You from the Life You Want. Karen Ramsay, 2001.

Happy Money. The Science of Happier Spending. Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton,  2014.

The Next Millionaire Next Door. Thomas J. Stanley & Sarah Stanley Fallaw, 2020.

The Smartest Retirement Book You’ll Ever Read. Daniel R. Solin, 2010.

We Should All Be Millionaires: A Women’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power. Rachel Rodgers, 2021.

Invest Like You Give a Damn: Make Money, Change the World, Sleep Well at Night. Marc de Sousa Shields, 2017.

Your Essential Guide to Sustainable Investing: How to Live Your Values and Achieve Your Financial Goals with ESG, SRI, and Impact Investing. Larry E. Swedroe 2022.

Again the Republicans in the U.S. government are trying to make this kind of investing illegal. Thus this book might become obsolete if a Republican becomes president.

The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+. Suze Orman, 2020.

The only Suze Orman book I recommend. She reduced an adult man to tears in a personal finance DVD where she was giving advice to audience members. She berated him for going to school to get a degree to have a new career. She told him he could’ve done fine in life by remaining a waiter for the rest of his life. What if he wanted to do something else? I was unemployed and had no job when I was back to school to obtain a Masters degree. Suze Orman is against doing this. Take what she says with a grain of salt. In her 50+ retirement guide she appeared to redeem herself with solid advice.

Why Should White Guys Have All the Wealth? How You Can Become a Millionaire Starting from the Bottom. Cedric Nash 2023


The 2023 book above I checked out of the library.

The author advocates for wearing natural fabrics that make us feel good wearing them.

She picks up where Maxine Bedat left off in Unravelled: The Life and Death of a Garment.

Lucianne Tonti explores the production process of wool, cotton, silk, linen and other natural fabrics.

How the creating buying and long-term wear of these clothes can be made truly sustainable with regenerative farming of flax cotton and sheep.

After reading Sundressed I knew that as sound as my habits have become I could do more going forward.

Dismayed I was to realize a costly J.Crew coat I bought (at a reduced yet not cheap cost) was not 100 percent wool.

Sometimes it takes reading a book or overhearing a conversation on the train to get a light bulb to go off in your head.

Feminist AF

Buy or check out of the library the book above.

It should be essential reading whatever your age race or gender if you want your eyes opened.

The book is geared to Brown and Black teenage girls to get empowered.

I checked it out of the library and read it in two hours. What an eye opener.

Though if you’re not in the demographic of the readers for this book perhaps you know a young girl you can gift this book to.

What you don’t see exists whether you can see it or not from your Point of View.

There’s two sides to every story.

We should each of us bring our truth to light.

In New York City it’s illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker because of the person’s hairstyle.

Across America high school dress codes prohibit girls from wearing their hair in box braids.

In multiple U.S. states laws were passed making free speech a crime when you’re talking about what a Black author wrote in a book.

Summer Boismer a teacher was fired because she gave her students the link to the Brooklyn Public Library Books Unbanned Teen e-book library card application.

The Free Service allows teens 13-21 in all 50 states to check out e-book versions of books that have been banned in Texas and elsewhere.

Apply for the Free Teen Books Unbanned Library Card or give this link to a young person who would be interested..

This is America: Land of the Free because of the Brave authors librarians and educators who are acting to free everybody to think for ourselves.

Intellectual Freedom is the cornerstone of public libraries everywhere. Or should be when Conservative gatekeepers limit access to books and knowledge.

Feminist AF? I’ve always been.

Calling Out Cowards

Before I form an opinion of a person I read the book they’ve written. I want to decide for myself what I think of them. Instead of relying on hearsay.

It’s time for calling out cowards. “Cancel Culture” is likely not the right avenue to address what’s going on. A person who opens their mouth to speak with hate will cancel themselves right then.

Before I formed an impression of Candace Owens I read her book Blackout.

The Black Conservative pundit wrote in Blackout that it’s okay that police officers shoot and kill Black people as the number of Blacks that cops kill is a tiny fraction of the total number of people killed

What? I didn’t learn that kind of math in a textbook.

The fact that a person of any color would think that it’s okay that a person like Breonna Taylor was killed steams me more than a cappuccino.

On an ordinary day I choose not to talk to anyone about the medical condition I have which is technically a disability. The kind of disorder where if I were agitated and mentally unstable the cops arriving on the scene would shoot me dead.

Realizing that I’m fortunate to have recovered and be doing well I don’t take kindly to Candace Owens writing that it’s okay for cops to kill people. (Read Blackout–I’m not making up or inventing that she believes this is okay.)

Sadly, there are too many people like her that shrug off what cops do and don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

Individuals with emotional illnesses–of every color–have been and continue to be shot dead when cops arrive on the scene.

The murder of Eric Garner on Bay Street by police officer Daniel Pantaleo upset me the most. Precisely because the DA claimed it was Garner’s medical condition that caused his death. Not the chokehold.

In this way my disability could be used against me in a court of law.

Bills are being sponsored in the House and Senate regarding police reform.

I recommend you write to your Senator and Congressperson to ask them to do the right things.

Get Organized Month

The truth is too painful for me to want to write about what’s gone on right now. I will talk about my take on this in a future blog entry.

Today I will stick with the original topic I wanted to post on how January is Get Organized Month.

At the end of this blog I will link to the Dressing Well(tm) website. Founder and President of Organization by Design, Inc. Mary Lou Andre featured in her latest video there must-have organizing products.

Andre has created an industry out of talking about dressing in clothes.

One tip she gave I paid attention to after having resisted for years–using acrylic storage. On a recent trip to a Burlington Factory Store I bought for $4.99 each two of these bins. One is bigger and has one tray. The other has 3-divided trays.

The one bigger tray holds 3 wool and flannel winter scarves filed front to back like envelopes with their folded-over sides on top. The divided bin stores 3 pairs of winter gloves.

Cheaper acrylic storage than to be found at the Container Store.

The trick I’ve discovered is to set your limit up front to decide the number of items in an accessories category that you can sanely manage the upkeep of.

Using the Marie Kondo method I touched items I haven’t used at all or wore only once. Into the donation bags they were tossed.

I’ve come to realize that I. Am Not. A Scarf Person.

Along with culling my accessories I’m donating in like-new condition houseware items I didn’t use at all either.

The true sanity-saver is to keep on hand only the things you use throughout the year. I’ve seen firsthand that it’s overwhelming to need to pull out or move aside or rearrange the things you don’t use simply to get to the one item you’re reaching for.

The things you store need breathing space around them.

I study and practice feng shui. It’s my conviction that a closet or drawer or cabinet overstuffed with things that haven’t been used in years causes stagnation.

The flow of chi (pronounced chee) is the life energy in your house or apartment. Blocked chi can drain us people living in these spaces of energy too.

I’ve found that by lightening my load of what I keep on hand I feel more energetic too. This is what it’s like when I got to the point where the only clothes in my closet and drawers are the ones I use every week.

You can watch the Dressing Well(tm) YouTube videos here: Dressing Well(tm) website.

With all the ongoing injustice going on in society it’s my contention that taking a break from the news by doing what gives us joy is warranted.

Watching these videos puts a smile on my face.

I hope followers of my blog can take joy in what I write.

Celebrating Ourselves

Let’s have a party.

Bravery is called for in the post-COVID world. I’m writing a second memoir. As an Author I’ve grappled with the tone of voice of the new book.

Then I decided: to show by celebrating myself that readers have permission to light up the world with your greatness.

I wondered at how Kylie—or is it Kendall—Jenner has 125K Instagram followers.

Then I understood how a superstar could have hundreds of thousands of fans:

A person like Lizzo or Beyonce is not afraid to be themselves and express their feelings by singing songs and speaking out.

They do what a lot of us are afraid to do—flaunt what they’ve got—and we adore them for doing this.

Why can’t you and I revel in ourselves to the people we interact with? Like the Beastie Boys sang we have to “fight for our right” to party as our original selves.

At the end of the day I know I wouldn’t be happy living as a pale imitation copycat of someone else.

Let’s bring ourselves to light.

I’m not a superstar like Kendall. I’m a tiny person with a big mouth who has only 120 followers.

Getting a kick out of blogging because in the end it’s a way to make a positive difference in readers’ lives.

Blogging is a way to bring people together who wouldn’t meet IRL.

Perhaps in my humble words I can give you the courage to Celebrate Yourself.

To be continued.