From her hospital bed, Susan Street began to change her life.
She was in her early 50s, overweight, prediabetic, hypertensive, arthritic, had high cholesterol, spots on her lungs, a fatty liver and had nodules on her thyroid.
Needless to say, she didn’t feel well physicallyAnd she certainly didn’t feel well emotionally.
But when her doctor first unfurled this scroll of ailments, she was shocked.“I thought ‘I’m not ready to be this sick at this time in my life. I’m not ready to be over the hill".
After her divorce more than a decade earlier, she had lost herself in work — her focus completely on building her jewelry-making supply business.
She was seeking a means for security and self-sufficiency, her thoughts on the future, a future she was ironically shortening as she ignored the present.
With her head down and her life revolving around work, she had become someone she didn’t recognize and who looked far older than her years, right down to the hairs on her head“My friends would say I had a regular old-lady cut,” she said of her hairstyle then.
During that time, she had no desire to be social and so she stopped going out. She isolated herself more and more and thought nothing of what she was putting into her body.
“When you’re younger you feel like you’re invincible,” she said. “(Eventually) I realized ‘I’m in bad shape. I better do something.’”
When Susan was recovering from surgery to remove her gallbladder five years ago, she picked up a book: “Eat to Live,” by Joel Fuhrman, a weight-loss guide that advocates for a nutrient-rich diet to reprogram the body.
“It reversed my way of thinking,” she said. “I started making better choices.”
She switched to a mostly plant-based diet and within two weeks Street’s pain went away.
In six weeks, she had lost 20 pounds.
In six months, she was down 45.
Friends and family members didn’t recognize her.
And none of her clothes fit.
Even her shoes were too big.
“People were astounded to see how much better I looked and how healthy,” she said.
Beyond looking great, she felt great.
Specifically, she felt attractive again. She felt visible. She felt relevant.
Street had the opportunity to rewrite the script, to recast her image and rebuild her wardrobe with softer, more feminine clothes, something she felt was more true to her style than the crop pants and ratty old T-shirts she had been mindlessly covering herself up with for the past 10 years.
Through much trial and error — and some tears of frustration in dressing rooms — she found a look that worked for her, that made her feel vibrant and that would accurately announce to those around her who she was.
Getting there, though, was rough and demoralizing at times.
“Everything was either too young or too old,” she said of the clothes she found. “I was not ready for polyester pull-on pants.”
The Internet is full of aspirational blogs for 20-something would-be fashionistas who are looking to get style ideas from their contemporaries.
The bloggers on those sites are mostly photogenic young women who document their pristine lives, their on-trend outfits and the highly curated decorative touches that define their aesthetic.
The world is their oyster.
For a 50-something-year-old woman, however, that world is more like an empty oyster shell.
There simply weren’t sites for them to get similar style advice or to get inspired.
So Street created one.
She is the lifestyle blogger behind FiftyNotFrumpy, where she posts photos and detailed information about the clothes and accessories she pairs together for various occasions.
“The points I make here are intended to show you how I use these elements to put together looks that work for the event, the weather and my personality,” Street writes on the blog. “I am just using myself as an example to hopefully help you use these basic guidelines to figure out what works best for you.”
Her readers are like-minded women, not ready to reside in the pasture, who want to fully embrace this stage of their lives joyfully and with flair, starting with their health and ending with the perfect clutch.
“It’s something I do for my love of women,” Street said. “I remember what it feels like to get forgotten and be invisible. I’d walk in a room and no one would notice me at all.”
Through her weight loss and search for style she had rediscovered her confidence and a sense of comfort. She models, writes and travels to speak at women-centered events across the country, hoping to spark this same life-light in them.
“It’s made a world of difference,” she said of that initial decision to make a change.
The only problem is Street will be turning 62 soon, and “Sixty Not Frumpy” does not have the same ring to it.
But she has already thought of that.
“I started ,Susan After 60 Street said. “It redirects from FiftyNotFrumpy. And I started saying, ‘Celebrating our second 50 years.’ "The Island Packet"......
I am older than Susan and certainly will never be as polished or pretty as she is but she has been an inspiration for some big changes in my life. I want to spend however many years I have left a happy, healthy, vibrant woman who encourages other women to be all they can be. I choose to not have a rocking chair mentality but rather go out using all the gifts and talents God has given me. Sometimes, one can be 'put' in the rocking chair through no fault of their own but I want to do everything I can do to make the 'mature' years ones with less emphasis on age and limitations and more on being healthy and a vibrant role model for the women who follow.
Please visit Susan and see if you don't feel encouraged after your time with her....
I hope to be sharing the stories of more inspirational women with you over time. There are so many lovely mature ladies who so willingly share their time and talents and live life to the fullest regardless of limitations.
Hugs, and blessings,