Sunday, May 20, 2018

Forty Five and Full of Drive

We are back in Washington State, returned from Washington, DC! To most non-Americans it probably sounds like it's not a biggie - wouldn't these two Washingtons be close to one another? In fact, everybody knows about Washington the capital of the US, but not as many know about Washington the state. But to those who know, it's obvious just how different these two Washingtons are - different in nature, climate, history, subculture, spirit, vibe, style and definitely very different location, as the capital city of the US almost could not be further from our state. We are 2,763 miles or 4.446 km apart, which is more than the distance between my Russian hometown Krasnoyarsk and the capital of Russia, Moscow (4,150 km)! And would you believe that before our trip I did not know that? I honestly thought that it would take three or four hours by plane to get there!

But all in its own time. My last story I posted literally minutes before we headed to the airport, and now we are back home, in our beautiful Washington State, while the very different, though equally beautiful Washington DC seems but a distant dream... I have pictures and impressions to sort out before I am ready to tell you about our adventures in DC. For goodness sake, my ears still haven't popped from the last plane, but we are full in action here, having came back just in time for both my birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary, which is also the anniversary of our relocating to Washington State from the Midwest, 11 years ago (seems like another lifetime).

clutch - secondhand, via antique mall
shoes - Clarks (2017)
sunglasses - Christian Siriano for Lane Bryant (2016)
earrings - Rara Avis by Iris Apfel (2017)
necklace - by my friend, amazing artist and sculptor Elsbeth McLeod (her WEBSITE and BLOG)

There is certainly a little bit of attitude in this outfit, thanks to the color scheme and of course the details I chose for my b-day celebration. I don't know why I decided on this particular one, it just felt right - the creative process is a mystery. I felt both beautiful and strong in this ensemble, and I have absolutely no reason to hide that I turned 45! Some people say, age is just a number, and there is some truth to it, but only partially. It's not "just" a number - it's a number that marks a particular point in our life journey, and I believe that some such numbers have a symbolic personal and even mystical significance. 

 When my Mom turned 45, she became a grandmother for the first time, retired from being a school teacher for 30 years, and found a new career as a train attendant for the next decade. I'm pretty sure that all these huge life changes, as well as the extensive travel, stimulated her long-lost passion for creative writing. In her travels, she started writing poetry and a few years later started historical research and wrote a history of the Siberian village where she was born. (The significance of Mom's dedicated work is already recognized by historical organizations, and it was published in newspapers and historic websites in the Krasnoyarsk region. Here is the site which I created for my Mom's historical work - ANGARA. TATARKA). 

Praskovya Shadrina (nee Nikiforova), my grandmother, with her children: 
Nadia (left), my mom; Nikolai, Elena and baby Vera. There is no Nina in this photo (the oldest daughter), 
the youngest twins Rimma and Raisa aren't born yet. 1954. 

On the other hand, at the exact same age of 45, my Mom's mother passed away, leaving seven children orphans. Mom was 19, the second oldest child in the family, and she took the responsibility to raise her younger siblings - the youngest, twins, were only 7 y.o. then. Neither me, nor my older brother had a chance to meet our maternal grandmother. I only know her from Mom's stories and a few old photographs - she seemed ancient to me, and only now I realize that she was still a young woman! Her life was hard, short and tragic, and by the end of it she probably not only looked ancient, but also felt ancient. I bet 45 didn't feel like "just a number" to the women in my family. And it doesn't feel like it to me either. 

When I hear phrases like "Nobody likes aging" - I beg to differ. Yes, there are aspects of getting older that sometimes bother us, but isn't it true about any age? (Remember those pimples that used to bother you when you were a teen? Or the stress and competitiveness of the youth when everyone looked at what everyone else was doing?) Maybe it would be more accurate to say that many don't like getting older, and some even try to actively stop the process of aging. While I don't judge anyone for their personal choices, I can honestly say that I'm a bit unusual that way because I actually love aging! I enjoy seeing my hair starting to gradually change its color - just as leaves turn different shades in Autumn. I feel strongly that I like the person who I've became by the age of 45 - and I also feel strongly that at 45, you can actually see who you've become. Which does not mean that we stop at 45 or at any age, of course! If we choose to see aging in a positive way, we realize that there is always room for growth and change, always, until our very last day here on planet Earth. And in that sense, yes, age really is only a number!

I spent a quiet day with my most loved ones running a few errands, having sushi for lunch and taking outfit and family pictures on this serene nature trail in Renton. When I was putting together my outfit, I said to my 15 year old daughter, "I look pretty good! You know, I always want to be beautiful. And I don't want to "stay young" - I actually want to see myself getting older naturally, but at the same time always be beautiful, in my 40s, in my 70s..." And you know what she replied? "Beauty is not a factor of age. The only thing that matters is self-acceptance." Isn't she wise? Where she gets it from, I wonder?

Skirt - WhoWhatWear for Target
Linen shirt - vintage Ralph Lauren 
(also in SEPTEMBER 2015 and APRIL 2015)

* * *


  1. happy birthday my dear friend! wish you all the luck and all the love and all the beauty on earth!!! <3 <3 <3
    and congratulations to your 10 wedding anniversary!!!
    super sweet family photos! and seeing anya´s portrait i see a lot of self acceptance for such a young being. and i´m sure you planted that seed.
    love your outfit!! of course - its the gorgeous blouse/full skirt look that suits you and all women best - IMHO. and i love the bold colors and pattern you´d chose - yes - attitude! and shoes in espadrilles style, a straw bag and the simple yet meaningful jewelry - fab!!
    so you went to washington DC! awesome! i knew how far that eastcoast are from your home - i flew all the way when i visited your region back in 1990 - coming over the atlantic - we traveled 2 full days..... :-D
    @ancient grandma: actually that photo looks very ancient too - if you not had noted 1954 i had thought something between 1900 and 1920. and this is showing very much the harsh times back then! and yes - we are privileged to get 45 or 50 and feeling that young, being that healthy or just to be still alive.
    biggest hugses and much love and greetings to justin & anya too!!!
    xxxxx <3 <3 <3

    1. Thank you, Beate!
      I think we both are working on self-acceptance, Anya and me - it's a process. :)
      To fly here all the way from Europe - oi! Imagine how long the travel is for my parents from Siberia to Seattle! I did my share of long distance travels, crossing the continents, as well. It just didn't seem like SUCH a long distance between DC and Seattle. When I flew from Kr-sk to Moscow, it was 4 hours - but it was always a straight flight, and here we changed planes, so that was a part of it.
      Grandma is probably just a little over 30 on this photo! You can still see life energy here. Their life was most definitely very tough, and thanks to Mom's research and writing, I know so much more about it now...but it's a long, long story, too long for one comment or even one post.

  2. wish you a happy birthday, dear lady!, and lots of happy days more!!
    I think you look gorgeous, beautiful and comfident, elegant in your gingham and red ensemble and fabulous accessories (love your bag!)
    My mom looked fab when she was in her forties (twenty years ago!) and still do!. Whatever your age is, you can express your personality, dress up and look fab!! I believe it!

    1. Thank you, Monica! Your Mom is a beautiful and stylish woman! Isn't it great to have such an example of aging in your family?

  3. Pięknie wygladasz:))spódnica super i jak zawsze fantastyczna torebka:)))śliczne rodzinne zdjęcia:)))Pozdrawiam serdecznie:)))

  4. Happy Birthday to you! I'm so sorry I missed sending you wishes on the day itself, I didn't do any social media this weekend.
    I'm glad you had a wonderful time. Your family photos are lovely and like Beate, your mother's beautiful photo looks a lot older than the 1950s.
    I love your gingham skirt and that straw clutch bag. Like you, getting older doesn't bother me, much better than the alternative! xxx

    1. Thank you, Vix! Don't apologize please - we are not obligated to use social media, life is way more important! But I'm happy to read your comments here!
      I think a part of this photo's enigma is definitely fashion itself - they weren't exposed to the outside world much, so they just made clothes the way their parents made them in the first half of the century. And another part is the technical (photo) equipment they had access to in a far away Siberian village. I'm pretty sure the photographer was just there for a day to take the villagers' pictures.

  5. Wow! This outfit is amazing! Love that gorgeous skirt and it looks fantastic with that bright red shirt. Happy Birthday!

  6. Always inspiring, I love to read your posts, Natalia. And happy birthday! Every age is good but 45 is prime time! xo


  7. Oh my, your birthday AND anniversary! You've certainly had enough reasons to celebrate! I'm loving your bold birthday outfit, which I agree has oodles of attitude. The black and white gingham skirt is particularly stunning. I too am one of those people who doesn't mind aging at all. As long as you're healthy in body and mind, every age has its charms and advantages, which far outweigh any disadvantages. I remember my maternal grandmother as an old lady who walked on crutches. She died when I was 14, and when I look at certain photos of her, I'm often wondering at the fact that I am actually older now than she was in them. But of course times were different then. Looking forward to your Washington DC adventures! Lots of love xxx

    1. Thank you, Ann! Yes, different times and different values too! Lots of love!

  8. Happy birthday, Natalia! I enjoy checking out your newest creative outfits every morning!

  9. Oh yes age is just a number.... Happy Birthday Natalia. I wish you all the best and a wonderful life.
    You look so amazing in this gingham skirt ❤️much love and a very huge hug Tina

  10. Lovely outfit Natalia!! I agree, aging with grace is the goal - not to remain young forever. There is beauty in every age :)

  11. Happy Birthday dear Natalia and also my best wishes for your wedding anniversary.
    Your black and white gingham and your orange shirt was a wonderful choice and conveys a confident and happy woman , at one with herself . I always feel that each birthday is one to celebrate and embrace the joy that every day brings.
    The photo of your grandmother does tell a story of another time - so sad that she died at such a young age.
    Enjoy those celebrations, look forward to your Washington D>C> posts. xxxx Jill

  12. Love, love, love that photo with the attitude caption.
    Happy 45th birthday to you! And happy 10th anniversary!
    I am up to 55 and 30 already! Where does the time go?
    I love the photo of Anya and the one of you and Justin.
    Xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Thank you, my sweet friend! Wow, you met when you were so young! That's a long time, 30 years...but I know what you mean - sometimes it feels like yesterday, doesn't it?
      Lots of love!

  13. The 'attitude' pic of you with the sunglasses is too cool!!! So interesting to hear about your mother and grandmother. Very impressive. I bet all of Russia is excited about the World Cup. My best friend is getting to go :)

    1. Thank you!! Wonderful trip to your friend! So adventurous!

  14. Oh, your mom took really responsibility! I'm very impressed what she did in that young age! Thanks for this post, it is touching and made me think.
    But happy birthday to you! You are really 45? You look much younger and I love your look with the red blouse and the plaid skirt <3
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    1. Thank you, Rena! We never know what life people have when we just look at them...Mom's life is worth of a book!

  15. Happy 45 birthday! I couldn't agree more with what you said about aging. When we think about it, aging is definitely a privilege. Yes, a privilege. Not everyone gets the chance to age and to grow old, so it is something we should have in mind. Especially when we are surrounded by people we love, aging can really feel like a blessing. Happy 10th anniversary as well! My husband and I will celebrate our six wedding anniversary this summer and we have been together for almost a decade now too..funny how the time flies.

    I love your outfit! You look so pretty. Your daughter's words are very wise, I'm sure she gets that wisdom from you, and from what I see, your mother is a very inspiring woman as well so that might be in part where you get it from. Family is such a precious thing. I'm sure your grandmother was a strong woman woman as well. Thank you for sharing a part of your family history. I will need to check the site dedicated to your mother's writing soon.

    Have a great day!

    1. Thank you, Ivana!! We can learn so much about ourselves by learning our parents' and grandparents' stories... but this wisdom doesn't come in early age usually, maybe there is a reason for that too. And yes, my life is very different from both Mom's and Grandma's. I think we all take something from the previous generation and bring it to a new level, so our children can take it from there and bring it to another new level.
      Lots of love, my dear!

  16. Happy birthday Natalia and also happy anniversary! I hate the phrase that age is just a number because it makes it sound like aging is a negative thing. I feel that age represents more milestones and accomplishments. Wisdom and experience help shape us and make us into more focused people, and I agree that aging is a good thing.
    What an incredible story about your mother. She must of had a completely different life than you did. So much responsibility for young woman. Anyway I hope that you are enjoying a lovely weekend and I have must say I love your gingham checked skirt.
    I am glad you are feeling bold and confident. That is how you look. Bold, confident and beautiful .
    Happy 45th !!!!

    1. Thank you, Elle!! So kind of you!
      Many women that I admire, including yourself, my dear, write a new definition of aging - not only for themselves, but for all of us. Aging is fun and interesting, and full of new adventures, if we decide to look at it in a positive way!