Cataracts? Could I Possibly Be That Old Already?

Here’s the good news!

Dr. Sean beamed at me as he pushed back from my eye examination.

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He is probably in his mid- 30’s, but he looked like a 12-year old who had just completed the final level of a video game.

Your eyes are healthy!

Great! Now I braced for the bad news.

Well, it isn’t really bad news.

Your cataracts haven’t grown much, so the light flashes you’ve been experiencing in that left eye are due to dryness and irritation from your contact lenses. I’ll be prescribing antibiotic eye drops for a month. And, there’s no sign of glaucoma or macular degeneration… yet.

Yet?

The dry eye and antibiotics information barely registered. That seemed pretty benign. And glaucoma and macular degeneration sounded like things I could put off worrying about for awhile.

Instead, I focused on the part about cataracts. They haven’t grown too much? That means they’ve grown, right?

Dr. Sean patiently explained that all of us (how nice of him to include himself, don’t you think?) will get cataracts as we… cough, cough… get older.

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They get worse over time, but it’s not a big deal, he said.  At some point we just have to have them removed from our eyes.

Removed …  that means cut out.

So, when will I need to have it done?

He smiled and patiently explained that my cataracts could suddenly grow larger or it could take another few years

We’ll know when it’s time, he said kindly and I thought he was going to pat me on the head.

When I got home with my antibiotic eye drops, I went immediately to my primary self-diagnosis website, WebMD.

“Cataracts cloud the lens of the eye, and can affect people of any age, but are most common in men and women age 65 and older.  Approximately 75 percent of people age 75 and older have cataracts.”

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So, I’m definitely in the age zone. But what exactly are cataracts?

“A cataract is a progressive, painless clouding of the natural, internal lens of the eye. Cataracts block light, making it difficult to see clearly.”

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“Over an extended period of time, cataracts can cause blindness”

Now that’s scary.

Here’s what else I learned, in no particular order of additional scariness:

  • Outpatient cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens via suction. (Suction in my eye?)
  • The lens is replaced with a clear, artificial, plastic one. (I’ll have plastic permanently residing in my eye?)
  • It’s the most frequently performed surgery in the US, with 1.5 million surgeries done each year. (That’s a lot of Porsche payments for ophthalmologists.)

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  • At least 90 percent of people who have cataract surgery have vision improvement. (What about the other 10%?)
  • The operation lasts less than one hour and is almost painless. (Almost?)
  • Most people choose to stay awake during the operation (Are you kidding me?)
  • Someone will need to drive you home. (As if you have to make a special point of this?)

I actually know quite a few people who have had cataracts removed.  They’re happy. They say they got instantaneous great results. They say they should have done it sooner. They say it’s a piece of cake.

I’m glad for them, but I just don’t like the thought of eye surgery for me.

I was never one of those people, for example, who was brave enough to do LASIK eye surgery to correct my farsightedness, even when it was trendy.  I had enough problems just getting used to my contact lenses and remembering where I put my glasses.

But since I plan to be around into my 90’s, playing golf and streaming videos on my IPad (or its -equivalent in the 2040’s), this surgery doesn’t look like it’s going to be optional.

But I think I’ll opt not to be awake.

Cathy Green

My Vagabond Summer (Of Love)?

Some of you may know our lifestyle changed in 2015 to owning just one house in Tucson, Arizona.  We have spent this summer of 2016 trying to get out of the Tucson heat – obviously that hasn’t worked too well.  The whole country seems to be sizzling or pouring rain – sometimes both.  We have driven or flown to various places renting apartments, houses and also staying in between rentals with family and friends.   We have been in Santa Fe, NM, Yardley, PA and Long Island, NY – still ahead are NYC, San Francisco, White Plains, NY, Asheville, NC and Atlanta – all before returning home to Tucson in October. Like most plans, much of what we were certain would happen did not happen (we did not mind being in the witness protection program as one of our dearest friends described this lifestyle), and new things came up that have turned into gems of experience.

Here’s a few highlights:

  1. We confirmed our love for Santa Fe. It is a magical, artistic, historically a very Hispanic town with charming architecture, warm people, nearly perfect weather and a real liberal vibe.  Spending time there is like taking a course in the country’s colonial past, art history, and kindness. We made new friends with an old friend of mine from college who I had forgotten lived in Santa Fe – she and her husband fit all the descriptions above.

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  1. We rented a house in Yardley, PA without a washer or dryer. I referred to this in an earlier blog.  The surprising event was becoming friends with the manager of the store and her niece who helped us figure out how to get back in the groove of Laundromats – we discussed work, getting raises, school, politics, and life and got along famously.  I found the connection with these great people that we have little externally in common with, super interesting and amazingly comforting for the future of our country.
  1. Episcopal churches are everywhere and yet extremely consistent. The churches are beautifully traditional and, of course, old (many were built when towns were founded), situated in the heart of downtowns, and only occasionally more than half full.  One is always greeted by people who recall the 1950s style we grew up with – charmingly formal in the sense of respecting boundaries and not assuming “being your new best friend” – softly open and welcoming, low key and anxious to make you feel you belong. It is the America some of us grew up in frozen in time.  I love these church visits and the sensitive sermons and people – like Stacy, the manager of the laundromat, comforting in these loud mouthed, obnoxious times.

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  1. I read serious books that touched my soul. Among them were Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me; Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, and The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb.  I feel I actually learned something real, intimate and important about being/growing up African-American, Chinese-American, and Norwegian.  The bravery of these books, their glimpse into realities of people I could never really know expanded my sense of what it means to be a human being.
  1. Finally, I fell in love. With John (not his real name of course), a late 50ish beyond handsome physician (sort of a mature JFK Jr) who is neighbor and friend to friends of ours.  Like the old time falling in love of 1960s it was both intensely sexy (in my dreams) and totally innocent with absolutely no basis in reality of any kind.  I saw him playing fetch with his black lab on the beach looking happy and carefree.  He then was introduced to me and I knew “he was the one”.  Though of course he is totally someone else’s.  Like our fabulous teen/young adult love for Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, and Rock Hudson it was both unrequited and impossible. A reminder that the pure joy of hearing “see you in September” is coming up next.

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Being a vagabond is working for us.  I could share so many more stories about how being loose and moving frequently is making us stay in the present moment and give up judging others.  But to be honest, I admit some nights I am looking forward to being HOME.  We fabulous women love change, our treasured summer memories, and yet miss our comforts too don’t we?

Patty

Do I Use The Word “Great” Too Much?

Golf course attendant: How was your golf game today, Ms. Green?

Me: Great! Thanks.

Waiter: How was your dinner this evening?

Me: Great! Thanks.

Anyone:  How are you doing today?

Me: Great! Thanks. 

I think I’m overusing the word great, but I’m not sure what to say instead.

According to the dictionary, I am using great in its informal variation which means very good or satisfactory.

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If suppose I could use “very good” more often.  Or maybe “fine”. But they sound quite a bit less great than great.  How are you doing today? Fine.  (Hmmm… what’s her problem?)

Saying “satisfactory” is even less satisfactory.  How was your dinner? Satisfactory. Thanks. (Alert: smaller tip on the way)

If I were younger, I could say “awesome” or “amazing” or “incredible” like the millennials. But at my age?

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If I were older, I could say A-OK, super-duper or honky-dory, but only my assisted living roommates would get it.

I suppose I could say “delightful” or “splendid” or “lovely”, but those sound pretentious. How was dinner?  Delightful, my dear. Such a splendid trout almondine.

I could also say “fantastic”, “fabulous*”, “terrific” or “marvelous” but those are considerably more bullish sounding than the word great, so I’d have to be in a really, really great mood to use one of them. (There I go again).

*This blog site is called Fabulous over 60. Great over 60 would have sounded a lot less fabulous, don’t you think?

I’m obviously not alone in my overuse of the word “great”.  

In a column by Asheville Citizen-Times columnist Nancy Williams called Surviving the Other Party’s Convention, she writes about a competition she had with her sister during both presidential conventions this year:

Competition. We play Exer-jargon, a game we made up where we each pick a word for the other sister, who has to do a sit-up every time the word is said. Couldn’t be a proper noun. I picked “country.” She picked “great.” I didn’t keep count of who did how many sit-ups, but I’m telling you politicians need some synonyms for great. It’s overused. I just stayed on the floor and waited. I got several double-whammies for things and people who are great, great whatevers.

Exer-jargon sounds like fun. Certainly a lot more fun than watching the conventions.

I searched the internet for lists of the most overused words. To my surprise, great was NOT on any of them, but awesome and amazing and incredible were. Take that, millennials!

By the way, some of the most overused words on recent lists were:

Literally

Seriously

Absolutely

Basically

Really

And…

Whatever!

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I seriously would never use the word whatever, but I absolutely use the others a lot. Really!

So, even though it didn’t make the overused words lists, is it a great idea for me to be so greatly dependant on one single word to describe a great dinner, a great conversation, a great day or a great golf game?

Or is there a great alternative?  Help!

Cathy

Grandmother Blues

Saw my granddaughters Reagan (10) and Morgan (7) this weekend.  The weather was horrible, we are in a rental a few hours away and it seemed we did more driving than visiting.  Although we did have time for a great dinner at home, watching the movie Zootopia, and playing a game that involved headbands and guessing about the card you could not see placed in your headband.  When we left (in less than 24 hours) I felt that I just didn’t get to share as much as I had hoped.  But, we had long standing dinner plans, so that made us feel we needed to stay with our plans and leave.

The truth is, the lifestyle we have now is not making it easy to be a fabulous grandmother.  We used to have a house in the northeast, which though a couple of hours away from our daughter and her family, allowed them to come visit for a weekend multiple times in the late spring and summer months. Having sold that house and having our home base now in Tucson while we spend the late spring and summer in various rentals around the country, we do not have a convenient home base to host our children/grandchildren.  Of course we can visit them, which we are doing, but we can’t have them “come to our house” except for their trip/s to Tucson – which is far away from their base in the New York suburbs.

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There are several reasons we made the choice to switch up our lifestyle that include age, health, and preferences of how we want to spend our older years.  We do believe we have made the best choice for us.  But I am beginning to own that it was not the best choice for our granddaughters.  They just don’t have the casual time in our house they used to and really do not get as much quality time with us as they did.  And that is making me blue.

It seems this is like much of life – making a choice for one thing, means something else, or someone else gets less.  And certainly this is the case here.  And now, I am trying to get my balance about that.  Trying to reconcile being fabulous while being a bit less so in the grandmother role.  What I am slowly discovering is that I need to get more creative – and lose the guilt. Guilt doesn’t help and truly I do not need to feel guilty for choosing an option that essentially is best for my husband and myself.

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Believing that my responsibilities include being a good, if not great, grandmother, dictates that I consider the consequences of some of my choices and adjust.  So I am now committing to more of iPhone’s FaceTime, and virtual connection and more visits and special trips planned in advance that build quality time.  I am going to stop being blue and start being more organized about having my granddaughters always know I care about them and see them as a priority.  Which means, that my total flexibility to see lots of different friends when we are in rentals near our children has to get cut back – I cannot see all the people we want to and meet my top goals.  I now realize that I have to be willing to do that even though it means some friendships will have to fall by the wayside to make room for being more available and flexible for our granddaughters.

This blog has been hard to write.  I keep waiting for things in my life to get easier.  But life keeps reminding me that as Dr. Scott Peck said: “life is difficult” and takes persistence and work and moving parts around the table and changing and readjusting.

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No, I don’t have to stop making the best choices for Bill and myself, but I have to admit and rearrange my life to make sure what is second, third and fourth in my life can all get done.  While the lure of whining is great – the truth endures.  Watch what happens when choices start to bring consequences (every one of them does) – and make the adjustments you need to.  Life really is a continuous round of learning – and learning always has been at the heart of being fabulous.  I can go back to being a fabulous grandmother if I make the right adjustments.

Yes, dear fabulous sisters, it always comes down to this sometimes very uncomfortable truth – WE have to do the changing.  Fabulous doesn’t work any other way.

Patty

If In Doubt…. Don’t Press Send!

Emails have been in the news a lot these past few months… and not in a good way. Just this week, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was found to have sent emails that shouldn’t have been sent and which she does regret sending.

It reminded me of a blog I wrote in late 2013 about the importance of being careful using emails in emotionally charged situations. Although they appear to be a great way to have quick communication, they also have an incredible power to disrupt both friendships and careers. Here is my original post.


I was reminded this past week about the potentially destructive power of email. Two couples … friends of ours and of each other … are no longer speaking. The rupture is so bad that it’s difficult to imagine how it can be repaired.

The issue isn’t as important as how it was handled. The first couple – who now admit that their first email was a mistake – sent it anyway. The response from the second couple was highly emotional – “scathing” is a word I’ve heard used to describe it. In fact, the clear message was that the friendship was over. The first couple sent another email apologizing and explaining. There has been no response.

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I haven’t actually seen any of the emails and I’ve only talked to the first couple about them. However, I think I understand the situation well enough to say that the emails … all of them … should never have been written or, more importantly, sent. In fact, I suspect that they were difficult to write and that both parties wrote at least a couple of versions of them. I also suspect that if everyone was being totally honest with themselves and others, they would say that they wish they could take them back.

Not too long ago, I was angry with an out of state friend. Again, the reason isn’t important. I immediately sat down and wrote an email. Then I wrote another version. I didn’t think I had the right tone, so I wrote it again. This one was better, but I still had a nagging suspicion that it didn’t capture the issue well enough. I decided to wait and try later. The issue weighed on me the rest of the day. I composed different versions of the note in my head. And then I began to think about receiving it as if I were my friend.

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That’s when it hit me. This issue was not an email issue. It required a phone call… a real discussion. So the rest of that day and the next I thought about the conversation rather than the words I’d use in an email. It was difficult to pick up the phone to call… but it was absolutely the right thing to do. I learned that my friend felt conflicted by the issue too. We had a great discussion and resolved it easily. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders and we were better friends than ever.

I can’t say that I’ve never sent an email I regret. But I think I’m even less likely to do it in the future given the recent sad story of my two friends.

When I talked to Ray about it, he said that Billy C. Owen, his Master Chief in the Navy, used to say: “Once you pull the trigger, you can’t get the bullet back in the gun.”

The wrong email is like a bullet you can’t get back.

So, I have a new rule for myself: If an issue is potentially emotional, if it’s difficult to write, or if it could be misinterpreted, I’m going to pick up the phone or … even better, if possible … have a face-to-face discussion.

I wish one of our sets of friends would do that now. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late?

Cathy Green

Secrets to Staying Cool and Fabulous This Summer

I never liked the summer as much as the school year. As a little girl who loved school and often found it more comforting than home, “summer fun”: soda, hot dogs, backyard barbecues and fire flies plus the whole experience of being hot and sticky while chubby – ruled out summer as my favorite season.  Going to the beach with 15 or so relative’s post Sunday Mass was another long day of sand and heat to me – never got into the supposed joy of sunbathing, but did like walking on the beach by myself – and still do.  I plan to do that next month when we are at the beach.

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Now, at 66, my summers are as close to childhood summers as one can get.  My part time work continues but slows, we travel a great deal, and there is more heat, downtime, and “summer fun” activities especially when I am closer geographically to my granddaughters.  Then of course this year we have the “election stuff” – which most of us are finding sad, aggravating if not frightening.  Am finding it tougher to look and feel fabulous in the heat of this tense summer, so I have managed to find a few secrets to “staying cool” to share.

  • Think about basics! We over-60s look good in basics. Wear simple sleeveless or short-sleeved dresses and sandals or flats that have a bit of style without too much glitz.  Glitz is getting very old isn’t it?  Light is the feeling of summer – too much glitz on the shoes, one’s top and/or nails looks HOT – and you know I don’t mean SEXY HOT just plain hot.
  • Take less with you – anywhere and everywhere. Once again promise to buy or just keep the very few things that look truly sensational on you and skip everything else.  That leaves 3 or 4 outfits. Limit technology to those you LOVE and MUST have and limit social media to MUSTS – consider dumping the rest. Get a tote bag that is classy and smart – and use it. Dump dump dump or tidy as we now say.
  • Act with positive intention. Who cares, much less benefits, surrounded by people acting like they are on a reality show except people who are too dumb to know better?  Successful, fabulous people are open and authentic, but also self-regulated and in control.  They are too busy learning and doing something about issues (even in summer) that matter rather than blabbing about the idiots/liars/you name the insult about those they do not agree with or they are NOT voting for.
  • Take the fabulous summer pledge. “All people are worthy of respect (repeat till believed). My job this summer as a fabulous woman is making sure everyone understands what that means by my consistent modeling of respectful behavior.”   Go out of your way to be someone who is utterly charming to be around. Sounds a bit old fashioned, but nothing is more modern and fresh than a sophisticated strong confident woman who asks questions, listens to other’s needs or who can tell a fun rather than vicious story.  Moods are contagious – take responsibility to keep things positive.
  • Be quieter. Let’s bring some hushed voices back.  The other night an otherwise potentially fabulous woman wasn’t when she spent the dinner talking and laughing so loudly I wondered if it were her first night out in over a year and she felt she needed to be heard.  While “be a lady” is dead as a concept, with overtones of “ladies (like children) should be seen and not heard” which of course should be dead; doesn’t mean there is not a grain of truth.  Modulation is seriously underrated – aren’t we all sick to death of ‘LOUD’??
  • Get reading! And make it grown-up, interesting and challenging. Remember reading lists over summer breaks? Bring that back – do some browsing online or in an actual bookstore, and read some books worth your valuable time.  Let your family and friends make note of it – not to impress – but to casually hint that they might want to spend time reading something valuable.  Staying cool reading something deeply interesting while sipping something cool – now that is summer heaven.

Here’s two links to the NY Times summer reading list, and Oprah’s suggestions.

  • Finally, try gaining some different perspective. The world is so harsh right now – make room this summer to do something you rarely do with the intention of getting a new or different take on some minor aspect of life.  Stop taking yourself so seriously.  Today I did something – DIFFERENT.  I went to a Laundromat – something I haven’t done in 40 years.  Long story short, the rental I am in doesn’t have a washer/dryer and rather than just pay someone to do my laundry I decided to do it myself and maybe get a new insight.  It was fun actually – and easier than it was 40 years ago.  Met some relaxed and open people including the manager of the place who I had a few laughs with “woman to woman”. And it did give me a fresh perspective.  Think I learned you can go to a laundromat and still be fabulous – all about the way you look at things and how open you are to the good that happens when your nose isn’t up in the air.

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Let’s take a deep breath everyone and think COOL!

Patty

Are Road Trips Worse Than They Used To Be … Or Is My Age Showing?

I’ll admit that I’ve never liked road trips. I remember several long six-hour summertime drives from Cincinnati, Ohio to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in the 50’s and 60’s with my dad, mom, sister and brother in our non air-conditioned car.  There was also one horrendous 20 hour drive to Hollywood, Florida that no one in our family ever discussed again.1

These trips were definitely not relaxing, although I assume that is what my dad and mom had in mind as we were pulling out of our driveway.

My own feeling about these road trip vacations was that eating greasy fried food in Gatlinburg or getting sunburned and insect-bitten on the beach in Florida wasn’t worth my car sickness, my dad’s irritability, or putting up with my annoying baby brother. And counting the number of cows on my side of the road was the most boring game on the planet.

Lately, since our semi-retirement, my husband and I have been taking road trips of several hours from Asheville to places like Charleston, Charlotte, Cincinnati and Nashville as well as a few 12 hour drives to Florida and one three day drive to Maine.  I therefore consider myself an expert on road-tripping.

Here are just some of my recent observations:

Bathrooms:

This one comes to mind first since it is first and foremost on my mind on road trips. To put it bluntly, I’m over 60, I’m a woman and I have to pee a lot. The good news is that, unlike the old days when dad was driving and couldn’t find anywhere to take his whiny kids, there are usually many options – and most of them are relatively clean. Fast food restaurants, rest stops, gas stations and convenience stores abound on the highways and byways of our nation.*

*This is NOT true when traveling on mountainous stretches of highways in Tennessee and the Carolinas. Be warned, over-60 travelers!

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The bad news is that there are some very weird people at these stops, as well as crabby children, surly clerks and lots of tempting stuff to drink and eat which perpetuates the need to make another stop further up the road, creating a vicious cycle.

Food:

In my normal (non road-tripping) life, I rarely eat stuff as bad as what I eat on the road. McDonalds hamburgers and fries are the fastest way to eat and stay on my husband’s schedule*, Waffle House eggs and pancakes make a quick late morning meal, and trail mixes (the ones with candy included for energy, of course) are easy to pick up on bathroom breaks along with my large Diet Coke and Ray’s ice.** I’ve even been known to indulge in a Dunkin Donuts glazed donut when I’m especially hungry in the morning which, for some reason, is true of most mornings on road trips.

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These are not good choices, I know, but I can somehow justify it more easily when I’m a bored passenger on a long trip. (See next category)

*We really don’t need to stay on schedule. However, Ray is very happy when we get to our destination a few minutes early. It apparently proves his superior driving abilities.

** Ray chomps on ice to stay alert during our trips.  If any of you have husbands who do this as well, my condolences. The only good news is that he has to stop for bathroom breaks too. I sometimes play a silent little game called “who’s going to say ‘let’s stop’ first”. I hold out as long as I can.

Boredom:

My husband does most of the driving. He says that he likes to drive. What he means is that he doesn’t like me to drive since we might travel 2 miles per hour slower and get to our destination a few minutes later than planned. I am not one of those people who can sleep in a car, and reading doesn’t work for me either. Since my husband and I spend a lot of time together these days, there isn’t a lot we need to talk about except where we want to stop for lunch. I don’t have anything else to do but read billboards, so I have a lot of suggestions. As I wait for the next food or bathroom stop, I watch fields and towns fly by while checking the Jeep’s GPS dashboard every few minutes to see how many more hours and minutes remain in our trip. When the mileage dips below 400 and then 350, 300, 250, etc, I get really excited about our progress. Yes, I realize that’s a sad comment.

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Trucks:

I remember liking big trucks when I was a kid. My dad would often cruise behind one of them so that he wouldn’t get a speeding ticket. “Those guys have CB radios and know where the cops are.” he’d say. My dorky younger brother would even pump his arm out of the car window and the truckers would honk at us.

These days, I don’t view truckers as my friends. For one thing, there are just too many trucks on the highways, they go very fast, and they seem a lot bigger than they used to. Since we are often wending our way through mountains, these huge trucks can be extremely intimidating. They barely fit on their side of the road, which I’d often like to remind them is the right-hand lane.  I find myself closing my eyes and praying as our car squeaks through a small opening between a concrete barrier on the left and a monstrous rig on the right.

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By the way, I think it’s great when trucks have to pull into the weigh stations. Briefly, so very briefly, there are only cars around us on the highway. Enjoy your stop, guys!

I could go on and on sharing other brilliant observations about road trips since I haven’t even touched on road repair delays, traveling with our dog or overnight stays in high-churn, low-comfort highway hotels. However, I’m getting anxious just thinking about our next trip to Blowing Rock, NC this month.  It’s only 2 ½ hours away, but we’ll be traveling on mountainous roads and I’m already worried about bathroom options.

I wonder if I’ll be able to get a glazed donut on the way.

Cathy Green

July 2016

Why My 45th College Reunion Became My Best Ever

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I have always been a reunion-goer – but selectively.  My extroverted personality style and history as class president/organizer for various events in high school and college both, made me the typical and expected attendee, and naturally, contributor to both schools.  It’s been weeks since I am back from my 45th reunion at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN and I am, at last, satisfied with my reaction to this reunion, that which being my most gratifying.

First, let me mention a few other “facts” of my school and reunion history:

  1. I have attended most reunions at my Catholic, all female high school and college every 5 years since graduation in 1967 and 1971 even though I kept going to various graduate schools, and had left the Catholic Church.
  2. Though I earned an MA from NYU, MBA from Fordham and Ed.D from Columbia – a New York trifecta that I am enormously proud of, no reunion except one at Columbia, once, have gotten me to revisit the old school buildings/connections where I labored and learned for decades.

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High school and then its extension: college – were part of my foundation, my grounding. Those, the core values I developed: values of caring about others, working hard to achieve, being self-disciplined and clear about my responsibility to myself, family and others were Catholic in the broadest sense of the word.  They were also places that friendship and connections played a deep part.  There was learning not just about history and math, but also what it means to be a good person, a citizen, a friend and a leader. Going to reunions at these institutions just made sense to me because I wanted to reconnect and see how my classmates had fared, and get some support for the life choices I was making.  That just seemed like the graduation “contract” I made with these classmates and schools.

Conversely, I expected all of my graduate school education to make me a better professional and hone my knowledge and know-how in my field.  I didn’t see them as places that molded my core values. Of course now, in retrospect, they enormously affected my values — reinforcing them from a humanistic perspective and did serve as places of wonderful relationships and connections.  Because I didn’t see the experiences in this light, reunions did not seem as necessary.  I am beginning to rethink that.

It struck me driving into South Bend, IN a few weeks ago, that it really did not make sense that I attended college in the middle of a cow field.  Not that that is necessarily a bad thing – and SMC was/is a very good solid liberal arts college and such a peaceful setting could launch solid self-reflection and deep thinking.  But still – really?  The truth is, I always felt that the SMC decision was not the best for me – it was good, just not great.

Lake Marion at St. Mary's College

Lake Marion at St. Mary’s College

By the end of high school, my emerging self wanted to go to Wellesley (something bigger, brighter and shinier) – Hillary would have been there as a junior when I started.  She is busy, I hear, so likely she doesn’t miss that huge lost opportunity to be my good friend.  But I did – at least in my fantasies.  And there is the nub of it all – expectations not met causing me to miss the good that came instead.  I realized on this reunion trip, I had always held a little “grudge” against SMC for not being Wellesley.  Which is like resenting Bob your devoted husband because you “should have” married John – your fabulous perfect first love (yeah, right) that dumped you “causing” you to settle and marry OK Bob.

Me with classmates Kerry and Maureen at the reunion

Me with classmates Kerry and Maureen at the reunion

Making a very long story very short, it now appears to me that I never really got comfortable with all the good that I got from St. Mary’s…until this last reunion. While not my dream school, it was an institution filled with strong women leaders (mainly nuns at that time) struggling like all institutions then with dramatically confusing and changing times. SMC was trying to educate us for a world no one really understood – but convinced that with core values of service, giving of ourselves, discipline, hard work and just finishing, we would have what we needed to survive and hopefully thrive no matter what we did.

I realized, facilitating a session on “loss and moving forward” and sharing that platform with a wonderful former classmate, newly widowed, successful executive turned master healer was this: whatever it was or wasn’t, SMC helped support our budding adulthood.  And, the women who went there were smart and thoughtful despite the sexism of the time.  They, like SMC, did the best they could at the time and have continued to grow.

Patty and Cathy

Patty and Cathy

In the decades since, we took our freedom as it became more available, and became women likely SMC and our parents never expected.  I know for sure SMC is trying to make sure they keep doing a great job of supporting women who matter.  Wish I could tell them exactly what the formula is.  Clearly, they were mostly on the right track, even when some of us didn’t know it, couldn’t get it, or hadn’t figured out yet that college, like the rest of life, is mainly what you make of it.  No college, job, love, or unique experience creates us, we create ourselves – and right now I think what we are creating is pretty fabulous.

Bottom line? Consider going back to reunions and focus on being grateful for what good you got from the experience. Forget the rest and any remaining drama – thankfully we are great at forgetting things so we have a head start.  Now to just being grateful – like everything fabulous, that’s hard.

Patty

 

I’m Not Sleeping and My Cat Knows Why

Last year, I wrote that Ms. Blue, my elderly Maine Coon cat, was keeping me up at night by meowing loudly in my face. I also shared my husband’s thoughts on the subject as he moved to another bedroom!

I asked for help from readers and got some good ideas.

cat

Here’s an update: For her sake and mine, I decided to lock Ms. Blue in another room at night with her treats, her food and her litter box. It took several weeks for her to understand that howling at the door was not going to get her out of that room and into my face.  

She is doing much better now, I’m sleeping again and my husband is back in our bed.  A happy ending!

Here’s the link to my original blog about my dilemma.

The 70’s Rock Concert That Didn’t Rock!

We just bought tickets to see Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald at the Biltmore Estate’s Summer Concert Series in our hometown of Asheville, NC.  Both performers are favorites and the venue is incredible.  Concerts are held under the stars on the grounds of the beautiful  Biltmore House.  I can’t wait!

This year, however, I’m going to nap in the afternoon and drink nothing all day. Why?  Here’s a blog post I wrote about another concert at the Biltmore House in 2014.  The 70’s Rock Concert That Didn’t Rock!

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