What We Can Learn From The Three Wise Monkeys

Wikipedia shares that the Three Wise Monkeys, sometimes called the three mystic apes, are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”  These monkeys have always aroused my curiosity and tested my wisdom as I have aged.

As the end of the year and the start of the holiday season begins, we all need guidance and support to not only continue to be fabulous, but to serve as fabulous role models to other women.  The holiday season tests us, doesn’t it?  You begin to wonder how to organize it and participate in it.  Before any evidence is in, we start thinking that people are not going to live up to our arbitrary holiday standards. I also get a slightly sick feeling that whatever I do it isn’t quite fabulous enough. So why not let these monkeys give us some guidance?  As fabulous women say – can’t hurt, might help.

Let’s start with Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil.

Last week while driving in Phoenix I saw a guy walking down the street with his penis out of his pants, slightly bouncing to the beat of his walk.  Not sure anyone else but me noticed.  Bill insists I was seeing things.  Phoenix is a big driving town and thankfully most of the drivers are busy looking at the road ahead rather than to the sidewalk.  Now, you may think this situation caused me to think – ‘let me see no evil’ – and ignore this man’s penis and send him positive vibes instead.  While a great idea, that is not my point.  My point is that looking or not looking at this man has nothing to do with the idea of seeing no evil.  Seeing no evil is much less about avoiding trashy news (or partially dressed people) than it is the need to purposely focus our attention on the good, the positive and the meaningful.

I may have found part of “the answer” – and tens of thousands of others have too.  It is the Good News Network, founded by a woman of course, in 1997.  Geri Weis-Corbley is the world’s first positive news expert.  One of the great quotes from readers includes this one from former Secretary of State Colin Powell: “Thank you for writing your newsletter, Some Good News. I enjoyed reading the positive stories . . . I am heartened by the goodness and generosity that I see in people . . . keep up the good work.”  All the news on the site goodnewsnetwork.org is free, although one can become a member.  And, it is not a non-profit.  You might want to check out Geri’s blog from August on their 20th anniversary and of course sign up to get the good news daily. I did and it is inspiring me already.

The second monkey is Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil.

In the Shinto religion, monkeys are important beings. There are even festivals that are celebrated in the Year of the Monkey, which occurs every 12 years.  It was the Year of the Monkey LAST year by the way.  The next one will be 2028 – we won’t be writing this blog then but we’ll still be thinking of what that second monkeys can teach us.  Like seeing no evil, the key to “not hearing” is not ignoring anything that doesn’t agree with your own narrow view of the world, but rather tuning in more strongly to those messages worth hearing.  Deciding to never watch Fox or CNN, while perhaps a sensible idea in this climate, is not a decision to hear no evil.

Hearing no evil is the fabulous positive step of seeking out voices that are aching to be heard but often are not.  The person shouting from the rooftops about some or another piece of nonsense is not worth taking our earphones out for.  We need to listen to the other fabulous women – those with the quietest voices, children’s voices, voices of the marginalized and poor – which are often drowned out. Most importantly, we need to listen to our own inner voice – the one that tells us over and over again that we are fabulous when we choose to listen with, and listen through, our hearts.

Finally, we have Iwazaru covering his mouth, who speaks no evil.

Of course it goes without saying that fabulous women never gossip – except occasionally while drinking champagne to excess.  Here’s what a fabulous woman does talk about.  She talks about the holidays in positive ways.  She skips the “sad” tales of what her family or friends are NOT doing right, well, or appropriately.  She focuses on easy, fun, simple and caring ways to role model the spirit of the holidays.  She is gracious – an old fashioned but wonderful word that describes what we all wish to be: full of grace and full of love, laughter and infinite patience.  She also focuses on:

  • Good news about others
  • Her own expertise – especially when others seek out their advice in that area
  • Her own stories – never other people’s
  • Praise and more praise for everyone in her life
  • How it is she is so lucky or blessed
  • Things that make others happy, comfortable and that are truthful

Actually, there is a fourth monkey.  Remember ‘do no evil’?  Well, that’s for another blog – the one after the holidays that includes resolutions and returns.  Yikes, let’s not get into that fourth monkey or returns yet.  It is only Halloween, right?

Patty

What Kind Of Overnight Houseguest Are You?

Last week, good friends stayed with us for three nights. They were fun and considerate guests, and we had a great time.

My husband and I love having visitors and especially enjoy showing them around our unique new hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

We’re lucky to have friends and family who make it easy to host them in our home and in our city. Since we occasionally stay with some of them in their homes, we hope we are the kind of houseguests who are easy, too.

Being a great overnight guest isn’t too difficult. Here are 10 tips for guests who want to ensure a good time for themselves and low stress for their hosts.

1.)  Even if your hosts are retired (or aren’t working while you are there), they may have things they have to do during your stay. It’s a good thing to ask them early about any obligations they may have and be understanding if they do.

2.)  If you are staying more than a couple of days, rent a car so that you can strike out on your own once in awhile or be prepared to take an Uber or taxi, or hop on a bus or trolley.

3.)  Even though you are traveling to their city/town, don’t make your hosts plan all of your excursions. Learn about the area before you get there. Know what you’d like to see or do. “Whatever you think we’d enjoy” is not too helpful. Hiking six miles in the mountains is considerably different than shopping at a mall. Going to an upscale pricey restaurant is quite different than a casual visit to a burger joint. If they have to choose for you, it’s stressful for them and you might not like what they choose, especially if your health or finances don’t allow it.

4.)  Be willing to do things on your own. If you really want to do the six mile hike and your hosts are couch potatoes, let them know what you’d like to do at the beginning of your stay – or, even better, before your visit – and figure out together when and how that would work best.

5.)  Clearly state your intention to share in the out of pocket costs involved in your stay. Yes, your hosts will no doubt supply breakfast and probably even a dinner or two. But when you’re out and about with them, assume that you’ll split the bill.

6.)  At least once, offer to buy your hosts lunch or dinner. Better yet, just do it.

7.)  Be clear about your eating issues, especially if your hosts are making dinner for you. There is nothing worse than working hard to create a meal and then watching guests pick at the food because they don’t like lettuce, can’t eat gluten, don’t ever indulge in sweets, etc. And if you are one of those people who could fill three pages with what you won’t or can’t eat, talk to your hosts in advance of your stay. Maybe eating out would be the better choice for everyone.

8.)  If possible, show up at the house with a small gift … flowers, a jar of jam, a bottle of wine. It says to your hosts…we are so happy that you invited us to your home.

9.)  Speaking of their home, find ways to compliment your hosts about their surroundings. Go out of your way to notice things: photos of their children or grandchildren, a piece of art that is obviously something they love, a colorful bedspread, a nice table arrangement. Let them know you noticed.

10.)  Always, always, always send a thank you note (not an email or text) to thank them once you are back at your own home.

Of course, the responsibility for a great few days doesn’t rest solely with guests. Hosts need to ask questions to understand preferences and they need to be clear about their own needs, too.

Good two-way communication is the key.

What do you think?

Are these the things that your best houseguests do?

And… are you a great houseguest?

Cathy Green

I Love Fall! How About You?

In 2014, I posted this blog about my favorite season. As I write this, in mid October of 2017, the leaves are beginning to turn colors, some are already falling from our trees, the air is crisp, the sky is clear and the days are getting shorter.  We had a beautiful summer, so there’s a bittersweet quality to these changes.  Here again is my attempt to explain why I love fall so much.

Fall is my favorite season. I have loved it since I was a young Cincinnati girl growing up on Vittmer Avenue, a cul-de-sac lined with large oak trees that turned bright yellow, brown and orange in October.

When I moved to Florida in the late 80’s, I missed fall so much that I traveled with Ray to Maine trying to “time”  the peak colors each year.  When we finally bought a home there, we stayed until mid to late October when our “leaving” tree would tell us it was time to go. That’s what we called a beautiful birch tree in our yard that turned bright colors before shedding its leaves and ushering in the beginning of winter.

Birch trees in autumn

And now, living in one of the most desirable “leaf peeper” cities in the country – Asheville, NC – I get to see the spectacular changes in color at several different elevations over about six weeks.  Traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway almost every day – only 5 minutes from my home –  is incredible.

Here are a few of the reasons that I love fall so much…

  • The changing colors of the leaves always amaze me. I take more pictures in the fall than in any other season and most of them are of yellow, red and orange trees glowing in the sunshine. My cell phone has at least 100 of those photos right now.

Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC

  • The air smells crisp and clean. I have good hair days, I can wear light jackets and there’s a spring in my step. Lexie, our Labradoodle, is thrilled because she gets to be outside with us – running around the yard, hiking or going to festivals called Pumpkinfest, Octoberfest or Pecan Harvest Fest in small cities all over Western North Carolina.
  • I enjoy a fall wardrobe. I look better in sweaters and scarves, and they feel “cozy”. Bathing suit and bare legs season is over (thank god!) And, fortunately, orange, yellow and black clothing looks good on me.
  • Halloween is a great holiday. I like the scary ads and ghost stories, the Halloween pop-up stores, corn stalks, pumpkins, candy corn and parties.  I don’t go to the haunted houses, but I read about them and might just get courageous enough to walk through one someday.
  • A fire in the fireplace on those first cool evenings is a special treat. The hypnotic flames, combined with the smell and warmth of a fire, makes me want to bundle up on the couch with a blanket and listen to James Taylor and Bruce Hornsby music.

  • It’s time for crockpots and chili –my kind of comfort food! And, I love the strange looking squash, the thousand varieties of apples and the weird-shaped pumpkins that are everywhere — in stores, restaurants and at roadside vegetable stands.
  • It’s great to decorate the house with fun things … witches, ghosts, black cats, pumpkins, candles, cinnamon brooms, door wreaths and mums. And, the color orange – a bold, optimistic and uplifting color – is everywhere you look!

What a great time of year.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Cathy Green

Let’s Share More Often – Just Not Only On Social Media

When we see or hear the word “sharing” in 2017 our first thought is social media and sharing in that context.  Sharing means posting or publishing something that informs multiple people about a new event – or letting an audience know about something we think is important, relevant, smart, funny, cute or silly.  This is NOT the sharing I am talking about.  Sharing in social media can be a great addition to our lives and to certain aspects of our relationships, but it is worlds away from personal sharing in the intimate sense I am thinking about.  I worry that many fabulousover60s are spending too much time sharing on social media because they think this is the only way “everyone” is communicating; and letting slide the more intensely personal one to one sharing that was and is still a must for maintaining any great relationship.

Because social media can get ugly quickly, many of us are wondering if people are just too thin-skinned to want to hear our thoughts and consider our ideas.  We are often too quick to think “I am not telling anyone anything.  People get so easily offended, or just don’t care about my opinion.  I am going to keep my opinions to myself.”  While I agree that learning to stay on one’s own yoga mat is a great thing, and offering advice via social media can backfire, I think we make a mistake if we fail to share our considered viewpoints with those we really love one on one.  Fabulous women know how to share privately without being a busybody or a know it all.  We personally share to support those we love by adding perspective, not by telling others what to do. Ultimately we know people must make their own choices – and celebrate or recover from the consequences of those choices on their own.

My idea of fabulous sharing is giving serious thought to an issue or to challenge what  one of our close friends/family members is going through – and figuring out how and what we can share with them so they can consider more and/or different options or ideas.  It is then sending a meaningful, sensitive but direct message to someone we love/care for – or sending it indirectly by recommending a movie, book or article that sends the message in a more interesting, elegant or even funny way.  On the reverse side, it is spending time listening/reading another’s message to us, and thinking about why it was sent and what is being suggested that is at least useful and potentially life transforming.  Fabulous sharing starts and helps build fabulous relationships.

Poor “shares” sound like this:

  • Carol — stop bitching about Carl – divorce him or live with him!
  • Linda — your kids are like all young people today – selfish – just stop giving them money.
  • Maryanne — who cares what your daughter says – you want to date Bob and it is none of her business – just don’t tell her anything.

Some great “shares” sound more like this:

  • Laura — I know you are struggling with your health right now, glad you are seeking medical help – for another perspective you may want to look at an old take on the mind-body connection called You Can Heal Your Life by the late/great Louise Hay. I got some real insights from it.
  • Bob — Of course you’re angry and upset with how your family is acting – they do seem to be too critical as you say. Have you seen The Midwife? Great characters sort some family dynamics out – might get you thinking of some new approaches to what you are dealing with.
  • Kathy — just called to say I was sorry to hear you were getting some nasty feedback from people at (the club, the office, church, synagogue etc). Think things can be handled with some style and grace with a minimum of anger/upset. Am here if you want to consider some options for handling these people – think there a number of options, not just one.

Dumping careful and thoughtful sharing strikes me as a lazy move for someone aiming to stay fabulous.   As we age and struggle with staying fabulous it can seem wise to stop getting “too involved” with others’ drama.  But if we do care, and we want to stay close to our small circle of friends and gain the few new ones we need to as times evolve, the best way to do that is with genuine intimacy by risking reaching out to others with support and love and yes, great or different ideas.

If no one wants to hear your thoughts, or feel your concern, or understand what you are trying to communicate to help them, maybe you have lost touch with connecting deeply.  Worse, you may have lost your sensitivity – thinking older age makes being blunt OK.  You wouldn’t be alone in this increasingly disconnected age.  As Cathy and I are often saying: being fabulous is hard work.  And the “new sharing” isn’t always helping us as much as depersonalizing our friendships.  If you only have a small amount of time for sharing why not reach out to someone you care about and offer a piece of yourself – rather than sharing a recipe to all.  Hey, time enough for that when the holidays arrive before it is even Halloween.

Patty

When It Comes To Clothes, Are You A ‘Keep It’ Or A ‘Toss It’ Woman?

Last night, I wore a blouse that I hadn’t worn in a while.

That’s a nice blouse” said my husband.  “I don’t think I’ve seen it before. Is it new?”
“No, I’ve had it several years”, I replied.

I didn’t tell him the whole truth. The blouse is over 30 years old – maybe even closer to 40.

Right about now as she reads this blog, my writing partner Patty is no doubt shaking her head in dismay.

When I met her in the late 70’s, she told me that she believed in buying only good, high quality clothes so that they lasted a long time,  and that she always tossed anything she hadn’t worn in the past two years.

I was impressed with her resolve, but credited some of it to the fact that she had a small closet in an apartment in New York at that time.

I’ve asked her about it since, though, and she says she still tosses (actually donates) what she hasn’t worn for a while.

I am, on the other hand, definitely a keep it kind of person as evidenced by my 30 year old blouse.

It’s not a hoarding thing. I do donate clothes from time to time. In fact, I’ve swept through my closets at least a couple of times as I’ve moved households. But, it is a hard thing for me to do.

I find myself holding on to my donation box for a few days after packing it up and then second-guessing myself right before I load it into the trunk of the car.

That size 10 pair of gold Dana Buchman slacks? I should probably keep those just in case I’m ever a size 10 again, right?

And, that black cashmere sweater that I haven’t worn in years because it has always been too tight?  It’s still in style, so maybe I should keep it another year?

I’m even going to admit that I’ve thought about taking something out of the box at the last minute as I hand it over to the donation collector.

So, back to that 30+ year old blouse.

It’s a Votre Nom, 100% silk, black and white stripe blouse that still fits.  I googled Votre Nom to see if I could find any information about the brand and only saw a few pieces from the 70’s on auction sites.  I think I bought it in the early 80’s when I was making good money and traveling around the country.

It was probably expensive at the time, but I’m not sure.

Anyway, I have not been able to throw it away, even though it has made it onto the “maybe” pile several times.

So, why did I wear it last night?

  1. I don’t enjoy shopping for clothes like I used to, so I have been doing some shopping in my own closet.
  2. I have a lot of clothes so my Catholic guilt nags at me to wear them.
  3. I was in a black and white kind of mood and it was hanging right there in my closet (see #2)

But, whatever the reason, my husband liked it and I looked OK.

Cathy in her 30+ year old blouse

Yes, Patty, it’s true that I haven’t worn that blouse more than a handful of times over the span of 30+ years, but damn if I didn’t wear it last night!

Am I vindicated?

Cathy Green

I Settled For The 99% Eclipse

I made my decision a few days before the solar eclipse.

As you know, on Monday August 21, the moon lined up perfectly between the Earth and the sun and the skies got dark in the middle of the afternoon.

I was happy when I heard that those of us in Asheville, North Carolina would experience a 99 % solar eclipse, beginning at 2:30 pm.

That sounded really good. I could stay home with Ray, have a little lunch, sit on the deck, put on some solar eclipse glasses, look up into the sky and enjoy.

I began to realize, however, that there was a big difference between 99% and 100%.

Here’s what Brian Hart of the Lookout Observatory at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, said:

“When it’s only 99 percent, think about the moon when it’s just a sliver in the sky…. It will be a similar-sized sliver of the sun, a tiny line of light you can see. That’s all.”

The total eclipse, he said, is like seeing a show on Broadway. A partial eclipse is seeing it off-Broadway.

Less than 30 miles away from us, in Brevard, North Carolina, or just 60 miles away in Greenville, SC, there was going to be 100% totality. Experts said that we would be awed by a dramatic switch from day to night, we would view stars popping out in the sky, we would experience a big drop in temperature and we would see the full corona of the sun.

We were tempted … but ultimately made the decision not to join the thousands of people predicted to be on the roads.

Relatives in Charleston, and friends who went to Brevard, Greenville and other towns in the 100% path reported how dark it got, how the street lights came on and how the temperature dropped. Only a few of them were disappointed by clouds.

We were a little jealous… but not much. We invited some friends to join us on our deck for champagne and a shrimp and charcuterie lunch.  We had a clear view of the sun and watched as it got darker, cooler and quieter in the mountains.  And, although we couldn’t see any stars, we did see some lights on a distant mountain.

99% may not have been the ultimate experience … but it was still amazing.

And we didn’t have to drive home!

Cathy Green

Also, feel free to check out this link.

Canada’s Making Me Feel Fabulous

Canada is 150 years old this year.  And looking very beautiful!  We’ve been in Vancouver where the weather is divine (you know the range: 60 to 80 degrees) and the town booming.  Seems a bit easier to feel fabulous here.  Maybe getting away from the stormy vibrations in the USA right now is just the thing to make one feel fabulous again.  As my granddaughter reminded me, it also stays light very late into the evening here.  Here’s a look at the view at 9 PM on Wednesday when we arrived.

Vancouver skyline

I have used several of my favorite traveling habits here in Vancouver.  When I get to any large city I go out and walk and walk versus hitting the gym.   Walking for miles beats the treadmill with CNN shouting breaking news what seems like every 5 minutes.  While on my marathon walk I made stops in two best bets to lift my mood.  The first was to stroll into the most upscale and expensive department store in my wanderings.

While I know that loving a swank department store clearly puts me in my waning 60s, I can’t ever forget how as a young woman when money was tight, and my career busy, I would wander and picture myself wearing some of the most amazing clothes.  Loved just looking at those crazy priced multi-thousand dollar dresses and day dreaming of entering a restaurant and turning heads.  While I have grown somewhat beyond the clothes obsession of my youth, and for sure know I am very unlikely to make heads turn now, I still get joy out of wandering those expensive racks and wondering where I could ever wear these options.

Another treat is visiting a cathedral or an inspiring old church.  The hush, the few people reverently praying, sometimes choirs or organ masters practicing, wonderful messages about welcoming people, large open spaces and small areas featuring a saint or special area of prayer filled with lit candles all comfort me.  It is like a spiritual cashmere wrap and blast of serenity.

We have also spent time wandering the botanical gardens here – lush and greener than green, and seen some intriguing art at museums.  We actually thought we knew everything we probably needed to know about Monet but learned a bit more when we went to a new exhibit at the art museum here.  One surprise – and likely many of you already knew this – but we did not: there was an actual painting that Monet titled Impression which is how the term impressionism came to be.   We did know that impressionism was a derisive term when introduced, but seeing the actual painting that named a movement we all know so well was very interesting.  My theory was once again confirmed that one never wastes time in a museum – there is always something fresh to see or hear.

While here I returned to another adventure that always works to up my mood: going shopping alone for lingerie. Cathy once wrote a hilarious blog of our jointly shopping for lingerie – that was for me a one-time thing—and of course am glad it was Cathy I shared it with.  But my preference is to find someone friendly and knowledgeable in the lingerie department to help me and share with her what I have been considering for months but just haven’t gotten around to buying.  Staying fabulous has to include holding firm to buying lovely underthings.  Promise me no matter how you feel about your financial situation or your aging body, you will, at least once a year buy something pretty, shaping and charming that will remind you how special you are every time you put it on.  Cotton briefs and a one size fits all bras does not help one to feel or think fabulous.

We’ve just learned that our next stop on our “get out of the Tucson heat tour” Portland, Oregon will be over 110 degrees when we arrive.  Talk about news that threatens my uplifted mood!!   We spent several hours mulling through options that tried our patience.  But with all my good vibrations from this wonderful trip, I kept my thinking positive.

As for the impending heat wave in Oregon, did someone say there is no climate change?  The big lesson for us fabulous over 60s is this: your memories of how weather was have to be tossed out the window.  So maybe you did vacation in Oregon every August in the 70s and there was a chill in the air.  That is no guarantee that weather is still with us.  Since we are always saying that being fabulous is about being flexible, check the weather first wherever you are going.  Do not rely on anything but the present – literally – weather is a moving target.  Practicing dealing easily with changing weather may help us deal with other things that are changing as well.  That would be a great support for being fabulous all the time.

Patty

What Should I Do About My “Writer’s Block”?

Blogging Rule #1. When you have a blog site, you must write and post something on a regular basis.

I’ve been doing that for about six years now, along with my blog partner, Patty.  We alternate postings.

Unfortunately for me, it’s not her week to post.

Usually, I have been able to come up with something to write about. The topic might be spurred by something weird I experienced, something I remembered about the past, or something my dogs, husband or other family members did that struck me as funny or crazy.

But lately, nothing notable has happened to me, no one in my immediate circle of family or friends has done anything too weird (that I know of), and even the dogs have just been dogs.

Knowing that I’m on the hot seat to post a blog this week, I’ve been on high alert for things to write about. I felt sure, for example, that my annual eye exam yesterday would provide fodder for a great blog.  No such luck.  And my hair cut and nail appointments were equally uneventful.

Maybe the problem is that I’m leading too boring a life … not challenging myself to break out of my daily routines with new experiences that will spur my adrenaline and creativity.

So, I’ve decided that I’m going zip-lining this weekend.

Just kidding. I’m not that desperate to write a blog.

I do think I need to change things up a little, so I’m going to give it some deep, deep thought. Inspiration is probably right around the corner.

But first, it’s noon. Time for lunch.

Cathy Green

 

The Challenge of Being Mentally Fabulous

My friend Betty and I were walking and taking in the art at New York’s MoMA a few weeks ago.  As I was turning into a new room, I saw Broadway Boogie Woogie: Piet Mondrian’s 1942-43 commentary on New York City at the time.  I was 17 when I first saw it 50 years ago.  And I was reminded of how seeing it then was a break through for me in understanding the connection between modern art – which was new to me at 17 – and other aspects of history, culture and personal expression.

Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie

We spent the bulk of our time seeing a major Robert Rauschenberg exhibit.  Who knew he was a collaboration maestro and loved working with others including many engineers? Here’s his Mud Muse (below), an example of that collaboration.  Trust me, it was much more exciting and powerful in person.  There was even a warning that one could get splashed with the mud.  I saw it as a metaphor and support for my current extensively collaborative work on QwikCoach.

Being fabulous is all about creating a fabulous life: one that works just perfectly for oneself, and feeds our soul and heart.  It is balanced between meeting our own needs, and contributing to others.  Most of us understand and work to keep things in that balance.

We also exercise and continue to care about our looks, spending money on smart-looking, sophisticated clothes, lotions and potions.  We have learned how to look great a long time ago when everyone was required every day to look presentable – and so we are good at continuing those routines, even as they have gotten twice as long to look half as good.  We also seem to have grasped the critical part work plays – and we are combining working and volunteering in multiple ways that keeps us more than busy.

But one thing we don’t seem to have sufficiently conquered in our lives is the challenge of putting our mental growth and emotional well being front and center on a regular basis.  We often struggle with saying no to our supposed obligations, skip opportunities to learn something new and different, and push off growing spiritually and emotionally.  Some of that has to do with having too much mental clutter.  Our urge to be and do good is admirable, but we tend to get caught up in others’ stories and lives. Our divorced daughter, our addicted nephew, our former or current colleagues, our partners, our grandchildren or very elderly parents, and connections from church or community activities all have needs that we seem intent on fixing, supporting, and/or paying for.  We just haven’t managed to work on our mental health (which includes growth) and happiness everyday in the same way we juggle other daily challenges.

These last weeks have found me loading up on self-care and mental health activities.  Likely because I have recently come out of a depression and more aware I need to get serious about my happiness, and because I am only temporarily on the east coast where I have more friends than time.  Everyday I find myself aware of how important it is to stay calm and centered, to challenge my thinking, to be open to new things and be protective and proactive about my emotional well being.

Noreen and I grabbed coffee last week as we both realized that we hadn’t quite had enough time together and needed more female bonding and mutual support.  It was after dinner with our husbands that we looked at each other and knew we weren’t finished talking and needed some one on one time.  We made it happen the next morning with a little adjusting of our schedules.  And discussed, among other things, the challenge of working consistently on our mental and emotional well-being.  It just seems that this is becoming more important as other things such as external success continue to diminish their allure.

Interesting to me that in all those pressured years of career and balancing work and personal life I knew I was strong and could handle anything thrown my way.  I misjudged my sixties thinking that it would be easier as long as I held onto my health and appearance.  What I didn’t know and now do is that the mental and emotional challenges of aging and being part of cohort all of whom are aging, requires more not less strength and resilience than what was required years ago. And in order to keep that mental strength, and calm center, we need to make conscious choices of how we spend our time, and how we nurture ourselves.

I thought looking and feeling good was tough – it now appears our mental health and emotional well-being takes more effort too.  Damn this is getting hard.  In our fabulous hearts we knew that – didn’t we?

Patty

 

Please Don’t Tell My Personal Trainer

It’s 10:30 on Thursday morning and I am usually at the gym.  Chuck, my personal trainer for the past 4 years, is always bright and cheerful.  I’m not.  At that time of the morning, he has been on the job since 5:00am. I crawl out of bed at 7:30am. He has had his eggs with turmeric, green tea and honey and other healthy stuff. I have wolfed down some grapes, a waffle and two cups of coffee with cream.

Chuck is on vacation for two weeks. I implied that I would work out while he was gone. Notice that I didn’t say that I promised.  He thought it would be good if I used our usual time to do something physical like walking for an hour. Or dusting off the cobwebs and using the treadmill he knows I have in the house.  I nodded.  It was an acknowledgment that I heard him, not a promise.

At this moment, it’s raining and I can’t take a walk. And I’m afraid that the power might go out if there’s any lightning, so I can’t use the treadmill. And my husband wants me to go out to lunch with him. And I’ve got to spend some time with the dogs. And I had to write this blog.

Anyway, I’ve got the rest of this week and next week to exercise at least three times so that I can look Chuck in the face when he returns.  

The problem is that even thinking about exercising is making me tired. Maybe tomorrow.

Here’s a blog I wrote in 2013 about the joys of working out.  It’s all still true.

 

Please Don’t Tell My Personal Trainer

Twice a week, I have breakfast, make my bed, get dressed in my exercise clothes and drive 10 minutes to a gym to work out with my personal trainer, Chuck. I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t exercise if I didn’t have someone waiting for me who had been paid to be there.

I work out with weights, ropes, bands, balls, a baseball bat (don’t ask) and, occasionally, boxing gloves. I groan (lots) and sweat (some) for about an hour… then Chuck makes me stretch my aching body so that I can walk to my car.

Do I work out to get thin? That would be nice, but there’s little chance of that happening at this point. No, I work out to stay as flexible as possible, to deal with impending over-60 balance issues, and to keep the flab under my arms from drooping so much that I can’t wear anything that doesn’t have long sleeves.

I definitely don’t work out for pleasure and I probably wouldn’t do it if there was a pharmaceutical alternative. However, I have to admit that I feel better about myself and have more energy when I work out than when I find excuses not to.

There are many things I don’t like about the experience, but what do I like the least?

  • Is it the drive to and from the gym?
  • Is it the aches and pains of calf raises?
  • Is it the 200th squat of the session?
  • Is it the tiresome trainer saying “just 3 more”?

No. All of these are on my top 10 list, but the thing that really bothers me the most are the mirrors.

All gyms have mirrors. They cover most walls. They are big and unavoidable.

Trainers will tell you that it’s important to have correct “form” to achieve maximum benefit from your exercises and that mirrors are the way to check your posture. I don’t believe it. Mirrors are for the trainers, body builders and 20 and 30 year old exercise fanatics to admire their sexy bodies in their body-hugging “fitness attire”.

Mirrors are definitely NOT for 60-something women who show up at the gym with baggy black t-shirts and wild hair pulled back in a scraggly ponytail. (While working out with Chuck, I am often shocked when I inadvertently glance in one of the mirrors – where did that old lady come from?)

I know what I’m talking about. I was a gym regular in my 20’s and 30’s (and even into my 40’s) and wore the latest, most fashionable and colorful gear I could find. Remember stretchy wrist bracelets, scrunch socks and head bands? Here’s Cher in the 80’s in case you don’t:

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In my younger years, I often checked out my exercise “form” … which really meant checking out my thin and toned body in my great new clothes. Mirrors were my friends.

Not anymore.

So, Chuck, please don’t tell me what the mirrors are for. I know what they are for and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. Point me toward a wall and earn your money by making sure I have the right “form”, OK?

Gyms are never going to take down the mirrors or provide curtains that can be pulled shut over them, so I guess I will just have to continue to “suck it up” (in more ways than one).

workout

Cathy Green

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