Create Your Right Goals – And Leave Others To Pick Theirs!

One of my compulsive habits I am attempting to modify is list and goal writing. I always have goals for any day, week or month. This habit works well for me. I have spent quite a bit of time over the holidays evaluating the year just passed and setting up goals for the next year. If you read the two blog posts I wrote about changing the concept of what it means to be FabulousOver60, you won’t be surprised I did not spend nearly as much time reviewing 2017 and carefully crafting goals for 2018. Yes to goals, no to too much analysis and perfecting the way goals are phrased.

Here are my 2018 resolutions.

  • Worry less.
  • Get the most important 2 or 3 things done everyday.
  • Confirm those important things to do early each day – then meditate.
  • Have lots of fun whenever possible.

The last few years had me worrying excessively. Some recall that I had moments when perhaps I was not an actual lunatic, but I was damn close. Results of my excess worry were clear: I felt depressed, unable to get my own priorities met – while nothing of what I was worrying about changed. I couldn’t meditate as well or sometimes at all. I definitively had less fun – how can you have fun when you are nervous and worrying?

As a life coach I know one really simple way to judge our own actions. It is to evaluate exactly what happened as a result of our actions. What happened? How did others, if relevant, respond? What improved or did not? The answers indicate our effectiveness. Tough as it sometimes is, accepting that data with ease knowing I am not perfect and then adjusting seriously improves action. When I evaluated my worrying it was clear the results were bad – it had to go. And having dozens of goals next wasn’t going to work either.

For FabulousOver60 women, anytime before the Ides of March (and I am betting over 60 fabulous women are among the few that recall what the Ides of March is) is a great time to create your own FEW goals. This makes sense to me. By the end of March it is useful to have a focus on what is going to make you feel right, be happy, and do good this year. If it’s April, and you haven’t yet got a focus and some new goals, don’t worry.

Just decide that your new and likely temporary focus is “just being and doing what you are” – knowing if something critical arises and needs your pressing attention – you’ll be on it and know exactly the goals you need to achieve. I guess setting goals for FabulousOver60 women is a bit like riding a bike or a horse – the “how to” comes back to you if and when you need it to. Certainly we now know things WILL arise needing our intense focus and yes, goals to be set. For us that may be a surprising new work or volunteer opportunity or an unexpected death of a friend or spouse that requires lots of new ways of operating in the world.

On the other hand, I think the #metoo movement is one that definitely needs goals both personally and organizationally. We did lead the way professionally making sure people “got” that women really CAN do and excel at jobs they were previously thought not to be able too –  that didn’t leave us enough time to set goals aimed at ending harassment too. Glad women with a lot more energy and recent experience are doing a terrific job finally dealing with a pattern as old as dirt. And while it just seems ridiculous to most of us to share our me too stories – since we think what happened in 1972 or 1985 typically should remain there; we are all behind young women leaders who are setting their goals to end or at the least drastically slow down harassment and discrimination. There are always things to accomplish. We are fabulous enough now to know which ones have our names on it and which don’t.

Patty

Part 2: More About Changing Our Definition of Fabulous

Last week we published part one of a blog post about the changing nature of being fabulous – this week we complete it by focusing on more about the meaning of fabulous now.

Fabulous is looking fine in a way that is comfortable and absolutely us and dropping any snobbery around standards that have lost their meaning.  Being in fashion isn’t fabulous anymore — being real, authentic, hot or conservative or edgy in ways that reflect our best self is. Fabulous is living, learning, staying present and being grateful for all that’s good, and calm about things we can’t control.  And fabulous is all about taking care of ourselves and those we love.  We feel most fabulous when we are in connection with those that matter and are doing things that feel good and are good for us.

Being Fabulous, Part 2:

Random shopping has stopped being fun.  But we seem to have found just those few boutiques or online spots that have sales on just exactly what we feel is perfect and fabulous.  Few, if anyone, seem to care about looking good anyplace or at special events. So our black pants and nice top could take us to the opera or the hottest restaurant in any town and to someone’s graduation party.  True, BUT, we evolved here too. We created our new definition of fabulous as dressing as well and as we want, still choosing to look extra special more than once a year, and if we are the only one in a restaurant or at the party with a dress or heels or pulled-together look (don’t we all agree that many people of any age appear to use their laundry basket as a closet?) we don’t care.  We dress for ourselves and any audience we care about, we dress up when and if we want to and define our feeling appropriate as being fabulous.

Heavy meals started hurting our stomachs.  Nature wasn’t pretty if we ate, drank or didn’t sleep enough, so we sleep more if we can and just stopped ordering the cheese plate — but kept going out. We don’t go on and on about our food issues — fabulous now looks at the menu, makes the calculation of what works and doesn’t and orders without announcement.

Friendships have become challenging in tangible ways: friends, family and those close to them have serious health problems, not hangovers, and people close to us die.  We’ve learned how to mourn more deeply without falling apart or making the loss about ourselves.  We pray or sit silently more often, sending prayers or caring vibrations to others. And share our sympathy with more confidence not because we are getting great at demonstrating sympathy, but because we now know with absolute certainty that the most important thing is demonstrating we care, not doing some “appropriate” thing. We’ve really gotten the boundaries message and keep them even when faced with heart-wrenching personal loss times for us, or our friends. We handle ourselves keeping the focus on those who hurt at the time.  And we work to avoid dragging ourselves into a tailspin of upset over anything we can’t control (yes, most things).

One thing we haven’t given ourselves enough credit for was how we as a generation became, and are still, continuous learners. 

And that is now the core of being fabulous: we keep learning and experimenting. When we fail we try plan B to Z if we have to. We are not Queen Elizabeth in The Crown (a fabulousover60 favorite), perpetually unamused if not insulted by the relentless changes in the culture. We have come to peace with our parents and are using a different approach to aging and being fabulous.  We are NOT denying we are aging, that time is passing and we are going to die.  I remember death and dying, as well as well as less permanent changes – like moving or writing a will and getting specific about near-death wishes as taboo subjects for our parents.  They kept doing much of the same things they always did and didn’t want to talk much about age-related realities.  We do not blame them or feel anger at them. But we have clearly chosen a different fabulous path that includes facing realities of all sorts – from divorce to death or from being fired to starting a whole new business in our sixties.

Fabulous now is about accepting what is, and building and living in our own able-to-be-penetrated bubble. 

We choose what comes in and out with open eyes and heart and ears. We focus on fewer things, but our important things. We continue to be kind and have come to realize, as have other mature people, that kindness counts more than nearly anything else.  We are back marching and resisting or maybe only paying attention in a limited way — we know ourselves, do what we must and don’t judge others.

Fabulous is looking fine in a way that is comfortable and absolutely us – and dropping any snobbery around standards that have lost their meaning.  Being in fashion isn’t fabulous anymore — being real, authentic, hot or conservative or edgy in ways that reflect our best self is. Fabulous is living, learning, staying present and being grateful for all that’s good, and calm about things we can’t control.  It’s about taking care of ourselves and those we love.  We feel most fabulous when we are in connection with those that matter and are doing things that feel good and are good for us.

Turning 60 seems eons ago.  I chuckle for not realizing that everything changes – including our definitions of being fabulous.  We’re still smart, savvy and sophisticated, but our hearts are set on being our best individual self, connecting and being a part of a group when it is the right time and place. It’s also enjoying that group time, giving ourselves and everyone else a break. It is letting our light and our scent, our essence – which is individual and precious – be felt in the world.

A friend from the early 70s once told me that I was like great perfume, leaving a lovely scent behind when I left — I was touched and a bit overwhelmed.  And I remembered it, always trying in my own way to live up to the challenge of leaving “a lovely scent” behind.  Cathy and I have chosen to let FabulousOver60 now be associated with multiple beautiful perfume bottles (in our new cover photo on Facebook) — each representing one and all of us FabulousOver60 women.  We’re each unique, and we’re shining our lights and leaving a warmth and scent behind us everywhere we go.  Think that says it all.

Patty

The Meaning of Being FabulousOver60 Has Changed!!

Fabulous now is about accepting what is, and building and living in our own able-to-be-penetrated bubble.  We choose what comes in and out with open eyes and heart and ears, we focus on fewer things, but our important things, we continue to be kind and have come to realize as have other mature people that kindness counts more than nearly anything else.  We are back marching and resisting or maybe only paying attention in a limited way — we know ourselves, do what we must and don’t judge others.  

We are posting this blog in two parts. Part one focuses on “then” which is the time we started FabulousOver60.com around 2010 at the beginning of our sixties.

Next week we will post part two – which shares all the experiences that led to our changing conception of being fabulous and how we went from the visual on our Facebook page being a lily to our visual now being a group of special perfume bottles. Love to have your thoughts and reactions.

Part One:

I turned 68 on January 20th.  In the years that Cathy and I have been writing FabulousOver60 we have shared our evolving challenges and attempted solutions in regards to family, friends, work, health, volunteering, culture, beauty, serenity, spirituality, vacations, homes, and moving — nearly everything except politics (a conscious decision).  We have heard from many of you who have supported our efforts at being positive, funny, and openly sharing our own foibles and not-quite-perfect efforts to avoid losing our fabulousness.  We were pretty sure we knew much of what was ahead back in 2010 — the issue for us as we began living those years was worrying about how we would handle the realities of being 60-something and not get pushed off a high ridge into “un”-fabulousness.

Our original fabulous model was a nearly ageless women still caring about her outside self as much as her heart and mind.  Fabulous was carrying on as we had in our 50s but at a slightly more leisurely pace.  We stood by the concept of women multitasking — yes we thought one should know how and actually do as many of the following as possible, preferably at the same time: look totally awesome and put together; prepare food, cook & serve it; keep all things in neat and orderly; work at something to earn money or earn respect that is clearly worth doing and yet fits into a semi-retired lifestyle (being created); work on our lives seeking out new/interesting roles; stay current on world and national events; keep weight stable and exercise frequently since of course we’ll have more time for things like tennis or golf or hiking; have great relationships; and volunteer as frequently as possible to save the world in a meaningful way.

Our definition also suggested we avoid acting or being old as much as possible — skip those early dinners and pre-set routines that we found so annoying in our parents.  When faced with a challenge take it full on, using skills from our earlier life and act confident and calm, but keep going.  Stay a bit edgy, have a great sense of humor and of course be a kind, decent human being.  Oh and be ready to share your wisdom and charm that certainly some, if not many, younger people will find interesting and useful.  I know you are laughing at this last sentence. Talk about a false assumption!!

As our 60s unfolded we began to take in some new information and real-world experiences.  “Doing it all” and “having it all” were on shaky ground to begin with and we learned first hand they are completely outdated for good reasons.  We tossed those out. Our energy wasn’t up to what we often thought it should be to stay fabulous. We became okay with that.  Fabulous can apply to only certain times. One or two or three things a day started making more sense than a fully scheduled day – even if the schedule took place at a spa.  Am okay with that too. Standards around our eternal touch stones continued to erode: forget thank you notes, people didn’t RSVP for weddings!  We made adjustments and practiced forgiveness.  We lowered our expectations of others but kept some selected high expectations of ourselves because they defined us in ways WE think are fabulous.

And yes, there is more.  See part two next week.

Patty

Keeping (More) Music in My Life: A 2018 New Year’s Resolution

In July of 2013, I wrote a blog called “Keeping Music In My Life”. Music has always been important to me and the great music scene in Asheville, NC was one of the major reasons that Ray and I moved to this special city. In our 6 years here, we’ve been able to enjoy some of the best live music anywhere – by both national and local artists.

Reflecting on last year, however, I realized that I attended only 5 ticketed music concerts in 2017. They were good ones, including Suzy Bogguss, David Holt and Tony Bennett, and they were supplemented with great jazz and bluegrass music at our favorite local bars and restaurants. But it still wasn’t enough!

So, I’m re-posting my blog and making a 2018 resolution to at least double that number in 2018. The Tedeschi Trucks Band and Chicago are already on the schedule, so I’m on my way.

Suggestions appreciated!

Here’s my 2013 blog about keeping music in my life: Click here.

Five Of The Seventeen Lessons I learned In 2017

As the title suggests, I don’t plan to share my complete list of these lessons. Rather, in this entry I am choosing to share a few lessons that are already making a difference in my life. My thinking is that if I consider a few of my big breakthroughs, and you consider those and your own lessons, we can all end the year with some needed closure and fresh insight to make 2018 easier. As an adult learning expert I know that confusing and difficult life dilemmas give us an opportunity to learn and grow. I am certain 2017 has been a year when I have expanded my perspective, deepened my thinking and yes, gotten wiser. And I bet no matter what went on in your life you realize you learned some amazing things too.

For me, the biggest lesson was personal, not political, learning. The year began with a thud for my dear sister. She had a fall – not off the wagon, she doesn’t drink much – but a set back in her life that she was not prepared for, caught her totally off guard, and totally surprised Bill and I too. What happened next – the ups, downs, dramas and recovery is where it got very messy but amazingly interesting. While going through a depression triggered by my still not totally conquered codependence, (I have read Codependent No More dozens of times). I wound up realizing that I didn’t know my sister nearly as well as I thought I did. And that much of my initial feelings and then suffering was based on false assumptions about my sister – and about myself.

When we finally allowed things to unfold as they were meant to, we both more clearly understood the essence of each other’s character – and how our different but compatible passions were confusing us. While Wendy will always see justice, and correcting wrongs as central to who she is; I will always consider making things peaceful and calm as the highest good. We both are drawn to different north stars. We just needed to GET that our ideal “outcomes” can often feel far apart but ultimately are not for each other. We both have to turn down our “need for control buttons” and know that we are both OK as long as we allow each other to fix things based on our different passions. This profound lesson has let the remainder of the year work much more effectively for us both – and for us to enjoy and love each other in ways that are truly healthy.

Another of my lessons resulted from what I am now calling the chaos of 2017. There has been so much upheaval in technology, marketing and lifestyles, wrenching surprises everywhere from Washington DC to LA, and long-held expectations turned upside down. No matter what the focus of your year, it was touched by a sea of chaos happening everywhere we looked. Half of us just stopped looking and put on headphones. The rest of us tried to balance letting “some stuff” into our world while claiming our own roads. There wasn’t a set of friends or a family that didn’t put up the “no politics sign” at the entrance to some event. The truth is that the world was put into jet drive — change at the speed of light. And tough, very hard on everyone due to storms of nature or storms of our own creation.

Remember the phrase “you are what you eat”? Turns out you are also what you read, listen to, see and choose to engage with. We KNOW that, but do we really work to shape our input environments even as we respect our needs to keep current and apprised of important events? For many, the reaction to potentially disconcerting news is to shut it out. Logically, if and when something happens that is truly life changing, you will tune in – and of course you vote. Fabulous women vote. High standards – and that includes being a good citizen – are critical to all our futures. But let’s say you are like me: really interested in current events, but still concerned with getting too riled up over day to day nonsense while also worried about offending people I love who may have a different reaction or response to events. Remember I mentioned my need for peace and calm?

The lesson was pretty simple – but surprising – I had missed it till close to year-end. I realized that what I was really interested in was history and big current trends – both economic and political as well as social and artistic. If I am learning and growing (a huge passion) by reading interesting and complex ideas about diverse events and trends – from the Vietnam War to Leonardo Da Vinci (click on the links for specifics); if I am seeing and exploring art exhibits about Dali and Schiaparelli on a recent trip with co-blogger Cathy to Florida; then I am happy and more than satisfied with reading my beloved New York Times every other or third day and just checking headlines in between.

Cathy and Patty at the Dali Museum December 11, 2017

I don’t want to be out of the loop about things that matter – but more critical for me is to have my mind stimulated regularly and deeply. It is odd to me that I missed this very obvious need in myself. I wasn’t missing the details of DC daily as much as knowledge and insight into the world and how I might use that knowledge to help myself and others live happier more productive lives. What I realized that was watching CNN or MSNBC, while somewhat interesting some of the time, often was shrill nonsense and not particularly stimulating.

This week I read the new Chris Matthews book on Bobby Kennedy. Loved it. There it was – a biography that gave me insight and information to help better myself and have a greater understanding of today. It just doesn’t have to be today’s rundown.

So there you go. Two big lessons I learned. Add those you did. Just in case you’re interested in that list of 17 lessons of 2017, let me share numbers 15, 16 and 17.

15: Stop taking yourself so immensely seriously.

16: The world will always be challenging, so focus on what’s truly important for you.

17: On or near New Year’s Eve/Day, thank yourself for hanging tough this year – and wish yourself the happiest of New Year’s. Cathy and I wish that for all of you – whether you’ve learned anything or not.

Patty

Christmas Presents for Teenage Grandchildren: Gift Cards Again This Year?

My husband and I have five grandkids. Actually, they really aren’t “kids” anymore since they range in age from 16 to 21.

Three of them live in Nashville and the other two in Florida.  We live in North Carolina and generally don’t see them during Christmas (Thanksgiving has been “our” holiday with them over the years). So, we ship their presents by mid-December.

When they were little, we enjoyed shopping for toys and cute little outfits and wrapping them in sparkly bags and boxes, often with candy canes or chocolate Santas.

In those early days, we only made one big gift mistake when our second oldest grandchild, Terra, was around three years old. We shopped at FAO Schwarz and bought a life-sized talking doll that said things like “it’s time to get up” and “let’s play”.  Terra was scared of her doll and told her mom that it was “too bossy”.  Back to the store it went!

Otherwise, we seemed to have done well with the toys and outfits we chose for the five of them at a time when their parents were happy to have our help with Christmas presents.

As they moved into their teens, however, it got more difficult.

My husband’s two daughters couldn’t help much. They had their own problems figuring out what to give their picky teenagers.

A few years ago, we tried outerwear jackets. Apparently they weren’t cool enough. Another year we tried clothes. Ditto.

We started buying accessories like earrings and necklaces and makeup for the girls and belts and wallets for the grandson. These were safer and worked well for a couple of years. But the older they got, the more they seemed to evolve into “fashionistas”.  Grandma Cathy and Papa weren’t too cool when it came to choosing clothes. And, we didn’t really understand what they might want in technology either.

So we did what their parents suggested. We began giving them gift cards so that they could buy what they wanted.

At first we tried to find out which stores they liked so that the gift cards could be “special”.  That wasn’t easy. Ultimately, we bought generic “use anywhere” cards.

We’ve been doing that for a few years, and even though it seems a little impersonal to us, they have all seemed to appreciate them.

So once again this year, as December rolled around, my husband and I found ourselves talking about giving them another gift card.

Then it hit us. It won’t be long before all five of them are out on their own – with jobs, their own homes and even their own families.

At that point, we probably won’t be buying them personal Christmas gifts anymore.

So, this year we decided to go shopping to buy “real” gifts once again. We are going to wrap them in pretty Christmas paper and ship them to their parents’ homes to be opened on Christmas morning.

The gifts might be the wrong color or style.  But that’s OK.  We like to think that they will know that their grandparents picked out each gift – just for them — with love.

Cathy Green

Fabulous At The Holidays

One of my dear friends is turning 60 this coming week.  I sent her a card and assured her it was going to be OK.  I may have been a total mess back in 2010, but with her mature outlook and strong leadership style she will likely only cry a little and get ready to keep on shining as she enters her 60s.  She has a high-powered job and lives in NYC – I think both these things will help Kathy transition smoothly.

Another of my dear friends is turning 70 next week.  She is beautiful, strong, determined and brave.  She just had knee surgery and is recovering from that agony with grace and little fuss.  Barbara has been a FabulousOver60 woman during this last decade.  How will she handle turning 70?  My guess is she’ll wince at her change in decades; and then proceed to do her 70s every bit as well as she did her 60s.  Not sure of the right adjective to use for the 70s yet.  Thankfully there is time for that to come to me as I spend my final 2 years in my sixties starting this January.

As I recover from a lovely Thanksgiving with only one major upset which is now receding into family history; and start getting into the holiday card, shopping and celebration season, I am reminded of some important wisdom. It is simply this: that any given day in our lives, especially the very hard ones, can be long.  But the years go quickly as we review the years of holidays past come late November and early December.  Which means, having great holidays are not only nice to have, but a must-have for our older selves.  We have no holidays to waste or energy to squander.  Here’s my big three ideas to make it so – please borrow whatever strikes you as sensible and doable for you.

 

Idea #1: Act with a light heart and extreme gentleness.  In this past year we have all seen more bad behavior from leaders at workplaces, in politics, or around one of our own corners than I thought was even possible.  Despite believing I have “seen it all” some of these outrageous acts have really shocked me.   Actions and language have been too rough, crude, and in some cases actually dangerous.  So my first plan is to meditate daily, pray frequently, and approach any actions this holiday with a light hand as well as heart.  I refuse to be drawn into any heated discussions or expose myself to negative energy and overall nonsense.  I am becoming as peaceful as possible and when interacting with anyone at anytime in the next weeks before the new year, my goal is to be soft and kind in every way possible.

Idea #2: Give what you can and want to, but don’t overdo. More simply, put happy boundaries on the holiday.  That means making choices.  I am definitely going to write and send cards – it is something I actually like doing.  It gives me a chance to reach out and touch people I am not able to see or visit with during the year.  Or, a chance to say something I have been meaning to say but just hadn’t had the opportunity to. I am not going to get overwrought with shopping though.  Am limiting who I buy for and what I spend.  There are so many amazing sales it really isn’t hard to act with a conscious and common sense.

My daughter Courtney just helped me out too.  She wrote that our Christmas in New York with all her husband’s truly wonderful family will include the “Secret Santa thing”.  For those of you unfamiliar with this approach, it works like this.  All the adults who are meeting on Christmas will draw names of one other adult who will be in attendance.  Everyone buys one gift for the person they “drew” and everyone gets one gift – a huge break for a fruitcake like me who would normally get something individually for each of the 20+ people who attend. Amen Angels – I thank you with all my heart.

In addition to my fruitiness and nuttiness and due to my compulsiveness I have already shopped for many of those who will be at the event now having a “Secret Santa approach”. SO, I can now use much of what I have bought early as gifts for other family and friends on my list.  Hurrah for me!!!  Forced by sensible relatives to take it all down a notch.

Idea #3: Keep events short, monitor drinking and eating, and spend loving but not too much time with any given family member or friend.  No matter what, the holidays can be stressful.  Sadness at lost family and friends can bring un-prepared tears and sadness; too much sugar and partying can drain our patience; and the volume of noise, running pets and multitude of people in small places can wreck havoc with even a normally calm person’s center.  So plan accordingly.  Going out to dinner one night?  Make the next evening simple, slow and low key.  Lots of visitors on one day?  Try to take in a movie the next day. Balance and pace the time to include all types of love and happiness, and keep it low key enough not to make yourself or anyone around you sick, irritable or grumpy.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you and all those you love and hold dear to have beautiful, peaceful and fun-filled holidays.  May there truly be peace on earth — good will toward each and everyone!

Patty

Answering the “What Have You Been Doing Lately” Question

At dinner last week with friends, I was asked an easy question… What have you been doing lately?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an easy answer.  What had I been doing lately?

As I thought about how to answer, I was actually asking myself a different question: Had I done anything exciting or productive lately that is worth sharing?

These friends had just told us about their recent trip to Spain, followed by their successful business trip to New York City.  They are in their 60’s.

I finally mumbled something about enjoying fall in Asheville and changed the subject.

Other friends have asked similar questions. Planning any trips? Working on anything new these days?

I know that these questions aren’t meant to make me uncomfortable, but sometimes they do. I find myself feeling guilty for not doing anything important or boring for not doing anything exciting … or both.

In my late 60’s, I’m actually quite happy with my life.  I am staying healthy, keeping active, enjoying my home and my canine companions, and spending time with friends.  I’m also living with a fabulous husband who enjoys the things I enjoy, including music, good food and great wine.

But I’m not doing anything especially thrilling and I’m not “working” anymore, either.

I think I may find these questions uncomfortable in part because of the way I lived my life in my 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  In the mid-1970’s, I chose to pursue a business career. As I got older, a lot of my identity was tied up in achievement and success.

Remember what was happening for women in the mid 70’s? Here’s an excerpt from an article about those days:

Women as ‘Man of the Year’

Mid-decade, the women’s liberation movement had inundated America. The changes were so rampant that TIME awarded its “Man of the Year” in 1975 to “American women.” Their article “Great Changes, New Chances, Tough Choices” from January 5, 1976, reads:

“They have arrived like a new immigrant wave in male America. They may be cops, judges, military officers, telephone linemen, cab drivers, pipefitters, editors, business executives — or mothers and housewives, but not quite the same subordinate creatures they were before. Across the broad range of American life, from suburban tract houses to state legislatures, from church pulpits to Army barracks, women’s lives are profoundly changing, and with them, the traditional relationships between the sexes. …1975 was not so much the Year of the Woman as the Year of the Women — an immense variety of women altering their lives, entering new fields, functioning with a new sense of identity, integrity and confidence.”

That was me.

When I started my own company at the age of 44, it was a continuation of my career drive.

I was busy, busy, busy… all the way through my 50’s: Traveling for business and pleasure, meeting with clients, presenting at conferences, heading up an industry association and more.   It was quite easy to answer the question…  “what have you been doing lately?”

Then, I gradually pulled back from the business in my early 60’s and worked on becoming “retired”.

Another reason I may be feeling like a boring person these days is that many well-known people in their 60’s … and even into their 70’s and 80’s … are doing things that are interesting, exciting and in the headlines.

We have a 71 year old president and the woman who ran against him is 70.  Tony Bennett is still performing at age 91. Women in their 60’s and beyond are still going strong in the entertainment and business fields:  Helen Mirren (71; actress), Annie Leibovitz (67-photographer), Jane Goodall (83-animal expert), and Christie Brinkley (63 – business women) to name just a few.

And then there are some of my friends. My same-aged blog partner, Patty, is launching an online coaching product.  Another friend – age 60 – is starting a fashion design company. Another is consulting with owners of start-up businesses. And another is writing a memoir and taking horse riding lessons.

And here I am at dinner with friends being asked what I’ve been doing lately.

So, do I want to live my life differently?

Apparently not, or I would be living my life differently, or so the motivational gurus tell us.

I could, of course, change my mind and design a new app, learn to sky dive, become a business consultant or open a new brewery (I live in Asheville, after all).

Or, I could just come up with a way to answer the “what have you been doing lately?” question truthfully, without guilt or embarrassment.

Maybe something like this:

I’ve been living a great life and enjoying every minute. How about you?

What do you think?  Will that work?  Or should I sign up for some sky diving lessons?

Cathy Green

October 2017

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

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