Monthly Archives: September 2013

Diana Nyad and Kathie Lee Gifford – What Can We Learn From Outstanding Women?

When Kathie Lee turned 60 on August 16th I was at the gym watching a few minutes of her Today show with Hoda. There she was — in a third or fourth incarnation as entertainer, having survived enormous highs and lows, and flashing a “fabulous 60” sash!  I was so excited — Kathie Lee is now officially fabulous over 60 and can start reading our blog!  If you know her can you pass it along?

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When Diane Sawyer interviewed Diana Nyad after her epic swim from Cuba that started August 31 and ended 53 hours and 102 miles later, the 64 year-old looked radiant, triumphant, serene, and absolutely elated.  Despite failed previous attempts and personal challenges—there she was—celebrating fresh achievement in her 60s.
 
Do women like Diana and Kathie Lee inspire or intimidate us?  What effect does reading/thinking about the hundreds of outstanding 60+ women have on our efforts to make our own lives the best they can be?

“The toughest athlete in the world is a 62 year-old woman.” – D.L. Stewart. Dayton Daily News

First lesson—what do you feel about others’ success?  Jealousy?  “Yeah, Jane Seymour looks fabulous at 62 — so what?  She was always naturally gorgeous and has facelifts and tons of help“.  Mean-spirited?  “I never liked Hillary Clinton or Jan Brewer—too arrogant.”  Proud?  “Hurrah for her — go girl!”
 
Strong feelings (positive or negative) to someone else’s success can give you some insight into your own life and choices.
 
No successful 60+ woman has not endured failure and of course profound loss.  What can you learn from how outstanding women handled this universal challenge?

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Finally while realizing that no one succeeds at everything, to succeed at ANYTHING requires basically what we sometimes (especially when tired or frustrated) wish it didn’t: continued discipline, commitment, endurance, learning from mistakes, and the BIG ONE: personal responsibility. Retiring from one path, or changing gears doesn’t mean stopping or lowering standards, but rather applying these qualities of success to new and different goals.
 
Today I started a new routine. One that’s based on watching and figuring out that successful people start with a “First Things Firstmentality — hey I TEACH this stuff!!  But teaching isn’t doing.  Some of my recent observations of people like Diana and Kathie Lee have shown me I am still wasting time on what is not important TO ME.  And that I am not practicing consistent discipline that will move me toward my new goals.
 
So I started the day with writing (one of my main goals for my work now) – NOT CHECKING EMAILS.  Oh this is hard.  Really hard.  It would be so much easier to just say “to hell with it – I am/was successful enough”.  But then I wouldn’t even have a shot at being fabulous—and that continues to be out of the question.

Summer Reflections

Here’s what happened . . . Here is what I learned — Part One of Two

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1. A respected friend who raised family in suburbs while always working decided to sell the gorgeous house and move to NYC — sold nearly all their belonging — even car

  • Just because something sounds so overwhelming that it gives you a stomach ache, don’t stop considering it
  • Stop putting off plans for change—even if they are not as all-encompassing as this person’s rework of her life

2. Planned and executed (good for the soul to plan and EXECUTE) a wonderful visit with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years after she reached out to share that a mutual friend had died months earlier

  • Don’t feel guilty about losing touch
  • The woman who passed away is not mad at me for not knowing she passed away
  • Do go through all your old address books/phone books/calendars and see if there are some selected old friends that really are worth connecting with — plan the day/afternoon/whatever with love — like the old days — something that is not constantly in flux with cell phones on the ready to cancel or change plans if something else comes along
  • Seeing how your old friend is aging/growing wiser is an inspiration — like my friend Peg was. Or, if not, that is a help too in going forward with your own choices

3. The weather sucked

  • Get over it
  • Stop whining — everyone is in the same boat. Other than using the weather to bond with strangers or make a specific point, stop talking about it
  • Never doubt climate change and a warming planet — do something about it in your own way

4. Bill and I celebrated our 15th anniversary with a commitment to the next 15!

  • Nothing is forever — KNOW that — so put thoughts in your mind that initiate an acceptance of this certain reality.
  • My husband is the best even when at his worst — marrying him was a super decision — which I knew a long time prior to the wedding
  • When celebrating, look forward as well as back and plan things that are different than what you recently did

5. I continued exercising, taking out print tops from my closet, kept buying more simple, black and flattering clothes and stayed with my anti lactose regimen

  • Stick with what works — do not rethink decisions you know are good ones — save time — stop analyzing things you do not need to
  • There is more I “know for sure” than ever before — but TONS I know nothing about—or little about. For example: why people love constant photos of their lives in every possible situation so much that taking and sharing photos has replaced one to one conversation) — now THAT I don’t get!

To be continued . . . .

What Have I Done? A New Dog Comes Into My Life

Note for Fabulous Readers:  I just came across this piece that I wrote in 2009 about my dog Lexie … It’s more of an article than a blog, but it made me laugh so I thought I’d share it with you.

She came into my life on a Saturday morning. By Sunday, I was deep in the throes of postpartum depression.

Lexie, a one and a half year old labradoodle, seemed to be everything I wanted. A “good girl” who had been returned to a breeder after a divorce. A dog past the furniture chewing stage; a dog that was smart and trainable; a dog that wasn’t too big; a dog with a pretty black and white coat; and a dog that didn’t shed. My “dream” dog.

At 58 years of age, I had owned a dog only once … for two days. My dad and mom gave into my nine- year old temper tantrum and brought a puppy home from the pound. He died. The household trauma convinced my parents that it had been a bad idea. My sulking didn’t work. No more dogs.

I vowed to have a dog when I was on my own, away from my cruel dog-hating parents. But I got busy. I traveled a lot. I moved around the country. A Type A lifestyle didn’t accommodate kids or dogs. So I didn’t have either.

I adopted a couple of cats. They were cute (always), easy (most of the time) and playful (not too often) and I enjoyed having them around. But I yearned for the wagging tail of a loving dog when I walked through the door.

The day after my 58th birthday, I woke to an epiphany. If I adopted a dog that day, and it lived a typical dog lifespan of 12 to 15 years, I would be over 70 years old when I’d have to say goodbye. If not now, when?

My first alarm bell went off as we were bringing Lexie home in my brand new Mercedes. She hadn’t had a bath and her paws – which were considerably bigger than I had anticipated – were filthy. And her nails, one bump away from digging into my beautiful leather seats, were incredibly long. It dawned on me that this car would have to be her car too. How could that have slipped my mind?

Then we were home. I had never thought of my house as particularly small, but the space that a 50 pound dog takes up is quite surprising. My hardwood floors looked sadly vulnerable and my rooms appeared to have shrunk.

Cathy Green dog

 

Then, Lexie glued herself to me. She followed me relentlessly from room to room. She looked at me as if I was supposed to do something. I didn’t have a clue what that might be. Did she have to go to the bathroom? Was she hungry? How was I supposed to know these things?

And, she smelled. I hadn’t thought about what it would be like to have a doggy smell in my house. What exactly was I going to do about that?

The day was overwhelming. The night was worse.

Lexie’s previous owners, I realized, had shared their bed with her. So, my first problem was getting forty pounds of dog off of mine. Then, she decided to sleep beside me on the floor, where she could share her wide variety of noises and smells throughout the night.

I thought it might be a good idea for us to get to know each other better before we got so intimate, so I invited her to spend the evening in her big, new, expensive crate. The books about dog ownership extol the virtues of crates. They insist that dogs grow to love the comfort and security of a crate. That owners have peace of mind knowing their little ones are safe. Lexie, of course, hated the crate. As soon as the door closed, she threw herself against the sides, whined, cried, slobbered and hyperventilated. So much for the crate. She slept on the floor next to me.

By Sunday morning, I felt sick. What had I done? I had a whole new appreciation for first-time parents. And, when I looked at her I didn’t feel what I thought I would feel. She was a big, smelly, needy beast that I would have to walk, feed, exercise, play with, take to the vet, bathe, comb, discipline, clean up after and sleep near. Could I give her back, I wondered?

And then it happened. She sat in front of me, looked directly at me with her big, brown, sad-looking eyes and put her paw on my knee. My eyes locked on hers. We smiled. She owned me.

Cathy Green, November, 2009

2013 update:  Lexie is now 6 years old and totally owns me and Ray. We bought her a Jeep and a new home with four acres and lots of squirrels; she gets bathed, groomed and pampered constantly; she has two Orvis beds, five collars with her name on them, 50 neck scarves, a raincoat, a snow coat and doggy perfume; she eats the most expensive natural, organic food available in the pet store; she is familiar with almost all of the pet-friendly restaurant patios in Asheville and St. Petersburg, and, last but not least she has five pet sitters/walkers on call in case – god forbid – we have to leave her too long.  In other words, she has a great life… and she continues to make us smile.

Old Photos – Happy Memories or Depressing Reminders of Former Glory?

My good friend Joanne has a large painting of herself back in 1985 when she was an aerobics teacher.  The painting is in her dining room.  Although I’ve been in Joanne’s home on numerous occasions, I noticed it for the first time recently when we were sitting in her and Paul’s dining room sharing a fantastic dinner—all homemade and delicious.
 
It caught my eye because it was not Joanne—but yet totally Joanne.  We met in 2000 when Bill and I moved to Buck’s County, PA and she found the perfect home for us.  Joanne is dynamite—a woman on fire in her 60s doing lots of new things along with part-time mentoring/work in her old full-time occupation of being the top-notch realtor in town.  She is still marching for things she believes in.  It took me a few moments to stop wishing for Joanne that she looked like her old aerobics teacher self.  What stopped even that brief thought was the clarity that Joanne is WAY too well-adjusted to have that wistfulness for her ‘former’ anything—she lives NOW.

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Renay always has been one of my most gorgeous friends.  I can still remember at my wedding when I was 48 and she 44, my soon to be son-in-law asking me who SHE was with clear admiration.  Renay told me to check out a photo her son put on her Facebook when she was 21 and newly graduated from the University of Maryland.  I didn’t know Renay then, although we did know each other by our late 20s when we were both living and working in NYC.  Renay didn’t look relaxed and serene at 21 but rather pretty, young and a bit unsure.  In her late 50s now, she has fought through many personal struggles and has a depth of character while still being stunning and avidly pursuing her new career in jewelry design.  She is a powerful woman, but unlike Joanne, is almost as nuts about her looks as I am.
 
My Facebook has a photo of me with my then 6 year-old niece.  I look so different—36 and a bit vague though happy.  That bit of fear or lack of comfort in my own skin is prevalent in most of my photos from younger days—sort of quizzical if not a bit unanchored.

Patty at 36

I have to be honest (well I don’t have to be honest but then Cathy would throw me off the Fabulous team) — when I see old photos I do feel a bit of wistful sadness.  Loss of course is what life is all about—surviving losses of all kinds including our “youth”, some relationships, and fantasies like finding the ‘perfect’ anything outside ourselves.
 
Life is also about gaining things too—and not just weight.  When I see myself and friends in GOOD current photos (and there are definitely FEWER of these—and thankfully current means anything in the last 10 years)—ones where the light is right and the angle complimentary, I see strength and confidence. I see women who are solid and grounded.  And, I see happiness too.  Pretty fabulous—but why can’t I just be as thin as I used to be with my current head on my shoulders?

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