Monthly Archives: November 2017

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

%d bloggers like this: