About Cathy Green

Posts by Cathy Green:

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.

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

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 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

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.

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

 

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

Being Selfish and Staying Positive

Sad to say, but I’m usually not the “glass half-full” person in the room. I overanalyze things, considering what could go wrong rather than what could go right.

Over the past few months, my glass-half-empty feeling has been stronger than usual. I think it’s because of the incessant barrage of negativity about our country and the world that is becoming harder and harder to avoid.

Given my family history and current health, I am figuring that I’ll probably live into my 90’s – another two decades. I’d like those years to be as happy as possible.

So, here are a few things I’ve been doing recently:

I’m not watching TV network news

  • Today’s broadcasts are much more “in your face” and intense than in the old days. By the time 28 minutes go by and I watch the last two minute “Here’s a happy story” story, I feel the need for a strong alcoholic beverage.
  • That’s not to say that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world. I just don’t need to be bombarded with heavy drama every night. Reading selected magazine or newspaper articles, or watching an occasional video on my iPad works just fine for me.  I stay informed without feeling the need to hit the booze.

I have seriously reduced my time on social media

  • This past week, I decided to block all national news media postings on Facebook.
  • I also used the unfollow option with people who primarily post political opinions or news stories they have decided are important for everyone to read. Most of the posts are negative on one side or the other … we won, you lost, you’re stupid, no you’re stupid, he’s stupid, she’s stupid and on and on.  I realized that I can still be “friends” with them and visit their tirades anytime I want and they won’t even know I’m not following them. A win-win!
  • I signed up with Facebook so that I could scroll through my news feed to see photos of my step-     kids and grandkids, to find out what my friends and family members are doing on this year’s vacation, and to post pictures of my beautiful dogs and/or my handsome husband being adorable.
  • My “news feed” is much smaller now, and I’m a lot happier.

I’m spending time with positive, happy people who don’t need to solve the problems of the world over dinner.

  • Enough said.

It’s not that I don’t care about what’s happening in the country or the world or that I don’t have strong opinions. In fact, I can get pretty riled up about things.

And, I’m really happy that there are people who are passionate enough to speak out on both sides of political issues, to take up causes, to hold others accountable and to work to make a difference.

Maybe it’s selfish not to get more involved. But, I am, after all, one of the “Me Generation” Baby Boomers.

So, my current mantra is …..

Care to join me?

Cathy Green

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