About Cathy Green

Posts by Cathy Green:

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

It would be great to be able to talk to Mom again on Mother’s Day

This will be the 13th Mother’s Day that I haven’t been able to talk to my Mom or send her cards, flowers, nightgowns, or candy. Emphysema took her just after Mother’s Day, 2006.

At 66, there are many things I’d like to talk with her about, including the challenges of growing older.

During that discussion, I would have to admit that I didn’t fully “get it” when she was in her 60’s and 70’d and told me about the aches and pains (and indignities) of aging.

I definitely get it now, I would tell her.

I think she would laugh.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Cathy

Mom and me, 2005

My Husband’s Advice to His Daughters

My husband, Ray, often writes thoughts and stories in one of the many journals he has owned over the 28 years I’ve been with him.  Sometimes he writes about growing up in a small town in South Carolina, sometimes about music, sometimes about a great night on the ocean or in the mountains, and sometimes even about me. He’s a great storyteller and writer and I’ve enjoyed reading what he has shared with me and others.

On January 21, 2010, he wrote some advice for his two daughters. They would have been in their late 30’s at that time, with children of their own.

I asked him if I could share this journal entry with Fabulous Over 60 readers. He agreed.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

“Some Random Notes about Class and Style and Life”

By Raymond Green

Being wealthy doesn’t give you class or style. Class and style are about wit, manners, intelligence, the people you spend time with, the way you entertain others, the books you read and the way you handle key events in your life.

Class is treating everyone with dignity and respect.

Class is being well-spoken and well-dressed.

Class is having good manners, knowing what’s right and doing what’s right.

Someone of quality shows empathy, not just sympathy. Empathy goes well beyond being well-mannered.

Spend your time seeking wisdom and always share that wisdom with your children.

About money – make it, invest it, spend it, and give it away.  Remember: “From those to whom much is given, much is required”.

About giving money away:  It’s interesting. When you give it away, it seems to keep coming back.

Sometimes you will want to give with no strings attached and no expectations of a return. Be clear if it’s a gift.

Give money where you want to have a voice … your church, a political cause or candidate or a legal fight to oppose some wrongdoing.

You will not be able to give equally to your children; they will have different needs at different times. Don’t keep score.

If you loan money to your children, insist on being paid back. It will teach them to be responsible. You can always give it back or forgive the debt later.

From Walt Whitman…”Read the leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life; re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in books, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul”.

About Religion:  It’s more important to be spiritual than religious.

About Friends:  Choose them wisely and stay in touch with them often.

About Your Word:   Say what you will do and do what you say. Your word and your actions have to be exactly the same – there are no exceptions.

About RSVP’s:  Answer them. And, if you say you will be there, then be there. If you must cancel – speak to the person(s) directly – always.

Never show up empty-handed if you have been invited to stay in someone’s home. They have carved out a place for you in their world. It means that they consider you a special and trusted friend. Honor that decision.

About being on time:  There are no acceptable excuses for being late. Your children will learn from your example.

About People:  Everyone’s important, but there are some you will not want to spend time with. That’s OK. You will know who they are.

About Thank You Notes:  Always write them. There are no good excuses not to.  And, always be timely. Never email a thank you message. Write a note. Teach your children to do this, too.

Remember to treat others as you’d like to be treated – but understand that sometimes others won’t have the resources to treat you exactly the same.

Find as many opportunities as possible to watch the sunrise and the sunset and to smell the ocean and the mountains.

Always be fully engaged in life and celebrate!

Ray Green, 2010

Me, a Snowstorm and the Heating Guys: Two days in “Hell”

First, let me say that I know absolutely nothing about heating systems or hot water tanks or blowers or boilers or valves or thermostats. And anything involving electricity totally freaks me out. Changing a light bulb makes me nervous.

So, it is not surprising that I panicked when the heat stopped working a couple of weeks ago.  I was alone at the house with our two dogs and one cat. Ray was on a business trip and a frigid March weather system was bringing snow, ice and falling temperatures into the mountains of Asheville.

Actually, the heat didn’t totally stop working.

Even before Ray left, we knew we had a problem with one of the two ways we heat our house. We have pipes running through our floors that use heated water to warm things up.  I’m sure there’s a better way to describe that, but I’m doing the best I can here.

Skip, the floor heating guy, had already told us that his best “guess” was that we needed either a) a new blower in the boiler or b) a new control panel in the boiler or c) a new boiler.  Ray had previously decided to try the new blower first and it was on order.  I, of course, didn’t know a blower from a boiler.

We also have an electric heating system that is supposed to be used when the floor water heating system can’t handle the cold temperatures or when it isn’t working.

See how complicated this is getting?

So, without floor heat, I turned on the electric heating system.

The upper level was fine.  The main level, kitchen, living room and dining room, however, were not. It was getting colder by the hour. I called the electric heat company we had used before. Their technician couldn’t get here until the following day.

So I called Skip and learned that the blower was in and he could come over right away to fix the floor heat.

Day 1 in Hell:

Skip showed up, happy and smiling. He had the new blower and seemed to be looking forward to doing his manly stuff as the snowstorm loomed.

He had been to the house before, so he proceeded downstairs to the basement’s “utility room” with its tanks, pipes, valves, switches and other scary stuff. I call this room Hell.

I didn’t accompany him since I like to avoid HELL at all costs.

This is not my “hell”, but it’s similar

Four hours later, Skip was still in the basement. I wondered what he could possibly be doing. We have a TV on our lower level. Was he watching a movie?

I thought I’d better check on him, so I descended into HELL.

It was worse than I thought.

The blower wasn’t the fix he had hoped for.  “It’s inconsistent”, he said.

What’s that mean?

Asking a question was a BIG mistake. Skip happily began explaining the ins and outs of the boiler (which is called a Munchkin, believe it or not) and its connection to the water tank, the valves, the pipes and the thermostats.

30 minutes later, I was dizzy with information.

All I really had to know is that the boiler was integral to the workings of the system and it wouldn’t stay running.

The house had warmed up by several degrees while he worked on it, but it wasn’t going to continue to work through the day and evening.

“Do you want me to show you how to trick the boiler into coming on so that you can have heat tonight?” he said.

I should have said no.

Did you know that there is FIRE in the boiler?  That there are electrical wires pretty close to that fire? And that the fire has to be sparked into burning? And that air helps it spark?

Skip showed me how to turn an Emergency switch on and off (something I never hoped I’d have to do in my lifetime) and then how to hold my finger over an air intake switch INSIDE THE BOILER while looking closely into a little hole to see if the FIRE catches and burns.

This is the actual switch I had to touch. Scary, huh?

Just come down here once in a while and see if it’s burning , he said cheerfully.  If not, go through this routine.

Was he kidding?

The boiler was burning brightly and the snow was falling heavily when Skip left the house.

After he had pulled out of the driveway, I went down to HELL and the boiler was eerily quiet.

I steeled myself to try the “trick”.  The dogs were looking at me like… do you really know what you’re doing?

Eureka! It worked! For two minutes. Then the flame went out and the boiler died. Even though I forced myself to go down to HELL three more times that evening, it never worked again.

The floor began to get cold. The electric heat limped along. I wrapped myself in heavy blankets and went to bed.

Day 2 in Hell:

“Steve” showed up in the morning, pulling into our snow covered driveway. Actually, I’m sure Steve wasn’t his name, but I’m also sure I could not have pronounced the Russian equivalent.  It was obvious that our communication would be somewhat hampered by the fact that he didn’t speak much English. I glanced outside into his truck. No one else was with him.  It was just me and him.

I tried to explain the situation. He smiled and cut me off.

Where is unit? He asked with his heavy Russian accent.

What unit?

For heating.

Oh… outside under the deck.

No … where is inside unit?

There’s an inside unit? I guess it’s down in the basement.

Where is basement?

Obviously, he hadn’t been to the house before, so he wasn’t the guy who had installed the thermostats a few months ago. I had a bad feeling about this.

I led Steve down into HELL, where I glanced at the dead boiler.

Ah, here is unit. I work now, he said dismissively.

I saw him pulling off the front panel of a large ugly tank of some kind. Inside were multi-colored wires, lights and other assorted scary looking things.

Four hours later, I wondered if he was downstairs watching a movie.

Here are other snippets of our conversation during the day.

Him: Where is instruction book?

Me: For what?

Him: For thermostat.

Me: Should I have that?

Him: Yes …you should have.

Thankfully, I did.

Me (several times over several hours): How’s it going?

Him: Going very good.

Me: Are you going to be able to fix it?

Him (while reading instruction manual):  Yes … I fix.

Me: Are you ever going to leave?

I really didn’t say that last thing out loud.

Finally, Steve told me that everything was fixed. I didn’t understand his explanation, but I think he mentioned something about a burned coil (burned?) and “bad installed” thermostats.

By that point, all I cared about is that I had heat and Steve was leaving.

The outside temperature was nose-diving, the snow continued to fall, and the living room was getting warm and toasty.

I had a pleasant evening snuggling with the dogs in front of the TV, watching the snow, and drinking several glasses of pinot noir.

I didn’t return to HELL that night and I hope I never have to return there again.

Cathy Green

 

My Husband, Out-Patient Surgery and Strong Drugs

Ray had arthroscopic knee surgery this week to “clean up” some of the weird stuff going on in there like torn meniscus pieces and bone spurs. Hopefully, this will put off the inevitable knee replacement for a couple of years.

My part was to play the dutiful wife and designated driver. This involved arriving at the outpatient surgery center with him at 11 AM, joining him in the recovery room after his 45-minute surgery, and driving him home around 3:30 PM with an intermediate stop at the pharmacy for OxyContin. More about that later.

I felt sorry for him that morning since he couldn’t have anything to eat or drink from the time we got up at 7:00 AM until we left the house at 10:30 AM, so I ate very little. I knew that the center was close to restaurants, so I figured that I could slip out for a nice lunch while he was having his knee roto-rootered. When I mentioned this to the admitting clerk, she squashed that plan quickly.

We require someone to be here at all times ‘just in case’ ”, she said. Her unspoken second sentence was something like “If you were a good wife, you would not have to be told”.

I glanced guiltily into the waiting room. A vending machine. It would have to do.

 

Fifteen minutes after Ray went to the surgery “prep” room, I joined him to pick up a garbage bag stuffed with his clothes and to watch as he was wheeled away.

“The doctor’s ready, so you might want to kiss him now” said his pretty, smiling young nurse. The way he was smiling back, I thought he might like her to kiss him.

Bye, darlin’, I’ll be right here when you wake up” I said. (I didn’t add “I’m not allowed to go anywhere else.”).

Returning to the waiting room with my garbage bag, I joined other dutiful wives, husbands and mothers with their garbage bags and had my 1:00PM lunch of dry peanut butter crackers and luke-warm coffee.

At 2:00 PM, I answered the waiting room phone and was told that “my smiling husband” was waiting for me in recovery.

Sure enough, he was smiling at me as I walked in, buzzed on anesthesia.

That’s a nice scarf you have on” he said as he stared at it. “Thanks. I had it on this morning when we got here”. “You did? Well, it’s really pretty!”

The recovery nurse, Peggy, smiled and gave me a look that said …“Yes, he’s out of it.

Five minutes later, he wasn’t smiling anymore. As the anesthesia wore off, the pain began. “Let’s try some pain medication, shall we?” said Peggy brightly as she headed down the hallway.

Where the hell is she with my drugs!” Ray growled 30 seconds later. I thought it best to stay quiet.

The first hydrocodone “elixir” didn’t do the trick. The next two syringes of fentanyl weren’t enough either. One more syringe of Dilaudid finally sent him back to happy land.

Around that time, the surgeon dropped by to say “we did the best we could”, which didn’t sound as hopeful to me as Ray seemed to think it was. But then again, I wasn’t on his drugs.

In his newly happy state, Ray was ready to go around 3:30. I helped him on with his socks and shirt and pants and shoes, Peggy got him into a wheelchair, I pulled the car to the front door and we shoved him into the passenger seat. Good luck, she said. I was afraid I’d need it.

On the ride home, Ray kept telling me where to turn (even onto our street), pointed out cars turning onto the road and read speed limit signs aloud. “I’ve got it, honey” I said sweetly. Or, at least, I hope it sounded sweet.

At the pharmacy, I asked him if he wanted me to wait for the prescription. “No, you can come back for it later. I want to go home.”

After he hobbled into the house on his crutches, the fun really began.

Can I have some water? Can you get my pillow from upstairs?

Ice, cereal, milk, bedroom shoes, blankets, more water, more ice …. I sprinted around the house, up and down the stairs as our conversation progressed something like this:

Where are my pills? I have to go get them at the pharmacy. Why didn’t you wait for them? You told me not to. Oh, I forgot. When can I have one? Not until 6:30PM. Why not sooner? Because you had pain medication at 2:30. So what? So the doctor said every four hours only. I might need one sooner. We’ll see – just try to rest. I can’t get comfortable. What do you need? Another blanket. OK, anything else? Some more ice. OK, anything else? Yes, a pill. Not until 6:30. What time is it? 4 o’clock. When do I get the next pill after that one? 10:30. Will you wake me if I’m sleeping? Yes. And in the middle of the night, too? Yes, darling.

When he finally got into bed around 10:30 with his pill and I had set an alarm for the middle of the night, given him his water, ice, special pillow and other assorted requested items, I was well into my second pinot noir of the evening and heading toward my third.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Ray and would do anything for him. However, the day reminded me why I never wanted to be a nurse.

And, I’m starting to think about that possible knee replacement surgery. An in-home nursing care service maybe?

Cathy Green

Ray is doing great! He got off the strong stuff quickly, began some exercises three days after surgery and is walking pain-free and without a limp five days later. Hopefully, he won’t need more surgery for a long time!

Lexie the Dog’s Blog: A New “Good Girl” Comes to My House

My name is Lexie. Or sometimes Lexie Girl.

Lexie, 8 years old

I have been with my mom and dad for a long time. We lived in a really warm place for awhile (it was called Florida) where I chased lizards and birds in my backyard and took long walks through the neighborhood searching for cats and squirrels.

Then they bought me a house in the mountains and I was really, really happy. I have lots of grass and trees and bushes, and I can run and run and run and chase squirrels and turkeys and growl when I smell bears.

They also bought me a Jeep so that I’m comfortable riding around town with them. I know every restaurant in Asheville that will let me hang out, and the people at the place called Home Depot like me a lot and give me treats. They tell my dad that I’m such a well-trained dog and that makes me very proud.

I like the good food my mom feeds me, even when she throws in oily stuff that she thinks is good for me, and I put up with a bath and a really loud hair dryer once a month. For some reason, mom and dad like my smells better after I come home from that place than when I roll over and over in all of the great smells in my backyard. I don’t understand that.

I’m a good girl. I know this because they tell me all the time. Dad calls me his girlfriend. Mom calls me her pretty baby. I wait politely for my dinner and I know how to sit, stay, lie down, leave it and hunt.  I know what “come” means, but I don’t like that word too much so I pretend I don’t hear it most of the time.

They tell me I’m a free-thinking dog. That sounds good to me.

They also tell me I’m the best dog ever and I know that I am.

That’s why I was not very happy when I came home from a short Jeep ride and there was another good girl in my mountain house. She was small, smelly and not very polite. She didn’t know how to sit, stay or anything. She couldn’t even go up and down the stairs. It was pretty funny watching her trying to figure out where she was and what she was supposed to do. Mom and dad called her good girl. I definitely didn’t like that.

I thought that she would be leaving, but she’s still here and it’s been many, many nights and days.

She wants to play with me, but I’m not having any of it. I stare off into the distance, I ignore her, and I look meaningfully at my mom and dad to let them know that their good girl Lexie is still their good girl, but that I’m not very happy with this other girl in my house. I’m still hoping they will take her away.

Kayla, 6 months old

They call her Kayla, but she either doesn’t like her name or doesn’t know it. She doesn’t seem very smart to me. She bites on rugs, she chases her tail and she steals my toys. I am trying not to get mad, but it’s difficult and I chased her and bit her once or twice. Mom and dad weren’t happy with me, but I didn’t bite her hard and she really deserved it.

Even though I’m not happy about it, I’ve tried to be helpful since mom and dad aren’t very good at teaching her things. For example, I taught her how to go up and down the stairs by showing her over and over and over again. She finally got it. But of course, she now runs up the stairs in front of me which is not very respectful. I have also tried to show her how to sit and stay, but so far, she only sits.

What I really don’t like is when she pees on the rugs and mom doesn’t yell at her. If I did that, I would be in big, big trouble. But Kayla just gets shooed outside and mom cleans the rugs. I don’t think that’s fair.

Unfortunately, it is starting to look like Kayla is going to stay with us in the mountains. Mom and dad are trying not to call her good girl since it makes me jealous. They are calling her good baby girl or good Kayla. They think that will fool me. Ha!

And, they are encouraging me to play with her. I’d still rather not do that, but at least I’m trying to be a good girl and not bite her anymore.

If she doesn’t leave soon, it looks like I’m going to have to be sharing my backyard, my Jeep and my mom and dad with her for a long time.

She cannot, however, play with my Lamb Chop toy. I have to draw the line somewhere.

And, I am still going to be the best dog ever. Mom and dad told me so.

Lexie

Cathy Green’s Labradoodle, guest blogger

 

When Meeting New Friends At This Age, “Memory” Matters!

My husband and I made a decision five years ago to leave Florida and retire to North Carolina.  Leaving friends was the hardest part of that decision. At 65 and 61 years of age respectively, we knew that we would have to be proactive about finding a new circle of friends in our new town.

As a couple, we like to golf, listen to live music, eat at great restaurants and go to (and host) parties. It was important to us to have some friends who enjoyed similar things.

At the five year mark (which we passed in October), we feel good that we have met a lot of interesting people and have developed a handful of special friends.

Initially, reaching out wasn’t easy. We knew only one person when we got to town – our real estate agent. It had been quite some time since we had needed to connect with new people.  It felt like we were starting to date after going through a divorce.

But, we were lucky in several ways: Our neighbors across the street were especially generous with their introductions to new people.  We joined a golf club and attended several events for newcomers where we met other newcomers to the area.  Our real estate agent invited us to a couple of events where we met other friends and clients of hers.   Ray re-connected with a grade school buddy who he hadn’t seen in 40 years and he and his wife have become friends.  We reached out and reconnected with a former business colleague who now lives in Asheville with her husband.  We contacted several people at the recommendation of other business colleagues and Florida friends.  Through these connections, we then met some of their friends and acquaintances.  It’s been fun and interesting.

It has also, at times, been challenging.

As we met people, we had to zero in on those that both Ray and I felt that we wanted to get to know better. Then we had to decide whether to ask them out to dinner, or to our home, or to a concert.

Once decided, we had to “put ourselves out there” and see if they were interested, as we were, in getting together.  Then, once connected, we had to learn things about them to continue to test our mutual compatibility.

Finally, most difficult of all, we had to remember what we learned!

Let me digress.  At this age, neither of us has a great memory.  More than ever, if I don’t write things down, they are likely to disappear off my radar screen. And Ray’s memory is at least as bad as mine.

So, that means that we can have a nice time with new potential friends, enjoy our discussions, decide we’d like to continue exploring the friendship and then promptly forget things we learned about them.

It’s happened more than once – and it happens the other way, too, since many of our potential friends have their own memory challenges.

Here’s an example: While our husbands talked about golf, one woman and I spent close to two hours over dinner talking about our work lives and the fact that neither of us had children but shared daughters and grandkids with our husbands. We also talked about pets and what we like about Asheville.  At our next dinner, about three months later, she asked what I did for a living, whether I had children, how long we’ve been in Asheville, and if we had pets.  Déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would have said!  I have to admit, I didn’t feel good on the receiving end of this exchange.

Since I’d rather not be perceived as a person who doesn’t listen or remember previous discussions, I am doing two things to help myself and Ray.

First, I hone in on four things to remember when I meet a new person or couple:

  1. What did they do in their careers? (Or what are they doing now for work?)
  2. How many children/ grandchildren do they have? (Separately or together)
  3. What do they enjoy doing for fun?
  4. Do they have a pet, and if so, what’s its name?

I think these are important issues to all of us baby-boomers and have found that using one or all of these pieces of information at the next encounter is appreciated – and often surprising. You remembered that?  People seem especially happy if you remember their pet’s name!

Second, I jot down these few tidbits of information in a notebook as soon as I can. Of course, I then have to remember to pull out the notebook before seeing the person/couple the next time!

I don’t think it’s easy to develop new friendships in later life. But, as one of the many baby-boomers who has decided to retire to another city and state, I have come to appreciate how  important it is to make the effort  – even when it’s uncomfortable or when it takes some extra work and memory tricks.

For me, developing new friendships has been a large part of my journey to feeling connected and happy in Asheville.  (Of course, finding the right hair stylist, nail tech and masseuse have ranked right up there too!)

Cathy Green

PS: Here’s an interesting article I found called 6 Ways Friendships Grow More Complicated As You Get Older”.

Don’t Forget To Write Thank You Notes For Your Holiday Gifts!

Here are four things that I believe are important about sending thank you notes. I hope you’ll agree!

  1. Do it SOON. Although sending notes is better late than never, there’s no time like NOW. The gift-giver probably spent more time picking out your gift than you spent opening it. So spend a few minutes right away writing a thank you note. This week would be a perfect time.
  2. Don’t use email, texts or voice mail messages. Sorry, these just don’t work for us fabulous women! If you’re a teenager, maybe it’s OK. But once you are an adult and are giving gifts to or receiving gifts from other adults, you’ll need to send a note in an envelope with a stamp! (I think teenagers should send handwritten notes to grandparents and other adults, too, but that’s another story.)
  3. Make your note personal and sincere. Tell the gift-giver why you like the gift and/or how you’re going to use it.
  4. Write a note even if you’ve thanked the gift-giver in person. It takes so little time and will generate such great feelings.

Family members and friends who gave me gifts this holiday season deserve a few minutes of my time, a card or piece of stationery, and a stamp. Don’t yours?

Cathy

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