Fashion

My Mixed Reviews On Being Fabulous

Am I fabulous?  Am I keeping myself strong both personally and professionally? Pulled together? Sharp? Am I doing what I want in ways that are sane, fulfilling and that mark me as a woman who is handling her sixties with grace, style, wit and proper modesty?  Am I continuing to grow, keeping my head and heart and body strong and functioning, or am I just — well, you know — just another NOT fabulous women.

Let me share some feedback.

Scene one: Doctor’s Office/Having yearly physical.

Nurse: Now, try to remember these three words: Table, Apple, Fence.  We’ll come back to those in just a few moments.  Blah blah blah for 5 minutes.

Nurse: What were those three words?

Me: Hmmm… was Apple one of them?

Review: Mixed, very mixed.

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Scene two: Doctor’s Office/Yearly physical

Doctor: You still weigh 105+ (feel free to guess, I am not sharing).

Doctor: It is great how your weight is so stable.

Me: Thanks, said softly

Me thinking: stable is good — 5lbs less than this stability would be better.

Review: Pretty— good.

Scene three: Home, Bill searching for his newly opened cookies, myself reading in bedroom.

Bill: Honey, where are the cookies?

Me: In the closet – near other crackers and cookies.

Bill: No they are not.

Moments later, Bill continues… Oh, wait, they are in the refrigerator – you must have put them there.

Me: REALLY?

Review: Mixed, very mixed.

Scene four: My Home office/Call with new business partner to discuss new offer to potential joint clients.

Partner: Sounds good Pat – use your judgment with making the offer. We’re both flexible.

Me: OK, will keep you posted next week.

Me, post call: rethinks proposal and writes email to partner discussing next steps.

Review: Really good, quick, professional job.

via drpatgillwebber.com

via drpatgillwebber.com

Scene five: Home Goods store.

Me: Looking around for something for my house that my decorator says is “a must”.

Other shopper bumping into me: Oh sorry miss, I didn’t see you.

Me: Glowing having heard “miss” – oh no problem.

Review: Probably better than mixed – at least I wasn’t shopping in an outfit that marked me as “over the hill” or “helpless and lost” – which in Tucson is a VERY low bar, trust me.

Scene six: Home, Arizona lizard on the loose inside – small but still a lizard.

Me: Damn it – that makes 4 tries with no lizard caught – trying to do the drop the cloth over the lizard and grab him strategy suggested by those who help me run the house.

Me: Oh the hell with it – I will get someone else to catch the lizard.

Review: Delegation – getting better at it all the time.

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Summary review: Hanging in at times by a string and at other times fantastically.  Consistently Fabulous may need some revisions to its definition.  Either that or I have to keep finding more people to delegate everything to except when I am feeling the urge to work on something that was always my long suit – which is hardly every day.  I am close to ready to give up trying to be fabulous on things I never was fabulous at to begin with.  Time to take a nap and think it all through.  Or at least time to take a nap.

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Patty

Working Out At the Gym: Can You Guess What I Hate the Most?

This morning, my personal trainer, Chuck, told me that I had cat hair on my black workout pants. Sigh.  It reminded me that I wrote a blog in 2013 about what I hate most about working out. Here it is again!

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).

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Cathy Green

Time Ain’t No Beauty Specialist

This piece was submitted by guest blogger Ginny Callaway. Send us your story or short article and we’ll contact you if it works as a guest blog. Click here to share.

105 year old Aunt Zipora Rice from Sodom, North Carolina once said, “Time might be a great healer, but it ain’t no beauty specialist.”

That woman knew what she was talking about. As I march closer to the next era after our Fabulous 60s, that simple statement is proving truer by the minute.

Do you remember how we decorated for the prom with crepe paper? At seventeen, crepe paper was the sign of a good time. All the rich colors to choose from. We could twirl it and drape it from the bleachers to the stage, tie it in a bow to decorate the front of the punch bowl table and wrap it around the basketball poles, a simple camouflage.  Crepe paper could change a gymnasium into a magical, memory-making ballroom. If it got stretched out and lost its shape, you’d just throw it away and grab a new roll. Presto, a fresh start.

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Who knew crepe paper would eventually become part of our anatomy? Yeah, that ugly, crinkly-looking skin that has moved in and forced its taut, firm predecessor to vacate the premises. I’m talking about the triceps area, the inner thigh, the back of our hands and the most ubiquitous of all, the turkey neck.

 

Short of going under the knife, a fresh start is not a possibility. Even with firm, toned muscles hovering just below the surface, the crepe paper effect persists. Just wave at a friend and those “Hi, Helens”, those “you who’s,” that free-wheeling skin dangling from our triceps gives us away. So halter tops, cute sleeveless sun dresses and strapless evening gowns have found their way to the Goodwill. I now welcome turtlenecks, long sleeve tops and slightly longer shorts. So be it.

Time ain’t no beauty specialist when it comes to our faces, either.  When I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I’m startled. Who is that looking back? That’s not me. I’m twenty-two, thirty-four, forty-eight. My skin is firm and smooth, no divots between my brows or red and brown blotches. My eyes are clear and open without folded layers of skin on my lids that make me look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s first cousin. My smile is defined by pearly white teeth and full red lips, not deep-set grooves shaped like parentheses on each side and a string of quote marks curved across my upper lip.

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Who is that in the mirror?

Now I remember.

Each line was born.

I came by them honestly.

Those lines springing from the ends of my eyes are reminders of the hours of laughter shared with my sisters until tears covered our cheeks and our sides hurt.

From squinting in the sunlight as the catamaran skimmed across the incredible blues and greens of the Caribbean Sea.

The parallel trenches engraved across my forehead are reminders of the fear I felt the Halloween night a sheriff’s car pulled into our driveway at 2:30 in the morning. Was our son okay?

The fear I felt the night I heard an enormous explosion in the direction of the airport just as my husband’s plane was scheduled to land. Was David okay?

The grooves bordering my mouth like a set of large-text parentheses are reminders of the years my mouth forgot how to smile. When grief pulled down every inch of my face, of my being, like a boulder around my neck. My daughter was not okay.

Yes, time has a split personality. It can heal and it can leave its footprints. Aunt Zip had it partially right. Time can also create a unique beauty that only years of living to the fullest can polish. When a friend says, “you look terrific,” I don’t say something to diminish or qualify that statement. I say “thank you” and let myself feel beautiful.

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105 year-old Aunt Zip

I sometimes wonder about the clothes I relinquished to Goodwill. Hopefully a young girl is enjoying them. Maybe someone getting ready for the prom.

Ginny

Easter in the 50’s: Candy, New Clothes, Church and Grandma’s House

Growing up in the 50’s, Easter was my third favorite holiday after Christmas and Halloween. I especially liked the fact that it came around in springtime, which meant that Cincinnati’s long, cold winter months were really over.

I also liked that everyone in the family got new clothes so that we could dress up for Easter Sunday church services before visiting my two grandmas’ houses.

But the most exciting thing was having an Easter basket full of chocolate bunnies, coconut cream eggs, dyed Easter eggs and jelly beans show up on the dining room table on Easter morning. Baskets were left by the Easter Bunny, we were told, although we weren’t quite sure who that was or why he brought us goodies. And, do rabbits lay eggs, we wondered? We weren’t stupid, though, and happily went along with the bunny stories.

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The days leading up to Easter Sunday were filled with anticipation for me, my sister Chris and my little brother Tom. First, there was Lent which began on Ash Wednesday and lasted until Holy Saturday. As good Catholic children, we had to give something up for those 40 days in order to repent for our sins. Since the three of us were all under 10 years old, we didn’t have much to repent for or much to give up, either.

Candy or ice cream or cookies were the obvious choices. I usually chose candy and then salivated for 40 days every time I saw a friend eating a candy bar. Such torture! But as far as I can remember, I stuck it out and didn’t eat candy until the basket showed up on Easter Sunday morning.

I remember the strong smell of vinegar a couple of days before Easter when we would open up our egg decorating kit, drop purple, red, green, blue, orange and yellow tablets into coffee cups of vinegar and then dip our eggs into the cups with a spoon because the metal dipper that came with the kit never worked.  My mother would try to minimize fighting by having us take turns with the colors.

Sometimes we would draw on the eggs with a “magic” wax crayon before we dipped them. I’m sure that was when mom realized that that none of us had any artistic promise.

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Or, we would wait until the eggs were dry and then select a design sticker from the kit and hold it in place with a towel. That was supposed to imprint the image on the egg. The trick was holding it steady enough and long enough that it wouldn’t blur.  When you are under 10, you don’t have much patience so that didn’t work very well either.

I remember two popular songs about Easter in the 50’s. They were all over the airwaves (yes, we listened to radio in our homes back then).  One was Easter Parade, written in the early 30’s, but made especially popular when Judy Garland and Fred Astaire performed it in the 1948 Easter Parade movie,

The other was Here Comes Peter Cottontail, recorded by Gene Autry in 1950. We knew every word.

About my new clothes: I don’t remember going to a store to buy a new dress for Easter until I was in my teens, so I think my mom went to the store on her own or had our dresses made by a neighbor. I don’t remember being picky, but when I look at this photo, I think I should have been.  Check out the puffy sleeves and the weird “Easter bonnet”.

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Cathy, Easter, circa 1958

Here’s another photo of me and my sister. I’m on the right. No, we are NOT twins. She is actually a year older. But obviously, my mom found it easier to buy us the same clothes. And, unfortunately, this wasn’t the only year she dressed us alike.

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Christine and Cathy, Easter, circa 1956

Did you notice the gloves? They were a big thing in the 50’s.  And the cute little bobby socks were, too. I have no idea where that center part in my hair came from, but I think in this case an Easter bonnet would have been more attractive.

At church, everyone was in celebration mode. Not only had Jesus risen from the dead, but weren’t we all looking great?  Shades of pink, yellow, blue and green were everywhere. New dresses, hats, shoes, and purses were overtly checked out, sometimes with envy and sometimes with snickers.

After church, our family would drive to one of my grandma and grandpa’s houses, where we were met with oohing and aahing, posed for Kodak pictures, and ate lots of food and candy. Next, we’d drive to my other grandma and grandpa’s house where there was more oohing and aahing, more snapshots, more food and more candy.

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Mom and us kids, Dad always took the pictures

And then, Easter was over. In a few days, all of the candy was gone and the eggs were too old to eat.

After Easter, there were no more imminent kid-friendly holidays.

The only thing we could do was to look forward to summer vacation, think about what we would wear on Halloween, and glance over our shoulders to see if Santa was watching.

Cathy Green

Chuckling in San Diego

Bill and I were in San Diego the week of February 28th getting a needed break from the desert of Tucson. There really is nothing quite like the ocean, and walking on its sandy shore to revive one’s spirits and to listen and hear divine advice from above (whatever or whoever you think is up there!). The air, the crash of the waves, the hope – it always inspires, soothes, and revives my soul.

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We stayed at a lovely resort that was hosting several business conferences. Seeing all those eager, focused, certain, fast walking/talking men and women with name tags and meetings/parties to get to brought memories of my career adventures. As a former conference speaker and attendee/participant it brought back the pressure, planning and intensity that went with those many meetings of the 80s, 90s and first decade of the 2000s. The first thing that hit me was how I couldn’t really remember much I ever said, or heard – but I was at the same time certain it was important and meaningful. Chuckle number one: great memories of just doing and being somewhere is enough – the words while agonized over, were likely the least important part of the program anyway.

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I dress for dinner – always have, always will. Unless home alone or literally at a picnic or barbecue, when the sun sets and it’s time for dinner, I put on makeup (or freshen what’s on) and put on “something nicer”. Given my age and that I grew up in New York, that generally means a black something – pants, top, dress, skirt, scarf, wrap of some sort – some heels and often earrings, necklace or a bracelet – and when I remember, perfume. Big bag gets turned in for smaller one.

I have come to realize, confirmed on this trip and dozens of others in the last few years, that this effort and approach to dining is not just a little old-fashioned, it is nearly completely absent from dining. Whether highbrow, expensive and sleek, or down home, family friendly and loud – few people seem to want to, or like to dine.

So what’s the chuckle? People actually look a little strangely at you when you arrive at a restaurant, or seem to be off for the evening. The look says: who are those people and where are they going? As if you couldn’t be this “dressed up” (a truly ancient concept) and just going to eat something and be with your phone. Why would you bother? It’s just un-American. I find this a huge chuckle – and OK with me. This is one life strategy I am not going to completely give up – if that labels me old and out of it, so be it.

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Finally, the real chuckle of the trip: being asked by traveling business people from Canada if they should be scared that Donald Trump might be President. We were asked this at least 10 times – it was a big Canadian conference. We found it funny that anyone cared, found it funny that these well-read people were this worried, and funny and sad that we were having to defend our pathetic-looking Presidential race. We assured them it couldn’t happen.

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Then we got up each day and saw/read the news and thought: Is any of this really that funny anymore? Not just that we have become such an odd country politically, but that we don’t even care enough to look great anymore as we compete more aggressively in the global marketplace. We sort of chuckled. This isn’t going to keep going this way is it? Or, is it? Let’s make America at least a place we are proud to be from. I think the election will put us there again – and women and men are going to dress beautifully for the inaugural ball. That gives me hope – lots of it. Next thing you know people might dress for dinner.

Patty

 

 

Nails, Hair and Body Maintenance: Men Just Don’t Understand!

I just got back from a nail appointment. Here was my conversation with my husband Ray:

Your hair looks nice.

Thanks, but I didn’t have my hair done today.

Oh, I thought today was hair day.

No, today was fingernail day.

I thought that was last Friday.

No, that was pedicure day.

Didn’t you get a facial last week too?

Yes.

So, where are you going tomorrow morning?

To get a massage.

Poor guy. Ray has never been able to keep track of my body maintenance appointments. I don’t fault him. I can barely keep track of them myself.

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On a maintenance scale ranging from Low to High, I consider myself a “Low High”. I don’t think I’m a true “High” since I don’t do some of the things that many others do regularly … Botox injections, body scrubs, body hair waxing, spray tanning, etc. I would never, however, be accused of being “Low” maintenance since I have not let my hair go gray or allowed my fingernails to revert back to high school days.

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It’s a tough job being a Low High.

Here’s how it works:

  • I get my hair cut every 5 weeks and my color done every six weeks. (It takes too long to have both done on the same day. Don’t judge me, please.)
  • I get my acrylic nails done every three weeks. More about that later.
  • I get a pedicure every 8-10 weeks. I’m a sandal person after having spent 25 years in Florida, so this is not optional.
  • I get a facial every couple of months (a true High would have a regularly scheduled facial), usually when I want to have my eyebrows shaped. (Come to think of it, I don’t think Ray even knows about eyebrow shaping.)
  • I get a massage only when I need one. “Need”, of course, is quite subjective and variable. Recently, a muscle issue in my right leg has upped my need factor to about twice a month.

Sometimes, of course, this kind of schedule means that there’s a “perfect storm” of appointments very close to one another. That’s when it becomes quite noticeable to even semi-observant husbands.

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About those fingernails:

I started getting “acrylic” nails in my early 30’s when one of my sales reps pointed out that she got a manicure weekly to save time and to stay “neat and polished”. I thought she was probably giving me a not-so-subtle hint, since my nails were always messy, broken and dry.

I couldn’t just get a basic manicure, however, since my nails were very thin, unlike my mother’s nails which were always strong, thick and naturally “half-mooned”. I learned about acrylics in the 80’s — fake nails, but not as fake as press-on nails, I thought — and the rest is history.

Being in the Low High maintenance category is costly. When I think about the money I’ve spent in the last 35 years on nails, hair, pedicures, facials, massages and other body maintenance treatments – well, actually, I’d rather not think about it.

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Just to be clear. My current body maintenance regimen is NOT related to being over 60. There’s nothing I do now that I didn’t do in my 40’s and 50’s, except maybe schedule more frequent hair color appointments for my “base” (a salon euphemism for “gray roots”).

The difference, I think, is that I used to fit my appointments into my work schedule so that they blended into my overall busy life. Today, they ARE my work schedule.

Maybe I should just tell Ray I’m going to work and skip any further explanations.

Cathy Green

More Fabulous Holiday Traditions

Cathy got me thinking about getting into a great mood for Christmas with her reminder to love “what is” versus what should/could/won’t or otherwise can’t be for the holidays. Deciding to love “what is” this season and reminding ourselves of what we are most thankful for is the first holiday decision worth making.

Here’s a few more fabulous ideas that I am planning on doing . . .

  • Remembering my elderly Aunt and Uncle (95 and 100), a dear friend who had serious cancer surgery, another who lost her husband, and even the woman who years ago took care of my aging parents before they died back in 2003 are first on my list of doing and/or/getting something for.
  • Calling at least 5 people this month that I typically do not and surprise them with time on the phone to catch up and share. Rather than a card, these are people who I just didn’t have time for this year but deserve my time and attention – especially if I hope to keep them in my circle of friends. Just got a surprise call myself and loved it – and interestingly it was from a fabulous guy over 60!
  • Keep reading the New York Times every day and skipping watching any news on devices – that is on TV or computer or on my phone. When you can’t sleep thinking one of the people you watched on a debate will be our next president, don’t blame me – I will be sleeping thinking that the universe/God/someone will create an election result that makes sense. None of these people will be under my skin or in my brain because I refuse to watch them!
  • Keep writing notes and cards through the 31st of the month if need be – a few a day. And again, say something to people: share one thing I’ve/we’ve learned or experienced (like emptying our house and changing home base), wish them well on something they had happen. I figure a personal note will mean more even if late than the perfect photo card on time.
  • Look fresh, put together and festive when I can this holiday every time I leave my home. Few here in Tucson are listening to me on this one. This is our new home base. I think many women here post 60 don’t even think about how they look and appear to others. No one will convince me that how you look and present yourself does not matter. It does if you want to be fabulous.

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  • Give generously to anyone homeless, or looking distressed. I want to smile, and act like we are participating in this world and are responsible for it. Because we are.

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  • Giving myself a special, unique and fabulous gift. I have decided that my gift to me is to treat myself with the same love and kindness I treat others with – that is going to be hard for me. Just being me for so long has made me a bit compulsive and other directed – those that know me, including Cathy are now saying “a bit?????”
  • Am going to support every one of you fabulous women who have the same or an entirely different list, or just aren’t sure yet what being fabulous means to you this holiday season.

Being fabulous is actually getting clearer to me. It remains – like the success, lessons learned or achievements of our pasts – something that takes work, commitment and a sense of purpose and direction. Nothing comes easy – in fact, I am finding the older I get (66 this January) the harder it is to be fabulous. But that gives me/us something to strive for: to look as fresh and sharp as we can, to keep being kind – not giving up on ourselves or others because we have our shortcomings physically and mentally.

Happy fabulous Christmas/holiday/season of joy. Thanks for supporting me/us in being fabulous. Cathy and I appreciate it and consider it a gift of motivation from all of you. Our gift to you is to keep writing. Ideas always welcomed this holiday or any day.

Patty

 

A 19 Year Old Granddaughter Raids My Closet

This weekend, granddaughter Rainey drove more than an hour out of her way to visit us in Asheville. Ray and I were thrilled. She had been with friends in Johnson City, Tennessee, and was returning to Knoxville where she is a sophomore at UT.

She called us that morning – right after her decision to visit with us – and we invited her to stay overnight. We were even more thrilled when she said yes. Ray and I decided to take her out to dinner in downtown Asheville.

She arrived mid-afternoon, beautiful as always, dressed in short shorts and a tee shirt carrying a small bag. We hugged, we talked, we began catching up on her college stories and, bundled into one of our fleece jackets, she accompanied her grandfather as he took Lexie on her afternoon walk.

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Rainey and Lexie

Around 5:00pm, Rainey casually mentioned that she didn’t have anything else to wear to dinner. She hadn’t anticipated needing anything when she headed out with her girlfriends.

Can I wear something of yours, Grandma Cathy?

I knew immediately that this would be a problem. Rainey is about 5’ 3”. I’m over 5’ 7”. She wears a size 0. I wear a size 12. She weighs about 100. I weigh…. never mind!

Maybe a sundress or something? she said innocently.

A sundress? When was the last time I wore a sundress? 1985? And, even if I had one, it would definitely be a Large and she would need a Small if not an Extra Small.

I’ll come with you to your closet and we can find something! She said brightly.

I knew immediately that this exploration of my closet would prove embarrassing. I was wracking my brain for anything I might have kept buried in a drawer somewhere that could work. An old pair of leggings? A blouse that didn’t fit anymore?

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I reluctantly accompanied her to the closet and watched as she began pushing hangars aside to check out the selections. Looking through her eyes, I saw how big the pants were, how drab the colors were (lots of black) and how big everything was – and I mean everything.

Things were looking bleak and I was feeling ill. Wasn’t there anything that could work? Was I going to have to admit that it would be better for her to wear short shorts and a tee shirt on a cool evening in Asheville than to put anything of mine on her tiny body? Would she remember forever that she couldn’t find anything to wear in her Grandma Cathy’s closet?

And then a miracle happened. I saw it: a dark blue silk pull-over blouse that I had worn earlier in my life over matching slacks. The slacks had gone to Goodwill many years ago, but I had saved the blouse – “just in case”. Well, it was just in case time.

The blouse was over 30 inches long, and Rainey was excited. Perfect length, I thought.

I could wear it with a belt to make it shorter! Do you have a belt I could use?

I opened my belt drawer, once again eyeing all of the Large size stretch belts. But Rainey saw the chain belt before I did and determined that she could wrap it around her body – probably more than once.

Perfect! She said.

And it was. She looked beautiful and elegant. She had a new silk “dress” that she would wear with her pretty sandals. Voila! She was ready to go to dinner.

It worked!

It worked!

Well, almost ready. The blouse/dress was silk and wouldn’t provide much insulation for the cool night, so we went on a mission to my coat closet. Fortunately, I had a beautiful new silky black jacket that fits me perfectly as a jacket. It became a big slouchy silk coat for Rainey. She was set!

So, my blouse became a dress and my jacket became a coat.

And, hopefully, that’s all Rainey will remember of Grandma Cathy’s closet until one of her own granddaughters puts her through the same embarrassing closet raid someday!

Cathy Green

Summer… Not So Sure The Living Is Easy!

It is harder to be fabulousover60 in the summer. Fabulous is all about serenity, generosity, friendship, peacefulness, calm waters and being focused on what is most important in one’s life. That of course and wearing great clothes and shoes. Looking fabulous on the beach is just not happening for most of us. And that is just the start of summer blues.

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No one likes politics before an actual election other than the real rabid “true believers”. With a 2016 presidential election coming up, this 2015 summer is filled with clutter, nonsense, and false crisis moments – not to mention Donald Trump. Current nastiness and ridiculousness ruins our sanity and sense of propriety. We likely are the last generation to feel any sense of propriety about anything. That is likely more than OK, but for now, we do find it irksome and insulting to our sense of what we feel is appropriate “presidential election politics” and civilized dialogue/debate.

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Climate change has messed with everything. Much hotter or colder days, more rain or no rain, drought or floods. Not to mention burned out barbecues and that good idea gone bad: constant outdoor eating – not on just gorgeous verandas with food appropriately covered and a lovely summer breeze, but anyplace anytime even if it is stifling – on a city street corner or a relative’s “deck” (or now outdoor kitchen/dining room) that really needs much more shade and a few more feet of space.

Too much sun is getting as scary as ice patches. We are now at the age where, though we may love boating or other summer sports, we know too many people (including ourselves) that are having this that or the other removed from our skin. Bill just had some cancer cells scraped off his head (and I see most of you nodding). We spend way too much on sunblock and other preventive measures and yet are not 100% comfortable in any intense sun situation. Then there is the non-fabulous/always unattractive look of people in protective hats.

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Finally there are the family vacations, weddings, beach events with children, and all that comes with no school, and today’s sense that every event needs to be a happy experience and as perfect as possible. In 1958 we grabbed our swim suits, shorts and a fly swatter and hit the cabin or the beach bungalow. We kids played in the lake or in the water/beach and otherwise solved giant puzzles or read books/played cards in or outside.

Today’s vacations and family get-togethers seem to require a Ph.D. in psychology plus a tolerance for near constant chaos. Today’s family outing includes 6 to 12+ people, all with personal phones and other devices, sophisticated sports equipment, dietary restrictions, elaborate safety equipment and different desires to fit in play dates, learning something new, spa time, yoga, swimming, meditating or whatever else is key to someone’s personal well-being and happiness.

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This current state of affairs is no one’s fault – just life in the 21st century. We can attempt to tap down extremes, but we will never go back to the summers where the most excitement was catching fireflies in jars with a small hole in the top and everyone eating whatever was served at the same time with zero commentary.

We don’t want or need the good old days. But we do need to relax and put our noses into our Kindles or books and read some great literature or serious non-fiction (consider anything from Lynn Olson). As well as take quiet (or strenuous) walks in shaded parks when we can – and plan some special time with our friends. Essentially we need to “stay on our own yoga mats” as a spiritual friend calls minding our own business. Detaching is often a struggle but key to our retaining some fabulous feelings about ourselves and others in the summer fun.

Hopefully we don’t start panicking about “the holidays” looming too soon. It is still summer. Pass the sun block and keep on your earplugs.

Patty

mature woman sitting on rock watching sunset over sea

 

A Perfectionist Tackles The “Game” of Golf

I never wanted to play golf.

No one in my immediate family played, or even mentioned golf when I was growing up. I didn’t have any friends in high school or college who played. I tried it once in my early 20’s and concluded that it took too long to play, I didn’t like men scowling at me on the course, and the clothes and shoes were not flattering.

And then one day a few years ago, as my husband and I were beginning to take more time off from the business and could envision the possibility of retirement at some point he said: Why don’t you take golf lessons so we can play together when we move to Asheville?

I told him I’d think about it and then promptly decided not to think about it. But a good friend, who is also a psychologist, told me that I might want to consider Ray’s suggestion in another way. How many men, he said, invite their spouses into their lives this way? I had to admit that I didn’t know many.

So, I decided to give it a try.

Did I mention that I’m a perfectionist?

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My first lesson on the driving range didn’t go well. I kept missing the ball, no matter how big the golf club head was. I was sure the guys around me were laughing and hoping they never had to play behind me on a course.

Keep your head down, the golf pro said. Down where? Keep your body still but twist your hips, he said. Huh?

Somehow, because of or despite those directions, I finally managed to hit the ball – or more accurately, I hit the ground behind the ball which caused the ball to dribble a few feet. By the end of the hour, I was hitting the ball about half the time and knocking it erratically but at least a little further.

My second lesson was better. I seemed to be getting the “swing” of it and I actually hit the ball 50 yards or so a couple of times.

Ray thought I was ready to play. On a real course.

Will there be any players behind us, I asked. Yes, that’s the way it works, he said. Men? He gave me one of those “of course, darling” looks. But don’t worry, he continued encouragingly, we’ll just pick up your ball and move it along with us on the cart, OK?

Riding around in the cart with my ball – that sounded like something fun to do for 4 hours.

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Let me digress a little. Ray played on a college golf team, but only played occasionally throughout his business career. He once lived on a golf course, though, so I figured he knew everything there was to know about golf and that he had learned everything needed to pick up the game where he left off.

During our first game together, I moved my ball along many, many times in the cart, lost at least 5 balls in the woods or the water, scowled back at the guys behind us and kept tugging on my ridiculous golf “skort” – an item of clothing that should never be sold in any size over 4.

Ray seemed to be playing well, although I was a little surprised that some of his shots weren’t all that straight and some didn’t go very far. Was I interfering with his game, I wondered?

And then he hit an incredible drive. It sailed through the air, maybe 200 yards, perfectly straight – a thing of beauty! And, before I could censor myself, I said…

Why don’t you hit it like that every time?

I knew right away that this was not an appropriate response to his great shot. He scowled in silence. But then he seemed to realize that I had actually made this remark in total sincerity. I really thought that once you learned the game of golf, you would be able to hit the ball well – every time!

Cathy, he said, if I hit the ball like that consistently, our lives would be much different. I would be on the road with the Senior PGA Championship Tour and we would be friends with people like Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer! (I had actually heard of some of those guys).

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Point well taken.

I have now been “playing” this game of golf for a few years. Not often and not well. I threaten to quit every third time I play. I have learned not to make remarks about others’ shots. I occasionally still miss the ball, but if I can get away with it, I pretend it was a practice shot.

I’ve taken many more lessons from many more pros: Keep your head down; keep your head still; place the ball closer to your left foot; twist your body; make sure your belly-button ends up where you want the ball to go; use your shoulders when you putt; chip without bending your wrists; keep your arm straight on the backswing; follow-through; keep your weight on your left foot; don’t sway; lead with your left hand… and on and on and on. I write everything down and usually forget what it means.

But occasionally, just occasionally, I hit a shot that is incredible, if I have to say so myself. The club hits the ball with a solid “thwack”, it soars through the air and lands perfectly in the middle of the fairway and I am close enough to the green that I might actually feel good enough about this hole to put a score on the scorecard. I’ve even been known to pump my arm like Tiger Woods. And, when I make one of those shots, I’m hooked enough to schedule another round with Ray.

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I can’t say I’ve learned to love golf, but the perfectionist in me continues to think that it will “click” one of these days. Who knows? Maybe it will. Most likely, it won’t.

And the clothes? I still don’t like them.

Cathy

p.s. The other day, Ray and I attended a woman’s professional golf tour. As one of the golfers walked up to the tee, Ray whispered … you would look good in that skirt. I stared at him. Did he really mean the silky, form-fitting, short, pink polka-dot golf skirt that was being worn by a tall, thin and athletic 21-year old? He smiled at me and I realized he meant it! I decided to keep my mouth shut. It’s nice to know that he thinks it could be true.

Cathy - May 2015

Cathy – May 2015


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