Friendship

Fabulous At The Holidays

One of my dear friends is turning 60 this coming week.  I sent her a card and assured her it was going to be OK.  I may have been a total mess back in 2010, but with her mature outlook and strong leadership style she will likely only cry a little and get ready to keep on shining as she enters her 60s.  She has a high-powered job and lives in NYC – I think both these things will help Kathy transition smoothly.

Another of my dear friends is turning 70 next week.  She is beautiful, strong, determined and brave.  She just had knee surgery and is recovering from that agony with grace and little fuss.  Barbara has been a FabulousOver60 woman during this last decade.  How will she handle turning 70?  My guess is she’ll wince at her change in decades; and then proceed to do her 70s every bit as well as she did her 60s.  Not sure of the right adjective to use for the 70s yet.  Thankfully there is time for that to come to me as I spend my final 2 years in my sixties starting this January.

As I recover from a lovely Thanksgiving with only one major upset which is now receding into family history; and start getting into the holiday card, shopping and celebration season, I am reminded of some important wisdom. It is simply this: that any given day in our lives, especially the very hard ones, can be long.  But the years go quickly as we review the years of holidays past come late November and early December.  Which means, having great holidays are not only nice to have, but a must-have for our older selves.  We have no holidays to waste or energy to squander.  Here’s my big three ideas to make it so – please borrow whatever strikes you as sensible and doable for you.

 

Idea #1: Act with a light heart and extreme gentleness.  In this past year we have all seen more bad behavior from leaders at workplaces, in politics, or around one of our own corners than I thought was even possible.  Despite believing I have “seen it all” some of these outrageous acts have really shocked me.   Actions and language have been too rough, crude, and in some cases actually dangerous.  So my first plan is to meditate daily, pray frequently, and approach any actions this holiday with a light hand as well as heart.  I refuse to be drawn into any heated discussions or expose myself to negative energy and overall nonsense.  I am becoming as peaceful as possible and when interacting with anyone at anytime in the next weeks before the new year, my goal is to be soft and kind in every way possible.

Idea #2: Give what you can and want to, but don’t overdo. More simply, put happy boundaries on the holiday.  That means making choices.  I am definitely going to write and send cards – it is something I actually like doing.  It gives me a chance to reach out and touch people I am not able to see or visit with during the year.  Or, a chance to say something I have been meaning to say but just hadn’t had the opportunity to. I am not going to get overwrought with shopping though.  Am limiting who I buy for and what I spend.  There are so many amazing sales it really isn’t hard to act with a conscious and common sense.

My daughter Courtney just helped me out too.  She wrote that our Christmas in New York with all her husband’s truly wonderful family will include the “Secret Santa thing”.  For those of you unfamiliar with this approach, it works like this.  All the adults who are meeting on Christmas will draw names of one other adult who will be in attendance.  Everyone buys one gift for the person they “drew” and everyone gets one gift – a huge break for a fruitcake like me who would normally get something individually for each of the 20+ people who attend. Amen Angels – I thank you with all my heart.

In addition to my fruitiness and nuttiness and due to my compulsiveness I have already shopped for many of those who will be at the event now having a “Secret Santa approach”. SO, I can now use much of what I have bought early as gifts for other family and friends on my list.  Hurrah for me!!!  Forced by sensible relatives to take it all down a notch.

Idea #3: Keep events short, monitor drinking and eating, and spend loving but not too much time with any given family member or friend.  No matter what, the holidays can be stressful.  Sadness at lost family and friends can bring un-prepared tears and sadness; too much sugar and partying can drain our patience; and the volume of noise, running pets and multitude of people in small places can wreck havoc with even a normally calm person’s center.  So plan accordingly.  Going out to dinner one night?  Make the next evening simple, slow and low key.  Lots of visitors on one day?  Try to take in a movie the next day. Balance and pace the time to include all types of love and happiness, and keep it low key enough not to make yourself or anyone around you sick, irritable or grumpy.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you and all those you love and hold dear to have beautiful, peaceful and fun-filled holidays.  May there truly be peace on earth — good will toward each and everyone!

Patty

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

Let’s Share More Often – Just Not Only On Social Media

When we see or hear the word “sharing” in 2017 our first thought is social media and sharing in that context.  Sharing means posting or publishing something that informs multiple people about a new event – or letting an audience know about something we think is important, relevant, smart, funny, cute or silly.  This is NOT the sharing I am talking about.  Sharing in social media can be a great addition to our lives and to certain aspects of our relationships, but it is worlds away from personal sharing in the intimate sense I am thinking about.  I worry that many fabulousover60s are spending too much time sharing on social media because they think this is the only way “everyone” is communicating; and letting slide the more intensely personal one to one sharing that was and is still a must for maintaining any great relationship.

Because social media can get ugly quickly, many of us are wondering if people are just too thin-skinned to want to hear our thoughts and consider our ideas.  We are often too quick to think “I am not telling anyone anything.  People get so easily offended, or just don’t care about my opinion.  I am going to keep my opinions to myself.”  While I agree that learning to stay on one’s own yoga mat is a great thing, and offering advice via social media can backfire, I think we make a mistake if we fail to share our considered viewpoints with those we really love one on one.  Fabulous women know how to share privately without being a busybody or a know it all.  We personally share to support those we love by adding perspective, not by telling others what to do. Ultimately we know people must make their own choices – and celebrate or recover from the consequences of those choices on their own.

My idea of fabulous sharing is giving serious thought to an issue or to challenge what  one of our close friends/family members is going through – and figuring out how and what we can share with them so they can consider more and/or different options or ideas.  It is then sending a meaningful, sensitive but direct message to someone we love/care for – or sending it indirectly by recommending a movie, book or article that sends the message in a more interesting, elegant or even funny way.  On the reverse side, it is spending time listening/reading another’s message to us, and thinking about why it was sent and what is being suggested that is at least useful and potentially life transforming.  Fabulous sharing starts and helps build fabulous relationships.

Poor “shares” sound like this:

  • Carol — stop bitching about Carl – divorce him or live with him!
  • Linda — your kids are like all young people today – selfish – just stop giving them money.
  • Maryanne — who cares what your daughter says – you want to date Bob and it is none of her business – just don’t tell her anything.

Some great “shares” sound more like this:

  • Laura — I know you are struggling with your health right now, glad you are seeking medical help – for another perspective you may want to look at an old take on the mind-body connection called You Can Heal Your Life by the late/great Louise Hay. I got some real insights from it.
  • Bob — Of course you’re angry and upset with how your family is acting – they do seem to be too critical as you say. Have you seen The Midwife? Great characters sort some family dynamics out – might get you thinking of some new approaches to what you are dealing with.
  • Kathy — just called to say I was sorry to hear you were getting some nasty feedback from people at (the club, the office, church, synagogue etc). Think things can be handled with some style and grace with a minimum of anger/upset. Am here if you want to consider some options for handling these people – think there a number of options, not just one.

Dumping careful and thoughtful sharing strikes me as a lazy move for someone aiming to stay fabulous.   As we age and struggle with staying fabulous it can seem wise to stop getting “too involved” with others’ drama.  But if we do care, and we want to stay close to our small circle of friends and gain the few new ones we need to as times evolve, the best way to do that is with genuine intimacy by risking reaching out to others with support and love and yes, great or different ideas.

If no one wants to hear your thoughts, or feel your concern, or understand what you are trying to communicate to help them, maybe you have lost touch with connecting deeply.  Worse, you may have lost your sensitivity – thinking older age makes being blunt OK.  You wouldn’t be alone in this increasingly disconnected age.  As Cathy and I are often saying: being fabulous is hard work.  And the “new sharing” isn’t always helping us as much as depersonalizing our friendships.  If you only have a small amount of time for sharing why not reach out to someone you care about and offer a piece of yourself – rather than sharing a recipe to all.  Hey, time enough for that when the holidays arrive before it is even Halloween.

Patty

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

The Challenge of Being Mentally Fabulous

My friend Betty and I were walking and taking in the art at New York’s MoMA a few weeks ago.  As I was turning into a new room, I saw Broadway Boogie Woogie: Piet Mondrian’s 1942-43 commentary on New York City at the time.  I was 17 when I first saw it 50 years ago.  And I was reminded of how seeing it then was a break through for me in understanding the connection between modern art – which was new to me at 17 – and other aspects of history, culture and personal expression.

Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie

We spent the bulk of our time seeing a major Robert Rauschenberg exhibit.  Who knew he was a collaboration maestro and loved working with others including many engineers? Here’s his Mud Muse (below), an example of that collaboration.  Trust me, it was much more exciting and powerful in person.  There was even a warning that one could get splashed with the mud.  I saw it as a metaphor and support for my current extensively collaborative work on QwikCoach.

Being fabulous is all about creating a fabulous life: one that works just perfectly for oneself, and feeds our soul and heart.  It is balanced between meeting our own needs, and contributing to others.  Most of us understand and work to keep things in that balance.

We also exercise and continue to care about our looks, spending money on smart-looking, sophisticated clothes, lotions and potions.  We have learned how to look great a long time ago when everyone was required every day to look presentable – and so we are good at continuing those routines, even as they have gotten twice as long to look half as good.  We also seem to have grasped the critical part work plays – and we are combining working and volunteering in multiple ways that keeps us more than busy.

But one thing we don’t seem to have sufficiently conquered in our lives is the challenge of putting our mental growth and emotional well being front and center on a regular basis.  We often struggle with saying no to our supposed obligations, skip opportunities to learn something new and different, and push off growing spiritually and emotionally.  Some of that has to do with having too much mental clutter.  Our urge to be and do good is admirable, but we tend to get caught up in others’ stories and lives. Our divorced daughter, our addicted nephew, our former or current colleagues, our partners, our grandchildren or very elderly parents, and connections from church or community activities all have needs that we seem intent on fixing, supporting, and/or paying for.  We just haven’t managed to work on our mental health (which includes growth) and happiness everyday in the same way we juggle other daily challenges.

These last weeks have found me loading up on self-care and mental health activities.  Likely because I have recently come out of a depression and more aware I need to get serious about my happiness, and because I am only temporarily on the east coast where I have more friends than time.  Everyday I find myself aware of how important it is to stay calm and centered, to challenge my thinking, to be open to new things and be protective and proactive about my emotional well being.

Noreen and I grabbed coffee last week as we both realized that we hadn’t quite had enough time together and needed more female bonding and mutual support.  It was after dinner with our husbands that we looked at each other and knew we weren’t finished talking and needed some one on one time.  We made it happen the next morning with a little adjusting of our schedules.  And discussed, among other things, the challenge of working consistently on our mental and emotional well-being.  It just seems that this is becoming more important as other things such as external success continue to diminish their allure.

Interesting to me that in all those pressured years of career and balancing work and personal life I knew I was strong and could handle anything thrown my way.  I misjudged my sixties thinking that it would be easier as long as I held onto my health and appearance.  What I didn’t know and now do is that the mental and emotional challenges of aging and being part of cohort all of whom are aging, requires more not less strength and resilience than what was required years ago. And in order to keep that mental strength, and calm center, we need to make conscious choices of how we spend our time, and how we nurture ourselves.

I thought looking and feeling good was tough – it now appears our mental health and emotional well-being takes more effort too.  Damn this is getting hard.  In our fabulous hearts we knew that – didn’t we?

Patty

 

How I Recovered From My Scary Depression

My granddaughter Reagan told her parents after a March visit that “Grandma slept all the time”.  Despite taking a yoga class to get me settled into a Zen state, I ran right into a roadside I couldn’t “see” because I was so rattled. Sad, blue and feeling panicky about another tough thing happening from the moment I got up, till bedtime when I dreaded going to sleep knowing I would wake up ruminating about some unknown, but certain, imminent tragedy.  Somehow, a variety of big, and many little, events had tipped me from a “little off” and sad at year end, to depression by late January.

It was frightening, and something I cannot remember experiencing before.  By April I was determined to work like hell to crawl out of it and get back to being my neurotic, but basically very happy, self.  I swore never again would I let myself get in such a dark, disturbing place.  And yes, of course I got “professional help”.  My shrink is not only great, he is funny and comforting.  And he reminds me when I forget that ultimately, much of being better is committing to being better, and taking responsibility to change what is not working for what will.

Am feeling pretty good, if not great, today – and it is mid June.  What happened to lift me back up?  The truth is that since I made that firm decision to heal, multiple decisions, events and pieces of support have all helped to clear my head.  And, like many things in life, luck played a part too.

Mid May we left Tucson for our travelling time.  We live in Tucson, Arizona, but come May when it starts to get uncomfortably hot for us, we travel to other places till about mid October when the weather again suits us back home.  We came to New York in May and rented an apartment not far from our daughter and her family in Westchester County.  The change of scene has been a big part of lightening my mood.  We have already taken a couple of mini trips to further mix up our schedule and get away from depression triggers associated with my home in Tucson, which is where I was when the deep blues hit.  It will be fine to go back come October even if I don’t spend money on a deep spiritual healing of the space.

I have also taken the strategy one of my dear friends taught me: being one with something tangible in a room or place – just keeping my mind quiet and focused on a chosen item for a few minutes is very useful.  I am calling it “the tree is me” strategy – pointing mindfully to a tree ahead while walking and just “urging” myself to stay “with the tree” rather than letting my mind ruminate and repeat endless loops of negative nonsense.

And then, there are my many wonderful friends like Betty who called me everyday once I told her what was going on. Cathy P. wrote me emails and tailored my workouts to include pep talks. There was Janice who held a spiritual session where she worked on me breaking bonds with a sad and dangerous habit I had fallen into.  Donna had me over for dinner and listened when I was pretty awful company. Cathy B. set up a date to meet and go to a spirituality center for a special meditation. Pat told me about her journaling effort during one of her depressions and suggested I try it.  And the list went on from there of friends who I mentioned my sadness to who just turned around and offered love and help.

Another really big help was my 50th high school reunion.  I’d been part of the planning process so I was very much excited and invested in the activities.  Seeing, and more importantly, sharing with women who I had shared my adolescence with was amazing therapy.  We weren’t older versions of ourselves – we were new selves that were developed by our history, the lives we have lived, the choices we have made, and the way we have connected and loved ourselves.  The biggest way to know how people REALLY were faring in life, was to listen and watch for how happy they were with who they turned out to be.

Not everyone or even most anyone has the luxury of having the level of support and caring that I do.  Friends were my priority always (in many ways equal or more than family which I am also close to). Their multiple ways and approaches to helping me, coupled with our ability to create changes of scene, proved the golden recipe for dealing with my depression. I want to end with a quote another friend sent me that summarized the heart of much of the wisdom so many shared.

“There are only two days a year that nothing can be done.  One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is he right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” –  Dalai Lama

Patty

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

Reinventing Valentine’s Day When You’re Over 60

I fondly remember those incredibly sweet, but cheap, paper Valentine’s Day cards from grade school.  I think our parents bought a box of these for less than $1.00 or $2.00 and we used 5 or 10 to send “valentine requests” to classmates.  The card was heart-shaped and said on one side “will you be my valentine?” and on the other side there was room for the person’s name you wanted to be your valentine and your own name. Simple, easy and an interesting day in grade school wondering why Susan or Mary Anne didn’t send you a card but Alice and Henry did.  That is my entire memory of Valentine’s Day before adulthood.

In my 20s and 30s, there was some sense of wishing for a lovely gift from my guy of the time.  But it never was a big thing to me.  It seemed contrived.  And it also seemed, back in the day when money was SO tight, a bit of a waste of money.

Bill (my husband of 19 years) and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day and definitely skip going out to dinner.  But for a long time I have used Valentine’s Day as an excuse to send cards to my “girls” AKA grandnieces, granddaughters, and Goddaughter.  But that has slipped away too. 

This year so far has had its challenges – not just for me, but for a number of my friends and family members.  And it is the response I have gotten and given to my friends and family that has me seriously considering a “reinvention” of Valentines’ Day for FabulousOver60 women.  Why not use Valentine’s Day and it’s cards, notes and messages – and maybe even flowers or candy – to not ask anyone to be your valentine, but to thank them for being a real valentine to you in one or another way during the last year?

There’s Karen who stood by you after surgery, or Barbara who drove you around when you couldn’t drive yourself, or Kathy who listened while you cried over the death of a close friend or partner.  Of course George was there when your dog got sick and Linda and John who were very willing to take care of your house when you needed to visit your daughter.  And so it goes.  Maybe one of these people – or all of them not only deserve, but would love to get a valentine for being fabulous to you in your time of need.

The note on an inexpensive card like the ones of our youth can be short and simple.

“Linda – thanks for being there for me when Courtney was ill.  You are truly my valentine! Love, Patty”

If you are newly in love, or think you are, I say go for it and send Jan or Jim a card that asks to be h/h valentine!  Why not?  Of course given today’s totally inconsistent responses to any messaging it might be taken with offense, or treasured as the first piece of real (snail) mail that has been sent to this person since 2005.  Good luck with your experimentation.  Try not to be hurt or insulted if it goes awry.

Since this suggestion is a little late for this year, maybe a call might suffice – at any time during the month of February.  We are reinventing the holiday, so precision on the date no longer matters.

We are heart-touched all year long, and we touch others as well.  This is the essence of being Fabulous. We care, and in return many of us are cared for.  I would guess the only problem in this effort to reinvent Valentine’s Day is that you can’t think of anyone who really helped in any of your times of need.  In which case, you have bigger issues than Valentine’s Day.  Time to read all of the blog posts we have written since late 2012 when we started FabulousOver60.  There are tons of suggestions on how to be Fabulous that you most definitely need to consider. 

Oh and happy Valentine’s Day – most of you didn’t do anything BIG for Cathy or I, but you read our blog posts – and that is something that has truly touched our hearts.  Maybe just reading our blogs helped you have a softer heart and more tender touch with yourself and others.  That’s a real Valentine’s Day gift for any FabulousOver60 woman.

Patty

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

 

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