Friendship

Feelings of the Season

In the first few minutes of the movie La La Land, you are brought back to your own struggling youth and the intensity of feelings so as part of being in one’s 20s.  It was a rush – and the rest of the movie doesn’t disappoint, if you are as big-hearted and romantic as I know most of you are!

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land

In the middle of Manchester by the Sea, you groan as you feel a pain so intense you can’t remember feeling quite that awful for another human being that you don’t know personally.  While tough to watch in parts, I felt a gift from the director and actors of this intense film about personal struggle and the work of redemption.  You have to feel this movie in this season – puts any of your own agonies in perspective.

Casey Affleck

Walking through the supermarket door I saw the bell ringer and the Salvation Army kettle.  This is a tradition that doesn’t seem to be going the way of every other tradition.  I put in a bill, not just a few coins.  One can’t look at a Salvation Army kettle and not feel blessed – truly as our parents told us “there by the grace of God go we”.

An old friend sent another less than card/email with the note: “as part of my cutting back, you are getting this message – happy holiday”.  I totally get my friend’s decision not to send cards. But somehow I wish he didn’t say it was about him – maybe an email that said “thinking of you and hoping you and Bill are great, lots of love, Bob” would not have struck me as not as self-centered and missing the point of the season.  Feel generous this holiday (the world needs holiday fun more than ever) – no matter how you REALLY feel.  Give less with joy.

Someone sent me a quick email message apologizing for taking more than a week to respond to a birthday card we sent her for her December birthday.  It was SO sweet and thoughtful – late, even the New Year late with positive thought, is more than ok and feels great.

This year we are going to a totally different Christmas celebration — a special friend asked us to join her and some of her family and friends.  After spending most of the year traveling, and not going “home” for Christmas, this invitation touched my heart.  Nothing old or traditional, but filled with love, joy and for sure laughter.  That’s the ticket – something different, with or without family is perfectly wonderful this holiday season. Show deep appreciation for those invitations – even general invites to your neighborhood association, your synagogue, casual friend or church –  and feel honored to be asked anywhere.

Though not going overboard on tons of gifts, the few we are giving are being deeply appreciated… with feelings!  We sent Cathy (my partner here at Fabulous) and Ray’s Labradoodle some special treats and she sent me a text thanking me. Now, someone’s dog sending you a text REALLY feels great.  Maybe help your cat or dog send a good text – because I know someone loves that pet as much as you do and would feel so good getting a text from them for the holidays.  Yes, feel that silly, it is good for you.  Merry merry everyone!

A more clear pic of Cathy’s dog, Lexie:

 

Christmas Gift Buying: Did It Really Used To Be More Fun?

As I wandered around shopping for gifts today … online that is, not at the mall… I started to get nostalgic for the good old days when I would stroll purposefully from store to store looking for perfect gifts for my family and friends.

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There were always some “special” gifts to shop for during those years.

When my mother was still living, for example, I would buy her several gifts from four or five stores.  One gift, at least, would be something she wouldn’t expect like a silky bathrobe, a new watch or a beautiful sweater that wasn’t in her budget.

Then there was my girlfriend Patty. She and I exchanged Christmas gifts for many years before deciding a few years ago that we had about everything we needed at this age and that we would only exchange birthday presents.  Before that, however, I was always trying to find the perfect gift for her at boutiques, or Saks or Nordstrom’s. It had to be different, it had to be classy and it had to be great.

(I can’t decide if the gift hunting for Patty or for my mom was hardest – it was probably a tie. Patty said she had the same issues buying gifts for me.)

In the early days of our starry-eyed romance, when we were struggling financially as we started a new company, gift-giving between me and my husband Ray was special. He loved to surprise me; I loved to surprise him. He once bought me a size small vest that could have fit me when I was 10 years old – maybe.  I liked the fact that he saw me as a small woman even though I’ve never been one.  And, I once proudly presented him with an expensive brown cashmere sweater, which he said he loved but never wore.  I now know brown is his least favorite color. We had so much fun shopping for one another that we would even take $20 on Christmas Eve day, ride together to the mall, go our separate ways for thirty minutes and shop for stocking stuffers. So romantic!

By the way, Ray and I have only had one rule over the years:  no more than 5 gifts.  He has always given me at least 8 gifts and I’ve always stuck to the rules (which tells you a lot about us).

Presents under our tree last year – almost all of them for me and Ray. Someone cheated. Hint: It wasn’t me.

Presents under our tree last year – almost all of them for me and Ray. Someone cheated. Hint: It wasn’t me.

And then there were Ray’s two daughters, their husbands and our five grandchildren who came into the picture in the 90’s and 00’s.  It was such fun to shop for all of them! Beautiful sweaters, blouses and jewelry for the girls or sometimes household items like serving platters that they wouldn’t buy for themselves as they started out in their new lives with husbands and babies.  There were also carefully chosen shirts and pullovers for the guys. And, we’d buy toys and more toys for the grandkids. (We still cringe about the time we bought one of the first life-sized dolls that could be “programmed” to talk. It was even able to say Happy Birthday to your grandchild on the correct day of the year. When our granddaughter woke up the day after Christmas and the doll said “Let’s play”, she got scared, said the doll was too bossy and refused to play with it again. Obviously, grandma and grandpa had gone overboard.)

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In my memory, I had a great time searching for all of these gifts, along with presents for my siblings, nieces and nephews, several employees and a few friends. I would go from store to store, smiling at little kids on Santa’s lap, enjoying the ringing of Salvation Army bells in the distance, being part of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas crowd, and inhaling chocolate, cinnamon and evergreen scents swirling in the air.

If I’m really honest about this whole gift buying thing, however, I spent a lot of time agonizing over finding the right gifts and even more time getting irritable as my feet started to hurt, as the shopping bags got heavier and heavier and as I stood in line behind people trying to use a $5.00 off coupon that expired two months ago.

And I’m not even going to talk about gift-wrapping, other than to say that Ray would conveniently find something else to do far from the house when I started getting out the paper, bows and scotch tape. No amount of Christmas music or scented candles ever got me in a good enough mood to wrap what seemed liked hundreds of gifts at the dining room table with an aching back.

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So, maybe I’m not that nostalgic. Online shopping is easy and fast. I can quickly scan a lot of options, I can use an auto-fill function to put in my address and credit card numbers, and I can even get things gift-wrapped and sent directly to my relatives and friends – with delivery tracking included.

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These days, the teenage grandchildren want gift cards anyway.

Ray’s daughters, now in their 40’s,  have all the clothes and household items they need, so restaurant or entertainment gift cards purchased online seem to work well for them and their husbands.

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Ray and I still buy gifts for each other, but let’s just say we give each other a lot of coaching and “hints” about what to buy, then act surprised on Christmas morning. By now, he knows the clothing brands I like, and I know his. I tell him every year that I’m allergic to wool. He tells me every year he doesn’t need underwear. We get gift receipts. We talk about how many gifts to exchange. He still doesn’t stick to the rules. We buy about half of our presents for each other online and watch carefully for the boxes being delivered to our door so that only the addressee opens them.

So, I’ve been asking myself. Do I really miss shopping malls? Santa? Salvation Army bell ringers? Mingling with busy shoppers in various states of good and bad cheer?

Not so much.

But what I do miss is coming home exhausted but satisfied after finding those few perfect gifts for the very special people in my life – gifts chosen with love and care and sore feet!

Cathy Green

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Thanksgiving in the 50’s at Grandma’s House

In my memory, Grandma’s house is really big. It sits on a hill in the West Price Hill section of Cincinnati with at least 20 concrete steps from the road up to the porch. The front door opens into a main living room, dining room, and kitchen, a steep staircase leads up to the bedrooms and bathroom, and an equally steep set of stairs descends to the basement and garage.

I now know that the house was actually small (less than 1200 square feet) and very narrow. But from the time I was born in 1950 until my mid-teens, somewhere between 15 and 30 family members gathered noisily at my Grandma and Grandpa Coyle’s house for Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad showed up with the first two grandchildren, me and my sister Christine, and then later with my little brother Tom. Mom’s four younger brothers were there with girlfriends, then wives, then an ever -expanding number of children … about 13 of them (added to our three) by the mid-60’s.  Did I mention we were Catholics?

I remember the smell of roasting turkeys (at least two of them) and the sound of silverware clattering as Grandma and the women prepared the stuffing, potatoes, green beans, corn, gravy, biscuits and desserts – all from scratch. I remember the loud voices of the men as they watched football on television, drank liquor and snacked on pretzels and potato chips.  As the years went by, the commotion of babies crying and young kids running up and down the stairs added to the chaos.

It always seemed to take way too long for Grandma to call us to her huge dining room table. Having smelled the food cooking and salivating for what seemed like hours and hours, we were ready to eat and hurried Grandma to finish the Thanksgiving prayer.

Once the food was passed around – the turkey piled high and everything else in large steaming bowls – the noise level went down considerably as we dug into the feast.  There was always plenty of food for everyone, and more than enough for leftovers later that night.

A “basic” turkey with stuffing. Nothing fancy from Grandma!

A “basic” turkey with stuffing. Nothing fancy from Grandma!

Grandma is the best cook in the world, I thought.

Actually, she wasn’t. Grandma only cooked “basic” food – food her mama taught her to make as she was growing up in what she called the “hills of Kentucky.”  Nothing fancy, not many spices, no decorative touches … just good, old-fashioned turkey, stuffing and “all the fixins.”   Simple but delicious.  And dessert? Her pumpkin and apple pies, made from scratch and bubbling hot as they came directly from the oven, made our mouths water. (Later in her life, she was the cook for the priests and nuns at Saint William Church, who got to appreciate them too.)

I have many images and memories of Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house, but five of them stand out from all the rest.

Story #1:   Little Cathy pees on the floor.   My dad loved to tell this one. Apparently, when I was about 2 ½ years old, in the middle of Thanksgiving food preparations, I didn’t get something I wanted. According to Dad, and other witnesses including my uncles, I got mad, stomped my foot, cried and peed on the dining room floor – deliberately.  I got swatted, Dad said and “…that’s when I knew she was going to be a pistol!”Story #2:   Uncle Jim, Whiskey, and a Toaster.  My uncle Jim, who never married, worked for GE, played softball in an adult league and lived with Grandma and Grandpa until his early death, was like a big kid. He didn’t watch football or hang out with his brothers and my dad. Instead, he played with his nieces and nephews. On Thanksgiving, he would sneak “cocktails” to us — 7 and 7’s, made with 7-Up and what probably amounted to less than a teaspoon of Seagram’s Seven whiskey. We went along with the game, giggling and promising not to tell our parents (who of course knew what he was doing).  I especially remember the year when one of us got up the nerve to ask Uncle Jim what happened to his right hand. We were fascinated by the fact that he was missing a couple of his fingers (from birth, we found out later). In a low conspiratorial voice, he told us that he stuck it in a toaster when he was a little boy.  We were horrified!  I don’t know about my cousins, but I never looked at a toaster in the same way from that day on.

Here’s my Uncle Jim playing a game with me and my sister

Here’s my Uncle Jim playing a game with me and my sister

Story #3:   Christine rushed to the ER.  My sister Christine, one year older than me, was mentally retarded (or mentally challenged, as it’s called these days). At seven years old, she always seemed to get herself into trouble. That year, with Mom, Grandma and the other women preparing food in the kitchen, Chris took a glass of juice outside on the concrete porch.  Somehow the glass broke and cut her hand. Blood was everywhere. She was screaming.   The cousins were screaming.  Grandma and Mom rushed out with kitchen towels to wrap up her hand as Dad scooped her up and drove her to the emergency room (911 wasn’t around in those days). He brought her home a couple of hours later with stitches in her hand and thumb and her arm in a sling. The glass had cut a tendon and muscle at the base of her lower thumb – a thumb she still can’t use to this day. Although we had Thanksgiving dinner, it was later than usual and a whole lot quieter.

Story #4:  The Sacred Heart of Jesus and my Great Grandmother Brinegar.  Grandma Coyle was a devout Catholic.  Hanging above the TV in her living room was a large framed picture of Jesus with long flowing hair, penetrating eyes and a glowing heart wrapped in thorns.  It is an iconic picture in the Catholic religion.

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As kids, it was hard to even think about being bad with that picture staring down at us. To make things worse, Grandma’s mother — Great Grandma Brinegar —  sometimes joined the family at Thanksgiving when she wasn’t at one of her other five children’s homes. She didn’t like little kids and would sit on the opposite side of the room dressed in a long skirt and old sweater, her braided hair hanging down her back and her hand gripping a walking cane. She would stare at us as if to say “Just try doing something wrong”.  Jesus on one side of the room and Great Grandma Brinegar on the other made the living room an uncomfortable place to play. The kitchen and dining room were off limits, we weren’t allowed upstairs and the basement was too scary. We would often head to the small backyard even in the coldest late November weather.
Story #5:    Grandpa the Gangster.   I grew up knowing what my dad and my uncles did for a living. But I never knew what my Grandpa Coyle did, even though I always suspected that it was something unusual. He was an introverted man, he seemed pre-occupied much of the time and he died young of emphysema after years of cigarette smoking. One Thanksgiving, when I was old enough to begin to understand, I overheard the men talking about Grandpa doing the books.  Unfortunately, that didn’t mean he was an accountant. He was, it turned out, a bookie.  I later learned that he would gather his “boys” around that same Thanksgiving table to figure the payout to winners and to dole out everyone’s cut of the action. My mom would rarely talk about it, but she once told my brother that a car’s tires squealed around the corner one day when she was a little girl and Grandpa “threw” her back into the house “just in case”.

Looks like I was already suspicious of my Grandpa Coyle!

Looks like I was already suspicious of my Grandpa Coyle!

All in all, my memories of Thanksgiving in the 50’s are great ones. I loved my Grandma Coyle and she seemed to “fancy” me (as she would have put it).  I loved the smells and the tastes of Thanksgiving food.   I loved leftovers. I loved watching my dad watch football on TV and joke around with my uncles. I loved seeing my mom and grandma working together in the kitchen.  I loved my Uncle Jim and the sneaky 7 and 7 drinks he gave me with that little splash of whiskey.
But mostly, I just loved the feeling of belonging to the family.  Even with my Gangsta Grandpa!

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Happy Thanksgiving!
Cathy Green

Why My Husband Really Needs Me

Since this blog is about my husband and may possibly contain some information that he finds less than flattering, I should start by pointing out that I am very lucky to have a great partner who shares responsibilities around the house and in our lives.

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Here are a few things Ray does really, really well:

He cooks … excellently. He makes a great Bolognese sauce, a killer bouillabaisse, and to-die-for crab cakes, for example.  He even cooks day-to-day meals.  I can’t cook and don’t like to cook, so this is a really important thing in our lives. (Actually, he began cooking out of self-defense. See my blog about this subject.)

Here’s one of Ray’s weekday meals: pork loin with veggies

Here’s one of Ray’s weekday meals: pork loin with veggies

He drives 99% of the time when we are together, whether around town or on a road trip. He refers to himself as my chauffeur and I shamelessly take advantage of him.  Although I think I’m a good driver, I drive 5 mph slower than he does and I don’t like to parallel park – which means we arrive somewhere later than he wants or I spend too much time looking for easy parking options.

He takes care of our beautiful gardens.  I hate snakes, moles, hot weather, cold weather, thorns on our rose bushes, bugs (especially caterpillars), rubber gloves and just about everything there is to hate about gardening.

He also likes to run errands, take our clothes to the dry cleaners, stop at the grocery store and mail packages.  Lucky me!

Of course, I do a lot of things for us too. I manage all of our bills, order things that we need online, take care of the house, make our travel arrangements, and orchestrate our social calendar, for example.

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We’ve never really had to “decide” who does what, either.  It just kind of happened over the years.  Things get done. We both do what we do. We have a pretty equitable and easy arrangement.

But there are a few things that he REALLY needs me for …

1.)  He swears he can’t run the dishwasher. We’ve been together 26 years. We’ve had three homes and several short term and long term rental homes and apartments. Not once in all that time can I remember him running the dishwasher.  We have been in our current home for five years and nothing has changed.

Here’s our Bosch dishwasher panel. Relatively simple, yes?

Here’s our Bosch dishwasher panel. Relatively simple, yes?

2.)  Ditto #1 for the washer and dryer. Again, he says he just can’t figure out either of the machines. Too many options. Too many buttons. Too many decisions.

3.)  He can’t remember the number 9. Every time he answers the phone to buzz someone into our gated community he asks me what number to push on the phone. It’s #9 and has been #9 since we moved here five years ago.

4.)  He can’t spell.  I am a former English teacher and a writer. Let’s just say he found the right person to marry. Even with spell-check he doesn’t get close enough to the spelling of words for the auto correct function to do much good. I really don’t mind helping him out, but I do get a little annoyed when he gives me a word like hydrangea, bouillabaisse or hors d’oeuvres and thinks I should be able to rattle the spelling off quickly.  I’m also not too happy when I attempt to spell one of those difficult words for him and he then tells me that his spell-check corrected it.

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I like being needed, but I have learned over the years that I should never give him unsolicited advice. His sarcastic response is that he really doesn’t know how he ever survived before he met me.

On the subject of survival, if I leave this world before he does, I wonder if he’ll be able to run the dishwasher and the washer/dryer and if he’ll be able to remember the number 9.

I suspect the answer to all of these is yes.

But spelling? He would definitely miss me!

Cathy Green

Reflections on Turning 66

I celebrated my birthday last week.

I enjoyed the presents from my husband, the birthday wishes from friends and business colleagues, and the great food and wine at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. I’ve always liked the special attention I get on my birthday and shamelessly promote it, even posting this photo on Facebook.

Enjoying my birthday Cosmo

Enjoying my birthday Cosmo

But this birthday freaked me out a little. It struck me that 66 years of age is now closer to 70 than 60, and the thought of being a 70-year-old is scary.

The good news is that I know a lot of women and men in their 70’s (both friends and public figures) who are vital, sharp, attractive and happy. I also know people in their 70’s, however, who spend a lot of time unwell or unhappy or both.

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Since I definitely want to be among the former types of 70-year-olds, I started thinking about what I’ll need to do in the next few years as I sneak up on that big number.

First, I know I’ll need to stay active. I don’t like to exercise. Never have. Never will. But I have worked out in a gym twice a week for years, pushing myself to lift those weights, do those squats and get on and off benches and floors. A personal trainer once told me that “making friends with the floor” is one of the mantras that older people should adopt in order to be able to handle falls in later life. Sigh!

I also walk most days, a task made easier because my labradoodle won’t have it any other way. (Maybe dogs are the answer to keeping us in shape?)

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I will need to do whatever I can to stay healthy. Although there’s no way to guarantee it, I’ve had enough experience with my own health and the health of people close to me to understand that a combination of eating well, having annual check-ups and staying aware of my own body’s signals can make a big difference.

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I will need to stay closely connected with the right friends and important family members. Superficial relationships are OK once in awhile, but the key is being with people who are positive, curious, caring and involved in enjoying life. They are the ones who will help keep me positive, curious, caring and involved.

I will need to continue to live in a place that makes me happy. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to live in three places and in three homes that I truly loved. Now, at 66, I enjoy living in the mountains in a home that makes me smile. I also enjoy Asheville and will need to continue taking advantage of what it has to offer.

This is my favorite artist’s painting of Asheville. Jeff Pittman

This is my favorite artist’s painting of Asheville. Jeff Pittman

I will keep caring about looking good. Not obsessively — no multiple plastic surgeries, for example. But I’ll use good skin cream, I’ll dress up to go out to dinner, I’ll spend more money than I should to get a good hair cut and color, I’ll continue to have my nails done every couple of weeks, and I’ll occasionally buy a new pair of black pants (what else!) or a new handbag and shoes.

I’ll continue to write, although maybe not this blog.  Patty and I started the blog site when we both turned 60. She asked me the other day whether I thought we would be up for writing “Sensational Over 70” blogs. I’m not sure. But writing is something I’ve always enjoyed. It keeps me thinking and it just makes me feel good, so in some way or another, I’ll keep doing it.

Lastly, I’ll continue to make it my number one priority to enjoy being with Ray. I know I’m lucky to be able to be growing older with the love of my life.

And, even better, he’s already 70 and doesn’t seem to care that I’ll be joining him soon.  He even told me I looked beautiful on my birthday.

He’s a keeper, right?

Cathy Green

September 2016

Do We Still Need “Best” Friends?

Friendship has been a cornerstone of my life since the earliest days.  In 1953, at age 3, I met my best friend Michelle at a half way point (a large rock) between our suburban homes which were 4 houses apart.  At that stage I somehow knew that life without her wasn’t as much fun, and we both understood we could share anything and everything and it was just between us.  Our friendship did not survive forever – though a few years ago we connected by phone and tried to “catch up”. It was a great call, but Michelle no longer is the only one I want to be with.  And that is OK.  She was an awesome “best friend” as a little kid.

In 8th grade, I met Joan at a “Math Fair” at a college connected to the private high school we were set to attend together come 9th grade.  Not sure why, but we just “clicked” and became lasting and incredibly joined at the hips best friends who shared and grew up together as teens, figured out being smart together, how to be  good people, how to share and explore feelings, and also how to be grown up career girls as soon as we could.  Many wondered at our closeness — I was an outgoing and bold girl, Joan was quiet, introverted and rather risk adverse.  But we became BFs and explored so much of life together before we were nearly middle-aged and drifted apart as our life choices and life experiences pulled us in different directions and locations.  Am planning to see Joan next year at our mutual 50th high school reunion next year – we will hug and always know we shared a unique special bond.  She really was an awesome best friend when I needed one.

Teen best friends

Teen best friends

As a 34-year-old single working woman, I met Alayne when I moved to a small town near NYC and went about growing my work expertise and expanding my business. We lived in the same apartment building on the same floor – she, newly broken up with a long-term boyfriend and was working successfully — me into my career with a complicated love life.  In any case, we spent lots of time together and bonded as special and yes “best” friends.  We both were at a place in our lives that made  “hanging out together” and constantly sharing and talking the easiest and simplest—and yes, best way, to handle our lifestyles and pressing life issues.  Alayne was in my wedding in 1998 and a few years later literally dropped out of my life – she moved, I tried unsuccessfully to stay in touch with her, but she clearly wanted or needed to disappear.  I was extremely sad over this loss, but again treasured the times we had as “besties”.

My “best friends” Michelle, Joan and Alayne played important roles in my life.  They were part of who shaped me and part of how I became pre-fabulous.  The importance and enduring memories of our times together will always be a source of big smiles and a tug to my heart.  But now, as a fabulous over 60 woman, you may have found, as I have, that the concept of a “best friend” isn’t really relevant anymore.  Friends are more essential than ever, critical to our lives and our health, but defining one person or several as “best friends” seems somehow not just old- fashioned but childish and diminutive.  Being best friends was all about exclusion and needing absolute acceptance and reinforcement of ourselves as we were developing but hardly yet independent. Now, as interdependent older women, we need intimacy, support, and closeness – but we no longer need or want relationships that exclude others nor find it useful or beneficial to have friends who can’t disagree with us.

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Patty and Cathy

Friendship is a MUCH BIGGER concept to me than it used to be.  Friendships now include a variety of relationships – each unique and special and necessary, but not filled with nagging or long-practiced obligations.  I now recognize that every friendship forms and evolves – some last, others do not.  The reasons these friendships last or not are endless but ultimately unimportant.  We have wonderful friends in our lives at this stage because we want to.  We actively choose these special people to spend our shrinking and valuable time with.  We “release” those who are no longer a fit as friends, just wishing them well on their life journey. Sometimes a “friend” is a new person we just feel compelled to know and “be with” and we make it happen.

Patty with friends

Patty with friends

FabulousOver60 women have learned to comfort ourselves. We still need support and comfort from those we love, but we don’t need to be rescued.  Great friendship expands us now.  It helps us be smarter and better people.  The relationships are fun, supportive, and respectful of our own lives and needs – as well as supportive of our friends’ lives too.  We don’t ask our friends to be our mother, shrink, or solvers of problems and challenges that are our own responsibility.  We ask for advice from some, we avoid asking others.

We listen carefully to our friends.  We “read” when they need us and get ourselves THERE — and we know how to allow our friends the space and privacy they need till ready to share.  Our friends are those who accept us as we are.  We, in turn, accept them as they are.  No one is likely our ‘bestie’ anymore – we know all the great friendships we have are the surest way out there to add joy, peace, calm, insight, support and laughs to our lives.

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I am always saying “less is more” in Fabulous blog posts — let me take that back when it comes to friends.

Patty

 

 

Welcome “Just Turned 60” Fabulous Women!

Last night our charming waitress shared she was turning 60 “very soon”.  She had that panicked look I did when I was in that same rather terrifying situation 6 plus years ago.

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It struck me that many of you might be JUST turning 60 or have a friend who is and need some support as you tip over the line into being truly FabulousOver60.

Cathy and I have been writing our blog for quite a while – so we are VERY comfortable being FabulousOver60 and are almost (though not quite please GOD) thinking about coming up to SensationalOver70 – no plans on that for at least 3 or 4 years!

So you are turning 60. . . Happy birthday!

happy-birthday-cake-design

  1. It takes getting used to so don’t expect a big bell to go off and you arrive in fabulous land. Your 50s went on a long time and were filled with much turmoil as is typical of the age.  Working remains front and center, shifting family relationships cause lots of planned and unplanned change, and fighting the menopause nightmare 30 lbs. keeps you up if the first two don’t.  Relax, you can finally lose the weight without cutting your head off and you get very used to personal and professional change and have it in greater perspective.  If you aren’t used to constant change by now you haven’t been paying attention.
  2. Don’t dwell too much on this being the beginning of the final third of your life. It is, but there is so much going on that preparing for the end is just a bit premature.  You are not in denial as much as just knowing that if you lasted this long, you likely have a way to go.  But do get a copy of Younger Next Year – taking care of yourself is definitely a major priority now.
  3. Remember that the way your Mom, Aunt, or cousin handled their 60s will likely not offer much relevant guidance. 60 is not the new anything except the new 60 – but options have increased, change is not only more rapid but more comfortable than ever. That is, unless you stopped growing as a person somewhere in your 40s. If that is the case, get thee to therapy – you are NOT ready to be FabulousOver60.
  4. Less is more is not only true, but as you go through your 60s you will find the urge to purge growing more intense. You will love throwing out things at the same level you used to be thrilled buying things, and you will have a simple phrase to use to make decisions. You don’t need MORE, but you do need higher quality everything.  Better shoes, a better handbag, better friends who are not just in your life due to the fact that they always have been, better manicures, better more thoughtful books, conversations, and value.  The sooner you get to this place the better.
  5. A new life – yes, a new life filled with new and fresh choices. It is time to travel, move, consider alternatives, start or stop dating, recommit to your marriage or get divorced, actively engage with your faith preference, renew your commitment to being a great citizen and overall being a better, finer person.  Like wine you go bad or you get awesome.  Choose wisely – we can tell you that all of these things make being 65 very sweet – or just another birthday.

Welcome to the club.  It is a wonderful place to be if you take personal responsibility for making it your best decade ever.  One thing is for sure – and we keep saying it here at FabulousOver60 – it’s all about your attitude and your effort – it always has been about that hasn’t it?  So somethings do NOT change, which is a good thing.

Patty

My Vagabond Summer (Of Love)?

Some of you may know our lifestyle changed in 2015 to owning just one house in Tucson, Arizona.  We have spent this summer of 2016 trying to get out of the Tucson heat – obviously that hasn’t worked too well.  The whole country seems to be sizzling or pouring rain – sometimes both.  We have driven or flown to various places renting apartments, houses and also staying in between rentals with family and friends.   We have been in Santa Fe, NM, Yardley, PA and Long Island, NY – still ahead are NYC, San Francisco, White Plains, NY, Asheville, NC and Atlanta – all before returning home to Tucson in October. Like most plans, much of what we were certain would happen did not happen (we did not mind being in the witness protection program as one of our dearest friends described this lifestyle), and new things came up that have turned into gems of experience.

Here’s a few highlights:

  1. We confirmed our love for Santa Fe. It is a magical, artistic, historically a very Hispanic town with charming architecture, warm people, nearly perfect weather and a real liberal vibe.  Spending time there is like taking a course in the country’s colonial past, art history, and kindness. We made new friends with an old friend of mine from college who I had forgotten lived in Santa Fe – she and her husband fit all the descriptions above.

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  1. We rented a house in Yardley, PA without a washer or dryer. I referred to this in an earlier blog.  The surprising event was becoming friends with the manager of the store and her niece who helped us figure out how to get back in the groove of Laundromats – we discussed work, getting raises, school, politics, and life and got along famously.  I found the connection with these great people that we have little externally in common with, super interesting and amazingly comforting for the future of our country.
  1. Episcopal churches are everywhere and yet extremely consistent. The churches are beautifully traditional and, of course, old (many were built when towns were founded), situated in the heart of downtowns, and only occasionally more than half full.  One is always greeted by people who recall the 1950s style we grew up with – charmingly formal in the sense of respecting boundaries and not assuming “being your new best friend” – softly open and welcoming, low key and anxious to make you feel you belong. It is the America some of us grew up in frozen in time.  I love these church visits and the sensitive sermons and people – like Stacy, the manager of the laundromat, comforting in these loud mouthed, obnoxious times.

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  1. I read serious books that touched my soul. Among them were Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me; Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, and The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb.  I feel I actually learned something real, intimate and important about being/growing up African-American, Chinese-American, and Norwegian.  The bravery of these books, their glimpse into realities of people I could never really know expanded my sense of what it means to be a human being.
  1. Finally, I fell in love. With John (not his real name of course), a late 50ish beyond handsome physician (sort of a mature JFK Jr) who is neighbor and friend to friends of ours.  Like the old time falling in love of 1960s it was both intensely sexy (in my dreams) and totally innocent with absolutely no basis in reality of any kind.  I saw him playing fetch with his black lab on the beach looking happy and carefree.  He then was introduced to me and I knew “he was the one”.  Though of course he is totally someone else’s.  Like our fabulous teen/young adult love for Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, and Rock Hudson it was both unrequited and impossible. A reminder that the pure joy of hearing “see you in September” is coming up next.

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Being a vagabond is working for us.  I could share so many more stories about how being loose and moving frequently is making us stay in the present moment and give up judging others.  But to be honest, I admit some nights I am looking forward to being HOME.  We fabulous women love change, our treasured summer memories, and yet miss our comforts too don’t we?

Patty

Grandmother Blues

Saw my granddaughters Reagan (10) and Morgan (7) this weekend.  The weather was horrible, we are in a rental a few hours away and it seemed we did more driving than visiting.  Although we did have time for a great dinner at home, watching the movie Zootopia, and playing a game that involved headbands and guessing about the card you could not see placed in your headband.  When we left (in less than 24 hours) I felt that I just didn’t get to share as much as I had hoped.  But, we had long standing dinner plans, so that made us feel we needed to stay with our plans and leave.

The truth is, the lifestyle we have now is not making it easy to be a fabulous grandmother.  We used to have a house in the northeast, which though a couple of hours away from our daughter and her family, allowed them to come visit for a weekend multiple times in the late spring and summer months. Having sold that house and having our home base now in Tucson while we spend the late spring and summer in various rentals around the country, we do not have a convenient home base to host our children/grandchildren.  Of course we can visit them, which we are doing, but we can’t have them “come to our house” except for their trip/s to Tucson – which is far away from their base in the New York suburbs.

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There are several reasons we made the choice to switch up our lifestyle that include age, health, and preferences of how we want to spend our older years.  We do believe we have made the best choice for us.  But I am beginning to own that it was not the best choice for our granddaughters.  They just don’t have the casual time in our house they used to and really do not get as much quality time with us as they did.  And that is making me blue.

It seems this is like much of life – making a choice for one thing, means something else, or someone else gets less.  And certainly this is the case here.  And now, I am trying to get my balance about that.  Trying to reconcile being fabulous while being a bit less so in the grandmother role.  What I am slowly discovering is that I need to get more creative – and lose the guilt. Guilt doesn’t help and truly I do not need to feel guilty for choosing an option that essentially is best for my husband and myself.

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Believing that my responsibilities include being a good, if not great, grandmother, dictates that I consider the consequences of some of my choices and adjust.  So I am now committing to more of iPhone’s FaceTime, and virtual connection and more visits and special trips planned in advance that build quality time.  I am going to stop being blue and start being more organized about having my granddaughters always know I care about them and see them as a priority.  Which means, that my total flexibility to see lots of different friends when we are in rentals near our children has to get cut back – I cannot see all the people we want to and meet my top goals.  I now realize that I have to be willing to do that even though it means some friendships will have to fall by the wayside to make room for being more available and flexible for our granddaughters.

This blog has been hard to write.  I keep waiting for things in my life to get easier.  But life keeps reminding me that as Dr. Scott Peck said: “life is difficult” and takes persistence and work and moving parts around the table and changing and readjusting.

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No, I don’t have to stop making the best choices for Bill and myself, but I have to admit and rearrange my life to make sure what is second, third and fourth in my life can all get done.  While the lure of whining is great – the truth endures.  Watch what happens when choices start to bring consequences (every one of them does) – and make the adjustments you need to.  Life really is a continuous round of learning – and learning always has been at the heart of being fabulous.  I can go back to being a fabulous grandmother if I make the right adjustments.

Yes, dear fabulous sisters, it always comes down to this sometimes very uncomfortable truth – WE have to do the changing.  Fabulous doesn’t work any other way.

Patty

If In Doubt…. Don’t Press Send!

Emails have been in the news a lot these past few months… and not in a good way. Just this week, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was found to have sent emails that shouldn’t have been sent and which she does regret sending.

It reminded me of a blog I wrote in late 2013 about the importance of being careful using emails in emotionally charged situations. Although they appear to be a great way to have quick communication, they also have an incredible power to disrupt both friendships and careers. Here is my original post.


I was reminded this past week about the potentially destructive power of email. Two couples … friends of ours and of each other … are no longer speaking. The rupture is so bad that it’s difficult to imagine how it can be repaired.

The issue isn’t as important as how it was handled. The first couple – who now admit that their first email was a mistake – sent it anyway. The response from the second couple was highly emotional – “scathing” is a word I’ve heard used to describe it. In fact, the clear message was that the friendship was over. The first couple sent another email apologizing and explaining. There has been no response.

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I haven’t actually seen any of the emails and I’ve only talked to the first couple about them. However, I think I understand the situation well enough to say that the emails … all of them … should never have been written or, more importantly, sent. In fact, I suspect that they were difficult to write and that both parties wrote at least a couple of versions of them. I also suspect that if everyone was being totally honest with themselves and others, they would say that they wish they could take them back.

Not too long ago, I was angry with an out of state friend. Again, the reason isn’t important. I immediately sat down and wrote an email. Then I wrote another version. I didn’t think I had the right tone, so I wrote it again. This one was better, but I still had a nagging suspicion that it didn’t capture the issue well enough. I decided to wait and try later. The issue weighed on me the rest of the day. I composed different versions of the note in my head. And then I began to think about receiving it as if I were my friend.

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That’s when it hit me. This issue was not an email issue. It required a phone call… a real discussion. So the rest of that day and the next I thought about the conversation rather than the words I’d use in an email. It was difficult to pick up the phone to call… but it was absolutely the right thing to do. I learned that my friend felt conflicted by the issue too. We had a great discussion and resolved it easily. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders and we were better friends than ever.

I can’t say that I’ve never sent an email I regret. But I think I’m even less likely to do it in the future given the recent sad story of my two friends.

When I talked to Ray about it, he said that Billy C. Owen, his Master Chief in the Navy, used to say: “Once you pull the trigger, you can’t get the bullet back in the gun.”

The wrong email is like a bullet you can’t get back.

So, I have a new rule for myself: If an issue is potentially emotional, if it’s difficult to write, or if it could be misinterpreted, I’m going to pick up the phone or … even better, if possible … have a face-to-face discussion.

I wish one of our sets of friends would do that now. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late?

Cathy Green

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