Politics

Being Selfish and Staying Positive

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

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

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

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

I’m not watching TV network news

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

I have seriously reduced my time on social media

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

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

  • Enough said.

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

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

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

So, my current mantra is …..

Care to join me?

Cathy Green

A NON-Partisan Take on What We All Learned from the Debate

As you know by now, Cathy and I do not get into politics on FabulousOver60.  We think there are places for that from the local diner to the internet; or from your own Facebook page to zillions of obscure or heavily-trafficked sites.  I bet if you have read our blog for a while you can guess by now that Cathy leans center right, and I lean center all the way to the left, but it doesn’t matter.  “Fabulous”, as we describe it, is not political – so welcome all. Even if you don’t care about this election, hate everyone running, or planning to vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.

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Here are the truths barring repeating and the implication for us fabulous women:

1. People don’t change without TONS of effort and work.  Even with extensive work, practice, and a sincere effort to change, it is extremely challenging. 

If you missed the book The Power of Habit – it is time to read it.  If you have read it, just do a quick re-read.

IMPLICATION: Give yourself a break that you haven’t lost that 10 lbs., quit drinking, gone back to more frequent religious services or trying to keep your voice down (one of my continuing but often failed improvement strategies).

2. Sometimes you can’t help yourself – somebody just pushes your buttons.

IMPLICATION:  Do you even know your buttons?  Any fabulous woman should know them cold.  And, before any interactions with potential “button pushers” remind yourself not only not to respond, but plan ahead to avoid tension.  Example: Dinner with your cousin John, the sincere but over the edge supporter of the natural look (he’s a mess and he loves that his wife has gone gray)?? Wear something you consider “the most boring thing in your closet” and do not color your roots.

3. Lying is natural.  But consider the topic.

*We are told roughly around 200 lies per day. *On average, we lie 3 times per every 10 mins of conversation, 60% have a hard time without lying at least once. Most lies are harmless white lies like “nice haircut” or “yeah, all is good!”

IMPLICATION: It is OK to do what I did: to tell my mother, who was suffering from dementia in 1998, that my wedding was in a Catholic Church and Bill had gone to Rome to talk to the Pope and had gotten an annulment.  It is not OK to say tell people stray gossip that is hurtful and vicious.  It is OK to say, for example, “you look awesome”.  It is not OK to say your cancer is ‘“all in your head” and you need to buy supplements from me’. There are lies and then there are lies. Use that fabulous head of yours to comply with “telling the truth” that matters.

4. Manage your facial expressions and your gaze.

IMPLICATION:  Rolling your eyes as your sister tells you she has so many men calling her she doesn’t know who to choose to take her to the most expensive restaurant in town is fine.  But it is terrible to roll your eyes when your grown daughter, niece or dear friend is sharing that she is considering getting a divorce.  Look people in the eye with compassion, keep yourself composed and skip the “schoolmarm” or “queen bee I am above it all look” when tension is flying.

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5. Finally, be smart. Drop topics you don’t want to get into and rise above the nonsense.

IMPLICATION: Being smart in all senses of that word is the essence of being fabulous – along with being kind and “staying on your own yoga mat”.  Avoid or drop subjects of deep division with those you love and those you need to pretend you love. Stand for peace – with or without a sign. Be the model for sophisticated ease and grace.

If you are like us, you are counting the days till November 8th and not because you are worried you will miss the minute by minute polling. But not using this unique opportunity in this contentious election cycle not to brush up on being fabulous would be a big mistake. Thank God no one will be discussing that mistake in a round table of experts later this week, or weeks to come. Oh, but do vote.

Patty Gill Webber

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

 

 

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

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Being a Bit Naïve – Not Always Funny!

I am not a “been there/done that” sort of woman. Things have and still seem to surprise me. When young, naïve was an understatement to describe my lack of sophistication and savvy. My all time “who knew” story was being asked by a guy at 22 to meet him at the Harvard Club. Yes, I did manage to find it, and yes, I asked for “John Smith” who promptly appeared in the lobby area.

Unfortunately the idea of Harvard as a private club somehow eluded me — I commented to him and a few of his friends that it was interesting that the “Harvard Club” – a public place in my mind – looked and felt like everyone on the walls in those rather grim portraits, and right now standing in the lobby could have ACTUALLY GONE TO HARVARD. Looking at me now as a sophisticated woman of a certain age it seems impossible I could have uttered this HUGE faux pas — but yes sister fabulous women, I did.

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Harvard Club

Needless to say John sneered and sent me packing. I tell the story to remind myself and others in my life that I was not born at Saks Fifth Avenue nor raised on the main line of Philadelphia. But interestingly, though much more “seasoned” and exposed to all sorts of people, places and things, I remain more or less a trifle naïve. Not necessarily about which fork to use, or knowing Peter Michael is a great chardonnay not just a guy’s name, I mean naïve in the sense of wondering what in the world is going on here — how could this be happening?

Here are some recent shocks to my system. Am curious if you share my shock or just want to shout to me Patty, snap out of it – don’t be so naïve! More pointedly: when is it OK to be naïve and when does it literally become dangerous?

Shock One: Ben Bernanke was turned down for a mortgage. Yes, it seems the bank he applied to used an algorithm to block new loans to those just changing jobs — even if he is in the one percent and the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank.

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This article makes the point that common sense needs to come back into the mortgage system. Can you blame me for having missed the fact that human factors are no longer used in giving people mortgages? That amazed me — sure you can get a line of credit or a mortgage online, but when did your ability to demonstrate your reliability and financial responsibility lose out to a formula that excludes any personal judgment? This knowledge allows for a great deal more empathy to those who are still being told they can’t have a mortgage. Just laughing at the stupidity of the bankers who rejected Bernanke is not the point.

Shock Two: A long ago corporate client called me out of the blue this weekend. The call came 10 years or so after he had a personal crisis and retired from corporate life to get his life back in order. He indicated his wife was scheduled for surgery this week that is extremely serious — and he wanted me to know that even though we hadn’t seen each other in forever he was using the “wisdom” (his word) I had imparted to him years ago about corporate change and transformation and was using it to help he and his family deal with this stunning negative turn of events in their lives.

I was hugely flattered but amazed. I certainly never thought my corporate consulting work would help someone deal with the possible death of a spouse. Or, maybe I did or at least hoped whatever good I was doing went beyond just good things for the institution. And, it reminded me that what we say – and what we have said – really does matter always.

I was wrong to underestimate the impact I had on people I worked with and naïve to think that my words and actions at work did not have enormous impact.

Shock three: The Canadian capital of Ottawa is the scene of violence today and the story continues to unfold. Terrorism seems to be at issue here. Watching the historic Ottawa Parliament building in lockdown is unnerving. While ISIS did seem far away it is getting unnervingly close. The whole idea of people being “radicalized” and traveling to join various terror spots makes me uneasy. How could the story of freedom and democracy we grew up with fail to connect with a troubling number of people here, in Canada and Europe? What part have we all played in alienating some people so much that they want to join in a crusade against what we see as decency?

While being naïve can be very funny, it can also be dangerous. It can leave us unconcerned with issues that we seriously need to reflect upon and take action upon. As fabulous women we have to know when to laugh, but also when to stop laughing at women wanting to marry ISIS soldiers – and rather contribute to creating bridges of understanding in our own communities so even the thought of this is impossible. Fabulous women know when to be serious and take responsibility for modeling important interest and passion. Or we should.

Patty

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