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Part 2: More About Changing Our Definition of Fabulous

Last week we published part one of a blog post about the changing nature of being fabulous – this week we complete it by focusing on more about the meaning of fabulous now.

Fabulous is looking fine in a way that is comfortable and absolutely us and dropping any snobbery around standards that have lost their meaning.  Being in fashion isn’t fabulous anymore — being real, authentic, hot or conservative or edgy in ways that reflect our best self is. Fabulous is living, learning, staying present and being grateful for all that’s good, and calm about things we can’t control.  And fabulous is all about taking care of ourselves and those we love.  We feel most fabulous when we are in connection with those that matter and are doing things that feel good and are good for us.

Being Fabulous, Part 2:

Random shopping has stopped being fun.  But we seem to have found just those few boutiques or online spots that have sales on just exactly what we feel is perfect and fabulous.  Few, if anyone, seem to care about looking good anyplace or at special events. So our black pants and nice top could take us to the opera or the hottest restaurant in any town and to someone’s graduation party.  True, BUT, we evolved here too. We created our new definition of fabulous as dressing as well and as we want, still choosing to look extra special more than once a year, and if we are the only one in a restaurant or at the party with a dress or heels or pulled-together look (don’t we all agree that many people of any age appear to use their laundry basket as a closet?) we don’t care.  We dress for ourselves and any audience we care about, we dress up when and if we want to and define our feeling appropriate as being fabulous.

Heavy meals started hurting our stomachs.  Nature wasn’t pretty if we ate, drank or didn’t sleep enough, so we sleep more if we can and just stopped ordering the cheese plate — but kept going out. We don’t go on and on about our food issues — fabulous now looks at the menu, makes the calculation of what works and doesn’t and orders without announcement.

Friendships have become challenging in tangible ways: friends, family and those close to them have serious health problems, not hangovers, and people close to us die.  We’ve learned how to mourn more deeply without falling apart or making the loss about ourselves.  We pray or sit silently more often, sending prayers or caring vibrations to others. And share our sympathy with more confidence not because we are getting great at demonstrating sympathy, but because we now know with absolute certainty that the most important thing is demonstrating we care, not doing some “appropriate” thing. We’ve really gotten the boundaries message and keep them even when faced with heart-wrenching personal loss times for us, or our friends. We handle ourselves keeping the focus on those who hurt at the time.  And we work to avoid dragging ourselves into a tailspin of upset over anything we can’t control (yes, most things).

One thing we haven’t given ourselves enough credit for was how we as a generation became, and are still, continuous learners. 

And that is now the core of being fabulous: we keep learning and experimenting. When we fail we try plan B to Z if we have to. We are not Queen Elizabeth in The Crown (a fabulousover60 favorite), perpetually unamused if not insulted by the relentless changes in the culture. We have come to peace with our parents and are using a different approach to aging and being fabulous.  We are NOT denying we are aging, that time is passing and we are going to die.  I remember death and dying, as well as well as less permanent changes – like moving or writing a will and getting specific about near-death wishes as taboo subjects for our parents.  They kept doing much of the same things they always did and didn’t want to talk much about age-related realities.  We do not blame them or feel anger at them. But we have clearly chosen a different fabulous path that includes facing realities of all sorts – from divorce to death or from being fired to starting a whole new business in our sixties.

Fabulous now is about accepting what is, and building and living in our own able-to-be-penetrated bubble. 

We choose what comes in and out with open eyes and heart and ears. We focus on fewer things, but our important things. We continue to be kind and have come to realize, as have other mature people, that kindness counts more than nearly anything else.  We are back marching and resisting or maybe only paying attention in a limited way — we know ourselves, do what we must and don’t judge others.

Fabulous is looking fine in a way that is comfortable and absolutely us – and dropping any snobbery around standards that have lost their meaning.  Being in fashion isn’t fabulous anymore — being real, authentic, hot or conservative or edgy in ways that reflect our best self is. Fabulous is living, learning, staying present and being grateful for all that’s good, and calm about things we can’t control.  It’s about taking care of ourselves and those we love.  We feel most fabulous when we are in connection with those that matter and are doing things that feel good and are good for us.

Turning 60 seems eons ago.  I chuckle for not realizing that everything changes – including our definitions of being fabulous.  We’re still smart, savvy and sophisticated, but our hearts are set on being our best individual self, connecting and being a part of a group when it is the right time and place. It’s also enjoying that group time, giving ourselves and everyone else a break. It is letting our light and our scent, our essence – which is individual and precious – be felt in the world.

A friend from the early 70s once told me that I was like great perfume, leaving a lovely scent behind when I left — I was touched and a bit overwhelmed.  And I remembered it, always trying in my own way to live up to the challenge of leaving “a lovely scent” behind.  Cathy and I have chosen to let FabulousOver60 now be associated with multiple beautiful perfume bottles (in our new cover photo on Facebook) — each representing one and all of us FabulousOver60 women.  We’re each unique, and we’re shining our lights and leaving a warmth and scent behind us everywhere we go.  Think that says it all.

Patty

The Meaning of Being FabulousOver60 Has Changed!!

Fabulous now is about accepting what is, and building and living in our own able-to-be-penetrated bubble.  We choose what comes in and out with open eyes and heart and ears, we focus on fewer things, but our important things, we continue to be kind and have come to realize as have other mature people that kindness counts more than nearly anything else.  We are back marching and resisting or maybe only paying attention in a limited way — we know ourselves, do what we must and don’t judge others.  

We are posting this blog in two parts. Part one focuses on “then” which is the time we started FabulousOver60.com around 2010 at the beginning of our sixties.

Next week we will post part two – which shares all the experiences that led to our changing conception of being fabulous and how we went from the visual on our Facebook page being a lily to our visual now being a group of special perfume bottles. Love to have your thoughts and reactions.

Part One:

I turned 68 on January 20th.  In the years that Cathy and I have been writing FabulousOver60 we have shared our evolving challenges and attempted solutions in regards to family, friends, work, health, volunteering, culture, beauty, serenity, spirituality, vacations, homes, and moving — nearly everything except politics (a conscious decision).  We have heard from many of you who have supported our efforts at being positive, funny, and openly sharing our own foibles and not-quite-perfect efforts to avoid losing our fabulousness.  We were pretty sure we knew much of what was ahead back in 2010 — the issue for us as we began living those years was worrying about how we would handle the realities of being 60-something and not get pushed off a high ridge into “un”-fabulousness.

Our original fabulous model was a nearly ageless women still caring about her outside self as much as her heart and mind.  Fabulous was carrying on as we had in our 50s but at a slightly more leisurely pace.  We stood by the concept of women multitasking — yes we thought one should know how and actually do as many of the following as possible, preferably at the same time: look totally awesome and put together; prepare food, cook & serve it; keep all things in neat and orderly; work at something to earn money or earn respect that is clearly worth doing and yet fits into a semi-retired lifestyle (being created); work on our lives seeking out new/interesting roles; stay current on world and national events; keep weight stable and exercise frequently since of course we’ll have more time for things like tennis or golf or hiking; have great relationships; and volunteer as frequently as possible to save the world in a meaningful way.

Our definition also suggested we avoid acting or being old as much as possible — skip those early dinners and pre-set routines that we found so annoying in our parents.  When faced with a challenge take it full on, using skills from our earlier life and act confident and calm, but keep going.  Stay a bit edgy, have a great sense of humor and of course be a kind, decent human being.  Oh and be ready to share your wisdom and charm that certainly some, if not many, younger people will find interesting and useful.  I know you are laughing at this last sentence. Talk about a false assumption!!

As our 60s unfolded we began to take in some new information and real-world experiences.  “Doing it all” and “having it all” were on shaky ground to begin with and we learned first hand they are completely outdated for good reasons.  We tossed those out. Our energy wasn’t up to what we often thought it should be to stay fabulous. We became okay with that.  Fabulous can apply to only certain times. One or two or three things a day started making more sense than a fully scheduled day – even if the schedule took place at a spa.  Am okay with that too. Standards around our eternal touch stones continued to erode: forget thank you notes, people didn’t RSVP for weddings!  We made adjustments and practiced forgiveness.  We lowered our expectations of others but kept some selected high expectations of ourselves because they defined us in ways WE think are fabulous.

And yes, there is more.  See part two next week.

Patty

Keeping (More) Music in My Life: A 2018 New Year’s Resolution

In July of 2013, I wrote a blog called “Keeping Music In My Life”. Music has always been important to me and the great music scene in Asheville, NC was one of the major reasons that Ray and I moved to this special city. In our 6 years here, we’ve been able to enjoy some of the best live music anywhere – by both national and local artists.

Reflecting on last year, however, I realized that I attended only 5 ticketed music concerts in 2017. They were good ones, including Suzy Bogguss, David Holt and Tony Bennett, and they were supplemented with great jazz and bluegrass music at our favorite local bars and restaurants. But it still wasn’t enough!

So, I’m re-posting my blog and making a 2018 resolution to at least double that number in 2018. The Tedeschi Trucks Band and Chicago are already on the schedule, so I’m on my way.

Suggestions appreciated!

Here’s my 2013 blog about keeping music in my life: Click here.

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

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

 

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

Fabulous Frustration or New Re-Boot?

March is upon us and some of the things I had hoped to be celebrating just didn’t happen.  Thought our new workplace coaching tool website would be complete and starting to churn out some sales of our wonderful workplace product.  The site remains unfinished as of this date.  A planned vacation with our granddaughters has gone from a rather substantial adventure in northern Arizona to a small visit locally in Tucson, which, while fun, won’t be quite as exciting as we originally thought.  Someone very close to me has discovered she “picked a lemon in the garden of love” and is still bruised from that reality check.  Bill remains tied down with a boot that doesn’t let him drive for at least a few more weeks, while the medical tests I have undergone for nausea have yet to come back with a definitive diagnosis. Ever striving to be fabulous, I realized I had reached a place where I had to admit – not only am I not feeling fabulous, I am feeling blah – really blah.

The other day I did something I haven’t done EVER – or at least not in my memory.  I did nothing all day but read and doze.  I understand lots of people have lots of days like this, but for me, a day without some purpose never seems appropriate.  And yet, it was freeing.  I had to admit that actually there was not anything important that needed to be done yesterday – and no one was going to be upset, disappointed or bewildered by my solitary decision.  I finished the day by watching the Oscars – and found it relaxing and reinforcing since all the winners were from great movies I had seen.  Even the flub at the end worked for me – loved BOTH La La Land and Moonlight, the ultimate best picture selection.

Today I hit the ground running – writing and sending something I committed to do for a new friend, talked briefly with my sister who is getting a new computer, ordered a little pick-me-up for my niece who is job hunting and working to complete her doctoral dissertation. In addition, getting back involved in planning my high school 50th reunion, following up with some undone business with a favorite client, and even having a sort of halfway productive coaching session with my coaching partner. She’s another workplace “doctor” who has had a long career. We speak once a month and share ideas and get feedback from each other on our ever changing lives.  Rebecca always makes me laugh – at myself as well as other absurd things – she helped perk me up.

Am about to go workout for a bit – always something that elevates my mood.  And my daughter Courtney called to share just “being” with me that was fun.  She was out of the office and alone, so we really managed to talk versus “trying” to talk when she is home with her husband and children. I realized too that I am literally at the end of my latest book: Thomas Friedman’s Thank you for Being Late which I HIGHLY recommend.  That means I can order a new book today – and I remember seeing that Joyce Carol Oates has a new book out – always loved her work.  She is such a great writer.

Having kosher chicken for dinner—-found that I love kosher chicken last year when I picked up some inadvertently in the market only to discover that whatever your religion, kosher chicken just rocks!! So dinner should be extra special.

You know, I am starting to feel fabulous again.  Maybe it’s the expensive shampoo and conditioner I just bought last week after thinking my hair was looking dull, or maybe it is because I have friends and books that comfort me even when I am just whining and not really having anything concrete to complain about.  Or maybe just writing this blog reminds me that being fabulous, like being happy, is most definitely a conscious choice – not a result of what happens

2017 is being re-booted.  I think it has some great possibilities – real possibilities.  If I can just keep the news to a minimum other than what I need to know to stay informed and involved, my friend heals her broken heart, and the spring brings bunnies/rain/sunshine/adventures, it’ll all work out. As well as a finished website for our new coaching product.  Doing something I hadn’t done before—like taking a complete day off, worked for me.  It took a swipe at my blahs.  Doing different things can be overrated – but for this fabulous woman, it is really working for me. Going to remember when the next set of blahs start to happen, to look at what I have never done before and give it a try.

Happy March!!  Yes, already!!

Patty

 

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

Hurrah – It’s December!

I am really hoping we can go back to being fabulous this December.  That means understated but caring buying, sending good wishes by any means possible and respecting any approach to celebrating the religious or non-religious meaning of the ending year, and the start of a new one.  And of course, enjoying the heck out of YOUR traditions from stringing lights to giving to charity.

holiday-banner

November can be a cruel month.  Remember November 22, 1963 and President Kennedy’s assassination?  Of course you do.  It is a classic, tragic, shared boomer memory.  President Kennedy’s death united us all.  And much of what we began to understand as “fabulous” was defined by his young widow’s grace and dignity in her own, and the country’s, loss.  Jackie was a woman many of us began to admire greatly for her public restraint and calm.  Of course she was devastated, but she was private in her grief.  If social media existed, we can’t imagine Jackie sharing anything but short poignant statements and calls for healing.

abbie-rowe-white-house-photographs-1963-for-web-01_0

This November’s election was the shocker of our political lives.  Whether you are a Trump or Clinton voter, things this month have been tense, weird, and more than a bit confusing.

I never prayed so much for help to NOT SAY what I so desperately wanted to say; and, for the wisdom and guidance on what to say to my friends and family no matter how they voted. I had a few harsh words with one of my closest friends which I quickly regretted. A few minutes on social media demonstrated that standards of being elegant, restrained, and otherwise fabulous were much less common if not non-existent.  Seeing some “reactions” to events this month, made me, the eternal optimist of human positive behavior, feel fabulousness was perhaps a lost dream that our own daughters, nieces, and grands would never be able to emulate.  Yikes – November must end!

But wait, there’s more – as they say on infomercials. My business partner called to tell me he had been injured over Thanksgiving weekend, on the mend but in pain.  A member of my family who shall remain nameless had one of those dysfunctional family holidays that may win Bill and my annual prize for the most ridiculous family event in 2016.  A close business associate shared that her company was turning upside down with a complete new CEO and team — she’s the CIO trying to keep it all working.  Being fabulous? Taking things in stride? Seeing humor and hope in every event – however odd, hurtful or just stupid?  November has tested us.

But, as noted, I am THE eternal optimist.  I believe we CAN be fabulous again this December by getting quiet before all the hoopla and listening to our higher selves whisper to us – ‘it is all OK’.  We need to remember fabulous women we admire – from Notorious RBG – the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to the shining star Jennifer Lawrence, who keeps showing Hollywood that women do deserve the same rewards as men, and are still at full speed fabulousness.  There are women being fabulous in business, non-profits, politics, fashion, and just leading ordinary lives.  What they all have in common is calm, grace and a focus on what they can control; and most importantly in this self-important, post-truth time, not taking themselves too seriously.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Jennifer Lawrence

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Jennifer Lawrence

My dear friend Betty and I spoke this morning.  We agreed it is time to “think local” and get involved – seriously involved – in what matters to us.  That and of course, continuing to try to feel great, look great, and give thanks for all our blessings – while having a sense of humor about ourselves.  People who lack a sense of humor and can’t laugh at themselves will never be fabulous.

I never thought I would be looking forward to the rush: writing too many Christmas cards, shopping and trimming the tree. Whatever the world is up to, I am not reading about it as avidly as I did pre-November.  Rather I am sending light and prayers to help situations I cannot control.  Then I sit down and have a great glass of wine, alone or with friends – and strategize about new ways to keep being fabulous in December.

wine-1

Here’s to tinsel – shiny but completely uncomplicated!  And Netflix, thank God we can binge watch series’ between stressful moments.  Happy December everyone!!

Patty

Part 2: How The Beatles Ended My Musical (Accordion) Career

On February 9, 1964 at 8:00pm, I joined over 70 million Americans watching The Beatles live on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was 13 and would turn 14 that September. For weeks before their appearance, their songs were all over the airwaves. I Want to Hold Your Hand was the #1 song on the Billboard charts. My 8th-grade class was buzzing with excitement.

Paul, George, Ringo and John, 1964

Paul, George, Ringo and John, 1964

Ed Sullivan introduced The Beatles to his audience of teenagers as the “youngsters from Liverpool” and the girls screamed. In front of our TV, mom, dad, sister Chris and brother Tom were glued to the screen. As soon as George, Paul, John and Ringo started singing All My Loving, Chris and I joined in the screaming, 10-year-old Tom got caught up in the excitement and dad was making fun of the haircuts and outfits but seemed to be having a good time, too. Mom just looked mystified by it all.

The Beatles played three songs in the first half hour of the show (Including She Loves You… Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!) and two in the second half hour, including my favorite I Saw Her Standing There.

Here’s how the performance started:

The British invasion was underway and although I didn’t know it right then, my 8-year accordion-playing career was about to be over.

In Part 1 of this blog, I wrote about how my parents bought accordion lessons for me at the age of 6 from a door to door salesman and how I became a very good classical accordionist by my teens, performing with an accordion symphony orchestra and competing in solo events around the city and state.

Me … a little girl with a big accordion! Circa 1958

Me … a little girl with a big accordion! Circa 1958

The Beatles, and the British rock and roll bands that followed them like The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and Herman’s Hermits, were all about guitars and drums. Teenagers all over the US were listening to this new music and many of them were yearning to be in their own rock and roll bands, preferably playing guitar like Paul, John or George.

In the book Squeeze This: A Cultural History of the Accordion in America, the author wrote:

“By 1963, the accordion had reached the height of its popularity, but America’s youth were beginning to embrace new music and new instruments. Playing the accordion became, for all intents and purposes, uncool”.

At 13, I really liked boys, I was experimenting with makeup, I wanted to wear short skirts and I played Beatles records constantly with my friends.  I also started to rebel against authority (i.e. my parents). I was a true teenager.  I definitely didn’t want to be uncool.

I started to complain.

There’s nothing I can do with the accordion… … I have too much homeworkI want to go out with my friends …. I don’t want to play polkas for grandpa anymore.

And then, sometime in late 1964 or early 1965, I quit.

I don’t remember how hard my parents fought with me about this, but I don’t think they fought too much. They, too, were seeing the change in musical tastes and didn’t have an answer for me about what I’d be able to do with accordion skills.

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My brother began taking guitar lessons. The money my parents had spent to develop my musical skills were now transferred to developing his.  He grew his hair long, got an electric guitar and drove us crazy. I was jealous. Playing guitar was definitely cool. I would have liked to play, too, and even bought an acoustic guitar and taught myself some chords. But in my family, Tom was now the guitar player so I didn’t get any encouragement. (He became an excellent guitarist, played with several bands, has a great tenor voice, gained recognition as one of the best guitarists in Cincinnati and still plays gigs at age 62.)

Brother Tom’s publicity shot in the early 70’s

Brother Tom’s publicity shot in the early 70’s

I was busy being a teenager anyway.

Over the years, I have had a lot of guilt about quitting after my parents had spent so much money and I had spent so much time. I’ve also been asked why I didn’t transfer my accordion playing to the piano, an instrument that provided more practical career opportunities, even in rock bands.

Those of you who have played accordion understand that this is not as easy as it may seem. Although my right hand played on a musical keyboard similar to a piano, I played buttons with my left hand. The transition could have been made, of course, but not without a lot of work, more lessons and a good piano in our home. At that time, I didn’t have the will to learn a new instrument and my parents didn’t have the money to encourage it.

I have to admit that my recent reading about the accordion’s popularity in the 50’s and its subsequent demise in the 60’s and 70’s made me feel a little better. Sales of accordions dropped to an all-time low in 1964, around the time I stopped playing.  I was not alone in being caught up in the new music wave.

I’ve never regretted my years of musical training, but I’ve often wished that my parents had gotten me started on a piano or guitar.

Here’s “the rest of the story” about accordions:

Accordions made a comeback in the 80’s and 90’s and since then have found their way into rock bands like Bare Naked Ladies, Counting Crows, and Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band. Bruce Hornsby, Tom Waits, Billy Joel, Pete Townsend and Eddie Vedder play accordion, too.

Bruce Springsteen with band member Mark Metcalfe

Bruce Springsteen with band member Mark Metcalfe

Backstreet Girl by the Rolling Stones features an accordion and Sheryl Crow plays one for the song Are You Strong Enough to Be My Man?

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow

A January 2014 article in The Atlantic entitled Accordions So Hot Right Now reported that the last remaining accordion manufacturer in the US is selling 60% of its accordions to people under the age of 30 and is having trouble keeping up with production.

My accordion playing days were obviously in the wrong century!

By the way, I learned recently that both Paul McCartney and John Lennon played the accordion before the guitar. Somehow, that tidbit of information about the Beatles didn’t make it into the press releases at the time.

I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t have made a difference to 14-year-old Cathy anyway.  Being cool was just too important!

Cathy Green

PS… Friends have asked me if I have ever wanted to play accordion again. I remember picking up my old accordion when I was  in my 40’s and realizing how little I remembered and how poorly my hands worked on the keys and buttons. I had lost the ability to read the sheet music, too. When musicians tell you that practicing constantly and consistently is critical, believe them!

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