Self-reflection

Post Traumatic Travel Disorder

Last Thursday evening, after 5 months away from home base in Tucson, we arrived home.  If you read any of my blogs these past few months you know it was lots of laughs and fun – along with learning lessons about what not to do (and what definitely TO DO) when you are on the road for 5 months in multiple cities.

Sunday I backed out of the garage and knocked down our mailbox (yes, one of those steel ones with a concrete base that desert communities are fond of) even though I have a backup camera in my new car.  The car got a few “boo boos” too. YIKES. Upon reflection, I think I have a bad case of PTTD — the mind melt and trauma that happens when you do not plan to travel differently, and plan easing back in after travel as a FabulousOver60 traveler.

                  This is not actually me but found it fitting

Post Traumatic Travel Disorder is an affliction that I have noticed has been increasing in my life. While working full-time I traveled often for work – typically several trips per week flying to various places for consulting assignments.  At a certain point, I had it all down to a science.  Always packed bag ready, just what I needed and nothing else, and a clear focus on getting where I needed to be and doing what I was being paid to do.  My days were pre-planned and many evenings as well – mostly I scheduled in working out to keep my stamina high.

Now, I continue to travel – increasingly as many of us boomers are – as part of being semi-retired or completely unemployed and finally having the time and resources to take off here, there and anywhere – or, at the least somewhere.  But rather than having the travel “down to a science”, every trip seems like a fresh opportunity to over-pack, plan too many things for too little time, and making sure that any possible friend is visited or connected with when going to “their neck of the woods.”  This is of course in addition to returning home not to the same routines, but often returning to my life and home that is ever evolving to meet our changing and evolving needs.  In other words, travel used to be routine, now it is anything but.  We have to plan for it differently, not attempt to go back to how we used to travel.

I truly believe that I backed into our mailbox because of PTTD (Post Traumatic Travel Disorder).  Am going to see hitting my mailbox as a gift going forward – it helped me reflect and share what I now believe are important tips on being a fabulous traveler over 60, as well as for avoiding PTTD.

bags1. Unlike business travel, the reasons we travel now are more varied and sometimes complex, combining several agendas. Sometimes it is a family obligation (Uncle Ted’s funeral), or a social obligation (your 50th college reunion, where you also are on the board, not just attending the reunion). Or then again it could just be for fun (we’ve never been to Cleveland). That being with new or different friends with new and different routines and expectations of what matters when traveling (the Kelly’s love dawn running wherever they are).

Tip? Taking a bit of time before a trip to think about what is most important for you to experience from the trip, or a piece of it, is critical.  It helps you with choices while planning, and for remembering that every choice includes excluding things – not just choosing things.  A wise woman has expectations matched to her needs – and her plan.

2. Most of us feel blessed to have so many fewer obligations other than hobbies, or work we are truly passionate about, that we make the mistake of thinking it should be EASIER to do everything, including traveling.  But novelty (a true key to being fabulous) often means doing things differently, and doing things differently adds stress – albeit good stress.

Tip? Be much more aware of how your travel now involves unique things that, even when fun or exciting, can be tiring and stressful.  Plan to ease into going and ease into returning – rather than trying to recapture the head spinning efficiency of hitting the ground running when going or returning from trips.

3. God has helped create FedEx and the USPS. Use these services to pre-ship stuff to you destination – and ship home after the trip.  There are no more points for filling the car completely or taking two carry-ons weighing 40 lbs. each on the plane.  Not only pack more lightly but think about your neck, shoulders, and back for those times between, when you do have to carry things with you.  Less is DEFINITELY more.

Tip? Ever lighter luggage is in, and all your old suitcases/trunks or old work travel bags are for Goodwill or its equivalent.

4. Do not bring the ugliest, most boring things you own with you – thinking the boring nature of what you are wearing will make it easier to keep having to wear the same thing over and over.

Tip? Bringing  just those things that really flatter you and are light (terrific scarf, interesting gloves, simple dress, great earrings) and that you love wearing guarantee you can stand to repeat your clothes again and again and feel good as well as look good.  You want to come back with memories that include you looking reasonable and happy with yourself.  Packing right really helps.  And attitude too of course – that fabulous attitude of looking at the bright side of the newness of everything.

5. Make friends with one department store cosmetics person – go to them twice a year for the best cosmetics for you. YES, this does have to do with travel.

Tip? These ‘wizards of looking good’ will give you samples of everything great or want to try.  When it is time to travel you have lots of samples of everything you need to travel – make this a conscious effort and you will win on multiple fronts besides just travel.  Your makeup will be up to date and help support the image you want.  You will have someone to ask for advice on what works and doesn’t for you, and your lifestyle, and to help you decide what to toss and keep so you never have expired cosmetics.  If you have decided to stop wearing makeup entirely – well, Cathy (co-creator/partner of FabulousOver60) and I want to suggest to rethink that one.

Thankfully PTTD is an unexpected syndrome that can be edited out of your life.  We are so smart in so many ways – many of us just need to rethink outdated assumptions about travel in our 60s.  There is a fabulous way to do it – and a not so fabulous way to do it. Coming home stressed and ill-prepared to take it easy and let the trip ease you into your home priorities is not conducive to being fabulous.  Just ask my car dealer.

– Patty

Note: PTSD is a real and serious issue. This blog post in no way is meant to minimize or dismiss it.

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.

1

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!

Accordion Lessons From a Door to Door Salesman in the 1950’s

PART 1
I was six years old in 1956 when a salesman came to the door selling accordion lessons. He apparently convinced my mom and dad that I was a musical prodigy. They rented a small 8-bass accordion (the number of buttons on the left side) and bought a first set of lessons.

12

I don’t remember those early lessons, but I do remember that they were followed by more lessons and then the rental of a larger 12-bass accordion and then an even larger 48-bass accordion. In time, I was taking lessons twice a week at an accordion music studio not far from my home in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Apparently I was doing well, even if the prodigy part was not yet confirmed.

Both of my parents were musical. My father loved to sing and was a member of a barbershop quartet and the church choir.  My mother played piano when she was young and would occasionally play for us on an old piano in the basement. (We had a small house and nowhere else to put it). I assume they decided that they wanted me to be musical, too.

I recently bought a book called Squeeze This!: A Cultural History of the Accordion in America to see where my own story fit into the bigger story of the 50’s and 60’s. I learned, for example, that the door to door salesmen were fairly aggressive and well commissioned. As they went from home to home in a neighborhood, they would offer tests of children to assess musical abilities.  They would even come around at dinnertime to get both mom and dad involved in the decision. If they made the sale, they could usually count on at least a couple of rounds of lessons and accordion rentals.

This door to door selling was targeted toward middle-class working families and was limited primarily to the Midwest, the West Coast and the upper East Coast.  (A friend in Asheville, however, said that his parents bought accordion lessons for him from a door to door salesman in Atlanta.)

In the 50’s, the accordion was a big deal.  It was one of the most studied instruments in the country and purchases of accordions soared to over 250,000 by the middle of the decade.

123

If you grew up in the 50’s, you’ll remember that the Lawrence Welk television show was extremely popular. Mr. Welk (“Wunnerful, Wunnerful!”) played accordion with his orchestra. But Myron Floren, a regular accordionist on the show, was younger and better looking.

1234

Myron Floren on the Lawrence Welk show, early 50’s

Here’s Myron “live” playing an accordion classic, Lady of Spain.

In the 50’s, there were also hundreds of accordion music studios across the country, an increasing number of accordion orchestras and lots of competitions.

Although two other kids in my neighborhood took a few lessons, neither of them kept up with it like I did. I had my own “music room”, practiced at least a couple of hours each day and more in the summer, and liked being the musical child in the family. I wanted to get better.

And I did.

By the time I was 10, I was playing solos at my grade school band concerts and getting enthusiastic applause from the audience of parents. I played songs like Flight of the Bumble Bee, Lady of Spain and Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

My grandfather, whose father came to the US from Germany, was a butcher by trade. He was a big man with a big laugh, a love of bratwurst, and an even bigger love of polkas. He insisted that I play polkas at family gatherings to much cheering, clapping and dancing. He couldn’t get enough of the Beer Barrel Polka. I could.

3

The movement in the 50’s was toward classical accordion and away from the instrument’s use in barrooms and vaudeville acts with ethnic and folk songs, including polkas. (Accordions were initially introduced to America in the early 1900’s from Europe and took off in popularity around World War I).

As I got older, my parents bought me a much bigger, 120-bass electric, amplified accordion and I began playing classical music – Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi and more. I was being taught by a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra violinist, and played once a week in an accordion symphony orchestra which he directed. It consisted of about fifteen 10 to 18-year-olds and we would perform around the city.

The key to playing classical accordion was in the management of the bellows … smooth, consistent bellowing was the gold standard. No standing up and dancing around the room playing crass, low-brow ethnic music! Classical accordionists were seated for performances and braced the bellows on the left thigh for control. Accordions had gone high-brow!

At age 13, I began entering competitions around the state, traveling by bus with my mom. At one of them, I played Sabre Dance, a difficult Russian ballet movement in which dancers performed with Sabres. It was extremely fast, discordant and challenging – which was encouraged by competition organizers in order to score higher points.

Here is my photo and ribbon:

1964 Regional American Guild of Music Competition

1964 Regional American Guild of Music Competition

At age 14, I began teaching accordion at my music studio. In retrospect, I probably wasn’t legally allowed to work, but no one told me that at the time.  I made a little money teaching young kids and even a couple of adults for a year or so.

I was, they tell me, an accomplished accordionist. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was even considering adding an accordion position and I could be a candidate, they said.

And then… just like that … it all ended.

NEXT WEEK PART 2: How the Beatles ended my musical (accordion) career.

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.

111

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.

mother-daughter-mad-300x193

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

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.

01

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?)

02

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.

03

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

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.

e876c260d04acfac2838fc98e0d9adbf

  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.

CCI-120519-003-S

  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.

image001

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

Do I Use The Word “Great” Too Much?

Golf course attendant: How was your golf game today, Ms. Green?

Me: Great! Thanks.

Waiter: How was your dinner this evening?

Me: Great! Thanks.

Anyone:  How are you doing today?

Me: Great! Thanks. 

I think I’m overusing the word great, but I’m not sure what to say instead.

According to the dictionary, I am using great in its informal variation which means very good or satisfactory.

1

If suppose I could use “very good” more often.  Or maybe “fine”. But they sound quite a bit less great than great.  How are you doing today? Fine.  (Hmmm… what’s her problem?)

Saying “satisfactory” is even less satisfactory.  How was your dinner? Satisfactory. Thanks. (Alert: smaller tip on the way)

If I were younger, I could say “awesome” or “amazing” or “incredible” like the millennials. But at my age?

2

If I were older, I could say A-OK, super-duper or honky-dory, but only my assisted living roommates would get it.

I suppose I could say “delightful” or “splendid” or “lovely”, but those sound pretentious. How was dinner?  Delightful, my dear. Such a splendid trout almondine.

I could also say “fantastic”, “fabulous*”, “terrific” or “marvelous” but those are considerably more bullish sounding than the word great, so I’d have to be in a really, really great mood to use one of them. (There I go again).

*This blog site is called Fabulous over 60. Great over 60 would have sounded a lot less fabulous, don’t you think?

I’m obviously not alone in my overuse of the word “great”.  

In a column by Asheville Citizen-Times columnist Nancy Williams called Surviving the Other Party’s Convention, she writes about a competition she had with her sister during both presidential conventions this year:

Competition. We play Exer-jargon, a game we made up where we each pick a word for the other sister, who has to do a sit-up every time the word is said. Couldn’t be a proper noun. I picked “country.” She picked “great.” I didn’t keep count of who did how many sit-ups, but I’m telling you politicians need some synonyms for great. It’s overused. I just stayed on the floor and waited. I got several double-whammies for things and people who are great, great whatevers.

Exer-jargon sounds like fun. Certainly a lot more fun than watching the conventions.

I searched the internet for lists of the most overused words. To my surprise, great was NOT on any of them, but awesome and amazing and incredible were. Take that, millennials!

By the way, some of the most overused words on recent lists were:

Literally

Seriously

Absolutely

Basically

Really

And…

Whatever!

3

I seriously would never use the word whatever, but I absolutely use the others a lot. Really!

So, even though it didn’t make the overused words lists, is it a great idea for me to be so greatly dependant on one single word to describe a great dinner, a great conversation, a great day or a great golf game?

Or is there a great alternative?  Help!

Cathy

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.

156618653

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.

t5653_TGIF_ThisGrandma_AQUA_BLK__66827.1429304359.1280.1280

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.

347852

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

Secrets to Staying Cool and Fabulous This Summer

I never liked the summer as much as the school year. As a little girl who loved school and often found it more comforting than home, “summer fun”: soda, hot dogs, backyard barbecues and fire flies plus the whole experience of being hot and sticky while chubby – ruled out summer as my favorite season.  Going to the beach with 15 or so relative’s post Sunday Mass was another long day of sand and heat to me – never got into the supposed joy of sunbathing, but did like walking on the beach by myself – and still do.  I plan to do that next month when we are at the beach.

7d8bc4db12846a298480699131014749

Now, at 66, my summers are as close to childhood summers as one can get.  My part time work continues but slows, we travel a great deal, and there is more heat, downtime, and “summer fun” activities especially when I am closer geographically to my granddaughters.  Then of course this year we have the “election stuff” – which most of us are finding sad, aggravating if not frightening.  Am finding it tougher to look and feel fabulous in the heat of this tense summer, so I have managed to find a few secrets to “staying cool” to share.

  • Think about basics! We over-60s look good in basics. Wear simple sleeveless or short-sleeved dresses and sandals or flats that have a bit of style without too much glitz.  Glitz is getting very old isn’t it?  Light is the feeling of summer – too much glitz on the shoes, one’s top and/or nails looks HOT – and you know I don’t mean SEXY HOT just plain hot.
  • Take less with you – anywhere and everywhere. Once again promise to buy or just keep the very few things that look truly sensational on you and skip everything else.  That leaves 3 or 4 outfits. Limit technology to those you LOVE and MUST have and limit social media to MUSTS – consider dumping the rest. Get a tote bag that is classy and smart – and use it. Dump dump dump or tidy as we now say.
  • Act with positive intention. Who cares, much less benefits, surrounded by people acting like they are on a reality show except people who are too dumb to know better?  Successful, fabulous people are open and authentic, but also self-regulated and in control.  They are too busy learning and doing something about issues (even in summer) that matter rather than blabbing about the idiots/liars/you name the insult about those they do not agree with or they are NOT voting for.
  • Take the fabulous summer pledge. “All people are worthy of respect (repeat till believed). My job this summer as a fabulous woman is making sure everyone understands what that means by my consistent modeling of respectful behavior.”   Go out of your way to be someone who is utterly charming to be around. Sounds a bit old fashioned, but nothing is more modern and fresh than a sophisticated strong confident woman who asks questions, listens to other’s needs or who can tell a fun rather than vicious story.  Moods are contagious – take responsibility to keep things positive.
  • Be quieter. Let’s bring some hushed voices back.  The other night an otherwise potentially fabulous woman wasn’t when she spent the dinner talking and laughing so loudly I wondered if it were her first night out in over a year and she felt she needed to be heard.  While “be a lady” is dead as a concept, with overtones of “ladies (like children) should be seen and not heard” which of course should be dead; doesn’t mean there is not a grain of truth.  Modulation is seriously underrated – aren’t we all sick to death of ‘LOUD’??
  • Get reading! And make it grown-up, interesting and challenging. Remember reading lists over summer breaks? Bring that back – do some browsing online or in an actual bookstore, and read some books worth your valuable time.  Let your family and friends make note of it – not to impress – but to casually hint that they might want to spend time reading something valuable.  Staying cool reading something deeply interesting while sipping something cool – now that is summer heaven.

Here’s two links to the NY Times summer reading list, and Oprah’s suggestions.

  • Finally, try gaining some different perspective. The world is so harsh right now – make room this summer to do something you rarely do with the intention of getting a new or different take on some minor aspect of life.  Stop taking yourself so seriously.  Today I did something – DIFFERENT.  I went to a Laundromat – something I haven’t done in 40 years.  Long story short, the rental I am in doesn’t have a washer/dryer and rather than just pay someone to do my laundry I decided to do it myself and maybe get a new insight.  It was fun actually – and easier than it was 40 years ago.  Met some relaxed and open people including the manager of the place who I had a few laughs with “woman to woman”. And it did give me a fresh perspective.  Think I learned you can go to a laundromat and still be fabulous – all about the way you look at things and how open you are to the good that happens when your nose isn’t up in the air.

person-looking-searching-clean

Let’s take a deep breath everyone and think COOL!

Patty

Are Road Trips Worse Than They Used To Be … Or Is My Age Showing?

I’ll admit that I’ve never liked road trips. I remember several long six-hour summertime drives from Cincinnati, Ohio to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in the 50’s and 60’s with my dad, mom, sister and brother in our non air-conditioned car.  There was also one horrendous 20 hour drive to Hollywood, Florida that no one in our family ever discussed again.1

These trips were definitely not relaxing, although I assume that is what my dad and mom had in mind as we were pulling out of our driveway.

My own feeling about these road trip vacations was that eating greasy fried food in Gatlinburg or getting sunburned and insect-bitten on the beach in Florida wasn’t worth my car sickness, my dad’s irritability, or putting up with my annoying baby brother. And counting the number of cows on my side of the road was the most boring game on the planet.

Lately, since our semi-retirement, my husband and I have been taking road trips of several hours from Asheville to places like Charleston, Charlotte, Cincinnati and Nashville as well as a few 12 hour drives to Florida and one three day drive to Maine.  I therefore consider myself an expert on road-tripping.

Here are just some of my recent observations:

Bathrooms:

This one comes to mind first since it is first and foremost on my mind on road trips. To put it bluntly, I’m over 60, I’m a woman and I have to pee a lot. The good news is that, unlike the old days when dad was driving and couldn’t find anywhere to take his whiny kids, there are usually many options – and most of them are relatively clean. Fast food restaurants, rest stops, gas stations and convenience stores abound on the highways and byways of our nation.*

*This is NOT true when traveling on mountainous stretches of highways in Tennessee and the Carolinas. Be warned, over-60 travelers!

2

The bad news is that there are some very weird people at these stops, as well as crabby children, surly clerks and lots of tempting stuff to drink and eat which perpetuates the need to make another stop further up the road, creating a vicious cycle.

Food:

In my normal (non road-tripping) life, I rarely eat stuff as bad as what I eat on the road. McDonalds hamburgers and fries are the fastest way to eat and stay on my husband’s schedule*, Waffle House eggs and pancakes make a quick late morning meal, and trail mixes (the ones with candy included for energy, of course) are easy to pick up on bathroom breaks along with my large Diet Coke and Ray’s ice.** I’ve even been known to indulge in a Dunkin Donuts glazed donut when I’m especially hungry in the morning which, for some reason, is true of most mornings on road trips.

3

These are not good choices, I know, but I can somehow justify it more easily when I’m a bored passenger on a long trip. (See next category)

*We really don’t need to stay on schedule. However, Ray is very happy when we get to our destination a few minutes early. It apparently proves his superior driving abilities.

** Ray chomps on ice to stay alert during our trips.  If any of you have husbands who do this as well, my condolences. The only good news is that he has to stop for bathroom breaks too. I sometimes play a silent little game called “who’s going to say ‘let’s stop’ first”. I hold out as long as I can.

Boredom:

My husband does most of the driving. He says that he likes to drive. What he means is that he doesn’t like me to drive since we might travel 2 miles per hour slower and get to our destination a few minutes later than planned. I am not one of those people who can sleep in a car, and reading doesn’t work for me either. Since my husband and I spend a lot of time together these days, there isn’t a lot we need to talk about except where we want to stop for lunch. I don’t have anything else to do but read billboards, so I have a lot of suggestions. As I wait for the next food or bathroom stop, I watch fields and towns fly by while checking the Jeep’s GPS dashboard every few minutes to see how many more hours and minutes remain in our trip. When the mileage dips below 400 and then 350, 300, 250, etc, I get really excited about our progress. Yes, I realize that’s a sad comment.

4

Trucks:

I remember liking big trucks when I was a kid. My dad would often cruise behind one of them so that he wouldn’t get a speeding ticket. “Those guys have CB radios and know where the cops are.” he’d say. My dorky younger brother would even pump his arm out of the car window and the truckers would honk at us.

These days, I don’t view truckers as my friends. For one thing, there are just too many trucks on the highways, they go very fast, and they seem a lot bigger than they used to. Since we are often wending our way through mountains, these huge trucks can be extremely intimidating. They barely fit on their side of the road, which I’d often like to remind them is the right-hand lane.  I find myself closing my eyes and praying as our car squeaks through a small opening between a concrete barrier on the left and a monstrous rig on the right.

5

By the way, I think it’s great when trucks have to pull into the weigh stations. Briefly, so very briefly, there are only cars around us on the highway. Enjoy your stop, guys!

I could go on and on sharing other brilliant observations about road trips since I haven’t even touched on road repair delays, traveling with our dog or overnight stays in high-churn, low-comfort highway hotels. However, I’m getting anxious just thinking about our next trip to Blowing Rock, NC this month.  It’s only 2 ½ hours away, but we’ll be traveling on mountainous roads and I’m already worried about bathroom options.

I wonder if I’ll be able to get a glazed donut on the way.

Cathy Green

%d bloggers like this: