Self-reflection

Why My 45th College Reunion Became My Best Ever

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I have always been a reunion-goer – but selectively.  My extroverted personality style and history as class president/organizer for various events in high school and college both, made me the typical and expected attendee, and naturally, contributor to both schools.  It’s been weeks since I am back from my 45th reunion at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN and I am, at last, satisfied with my reaction to this reunion, that which being my most gratifying.

First, let me mention a few other “facts” of my school and reunion history:

  1. I have attended most reunions at my Catholic, all female high school and college every 5 years since graduation in 1967 and 1971 even though I kept going to various graduate schools, and had left the Catholic Church.
  2. Though I earned an MA from NYU, MBA from Fordham and Ed.D from Columbia – a New York trifecta that I am enormously proud of, no reunion except one at Columbia, once, have gotten me to revisit the old school buildings/connections where I labored and learned for decades.

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High school and then its extension: college – were part of my foundation, my grounding. Those, the core values I developed: values of caring about others, working hard to achieve, being self-disciplined and clear about my responsibility to myself, family and others were Catholic in the broadest sense of the word.  They were also places that friendship and connections played a deep part.  There was learning not just about history and math, but also what it means to be a good person, a citizen, a friend and a leader. Going to reunions at these institutions just made sense to me because I wanted to reconnect and see how my classmates had fared, and get some support for the life choices I was making.  That just seemed like the graduation “contract” I made with these classmates and schools.

Conversely, I expected all of my graduate school education to make me a better professional and hone my knowledge and know-how in my field.  I didn’t see them as places that molded my core values. Of course now, in retrospect, they enormously affected my values — reinforcing them from a humanistic perspective and did serve as places of wonderful relationships and connections.  Because I didn’t see the experiences in this light, reunions did not seem as necessary.  I am beginning to rethink that.

It struck me driving into South Bend, IN a few weeks ago, that it really did not make sense that I attended college in the middle of a cow field.  Not that that is necessarily a bad thing – and SMC was/is a very good solid liberal arts college and such a peaceful setting could launch solid self-reflection and deep thinking.  But still – really?  The truth is, I always felt that the SMC decision was not the best for me – it was good, just not great.

Lake Marion at St. Mary's College

Lake Marion at St. Mary’s College

By the end of high school, my emerging self wanted to go to Wellesley (something bigger, brighter and shinier) – Hillary would have been there as a junior when I started.  She is busy, I hear, so likely she doesn’t miss that huge lost opportunity to be my good friend.  But I did – at least in my fantasies.  And there is the nub of it all – expectations not met causing me to miss the good that came instead.  I realized on this reunion trip, I had always held a little “grudge” against SMC for not being Wellesley.  Which is like resenting Bob your devoted husband because you “should have” married John – your fabulous perfect first love (yeah, right) that dumped you “causing” you to settle and marry OK Bob.

Me with classmates Kerry and Maureen at the reunion

Me with classmates Kerry and Maureen at the reunion

Making a very long story very short, it now appears to me that I never really got comfortable with all the good that I got from St. Mary’s…until this last reunion. While not my dream school, it was an institution filled with strong women leaders (mainly nuns at that time) struggling like all institutions then with dramatically confusing and changing times. SMC was trying to educate us for a world no one really understood – but convinced that with core values of service, giving of ourselves, discipline, hard work and just finishing, we would have what we needed to survive and hopefully thrive no matter what we did.

I realized, facilitating a session on “loss and moving forward” and sharing that platform with a wonderful former classmate, newly widowed, successful executive turned master healer was this: whatever it was or wasn’t, SMC helped support our budding adulthood.  And, the women who went there were smart and thoughtful despite the sexism of the time.  They, like SMC, did the best they could at the time and have continued to grow.

Patty and Cathy

Patty and Cathy

In the decades since, we took our freedom as it became more available, and became women likely SMC and our parents never expected.  I know for sure SMC is trying to make sure they keep doing a great job of supporting women who matter.  Wish I could tell them exactly what the formula is.  Clearly, they were mostly on the right track, even when some of us didn’t know it, couldn’t get it, or hadn’t figured out yet that college, like the rest of life, is mainly what you make of it.  No college, job, love, or unique experience creates us, we create ourselves – and right now I think what we are creating is pretty fabulous.

Bottom line? Consider going back to reunions and focus on being grateful for what good you got from the experience. Forget the rest and any remaining drama – thankfully we are great at forgetting things so we have a head start.  Now to just being grateful – like everything fabulous, that’s hard.

Patty

 

Making New Friends Is Very Fabulous – Don’t Stop Doing It!

In October of 2012 I wrote a piece about making friends (link below).  It was a look back at how we USED to make friends in our youth – they were in our neighborhood, school, parent’s friendship circle – or we hit the bars or other typical youthful endeavor then filled with smoke.

Older now, we sometimes find ourselves pooped out by friendship.  Some “socializing” with old friends has gotten exhausting – some boring, some just a replay not a deepening of sharing.  Time for a friend shake up and shake out – we no longer have time for obligation friends – only friends of the heart, the soul, the common thread.  We need friends to stay grounded, to stay true to ourselves, but also to grow and experience new perspectives. So get the list out, cut the obvious by simply not reaching out to them – people are forgetting so much most won’t even miss you or care.  And start doing things you cherish with those that are left and you know are great ones.  Sprinkle your life with new friends too – the best ones meant to be will be fresh sources of love – doesn’t that sound exciting?

Here is the link to the older post: Making New Friends

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Patty

Who Says Fabulous Isn’t Jealous?

OMG, what more can I say?  I often feel this frightening thought each time I realize it is MY turn and not Cathy’s to write a new fabulous blog post.  It is especially hard when I write the week after one of her blogs hits another high point for our blog readership.  Yes, dear fabulousover60 readers, our most read blogs are written by Cathy Green, not Patty Gill Webber: just the facts.  Her last terrific success was Right On! Teenagers in the 1960’s had the Best Slang, which I loved as much as all the other readers so you don’t need to explain to me why it was so “hot”.

Please do not write to us saying that mine are just as good – while your kindness is appreciated, if readership is a judge, mine are not as universally welcomed.  However, I would suggest each of you that love MY blogs just get 100-1000 of your nearest and dearest women friends to read one of my blogs in the future. Maybe one that looks to have a better shot at fame since it is titled something like: “Why Trump’s Election didn’t shock fabulousover60 creators”; or, “Why women over 60—and not just fabulous ones have the nation’s best sex lives”.  The problem is, I never want to write things like that.  But that implies Cathy does write low life blogs like that which OF COURSE she DOES NOT. Being jealous makes you look and actually become a bit of an ass.

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OK, I admit it, I want what she has: the power to pick GREAT topics people care to read about.  I who consider myself rarely if EVER jealous of any other woman am feeling a tiny tiny bit of green when those numbers are reviewed.  So why not write about how it feels to be jealous of one of your dearest friends?  That is interesting – and, as I reflect upon it, potentially powerful, original, or even mysterious.  Millions of you have been waiting for a jealously blog.

Jealousy is a part of life – like taxes and insane politicians. So if I can share about my bout with jealousy, then maybe that will help you with your next bout with jealousy.

Here goes.  Well, speaking of petty, I feel plenty petty about resenting anything good that comes to another (especially Cathy).  I am a believer that life is very much an individual journey and that each of us has some good, bad and ugly – if not wildly great points, and sad as hell downers.  I also know life isn’t fair, life’s a game, transformation is possible and desirable and we all pretty much get what we give – just to name a few of my favorite clichés.  But being jealous?  That is just too base for me.  And if there is anything that is part and the heart of being fabulous it is this: do not be base and in the gutter about anything, don’t stoop to the lowest denominator—reach for the highest and best in yourself and others!

Blah blah blah –this “advise” about my being jealous is not helping you deal with yours is it?

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OK, here’s another way of looking at it.  Maybe if you have never been jealous, even a tiny bit, you aren’t being honest with yourself.   There are so many fabulous women  to be jealous of that being jealous actually makes sense: their hair, their accomplishments, their mega brains, their ability to rise above things, their bodies, their perpetual Zen state, their genius, their fame and/or fortune, their children, their car, their amazing partner, their saintliness, their honesty, their integrity, their clothes, their vacations, their health, their optimism, their plastic surgeon, or even their courage and willingness to give all they have to a meaningful and truly important cause. Come to think of it, it is amazing we aren’t all a great deal more jealous than we are.  And so that’s my gift to you – realize that if the biggest thing you do badly is feel slightly envious of someone you loves’ luck, energy, success or break in life, good for you – it is a minor thing really.

While I admit this piece is highly unlikely to win any awards, it was fun to write it and funnier still to realize how easy it is to stop being fabulous in any given moment.   I guess what I learned from this blog post is profoundly simple: it is harder to be good all the time – to be truly fabulous – than it looks. Especially when you do so many other things as perfectly as I do.  Cathy – it’s your turn!

Patty

Remembering What My Mom Taught Me

I had a pretty amazing mother.  If I think about what people most admire about me, or what I most admire about myself, the answer is clear.  My mother taught me the good stuff that people admire and those things I admire in myself.

My mom didn’t stop moving.  My sister Wendy and I laugh that we never saw her resting or taking a nap – something we both do regularly.   So clearly she didn’t teach us every good thing we now do.  But we both believe, she taught us our central values – to be loving, to be kind, to be a giver and to be a doer.

My mom worked when others mother’s didn’t.  She modeled being self-sufficient, motivated and focused on many important things, not just being our mommy. A strong work ethic and a drive to be successful in a meaningful way was the result of that.

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Patty’s Mom in the mid 1940s

My mom was older than other peoples’ moms – she had me at 40 in 1950 (slightly younger when Wendy was born) – considered highly risky if not down right disgusting from conventional wisdom of the time.  She worked into her 70s and was very lively and fully fabulous over 60 – some of her most productive years. Ditto us Gill girls.

My mom loved great food and great clothes.  Hard to have these two passions – one tends to make wearing the other tougher.  But somehow I do love pasta and wine even as I work like hell to keep myself in shape and wear great clothes – and not the same ones – my mom was fashionable for a long time and I picked up that drive to look stylish in a current way.

“But the greatest of these is love”. From first Corinthians, the Bible and my mother said it over and over. It stuck. If I have a choice of calling a sick friend, or finishing my new book; remembering someone’s birthday or having an early cocktail – it is my mother’s words and life that made me the women who makes the call, writes the note, or tries to be helpful and useful to others.

My mother drove me insane at times.  She wanted perfection in some ways I just could not accomplish.   She wanted standards adhered to that I came to see as ridiculous.  But I wouldn’t trade my Mom for anyone else’s.  She made me who I am—the kind woman who is still a bit compulsive.  And while not a biological mother myself, I do a good deal of mothering I think.  And any good I do, I owe to her legacy of thoughtfulness that helped me create my own version of being there for those I love.

I still miss her.  Not all the time of course.  But on Mother’s Day, I have to pause and remember how lucky I was in the “mommy lottery”.  Someone once told me my grandchildren had won the grandmother lottery getting me as one of their grandmothers.  I hope that is true, and if it is, I owe most of my great grandmothering skills to Magdalina Maria Manganiello or Mrs. Gill as she loved to be called.  I realize now at 66 I didn’t always appreciate her, and in some ways I feared her.  And, I never did get her feelings of certainty about all things.  My mom was different… and special.  I feel she made me, and Wendy, the same way. Thanks to my mom and to yours – they did a very fine job.

Patty

Right On! Teenagers in the 1960’s had the Best Slang

Being a teenager in the 60’s was really groovy!

Groovy was a way cooler word than “cool” or any other word meant to describe the best of the best.  Evolving from the word “grooves” in vinyl records, we even had groovy songs like:  “We’ve Got a Groovy Kind of Love” by The Mindbenders in 1965, “We’ve Got a Groovy Thing Goin’ by Simon and Garfunkel in 1965, and Groovin’” by The Young Rascals in ’67.

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Groovy may have been the best word, but here’s a walk down memory lane for all of us 60’s teens.

  • We told our friends to be there or be square. We got bummed out if things didn’t go our way.  We claimed dibs on things we wanted.
  • We dreamed about having our own pad and bread, didn’t like anyone who was a spaz, a dip-stick, a square, a candy-ass or a fink.
  • We knew some greasers with their slicked-back hair, and knew that there were some girls who were fast and might even go all the way.
  • We weren’t above a little making out and swapping spit at the drive-in Passion Pit, however, and even got to cop a feel once in a while if we were going steady.  An occasional hickey was kind of funky too.

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  • We would talk on the horn for hours with the twisted cord pulled taut around doors for privacy, especially about hunks or skirts or the skuzzy kids or ditzes we didn’t like.
  • We tooled around town and then peeled out of parking lots in our cars and sometimes did a Chinese fire drill at a red light just for fun.
  • We told our little brothers, who were a pain in the wazoo, to flake off and quit bugging us. We told our Old Lady and Old Man not to be so uptight or go ape or freak out.
  • Some of us were hippies and flower children, or at least wanted to be. We were laid back and snuck a toke once in a while. And sometimes we even got blitzed.

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  • If we were girls, we wore thongs on our feet and covered our zits with make-up.
  • If we were guys, we wore our shades while checking out the choicest girls to hit on.
  • Everything was cool or neat. Awesome things were bad. Incredible things were far out. Disgusting things were raunchy. Strange things were kooky. And anything we didn’t like was lame.
  • We spun our vinyls to listen to I’m a Believer, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In. Outta Sight, man!
  • We watched Bonanza, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke and What’s My Line on the boob tube, and were lucky enough to see the Fab Four on the Ed Sullivan Show.
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If you need a caption for this one you likely are a spaz

  • We didn’t take criticism well. Tough toenails if you didn’t like what we were doing. Go ahead and call the fuzz!
  • We greeted everyone with “what’s happenin” and waved “later” when we beat feet.
  • We bummed a smoke and told our friends to lay it on us when we wanted to hear the scoop.
  • We had a blast, we hung loose, we mellowed out, we complained about living in Nowheresville, we booked it when it was time to leave, we pigged out on fast food and we flipped the bird when we got insulted. It was a gas!

Yes, some of these great words and expressions snuck into the 60’s from the 50’s and even earlier, and some have carried on through later generations.

But in my humble 1960’s teenager opinion, we had the coolest and grooviest and hippest slang of all time.

If you agree, say Right On!

If you don’t, shut your face!

Cathy Green

P.S.   I used over 70 words/phrases in this blog. What’s really neato is that I could have used even more.  What a generation of creative wordsmiths we were! Groovy, huh?

Reconfirming what’s important in my 60’s: Sedona Reflections

I’m at the center of world – energy wise – I am literally in Sedona Arizona.  Sedona is home to the bright red and orange sandstone formations and many spiritual paths to inner (and outer) health, wellness, peace and balance.  For many years people have come here for inner renewal.

Of course I am having a privileged time (like most things in life, gaining peace and serenity and an awesome massage continues to get more expensive every year) with Bill and a couple of our special friends who with us are thrilled to be surrounded by the intense beauty and calm of this place.

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Sedona is fabulous.  There is no doubt about it.  Over 4 million people visit Sedona each year: 60% indicate it is for a spiritual experience.  That is all I need to know to make it fabulous.  If millions come here to find deeper calmness and roots, it is more than doing its role in helping humankind everywhere.  The newly calmed and centered people make the world a better place.  Many of you likely would like to reserve some calm and centered people for your church, club, synagogue, or canasta group.  You can’t help but leave Sedona with improved intentions about all that is good.  My guess is most of us slip quickly off the wagon of resolve – but we are, despite ourselves, still better than we were before our chance to grab this energy.

Yes, it belongs on your/my new Fabulousover60 List! (See below).  This is my name for a subset of the Bucket List (see movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson) that focuses on those experiences, ideas, people and places that seem musts for any fabulous woman over 60 who wants to keep the journey and being fabulous going.

This resolve to create a new FabulousOver60 List is increasing.  It is striking me weekly if not daily, that aging gracefully and being an internally/externally beautiful, good, centered, living in the present moment person is 100% harder than it sounds – and harder than ever to achieve as you age.  Here’s my solution: by creating a new list of places to go, books to read, reflections to have, joys to share, ideas and experiences that are just better as we age, it seems I will automatically feel better about all the work that continuing to be fabulous entails.

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Once I leave Sedona (tomorrow) my resolve to get the list going may fade.  But I don’t think so.  I have this crazy feeling, confirmed by a strong tingling vortex vibe I felt this morning on a hike, that we all owe each other a hand to keep feeling and being fabulous.  As the world spins, we need each other’s good energy and good ideas. We also need to work together to make sure as many of us who want to continue to be that beautiful centered caring and daring woman we continually dream and strive to be can be a wider reality for more women – not just those very privileged.

New List for staying FabulousOver60:

Entry one: Don’t quit caring about yourself in the special way we all deserve.

Entry two: Do quit all the things you know you need to quit – just stop it.

Entry three: Come to peace with losing things that inevitably come with age – but keep looking for new gems of wisdom and ways to have fun to support the continuing journey.

Entry four: Go to Sedona sometime – or at least look it up and think about it.

The list continues . . . just like we do.

Patty

Working Out At the Gym: Can You Guess What I Hate the Most?

This morning, my personal trainer, Chuck, told me that I had cat hair on my black workout pants. Sigh.  It reminded me that I wrote a blog in 2013 about what I hate most about working out. Here it is again!

Twice a week, I have breakfast, make my bed, get dressed in my exercise clothes and drive 10 minutes to a gym to work out with my personal trainer, Chuck. I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t exercise if I didn’t have someone waiting for me who had been paid to be there.

I work out with weights, ropes, bands, balls, a baseball bat (don’t ask) and, occasionally, boxing gloves. I groan (lots) and sweat (some) for about an hour… then Chuck makes me stretch my aching body so that I can walk to my car.

Do I work out to get thin? That would be nice, but there’s little chance of that happening at this point. No, I work out to stay as flexible as possible, to deal with impending over-60 balance issues, and to keep the flab under my arms from drooping so much that I can’t wear anything that doesn’t have long sleeves.

I definitely don’t work out for pleasure and I probably wouldn’t do it if there was a pharmaceutical alternative. However, I have to admit that I feel better about myself and have more energy when I work out than when I find excuses not to.

There are many things I don’t like about the experience, but what do I like the least?

  • Is it the drive to and from the gym?
  • Is it the aches and pains of calf raises?
  • Is it the 200th squat of the session?
  • Is it the tiresome trainer saying “just 3 more”?

No. All of these are on my top 10 list, but the thing that really bothers me the most are the mirrors.

All gyms have mirrors. They cover most walls. They are big and unavoidable.

Trainers will tell you that it’s important to have correct “form” to achieve maximum benefit from your exercises and that mirrors are the way to check your posture. I don’t believe it. Mirrors are for the trainers, body builders and 20 and 30 year old exercise fanatics to admire their sexy bodies in their body-hugging “fitness attire”.

Mirrors are definitely NOT for 60-something women who show up at the gym with baggy black t-shirts and wild hair pulled back in a scraggly ponytail. (While working out with Chuck, I am often shocked when I inadvertently glance in one of the mirrors – where did that old lady come from?)

I know what I’m talking about. I was a gym regular in my 20’s and 30’s (and even into my 40’s) and wore the latest, most fashionable and colorful gear I could find. Remember stretchy wrist bracelets, scrunch socks and head bands? Here’s Cher in the 80’s in case you don’t:

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In my younger years, I often checked out my exercise “form” … which really meant checking out my thin and toned body in my great new clothes. Mirrors were my friends.

Not anymore.

So, Chuck, please don’t tell me what the mirrors are for. I know what they are for and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. Point me toward a wall and earn your money by making sure I have the right “form”, OK?

Gyms are never going to take down the mirrors or provide curtains that can be pulled shut over them, so I guess I will just have to continue to “suck it up” (in more ways than one).

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Cathy Green

Time Ain’t No Beauty Specialist

This piece was submitted by guest blogger Ginny Callaway. Send us your story or short article and we’ll contact you if it works as a guest blog. Click here to share.

105 year old Aunt Zipora Rice from Sodom, North Carolina once said, “Time might be a great healer, but it ain’t no beauty specialist.”

That woman knew what she was talking about. As I march closer to the next era after our Fabulous 60s, that simple statement is proving truer by the minute.

Do you remember how we decorated for the prom with crepe paper? At seventeen, crepe paper was the sign of a good time. All the rich colors to choose from. We could twirl it and drape it from the bleachers to the stage, tie it in a bow to decorate the front of the punch bowl table and wrap it around the basketball poles, a simple camouflage.  Crepe paper could change a gymnasium into a magical, memory-making ballroom. If it got stretched out and lost its shape, you’d just throw it away and grab a new roll. Presto, a fresh start.

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Who knew crepe paper would eventually become part of our anatomy? Yeah, that ugly, crinkly-looking skin that has moved in and forced its taut, firm predecessor to vacate the premises. I’m talking about the triceps area, the inner thigh, the back of our hands and the most ubiquitous of all, the turkey neck.

 

Short of going under the knife, a fresh start is not a possibility. Even with firm, toned muscles hovering just below the surface, the crepe paper effect persists. Just wave at a friend and those “Hi, Helens”, those “you who’s,” that free-wheeling skin dangling from our triceps gives us away. So halter tops, cute sleeveless sun dresses and strapless evening gowns have found their way to the Goodwill. I now welcome turtlenecks, long sleeve tops and slightly longer shorts. So be it.

Time ain’t no beauty specialist when it comes to our faces, either.  When I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I’m startled. Who is that looking back? That’s not me. I’m twenty-two, thirty-four, forty-eight. My skin is firm and smooth, no divots between my brows or red and brown blotches. My eyes are clear and open without folded layers of skin on my lids that make me look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s first cousin. My smile is defined by pearly white teeth and full red lips, not deep-set grooves shaped like parentheses on each side and a string of quote marks curved across my upper lip.

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Who is that in the mirror?

Now I remember.

Each line was born.

I came by them honestly.

Those lines springing from the ends of my eyes are reminders of the hours of laughter shared with my sisters until tears covered our cheeks and our sides hurt.

From squinting in the sunlight as the catamaran skimmed across the incredible blues and greens of the Caribbean Sea.

The parallel trenches engraved across my forehead are reminders of the fear I felt the Halloween night a sheriff’s car pulled into our driveway at 2:30 in the morning. Was our son okay?

The fear I felt the night I heard an enormous explosion in the direction of the airport just as my husband’s plane was scheduled to land. Was David okay?

The grooves bordering my mouth like a set of large-text parentheses are reminders of the years my mouth forgot how to smile. When grief pulled down every inch of my face, of my being, like a boulder around my neck. My daughter was not okay.

Yes, time has a split personality. It can heal and it can leave its footprints. Aunt Zip had it partially right. Time can also create a unique beauty that only years of living to the fullest can polish. When a friend says, “you look terrific,” I don’t say something to diminish or qualify that statement. I say “thank you” and let myself feel beautiful.

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105 year-old Aunt Zip

I sometimes wonder about the clothes I relinquished to Goodwill. Hopefully a young girl is enjoying them. Maybe someone getting ready for the prom.

Ginny

Chuckling in San Diego

Bill and I were in San Diego the week of February 28th getting a needed break from the desert of Tucson. There really is nothing quite like the ocean, and walking on its sandy shore to revive one’s spirits and to listen and hear divine advice from above (whatever or whoever you think is up there!). The air, the crash of the waves, the hope – it always inspires, soothes, and revives my soul.

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We stayed at a lovely resort that was hosting several business conferences. Seeing all those eager, focused, certain, fast walking/talking men and women with name tags and meetings/parties to get to brought memories of my career adventures. As a former conference speaker and attendee/participant it brought back the pressure, planning and intensity that went with those many meetings of the 80s, 90s and first decade of the 2000s. The first thing that hit me was how I couldn’t really remember much I ever said, or heard – but I was at the same time certain it was important and meaningful. Chuckle number one: great memories of just doing and being somewhere is enough – the words while agonized over, were likely the least important part of the program anyway.

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I dress for dinner – always have, always will. Unless home alone or literally at a picnic or barbecue, when the sun sets and it’s time for dinner, I put on makeup (or freshen what’s on) and put on “something nicer”. Given my age and that I grew up in New York, that generally means a black something – pants, top, dress, skirt, scarf, wrap of some sort – some heels and often earrings, necklace or a bracelet – and when I remember, perfume. Big bag gets turned in for smaller one.

I have come to realize, confirmed on this trip and dozens of others in the last few years, that this effort and approach to dining is not just a little old-fashioned, it is nearly completely absent from dining. Whether highbrow, expensive and sleek, or down home, family friendly and loud – few people seem to want to, or like to dine.

So what’s the chuckle? People actually look a little strangely at you when you arrive at a restaurant, or seem to be off for the evening. The look says: who are those people and where are they going? As if you couldn’t be this “dressed up” (a truly ancient concept) and just going to eat something and be with your phone. Why would you bother? It’s just un-American. I find this a huge chuckle – and OK with me. This is one life strategy I am not going to completely give up – if that labels me old and out of it, so be it.

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Finally, the real chuckle of the trip: being asked by traveling business people from Canada if they should be scared that Donald Trump might be President. We were asked this at least 10 times – it was a big Canadian conference. We found it funny that anyone cared, found it funny that these well-read people were this worried, and funny and sad that we were having to defend our pathetic-looking Presidential race. We assured them it couldn’t happen.

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Then we got up each day and saw/read the news and thought: Is any of this really that funny anymore? Not just that we have become such an odd country politically, but that we don’t even care enough to look great anymore as we compete more aggressively in the global marketplace. We sort of chuckled. This isn’t going to keep going this way is it? Or, is it? Let’s make America at least a place we are proud to be from. I think the election will put us there again – and women and men are going to dress beautifully for the inaugural ball. That gives me hope – lots of it. Next thing you know people might dress for dinner.

Patty

 

 

I’m Binge-Watching Again. Am I Addicted?

I just completed Season 5 of Nurse Jackie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a seven season TV series originally aired on Showtime from 2009 to 2015. Jackie is an ER nurse in New York City who is addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. I stream it from Netflix on my iPad or computer, or even on a TV when Ray isn’t around. I have 10 more episodes to go.

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I didn’t watch the show when it was airing in real time. I read a review calling it a great series for online streaming, and liked the fact that it had a real (somewhat controversial) ending. I estimate that it has taken me a couple of months to get through five seasons. I’ve interspersed something else in the mix from time to time … an Amazon original series called Mozart in the Jungle. Interesting, but it hasn’t hooked me like Nurse Jackie.

Which is the point of this blog post.

I’m hooked – on the characters and on the story line. It is funny and not so funny at the same time. There are serious life and death moments, comic relief in the form of several doctors, nurses and patients, family problems, teenage angst, sex, friendship and weird ER emergencies.

I admit it. I want to see what happens to drug addict Jackie. Does this make me an addict, too?

I should confess that Nurse Jackie is not my first binge. (Does that sound like I’m in a 12 step program?). My very first was The West Wing. I watched all seven seasons over several months and had a great time. I had always liked the show when it aired from 1999 to 2006, but I was busy with work and travel and didn’t get to see it often. There weren’t any recording options back in those ancient times, remember?

I thoroughly enjoyed working my way through the series and still think it’s one of the best ever produced on TV.

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And then there was The Good Wife, which was a great binge option. I watched 6 seasons and am waiting for the seventh to hit Amazon streaming.

I’ve watched Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Doc Martin, all of which have additional episodes coming soon. I couldn’t get into Breaking Bad (too violent), but I’m investigating a couple of others right now so that I’m ready when Nurse Jackie ends.

By the way, there is some controversy about what constitutes “binge-watching.” Some say that watching two episodes or more at a time is bingeing. Others say that at least 4 episodes in a row is the magic number.

I think if you’re intently following a series and watch it at least a few times a week, you can probably be accused of bingeing. Mea culpa.

But am I a full-fledged addict?

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There is a fairly common theme running through the articles and blogs about TV series bingeing. They say that it can interfere with real life, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. It can cut down on time with friends or family, isolate you from others, interfere with work productivity and generate feelings of guilt.

And, although it probably doesn’t lead to depression, it can be one of the warning signs.

I’m not depressed, and bingeing doesn’t seem to be keeping me from doing other things like spending time with Ray, playing golf, going out with friends or writing blogs. So, I don’t think I’m addicted – but of course, that’s what Nurse Jackie says!

I do, however, have one big guilt trip hanging over me related to my new habit.

I am reading fewer books.

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I have always loved to read, especially fiction and biographies. Right now, I’m reading one of each, but it is taking me longer to finish them because of Netflix and Amazon.

Video bingeing is kind of seductive, but I definitely want to continue reading. Any suggestions, fabulous readers?

Cathy

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