Self-reflection

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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