Self-reflection

Loss, Fabulous Style

Turn around and there is news of loss: Carol’s husband has been diagnosed with cancer, Mary Jane’s mom passed away at 97 after a year in and out of hospice. Or we get a diagnosis of one or another of the chronic health challenges like losing one’s hearing, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, foot aches and pains and often worse. Thankfully we are on average healthier at our age than previous generations, but we are not forever young. We are starting to wear out too, despite being committed to regular exercise and eating right. Fabulous women are if nothing else, committed to healthy living and moderation in all things. But even though we are often practicing yoga in record numbers – loss is just a more frequent development in our lives and is testing our ability to stay fabulous.

Is there a fabulous way to deal with loss? How do you still care about things like looking your best, keeping up with old friends, sharing fun events political or spiritual with folks you agree with, spending time with grandchildren or keeping up with work commitments? All that and STILL keep balanced in the face of loss which is not just appearing more frequently, but turning out to be more serious than ever?

A few weeks ago I heard some personal loss news that threw me. The day after I heard it, I was in Phoenix supposedly having a fun “mini vacation”. While looking at art, a wave of sadness hit me and I sat down on a bench in the middle of the art walk area and started to cry – and worse, did the sniveling thing – nose running and grabbing for tissues that I didn’t have. Why fabulous sisters is “having tissues at all times” on our list of must haves – and yet when we really need them we changed bags and do not have any? But I digress. Thankfully my wails took place in Phoenix (only partially kidding here) – which has enough shallow people that seeing a grown woman cry can be chalked up to a bad hair day or manicure gone wrong. Certainly no one stopped to comfort me (thank God).

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As quickly as I started wailing, I stopped wailing and went back to being semi-pulled together. But I kept thinking about how I was handling the latest in a line of losses in my life. Could I handle them more “fabulously”? Should I call lots of friends to discuss what’s up? Or perhaps sit with my news, and then integrate it into my life before telling others as time, occasion, or desire arose? How should I accept the loss into my life and proceed to place it in the right framework while maintaining and also moving forward? How do I make sure that I am not defined by any given single loss or new life condition?

Here’s some of what I am still learning about navigating loss while staying fabulous:

  • Once again less is more. Sharing in moderation over time rather than having a phonathon soon after hearing some hard news makes more sense. Re-telling a sad tale multiple times in one day doesn’t help the process of regaining balance.
  • Expect little from those you tell your troubles to. Not because they do not love you – or do not wish they could wave the fairy wand and make it go away, but because you respect that everyone is in the same boat – and maybe, MORE so. Your friend’s, family member’s boat may be sinking faster than yours and you just weren’t aware.
  • Tell people clearly you don’t expect more than an open heart and ear – but really appreciate their listening – and praying for you, or thinking of you and sending good vibrations in the universe as fits THEIR style and/or faith.
  • Treat yourself “like a princess” at least once a day especially in tough times – and know this is the best thing you can do for everyone. The better you take care of yourself, the better you manage your emotions, the better you heal yourself, the more those you love will be able to give you the love you need.
  • Being too needy is an absolute turn off in 2016. It always has been dreaded – but now, people can block and defriend you and otherwise keep you away in semi dramatic fashion. Which because there is so much over-communicating can seem more hurtful than it really is. Check excessive neediness at the door.

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Didn’t we always agree being fabulousover60 was hard work – not only often expensive? If you ever doubted that, think about sharing some tough news that just came your way – are you wailing or rejecting your fate, or comforting yourself? Sharing with the right friends and family; or, spilling your sad tales on any who will listen or pretend to? Fabulous is as fabulous does. Fabulous adult friendship isn’t about sharing bad news with others and expecting an audience who is sympathetic and totally supportive of you being in a heap. Rather it is being empathetic and also helping one another see light in our darkest hours, and supporting our own and our friends’ moves toward composure, peace, calm, positive action and self-responsibility.

Thanks to my close friends who were fabulous helping me deal with loss. Oh, and don’t anyone skip your manicure – it is medicine for you in your loss, and helpful to those who love you and want nothing more than for you to be as OK as you can be – given all of our inevitable losses.

Patty

Caveat: I am not a Luddite – but for all of you who share life, death, accidents, work travails, and other personal issues via social media, I don’t want to judge, but NO WAY for me. Putting out a loss on social media doesn’t quite seem fabulous to me. I find it too public, not serious while too narcissistic or dramatic, and too detached for me to share loss without direct conversation. Sharing tough news one to one implies that the hearer is special to us and considered part of our true circle of intimates. To me, honoring is a core feature of being and acting fabulous.

The exception is using a way to share information about someone ill who has an enormous network of family, friends, colleagues or classmates which makes sharing one to one impractical. This can and is done through online services designed to making the sharing appropriate and confidential to those needing to be “in the loop”.

The Best Gift in the World to Give (and Get)!!

I’m taking a break from the holidays to think about what I want to say to you our fabulous sisters – women everywhere who are in the their 60s and are celebrating (or not) a religious holiday and/or 2015’s passing and 2016’s start. new-year-images-2016-4[1]

Message one: you are perfectly wonderful.  Just keep reminding yourself of that and as calls, emails, messages, cards, or a blazing LACK of some arrive in the coming end of the year, rejoice!  You got and will get just what you were meant to – and you are happy, content and free of any criticism.  No one was in touch?  Well they were thinking of you but their life got so crazy they just didn’t get around to writing cards.  Their not sending you a card has nothing to do with you. You got emails instead of cards?  Well hey, someone who lives in one of those parallel universes to yours stopped his or her schedule for two seconds to send you a message. Many folks got less.

Message two: At this time, you should not share anything with anyone that isn’t full of joy, gratitude and appreciation for whatever small crumbs or huge diamonds came your way this past year.  Don’t bitch and don’t brag.  Getting a new dog, car, or taking a trip? Keep it to yourself unless someone pulls it out of you because they truly love you that much that your happiness honestly makes them happy (trust me this is a VERY VERY small group). Having the worst holiday of your life? Just take a deep breath and let it pass.  Or get a dog. Always great to have a dog to talk to – they just get it.

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Stop sharing unless you can say with certainty that the person you are talking to will be enormously happier after you share.  You will not tell anyone about even any minor complaints or problems you have.  You will save them up in a box that is imaginary and put that box in your deepest messiest closet.  You will never find it since by the time you start looking much more will have happened and you are not going to share any of that nonsense either.

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Message three: we are all exhausted.  I have a feeling you are just about out of gas on 2015 – maybe completely out of gas. The country, if not the world, is exhausted.  Whether traveling or staying home, grab the comfy PJ’s, the cup of tea and get ready for serious down time and some TLC – for both yourself and others.

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This is where I share the secret.  What is the absolute best gift to give anyone you love truly and absolutely unconditionally?  This gift will also be the most superb one you will get from anyone you love truly and absolutely unconditionally.

TADA – It is taking care of yourself, your mind, your physical health, your life.  Make your life the absolute best it can be – and give that health and happiness in a package that says on the card:  “Thanks sis/brother/niece/nephew – am feeling great this year – all is well and I want to thank you for all the help and support you gave me to make things this great for me”.  OR, “Merry Christmas Karen, I stopped drinking – thanks for caring.”  OR, “Happy new year Harry – I am going back to school to finish my degree – appreciate all the support you gave to help me make that decision.”  Or even this: “Happy holidays – my gift to you is six months of not complaining about anything”.  TRUST me, your family will LOVE IT.  When we care about ourselves we give the best gift – the gift of not worrying our family and our friends.  People do love us – and what they want is our health and happiness.  Give it to them.

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Then, come New Year’s you can share your resolutions that really press their happiness button — all of them are things that will make you a happy, healthy, peaceful, calm person who won’t be worrying any of them about anything.  Less worry equals more happiness and peace of mind.

AH… that feels good doesn’t it??

Patty

More Fabulous Holiday Traditions

Cathy got me thinking about getting into a great mood for Christmas with her reminder to love “what is” versus what should/could/won’t or otherwise can’t be for the holidays. Deciding to love “what is” this season and reminding ourselves of what we are most thankful for is the first holiday decision worth making.

Here’s a few more fabulous ideas that I am planning on doing . . .

  • Remembering my elderly Aunt and Uncle (95 and 100), a dear friend who had serious cancer surgery, another who lost her husband, and even the woman who years ago took care of my aging parents before they died back in 2003 are first on my list of doing and/or/getting something for.
  • Calling at least 5 people this month that I typically do not and surprise them with time on the phone to catch up and share. Rather than a card, these are people who I just didn’t have time for this year but deserve my time and attention – especially if I hope to keep them in my circle of friends. Just got a surprise call myself and loved it – and interestingly it was from a fabulous guy over 60!
  • Keep reading the New York Times every day and skipping watching any news on devices – that is on TV or computer or on my phone. When you can’t sleep thinking one of the people you watched on a debate will be our next president, don’t blame me – I will be sleeping thinking that the universe/God/someone will create an election result that makes sense. None of these people will be under my skin or in my brain because I refuse to watch them!
  • Keep writing notes and cards through the 31st of the month if need be – a few a day. And again, say something to people: share one thing I’ve/we’ve learned or experienced (like emptying our house and changing home base), wish them well on something they had happen. I figure a personal note will mean more even if late than the perfect photo card on time.
  • Look fresh, put together and festive when I can this holiday every time I leave my home. Few here in Tucson are listening to me on this one. This is our new home base. I think many women here post 60 don’t even think about how they look and appear to others. No one will convince me that how you look and present yourself does not matter. It does if you want to be fabulous.

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  • Give generously to anyone homeless, or looking distressed. I want to smile, and act like we are participating in this world and are responsible for it. Because we are.

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  • Giving myself a special, unique and fabulous gift. I have decided that my gift to me is to treat myself with the same love and kindness I treat others with – that is going to be hard for me. Just being me for so long has made me a bit compulsive and other directed – those that know me, including Cathy are now saying “a bit?????”
  • Am going to support every one of you fabulous women who have the same or an entirely different list, or just aren’t sure yet what being fabulous means to you this holiday season.

Being fabulous is actually getting clearer to me. It remains – like the success, lessons learned or achievements of our pasts – something that takes work, commitment and a sense of purpose and direction. Nothing comes easy – in fact, I am finding the older I get (66 this January) the harder it is to be fabulous. But that gives me/us something to strive for: to look as fresh and sharp as we can, to keep being kind – not giving up on ourselves or others because we have our shortcomings physically and mentally.

Happy fabulous Christmas/holiday/season of joy. Thanks for supporting me/us in being fabulous. Cathy and I appreciate it and consider it a gift of motivation from all of you. Our gift to you is to keep writing. Ideas always welcomed this holiday or any day.

Patty

 

Holiday Revelation – Who Knew?

Can we believe Thanksgiving has come and gone? Went to the dentist yesterday and their tree and various holiday decorations were everywhere. And yes, we have already gotten two “holiday letters” – both from sweet wonderful families who knew enough to keep the details brief and the photos beautiful. Please take their modeling if you are so moved to write such a year-end letter.

Many of us describe Thanksgiving as our favorite holiday. Fabulous people know well how much they have to be grateful for even if the world with ISIS and various other disturbances (don’t worry, I won’t even mention politics and the 2016 election) has become more frightening. Just read the quick summary of climate change – a short guide for those that have missed what’s been happening and thought: OMG, of course I knew about climate change – but I really didn’t KNOW IT.

That “lack of really knowing” has been a theme for me so far this holiday season. Sadly, I (in a not so fabulous way) have started to do the “older person discussion shuffle” – that dreaded description of “the young” as “having no idea about blah blah blah”. Blah blah blah being whatever we went through when we were their age – this of course being completely reedited for prime time.

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While of course we won’t repeat our parent’s favorite litany of the great depression (1929 not 2008) or talk about WWII (the big one); some of us are starting to recap our early feminist battles or our being the first/fifth this or that woman who did whatever. We got so sick of hearing about the great depression we dismissed its lessons. We were all pretty sorry we did that when 2008 came around. Let’s not tell our adult children or our grandchildren we did this, that and the other wonderful thing because they might do what we mostly did: ignore the real important messages. Talking too frequently leads to deaf ears.

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Continuing this theme of not really knowing I/we saw several movies over the Thanksgiving holiday – both about things I thought I knew all about. Spotlight (trailer below), about the child molestation scandal in the Catholic Church in Boston; and Trumbo (trailer also below), about people being black listed in Hollywood back in the day when fear of communism was racing across America. Being a history bluff I wondered if either were worth seeing – what of course drew me/us in were the amazing casts in both films, and of course the out of this world reviews.

In both cases I realized I had about 20% of the story. Remember Hedda Hopper? Now we were a little young to read Hedda Hopper’s columns but most of us vaguely remembered those hats she was famous for. Well hold on to your hat when you see and experience Helen Mirren’s portrayal of her in Trumbo. She was essentially, absolutely NOT fabulous – despite those amazing hats. Won’t say more – don’t want to spoil it for you.

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Watching the “action” in Spotlight is electrifying – and reminiscent of our work days pre-technology. Old fashioned researching, digging, and reporting reminds us all that whether you are a media/newspaper fan or not, we absolutely need investigative reporting in this fabulous (but flawed – kind of like us no??) country of ours. Of course we still have it. Many of us are aware of how the video of the shooting death in Chicago a year ago was brought to light – by yes, investigative, newspaper journalism.

So we don’t know lots. Even personally – my sister told me a story about she and her late husband that shook me up a little (my lips are sealed). Thought I knew… clearly I didn’t.

So it’s the holidays. Let’s try to stay fabulous by not being so damn sure we know it all about everything from decorations to family recipes. Let’s listen more than talk, go to the movies and learn something, and throw ourselves into the season promising to do new, fun, different AND traditional things. Be fabulous enough not to need to remind people of how you got so fabulous. Actually it doesn’t matter anymore – fabulous is having high integrity and being our best in the NOW. So happy holiday season fabulous sisters – keep up your own good work.

Patty

Are You Surprising Enough People?

My niece, her husband and family just left after a terrific family trip here in Tucson.

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A few things my niece Kelly said, and her husband Steve said, surprised me. Sorry, I do not want to share. Nola, their youngest, came out with a surprising notice of a dog on a calendar that she remembered she had seen (a Labrador) when she last visited us years ago in our New Hope house (we visited a farm and she saw a dog just like the one on the calendar). Oh, she’s 5 by the way – this memory was from when she was 3. Maggie, Nola’s big sister also surprised me with a very sophisticated understanding of what she might want to do professionally (teach) and why she wants to do that. At 8 years old her explanation was more soul-searching than what I hear from workplace executives who actually have no idea why they are doing what they are doing.

Got me thinking about being fabulous and being surprising.

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It seems to me that what makes one really fabulous, and we haven’t mentioned or talked about at all in this blog is simply this: being fabulous means having some mystery about yourself – and being a bit surprising.

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Sadly, most of us, and most of who we know, have “their act” – which may be slightly flawed, lovely, or even over the moon wonderful – but it is predictable. TOO predictable. No one wants a friend or family member who is constantly providing surprises – that is unnerving and perhaps caused by some personality disorder or inability to accomplish or stick with anything. That is NOT what I am talking about.

I am talking about surprising people in ways that are good, if not great, but that they would “never” or “rarely” believe is something we/you would do.

Here’s one: if you are a fabulous woman, but never ever NOT cook up a storm, give up cooking for one holiday event – or scale way back giving others a chance to shine in the kitchen – or not.

Or, if you are a fabulous woman who NEVER cooks, let me suggest you actually prepare (which by the way is the easiest part of entertaining – preparing food is not creating food, as creating food is being a chef) something simple but elegant and bring it to an event during the season. Simple and elegant by the way is another wonderful definition of fabulous that I plan to write a piece about. If you can’t find a great, simple and elegant recipe then I am convinced you are not living in this century – or the last one.

Or maybe let’s go deeper, even more unnerving for those that know you – but in a happy way. Maybe you’re fabulous but a little bit late all the time. Aim to be the first to arrive and look at people’s surprised faces.

If you always make a point of giving books – how about champagne? THE BEST you can afford. Now that will surprise people.

For a really profound surprise if not SHOCK, tell someone that you have never forgiven, or never listened to (in a low key non-big-deal voice) that you realized it is time for you to alter the issue that you know bugs them. And you know what? You are already making a change based on their advice and loving the results!! Yes, you are both apologizing for your most annoying tradition or attitude or approach and letting someone who has been pissed for years about you and this act know, that you are changing. But changing with a tiny twist: noting that the change is for them AND it is for you too! That makes you both unexpectedly kind, but also mysterious and surprising.

This holiday season, this Thanksgiving, don’t give someone a heart attack with your new approach, but do surprise them just a bit. Have them wondering and thinking: “you know, I really don’t know everything about her.” And they don’t.

Patty

Are Your Nerves Frayed, Or Is It Just Me?

I was often crazy busy in my 40s and 50s. I juggled a number of things including but not limited to taking care of my aging and ill parents, going to graduate school part time earning two masters and my doctorate while working full time, owning and managing a business, taking weekly business trips by plane, solving corporate and executive problems daily, and also having a busy personal life.

Despite the pace and complexity, my nerves rarely felt frayed. Or at least I don’t remember being on edge as often as I am now – feeling easily annoyed, overreacting to a minor inconvenience or (only occasionally thankfully) acting like a complete jerk.

Of course I had clear expectations of what being in my 60s (fabulous or not) would look like. I expected being fabulous as I aged would require much more work physically to look and feel good and stay in shape; and simultaneously thought the serenity and easier pace of my older years would make my nerves calmer and certainly less frayed.

I pictured myself becoming the wise but still sexy older woman: looking good despite how hard it was, BUT in a nearly constant place of Zen-calm, feeling nothing but love and forgiveness to all persons – including my family. With frequent yoga, a low-fat lifestyle and perhaps less medication, I would also be writing and creating with ease: life would be SO fabulously sweet.

Hmmmm . . . .

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Here’s what really happened. With all my discipline about exercise, coupled with lots of other “help” for my looks including of course “lotions and potions”, I am actually finding it easier to look good and be fit as a late 60 something. Maybe it’s because some have given up and others are aging badly, or I simply don’t see as clearly so I think I look divine. Or maybe it is just having less appetite so I am not fighting as hard to stay thin which was brutally hard in my 50s, what with menopause which never seemed to end. When it finally did, it reminded me of my new favorite commercial for Geico – the “final countdown”.

What about my other vision for this stage of life? Am I always more calm, loving, nurturing, forgiving and creative – whipping up blogs and work strategies with ease? Yes and no. While I may finally be over some nerve-fraying battles of my youth (which included wondering repeatedly if was I smart enough, pretty enough or assertive enough) – my nerves still get frayed, and sadly sometimes more easily.

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What I had forgotten to factor into my thinking was that all the years I thought I was dealing with tough things well, I was actually handling them well on the surface but chewing my guts out inside. While not literally, I do think I said “no problem” so much my guts stopped listening and just churned knowing I was in some emotional pain. In fact, I sometimes seriously think I “over-used” or “blew” my nervous system. There is of course some truth that our nerves, like our bodies, are wearing down as we age.

But, I have decided to take action. I am going to rewrite my story and remember myself as truly NOT chewing my guts out so much in middle age. In fact, I am going to tell myself that despite the challenges of my youth and middle age, my nerves remained strong and all the pressure gave me a deeper character capable of being Zen-like with ease.

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Maybe this new story, plus more meditation and medication, yoga, wine and the biggie: being in the present moment, I can say with honesty: my nerves frayed? Absolutely not!! . . . It is Zen-calm for this fabulous over 60!! What about you – are your nerves frayed too? Any other fabulous suggestions for dealing with it?

Patty

Reluctant Sunshine Girls

I spent a recent Saturday with my dear old friend Susie talking about life and our futures — the whole “where to next” conversation so typical of FabulousOver60s.

Bill and I are recent downsizers: we went from two houses to one in the beautiful desert of Arizona as home base. Susie and her husband are also joining us – in downsizing that is, with home base in Florida.

We feel blessed to have great places to be when it gets cold and dreary – can’t beat winter in a sunshine state. But we are reluctant to lose our roots and time in the northeast where we both grew up. While not miserable (no fabulous women are miserable – we correct that state of affairs pronto) we want it all – our sunshine homes but also more time in the places more historical and varied with a change of seasons and not just “fun in the sun”.

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Seems Susie and I are in the swim – we both live in states that have the oldest populations of over 65s – yes, Florida and Arizona. But being part of the trend doesn’t seem to make us less likely to think about old-fashioned Christmas’s in NY or CT or Denver. Nor are we believers in the “dry heat myth of Arizona” or the “just a little humidity myth of summers in Florida”. Too much of anything (except shoes) is always a bad thing. Our husbands disagree – both want to spend more time in the sun and resist any talk of a second permanent apartment/condo where we grew up.

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I wonder how many other FabulousOver60s are reluctant sunshine girls – loving the privilege of avoiding the winter but wistful for more energy from the big city. Or seeing the leaves change and getting started again on a project just like we did when younger?

Am finding that there is no more a perfect retirement/semi-retirement lifestyle than there was a perfect lifestyle in one’s 30s or 40s. We were a generation of woman who wanted it all. Many of us had a solid version of that juggling careers, family responsibilities, travel and an occasional sun baked vacation. It makes me a little sad to read how much things have NOT changed in workplace where the wars still wage on gender equality and work/life balance. There are new voices of course – but on-going issues.

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Perhaps what we can model to younger women is a better range of options as we age; and changing multiple times, not just getting “set” and keeping that one lifestyle and approach. As Sheryl Sandberg recently said in an interview: “No one can have it all”. We were wrong to think we could and now we are equally wrong if we think we can have a perfectly ordered, balanced older life – with just the perfect amounts of work (paid and unpaid), fun, sun, our roots and traveling. It is always all about price isn’t it?

I have always believed life is like a garden – tons of gorgeous flowers to pick and hold close. But every flower has a price tag – from orchids to daisies – we make choices. And those choices lead to leaving things behind, doing less of some wonderful options, and accepting the downside to any great choice. No matter how much you love and honor your partner – if you never have a day dreaming of their demise I don’t believe you.

We can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan – and never let him forget he’s a man.

It wasn’t true then – it isn’t true now. Relax and have fun, love your choices and be open to change. That is the best thing to model to our younger friends and children – no matter where you live, or what you do. Encourage them to accept and enjoy NOT having it all – instead loving the best parts of what they have chosen – just like us FabulousOver60s do. Or at least try to.

Patty

Fabulous “Enough” and “Older” at 65

At 60 there was little doubt Cathy and I were totally fabulous. Fabulous is many things, but simply put it indicates living and deciding how to live at a constant state of high standards and strong principles – being a good person, a good citizen, family member and friend. It is caring about oneself and one’s life, work, obligations and connections and, yes, how we look. It implies trying harder and doing more than just slouching toward the end zone of one’s life.

A fabulous woman has respect for everyone and many things, but most definitely respects and cherishes herself. Fabulous women aren’t victims, takers, people who do the minimum, connivers or bad people. They are not perfect but they are perfectly fine in the broadest sense of that word and absolutely self responsible.

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At 65, we know we are still completely capable of being fabulous. But, it is no longer a given. Working at being fabulous takes more energy that on some days we just don’t have (or what I find very telling), we don’t want to have. Let me not speak for “us”; let me say for just me, some days it is now OK for me not to be fabulous. Ouch. I never thought I would say that. But it is true. Finally, at age 65, I just let myself off the hook in one or another small way that I have learned doesn’t matter or shouldn’t matter any more. And in my view, that means I am not quite as fabulous – but fabulous enough.

The term I am getting more comfortable with is “older”. I know I am not young. I know I am not middle aged, but I am not yet ready to be called or labeled old. To me old, and I do think I will be old, is 80 and up. Just how I feel it goes in this early part of the 21st century. Certainly 100 or less years from now, old may be 90 – or 100 – but from where I sit, where and what I see, it is now 80. Of course I know developmental psychologists have a number of models that label stages of life in other terms than simply old and young and older. Stages of one’s life is a common way of looking at a person’s life from birth till death that explains the challenges and approaches to life one takes at various times. It is interesting reading if you haven’t had the chance to explore it.

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I bring this up because my comfort with being called and labeled “older”, is for me a great bit of progress. Being “older” doesn’t let me off the hook for anything I don’t want to do anymore. That is being lazy – and women who use the “I am older” card to get out of perfectly simple things clearly are not fabulous. But being “older” to me implies I have had certain experiences that have given me knowledge about what works for me and what does not work for me right now.

I have exercised enough to know when my body says no more and means it.

I have prayed enough and meditated enough to know when it isn’t worth praying for something or my mind and heart are not ready for the truths being whispered to my highest self.

I have worked enough to know when something just isn’t worth the time, effort or money that has to go into it to achieve anything.

I have done enough things that I did not want to do believing they were the right or only thing to do to know for sure that some things are truly important and absolutely worth doing even if you don’t want to. But that list is VERY small versus all the stuff I thought was on that list.

And I have worn enough “on sale” or second rate outfits to know being cheap with oneself is always a bad investment.

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So I am at peace with being older – and I like it. It doesn’t hurt my feelings that I just don’t want to do or be something anymore. Selectively it is OK. It is what I earned. I am not so much letting myself off the hook as I am conserving my lessening energy and passion for those things and people that honestly are important for me now.

If you just give up because things are hard, you lose your fabulous self. But when you are more discriminating in the BEST sense of that word, you become someone more deeply yourself: mysterious and wonderful. “Older” – and that is just fabulous enough for me.

Patty

Musings about Celebrating Birthdays….

A wonderful friend had a party for me on my birthday last week. She assembled other good friends who gave me fun cards and presents, she orchestrated a great meal and she served my favorite birthday cake… white cake with thick white icing. She even made sure that there was only one candle on the cake. So thoughtful!

And, of course, as the cake was presented, everyone sang the obligatory Happy Birthday to You. As always, faced with being the center of attention during that song, I just smiled, nodded and felt a little foolish.

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Let me digress about the birthday song for a minute.

Did you know that there is a lawsuit currently pending against Warner Music Group, which has had the rights to this song since 1988? The lawsuit is attempting to get the song declared in the “public domain” and not subject to licensing fees. Apparently, any use of the song in a for-profit venture is subject to a hefty fee. No wonder the chain restaurants have come up with their own versions of birthday songs to torment diners!

Here’s an article about the lawsuit … you can also watch the video to see how TV shows have been getting around the fee.

While my birthday was a great excuse to get friends together for dinner, drinks and laughter, I was torn about being the reason for the party.

Celebrating the day one comes into the world is supposed to be flattering. “We’re so glad you were born!”

But as the years go by … and especially as the decades go by … I worry that the celebration might have some overtones of “We’re glad you’re still with us!”

I have to admit that I used to enjoy birthdays and birthday parties a lot more. Even when I hit some “big” numbers (like 40 and 50) and protested getting “old”, I didn’t really feel that old. Now, I really feel old (and cranky).

I know that my parents had birthday celebrations for me when I was young because I have pictures to prove it. Here’s one of me when I obviously decided that receiving presents was fun.

It’s all about me!

And here’s a more thoughtful photo of a wiser, more mature me:

These are really for me?

These are really for me?

My celebrations were small ones, though. The next-door neighbors may have come over for some cake and ice cream, or occasionally one or the other set of grandparents would show up. Not like the parties that seem to be so popular today with tons of other kids and their parents.

During my busy career years, birthdays flew by without a lot of celebration. I received some cards in the mail (such a quaint idea these days!), got a few calls and was invited out to dinner once in a while. The only “big” celebration I can remember was when Ray had a 40th party for me. I was not yet that cranky about my age, so I remember enjoying it a lot.

Then, over the last decade or so, Ray and I have tended to use the week of my birthday for travel. It’s a good time since it tends to be less crowded in the islands, or in Maine, or in many of our other favorite vacation spots. Kids are back in school and the fall tourist crowds haven’t yet begun to hit the roads or airports. So, celebrating my birthday “on the road” — just the two of us — has become the norm.

These days, Facebook provides a way for a lot more people to say Happy Birthday. It’s easy. No one even has to keep track of your birthday. A notification shows up on their phone or tablet that morning. Since I’ve been on Facebook these past several years, I’ve kind of liked getting greetings from a larger group of people than in the old days.

So, now that I think about it, I like having my birthday acknowledged every year. I don’t always want to be the center of a celebration, but once in a while that’s pretty nice too.

So, friends and family, I’m going to keep celebrating my birthday every September 12 until I can’t. And, if there are any future birthday celebrations, I’ll just assume they are “glad you were born” parties … just don’t forget the white cake!

Cathy Green

Remember Your EOS (End Of Summer) Rituals

Last week we spent some time in Long Island at the beach. We were taking a brief break from THE MOVE (see any number of my posts this summer) to regain our lost sanity. For those caring – yes, it did work. Emptying an American household is truly overwhelming. We boomers have all said at least once (or three thousand times) how “money is tight right now” – but we all seem to have more or less a zillion dollars of possessions – but I digress.

NgRBK

Meanwhile back at the beach, I walked the seaside several times – both alone and with friends and thought about this topsy turvy summer of change. The typical and untypical birds were there – including of course Mr. Seagull – that constant of beach life. I admit I never see a seagull without also remembering Jonathan Livingston Seagull – a story, published in 1970 – an early book on love, forgiveness and positive psychology. Many boomers besides me read and connected with that book – another influence on our thinking already significantly shifted left by the 1960s.

Last week the beach was filled with little short adorable beach birds that were delightful to watch as they scurried here and there going about their bird business. And of course there was the breeze that is unlike any other feeling against one’s skin. It brought me peace. The walking, the letting go of stress, the memories of hundreds of earlier walks just like this one, but basking in just this new one and the gifts it was giving me.

Post our beach time we headed to NYC to stay on the upper east side due to our generous friends who were away and suggested we use their space. I grew up in New York. In the 1950s suburbs I remember “trips to the city” when we would dress up and go to Schrafft’s on Fifth Avenue. The memory of such times is getting vaguer and mixed up with other similar memories. I often wonder now if something is a real memory or something I saw in a movie.

new-york-city-high-rise-buildings-ms-judi

Each day I walked Park Avenue for dozens of blocks – just ambling a bit. Ambling in NYC is not possible except in August when the city is “empty” as us “natives” say – meaning you can get into a restaurant and not be bowled over by thousands walking the streets. I realized that this NYC walking was another of my rituals. Whenever I was facing issues – while at 25, 35, 45, 55 or now, I walked the streets of NYC and looked at crazy expensive stores, Central Park, old and new buildings and amazing townhouses. It is the place I think about decisions for the next 5 years – my ritual meditation on life – very little of which is spent in NYC anymore.

On Sunday while at church, I prayed for all those I love – especially for a dear friend who just underwent a stem cell transplant that truly is a gift of life. Another ritual I practice: showing up at “odd” churches and reminding myself of all that is so much bigger, and more beautiful/important than my particular life and its petty concerns. There were only 10 or so people in this charming 1872 church – guess the ritual of praying in random churches is becoming a great deal less common. That made me a little sad, but reminded me why I need to keep at it. My rituals, my places of comfort that anchor me to the past, and help me navigate the future are important. No matter where I am, I need to remember to get to the beach, NYC and an old church.

HolyTrinityLuthExt

The sermon at church was about not relying on rituals – not being a hypocrite but living and experiencing things for their essence – love and connection. Couldn’t agree more with the priest, but still need to hold to some of my own EOS rituals. Sometimes going back into a place/space of comfort becomes the exact thing that allows me to pivot back to life in the now. My heart is healed, my thoughts are clear, and I go back to a life more online than I would like, but then “the online world” too is deepened and expanded by my rituals.

Don’t forget your rituals fabulous sisters. Hopefully they do not include buying stuff – as noted at the start – enough already with the stuff.

-Patty

 

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