Stuff About Today’s World

I Settled For The 99% Eclipse

I made my decision a few days before the solar eclipse.

As you know, on Monday August 21, the moon lined up perfectly between the Earth and the sun and the skies got dark in the middle of the afternoon.

I was happy when I heard that those of us in Asheville, North Carolina would experience a 99 % solar eclipse, beginning at 2:30 pm.

That sounded really good. I could stay home with Ray, have a little lunch, sit on the deck, put on some solar eclipse glasses, look up into the sky and enjoy.

I began to realize, however, that there was a big difference between 99% and 100%.

Here’s what Brian Hart of the Lookout Observatory at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, said:

“When it’s only 99 percent, think about the moon when it’s just a sliver in the sky…. It will be a similar-sized sliver of the sun, a tiny line of light you can see. That’s all.”

The total eclipse, he said, is like seeing a show on Broadway. A partial eclipse is seeing it off-Broadway.

Less than 30 miles away from us, in Brevard, North Carolina, or just 60 miles away in Greenville, SC, there was going to be 100% totality. Experts said that we would be awed by a dramatic switch from day to night, we would view stars popping out in the sky, we would experience a big drop in temperature and we would see the full corona of the sun.

We were tempted … but ultimately made the decision not to join the thousands of people predicted to be on the roads.

Relatives in Charleston, and friends who went to Brevard, Greenville and other towns in the 100% path reported how dark it got, how the street lights came on and how the temperature dropped. Only a few of them were disappointed by clouds.

We were a little jealous… but not much. We invited some friends to join us on our deck for champagne and a shrimp and charcuterie lunch.  We had a clear view of the sun and watched as it got darker, cooler and quieter in the mountains.  And, although we couldn’t see any stars, we did see some lights on a distant mountain.

99% may not have been the ultimate experience … but it was still amazing.

And we didn’t have to drive home!

Cathy Green

Also, feel free to check out this link.

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”.

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

Who Did It Better? Marie Or Patty?

Moving and cleaning and throwing out that is.

We closed yesterday and today we head to the first piece of our new lifestyle – moving into a furnished apartment for a month in New York. From 6,000 square feet to 750 should feel a bit odd. But I lived for years in 600 square feet prior to getting married in 1998. Wonder if it will feel like old times.

Lots of people asked how I got rid of so much stuff so quickly. I think I now know the answer: ruthlessness and a tight time frame. No halfway measures – and for the most part I was ruthless – gone, out, give, toss, move this or that to a friend or family member.

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But I still shipped too many boxes to Arizona (new home base of our traveling lifestyle). And there is where I went wrong. I should have limited that a bit more rather than telling myself “oh I will sort this all out when I get back to Tucson”.

I have to admit holding on to something that seems rather silly: my wedding dress. Yes, we all have the eternal hope that at some point we are going to fit into that dress – I just couldn’t part with it. But then, I love it and it brings me joy so maybe it was something worth keeping.

While in a bookstore the other day I eyed The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – the NY Times best seller that has sold over 3 million copies. It is by Marie Kondo, a Japanese sensation of organizing and getting one’s life under control in the process.

Apparently there is a three plus month waiting list in Japan for her services – and her work is so successful there are no repeat customers – they get and STAY organized. As a business person the idea of no repeat customers scares me – but then again it is another upside down instance of how life/work has changed since we were the stars of the show.

While not finished quite yet, I got one of the secrets. Let me share it – you may well want to read the book anyway – simple, easy to read and direct. Do not do things in stages. Just do it! Basically where we all have gone wrong is to do the work of de-cluttering in an incremental way. Which, while sounding logical doesn’t work.

When I get back to Tucson I will have finished the book and plan to give Marie’s ideas a try there.

Will keep you posted. Meanwhile, begin to think about the idea of just getting ruthless. Love it and keep it or get rid of it. Upon reflection keeping my wedding dress makes sense – I do love it. Our lives have to be joyful now and surrounding yourself by just what brings you joy is a must.

Would love to hear about anyone else’s battle with clutter and downsizing. As stressors go it beats waiting for someone to call you for a date – remember that now outlandish and ancient behavior? Some problems of an older age really are easier to handle than those of our 20s.

Patty

“Grandma, Why Are You Moving”?

By now some of you know my husband Bill and I are closing on our New Hope, PA home mid-September and embarking on our lives of Tucson as home base, with travel and rental apartments about 40% of the year.

This weekend was the last one for our granddaughters to swim in our pool and spend wonderful time in the PA countryside. It has been one of their “vacation spots” since they were born – we have lived here 15 years and they are 6 and 9. There was no life before New Hope for them.

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New Hope, PA

And so, as we tried to explain all the “grown up reasons” for moving and “downsizing” they looked a little confused – but as always full of fun and laughter and wanting to believe that things in the future may not include New Hope, but will ALWAYS include Grandma Patty and Poppy. Or at least that is the message now. We hope our own demise is far off so we skipped the mortality talk. Thought that the end of their grandparents’ house was more than enough loss for a 6 and 9 year old.

Being a grandmother keeps me on my good behavior. I want to model “loss with grace” for my granddaughters as well as show clients that of course change is often good. How can I call myself a life coach and not do well with a major move? “Attachment is overrated” and “all is in divine order” are the messages for me to send. But there is a piece of my heart that is feeling sad about all the change and working to put it all in perspective – that wonderful gift of older ages.

Simultaneously with the move I have been reading the new Jane Smiley trilogy – almost finished Some Luck and going to start Early Warning by Thursday I would guess. The third in the trilogy will be out in October just as we are going back west after a bit of a transition in the east using a furnished apartment to say more goodbyes and touch base with people.

Next in my queue

Next in my queue

Like the John Updike Rabbit Angstrom novels, there were 4, this new trilogy gets into enormous details of people’s lives – but does that in the context of 20th century American history and culture. I was of course much younger reading the Rabbit series – I read the first one, Rabbit, Run, in the late 60s (it was published when I was 10). I followed Rabbit’s life when I read Rabbit Redux in 1971 as a new college graduate. I didn’t “get it all” in terms of the perspective thing.

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By the time I read Rabbit is Rich I was 30 and rather amused by the Toyota dealership – and then 40 when Rabbit finally died in the 1990 novel Rabbit at Rest. The character of Rabbit was morally ambivalent and not a little “disappointing” as a man – let’s just say he aged a bit badly.

Now reading Smiley’s take on America I am both older and wiser. Her perspective is helping me realize how our lives evolve much like these terrific series of novels – with a series of experiences and opportunities – some of which we handle terrifically well and a few we don’t. All the while living our lives in the larger context of what is going on nationally – and now even more often – internationally.

Grandma is moving because she has to move forward or rot a bit. And rotting is not fabulous – we all have to move on and move forward to avoid getting caught empty handed or confused spiritually in the next phase of our life. I am finding that it isn’t just about throwing things out or physically moving but rather about shifting attitudes and feelings to combat the often disturbing trends of history and the limits and losses of just living longer in a complex and baffling society.

Didn’t mean to get sad – but sad is something we now understand and accept. Being sad once in awhile is a wonderful thing. Now that’s called having perspective – too bad it took so long to arrive.

Patty

 

Fabulous Lifestyle Change Ahead!

September 15, 2015 our New Hope, PA home will be gone and we begin our new traveling lifestyle. No second home, no moving in with anyone else, just a home in Arizona for the cooler months to serve as home base. The remaining months will be traveling and staying in various rental properties enjoying the diversity of locations, as well as the chance to spend time with friends and family spread all over the country – and in some cases, the world.

New Hope, Pa

New Hope, Pa

Why has it been so tough for me – not to part with things – but places, people and “roots”? Have I/we become like millennials who we keep reading “value the experiences” over things? This is why they don’t want our STUFF: the remnants of amassing huge numbers of books, some few photos of the past and events, holiday decorations, cookbooks, glasses and platters not to mention dining room sets on a scale previously unknown to humankind. Or are we just arrived at an emotional state where we really get our mortality and figure in this intensely individualistic culture that it is “our turn” or “now or never”?

So here’s my thoughts on those “big questions” raised in paragraph two (remember when everyone knew what a paragraph was? But I digress).

We all have a hard time parting with what we truly value. For me that has always been people and relationships – with everyone – from restaurant owners, to the dry cleaners, the butcher at the grocery store, Intrigue sales professionals who helped me find the perfect clothes, the people who are part of my church, my UPS buddies – not to mention the deeper friendships forged while spending 15 years in New Hope. And those relationships for the most part are ending. I am sad at this loss.

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While I do love people more than things, I did want “the finer things in life” growing up and growing older. And, I had them – and feel blessed I did. To me wearing a Hermes scarf or a Chanel handbag has brought me pleasure. But more so I loved my work and still want to do some of it. I love helping people grow and change – and due to technology I can now write coaching content, coach people in life transitions and volunteer to support critical causes from nearly anywhere. The relationships associated with my work and passions remain, thankfully, so that compensates some for the loss of place.

As for being like millennials, I think not. They are the new BIG generation – shaping the culture and society to their values and needs, but my roots and values remain in Boomerhood. My goal is to push forward on my restructured path while not holding tightly to the past or try to keep being the protagonist of the story. I also do not want to bash millennials – hearing about our parents referred to as “the greatest generation” hugely annoyed me. Let’s all stay on our own yoga mats.

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As to whether we fabulousover60s are just at the point where we want to do what we want to do — I have to just say no. Just doing what we want all the time has never excited us. In fact, we are doers – not wanting to just sit back. Relaxing has been more of a challenge than anything else we have tried to conquer. We have a continuous battle with ourselves to just BE not DO.

Am I nervous? A little. But being Fabulous always involves some loss and some risk – to be your best self – to keep evolving rather than fighting to keep things the same. Plan to keep you posted as my later 60s evolve – who knows – maybe all that travel, writing and being with people I love will drive me crazy. Right now I doubt it. I sincerely doubt it.

Patty

 

Are Keeping Times and Dates Hopelessly Old-fashioned?

Scene one: Summer 1955 – more than half of all Americans report going to religious services in the last 7 days. Sunday morning at the Gill household. Up for church early to also make sure we get a place on Jones Beach in Long Island by 9:30 AM. Wake up time? 6:30 AM.

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Scene two: 1965 family event of any type – picnic, barbecue, birthday party, meeting cousins and aunt at swimming pool. Time the hostess has said to arrive: 2:00 PM. Time of our family of 4 arrives at event? 2:05 PM give or take 2 minutes.

Scene three: 1979 DDI International home office in Pittsburgh. Place fellow blogger Cathy and I met. Meeting start time: 11:15 AM. Time we all arrived for the meeting? 11:05-11:10 AM.

Scene four: 1989 – meeting friend for drinks at restaurant in midtown Manhattan – her job in CT mine in Westchester County, NY. Each roughly 1.5 hours away requiring several types of transportation. Time we are meeting: 6:00 PM. Time we each arrive? Between 5:55 PM and 6:05 PM.

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Now dear FabulousOver60 sisters – before you say what I think you are going to say: “Damn right we were on time – that is the way it was and always should be. We made commitments and we KEPT them”, let’s consider a few things.

True. But remember the culture and the lack of technology made it very difficult to change plans. Plans were made, set and done “in ink on the calendar”. Changing one’s mind would involve inconveniencing someone else and this was something that simply was not considered appropriate. Besides, how would this be accomplished? Multiple phone calls? Well that was tough to do. You made a plan you kept to the plan – only death (your own or someone VERY close) would allow you to not show up on time and ready for the planned work or play activity.

Enter people 50 and younger – gen X and Y. Planning, commitments and getting together have always been a bit more haphazard for them. Yes, dinner was at 6 – but sometimes 7 – and then sometimes it was take out. Parents got divorced, businesses went bankrupt, work was sometimes easy and other times impossible to find – the world was not as rules-conscious with clear expectations as the world we were raised in.

So it’s dinner time at their house – they suggested – 6ish. You arrive at their home/apt at 6:15 PM and someone might be in the shower or suggesting that something came up and we’re all going out to dinner. There is a plan to meet for lunch at a fun sushi place at 1 PM before the show. Text arrives at 12:45 PM – “confusion – not going to make it – meet you at show”. “We are coming Friday morning” – that would be anytime on Friday between 10 AM and 3 PM.

Before you say it: “Right Patty, they all are a bunch of selfish, selfie-taking rude people who don’t keep any commitments to anyone but themselves”. Let me suggest, that the reason younger people flow this way is because our current culture flows this way and has been breaking down formalities and rules for decades. Most of us loved changing the world back in 1964 and 1974. We just didn’t think it would change quite THIS MUCH. More equality for women – we are IN on that. Women acting as crude and stupid as only men used to do, actually doesn’t seem right to us.

The scenarios at the beginning of this post were NOT the rule for generation X or Y. Their parents/elders, us boomers, were not as rigid and demanding as our parents were. What we didn’t foresee was everything demanding complete obedience and conformity then; anyone can do anything anytime and that’s okay. We wanted to be treated with a little respect. Now no one treats anyone with any particular respect one way or the other – we don’t love it. We “got” rules – we just wanted them to be a bit more flexible, not completely thrown out the window.

Phones and other devices make it easy and without consequence to change one’s mind and plans – and do it without having to explain or talk to someone face to face. Hurting someone’s feelings – a great taboo for boomers, hasn’t been around for a LONG time though we hung on to it. Everyone is supposed to be OK with that. But many of us boomers do get hurt and do not get people’s comfort with every person for themselves. We envy (or detest?) younger people’s blasé way of handling the constant shuffling of agendas and the freedom to do/not do just what they want anytime they want.

If you are FabulousOver60, let me suggest you keep expecting compliance with times and dates from your contemporaries you really know well and who share your standards. But, realize even many boomers are getting used to ‘anything goes’ – don’t be surprised if your sister Susan doesn’t show up at your 49th anniversary party; or a new friend you just met at a charity event shows up an hour late for a cocktail party starting at 6:30 PM. There is an avalanche of all of us letting ourselves off the hook for anything and everything that is pretty frightening.

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Yes, times HAVE changed and we have two choices (more but this post must end soon). Make plans only with those who share our style. Or realize, when we make plans with those not our style, (like daughters, sons, nieces and nephews, business acquaintances or new friends from a club or religious group) accept that the chances of plans changing is now near 85%-99%. Invest less in the plan so when it does change you are less disappointed. That’s a bit depressing I know, but in some ways who needed to do all the cleaning, planning and dusting for every guest who would cross our doors or to pick an outfit to wear weeks in advance? All this ‘anything goes’ isn’t perfect, but maybe we can start to take ourselves off our own hooks and go with the flow a bit more.

Not with me though – you say 11 on the 20th at a mutually convenient Starbucks, you better be there at 11. Somehow, I am not worried – we’ll both be there – dressed appropriately.

Patty

Please share this with people – we need to come to common ground!

In The 50’s, Crackers Were Saltines

While shopping for crackers to accompany a cheese and charcuterie* platter for guests, I was reminded just how many choices we have these days – especially compared to the 1950’s.

Crackers back then were saltines. Remember?

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Not anymore. Since I knew that there would be gluten-frees and wheat-frees at our party (and some lactose-frees, too, no doubt), I thought that shopping at the local gourmet market would be my best bet.

There were 10 shelves of crackers. The choices were overwhelming. Should I buy wheat or rice or sesame or organic or whole grain vegan crackers? Should some of them be gluten-free or wheat-free or grain-free? How about multi-grain, 8-grain, 5-grain, rye, flaxseed, pepper, sea salt, almond flour, asagio cheese, cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese crackers? And, would any non-dieters eat the jalapeno macaroni and cheese crackers?

This headache-inducing exercise in choice made me realize how much easier and faster it must have been for my parents to shop for food in the 50’s. My mother was a terrible cook (see my previous blog post about this subject). My dad would do the grocery shopping using her list. He would buy what she wanted, but would always return with other things, too. In retrospect, it was probably his way of making sure there was something edible in the house at all times.

Here are some of the things I remember about eating at home in the 50’s:

  • There was no such thing as pasta. We ate spaghetti. Covered with red sauce from a jar.
  • Meatloaf and pork chops were weekly staples. Served with mashed potatoes and gravy and succotash (corn and lima beans). Mom would throw in another “healthy” starch once in a while just to jazz up the meal.
  • Pizza was from a box. Pre-made dough, red sauce and parmesan cheese in little packets. (I looked it up. Pizza Hut wasn’t around until 1958 and even then, my parents seemed to have missed it).
  • My dad didn’t like salads. End of story.
  • Yogurt wasn’t invented yet. Or, at least, we didn’t know anything about it.
  • Chicken was always fried. Actually, deep fried. (Just writing this reminds me of that greasy oil smell in the kitchen that lingered for days).

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  • Speaking of oil, there was no palm, sunflower, avocado, sesame, coconut or extra virgin olive oil in our house. Mom used Wesson.
  • Bread was white. Sliced and packaged in plastic. White bread went into everything (like turkey stuffing at Thanksgiving) and could be served with anything (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on two pieces of white bread served as my lunch in grade school and high school).
  • Breakfast was cereal and milk. Period. (Lactose intolerant? What was that?)
  • Fruit was either sliced pineapple or mixed fruit – both from cans in syrup.
  • “Pop” (sodas) all contained sugar. Coke was our favorite because it was so healthy according to the Coca-Cola Company’s ads.

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Now that I think about it, I’m glad mom wasn’t a good cook. I would probably have weighed 400 pounds at my high school graduation.

Despite the occasional shopping frustrations, I like today’s choices – both the quantity and the quality of the food I can buy and the stores where I can buy them.

But I am trying to imagine what Dad would have done in one of today’s gourmet groceries with a list from my mom that included “crackers”.

Cathy Green

*Charcuterie … a fancy, French word for cold meats. I’m confident that this is a word no one in my family ever used in the 50’s.

 

Body Cameras Anyone?

This new and expanded use of technology got me thinking about what would have been different about my own life if everyone, or nearly everyone had been wearing a camera during the major parts of their work and relaxation time.

It would have made “data collection” – part of any consulting, training or coaching intervention – much easier. Before working on problems confronting clients we did and still do ask for their interpretation of events. We might also interview others who would have insights into situations. And of course there are online tools that can easily gather input from a variety of people about a situation or a person. All of course rely on the judgment and memory as well as perception of the person speaking or writing.

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But what if there were actual digital material showing managers and leaders and board members demonstrating what was REALLY said and done in a variety of situations? “Oh I thought you said you listen empathetically to each of your staff. Well I just reviewed the actual digital record of your meetings with your staff and it seems to tell a different story. Hmm, so you don’t think you need communication skills training and one to one coaching for your temper?” That sounds powerful but also more than a little tough to handle.

When we socialized we met places or picked a potential mate from someplace like New York Magazine — LONG before online dating there was of course ads in magazines and newspapers. But let’s assume that in order to place one’s ad, the person looking for a mate would have to include actual digital material showing actual dates (with some edits allowed of course – let’s not go too crazy) and audio of the actual conversations and interactions before and after a movie or dinner? Well, I could have dropped Alan or John several years if not months earlier – now that might have made a REAL difference in my life.

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It sounds wonderful doesn’t it — no more “buying” a “pig in a poke”. The truth would be known – and transparency would rule – if you can’t digitally prove it, why should I believe someone is the lovely person they insist they are? Actually this isn’t science fiction or the future – there are apps now which rate people socially. When we were young there was not only no such thing, but it was virtually impossible to know anything about anybody outside of your immediate circle. Which is to say no one could find anything out about you either.  That’s looking more and more like a good thing.

Wait a minute. This is beginning to sound really weird – not least because of the time involved in looking at a device of some kind to review all the digital records. No more wasting time with drinks or coffee at a lovely place with a great view – that time would now be spent reviewing someone’s past. No more time spent wandering the campus of an organization since all/most observations could be picked up by camera and reviewed without hearing and seeing and needing to sift through contradictory data.

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Being fabulous means of course many things — but in this discussion, certainly honesty and transparency would appeal to any fabulous woman. After all we grew up with truths like this one: “the truth will set you free”.

I would like to think that if I had a camera on me the whole time I was working in corporations or talking/meeting on the phone or in person with dozens of people there is nothing I would have done differently than I actually did. Same thing personally. I thought I made a few faux pas socially – but other than 10 or so I can recall at this minute my guess is I would have been pretty much the same. Really? I haven’t felt this happy about being over 60 for a LONG time!

– Patty Gill Webber

Yikety Yak – Yikes – It’s The Yik Yak App!

More on the controversial smartphone app Yik Yak in a moment, but reading about it made me wonder if we shouldn’t bring back parents and grandparents who are not judgmental party poopers – but who are adults with knowledge and competence. Adults know some things that children do not because they are not mature enough, or able to understand and store it in their still developing brains.

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These adults can and SHOULD make some judgments and then insist on not “blind obedience” (sadly we had to deal with lots of that) but rather “compliance” – a word I like MUCH better and is both softer and more appropriate in the 21st century. These judgments need to be shared, not to be arbitrary, cruel or bossy two-shoes, but to protect young children and teens from their under-developed minds. That and the resulting stupid, inappropriate and cruel things they are capable of doing just because they are young.

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Enter Yik Yak.

From the NY Times: “Like Facebook or Twitter, Yik Yak is a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location, or, in many cases by university … Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board … Much of the chatter is harmless. Some of it is not.”

“Yik Yak is the wild west of anonymous social apps, said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace”.

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Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, recent graduates of Furman University in South Carolina are the developers of the app which they intended to be democratic – giving everyone a chance to share even if they did not have many “friends” or “followers”. Sounds good — no fabulous women over 60 are down on democracy, but the iPhone and Android app, which is one of the most frequently downloaded in the Apple Store, seems to have created some very difficult and ugly situations for students, teachers, deans, and others on college campuses. Sadly, it is gaining ground in middle and high schools too.

** Google’s Android has recently dropped the app from its app store charts. It hasn’t been banned, it is just harder to find.

Despite all the push back and anger of those injured by its ability to anonymously publish anything about anyone that is not a direct threat (that would be a no no – police recently tracked down a freshman who made a direct threat to someone – he was arrested) there isn’t much anyone can do about it. Free speech of course trumps most efforts at curtailing it. But shouldn’t all adults who know about this application ask our own children and grandchildren to explain why and how they are using it? In other words, we fabulous women need to take some responsibility!

The developers feel that better uses will happen – via NY Times: “It’s definitely still a learning process for us. And we’re definitely still learning how to make the community more constructive.”

I agree the developers are still learning. However, it seems to me some of that learning needed to go on prior to the launch of the application. The experience of millions has informed most of us that giving young people a free pass to say anything they want without any consequences and to be able to do it anonymously doesn’t sound like a good idea. It puzzles me who thought it would lead to good?

Shouldn’t we as adults be on top of this stuff? Or maybe we are too busy on our own social media accounts to pay much attention. I remember my parents saying dozens of times “you will understand when you grow up”. Most of the time I did – maybe we need to give our children and grandchildren a chance to say the same at least a few times. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Patty Gill Webber

 

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