Stuff About Today’s World

Why Women Over 60 Are Not Just “Over 50”

When I turned 50, I got an invitation to join AARP. I was officially “old”, I thought. From then on, I would be a “woman over 50” – a category that would define me for the rest of my life.
 
My 50’s started out well. I was healthy, active in business and traveling between homes in Florida and Maine. I was kayaking, scuba diving and working out three times a week with a trainer. Life was good – even though AARP magazines began showing up regularly, more and more young people were calling me “ma’am”, and I found myself avoiding the bathroom scale.

Scuba-diving

Around my mid-50’s, I realized there was more to come. I began to have what my mom called “women’s troubles”. Menopause was hell. I dealt with brittle hair, weight gain, iron deficiency and high cholesterol. I lost my mom, an aunt, two uncles and a friend. I found myself pulling back from my Type-A business lifestyle. I spent more time reading and writing and learned to play golf.
 
Then it happened. I turned 60. I was surprised to find that I felt very different than when I turned 50. Now, three years into this decade of my life, I have decided that being over 60 is NOT the same as being over 50. In fact, we deserve our own category. (That’s why my friend Patty and I started this blog site!)
 
What’s so different? Everyone’s experience is unique, of course. But here are some things that are true for me and probably true for many other women in my age group:

  • Business isn’t at the top of my list… family and friends are
  • Aches and pains are much scarier… is my body telling me something?
  • I’m increasingly concerned about contributing something positive to the world… do I still have time?
  • Illness and death are front and center… enough said
  • Politics and world events irritate me but don’t make me want to march or protest… or even talk about them much
  • Days are slower paced, but the weeks and months go by quickly… really quickly
  • It surprises me to look in the mirror and realize that plastic surgery could help… but not enough
  • Keeping my body flexible and toned is more important than keeping it thin… assuming I even could
  • Looking “good” is what I want to achieve every day… Looking “hot and sexy”? I wish!

I might have begun to think and feel some of these things in my 50’s, but they are now solidly in my life and here to stay.

TIME OUT: I was just editing this blog and received a phone call with a recorded message: “Hello, Catherine, this is John. You have been selected to receive a free senior citizen medical alert system ……” I hung up quickly. Am I being overly sensitive or did they know I was over 60? Would a 50’s-something woman have received this call? I doubt it.

Magazines and websites like to gear their articles and advice to women over 50. It may be convenient for them, but it’s not my reality. At 63, I think, feel and behave differently than when I was 53.
 
Will I advocate a category of over 70 women in eight or nine years? I don’t know, but I’ll keep you “posted”.
 
Cathy Green

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

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).

workout

Cathy Green

Chiara de Blasio with a Trend Over-60s Can Love

Love the garland trend—WOW—now that is a terrific and pretty idea for young women!  This photo of Chiara de Blasio, daughter of the new mayor of New York City shows how great it looks on stylish young women.

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Actually, as we well know this “new” trend of using garlands in one’s hair is as old as time.  “Flowers in one’s hair” are hardly original.  Although when we did it back in the 60s we likely thought we invented it.  Flowers are just beautiful — and flowers on a young woman bring two sure-to-please visuals together.

garlands trend

Left: Henry Peach Robinson – The Garland of Flowers, 1857/58

Now, speaking of trends, let’s consider tattoos – which most of us try to understand and accept with generosity but seriously do not get.  Most of us have been at recent social events and noticed our/someone else’s granddaughter or daughter covered in tattoos. And these are not bikers or trailer trash — they are as easily doctors or business women or teachers as anything else.  It is simply something young people find attractive and likely sexy that we think is YUCK.  A covered up tattoo we understand — we were a generation who did lots of covering up — from foundation to dysfunction, we know how to pretend things are not what they seem.  But, I digress – another over-60 trend for sure.
 
Back to tattoos for a moment. Please if you are an over-60 fabulous woman and love the all over tattoo look, contact me and tell me why and how I can be as open to this obvious popular trend as you are.  As for the photo below on the right with the “label” I just could not resist a take on the phrase we grew up with – “does she or doesn’t she” — if you don’t remember this I don’t believe you are over 60 or fabulous.

On the right: does she or doesn’t she? Only her tattoo artist knows for sure.

On the right: does she or doesn’t she? Only her tattoo artist knows for sure.

So here we are faced with an “age old problem”: how to go with the flow while keeping our fashion cores?  How do we admire some trends, and act generously about those we do not.  While not earthshaking or even seriously relevant in these challenging times, I do think about this and want to be at peace over it!
 

Let me suggest we try, as we need to do with bigger issues in our lives, seek to find the middle ground that eludes us in politics, religion and other hot topics.

 

Can’t we all agree, that no matter what the age of these folks below, these are just trends EVERYONE can do without?

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Fashion photos courtesy oddstuffmagazine.com

Thank You Notes: Write Them and Write Them Promptly

I mailed a thank you note to Cathy yesterday. It was for the wonderful hospitality she and Ray had shown Bill and I when we visited their home in Asheville in October.

Cathy casually said to me a day or so after we left, knowing that I was traveling till November 1: “Patty, don’t bother with a thank you note (she knew of course there was NO possibility I would not write a thank you note for the visit) till you get settled in Tucson.”

Taking that sweet and thoughtful “pass” and running with it, clarified to me AGAIN, the value of an old fashioned rule worth following: write a thank you note for any gift, service, or generous act that you want to show appreciation for within a few days of receiving it.

 

The note I wrote was more than adequate—it made mention of several special things our hosts did for us while also mentioning the BIG THINGS – like our thanks for their friendship. But it was not a spontaneous reaction to a freshly shared experience. Between the time I left Cathy’s and when I wrote the note I had been in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego before arriving in Tucson. In each place we were involved with friends, business colleagues, family and experiences each of which was unique. Yes, before you say it, I will: we are abundantly blessed – though even for us this is busier than most of our months.

The point is I had to sit and think about the Asheville trip—a good thing yes and a very pleasant thing to do, but not as fresh as the day or two post our departure. It was more challenging to find the exact spirit and shape of that trip that made it completely unique—as each experience is. It may seem crazy or even ludicrous in our current culture—but thoughtful promptness (versus an instant inane reply) makes a difference. And being as much in the moment and the present increasingly seems like one of the true “answers” to having a wonderful and successful life.

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If you haven’t heard, type in “death of cursive” or “penmanship” into your preferred search approach. Teaching little ones to write is going the way of the dodo bird—keyboarding is how most people communicate in today’s world.

I am now more convinced than ever that we all need to keep writing personal notes ON TIME and in cursive or print. They are more personal, soulful and focused. They provide people something our culture makes very hard to get: someone’s total attention, and time spent writing something meaningful about how thankful they are FOR YOU. Sorry about the late note Cathy – no more passes for me.

Perspective Is Everything: Or, Our Age Affects Our Thinking

Younger woman sees older woman 80-plus — in great shape.

Thought: (Missing that the woman is in great shape) – “Thank God that will never be me…”

Fabulousover60 woman sees older woman 80-plus — in great shape.

Thought: “She looks like she did everything right and still looks pretty bad. And she is only 15 or so years older than I am.”

———

Younger woman sees older woman 80+ in terrible shape.

Thought: “What woman where? “

Fabulousover60 woman sees older woman 80+ in terrible shape.

Thought: “Where’s the wine?”

———

Younger woman sees absolutely gorgeous hot guy in movie.

Thought: “That would be a great guy to have sex with” using current language for that feeling/thought.

Fabulousover60 woman sees absolutely gorgeous hot guy in movie.

Thought: “That would be a great guy to have sex with.”

Via People.com

Ryan Gosling – Via People.com

Fabulousover60 woman thinking about Halloween — “loved it as a kid — love it now.”

Other fabulousover60 woman thinking about Halloween — “loved it as a kid — even those cheap tacky homemade costumes — to me it is still for kids — not really an adult holiday.”

halloween

Fabulous women do not share a universal perspective, as we know — but then again there is likely no one under 40 who thinks of Halloween as solely a children’s holiday or a woman under 50 who believes she will be 80. OK, so now we deal with it. That is what we are trying to do – but, for the most part, less successfully than we would like. Let’s not even get started on that hot model who is 80 something.

Carmen Dell'Orefice - Norisol Ferrari Spring 2013 fashion show. Via Huffington Post

Carmen Dell’Orefice – Norisol Ferrari Spring 2013 fashion show. Via Huffingtonpost.com

If In Doubt…. Don’t Press Send!

I was reminded this past week about the potentially destructive power of email. Two couples … friends of ours and of each other … are no longer speaking. The rupture is so bad that it’s difficult to imagine how it can be repaired.

 

The issue isn’t as important as how it was handled. The first couple – who now admit that their first email was a mistake – sent it anyway. The response from the second couple was highly emotional – “scathing” is a word I’ve heard used to describe it. In fact, the clear message was that the friendship was over. The first couple sent another email apologizing and explaining. There has been no response.

 

I haven’t actually seen any of the emails and I’ve only talked to the first couple about them. However, I think I understand the situation well enough to say that the emails … all of them … should never have been written or, more importantly, sent. In fact, I suspect that they were difficult to write and that both parties wrote at least a couple of versions of them. I also suspect that if everyone was being totally honest with themselves and others, they would say that they wish they could take them back.

email

 

Not too long ago, I was angry with an out of state friend. Again, the reason isn’t important. I immediately sat down and wrote an email. Then I wrote another version. I didn’t think I had the right tone, so I wrote it again. This one was better, but I still had a nagging suspicion that it didn’t capture the issue well enough. I decided to wait and try later. The issue weighed on me the rest of the day. I composed different versions of the note in my head. And then I began to think about receiving it as if I were my friend.

 

That’s when it hit me. This issue was not an email issue. It required a phone call… a real discussion. So the rest of that day and the next I thought about the conversation rather than the words I’d use in an email. It was difficult to pick up the phone to call… but it was absolutely the right thing to do. I learned that my friend felt conflicted by the issue too. We had a great discussion and resolved it easily. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders and we were better friends than ever.

 

I can’t say that I’ve never sent an email I regret. But I think I’m even less likely to do it in the future given the recent sad story of my two friends.

 

When I talked to Ray about it, he said that Billy C. Owen, his Master Chief in the Navy, used to say: “Once you pull the trigger, you can’t get the bullet back in the gun.”

 

The wrong email is like a bullet you can’t get back.

 

So, I have a new rule for myself: If an issue is potentially emotional, if it’s difficult to write, or if it could be misinterpreted, I’m going to pick up the phone or … even better, if possible … have a face-to-face discussion.

 

I wish one of our sets of friends would do that now. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late?

 

Cathy Green

 

Summer Reflections: Part 2

Here’s what happened . . . Here is what I learned — Part two of two.  (To read part one, click here.)

summer

6. A couple we know in Tucson got married — both are much over 70

  • Never say never. My Mom used to say that all the time – she was right. This shows me maybe some of the many things I have said I would never do (like get married again if Bill and I were not together) need to be tossed to the curb — why limit yourself?
  • Love is always a welcome turn of events
  • Celebrate good things in people’s lives rather than focusing friendships on just when people are down and need an ear

7. Summer plans changed due to a sudden death in the extended family

  • It is only the beginning — get used to it
  • Don’t stop planning because everything is always changing

8. My brother-in-law died 10 years ago August 31

  • He is supporting me somehow even now; and yes, I still miss him
  • Show respect by copying the best qualities of those you loved — he was VERY funny and teased perfectly — which is tough since teasing can spill over to mean — I have to work on my teasing

9. We cancelled the decision to host a party to celebrate our 15th anniversary and went to Italy and France instead

  • Big parties don’t do it for me anymore — that’s it
  • I got to spend time one on one with the people we really care about — much better than a party for both Bill and I AND our friends
  • Our anniversary is a private thing — why share? Has Facebook made us all think people care about our personal celebrations?

10. Social media continued to haunt me by sitting there and being necessary but daunting

  • Look around, are only rocket scientists on the web? That is the point — it is NOT that hard — stop telling yourself it is
  • Choose your own goals for social media carefully and stick to them: Yes to this, no to that, focus on getting new business, focus on sharing with extended family. Start with a goal and then use appropriate social media to achieve it
  • Stop caring about being on top of everything — but don’t be a Luddite and drop out of the whole bit if using social media SELECTIVELY could help with your personal goals

There was more — but enough for now — it is “back to school time” and that is my focus now. That, and trying not to forget all I learned this summer.

Diana Nyad and Kathie Lee Gifford – What Can We Learn From Outstanding Women?

When Kathie Lee turned 60 on August 16th I was at the gym watching a few minutes of her Today show with Hoda. There she was — in a third or fourth incarnation as entertainer, having survived enormous highs and lows, and flashing a “fabulous 60” sash!  I was so excited — Kathie Lee is now officially fabulous over 60 and can start reading our blog!  If you know her can you pass it along?

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When Diane Sawyer interviewed Diana Nyad after her epic swim from Cuba that started August 31 and ended 53 hours and 102 miles later, the 64 year-old looked radiant, triumphant, serene, and absolutely elated.  Despite failed previous attempts and personal challenges—there she was—celebrating fresh achievement in her 60s.
 
Do women like Diana and Kathie Lee inspire or intimidate us?  What effect does reading/thinking about the hundreds of outstanding 60+ women have on our efforts to make our own lives the best they can be?

“The toughest athlete in the world is a 62 year-old woman.” – D.L. Stewart. Dayton Daily News

First lesson—what do you feel about others’ success?  Jealousy?  “Yeah, Jane Seymour looks fabulous at 62 — so what?  She was always naturally gorgeous and has facelifts and tons of help“.  Mean-spirited?  “I never liked Hillary Clinton or Jan Brewer—too arrogant.”  Proud?  “Hurrah for her — go girl!”
 
Strong feelings (positive or negative) to someone else’s success can give you some insight into your own life and choices.
 
No successful 60+ woman has not endured failure and of course profound loss.  What can you learn from how outstanding women handled this universal challenge?

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Finally while realizing that no one succeeds at everything, to succeed at ANYTHING requires basically what we sometimes (especially when tired or frustrated) wish it didn’t: continued discipline, commitment, endurance, learning from mistakes, and the BIG ONE: personal responsibility. Retiring from one path, or changing gears doesn’t mean stopping or lowering standards, but rather applying these qualities of success to new and different goals.
 
Today I started a new routine. One that’s based on watching and figuring out that successful people start with a “First Things Firstmentality — hey I TEACH this stuff!!  But teaching isn’t doing.  Some of my recent observations of people like Diana and Kathie Lee have shown me I am still wasting time on what is not important TO ME.  And that I am not practicing consistent discipline that will move me toward my new goals.
 
So I started the day with writing (one of my main goals for my work now) – NOT CHECKING EMAILS.  Oh this is hard.  Really hard.  It would be so much easier to just say “to hell with it – I am/was successful enough”.  But then I wouldn’t even have a shot at being fabulous—and that continues to be out of the question.

Summer Reflections

Here’s what happened . . . Here is what I learned — Part One of Two

easy chair

1. A respected friend who raised family in suburbs while always working decided to sell the gorgeous house and move to NYC — sold nearly all their belonging — even car

  • Just because something sounds so overwhelming that it gives you a stomach ache, don’t stop considering it
  • Stop putting off plans for change—even if they are not as all-encompassing as this person’s rework of her life

2. Planned and executed (good for the soul to plan and EXECUTE) a wonderful visit with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years after she reached out to share that a mutual friend had died months earlier

  • Don’t feel guilty about losing touch
  • The woman who passed away is not mad at me for not knowing she passed away
  • Do go through all your old address books/phone books/calendars and see if there are some selected old friends that really are worth connecting with — plan the day/afternoon/whatever with love — like the old days — something that is not constantly in flux with cell phones on the ready to cancel or change plans if something else comes along
  • Seeing how your old friend is aging/growing wiser is an inspiration — like my friend Peg was. Or, if not, that is a help too in going forward with your own choices

3. The weather sucked

  • Get over it
  • Stop whining — everyone is in the same boat. Other than using the weather to bond with strangers or make a specific point, stop talking about it
  • Never doubt climate change and a warming planet — do something about it in your own way

4. Bill and I celebrated our 15th anniversary with a commitment to the next 15!

  • Nothing is forever — KNOW that — so put thoughts in your mind that initiate an acceptance of this certain reality.
  • My husband is the best even when at his worst — marrying him was a super decision — which I knew a long time prior to the wedding
  • When celebrating, look forward as well as back and plan things that are different than what you recently did

5. I continued exercising, taking out print tops from my closet, kept buying more simple, black and flattering clothes and stayed with my anti lactose regimen

  • Stick with what works — do not rethink decisions you know are good ones — save time — stop analyzing things you do not need to
  • There is more I “know for sure” than ever before — but TONS I know nothing about—or little about. For example: why people love constant photos of their lives in every possible situation so much that taking and sharing photos has replaced one to one conversation) — now THAT I don’t get!

To be continued . . . .

Old Photos – Happy Memories or Depressing Reminders of Former Glory?

My good friend Joanne has a large painting of herself back in 1985 when she was an aerobics teacher.  The painting is in her dining room.  Although I’ve been in Joanne’s home on numerous occasions, I noticed it for the first time recently when we were sitting in her and Paul’s dining room sharing a fantastic dinner—all homemade and delicious.
 
It caught my eye because it was not Joanne—but yet totally Joanne.  We met in 2000 when Bill and I moved to Buck’s County, PA and she found the perfect home for us.  Joanne is dynamite—a woman on fire in her 60s doing lots of new things along with part-time mentoring/work in her old full-time occupation of being the top-notch realtor in town.  She is still marching for things she believes in.  It took me a few moments to stop wishing for Joanne that she looked like her old aerobics teacher self.  What stopped even that brief thought was the clarity that Joanne is WAY too well-adjusted to have that wistfulness for her ‘former’ anything—she lives NOW.

———

Renay always has been one of my most gorgeous friends.  I can still remember at my wedding when I was 48 and she 44, my soon to be son-in-law asking me who SHE was with clear admiration.  Renay told me to check out a photo her son put on her Facebook when she was 21 and newly graduated from the University of Maryland.  I didn’t know Renay then, although we did know each other by our late 20s when we were both living and working in NYC.  Renay didn’t look relaxed and serene at 21 but rather pretty, young and a bit unsure.  In her late 50s now, she has fought through many personal struggles and has a depth of character while still being stunning and avidly pursuing her new career in jewelry design.  She is a powerful woman, but unlike Joanne, is almost as nuts about her looks as I am.
 
My Facebook has a photo of me with my then 6 year-old niece.  I look so different—36 and a bit vague though happy.  That bit of fear or lack of comfort in my own skin is prevalent in most of my photos from younger days—sort of quizzical if not a bit unanchored.

Patty at 36

I have to be honest (well I don’t have to be honest but then Cathy would throw me off the Fabulous team) — when I see old photos I do feel a bit of wistful sadness.  Loss of course is what life is all about—surviving losses of all kinds including our “youth”, some relationships, and fantasies like finding the ‘perfect’ anything outside ourselves.
 
Life is also about gaining things too—and not just weight.  When I see myself and friends in GOOD current photos (and there are definitely FEWER of these—and thankfully current means anything in the last 10 years)—ones where the light is right and the angle complimentary, I see strength and confidence. I see women who are solid and grounded.  And, I see happiness too.  Pretty fabulous—but why can’t I just be as thin as I used to be with my current head on my shoulders?

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