A friend turns fifty-nine and is in mourning — or is she?

I totally get it and was very empathetic. But honestly I was a little jealous. She isn’t even sixty yet, much less sixty-something.

Now that I see every woman as a potential blog reader it dawned on me that this is good news for the Fabulous Over 60 blog — the closer to sixty the better!

But wait, isn’t someone’s birthday supposed to be about THEM? It made me realize that despite it all, everyone is an individual and not a category. So maybe Renay is just reacting to her day because of the many challenges and good/bad things she has in her life including a family and a new business venture. And maybe on her birthday the thoughts about her not being sixty is all too self-involved. It is HER day.

Another friend — we will call her Laura to protect her privacy — turned the big seventy recently. She was not happy at all – I sent some great flowers with a card that said enjoy your day — no mention of the dreaded seventy.

Being fabulous warrants the need to work hard on making sure others have their day – fifty-five or sixty-five or seventy-five — we love ourselves but one of the reasons we do is because we know how to be a friend. So when someone has a birthday forget analyzing it in terms of YOUR age just stay focused on HER.

Got an idea for how to make birthdays really special for special friends? OR, a tip to help remind us all it is absolutely NOT about us! Please share.

Thanksgiving alone?

We decided several weeks ago that this year we would literally have Thanksgiving alone — just us — Bill and I. AND, we would stay home, do what we wanted to do and also cook a small turkey and a few sides.

Our daughter was in NJ with her family and her husband’s large and warm family. Our son worked. My niece was at my sister’s and having a ball seeing old friends and doing lots of visiting in the place she was raised. Our sisters were with their families and friends and even a number of close friends were committed (not literally, although a few considered it after the day) to other events.

Basket of Fruits and Vegetables

We started the day with an easy breakfast and talking about all the things we were thankful for — a huge list by the way. But it was very quiet. It was odd. Bill watched football and I read a whole book! A new one called Proof of Heaven about a neuroscientist’s journey to “the other side”. We walked, cooked together and sat outdoors to eat a lovely dinner and drink great wine. We limited the food to turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and one vegetable side. We also bought a gluten and lactose free pie that was yummy.

Bottom line?

  • We felt great the day after
  • We had a calm, intellectually interesting and restful day
  • We spent quality time together
  • We thought a great deal about all that we have to be thankful for

Not sure I ever want to do it again but it was awesome. Made me realize how “the shoulds” simply do not apply anymore. Are you as sick of hearing that as I am? Are we missing something because they aren’t? Have lower standards become no standards? Or are we just realizing that along with so many traditions, we are reinventing how we want to spend the day “giving thanks”? I think as long as that part stays in the day it is OK. As a woman in my 60s, losing that would be trouble — I would have guilt if there were no thanks in Thanksgiving. This is another example of good guilt that we do not want to lose. Yes, we fabulous women have guilt — but only the good kind.

Not everyone gets it and that is a good thing

Went to a spa last week (spas are BIG for fabulous women) and had a ball with my step-daughter whom I adore. We were celebrating her birthday – wonderful time.

On the way to the spa I stopped for a cup of coffee at a deli — out in “nowheresville”. Us women understand exactly the location of that.

Standing in line for coffee the man behind me said sweetly — “wow, you have your name on your top”. Stunned for a moment I was looking around trying to see PATTY or PAT written on my shirt.

Of course the light bulb came on. Just like in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Back to the Future, when the protagonist’s mother is waking Michael J. Fox’s character from his rest and says “Calvin? Calvin Klein?” This nice man thought the name Lucy on my shirt was my name.

A fabulous, classy women laughs softly and thanks the man but notes it is just a brand. I did that.

Driving away to the spa I realized the eternal truth of life — I AM NOT THE CENTER OF IT. 99% of people probably have never been to a spa and wearing brand name exercise clothes is rare.

Annoying though this is, it is a good thing. It would get really crowded everywhere if everyone was just like us. And us fabulous, remarkable women like our privacy and space.

My Final Pap Smear and Other Profound Discoveries

I went to the doctor for my check-up earlier this week and had “my last pap smear”.  Why?  I am 62, in good health, and although it might make sense to have one now since it had been a few years, by the time I’m due again (every three years are the new guidelines – not every year like we experienced growing up) I will be over 65 and not need one at all.

There are some things we gladly give up.  You would think this would be up there with stopping menstruating.  But when Dr. K (30 something, gorgeous and smart) told me I didn’t need another one because I was too old to need one, it sort of hurt.  Ouch.  Then I had lunch this week with a friend and former business colleague who shared that she was depressed when she stopped menstruating.  Let me stop myself from saying “really??” But… really?

We’ve always known—or should have, that life is about loss.  See everything wonderful and true written by Judith Viorst.  There is not a woman over 60 out there that hasn’t gotten an email with the Nora Ephron excerpt on “the honest truth is that it’s sad to be over 60”. But in case you missed it, and are in the mood to feel slightly funky, charmed by her style, but sad – read this.

Why would Fabulous Over 60 co-creator Cathy and I think we can or should disagree with these outstanding women professionals who changed our lives for the better with their brilliant work and fun styles?  I want to believe that the title of our blog is true and that there is a beautiful life out there for anyone who keeps pitching and trying to pull it off.

Judith, Nora, Cathy and I fundamentally agree—life DOES mean loss—but giving up and throwing in the towel by stopping coloring your hair can never be forgiven.  And attempts to push back the clock just a bit by putting on something now and again that is definitely “too young” for you is good for the soul.  Since Nora is deceased, and Judith doesn’t know us really, you have to take our word for it.

History lesson from the Cuban Missile Crisis

It was 50 years ago today — October 22, 2012 — that the Cuban Missile Crisis was going on. I remember being both confused and a little scared in my eighth grade class. Taught by a firm but gentle nun, there was much desire to keep us informed without scaring us out of our wits.

Those were some non-fabulous days — at the time I was thinking about…what else? Becoming a nun. Oh my. My parents often reminded me of that when I was in my 20s being a ‘where have all the flowers gone’ girl and thinking: so many boys, so little time. But I digress.

cuban missile

Current events were frightening and nothing to joke about. Men in suits talked on TV — the news was serious, the subjects serious and the tone somber. I felt that somehow, something really bad could happen — but if God forbid it did, we could get under our desks and ride out the storm. We were a million miles from 9/11.

When I reflect on this day, it makes me wish that my granddaughters had easier times to grow up in. No, not easier, just more sugar-coated and protected. Things were CONTROLLED. That was okay when you were ten years old…I think. Not sure that we know how we would have felt if the events back then were surrounded by 24/7 news and instant breaking this and that. But I can’t help but wonder if all the constant commotion in today’s world makes it HARDER, not easier to know when things are difficult or challenging. When everything is important, nothing is.

When people were quiet, somber and talked in serious tones, we knew it was important. Living life in a bit of a bubble allows the slightest change to seem like a big deal. Maybe we can all learn a lesson here to make fewer things a big deal in our own lives. And refuse to overreact to the many events happening daily that are in retrospect very minor.

We can’t bring back the bubble. But we can focus on making sure our country and others have the best leaders possible. In the end it was President Kennedy who made things “work out”. And it’s going to be the same today — no matter what is happening; our leaders help us through or make us worse off. Now that is a history lesson that reminds us why we are all voting soon. And why, no matter the times, some history lessons are worth remembering — like the value of voting intelligently.

Making New Friends

Most of us old enough to be fabulous, sophisticated women remember meeting people as related to some smoke-filled room with tremendous amounts of alcohol and loud music.  We were trying to “meet new people” or otherwise find love, companionship or at the least great sex or a job lead.

Our parents and most adults had friends when we were growing up.  We learned that friendship meant lots of real back and forth communications on the phone or through the mail.  The primary way it worked was by mutual talking, listening and responding, following up, and remembering birthdays. It focused on listening to other people’s stories and lives and of course sharing – gossip, secrets, dreams.  We didn’t really have any place or way to present ourselves to others except through conversation or photo albums, or sharing experiences.  Good news is, most of us know how to BE friends, it is the ‘meeting the right people’ part that has become a bit of a drag.

Unlike our early searches to find new and different people, and also discover ourselves, we now know who we are. We’re comfortable in our own skin or REALLY working to be, and set on what works and doesn’t work for us in terms of acquaintances.  This is probably one of the very reasons it is so hard to find good new friends.  We know what we want—and will know it when we see it—but till then it is sort of hit and miss at the club, church, synagogue, neighborhood or volunteer activity.  We plan “dates” with singles or couples, with or without mates and see what happens.  Often, nothing happens.  It is a bust of sorts—nice people as we say—but nothing really “in common” or as fabulous women, we conclude—they are nice—but basically boring.

So what’s an adventurous person or couple to do?  How can you attract and find great new friends.  Well truly, I don’t know—but here are my sources, successes and failures; and for what they are worth, use them in your journey to find just the right people for you!

Good ways to meet people

  • Have something important to you in common—be honest—if you hate people talking about their grandchildren, do not look or try to reach out for people who are living very close geographically to their children.  If they live close they talk all the time—you will be bored and they won’t care because they are surrounded by their kids and that is all that matters.  If you have at least two or three other interests in common like art, food, politics or whatnot—OK to try them—but don’t get your hopes up.
  • You heard them talking to someone else, or they gave a talk or you heard them share something and just something about their style appealed to you.  If you find someone drawing you in—it is a possible friendship lead.  See if you can find out who they are and introduce yourself.
  • Reach out specifically to someone even if you they are not your age or other “obvious” category —hey if you live in a small town or even NYC—you read about someone owning a gallery, writing a book, opening a restaurant, starting a club and think—hey that sounds “neat” or “cool”—contact them and suggest coffee or an iced tea—you are fascinated by what they do or are doing and would love to meet them—if you have an eye on George Clooney or Ryan Gosling I wouldn’t get my hopes up—99 percent of real people will be flattered and meet you.  And if they blow you off, who cares—you don’t know them YET.  We are long out of ANY school—and NO ONE CARES. Their rejection just proves you are not yet the best at pre-friendship selection—but you will get better.
  • Clubs—golf, or otherwise—or churches—or neighborhood associations—but make sure you are truly in the demographic stereotype– (there is a grain of truth in most stereotypes—especially in terms of what you are doing here)—what I mean is don’t join the local country club hoping to find others who adore President Obama and want to get involved in inner city volunteer activity—most country club members really are republicans—not all and maybe not one or another specific club–but wake up—it isn’t a happy hunting ground for friendships for the very liberal . . .
  • Ask around—remember that one—ask your vendors if you use any—hairdressers, law professionals, your new lawyer or local accountant—who is fun, or who is interesting—who are their favorite clients and why—I really like our neighbors—but unsure how to connect—till Sherri showed up in the seat next to me having her hair colored by MY Jason at MY salon.  The old adage that birds of a feather means something.  Likely someone like you will love the same people—including people like your hairdresser.
  • Do dump people you don’t like quickly—it is like dating—you kind of do know after a lunch or dinner that it just isn’t going to make it—let it go with grace—and style—don’t extend again and if you really don’t like the people/person, be direct but very nice—“hey we really just don’t have more time for new friends”—sounds cruel—but if you say it in a nice and light-hearted way people get it—and if they don’t aren’t you glad you are dumping them?

As the Rolling Stones put it: “you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.  The key is self-knowledge coupled with some assertive useful rules of thumb—we fabulous women are good at that—or try to be.

Bone Density Wake-up Call

Bone density tests kind of sneaked up on me. I remember getting my first one about 10 years ago when I was in my early 50’s. It was just another one of the tests I took as menopause approached.  I wasn’t concerned … it was just a “baseline”, my GYN said. The test wasn’t even very memorable.  Quick. Painless. Everything was fine. Nice strong bones. No problem-o.  Bone density as an “issue” didn’t make it onto my list of top one hundred life concerns.

At the advice of my GYN, I had tests every two years. The most recent was last week. It’s a simple test. You lie down on a table, an x-ray machine makes a lot of funny noises, you don’t even take off any clothes (although my fabulous gold chain belt had to go) and in about 10 minutes you’re in and out. It’s such an easy test that my technician was a 12-year-old male. (Well, maybe not 12, but definitely not much over 20.)

This time, however, I had a little different appreciation for the test.

That morning, after having a nice leisurely breakfast, I got up from the table with iPad in hand – I think I was reading an article about the election, although it could have been a story about George Clooney, and suddenly … irreversibly … I tripped over the dog.  Somehow, rather than falling face first, I managed to twist my body, fall backward and hit the hard wood floor with my left hip. This was followed closely by my left shoulder.  My head avoided the wooden stairs by inches as the iPad went flying. I lay on the floor for quite some time assessing the damage. Although my neck and back muscles were wrenched and I would be sporting a bruised butt in a day or two …there were no broken bones.  Thank God!

I had conducted my own bone density test the morning of my official bone density test. I couldn’t make that one up. I know I could have tripped over the dog if I was 40 instead of 60+ (couldn’t I?).  I know that falling isn’t necessarily something that only old people do (isn’t that right?).  But, I have to admit that I read all of the posters in the radiology office that day about calcium, Vitamin D and weight training with a lot more concern than ever before.

Bone density, it seems, is moving up on my list of life concerns. Damn!

We are Helen Gurley Brown’s Legacy

Helen Gurley Brown passed away August 13, 2012.  If you don’t know who she is you need to brush up on your ‘fabulous history’.  She brought us a new story line—we could have great jobs, great sex and be beautiful and funny and bold.  Children? Not really covered, discussed or focused on.  But for a big number of us, that was OK too.  We could review psychology 101 to discuss why that “childless thing” appealed to so many boomers (not the greatest generation anyone??) but that is for another blog – a later, more serious conversation.

Of course I was only 12 when HGB wrote Sex and the Single Girl. I never read it but lived it—or so I thought between say 1971 and 1979 (oh for the certainty of youth!).  Just saw a recently made (2010/11) movie about a woman being upset over having 20 lovers and not being married.  It was set in a time when motherhood has resurfaced as the new MUST do—and being single seen less as a good thing than a “loser” thing.  But already the tide is turning back on THAT—why can’t we just realize it is awesome for some women to be mothers, and not quite right for others and leave it there?

Some of us never counted lovers/boyfriends/acquaintances we slept with.  It was all innocent fun and experimentation and yes, liberation—our mothers may have been telling us “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” But we were thinking—“why get married to some idiot just because we had sex together?”
But by the time I was in my early 20s I remember telling the mother of one of my friends who I taught school with that if a guy wasn’t great in bed he was not for me.  Now, with age and more sensitivity to others, I sort of blush thinking of my outrageous behavior –then, I felt it was mainstream and acceptable to say such things.  It was, at least for those of us sprinkled by Ms. Brown’s fairy dust.

Liberation was the theme.  Being our own woman was what we wanted and we didn’t care who cared!  Our mothers were shocked and worried we wouldn’t marry doctors; some friends who were engaged to the college guy they met the first week on campus were embarrassed for us but perhaps secretly jealous (sure hope so). And our grandmothers? Well we never got to the point of even letting our Nana’s in on the whole revolution that “the pill” was creating for us.  We acted appropriately always.  We were NOT friends with them.

It seems quaint doesn’t it?  So much of the ability to do what we did was not just the shifting cultural norms but of course the LACK of help, and the fact that we had jobs that were “relatively” easy to get—as long as we typed or poured coffee well—though we were having none of that and DETERMINED to go farther.

Ah, “divaness” was born back then. And to those of us still fabulous divas today—we all thank God for Helen Gurley Brown. The good of her philosophy lives on (deep, serious value clashes we may have had with some of the assumptions have been resolved individually and do not lessen its magic) and lets us live our lives protected from many of life’s realities. Many of which we absolutely know, understand and adjust to daily because “divaness” is all about PERSONAL responsibility. Her philosophy paved the way of having a concrete, yet somewhat silly/goofy approach to keeping excited, upbeat and positive in the face of life’s relentless REALITY.

That’s the point that has sustained us.  When all else fails we DO go shopping.  We DO think about makeup, making a difference, having our own ideas, being sexy, dating, sex, our husbands, partners, future partners and being funny grandmas or glamorous elders.  Fabulous women know how tough it all is but keep going—hey, I have to say Helen Gurley Brown looked awesome in her 70s and was even pretty cool at 90 despite being married, juggling, and working like crazy forever. Good for her. Good for us.

%d bloggers like this: