Catholic Church

A NON-Partisan Take on What We All Learned from the Debate

As you know by now, Cathy and I do not get into politics on FabulousOver60.  We think there are places for that from the local diner to the internet; or from your own Facebook page to zillions of obscure or heavily-trafficked sites.  I bet if you have read our blog for a while you can guess by now that Cathy leans center right, and I lean center all the way to the left, but it doesn’t matter.  “Fabulous”, as we describe it, is not political – so welcome all. Even if you don’t care about this election, hate everyone running, or planning to vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.

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Here are the truths barring repeating and the implication for us fabulous women:

1. People don’t change without TONS of effort and work.  Even with extensive work, practice, and a sincere effort to change, it is extremely challenging. 

If you missed the book The Power of Habit – it is time to read it.  If you have read it, just do a quick re-read.

IMPLICATION: Give yourself a break that you haven’t lost that 10 lbs., quit drinking, gone back to more frequent religious services or trying to keep your voice down (one of my continuing but often failed improvement strategies).

2. Sometimes you can’t help yourself – somebody just pushes your buttons.

IMPLICATION:  Do you even know your buttons?  Any fabulous woman should know them cold.  And, before any interactions with potential “button pushers” remind yourself not only not to respond, but plan ahead to avoid tension.  Example: Dinner with your cousin John, the sincere but over the edge supporter of the natural look (he’s a mess and he loves that his wife has gone gray)?? Wear something you consider “the most boring thing in your closet” and do not color your roots.

3. Lying is natural.  But consider the topic.

*We are told roughly around 200 lies per day. *On average, we lie 3 times per every 10 mins of conversation, 60% have a hard time without lying at least once. Most lies are harmless white lies like “nice haircut” or “yeah, all is good!”

IMPLICATION: It is OK to do what I did: to tell my mother, who was suffering from dementia in 1998, that my wedding was in a Catholic Church and Bill had gone to Rome to talk to the Pope and had gotten an annulment.  It is not OK to say tell people stray gossip that is hurtful and vicious.  It is OK to say, for example, “you look awesome”.  It is not OK to say your cancer is ‘“all in your head” and you need to buy supplements from me’. There are lies and then there are lies. Use that fabulous head of yours to comply with “telling the truth” that matters.

4. Manage your facial expressions and your gaze.

IMPLICATION:  Rolling your eyes as your sister tells you she has so many men calling her she doesn’t know who to choose to take her to the most expensive restaurant in town is fine.  But it is terrible to roll your eyes when your grown daughter, niece or dear friend is sharing that she is considering getting a divorce.  Look people in the eye with compassion, keep yourself composed and skip the “schoolmarm” or “queen bee I am above it all look” when tension is flying.

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5. Finally, be smart. Drop topics you don’t want to get into and rise above the nonsense.

IMPLICATION: Being smart in all senses of that word is the essence of being fabulous – along with being kind and “staying on your own yoga mat”.  Avoid or drop subjects of deep division with those you love and those you need to pretend you love. Stand for peace – with or without a sign. Be the model for sophisticated ease and grace.

If you are like us, you are counting the days till November 8th and not because you are worried you will miss the minute by minute polling. But not using this unique opportunity in this contentious election cycle not to brush up on being fabulous would be a big mistake. Thank God no one will be discussing that mistake in a round table of experts later this week, or weeks to come. Oh, but do vote.

Patty Gill Webber

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

Did Catholicism help make me fabulous??

With Pope Francis and Catholicism front and center with stories NOT related to abuse of children, I began to think about the good I received from being raised a Catholic and educated in Catholic institutions.  And to ponder—was Catholicism partly the cause of being Fabulous?

I was raised a Catholic.  I also attended Catholic schools for much of my education—grade school, high school, college and one of the three universities from which I received graduate degrees were Catholic institutions.  I was blessed with a challenging, and demanding education that taught me to think critically as well as write, understand and be able to communicate effectively.  While my personal experience with Catholicism was parish-focused and parochial, my education was not.  The institutions, including The Ursuline School, St. Mary’s College and Fordham University, had global perspectives even when I was attending.
But something more also came from this experience.  And it was communicated in a particularly effective way by Frank Bruni in his opinion piece in the Sunday, March 17, 2013 NYTimes.  In speaking about new opportunities for the church moving forward he did not defend any of the recent sandals but put his finger right on something that from my perspective is correct.

“To many Catholics, active and lapsed, the beauty of the faith and the essence of Jesus Christ reside in a big-hearted compassion that has been eclipsed and often contradicted by church leaders’ excursion into the culture wars.”

Fabulous women—women of guts and character (like the Catholic nuns fighting with the Vatican), religiously affiliated or not at all—will resonate with that statement.  “Big-hearted compassion” is an essential element of being fabulous.  Being able to connect at a level of honest compassion is more necessary than ever as we move into our 60s and 70s and are faced with tough choices to which ONLY compassion is the answer.

When I went to my high school (45th in 2012) and college (40th in 2011) reunions, the thing that consistently connected me to other women there—many of whom were not my closest friends in earlier times—was their sense of compassion. Compassion for themselves and their own frailties, for others more or less well off,  and for women coming up behind us.

There is no chance I would consider returning to the Catholic Church – (am a practicing Episcopalian).  Its approach to women is simply not tolerable for me.  But that aside, being raised and educated with Catholic values was far from all bad—in fact, it was great in terms of shaping my life (and character) to be focused on enduring values.  With all my fun with materialism, at core I am a “catholic girl” who is grateful to those who impacted me and encouraged enduring values and life choices.  While not Melinda French Gates, we share being an “Ursuline girl”  whose credo was Serviam (I will serve).  Melinda Gates is someone who is 48 and utterly fabulous—no doubt she will still be so at sixty-something.  Even Catholicism can contribute to our fabulous journey—that is pretty interesting—and telling.

Note to fabulous over 60 women who are Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or atheist—let us know if your upbringing helped make you fabulous.  Think so?  Share how and why.

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