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Five Of The Seventeen Lessons I learned In 2017

As the title suggests, I don’t plan to share my complete list of these lessons. Rather, in this entry I am choosing to share a few lessons that are already making a difference in my life. My thinking is that if I consider a few of my big breakthroughs, and you consider those and your own lessons, we can all end the year with some needed closure and fresh insight to make 2018 easier. As an adult learning expert I know that confusing and difficult life dilemmas give us an opportunity to learn and grow. I am certain 2017 has been a year when I have expanded my perspective, deepened my thinking and yes, gotten wiser. And I bet no matter what went on in your life you realize you learned some amazing things too.

For me, the biggest lesson was personal, not political, learning. The year began with a thud for my dear sister. She had a fall – not off the wagon, she doesn’t drink much – but a set back in her life that she was not prepared for, caught her totally off guard, and totally surprised Bill and I too. What happened next – the ups, downs, dramas and recovery is where it got very messy but amazingly interesting. While going through a depression triggered by my still not totally conquered codependence, (I have read Codependent No More dozens of times). I wound up realizing that I didn’t know my sister nearly as well as I thought I did. And that much of my initial feelings and then suffering was based on false assumptions about my sister – and about myself.

When we finally allowed things to unfold as they were meant to, we both more clearly understood the essence of each other’s character – and how our different but compatible passions were confusing us. While Wendy will always see justice, and correcting wrongs as central to who she is; I will always consider making things peaceful and calm as the highest good. We both are drawn to different north stars. We just needed to GET that our ideal “outcomes” can often feel far apart but ultimately are not for each other. We both have to turn down our “need for control buttons” and know that we are both OK as long as we allow each other to fix things based on our different passions. This profound lesson has let the remainder of the year work much more effectively for us both – and for us to enjoy and love each other in ways that are truly healthy.

Another of my lessons resulted from what I am now calling the chaos of 2017. There has been so much upheaval in technology, marketing and lifestyles, wrenching surprises everywhere from Washington DC to LA, and long-held expectations turned upside down. No matter what the focus of your year, it was touched by a sea of chaos happening everywhere we looked. Half of us just stopped looking and put on headphones. The rest of us tried to balance letting “some stuff” into our world while claiming our own roads. There wasn’t a set of friends or a family that didn’t put up the “no politics sign” at the entrance to some event. The truth is that the world was put into jet drive — change at the speed of light. And tough, very hard on everyone due to storms of nature or storms of our own creation.

Remember the phrase “you are what you eat”? Turns out you are also what you read, listen to, see and choose to engage with. We KNOW that, but do we really work to shape our input environments even as we respect our needs to keep current and apprised of important events? For many, the reaction to potentially disconcerting news is to shut it out. Logically, if and when something happens that is truly life changing, you will tune in – and of course you vote. Fabulous women vote. High standards – and that includes being a good citizen – are critical to all our futures. But let’s say you are like me: really interested in current events, but still concerned with getting too riled up over day to day nonsense while also worried about offending people I love who may have a different reaction or response to events. Remember I mentioned my need for peace and calm?

The lesson was pretty simple – but surprising – I had missed it till close to year-end. I realized that what I was really interested in was history and big current trends – both economic and political as well as social and artistic. If I am learning and growing (a huge passion) by reading interesting and complex ideas about diverse events and trends – from the Vietnam War to Leonardo Da Vinci (click on the links for specifics); if I am seeing and exploring art exhibits about Dali and Schiaparelli on a recent trip with co-blogger Cathy to Florida; then I am happy and more than satisfied with reading my beloved New York Times every other or third day and just checking headlines in between.

Cathy and Patty at the Dali Museum December 11, 2017

I don’t want to be out of the loop about things that matter – but more critical for me is to have my mind stimulated regularly and deeply. It is odd to me that I missed this very obvious need in myself. I wasn’t missing the details of DC daily as much as knowledge and insight into the world and how I might use that knowledge to help myself and others live happier more productive lives. What I realized that was watching CNN or MSNBC, while somewhat interesting some of the time, often was shrill nonsense and not particularly stimulating.

This week I read the new Chris Matthews book on Bobby Kennedy. Loved it. There it was – a biography that gave me insight and information to help better myself and have a greater understanding of today. It just doesn’t have to be today’s rundown.

So there you go. Two big lessons I learned. Add those you did. Just in case you’re interested in that list of 17 lessons of 2017, let me share numbers 15, 16 and 17.

15: Stop taking yourself so immensely seriously.

16: The world will always be challenging, so focus on what’s truly important for you.

17: On or near New Year’s Eve/Day, thank yourself for hanging tough this year – and wish yourself the happiest of New Year’s. Cathy and I wish that for all of you – whether you’ve learned anything or not.

Patty

An Open Letter To My Friend Patty: Get An iPad*!

I now own my second iPad. And you, my dear friend Patty, continue to tell me that you are thinking about buying one. If you make your purchase anytime soon, you will join the 250 million of us who have already purchased some version of the iPad since its introduction in April of 2010… a little over 5 years ago.

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We are not affiliated with nor paid by Apple

Why spend money on an iPad, you tell me, when you have a laptop that is portable. Why learn another device, you say, when you are comfortable with your laptop. And, of course, you have an iPhone.

The truth is, I’ll admit that you don’t really need an iPad. It’s much more of a luxury than a necessity these days. It’s kind of “in-between” a laptop and a phone. But, there are still some reasons I think you should consider it.

I know you well enough to know that you travel a lot, and plan to travel more. You are a voracious reader – books, magazines, articles and newspapers. You work on your laptop computer for business purposes, but not as much as you used to. You keep up with the latest news and movie reviews. In short, you are a busy semi-retired vibrant intelligent up-to-date woman who is on the move a lot and deserves to have the best of all technologies. (Did that last sentence sway you?)

Here are some things that are nicer and easier for me with an iPad:

  • Traveling. It’s lighter than a laptop, has some really great cover options, and even has lightweight keyboards that can be attached to make email or blog writing easier in planes or hotel rooms. And I can watch videos or movies in those same planes and hotel rooms.
  • Reading books, emails and newspapers. I can access any reading material I want – anytime and anywhere. And the screen is large enough for my eyes. I can even adjust fonts and letter sizes. I prop it up next to me when I’m having breakfast and sometimes take it to bed with me. (Yes, I’ve seen the latest studies about electronic devices and their impact on sleep. Don’t judge me!!)

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  • Seeing the grandkids’ photos on Facebook. Yes, I can check my phone. But it’s just a lot clearer and more enjoyable to stalk the family on a larger screen while sitting out on my deck or at the dentist’s office.
  • Checking information when watching TV or movies at home. What is Pierce Brosnan’s net worth (I can dream, can’t I?) What is the name of that actress in that movie that was directed by that guy who was married to that woman? Critical things like that.
  • Watching videos that Ray doesn’t want to watch. Orange is the New Black, for example, isn’t anywhere on his radar. But I can stream it on my Netflix app, sitting or lounging anywhere around the house, while he listens to music streamed from his new Sonos app – conveniently located, of course, on his iPad.

So, what apps do I use most on my iPad? Facebook, certainly. But also Netflix, iBooks, Email, Google Earth, CNN Breaking News, The Weather Channel… and about 20 others from time to time. (The one I don’t use is FaceTime. It’s just too depressing to see my face that large on the screen!)

Yes, iPads aren’t cheap. Depending on the amount of memory you want and the Wi-Fi and phone data network options you choose, it will cost you between $500 and $1000. (You can get an iPad mini for around $400, but why would you?)

You’ll also need to spend a little money hiring a teenager to set it up for you**.

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Is an iPad a necessity? No. A luxury? Yes. But, as a fabulous woman, don’t you deserve luxury? Of course you do!

Think about it, girlfriend!

Cathy Green

* I think iPads are pretty cool, but there are other “tablets” to consider if you really want to complicate your purchase decision.

**As an alternative to the teenager, there is an iPad for Seniors Dummies book… which apparently is a more dumbed-down version of iPad for Dummies. Sad, huh?

*** We are not affiliated with nor paid by Apple

 

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – But Don’t Zone Out!

Cathy and I have been exploring “trying new things” in a number of our last blogs. Cathy’s attempt to grab Prince George’s birthday as a way to share about HER year and plans for the next was an example. For us over-60s success is about not just getting out of our comfort zones but trying not to zone out.

Are you bored (or more freaked out) by funeral services? At this point they are more common than weddings — a bad sign I fear.

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Do your grandchildren grate on your nerves or seem mundane and uninteresting sometimes even though (of course) you adore them?

Do you find yourself trying hard not to doze off at a concert, while reading a great book, or even when sex is discussed much less happens or is scheduled?

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Staying awake and fully aware is becoming more challenging. We are not zoning out because we don’t care, don’t want to be involved and excited and enriched by life and all the people, places and things in it, but just because it often seems like we’ve “been there, done that” or “heard that, seen that”. Sometimes I am finding that it is harder to WANT to tune in. And that bothers me even more.

With the ugly and terrifying news in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, the southern US border it is tempting to totally tune out – what’s a fabulous woman to do?

Don’t confuse moving out of your comfort zone (good) with zoning out (mostly NOT good). Understanding significant current events is important—as a citizen of the world, your country and your local town. Just read news versus watching news if you are hyper sensitive—it’s a better way to digress information. And perhaps change the source of your news — go with the BBC instead of CNN. That gets you out of your comfort zone but not zoned out.

Try to bring different hearing and attention to what is going on by asking different questions than you typically do — “Carol, saw you reading the new Clinton book that is getting mixed reviews—what’s your take?” Take more chances in interactions with others — especially if you are often with the same people.

Refuse to do the following:

Thinking, or worse expressing that young people are this, that or the other — but certainly less than we are/were/or will be.

Assuming nothing interesting can happen when the people are the same — we’re all changing if we give each other some fresh air.

Letting yourself off the hook on every single thing with the “I’m tired” or “I don’t feel like it” generic wimp out.

You can stay awake — at least till 9:30 PM — if you stop staying in your own comfort zone and start allowing the strange, new and somewhat frightening things in the door. Whether it’s tasting octopus, meeting a new potential friend for coffee, or trying a unique volunteer opportunity—push yourself with love out of the usual.

Just started a 6 session telecourse with 150 people called Finding Your Way In a Wild New World by Martha Beck. This is for sure lighting a fire under my sense of who and what I can be and do moving forward. But you know I did find myself dozing a little half way through the first session and getting through the dozens of Facebook messages on our course’s closed group page.

My Breaking News

Hopefully someone from CNN is reading this blog and realizing how ridiculous it is to make everything and anything “breaking news”. I thought perhaps making my life in any way connected to breaking news might make them change their ways. It is doubtful but I am putting my two cents out here.

The kidnapping of the girls in Nigeria? YES, this continues to be breaking news. And interestingly it took Twitter to make it mainstream. Not that I tweet — but reading them fills you in. Maybe this will convince me to start tweeting — again, doubtful but possible. I never say never anymore — a sure sign of being fabulous I think. ‘Never’ is for kids and “know it all’s” – otherwise known as young adults. It ends when you finally figure out that your whole life does not need to consist of corrections related to your parents’ lives. Think about it and/or read The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

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My related breaking news to the Nigerian girls story – my high school The Ursuline School has jumped into solidarity with the kidnapped girls. This made me proud that I am and always will be “an Ursuline girl”. Good to know that good education matters. We always hoped it did. We actually got an education to build our lives – not just get a job.

More news, although not breaking.

Wrote a blog post a long time ago about memory loss: a bane of our fabulous years. Started doing Lumosity and have continued to fight the good fight working several days a week doing brain games that really are if not fun, amusing and challenging. I can report that my “brain profile” has significantly improved. I started in the 5th (yes, the 5th) percentile (talk about humbling for a woman who aced school) – and am now safely in the 50% range of my age group. Get on it if you aren’t already. I am actually remembering more names now — though I still say at least once a day “you know her… she was in…”

We are downsizing. Like many boomers we are going to get rid of the excess and have one rather than two home bases. It dawned on me that the way to have fun and travel is to actually get out there and have fun and travel. As over-analyzers we boomers often miss the obvious. Do, be and think less.

An extremely dear friend is starting to get big checks for work she did ages ago. Now this is breaking news and may remind you that in all ways, the work, effort, persistence and aggravation we put into our careers and lives over decades really does pay off — if not by getting checks, than by understanding what I am trying to say here. Maybe that really is breaking news sisters in fabulousness!

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