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Being Selfish and Staying Positive

Sad to say, but I’m usually not the “glass half-full” person in the room. I overanalyze things, considering what could go wrong rather than what could go right.

Over the past few months, my glass-half-empty feeling has been stronger than usual. I think it’s because of the incessant barrage of negativity about our country and the world that is becoming harder and harder to avoid.

Given my family history and current health, I am figuring that I’ll probably live into my 90’s – another two decades. I’d like those years to be as happy as possible.

So, here are a few things I’ve been doing recently:

I’m not watching TV network news

  • Today’s broadcasts are much more “in your face” and intense than in the old days. By the time 28 minutes go by and I watch the last two minute “Here’s a happy story” story, I feel the need for a strong alcoholic beverage.
  • That’s not to say that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world. I just don’t need to be bombarded with heavy drama every night. Reading selected magazine or newspaper articles, or watching an occasional video on my iPad works just fine for me.  I stay informed without feeling the need to hit the booze.

I have seriously reduced my time on social media

  • This past week, I decided to block all national news media postings on Facebook.
  • I also used the unfollow option with people who primarily post political opinions or news stories they have decided are important for everyone to read. Most of the posts are negative on one side or the other … we won, you lost, you’re stupid, no you’re stupid, he’s stupid, she’s stupid and on and on.  I realized that I can still be “friends” with them and visit their tirades anytime I want and they won’t even know I’m not following them. A win-win!
  • I signed up with Facebook so that I could scroll through my news feed to see photos of my step-     kids and grandkids, to find out what my friends and family members are doing on this year’s vacation, and to post pictures of my beautiful dogs and/or my handsome husband being adorable.
  • My “news feed” is much smaller now, and I’m a lot happier.

I’m spending time with positive, happy people who don’t need to solve the problems of the world over dinner.

  • Enough said.

It’s not that I don’t care about what’s happening in the country or the world or that I don’t have strong opinions. In fact, I can get pretty riled up about things.

And, I’m really happy that there are people who are passionate enough to speak out on both sides of political issues, to take up causes, to hold others accountable and to work to make a difference.

Maybe it’s selfish not to get more involved. But, I am, after all, one of the “Me Generation” Baby Boomers.

So, my current mantra is …..

Care to join me?

Cathy Green

I’m Binge-Watching Again. Am I Addicted?

I just completed Season 5 of Nurse Jackie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a seven season TV series originally aired on Showtime from 2009 to 2015. Jackie is an ER nurse in New York City who is addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. I stream it from Netflix on my iPad or computer, or even on a TV when Ray isn’t around. I have 10 more episodes to go.

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I didn’t watch the show when it was airing in real time. I read a review calling it a great series for online streaming, and liked the fact that it had a real (somewhat controversial) ending. I estimate that it has taken me a couple of months to get through five seasons. I’ve interspersed something else in the mix from time to time … an Amazon original series called Mozart in the Jungle. Interesting, but it hasn’t hooked me like Nurse Jackie.

Which is the point of this blog post.

I’m hooked – on the characters and on the story line. It is funny and not so funny at the same time. There are serious life and death moments, comic relief in the form of several doctors, nurses and patients, family problems, teenage angst, sex, friendship and weird ER emergencies.

I admit it. I want to see what happens to drug addict Jackie. Does this make me an addict, too?

I should confess that Nurse Jackie is not my first binge. (Does that sound like I’m in a 12 step program?). My very first was The West Wing. I watched all seven seasons over several months and had a great time. I had always liked the show when it aired from 1999 to 2006, but I was busy with work and travel and didn’t get to see it often. There weren’t any recording options back in those ancient times, remember?

I thoroughly enjoyed working my way through the series and still think it’s one of the best ever produced on TV.

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And then there was The Good Wife, which was a great binge option. I watched 6 seasons and am waiting for the seventh to hit Amazon streaming.

I’ve watched Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Doc Martin, all of which have additional episodes coming soon. I couldn’t get into Breaking Bad (too violent), but I’m investigating a couple of others right now so that I’m ready when Nurse Jackie ends.

By the way, there is some controversy about what constitutes “binge-watching.” Some say that watching two episodes or more at a time is bingeing. Others say that at least 4 episodes in a row is the magic number.

I think if you’re intently following a series and watch it at least a few times a week, you can probably be accused of bingeing. Mea culpa.

But am I a full-fledged addict?

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There is a fairly common theme running through the articles and blogs about TV series bingeing. They say that it can interfere with real life, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. It can cut down on time with friends or family, isolate you from others, interfere with work productivity and generate feelings of guilt.

And, although it probably doesn’t lead to depression, it can be one of the warning signs.

I’m not depressed, and bingeing doesn’t seem to be keeping me from doing other things like spending time with Ray, playing golf, going out with friends or writing blogs. So, I don’t think I’m addicted – but of course, that’s what Nurse Jackie says!

I do, however, have one big guilt trip hanging over me related to my new habit.

I am reading fewer books.

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I have always loved to read, especially fiction and biographies. Right now, I’m reading one of each, but it is taking me longer to finish them because of Netflix and Amazon.

Video bingeing is kind of seductive, but I definitely want to continue reading. Any suggestions, fabulous readers?

Cathy

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

 

Trying New Things

Getting out of our comfort zones gets harder every year. But the life coach in me gets crazy and starts admonishing myself to give new things a try. There are of course things, and things. Trying a new religion is hardly the same as giving up Essie’s Ballet Slippers as your favorite nail polish — but then again, we can get petty in older age if we are not careful turning nail polish (or whatever minor thing) into a major lifestyle issue.

Here are a few rather insignificant things I have tried this year — maybe they will amuse, motivate or amaze you. Start your own list to keep being fabulous. Yes, it can be a very short list. Go for 3 items. I did 6 so you would be motivated to take the next step. See this YouTube video on creating change — very interesting!

1. I never liked the way Spanx felt. Though of course the CEO is to be congratulated on her amazing journey to be the first self-made woman billionaire in the USA. Have tried and love the less expensive Heather Thomson “Yummie” items for keeping me trim.

2. Downloaded an app that really is simple and helpful — it is called The Vault. It keeps all usernames and passwords and other types of annoying but necessary rows of numbers or words so I can stop lamenting having to have them. Start the search for apps not by looking at lists of them, but writing down what drives you crazy – where is the nearest post office?  WHATEVER — trust me, there is an app for that! Apple and IBM are teaming up on apps now — got to be some great ones coming!

3. I cancelled plans to go to a family party due to an important shift in summer plans. I called and talked with the hostess. She lived. Most people constantly change plans — bet you know a few hundred. I don’t want to become a person who can’t be counted on by other fabulous women/men – most of whom believe if you make plans you keep to those plans — but commitment just for the sake of commitment sometimes just doesn’t make sense.

4. I have eliminated powder blush. If it’s been more than 2 years since you emptied the makeup drawer, take it all to a makeup counter of your choice (try a new one – just pick the woman or man who looks most patient) and decide with help what to keep, toss and otherwise change. Even if you do not want to spend large amounts on makeup, go at least once to a counter at a department store to learn — many of those women and men really do know what they are doing — although of course they are going to try to sell you. You are worth it and can use drug store brands once you learn what to do. Also see Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths for Women 50+

gloss book5. I stopped using my Kindle and went back to books while trying not to be embarrassed reading them anywhere but at home. Keeping my MacBook and iPhone but it only makes sense to carry a device like a Kindle or iPad to simplify reading – especially on trips. Am hoping to push myself to all digital magazines and newspapers. Not there yet but making progress.

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6. I no longer own a single suit. Anyone who hasn’t seen me in 5 years will not believe this and wonder what I did with the suits I owned (found them new younger homes). It was time not just to “weed out but to actually let go and re-create” some of my looks. Also I do keep weeding — I never buy something without letting something go in that same category.

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OK, your turn. Keep us posted!

 

 

 

Bookstores, Amazon.com and Me

I love to read. Fiction is my favorite, although the occasional biography or business book gets sandwiched in from time to time. I go through at least one and sometimes two books a week.

Last April, when we sold the home we had lived in for 25 years, I gave away over 200 books – some to my reader friend, Ella, and most to Goodwill. I kept about 100 books I couldn’t part with, shipping them to my new home in Asheville, NC.

I bought a Kindle several years ago when they were new and cool, learned how to purchase books and found that the small, light-weight reader was great to take on trips. Now, the Kindle lives in a drawer because I’m on my second iPad with about 15 current books in my library, purchased from the iTunes store.

Although I often enjoy the electronic reading experience, I still like “real” books best. Their colorful covers intrigue me, I always know how much more reading remains, it’s easy to go back to an earlier page or chapter, they are comfortable companions at bedtime, and I can keep the ones I fall in love with on a bookshelf.

So, buying real books is an experience I give myself at least a couple of times a month. Over the past year or so, I have found it quick and easy to order books through Amazon.com. The site is simple to navigate, most authors allow potential buyers to read the first couple of pages and to browse several other pages, reviews by readers and critics are enlightening, and ordering is a breeze… all of my information is in the Amazon system and all I have to do is confirm where the book should be mailed and click BUY. It arrives within a couple of days.

But, I recently read that Barnes and Noble will be closing 30% of its bookstores over the next several years. The competition from Amazon.com and electronic readers is fierce. And, remember Borders? They went out of business in 2011. Small, independent bookstores have been struggling for a long time and many predict that they are doomed.

I realized that I’m one of the people helping ensure the demise of bookstores. And, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be.

I walked into Malaprops in Asheville last week. Malaprops is a 30 year old, much-loved bookstore in the downtown area. It has great books, great food, great coffee and lots of author events throughout the year. I loved browsing through the store… I loved the feel of the small aisles and massive bookshelves… I loved the smell of coffee … and I loved the sound of an author reading from his book. I bought two books from the “staff recommendations” section.

I had forgotten how much enjoyment I’ve gotten over the years from the book shopping experience. I would miss that experience if bookstores were to go away completely. So, whether it’s Barnes & Noble or a small independent store, I’m going to make it a point to purchase at least half of my books each month in person … and have a cup of coffee too.

Although I don’t suppose my purchases are going to turn the tide, I hope there are enough readers like me who don’t want to see bookstores go away and will take time out of their busy lives to visit rather than click.

What do you think?

Cathy Green

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