New York City

Answering the “What Have You Been Doing Lately” Question

At dinner last week with friends, I was asked an easy question… What have you been doing lately?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an easy answer.  What had I been doing lately?

As I thought about how to answer, I was actually asking myself a different question: Had I done anything exciting or productive lately that is worth sharing?

These friends had just told us about their recent trip to Spain, followed by their successful business trip to New York City.  They are in their 60’s.

I finally mumbled something about enjoying fall in Asheville and changed the subject.

Other friends have asked similar questions. Planning any trips? Working on anything new these days?

I know that these questions aren’t meant to make me uncomfortable, but sometimes they do. I find myself feeling guilty for not doing anything important or boring for not doing anything exciting … or both.

In my late 60’s, I’m actually quite happy with my life.  I am staying healthy, keeping active, enjoying my home and my canine companions, and spending time with friends.  I’m also living with a fabulous husband who enjoys the things I enjoy, including music, good food and great wine.

But I’m not doing anything especially thrilling and I’m not “working” anymore, either.

I think I may find these questions uncomfortable in part because of the way I lived my life in my 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  In the mid-1970’s, I chose to pursue a business career. As I got older, a lot of my identity was tied up in achievement and success.

Remember what was happening for women in the mid 70’s? Here’s an excerpt from an article about those days:

Women as ‘Man of the Year’

Mid-decade, the women’s liberation movement had inundated America. The changes were so rampant that TIME awarded its “Man of the Year” in 1975 to “American women.” Their article “Great Changes, New Chances, Tough Choices” from January 5, 1976, reads:

“They have arrived like a new immigrant wave in male America. They may be cops, judges, military officers, telephone linemen, cab drivers, pipefitters, editors, business executives — or mothers and housewives, but not quite the same subordinate creatures they were before. Across the broad range of American life, from suburban tract houses to state legislatures, from church pulpits to Army barracks, women’s lives are profoundly changing, and with them, the traditional relationships between the sexes. …1975 was not so much the Year of the Woman as the Year of the Women — an immense variety of women altering their lives, entering new fields, functioning with a new sense of identity, integrity and confidence.”

That was me.

When I started my own company at the age of 44, it was a continuation of my career drive.

I was busy, busy, busy… all the way through my 50’s: Traveling for business and pleasure, meeting with clients, presenting at conferences, heading up an industry association and more.   It was quite easy to answer the question…  “what have you been doing lately?”

Then, I gradually pulled back from the business in my early 60’s and worked on becoming “retired”.

Another reason I may be feeling like a boring person these days is that many well-known people in their 60’s … and even into their 70’s and 80’s … are doing things that are interesting, exciting and in the headlines.

We have a 71 year old president and the woman who ran against him is 70.  Tony Bennett is still performing at age 91. Women in their 60’s and beyond are still going strong in the entertainment and business fields:  Helen Mirren (71; actress), Annie Leibovitz (67-photographer), Jane Goodall (83-animal expert), and Christie Brinkley (63 – business women) to name just a few.

And then there are some of my friends. My same-aged blog partner, Patty, is launching an online coaching product.  Another friend – age 60 – is starting a fashion design company. Another is consulting with owners of start-up businesses. And another is writing a memoir and taking horse riding lessons.

And here I am at dinner with friends being asked what I’ve been doing lately.

So, do I want to live my life differently?

Apparently not, or I would be living my life differently, or so the motivational gurus tell us.

I could, of course, change my mind and design a new app, learn to sky dive, become a business consultant or open a new brewery (I live in Asheville, after all).

Or, I could just come up with a way to answer the “what have you been doing lately?” question truthfully, without guilt or embarrassment.

Maybe something like this:

I’ve been living a great life and enjoying every minute. How about you?

What do you think?  Will that work?  Or should I sign up for some sky diving lessons?

Cathy Green

October 2017

He’s Hot, We’re Not

Went to a Broadway show with a close friend about a week ago. We took the train into what those of us in the tri-state area around NYC call “the city”. Neither of us had seen Broadway productions recently so we thought we would go down, stand on the half-price ticket line (yes, that is where there was a bus crash recently) and have some time to wander and have a great lunch — all of which we did.

Here are some thoughts about the adventure:

  • Women friends, real friends cannot stop talking with and to each other. If you can’t make conversation with someone at this point – skip getting together – you have more than enough to say to those you love. The exception? A NEW friend — someone you really do not even know yet but who attracts you in your heart or gut.
  • One on one trips/adventures are the best and easiest. Only two people adjusting to each other is a dream — especially since both Dona and I are old codependent girls from WAY back. If you have no clue about the term co-dependent, you weren’t paying attention in the 70s and 80s — go back and take a look at the famous Codependent No More. Of course we have “worked on” ourselves, but we still say “no, you choose” forever back and forth.

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  • The Broadway TKTS place where you get half price tickets is great — but the lines are L-O-N-G and it takes time. If you want to see a 2PM matinee do get there at 9:30 or 10AM – you’ll have tickets by 11 or so and can relax and have a leisurely lunch before the show. Getting there at 11:30 makes it tight — and why do something that close to the wire? It made great sense with two jobs, doing most of the housework, kids, older parents, volunteer work and going to the gym every day — at this point, rushing like crazy is crazy in itself.
  • There is a reason Broadway shows are forever famous and fun — they are the top — even if the story isn’t the greatest the acting and/or the singing is usually over the top. We saw Violet – a revival from the late 90s neither of us had seen. The singing, the show itself were riveting. We loved it!! Sorry – it closes or closed August 10th.

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  • The setting was 1964 in the south — you can already get the point — we both noticed the audience of mostly under 40s didn’t seem to get the gasps supposedly related to the interracial couple – thank God.

But here is something that really hit me/us. The story had three main characters – all young and great looking (under 30) – in a love triangle. The young guys to Dona and I were gorgeous — we found ourselves lusting for them in our hearts (yes, it was stupid when Jimmy Carter said it or supposedly said it and it is equally idiotic now).

Or, to put it another way, we realized that there really is no replacement for youth in that aspect of life — the energy, the exuberance, the passion, the promise — oh this is too depressing. The point of this blog post is of course treasuring your friends and planning fun outings with them (ho hum) — but still, it hurt a tiny bit that love triangles – especially with under 30 men – are not likely in our future. Yes, they are hot, and we are not. Happy, but not hot.

Women-talking

 

Image source

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.

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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

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