New York Times

More Fabulous Holiday Traditions

Cathy got me thinking about getting into a great mood for Christmas with her reminder to love “what is” versus what should/could/won’t or otherwise can’t be for the holidays. Deciding to love “what is” this season and reminding ourselves of what we are most thankful for is the first holiday decision worth making.

Here’s a few more fabulous ideas that I am planning on doing . . .

  • Remembering my elderly Aunt and Uncle (95 and 100), a dear friend who had serious cancer surgery, another who lost her husband, and even the woman who years ago took care of my aging parents before they died back in 2003 are first on my list of doing and/or/getting something for.
  • Calling at least 5 people this month that I typically do not and surprise them with time on the phone to catch up and share. Rather than a card, these are people who I just didn’t have time for this year but deserve my time and attention – especially if I hope to keep them in my circle of friends. Just got a surprise call myself and loved it – and interestingly it was from a fabulous guy over 60!
  • Keep reading the New York Times every day and skipping watching any news on devices – that is on TV or computer or on my phone. When you can’t sleep thinking one of the people you watched on a debate will be our next president, don’t blame me – I will be sleeping thinking that the universe/God/someone will create an election result that makes sense. None of these people will be under my skin or in my brain because I refuse to watch them!
  • Keep writing notes and cards through the 31st of the month if need be – a few a day. And again, say something to people: share one thing I’ve/we’ve learned or experienced (like emptying our house and changing home base), wish them well on something they had happen. I figure a personal note will mean more even if late than the perfect photo card on time.
  • Look fresh, put together and festive when I can this holiday every time I leave my home. Few here in Tucson are listening to me on this one. This is our new home base. I think many women here post 60 don’t even think about how they look and appear to others. No one will convince me that how you look and present yourself does not matter. It does if you want to be fabulous.

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  • Give generously to anyone homeless, or looking distressed. I want to smile, and act like we are participating in this world and are responsible for it. Because we are.

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  • Giving myself a special, unique and fabulous gift. I have decided that my gift to me is to treat myself with the same love and kindness I treat others with – that is going to be hard for me. Just being me for so long has made me a bit compulsive and other directed – those that know me, including Cathy are now saying “a bit?????”
  • Am going to support every one of you fabulous women who have the same or an entirely different list, or just aren’t sure yet what being fabulous means to you this holiday season.

Being fabulous is actually getting clearer to me. It remains – like the success, lessons learned or achievements of our pasts – something that takes work, commitment and a sense of purpose and direction. Nothing comes easy – in fact, I am finding the older I get (66 this January) the harder it is to be fabulous. But that gives me/us something to strive for: to look as fresh and sharp as we can, to keep being kind – not giving up on ourselves or others because we have our shortcomings physically and mentally.

Happy fabulous Christmas/holiday/season of joy. Thanks for supporting me/us in being fabulous. Cathy and I appreciate it and consider it a gift of motivation from all of you. Our gift to you is to keep writing. Ideas always welcomed this holiday or any day.

Patty

 

Yikety Yak – Yikes – It’s The Yik Yak App!

More on the controversial smartphone app Yik Yak in a moment, but reading about it made me wonder if we shouldn’t bring back parents and grandparents who are not judgmental party poopers – but who are adults with knowledge and competence. Adults know some things that children do not because they are not mature enough, or able to understand and store it in their still developing brains.

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These adults can and SHOULD make some judgments and then insist on not “blind obedience” (sadly we had to deal with lots of that) but rather “compliance” – a word I like MUCH better and is both softer and more appropriate in the 21st century. These judgments need to be shared, not to be arbitrary, cruel or bossy two-shoes, but to protect young children and teens from their under-developed minds. That and the resulting stupid, inappropriate and cruel things they are capable of doing just because they are young.

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Enter Yik Yak.

From the NY Times: “Like Facebook or Twitter, Yik Yak is a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location, or, in many cases by university … Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board … Much of the chatter is harmless. Some of it is not.”

“Yik Yak is the wild west of anonymous social apps, said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace”.

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Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, recent graduates of Furman University in South Carolina are the developers of the app which they intended to be democratic – giving everyone a chance to share even if they did not have many “friends” or “followers”. Sounds good — no fabulous women over 60 are down on democracy, but the iPhone and Android app, which is one of the most frequently downloaded in the Apple Store, seems to have created some very difficult and ugly situations for students, teachers, deans, and others on college campuses. Sadly, it is gaining ground in middle and high schools too.

** Google’s Android has recently dropped the app from its app store charts. It hasn’t been banned, it is just harder to find.

Despite all the push back and anger of those injured by its ability to anonymously publish anything about anyone that is not a direct threat (that would be a no no – police recently tracked down a freshman who made a direct threat to someone – he was arrested) there isn’t much anyone can do about it. Free speech of course trumps most efforts at curtailing it. But shouldn’t all adults who know about this application ask our own children and grandchildren to explain why and how they are using it? In other words, we fabulous women need to take some responsibility!

The developers feel that better uses will happen – via NY Times: “It’s definitely still a learning process for us. And we’re definitely still learning how to make the community more constructive.”

I agree the developers are still learning. However, it seems to me some of that learning needed to go on prior to the launch of the application. The experience of millions has informed most of us that giving young people a free pass to say anything they want without any consequences and to be able to do it anonymously doesn’t sound like a good idea. It puzzles me who thought it would lead to good?

Shouldn’t we as adults be on top of this stuff? Or maybe we are too busy on our own social media accounts to pay much attention. I remember my parents saying dozens of times “you will understand when you grow up”. Most of the time I did – maybe we need to give our children and grandchildren a chance to say the same at least a few times. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Patty Gill Webber

 

Fabulous Women Never Age?

I admit it, I ordered it – Goddesses Never Age the newly released book by Dr. Christiane Northrup.

Dr. Northrup (65 by the way), a leading authority on women’s health and wellness has shared her knowledge through multiple best sellers (Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom; The Wisdom of Menopause) as well as PBS specials. She is a solid professional (MD, OB-GYN, taught and practiced medicine) – looking great and certainly qualified as fabulous.

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But, I have to share that the title of this book disturbed me.

“True health is only possible when we understand the unity of our minds, emotions, spirits, and physical bodies and stop striving for perfection” – Christiane Northrup, MD

I couldn’t agree more – and likely the book, the video series and all else related to her latest venture is worth a look and likely a try. I would guess that there are lots of great ideas for “thinking young”, taking care of ourselves, and being our best self — great stuff. Why shouldn’t we try to lead our best and healthiest life? Of course we should.

But then I read on the doctor’s website that she has “recently founded A-ma-ta, a company which manufactures and distributes a product line featuring the Pueraria mirifica plant, a traditional medicine used by Thai women for 700 years”. Mmmm — are any of them still living? Would by any chance the secret to being ageless include taking these or other supplements?

Not to be a cynic – anyone who knows me knows that I tend to be more a sap than a cynic — but while helping us age with grace (this idea is not welcomed in the ageless world) is something I wholeheartedly agree with, the whole idea of “ageless” makes me uncomfortable. It goes against everything I see, experience and know.

Visited your aunt or spouse at the assisted living complex recently? Seen old friends at a reunion? Gone through an operation, or still having to work long hours to keep a roof over your head? Looked at old photos of yourself 10 and 20 years ago? While clearly most people are not aware of the great advice on being ageless, my gut tells me that this approach, while tempting, denies reality and doesn’t ultimately keep us fabulous. Sure, do your best – but hey, news flash: we are all going to die and likely before we are 105 and still pole dancing.

If you haven’t already read Dr. Oliver Sacks’s OP-ED in the New York Times, then do so. Here is a terrific, brilliant person – now 81, suddenly faced with dying. It somewhat came “out of the blue” and just is what it is. Yes, he has lived and is now continuing to live gracefully.

Have you kept up with the super articles about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (81)?

Have you seen Barbara Walters (85) lately?

Have you compared an old Oprah (61) episode to her look and demeanor today?

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So do we want to aim for ageless (and for sure miss)? Or, do we aim for aging gracefully?

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Aging gracefully is the winner — besides, I have a feeling being ageless is way too much work and way too expensive — supplements anyone?

Patty Gill Webber

Reflecting On Another of Our Icons – Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple died February 10th 2014 at age 85. While she became a diplomat in the 1960s, she is most known as the darling little girl who lifted spirits during the depression years. She was the most popular movie star in the world between 1935 and 1939 — a good 10 years before we fabulous over 60s were born. At 22 she retired completely from movies although later she appeared on TV in programs aimed at entertainment and development for children.

A recent New York Times column noted Shirley was “the little girl with 56 perfect ringlets and an air of relentless determination”. She had “great energy” long before the phrase became popular. In my world, she was inspiring – not just cute.

Just as we were growing up in the 50s her movies were in revival. Movies like Poor Little Rich Girl , Heidi , Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Little Colonel were typical TV fare for us. We all wanted to sing, dance, have those curls and wind up happy BUT also “right” — just like Shirley did at the end of each movie. My Mom like many others tried hard to give me some of those curls with those really stinky early permanents from Toni. But what Shirley gave us was more important than those curls, she gave us the idea that girls could speak their minds, solve problems and get their way as long as they did things decently and with integrity. And those lessons stuck.

Via shirleytemple.com; archive.org

Via shirleytemple.com; archive.org

We lost touch with Shirley at some point – but her determination, strength of character and direct style with adults likely is the basis of some of our ability to “defy” our parents as the 60s and 70s unfolded. Nor did we realize the significance of her holding hands with her “Uncle Bill” Bojangles. She may have been the first white actress to touch a black man’s hand affectionately in a film. The famous dance scene between them in The Little Colonel is still considered a classic — and we remember it fondly even though I didn’t think about its implications at the time. Perhaps many of our African-American fabulous sisters did and have a take that could educate us.

I think we owe Ms. Temple something — our respect — for modeling some strong behavior that seems ridiculously outdated, silly and more racist than radical at this point in history. But as I reflect on those movies, I feel grateful she taught us some level of tolerance for others who were different in some way — and some sense that girls could be more, much more, than just cute.

When I left the theater after seeing Frozen with my granddaughter Morgan over the holidays, I wondered if the images she was seeing and the wonderful sisterly bonds and self-determination shown by the protagonists could really take the place of a little girl like Shirley who was at least “real”. I think the answer is yes. Its “battle” hymn of independence “Let It Go” (which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song on March 2nd) was so intense, and her blasting energy so rocket-fueled it was a bit scary for Morgan (4). But she “got it” I think — I sure did.

Thinking about the world our granddaughters are living in, likely shaking your curls and singing “On The Good Ship Lollipop”  isn’t going to cut it. Long live the new icons.

Lyrics from “Let It Go”:

My power flurries through the air into the ground

My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around

And one thought crystallized like an icy blast

I’m never going back, the past is in the past

Let it go, let it go

And I’ll rise like the break of dawn

Let it go, let it go

That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand

In the light of day

Let the storm rage

Shirley got us going – but “Let It Go” is great to remind us to KEEP it going.

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.

Celebrating – not envying – the success of women in their 50s

Sherilyn S. McCoy became CEO of Avon in 2012.  And if you follow business stories or just the Avon stock you know she has her work cut out for her.

New York Times writes: “Ms. McCoy, who is 54, has embarked on an ambitious turnaround plan that includes wringing out $400 million of costs, sharply increasing sales and almost doubling operating margins within three years.”

Carol Colombo, 52, became the CEO of Alert GPS Holdings and Amber Alert GPS in 2011 after working as an attorney and doing extensive international business consulting.  One of her many areas of expertise is international trade and public policy.

She was quoted in the print edition NYTimes’ The Boss column earlier this month in discussing her current work as saying: “I’ve had a huge learning curve in this job because it is a new industry for me.  It was a bit terrifying, but I realized that you can’t allow technology to intimidate.  You must jump in, which is actually part of the fun.”

The ages struck me – fifty something. NOT sixty something.  I tried to Google women executives in their 60s and couldn’t find anything—although there are TONS of dating sites for women over sixty if you care.  What that means I am not sure—seems most women I know have as many issues with the dating game as they do with the corporate/for profit world they worked in for 30-40 years.

While I’m excited, proud, (and this is the real breakthrough—unsurprised) that organizations are having more and more women executives – I am sure, for me at least, that this level of intensity regarding work, is not what I want at sixty-three.  Work: YES; make money: YES if possible and needed. But work as the center of my life?  NEVER AGAIN.

Sixty-three is not the new fifty-three much less the new forty-three.  What it is however is the new sixty-three.  I keep trying to emphasize that because I believe these tantalizing, but ultimately unrealistic, statements for 99.9% are as destructive to most women in their 60s as the old myth of ‘you can do it all’ was, and still is, for younger women in their 30s-50s.

What many of us in our 60s can and should be (if we can handle it and it fits our personal goals) is to be great coaches and mentors for executive women in their 40s and 50s – those who have limited mentors in our age group.  Maybe we can save these new pioneers some worry, or help them focus their energy, or urge them to drop the guilt of not measuring up or balancing perfectly enough.  I sure hope so—it has to be better out there or I will cry.  Something I can do now that I am out of the old workplace full time.

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