NY Times

Secrets to Staying Cool and Fabulous This Summer

I never liked the summer as much as the school year. As a little girl who loved school and often found it more comforting than home, “summer fun”: soda, hot dogs, backyard barbecues and fire flies plus the whole experience of being hot and sticky while chubby – ruled out summer as my favorite season.  Going to the beach with 15 or so relative’s post Sunday Mass was another long day of sand and heat to me – never got into the supposed joy of sunbathing, but did like walking on the beach by myself – and still do.  I plan to do that next month when we are at the beach.

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Now, at 66, my summers are as close to childhood summers as one can get.  My part time work continues but slows, we travel a great deal, and there is more heat, downtime, and “summer fun” activities especially when I am closer geographically to my granddaughters.  Then of course this year we have the “election stuff” – which most of us are finding sad, aggravating if not frightening.  Am finding it tougher to look and feel fabulous in the heat of this tense summer, so I have managed to find a few secrets to “staying cool” to share.

  • Think about basics! We over-60s look good in basics. Wear simple sleeveless or short-sleeved dresses and sandals or flats that have a bit of style without too much glitz.  Glitz is getting very old isn’t it?  Light is the feeling of summer – too much glitz on the shoes, one’s top and/or nails looks HOT – and you know I don’t mean SEXY HOT just plain hot.
  • Take less with you – anywhere and everywhere. Once again promise to buy or just keep the very few things that look truly sensational on you and skip everything else.  That leaves 3 or 4 outfits. Limit technology to those you LOVE and MUST have and limit social media to MUSTS – consider dumping the rest. Get a tote bag that is classy and smart – and use it. Dump dump dump or tidy as we now say.
  • Act with positive intention. Who cares, much less benefits, surrounded by people acting like they are on a reality show except people who are too dumb to know better?  Successful, fabulous people are open and authentic, but also self-regulated and in control.  They are too busy learning and doing something about issues (even in summer) that matter rather than blabbing about the idiots/liars/you name the insult about those they do not agree with or they are NOT voting for.
  • Take the fabulous summer pledge. “All people are worthy of respect (repeat till believed). My job this summer as a fabulous woman is making sure everyone understands what that means by my consistent modeling of respectful behavior.”   Go out of your way to be someone who is utterly charming to be around. Sounds a bit old fashioned, but nothing is more modern and fresh than a sophisticated strong confident woman who asks questions, listens to other’s needs or who can tell a fun rather than vicious story.  Moods are contagious – take responsibility to keep things positive.
  • Be quieter. Let’s bring some hushed voices back.  The other night an otherwise potentially fabulous woman wasn’t when she spent the dinner talking and laughing so loudly I wondered if it were her first night out in over a year and she felt she needed to be heard.  While “be a lady” is dead as a concept, with overtones of “ladies (like children) should be seen and not heard” which of course should be dead; doesn’t mean there is not a grain of truth.  Modulation is seriously underrated – aren’t we all sick to death of ‘LOUD’??
  • Get reading! And make it grown-up, interesting and challenging. Remember reading lists over summer breaks? Bring that back – do some browsing online or in an actual bookstore, and read some books worth your valuable time.  Let your family and friends make note of it – not to impress – but to casually hint that they might want to spend time reading something valuable.  Staying cool reading something deeply interesting while sipping something cool – now that is summer heaven.

Here’s two links to the NY Times summer reading list, and Oprah’s suggestions.

  • Finally, try gaining some different perspective. The world is so harsh right now – make room this summer to do something you rarely do with the intention of getting a new or different take on some minor aspect of life.  Stop taking yourself so seriously.  Today I did something – DIFFERENT.  I went to a Laundromat – something I haven’t done in 40 years.  Long story short, the rental I am in doesn’t have a washer/dryer and rather than just pay someone to do my laundry I decided to do it myself and maybe get a new insight.  It was fun actually – and easier than it was 40 years ago.  Met some relaxed and open people including the manager of the place who I had a few laughs with “woman to woman”. And it did give me a fresh perspective.  Think I learned you can go to a laundromat and still be fabulous – all about the way you look at things and how open you are to the good that happens when your nose isn’t up in the air.

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Let’s take a deep breath everyone and think COOL!

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

 

Obituaries As History Lessons

I am likely not the only fabulousover60 woman who faithfully reads (online or off) obituaries in their local or favorite national newspaper.

No, I did not do this under 50 – maybe not even under 55 or 60 – but at this point, at 65, I do read them. While what could be argued to be somewhat obvious — the older one is the more ‘death is a reality’ rather than something old people do. For me it isn’t so much morbid curiosity (so how did this person die?) as much as considering others’ lives as a whole and considering what (if anything) would be said about me if I died.

Many of us super competitive boomers are, if nothing else, curious how others “did” versus ourselves in the overall game or journey of life. Did I contribute as much to my field? Was I as philanthropic? What about my famous recipe that hundreds adored every holiday? Will I be missed by a large number of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren? Or anyone in particular?

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When reading the New York Times, whose obituaries are often terrific history lessons, I gravitate to people in my own professional field such as the two from 2014 noted below.

Warren G. Bennis, an eminent scholar and author who advised presidents and business executives on his academic specialty, the essence of successful leadership — a commodity he found in short supply in recent decades — died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 89.”

I read his books, heard him speak, and used his expertise to help my own. Warren was an un-introduced to mentor of mine.

Lillian B. Rubin, a sociologist and psychotherapist who wrote a series of popular books about the crippling effects of gender and class norms on human potential, died June 17 at her home in San Francisco. She was 90.”

Dying in California clearly ups your chances of making the NY Times. That or it shows that smart people retire to great weather and blue states as they age.

Dr. Rubin used qualitative research — interviewing people – hundreds of them in some cases — to write her many books on aspects of adult development. In her later years she wrote often for the online journal Salon on issues of culture, politics and sometimes, but rarely, about the realities of aging. “Sixty is not the new forty” she wrote. Fabulous absolutely agrees with that point and has said so repeatedly.

*Speaking of death and dying, Cathy called to my attention obituaries’ (local ones) use of odd euphemisms to mean death. Here are some favorites: “ended her battle with cancer”, “entered heaven’s gates”, “peacefully passed”, “went to be the Lord”, “went to her rest” and Cathy’s favorite – “earned her wings”. That line was of course borrowed from It’s A Wonderful Life, the 1946 movie that encouraged people to think of being a good person before one’s death so you could “earn one’s wings” rather than just pass away (that is, die) when the time came.

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Mostly though, obituaries remind me of the very limited ways we are truly remembered. Even when famous it is nearly impossible to get more than a column or two. We have to make sure if there is only one thing to say about us, we plan our lives to make that one thing clear. Or maybe not. Actually, I really like something else about Lillian Rubin. She wrote at age 88 that she had mixed feelings about living at that age, and dying too. “Ambivalence reigns”, she wrote, “in death as in life.” Yes, Dr. it does.

Merry Christmas! Don’t Underestimate Gift-Giving

Many people are now donating to charities in lieu of gifts and cards. Who can argue against this trend? That said, I have learned not to undervalue giving gifts that are personal, demonstrate insight into who the recipients are, and make those recipients feel special.

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One year when things were particularly hectic (still working full time) I thought of doing the “charity in lieu of gifts” thing. I still sent cards, but skipped the friend gifts and sent them a notice of our choice and information on the charity. Someone I love very much told me she was disappointed because she looked forward to the gifts I had given her. My righteous choice didn’t make the season merry — just easier for me. I should have known better.

The art of giving includes knowing who to splurge on, who to call and talk with and who to just send a card and a funny note. Another lesson learned: I don’t have to keep the giving “even” – just personal.

 

Even re-gifting is OK if you know the recipient would like such a gesture. Every once in awhile I give someone a book that I bought and loved – and in that book I write a note to them about why I chose to give it to them for Christmas. Time and effort absolutely count.

Here are a few more thoughts on holiday giving for women like Cathy (fellow blogger and friend) and myself who are or trying to be fabulous even if they are exhausted by the holidays!

  • Do send a card, personal note, or give a call to all relatives and close friends over 65 — they will appreciate it and really want to put your greeting up on their bookshelf or hear your voice at the holidays. If you can afford it, send them a gift too like flowers. It will bring joy.
  • Buy a small thoughtful gift for people who have made your life special this year. This should not become a permanent forever list but a list that should change yearly. Tell them why you wanted to get them something and how their kindness made you feel — it will touch their heart.
  • You may have to choose between sending each cousin a card/note (even the ones who never are in touch) OR instead sending something small to your elderly single neighbor, your hairdresser, or favorite store owner. Always choose the people who have helped you or need you — you are not living somewhere and interacting with people for no reason. Your cousins likely don’t care.
  • When in doubt over gift-giving, here is a “test” I give myself. I think of what would make this person smile, or what she or he would want, need or be thrilled by. If I do not care what they think, want, need or would be thrilled by then I pass.

Yes, there is too much commercialism – but don’t be miserly either. Fabulous means joyful, generous, caring and fun. Oh damn — I can’t just get those Starbucks Gift Cards for everyone I know if I follow my own advice.

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