Thanksgiving

Fabulous At The Holidays

One of my dear friends is turning 60 this coming week.  I sent her a card and assured her it was going to be OK.  I may have been a total mess back in 2010, but with her mature outlook and strong leadership style she will likely only cry a little and get ready to keep on shining as she enters her 60s.  She has a high-powered job and lives in NYC – I think both these things will help Kathy transition smoothly.

Another of my dear friends is turning 70 next week.  She is beautiful, strong, determined and brave.  She just had knee surgery and is recovering from that agony with grace and little fuss.  Barbara has been a FabulousOver60 woman during this last decade.  How will she handle turning 70?  My guess is she’ll wince at her change in decades; and then proceed to do her 70s every bit as well as she did her 60s.  Not sure of the right adjective to use for the 70s yet.  Thankfully there is time for that to come to me as I spend my final 2 years in my sixties starting this January.

As I recover from a lovely Thanksgiving with only one major upset which is now receding into family history; and start getting into the holiday card, shopping and celebration season, I am reminded of some important wisdom. It is simply this: that any given day in our lives, especially the very hard ones, can be long.  But the years go quickly as we review the years of holidays past come late November and early December.  Which means, having great holidays are not only nice to have, but a must-have for our older selves.  We have no holidays to waste or energy to squander.  Here’s my big three ideas to make it so – please borrow whatever strikes you as sensible and doable for you.

 

Idea #1: Act with a light heart and extreme gentleness.  In this past year we have all seen more bad behavior from leaders at workplaces, in politics, or around one of our own corners than I thought was even possible.  Despite believing I have “seen it all” some of these outrageous acts have really shocked me.   Actions and language have been too rough, crude, and in some cases actually dangerous.  So my first plan is to meditate daily, pray frequently, and approach any actions this holiday with a light hand as well as heart.  I refuse to be drawn into any heated discussions or expose myself to negative energy and overall nonsense.  I am becoming as peaceful as possible and when interacting with anyone at anytime in the next weeks before the new year, my goal is to be soft and kind in every way possible.

Idea #2: Give what you can and want to, but don’t overdo. More simply, put happy boundaries on the holiday.  That means making choices.  I am definitely going to write and send cards – it is something I actually like doing.  It gives me a chance to reach out and touch people I am not able to see or visit with during the year.  Or, a chance to say something I have been meaning to say but just hadn’t had the opportunity to. I am not going to get overwrought with shopping though.  Am limiting who I buy for and what I spend.  There are so many amazing sales it really isn’t hard to act with a conscious and common sense.

My daughter Courtney just helped me out too.  She wrote that our Christmas in New York with all her husband’s truly wonderful family will include the “Secret Santa thing”.  For those of you unfamiliar with this approach, it works like this.  All the adults who are meeting on Christmas will draw names of one other adult who will be in attendance.  Everyone buys one gift for the person they “drew” and everyone gets one gift – a huge break for a fruitcake like me who would normally get something individually for each of the 20+ people who attend. Amen Angels – I thank you with all my heart.

In addition to my fruitiness and nuttiness and due to my compulsiveness I have already shopped for many of those who will be at the event now having a “Secret Santa approach”. SO, I can now use much of what I have bought early as gifts for other family and friends on my list.  Hurrah for me!!!  Forced by sensible relatives to take it all down a notch.

Idea #3: Keep events short, monitor drinking and eating, and spend loving but not too much time with any given family member or friend.  No matter what, the holidays can be stressful.  Sadness at lost family and friends can bring un-prepared tears and sadness; too much sugar and partying can drain our patience; and the volume of noise, running pets and multitude of people in small places can wreck havoc with even a normally calm person’s center.  So plan accordingly.  Going out to dinner one night?  Make the next evening simple, slow and low key.  Lots of visitors on one day?  Try to take in a movie the next day. Balance and pace the time to include all types of love and happiness, and keep it low key enough not to make yourself or anyone around you sick, irritable or grumpy.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you and all those you love and hold dear to have beautiful, peaceful and fun-filled holidays.  May there truly be peace on earth — good will toward each and everyone!

Patty

Hurrah – It’s December!

I am really hoping we can go back to being fabulous this December.  That means understated but caring buying, sending good wishes by any means possible and respecting any approach to celebrating the religious or non-religious meaning of the ending year, and the start of a new one.  And of course, enjoying the heck out of YOUR traditions from stringing lights to giving to charity.

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November can be a cruel month.  Remember November 22, 1963 and President Kennedy’s assassination?  Of course you do.  It is a classic, tragic, shared boomer memory.  President Kennedy’s death united us all.  And much of what we began to understand as “fabulous” was defined by his young widow’s grace and dignity in her own, and the country’s, loss.  Jackie was a woman many of us began to admire greatly for her public restraint and calm.  Of course she was devastated, but she was private in her grief.  If social media existed, we can’t imagine Jackie sharing anything but short poignant statements and calls for healing.

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This November’s election was the shocker of our political lives.  Whether you are a Trump or Clinton voter, things this month have been tense, weird, and more than a bit confusing.

I never prayed so much for help to NOT SAY what I so desperately wanted to say; and, for the wisdom and guidance on what to say to my friends and family no matter how they voted. I had a few harsh words with one of my closest friends which I quickly regretted. A few minutes on social media demonstrated that standards of being elegant, restrained, and otherwise fabulous were much less common if not non-existent.  Seeing some “reactions” to events this month, made me, the eternal optimist of human positive behavior, feel fabulousness was perhaps a lost dream that our own daughters, nieces, and grands would never be able to emulate.  Yikes – November must end!

But wait, there’s more – as they say on infomercials. My business partner called to tell me he had been injured over Thanksgiving weekend, on the mend but in pain.  A member of my family who shall remain nameless had one of those dysfunctional family holidays that may win Bill and my annual prize for the most ridiculous family event in 2016.  A close business associate shared that her company was turning upside down with a complete new CEO and team — she’s the CIO trying to keep it all working.  Being fabulous? Taking things in stride? Seeing humor and hope in every event – however odd, hurtful or just stupid?  November has tested us.

But, as noted, I am THE eternal optimist.  I believe we CAN be fabulous again this December by getting quiet before all the hoopla and listening to our higher selves whisper to us – ‘it is all OK’.  We need to remember fabulous women we admire – from Notorious RBG – the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to the shining star Jennifer Lawrence, who keeps showing Hollywood that women do deserve the same rewards as men, and are still at full speed fabulousness.  There are women being fabulous in business, non-profits, politics, fashion, and just leading ordinary lives.  What they all have in common is calm, grace and a focus on what they can control; and most importantly in this self-important, post-truth time, not taking themselves too seriously.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Jennifer Lawrence

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Jennifer Lawrence

My dear friend Betty and I spoke this morning.  We agreed it is time to “think local” and get involved – seriously involved – in what matters to us.  That and of course, continuing to try to feel great, look great, and give thanks for all our blessings – while having a sense of humor about ourselves.  People who lack a sense of humor and can’t laugh at themselves will never be fabulous.

I never thought I would be looking forward to the rush: writing too many Christmas cards, shopping and trimming the tree. Whatever the world is up to, I am not reading about it as avidly as I did pre-November.  Rather I am sending light and prayers to help situations I cannot control.  Then I sit down and have a great glass of wine, alone or with friends – and strategize about new ways to keep being fabulous in December.

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Here’s to tinsel – shiny but completely uncomplicated!  And Netflix, thank God we can binge watch series’ between stressful moments.  Happy December everyone!!

Patty

Thanksgiving in the 50’s at Grandma’s House

In my memory, Grandma’s house is really big. It sits on a hill in the West Price Hill section of Cincinnati with at least 20 concrete steps from the road up to the porch. The front door opens into a main living room, dining room, and kitchen, a steep staircase leads up to the bedrooms and bathroom, and an equally steep set of stairs descends to the basement and garage.

I now know that the house was actually small (less than 1200 square feet) and very narrow. But from the time I was born in 1950 until my mid-teens, somewhere between 15 and 30 family members gathered noisily at my Grandma and Grandpa Coyle’s house for Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad showed up with the first two grandchildren, me and my sister Christine, and then later with my little brother Tom. Mom’s four younger brothers were there with girlfriends, then wives, then an ever -expanding number of children … about 13 of them (added to our three) by the mid-60’s.  Did I mention we were Catholics?

I remember the smell of roasting turkeys (at least two of them) and the sound of silverware clattering as Grandma and the women prepared the stuffing, potatoes, green beans, corn, gravy, biscuits and desserts – all from scratch. I remember the loud voices of the men as they watched football on television, drank liquor and snacked on pretzels and potato chips.  As the years went by, the commotion of babies crying and young kids running up and down the stairs added to the chaos.

It always seemed to take way too long for Grandma to call us to her huge dining room table. Having smelled the food cooking and salivating for what seemed like hours and hours, we were ready to eat and hurried Grandma to finish the Thanksgiving prayer.

Once the food was passed around – the turkey piled high and everything else in large steaming bowls – the noise level went down considerably as we dug into the feast.  There was always plenty of food for everyone, and more than enough for leftovers later that night.

A “basic” turkey with stuffing. Nothing fancy from Grandma!

A “basic” turkey with stuffing. Nothing fancy from Grandma!

Grandma is the best cook in the world, I thought.

Actually, she wasn’t. Grandma only cooked “basic” food – food her mama taught her to make as she was growing up in what she called the “hills of Kentucky.”  Nothing fancy, not many spices, no decorative touches … just good, old-fashioned turkey, stuffing and “all the fixins.”   Simple but delicious.  And dessert? Her pumpkin and apple pies, made from scratch and bubbling hot as they came directly from the oven, made our mouths water. (Later in her life, she was the cook for the priests and nuns at Saint William Church, who got to appreciate them too.)

I have many images and memories of Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house, but five of them stand out from all the rest.

Story #1:   Little Cathy pees on the floor.   My dad loved to tell this one. Apparently, when I was about 2 ½ years old, in the middle of Thanksgiving food preparations, I didn’t get something I wanted. According to Dad, and other witnesses including my uncles, I got mad, stomped my foot, cried and peed on the dining room floor – deliberately.  I got swatted, Dad said and “…that’s when I knew she was going to be a pistol!”Story #2:   Uncle Jim, Whiskey, and a Toaster.  My uncle Jim, who never married, worked for GE, played softball in an adult league and lived with Grandma and Grandpa until his early death, was like a big kid. He didn’t watch football or hang out with his brothers and my dad. Instead, he played with his nieces and nephews. On Thanksgiving, he would sneak “cocktails” to us — 7 and 7’s, made with 7-Up and what probably amounted to less than a teaspoon of Seagram’s Seven whiskey. We went along with the game, giggling and promising not to tell our parents (who of course knew what he was doing).  I especially remember the year when one of us got up the nerve to ask Uncle Jim what happened to his right hand. We were fascinated by the fact that he was missing a couple of his fingers (from birth, we found out later). In a low conspiratorial voice, he told us that he stuck it in a toaster when he was a little boy.  We were horrified!  I don’t know about my cousins, but I never looked at a toaster in the same way from that day on.

Here’s my Uncle Jim playing a game with me and my sister

Here’s my Uncle Jim playing a game with me and my sister

Story #3:   Christine rushed to the ER.  My sister Christine, one year older than me, was mentally retarded (or mentally challenged, as it’s called these days). At seven years old, she always seemed to get herself into trouble. That year, with Mom, Grandma and the other women preparing food in the kitchen, Chris took a glass of juice outside on the concrete porch.  Somehow the glass broke and cut her hand. Blood was everywhere. She was screaming.   The cousins were screaming.  Grandma and Mom rushed out with kitchen towels to wrap up her hand as Dad scooped her up and drove her to the emergency room (911 wasn’t around in those days). He brought her home a couple of hours later with stitches in her hand and thumb and her arm in a sling. The glass had cut a tendon and muscle at the base of her lower thumb – a thumb she still can’t use to this day. Although we had Thanksgiving dinner, it was later than usual and a whole lot quieter.

Story #4:  The Sacred Heart of Jesus and my Great Grandmother Brinegar.  Grandma Coyle was a devout Catholic.  Hanging above the TV in her living room was a large framed picture of Jesus with long flowing hair, penetrating eyes and a glowing heart wrapped in thorns.  It is an iconic picture in the Catholic religion.

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As kids, it was hard to even think about being bad with that picture staring down at us. To make things worse, Grandma’s mother — Great Grandma Brinegar —  sometimes joined the family at Thanksgiving when she wasn’t at one of her other five children’s homes. She didn’t like little kids and would sit on the opposite side of the room dressed in a long skirt and old sweater, her braided hair hanging down her back and her hand gripping a walking cane. She would stare at us as if to say “Just try doing something wrong”.  Jesus on one side of the room and Great Grandma Brinegar on the other made the living room an uncomfortable place to play. The kitchen and dining room were off limits, we weren’t allowed upstairs and the basement was too scary. We would often head to the small backyard even in the coldest late November weather.
Story #5:    Grandpa the Gangster.   I grew up knowing what my dad and my uncles did for a living. But I never knew what my Grandpa Coyle did, even though I always suspected that it was something unusual. He was an introverted man, he seemed pre-occupied much of the time and he died young of emphysema after years of cigarette smoking. One Thanksgiving, when I was old enough to begin to understand, I overheard the men talking about Grandpa doing the books.  Unfortunately, that didn’t mean he was an accountant. He was, it turned out, a bookie.  I later learned that he would gather his “boys” around that same Thanksgiving table to figure the payout to winners and to dole out everyone’s cut of the action. My mom would rarely talk about it, but she once told my brother that a car’s tires squealed around the corner one day when she was a little girl and Grandpa “threw” her back into the house “just in case”.

Looks like I was already suspicious of my Grandpa Coyle!

Looks like I was already suspicious of my Grandpa Coyle!

All in all, my memories of Thanksgiving in the 50’s are great ones. I loved my Grandma Coyle and she seemed to “fancy” me (as she would have put it).  I loved the smells and the tastes of Thanksgiving food.   I loved leftovers. I loved watching my dad watch football on TV and joke around with my uncles. I loved seeing my mom and grandma working together in the kitchen.  I loved my Uncle Jim and the sneaky 7 and 7 drinks he gave me with that little splash of whiskey.
But mostly, I just loved the feeling of belonging to the family.  Even with my Gangsta Grandpa!

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Happy Thanksgiving!
Cathy Green

Holiday Revelation – Who Knew?

Can we believe Thanksgiving has come and gone? Went to the dentist yesterday and their tree and various holiday decorations were everywhere. And yes, we have already gotten two “holiday letters” – both from sweet wonderful families who knew enough to keep the details brief and the photos beautiful. Please take their modeling if you are so moved to write such a year-end letter.

Many of us describe Thanksgiving as our favorite holiday. Fabulous people know well how much they have to be grateful for even if the world with ISIS and various other disturbances (don’t worry, I won’t even mention politics and the 2016 election) has become more frightening. Just read the quick summary of climate change – a short guide for those that have missed what’s been happening and thought: OMG, of course I knew about climate change – but I really didn’t KNOW IT.

That “lack of really knowing” has been a theme for me so far this holiday season. Sadly, I (in a not so fabulous way) have started to do the “older person discussion shuffle” – that dreaded description of “the young” as “having no idea about blah blah blah”. Blah blah blah being whatever we went through when we were their age – this of course being completely reedited for prime time.

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While of course we won’t repeat our parent’s favorite litany of the great depression (1929 not 2008) or talk about WWII (the big one); some of us are starting to recap our early feminist battles or our being the first/fifth this or that woman who did whatever. We got so sick of hearing about the great depression we dismissed its lessons. We were all pretty sorry we did that when 2008 came around. Let’s not tell our adult children or our grandchildren we did this, that and the other wonderful thing because they might do what we mostly did: ignore the real important messages. Talking too frequently leads to deaf ears.

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Continuing this theme of not really knowing I/we saw several movies over the Thanksgiving holiday – both about things I thought I knew all about. Spotlight (trailer below), about the child molestation scandal in the Catholic Church in Boston; and Trumbo (trailer also below), about people being black listed in Hollywood back in the day when fear of communism was racing across America. Being a history bluff I wondered if either were worth seeing – what of course drew me/us in were the amazing casts in both films, and of course the out of this world reviews.

In both cases I realized I had about 20% of the story. Remember Hedda Hopper? Now we were a little young to read Hedda Hopper’s columns but most of us vaguely remembered those hats she was famous for. Well hold on to your hat when you see and experience Helen Mirren’s portrayal of her in Trumbo. She was essentially, absolutely NOT fabulous – despite those amazing hats. Won’t say more – don’t want to spoil it for you.

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Watching the “action” in Spotlight is electrifying – and reminiscent of our work days pre-technology. Old fashioned researching, digging, and reporting reminds us all that whether you are a media/newspaper fan or not, we absolutely need investigative reporting in this fabulous (but flawed – kind of like us no??) country of ours. Of course we still have it. Many of us are aware of how the video of the shooting death in Chicago a year ago was brought to light – by yes, investigative, newspaper journalism.

So we don’t know lots. Even personally – my sister told me a story about she and her late husband that shook me up a little (my lips are sealed). Thought I knew… clearly I didn’t.

So it’s the holidays. Let’s try to stay fabulous by not being so damn sure we know it all about everything from decorations to family recipes. Let’s listen more than talk, go to the movies and learn something, and throw ourselves into the season promising to do new, fun, different AND traditional things. Be fabulous enough not to need to remind people of how you got so fabulous. Actually it doesn’t matter anymore – fabulous is having high integrity and being our best in the NOW. So happy holiday season fabulous sisters – keep up your own good work.

Patty

‘Tis the Season! Let’s Hug!

This week, I found myself hugging my hair stylist, my nail tech and a friend of a friend who I had met for less than one hour. Last week, I hugged my personal trainer to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving. At a cocktail party about a week ago, I hugged at least 20 people. While the other person often made the first move, I did my share of moving in for the body grab myself.

I admit it — I like all of this hugging. I always loved hugging my parents, aunts and uncles when I was growing up. I love hugging the grandkids and their parents now. Of course, I love hugging Ray and my dog, Lexie, every day.

These days, there is a lot of hugging going on outside of funerals and immediate families. In fact, over the years … the last 10-15 especially, I think – we have gotten used to seeing hugging in all kinds of new situations. Here’s a case in point:

Former U.S. president George W. Bush embraces President Barack Obama during the inauguration ceremony in Washington

A little awkward, perhaps?

Yes, more hugging can lead to more awkward moments. I’ve had a few of those myself.

  • The guy who had a little too much to drink at the cocktail party and decided to give me a full body hug that lasted a little too long. I don’t think his wife was amused.
  • The friend who likes to run his hands up and down my back when he hugs me. Next time, I’m going to ask him what he’s searching for.
  • The friend who hugged me sideways and began to fall … almost taking me with her.
  • The woman I didn’t know who hugged me and gave me an air kiss and then realized she didn’t know me either.
  • And, the guy who planted a big wet kiss on my lips along with the hug. I sincerely hope that doesn’t become a trend.

Hugging old and new friends at parties is one thing. Business environments are a little more confusing. Is it now OK for men and women co-workers to hug? If so, when? What about customers? Are they in the OK “hugging zone”? Who initiates a business hug? What’s the protocol? And what about group hugs?

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We seem to need some new hugging rules! Emily Post, where are you?

Speaking of Emily, when I googled “hugging” this video below popped up. It’s about the first hug given to Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, during the football draft in 2010. Social etiquette history in the making! Emily Post’s great, great grandson, Daniel Post Senning, gives his opinion in the video. (Hint: a “bro hug” might be better than a full-on hug).

Hugging isn’t going to go away any time soon. For those of us who like to give and receive hugs, that’s a good thing. But, if you happen to be a hugger hater, or a hugger over-thinker, or an Only When Someone Dies hugger, you might want to reconsider.

Some research suggests that there are health benefits from hugs … reduction in blood pressure, strengthening of the immune system, boosting of self-esteem and relaxation of muscles, to name a few.

And, as we head into the Christmas season, remember:

“A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange”

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Happy Holidays! Hugs to all!

Cathy Green

 

Photo credit: here

Celebrating Gratitude

This Thanksgiving:

  • Bob and Genny (names changed) went to Las Vegas – with their 2 young adult single children – and shopped and golfed.
  • My cousin had 10 of her 14 grandchildren over her house with her own children and their spouses — and yes, cooked the dinner and had them all stay multiple days!
  • My fabulous girlfriend Karen and husband Brad had her granddaughter, her granddaughter’s husband and their two little boys under 3 for nearly a week. It was madness at some level with two tiny little ones, but special and necessary.
  • My sister came and stayed for a week — the longest we have seen each other in one visit in more than 30 years.

It was very much Thanksgiving as it was a unique holiday surrounded by some (and in some cases NONE) of the traditions like football, cranberry sauce and turkey dinner.

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A less traditional Thanksgiving

I felt especially grateful not to be young this holiday because it gave not just me, but many of my friends and family, the freedom to custom design their Thanksgiving holiday.

Genny still works full-time and in her time off wanted to be just with immediate family not an extended house-full. As an apartment dweller driving hours to an event totally food-centered with a multi-hour drive home just didn’t make the cut.

My cousin is a family-centered woman — always a working professional she loves the hustle and bustle of all her children and grandchildren with her at Thanksgiving. She has kept moving to smaller homes – but there is always room at her house when it is Thanksgiving.

My friend’s granddaughter has a troubled relationship with her own mom and my friend often is her “real mom”. While tiring, my friend just knows how important it is to support her granddaughter and great granddaughters at holiday time.

My sister and I spent relaxed time together – we had our nails and hair done together – cooked and watched The Roosevelts on TV — it was just what we needed with both our 2015 packed with some major changes.

I didn’t miss doing what I had done in the past: picking up my suitcase that I had brought to the office so I could work till the last minute before jumping a plane to either my sister’s or my parent’s house for Thanksgiving. While I certainly enjoyed seeing my family, I was often worrying about pressing business and personal issues that I allowed to continually bother me no matter the occasion. I celebrated holidays when young — but I never enjoyed them in quite the same way I do now where each holiday is slightly or in a major way different and related to what is happening in my life right now.

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Something I didn’t miss

This is absolutely one of the best parts of being over 60. Maybe younger people do not feel all the obligations we did — but life WAS different for us. Our families had dozens more rules and expectations of our role at holiday time. One didn’t suggest bagging the turkey for a roast, much less decide to skip one’s aunts and uncles houses. While I have truly wonderful memories of the Thanksgiving while growing up and being a young adult in the 50s, 60s, and 70s — I truly love the freedom of modern life and being less pressured. There really is no perfect photo anymore that says ‘here is what a happy Thanksgiving looks like’ — it really is whatever you can dream of, afford, need to do just this year and have energy to do — and even in tough times that’s a lot of leeway.

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Let me suggest you take the opportunity to make every holiday unique – filling it with what you know is the absolutely perfect thing to do – but only for the current holiday in front of you. Being fabulous means being flexible and open to celebrating in ways that open our hearts and let us sleep longer and more soundly – who isn’t grateful for that?

Patty

Special Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! What could be more important than reflecting on our blessings and sharing with our families and communities?

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Like every fabulous woman the list of my blessings is long and of course includes my husband Bill, and every one of my family members and all my dear friends. Throw in health (the greatest blessing in many ways – my mother said that 100,000 times and it turns out she was right again) and every person who supports my life in any way from my wonderful hairdresser to amazing house keeper … you get the idea …

But this year I decided to scour my calendar, reflect and then select 5 (of the dozens) of really different things, events, or people that touched my life this year and for which I am particularly grateful. Let me suggest you do the same — you won’t stop smiling!

1. Read Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, took an online course with the author’s company (inexpensive and great) and kept re-reading it. When some bummers happened – including a serious energy dip in the late summer/early fall, and walking through the journey of a close friend losing her husband – the wisdom of the book kept reappearing and supporting me.

2. Kept up a co-coaching session every 6 or so weeks with a friend/fellow coach. Rebecca and I each got 30 minutes at each phone session to get input from each other on our professional work (we choose this as our topic of choice). Simple to implement — worth a try with a friend, colleague or person you just admire and respect. Keeps you on your toes – the call is always coming up sooner than you think it will.

3. Stopped half-heartedly doing anything related to work. Starting attracting great new clients once I became “fully in” to my decision to do life coaching. Made a fun video about life coaching.

4. Realized a few family events were really worth it (will skip those that were not) — including my granddaughter’s first communion, a first visit to our home from a semi-new relative (discovered in the last number of years and a great addition to the family), spending time with my grandnieces which I rarely do – and finally a trip to my sister’s to help her with some surgery that turned out to be full of fun and giggles.

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5. Stayed committed to writing and experiencing my 60s — especially to this ‘Fabulous’ blog and new Facebook page which makes my eyes, ears, and heart more open to seeing what’s new, what’s different, what brings joy and what annoys in my 60s. It’s a new lens on life that makes all of life more fun. Cathy and I are already planning our co-celebration of our 65th birthdays in 2015 — we are going first class on this one! For sure the celebration will be on next year’s special thanksgiving list.

It was hard keeping my list to 5 — hope you have the same challenge and as many blessings.

Patty

Tricks, Treats and the Day of the Dead

My memories of childhood and Halloween don’t seem to be infused with any sense of loss, failure, upset, commotion or mixed results. It was always fun — and simple. And, as other holidays in the 1950s there were certain recurring traditions. Costumes of course! Hand made or inexpensively purchased with a witch hat or skeleton smock, these costumes were standard fare of an All Hallows Eve or All Saints Eve. Looks from the dead – witches, devils, ghosts or goblins were strongly represented – as were a few common TV or comic book characters like Superman and Roy Rogers. So while many of us remember innocent and less commercial Halloweens, the truth is that even by the 1950s popular culture was seeping into the low key and inexpensive fun.

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We packed little bags of goodies. And while going around the neighborhood families greeted small groups of children they mostly (if not exclusively) knew. Some people went “all out” and served some cider or donuts. Houses had 1 to 3 pumpkins carved with smiling faces and candles inside. The streets of suburbia or the halls of apartment buildings were alive with laughing and sometimes pushing children and some small number of dads (some with flashlights). It started and ended pretty predictably with large bags (pillow cases were often employed) initially empty filled with all that is bad for you and some few apples or pennies that came in those goody bags. Then of course bedtime – perhaps a few parents stayed up with a glass of wine – but I sort of doubt many did. By 9PM it was MORE than a wrap if the children were under 10 and everyone was going to bed and awaiting another entirely predictable day. Hey it was the 1950s and there was no “breaking news” ever!

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While it sounds almost sad in comparison to the myriad of costumes, adult parties and of course Halloween apps to download. This is one holiday that really isn’t all that different from that of our childhood. It is still very much about children, family, and having silly fun – and of course getting some great treats while still avoiding tricks – toilet paper draped on trees or smashed tomatoes were frowned upon both then and now.

There was a time in the 60s up through the 80s when Halloween got creepy in a different way — pins, needles and some poisoning hit the media. Some of the innocence and fun was drained as parents and some older people thought the end of Halloween as we knew it was upon us.

But by the 21st century a traditional tide seems to sweep the country in a good way – as least as it relates to Halloween. TV anchors dress up:

Matt Lauer as Paris Hilton

Matt Lauer as Paris Hilton

Costumes got fancier and yes, single people and adults got into partying, but the mainstream celebrations returned to neighborhood trick or treating and an emphasis on family fun. Of course there is always people going to extremes — think Yandy.com – yuck! I put up some inexpensive silly decorations and plan to be here to greet any trick or treaters.

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chasing-fireflies.com

My move to Tucson and advancing age has found me ever more fascinated by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday.

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Maybe because more dead people are closer in age than ever, I find a holiday all about having fun and also honoring the recent dead a winner. My thinking is be there for the young trick or treaters and then pour me some wine while we go look at elaborate or informal shrines and altars — as well as parties in Mexican influenced neighborhoods and restaurants — or hang out watching the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village with friends.

Halloween is a holiday without guilt, ridiculous family dynamics or overblown competition — add in a big nod to the Day of the Dead and you have a holiday made in heaven. Don’t worry – drama is coming: Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

-Patty

 

Thanksgiving alone?

We decided several weeks ago that this year we would literally have Thanksgiving alone — just us — Bill and I. AND, we would stay home, do what we wanted to do and also cook a small turkey and a few sides.

Our daughter was in NJ with her family and her husband’s large and warm family. Our son worked. My niece was at my sister’s and having a ball seeing old friends and doing lots of visiting in the place she was raised. Our sisters were with their families and friends and even a number of close friends were committed (not literally, although a few considered it after the day) to other events.

Basket of Fruits and Vegetables

We started the day with an easy breakfast and talking about all the things we were thankful for — a huge list by the way. But it was very quiet. It was odd. Bill watched football and I read a whole book! A new one called Proof of Heaven about a neuroscientist’s journey to “the other side”. We walked, cooked together and sat outdoors to eat a lovely dinner and drink great wine. We limited the food to turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and one vegetable side. We also bought a gluten and lactose free pie that was yummy.

Bottom line?

  • We felt great the day after
  • We had a calm, intellectually interesting and restful day
  • We spent quality time together
  • We thought a great deal about all that we have to be thankful for

Not sure I ever want to do it again but it was awesome. Made me realize how “the shoulds” simply do not apply anymore. Are you as sick of hearing that as I am? Are we missing something because they aren’t? Have lower standards become no standards? Or are we just realizing that along with so many traditions, we are reinventing how we want to spend the day “giving thanks”? I think as long as that part stays in the day it is OK. As a woman in my 60s, losing that would be trouble — I would have guilt if there were no thanks in Thanksgiving. This is another example of good guilt that we do not want to lose. Yes, we fabulous women have guilt — but only the good kind.

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