Saturday, December 31, 2011

A toast to broken boxes......

Who knew?

Who could have possibly guessed?

When this year opened its sleepy eyes last January, it yawned, stretched its arms wide like a baby, and appeared it to be like the 62 that had already shown up on my life's doorstep. Appearances certainly deceive, don't they?

Instead, 2011 sneaked up on me that month in a hookah lounge called The Casbah, and then strutted out at my birthday party last week as I shamelessly sang karaoke with a backup group made up of my daughter and some good friends.

In between, I explored adventures that intrigued, challenged, or scared me to death. All because I dared to dismantle the box I had been living in for decades, the one that had been dictating what was acceptable for me, based on the judgements and opinions of others. In other words, today I am no longer bored--or boring.

And my New Year's resolutions, you ask?

I have only one: Here's to a 2012 filled with beauty and excitement that will continue to surprise all of us! 

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year.  It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. ..... Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.  ~G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Conga lines and karaoke.....

I was sweating and it wasn't even time yet. My heart raced just visualizing what was going to happen, my palms got sweaty, and I began to think of excuses for NOT following through on my public proclamation to do this particular ridiculous thing. Not only do it, but carry it out in front of everyone at my birthday party.

Yesterday it was time for the 12th installment of "things I've never done before."  The journey I started on last January, generated by a book called "The Second Half of Life" by Angeles Arrien.

Enough already, you say. How did I embarrass myself this month?

Are you ready?

Karaoke. With a hideous singing voice. And no rhythm, something my dance instructor can now attest to with vigor.

But, hey. Isn't that the same way I felt when I opened that dance studio door for the first time last April? And look what happened with that one: A passion was born for ballroom dance that reconfigured my life in ways I could never have imagined.

So, what was a short song in front of those who love me? My party was in full-swing, and the time arrived. I sashayed up to the stage with a few groupies, and we belted out Linda Ronstadt's "When Will I Be Loved?" I even camped it up a bit, demonstrating some of my newly-minted hip moves at the appropriate places. (You had to be there to know where those places were.)

My life this year has been filled with such delight. I believe this monthly twist has had much to do with that, too. A year ago, I felt old, uninspired, unmotivated. Stale. My world was painted in shades of gray, and the cloud cover existed in more places than overhead. It was also IN my head, leaching color and joy from my life.

I celebrated my 63rd birthday last night, complete with a conga line, a sweetheart dance where I got to dance with about 8 partners within the course of one song, and, of course, a bit of karaoke. I look forward to my next adventure, some activity that I've never tried before or have even feared.

Because, yes, I've decided to continue this journey for another 12 months, and have already picked out where I'm headed in January.

Have you ever ridden a mechanical bull?

For those of you who are new to my adventure, you can find the first one at and catch up.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry holidays, fa-la-la-la

O Holy Night.....

The Sacred Festival of Lights....

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.....

The media frenzy as we approach primaries.....

More bizarre weather events around the globe.....

So much to attend to in the world as we move through the winter solstice....

All of it critical to our survival as a country, as a conglomeration of nations, as a planet.

Our attention should be focused on all of these momentous events, each of us adding our voices to those of our neighbors, both next door and across the globe.  Right?

How long have you been reading this column, anyway? You should know better than that....

I DO want to focus on what's concerning me, the matter that keeps me awake at night, distressed and full of angst. It's these tiny bumps that have appeared all over my shins. Kind of like barnacles on the underside of a boat, but these have affixed themselves to the front of my legs, where everyone can see them. Now, THAT'S concerning me.

Plus, now I find out that other people experience the same thing as the aging process sneaks up on them and smacks them right between the eyes, laughing and pointing as we all look on in horror to our bodies morph and slide and....well, those of you who have been through this know what I'm talking about, don't  you? The least some of you could have done, though, was TELL the rest of us that this was going to happen. 

At first I thought I'd just have to live with these pesky adhesions, but then I Googled the situation. And do you know what I found out? You can scrape them off with a rough sponge, just like those little boat freeloaders can be scraped from the hull of a boat. Sweet.....I would never have thought of trying that.

Bet you didn't know that, either, did you? That's because people who have already gone down the road of birthday cakes burning to a crisp are hiding all of this information for some reason, holding it close to their drooping chests or bent backs, chuckling and whispering with glee, "Just wait.....!" until the next catastrophe strikes, the one that plays even more havoc on our bodies or our minds. 

So, go ahead and argue about whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, or which Republican is going to come out on top when the tear gas clears and the blood stops flowing. For me, I'm going to get out my little loofah and start scrubbing.

Merry holidays, ya'll.

Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.
Douglas MacArthur 



Tuesday, December 20, 2011


“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake...”

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon knew a thing or two, didn't he? Even if he was old......

Oh, whole reason for Aged to Perfection, and taking all of you along with me, is to celebrate the fact that we do get better as we move along the earthly time continuum.  I know the younger you are, the less you believe that. But you will someday.

Plus, the learning process just never stops. Here's something I have learned about myself in the past few years: I like to sparkle.

I am drawn to clothes that glitter. I want my hair to sparkle, even if I have to sprinkle glitter through it.  My nails are always polished to a high gleam.

But most importantly, my face shines, reflective of the glitz that is going on inside these days.  My adventures this year have brought new passion into my life, a regenerated state of being that shines through me each morning. Sometimes I feel as if sunbeams shoot from my fingertips.

I smile from my soul, even as I approach my 63rd birthday next week.

So, to all my younger friends, and especially to my daughter, I say this:

We're never too old to be dazzling!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fire on the keyboard......

I used to exist in a perpetual state of outrage. There is so much injustice slapping us around on a daily basis, and the world can be a cold, heartless place. My letters to the editor of whatever publication I was nearest at the time were filled with pleas to City Hall, our legislators, even the dog catcher if he got out of line. No one was safe from my scathing keyboard.

I am still a believer in the power of the individual. And, as a teacher, I passed that torch to teenagers who struggled with the same kinds of feelings I had, but they had no clue how to make themselves heard. They know now.

But I don't get too involved any more in the daily turning of the planet. My shoulders are worn down from all the burdens I carried for myself as well as others, and I have to say that I don't see that much has improved during my lifetime of speaking out. So, today I write creatively and professionally, and I dance. Those of you who are regular followers of my journey know that I'm happier for it, too. The aging process tends to mellow us out a bit, and provides some perspective in many ways.

But every one in a while, something happens that really smacks me between the eyes. And I can't stay silent.

A young woman I know was recently told by her employer (who was also supposedly a friend) that the business had to cut back. No surprises there. Millions of folks are in the same situation, laid off through no fault of their own, put out on the street to line up, applications in hand, to compete for very few job openings. I've been there, and you probably have, too.

But this employer took a despicable action to prevent the employees from filing unemployment. They are kept on the company's books with the designation "as needed." And ever since this young woman has been "as needed," which has been over three months, she hasn't been needed once. Not once. She has really been laid off, but is being prevented from filing for some help while she looks for work in a damaged economy. Is it any wonder cities across this country are being occupied?

My daughter was laid off yesterday, too. She has been working one full time job and two part time jobs to make ends meet, and has been happy to do so. She grew up watching me work from before dawn until I literally couldn't stand up any more, and has inherited that work horse gene.

She lost the full time job yesterday, but she filed for unemployment before the sun went down.  That's the way it's supposed to work, and it's what we pay taxes for.

But the other young woman is sinking fast. Her "employer" won't release her, so she can't file for help. Get a lawyer, some folks advise. And pay them with what?

My keyboard is  on fire again.

How do people like that sleep at night?

Delay in justice is injustice.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fool me once.....

Dr. Phil irritates me. My DVR list used to be chock full of episodes of his show, and I was usually glued to the television as he put addicts and philandering spouses in their places. Usually some kind of rehab paid for by the facilities as a form of advertising that we’re not supposed to notice. At least my life wasn’t a total train wreck compared to the guests sitting on his stage, I thought as I watched. But over time he grates, doesn’t he? He’s pompous and loud and acts pretty superior to the rest of us. He and Robin in all their wealth and glamour get a bit too much in these days of so many people in need. Maybe I'm just jealous.

            So, now my DVR records lighter programming, like Family Feud. At least everyone in those families is giggling and slapping hands over their silly answers full of innuendo, instead of slapping each other with paternity suits. Come to think of it maybe it’s really the same thing, just with a funnier host.

            There is one gem of wisdom from Dr. P that remains tucked in my psyche, I have to admit.

            “Past behavior is a predictor of future behavior.” I pull that one out often and polish it up for my daughter and other young people. It’s a good one to carry around in your pocket, I’ve found.  Generally, if someone has betrayed your trust once, it stretches the limits of wisdom if you hand it over to them a second time, for example.

            “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…..” and all that, you know.

            Yes, you there in the back of the room. You have a question? Oh, you want to know why I’m channeling Dr. Phil and his wisdom today?  You all know me well by now, don’t you?

            Someone from my past has reappeared, someone whose eyes still have the capability of consuming me and burning me to a crisp. As they did once before, when I trusted his passionate pursuit and words of commitment and caring. My world literally glowed then, taking on the hue of FOREVER, a word he gently handed to me like an elegantly wrapped gift. A word I was heartbreakingly receptive to at that point in time.

            FOREVER apparently came from a different dictionary for him, as you probably have guessed by now. It ended ugly, let’s leave it at that. Therapy was required. My world collapsed. As did I for over a year. I went to work, I moved through my days with my pain undetected  by most people, but I was a shell of a woman who had had everything promised only to have it snatched away in an instant. And then given to someone else. Someday I’ll share the rest of the story, but I can only stare at it, even today, for short periods of time.

            And here he is again. In my younger, more foolish days, I would have been tempted. Oh, shoot, let me be honest. I’m still tempted. I’m human. And to make it even more dangerous, I am alone. I have no idea what he is thinking, but that isn't the point. I don't care. I know my own capabilities, I know my ability to laser in on a goal, my singlemindedness.  And I know my weaknesses better now, too, such as my tendency to be motivated by a challenge, which sounds like a good thing. But sometimes it isn't. Take my word for it.

            But Dr. Phil’s words have been buzzing around, trying to protect me from myself, tapping me sharply on the shoulder, and thumping my forehead when I start thinking, “Well, maybe this time…..”

            It’s this simple: If someone betrays your trust once, they will do it again. I believe this.

           There won’t be any fooling me twice.

“Trust is like a vase.. once it's broken, though you can fix it the vase will never be same again.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What was that you dared to ask me?

I smile.

I nod and smile.

I nod, smile, and change the subject.

But I have learned that I don't have to answer a question just because someone has asked one.

When I was younger, I felt a compulsion to respond to any query put to me. No matter how rude, how intrusive, how "it's none of your business" that question was. Heaven forbid someone should be angry with me, that was one of my fears, I think. I also cared too much about how people viewed me, so I was compliant above all else. Which meant I told people things that they had no business asking about, much less knowing about me and my life.

Now I know that some people are just so deficient that they suck life right out of others, primarily because they have none of their own. Life, I mean. Drama queens, busy bodies, call them what you will. They think everything that happens within their realm, and often outside it, too, belongs to them.

So, I've learned some great responses. (A friend told me once that I can tell people where to go so sweetly that they don't know what just happened to them. I say, hooray for me!)

I say things like, "I'm not prepared to answer that right now." (Or ever, probably.)

"I'll have to think about that."


"Let's talk about something else."

As you can imagine, when I say things like that in response to a question, the other person gets uncomfortable. Sometimes huffy. And when I was younger, I couldn't handle that.  No more.

If you don't like what you can see and hear when you're in my presence, by the way I live my life, and what I am willing to share with you, I can also smile sweetly as I tell you where the door is.

It's an important lesson for younger people to learn, I think.

Now, what was that you asked me?

People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it- walk.
Ayn Rand

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tell me the truth.....

It’s so confusing. Is honesty always the best policy? Really? Before you get all huffy and self-righteous, think about your answer.

You would think that we’d figure these essential questions out as we age. Surprisingly, it’s been my experience walking this planet that you would be wrong about that. The older I get, the more gray I see in places other than my hair.

A husband hikes his beer, belches, and proceeds to blast his wife to his buddy, for example. They think they’re alone as they lean back in their recliners in front of the football game, but the buddy's wife overhears it. She is outraged that this man would show such disrespect to his wife, so off to the phone she tiptoes. She can’t wait to tell her friend, the clueless victim of this verbal attack. “She should know,” many would insist.  Hmmm…….do you think she’s going to be better off with this knowledge? Maybe…..not.

Or an unsolicited (and unwanted) kiss from a coworker sends the married recipient into a tailspin of indecision. I put the coworker in his place, she thinks, and he won't do it again but should I tell my husband, she agonizes as she drives home from the office party? Isn’t our relationship based on honesty and trust?  Back the truck up a minute, I say, before engaging in that particular conversation. This woman’s husband is feeling particularly vulnerable these days, out of work for six months and struggling with his self-image as “provider of the family.”  What would be gained between this couple by sharing this information about an event that the wife did not initiate, did not willingly participate in, and subsequently put a stop to?

I realize I may be walking a tightrope here, but I don’t believe honesty is called for –or even desired by those involved—in all situations. I didn’t always think this, though; it has come as a result of watching people throw rocks of truth at each other in the name of doing what is "right.” I’ve had some of those rocks rip me apart, too, blood oozing from cuts inflicted by those who simply had to tell me the truth.

The wife whose mate speaks disrespectfully of her will gain exactly what by hearing it whispered into her ear by someone outside that relationship? And the kiss from a coworker who will be around for awhile and who now knows not to try it again? What is the reason for confessing the incident? And what would be “confessed” anyway—the errant coworker is a jerk with an overinflated view of himself as a Lothario?

I have come to understand that those who simply have to tell everything are seekers of drama. They relish being the keeper of the keys of secrets. It somehow makes them feel important, valued, no matter the destruction their words leave behind.

As for me, I say there is much to be said for a bit of discretion. Or I could just be confused…..again.

 Honesty is a good thing, but it is not profitable to its possessor unless it is kept under control.
Don Marquis

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dancing fool: Exposed

Sometimes in life we get it right. 

Last night was one of those times for me. I did my "something I've never done before" for this month, an event that was unthinkable, unimaginable even six months ago. 

On April 28th, 2011, I took my first dance lesson. (See to refresh your memories about that day.) It was supposed to be ONE dance lesson to fulfill my April experience. 

Last night, nearly a full six months later, I performed a choreographed waltz in front of friends, family, and a few strangers. My instructor/partner and I had been practicing for at least 2 months for this performance, dancing that waltz over and over again.....and then we practiced it some more. Some practices were wonderful, many were tedious, and some were downright torture. I take two lessons a week, and even with the tedium and torture, I absolutely love it. I walk more gracefully and I have more awareness of my body. I am leaner and stronger.

As we prepared for last night, I imagined myself dancing to the music I chose for my waltz, Josh Grobin's "Un Dia Llegara," with all my friends and family gathered to watch. I pictured them all celebrating my new-found self-confidence with me and, yes, being impressed with my dance. After all, a mere half year ago I routinely refused to dance and had resigned myself to the fact that I COULDN'T dance. Even with a few missteps or a foot not pointed correctly, they would love it and love me dancing. I envisaged us all going out to dinner afterwards, long-time friends of mine who had never met one another, and we could all share a meal and fellowship on a special night.

Many asked me before the performance if I was nervous. There was a mere 15 minutes on the way to the studio when nerves showed up in the car with me, but then I went back to my vision and the nerves were ejected from the car. I also was determined that I was not going to disappoint my instructor, James Bell. He had worked too hard (and had MUCH to overcome in me!) for me to make mistakes that would reflect on him as a teacher. It just wasn't going to happen. Plus, as my college roommate said, if I could stand in front of a room of middle schoolers for 15 years, I could do anything.....and she's right. I have so much life experience, good and bad and horrible, that I was determined to enjoy this new page in my life, the one that  has changed me forever.

And my vision came to life last night. It was magical.

Deb. Hansen and James Bell

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wait! Don't jump there......

Conclusions can be dangerous things. Especially if one jumps onto one too quickly, sailing off into the horizon of justification and an affinity for being "right." 

Another lesson learned over the decades, that's for sure. Like most lessons, though--at least the important ones--they are gifts that keep on giving.

I had occasion to become reacquainted with this one a few days ago, when I nearly tripped into the abyss of, well, several vats of muck. Muck that would have stuck to me for a while if I had fallen all the way in. But I caught myself in time, causing myself only a few hours of discomfort. The alternative would not have been pretty and it would have affected my life dramatically, and not for the better, I'm thinking.

People are strange and wonderful beings, much more complicated than the black/white, either/or, all/none, thinkers care to admit. Yet we do tend to follow patterns of behavior that we find comfortable over the years. If a person acts in one way in situation A over and over again, then it's safe to say that she will follow that general pattern every time (or most times) that situation A reoccurs.

I had occasion to be somewhere, and the person who was supposed to be there with me was......not. "WELL! How dare they?" I huffed to myself.  "We just talked about this! Now I'm sitting here by myself, can't get in, it's cold, and I don't know what's going on!!"  (There's that thing about me, the trait that someone close to me shared with me one day: I HAVE to know EVERYTHING. It raised its ugly head again, and I can't blame others for this compulsion of mine. It's bad enough that I have to live with it.)

I sat there. I fumed. And then my years of learning this lesson about jumping to nasty conclusions took over. This was totally out of character for this person. Had never happened before.

The fact that I then worried for hours until the mystery was solved speaks to a different trait of mine. But that's a topic for another day.

All was well, and I was right to pull back from that dangerous ledge of acting and speaking rashly. It wouldn't have been pretty, the person didn't deserve it, and my actions would have created bad feelings that had no basis in fact.

Now about that other fun thing that I do......

A conclusion is just simply the place where
someone decided to stop thinking.

Friday, November 4, 2011

There's water all over the floor......

I've always wanted to learn to play chess. I'm not sure why, but I think it's because there is an appeal to a game that requires thinking about more than your next move. 

"Hmmm. If I move this castle thing here now, that horse over there can spring on me two moves from least if my opponent scoots his Queen into that space on his next move." (You can tell, I'm sure, that I don't know anything about who can move where and when, or not.......but I've made my point. I hope.)

And all of this has become more understandable to me as I've gotten older. Not that any of that understanding came easily. I'm thinking about all those impulsive actions I took when I was younger. Like having no thought at all about what might happen tomorrow if I stole that street sign and put it in my garage for a laugh. Or when I took off for Colorado with four college friends, driving from Florida in a Pinto with a cat in the back seat. The one who had never traveled anywhere before and screamed halfway across the country. (The cat, not me.)

When we're younger, we just don't think about what hides behind the move right in front of us. Or we don't want to look that far because then our fun would be spoiled today. But once made, those decisions cannot be unmade, much like trying to put water back into a bottle. Not going to happen. The water simply makes the floor slick enough for some nasty falls. People get hurt, things get broken, and the damage is done. Very often forever.

So, much like chess, maturity in life brings with it the ability to peek around that next action we're considering, just for a tiny minute, to see if we can forecast the consequences of one decision or another, one path or the other. We have the ability to hold ourselves in check, at least long enough to weigh our moves, and save ourselves a lot of heartache in the end.

And maybe some jail time when the cops come looking for their sign. 

So, let's play chess!

The beauty of a move lies not in its appearance but in the thought behind it.  
Aaron Nimzowitsch

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dancing fool, part 4

I had originally been saving this topic for a few more weeks. Until after the "Open House" at my dance studio, the day when I will stand in front of friends, family, and strangers (sometimes those categories bleed over into one another, I know, I know) and dance for the first time in PUBLIC! 

Yikes! Does that sound scary or what?

You would think so. Heck, I would have thought so, too, until very recently. Me, the painfully shy teenager who had to swallow OTC sedatives to make it through Speech 101 in college. The one who shook so hard in front of her first Dale Carngie class that her teeth literally chattered. The same one who never had a date in high school, at least until the BLIND date to her senior prom. Sad, but true.

But this is where age is a beautiful thing in many ways. Not all, I'll admit, but we don't want to get into the chicken skin thing again, do we? I'm talking about vivid changes that transform us, if we let them, as we let our guard down and we stop taking ourselves--and life--so seriously.

The fact that I'm even taking ballroom dance lessons is a wonder, a thing of indescribable beauty. Joy suffuses my life, color and texture added to what had become an oppressive drabness pressing me to the ground. I was becoming invisible. So dancing in front of others is another huge leap forward, a leap I am delighted to take. Missteps will happen, I'm sure, just as they have throughout my life. Yours, too, I bet.

But my dance instructor has reinforced, through dance, so many lessons I have begun to learn about life, too.

"Don't stop and just keep smiling," he says. And he's right.

We're never too old for wisdom like that. I'll catch back up with you when it's all over!

There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them. ~Vicki Baum

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Elusive but attainable.....

I have hiked to 11,000 feet in the mountains of Colorado, carrying a 50 pound pack on my back as I scooted across logs traversing rivers with rapids rushing underneath.

I saw signs of bears and mountain lions along the barely discernible trail, and learned to hang the food high in trees during the night.

I have camped in the snow. (Those raised in Florida don't immediately understand that spring comes to the Rockies MUCH later than ever encountered at home in the tropics!)

I have, therefore, experienced having to untie frozen ropes with numbed fingers when  the snow got too heavy on the top of the tent and we had to finish the night in our cars.

I have climbed "14ers."

I have led men into the woods (oh, stop that, let me finish my thought before you go jumping to conclusions) as the first female pack leader at the Boy Scouts of America's management training facility in New Jersey in the 1970s. I learned to cook blueberry cobbler in a cast iron pot and got to tell the guys what to do....and they had to do it! Without grumbling or rolling their eyes, even.

But I had never gone fishing.  Until today.

The sky was blue and clear and majestic. The breeze across the lake near my daughter's apartment complex was brisk and cool, Fall finally having arrived over the past few days.

We took her fishing rod and tackle box out to the edge of the lake, and it didn't take long for the turtles to show up, their long necks stretched up to check us out. We could see small brim just beneath the water's surface, rippled by the wind. And then my daughter began to prepare the line and the hook. And the weights. And the tangled line around the reel. And the bobber. And tiny balls of bread. 

Patience, patience. Not one of my finest virtues, but one that is necessary in this activity, I found. Finally we were ready. She showed me how to cast out over the lake and how to flip the lever on the reel that controls the line. Then we waited. 

There's a lot of that in fishing, I discovered. Waiting, I mean. But, finally we had a bite and reeled in a turtle. Oops. My daughter and her friend scurried down to the edge of the water to assist the poor thing. I stayed out of the way. I'm glad turtles don't have vocal cords, that's all I can say.

Then it was my turn to cast for the first time. I'm a good student, if nothing else. I flung that line out into the middle of the lake, and started slowly reeling it in, like I was instructed.  Suddenly the yellow plastic bobber  ducked under water, which was my cue to jerk the hook up and start reeling like mad. And there it was, a little brim at the end of my line, wiggling and flapping around like....well, like we probably would in the same situation. 

Did I take it off the hook? Surely you're kidding. No, that task went to my daughter, who returned it to the lake after taking the picture proving that I did catch something my first try. 

Who said it's not called catching?

But I think I see why so many people love to do this. The day was gorgeous and I was out enjoying it. I was sharing time with people I care about. We could talk....or not. The fish don't care one way or the other. 

And for me, it's been such a treat to spend this year being the student in so many ways.

Thanks, Sara and Christina!

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, 
a perpetual series of occasions for hope.   
John Buchan

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sometimes, it just isn't enough.....

Love, love, love. It's everywhere.......
  • Love will keep us together.
  • Love will build a bridge.
  • All you need is love.
Sounds good, right, all warm and fuzzy, chocolates and flowers, hugs and kisses?

I realize it's dangerous to argue with all of that, but you know me....I'm going to do it anyway. My argument is this, and it's one that I fought against valiantly for as long as I could:

                                    Sometimes, love isn't enough.
It just isn't.

Two people CAN love one another, sometimes desperately, and still not make it work. I know. I've been there. Life intervenes in so many ways that sets up walls and barriers between you. Expectations change, maturity levels change, family dynamics change.

When we're young, we think that as long as we have love, we can make anything work. We have a hand to hold, a partner to stand with as the world tries to beat us down. That love can hold on, but sometimes we can't hold out against the forces that are working against us.

Not that there aren't long-term relationships out there. There are. You know it and I know it. All I'm saying is that sometimes the L-word simply isn't enough to carry us through.

So, what's my point? (Other than depressing everyone in sight.) It's this: A failed relationship does not make one a failure. It took me a very long time to realize this. Some of us are better prepared for relationships in general, for dozens of reasons that stretch all the way back to our playpens. If we're not, though, it doesn't make one a deficient person. We can still love, often passionately, but long-standing love stories won't be on our bookshelves.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: All you can do is all you can do. If it somehow isn't enough no matter what you do, lay down the guilt and the pain and the idea that you muck up everything you may not be enough, but you always will be.

Hate leaves ugly scars, love leaves beautiful ones. 
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zipping it in time.....

We sat next to each other in the waiting area, the stranger and I, chatting about the weather, the traffic, life in general as we passed the time until it was our respective turns. People came and went, some within hearing range, others buried in their magazines or their fancy phones that do everything but, well, they do everything, don't they?

Time passed, we talked some more, and then the topic turned to one of my hot button issues. Oops. I jumped on that bandwagon as it chugged on by us there in that waiting room, others joining in as their cages were rattled, too. It's a huge issue in our city, as well as all over the country, and it's like tossing a match onto a kerosene-soaked rag in your garage. You'd better stand back or you'll get the eyebrows singed right off your face.

I've learned some things as my decades have slipped by like flood waters under a door, though. My rant stopped short of naming names in our town, those misguided folks who I feel are the cause of the problems....or at least, they don't understand the problems they were hired to fix so just manage to make things worse. With our money. (I'm not going to name the problem, if you're skimming ahead to nail it down. Too many people know me in this town.)

But to return to what I've learned, I hope younger people are reading this and save themselves some huge embarrassment along the way. Here it is:
                      You never know who you're talking to.

That happened to me once. I ranted and raved about [insert name] and found out later that the person I was ranting TO was related to the person I was ranting ABOUT. I had no idea. And I had no way of knowing that, either, at the time. Not until it was too late.


So, I zipped it there in that waiting room before I fell off that particular cliff again. And sure enough, I later found out that the woman WAS related to one of the people I was tirading about.

Whew! I avoided the precipice and lived to rant another day.

I like restraint, if it doesn't go too far.
Mae West

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


There isn't much it compares with. Let me think....
  • Will you marry me?
  • You're going to have a baby!
  • I want to offer you the job.
  • I'm going to let you off with a warning....
But the phone call I received a week or so ago trumps all of them.

After years of rejection letters clogging my mailbox like they were multiplying  inside that small metal space, I heard the words I had begun to think would elude me forever:

"We want to offer you a contract on your book."

Tears flooded my eyes, unbidden. Me, the person who has never cried openly in a movie theater. I collapsed on the nearest chair and started to tremble. I ran screaming through the house after I hung up.

The woman might as well have slapped "APPROVED!" across my forehead with an oversized rubber stamp. In red. I was validated.....finally.

I can't explain why I needed that validation from a traditional publisher. I know I'm a good writer. I've gotten plenty of positive feedback from other writers and from educated people I respect. But I decided that this manuscript was going to be my totem, the visible mark of my worth as a writer. I threw all my energy into it and to its marketing.

"We want to offer you a contract on your book!"   And I only had to wait several decades to hear it.

Yes, it was worth it.

Ink and paper are sometimes passionate lovers, oftentimes brother and sister, and occasionally mortal enemies. ~Terri Guillemets

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wow! What a ride....

I've shaken my head in the past and "tsk'ed, tsk'ed" when I see them on the road, sometimes weaving in and out of traffic, as if the rules of the road don't apply to them. How foolish, I'd think, these daredevils who climb on, often without the proper equipment to keep them safe. After all, I've muttered to myself, if they kill themselves, they might take one of us with them, plus somebody has to pay to clean up the mess they'll leave on the road. HARRUMPH, I grumbled in my old lady-ishness!

My, times change, don't they? I'm nine months of the way through my year-long journey of rejuvenation, and I have to say that my world has been knocked off its axis already. I can't wait to see how the rest of the year plays out!

This month flowed by, a river of seconds transforming themselves into minutes and hours until the days were nearly done before I decided how to recreate myself once again. The joy that fills my life now is incalculable, on so many levels. Instead of searching for new things to do, unique adventures to grab onto, I find I have choices  each month now, the floodgates opened to a new psyche. I love it. If you pass me on the street today, I might look like the same person.....but you would be wrong. Seriously wrong. 

So I was ready to step a bit farther out of my box, the one whose sides have been torn by my previous months' ventures as I stretched my mind, my body, and ultimately my very existence into a nearly unrecognizable internal landscape.

So, here I was, riding on a motorcyle for the first time. You know, the machine that mothers everywhere shudder whenever the mere word is spoken, the icy fingers of death poking them in the eye with threats of taking their matter that those children have become adults with briefcases and mortgages of their own. The insidious things kill people. Smear them all over roads or smash them against cement abuttments on highways.  

I climbed on that back of that motorized killer and loved every minute of it. We didn't go far, but we travelled miles outside of the life I had been so stagnant in, the one where fear often ruled the roost. The day was crystal clear and warm, the sky a bowl of blue above us as the wind blew in my face and the motor purred beneath me.

I now understand the attraction, the willingness to taunt an existence that is always practical, safe. Boring.

As Hunter Thompson said, Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a Ride!'

And that can apply to riding a motorcyle on a breathtaking fall day or to just plain getting older.

Thanks, again, J. You keep me on my toes in more ways than one!

“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.”

                                                                                Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A new day dawning.....

I won't ever forget that day. There was no way I was going back to that place the next least that's how I felt as I climbed in my car outside the junior high I had been sent to after 5 teachers had come and gone in that classroom. All by November. I cried all the way home, a 25 mile drive, as I made my way to my second job at a dry cleaner after school ended at 2:30. I actually looked forward to that job every day, the one where I got to talk to adults and not think very much as I handed their clothes over the counter.

But, no, I did not want, could NOT go back to that classroom again. The one where the teenagers screamed and fought and generally acted like I wasn't even in the room. The one where I had been ushered by the department head, handed a roll book, and shoved in the door....kind of like a lion tamer, but no one bothered to give me a chair or whip.

But later when I finally picked up my infant daughter and made my way home well after dark, I sat down and faced facts. I HAD to go back. You don't give up your health care when you have a baby. Not when there is no other adult in the house to pick up the financial burden, pat your hand, and say, "It's OK, honey. You stay home and I'll take care of everything."  You look at yourself in the mirror, take a deep breath, and iron your clothes for the next day. You know you will get back in the car, drive back to whatever chased you away the day before, and face it all again.

And do you know what? The next day was always better. Every time.

It sounds like a small thing but it is a lesson that has stayed with me for over 20 years. And it is one that I added to my parental toolbox, the one that is full of adages that kids roll their eyes at, but we still hope they soak in somehow.

When a day kicks your butt, and does a grand job of it, take solace in the fact that when the sun comes up again, things really will look better.

I stayed in the classroom for 14 years after that first horrible year. I became a good disciplinarian.....mostly by caring for the kids I taught......and I learned to navigate the bureaucracy that hampers any large organization.

And when I have a tough day now, I rummage around in my mental toolbox, wrap the lesson from that horrible day around my shoulders, and hunker down to wait for the sun to rise again.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely...”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Should we tell her??

A friend and I watched the young woman come into the foyer of the restaurant where we waited for the rest of our party.

There wasn't an ounce of fat on her body. None.

Her legs were lean and tan and unblemished. 

Her shorts were VERY short, but they fit her perfectly. Along with the halter top that showed off the smooth skin on her arms and back.

Her hair was thick and lustrous.

My friend looked at me. I looked at her.

"Should we tell her?" 

Of course, we didn't tell her anything. First of all, she didn't ask us, but why spoil this child's fun? She has years before it all starts to....well, sag and wrinkle and generally become unrecognizable.

I can remember looking at older women and thinking, complete with a self-righteous sniff,  "Why don't they take care of themselves?" I really believed that none of that was going to happen to ME, no way, no how.....nope.

Today I exercise like a fanatic, I dance several times a week, I walk miles before I sleep......and still have body parts that just will NOT cooperate. I'm strong, but that doesn't seem to matter in all the ways I think it should. My stomach might be getting smaller but it still has ripples and moguls that taunt me when I dare to face a mirror at night. My legs have muscle now, but strange brown spots dot the skin, too, just like the ones on my hands.

And the skin on my arms continues to resemble a dead chicken, no matter how much expensive lotion I buy from that company in New Zeland. I'm toned from hours of working with weights at the gym, but that just means that the crepy skin has less fat to spread itself it hangs there, leering at me, like one of those ugly Goonies from the movie.

The oddest thing about this whole stage of life, at least for me, is that I still feel young, and my mind continues to be active and very busy. One thing I CAN tell younger people is that we continue to think outrageous thoughts and covet what we shouldn't (in all the ways one can covet, I might add!). Now, however, we have a better braking system to keep us out of trouble.....or at least, most trouble. We don't care too much about what other people think of us, which comes at a perfect stage of life, I can attest to that.

We watched the young woman walk away, and we sighed. Do I wish someone had told me what to expect? Probably not. Why spoil the next few decades for someone like that??

Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children. ~George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, September 11, 2011


When I was younger, marking events was not important to me. I'm not sure why I didn't have a "celebration gene," but one thing I've learned over the years is to spend more time looking forward rather than trying to figure out what screwed us up so badly in the past.

And I've always been amazed at friends who knew exactly how many [hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades] have passed since some huge event in their own lives. Me? I often couldn't tell you my own age, often missing it by a year either way. (Nowadays that might be a good thing!)

But I do think as we age we experience our lives in deeper ways, as well as feeling the impact of events going on around us. Today our country marks 10 years since the horror that shredded our sense of security forever. There is no question of this day's significance. And I feel it deeply on many levels....

      For the people working in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon that day,
                           unaware that hell was about to explode in their faces.

      For their families and friends.
                           Especially their children

      For the responders and their families.
                           Especially their children.

      For those on United Flight 93, and their families and friends.
                           And their children

       For those filled with hate and righteousness who perpetrated the horror.
                          And their families and children.

      For all those who have been lost, both military and civilian, in our attempt to
                          make us safer in a world that will never feel safe again.
                                      And all the children, from the neighborhoods in America to
                                                       deserts halfway around the globe.

      For all Americans, as shock and fright and fear wrapped their icy arms around us.

      Finally, for those who have embraced the brand of hatred of the terrorists,
                           somehow believing that it is the only way to show our strength.

September 11th can never slip by me unmarked and unobserved. My only hope is that we don't lose our humanity in an attempt to prove our might.        

“For never can true reconcilement grow, Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.”
John Milton

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dancing fool, part 4

This will be quick. Sometimes less is better (well, very often less is better, but we do like the sound of our own voices, don't we?), and this is one of those occasions. I could write a whole column on this, but it wouldn't be any better. Just longer.

During one of my dance lessons last week, I was (still) struggling with the finer points of technique in one of the Latin dances. My instructor, who is about half my age, looked at me and uttered one of those statements that knocks you on your butt by hitting the target, BULLSEYE!, without even realizing what he had done.

But I did.

"You need to keep taking the step and then going back! You need to COMMIT!"

Oh, my.......

There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.
  ~Edwin Denby

Thursday, September 1, 2011

That line in the sand...

Boundaries in life are funny things.

They keep moving. Just when you think you know where one is and you make your decisions accordingly.....zap! It moves this way or that, making you start all over again. Very confusing. Often, though, we are the ones  pushing that line in the sand with the tip of our shoe, hoping no one is watching. Because we want what we want when we want it. And that only means trouble for us and anyone else who is wandering in our desert at the time.

But as I age and become an Active Master, I'm getting so much better at recognizing those lines in the sand. And then respecting them.

In my "wild child" days (yes, I did have them!), I often decimated  boundaries. If I even saw them at all. And that can be dangerous to one's health and well-being. It certainly tends to complicate one's life, believe me.

OK...I'll tell on myself in an attempt to be helpful to younger people who might have the same situations arise. Take the boundary of not getting involved with your best friend's other half. (Don't stand there with that shocked look on your face. I bet there are skeletons in your closet just banging on the door to get out right now.) Even though my friend insisted they were through, DONE!, never to get together again, I shouldn't have crossed that particular boundary. I saw it there, but I chose to ignore it. I wanted....well, you know what I wanted.

Because you know what happened. If you're over 40 or so, you know what happened. After the dust cleared, I had lost a friend and a lover, and everyone was hurt and very angry. And, yes, I felt ashamed. An emotion that is not good company.

And there are clues that tell us we KNOW we shouldn't be crossing to the other side, aren't there? Like the fact that I didn't enlighten her about the person I was seeing the next night. If you have to hide things from people who are important to you, you might want to re-evaluate what you're doing. Or about to do.

Listen to that raspy voice that is trying to warn you, especially if it gets more insistent over time. Kind of like an alarm clock that is designed to get louder the more times it has to "alarm" you in the morning. And you should listen before you move the tip of your toe over that line. Don't throw a pillow at the noise in an adolescent fit. Listen, then consider what you're doing, and if you're not sure....don't do it.

I have a boundary facing me right now and I bet you do, too. But I know exactly where mine is and I have no intention of getting too close. That's all part of becoming conscious, mature human beings who value those around us, as well as ourselves, too much to trample on them.

Now, get your toe away from that line.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A poetic experiment......

Now I know why I've never written poetry.

It hurts, similar to bleeding all over the screen as you write. (I used to write on actual paper, but those days are gone for the most part. Now, I have to bleed horizontally as I type.) 

And you can't hide when you write poetry.

Some time during this past year, I decided that I was going to write in a way that more accurately echoes my real personality, which can be pretty funny, if I do say so myself. The thing that makes that even....well, that I don't LOOK like a person who has a wicked sense of humor. Students used to tell me, when they finally realized it was safe to do so, that I scared them silly when they first walked into my classroom.

I've had men tell me that I scared them at first, but I won't go into detail on that. And most of them never made it past the "at first" part at all. They never experienced having a highly provocative or ironic statement come out of a perfectly straight, rather dour looking face. (I do have a lot of fun with that, I admit.)

So, when I know you well enough to unleash my inner comedian, I'm told it can be quite a shock, whether it is in person or via my keyboard. In any case, I decided to allow that little guy out more often, and from the feedback I've gotten, you all are enjoying it as much as I do.  As we get older, we care less about what others think of us anyway.

And then I made the statement last week that I was going to attempt to write poetry as my August "thing I've never done before."

Wish I hadn't done that.

I thought I could just keep going on that track of entertaining you as I simply expressed myself in a genre that is new to me. wrong.

Julia Cameron, one of the premiere writing gurus around, believes that "the work" is out there, floating around in the ether, and it channels on down to one of us creative types for its birth. We are merely the vehicles through which a poem, or a novel, or an essay, or some other piece of work will be given voice. (By the way, she says if we don't answer the knock when it comes, that piece of work wanders off to find another more willing artist or that it dies......not to put too much pressure on us or anything.)

So, here I was earlier this week, fingers on the keyboard hoping to put my cute spin on some topic in the form of poetry, like I foolishly told all of you that I would.

I sat. I thought. I checked my Facebook page. I put on different music. I even tried silence, which drives me crazy when I'm working. And what came was......nothing. I did write a line or two from my head, but what I'm realizing is that poetry doesn't come from the intellect. It comes from the heart, from the gut, from that place inside that we hide from others and sometimes even from ourselves. So the line sat there, staring at me from the screen where I had abandoned it, the cursor blinking, blinking........blinking..... at me.

I realized I was going to have to evacuate my head and dig into my soul, tapping into my emotional base, a place that I haven't needed to go in quite a while to do the work I have been doing. Interesting. Disturbing......

I took my hands away from the keyboard. I waited. I could feel something rise in me, and it took self control not to tamp it down, down there where it wouldn't need to be tended or even acknowledged.

Well, the work showed up, and there is no humor in it, as you will see. At all. I even tried again today, thinking I could fool the universe into letting me write something comical in free verse. Nope. It was just more of the same.

I started typing, not having any idea what was going to splash across the screen. When I was done, I read what was there, amazed. Laid bare by a knife masquerading as words. And according to Julia, the words came through me, not from me. But I'm not sure I accept that concept any longer, not after this experience. This work is personal, ripping the facade away and exposing the author like a book with its dustcover removed for all to see. It couldn't have come from anyone BUT me....could it?

So, I guess I can't put this off any longer. Be kind, and I promise that next month I'll do something that doesn't involve tapping into my psyche at all. And I hope Julia and "the work" are both happy now, happy that a voice was found.

Because it sure ruined MY day.

They say that we live what we were taught,
old habits dying hard,
     if they ever die at all.
A gentle touch or a glance that slices deep,
     both speak volumes to the heart
And echo through the soul,
     pulling us back to all we should have left behind.

Is that why loneliness snuggles up so easily next to me,
     the wayward friend that keeps returning home?


Dawn chased away my dream,
The one where we could be together.
The one where we could love.
It poured out between us, like sun drops
     flowing across water.
My reverie chased away the loneliness,
the unfilled void that devours me....
     unless I'm dreaming
     of you.

Where the heck did THAT come from?  I think I'll go crawl under the covers now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's time for "something I've never done before".........

Let's see.....

I hookahed in January.

Did a spinning class in February.

Drove my dream car in March.

Went to take ONE dance lesson in April, which led to an obsession with ballroom dancing that continues.

Tiled my kitchen backsplash in May.

Went to a psychic in June.

And took a piano lesson in July.

Worthy activities, and yes, a lot of fun. (Well, maybe not the tiling.....)

That brings me to this month's "thing I've never done before," the continuation of my year of stretching my wings and re-learning how to have fun. (If you are new to this adventure, go to to begin the saga.) 

A funny thing has happened to me along the way, I've noticed. Well, a lot of funny things have occured during this year, which is part of the process, I think. But I noticed this month that I am routinely doing new things without even thinking about them in the context of my intentional adventure.

For example, I went out dancing ON PURPOSE early in the month, and I never even thought about using that as my event for August. If you know me, you understand that dancing has been a difficult thing for me. So, for me to accompany my dance instructor and some of his other students one evening to a place where dancing is the reason people show up....well, you know what a big thing that was. But it didn't occur to me to mention it, which speaks volumes about my new mental attitude. And I had a great time, thank you for asking.

What to do for August? I've sought suggestions from others, I've consulted the list I've been keeping in my trusty spiral notebook. Ride on a motorcycle? Sing karaoke? Rock climb? I hadn't decided yet.

Until today. And it hasn't been on any list to date. Go figure. But here goes.

For all the genres of writing that I have tried over the years, I have never written poetry. I knew better than to try to rhyme anything. Somehow I knew that would turn into an exercise in hilarity, both in topic and effort and maybe couldn't even be shared in polite company. So, I looked up "free verse," and Wikepedia told me to go ahead....give it a try. No rules to abide by, which suits me just fine these days. thought I was going to share it with you?  Not isn't the 28th, which is the witching day for my monthly adventure. I'm working on it, though, and you'll be the first to know when I'm done. I guess we can just be thankful I'm not attempting limericks.

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. ~Carl Sandburg

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Driving into the sunset.....

Traveling takes on a different perspective as we age. Some people sell their homes, buy huge RVs, and hit the road. Some become cruise kings and queens, sailing dozens of times every year. And, let's face it, many people today can't afford to go anywhere.

But for me, the main thing to know is that I don't fly any more. It's not that I'm afraid to fly, which makes my reasoning not quite logical, but it won't be the first (or last) time people look at me with that quizzical, sideways squint that means "This chick is a little crazy, right?"

It's that flying is boring and way too much hassle these days. Heightened security, tiny seats, no food, overpriced drinks, the fact that everyone is's all just too much for me at this point in my life. Throw in the chance that you might sit in a closed airplane, on the ground, for hours before you even take off, and I'm just not willing to face it. We have become pawns in the grinding gears of bureaucracy in far too many arenas as it is....I don't need this one, too.

What this means, of course, is that I drive everywhere I need to go. (So far that hasn't meant motoring to California or other such distant locales.....I'll think about that if it happens.) I plot my route on my GPS and on the Internet, try to make sure my atlas is in my car, get my music and books on CD ready, and off I go. I enjoy actually seeing where I'm going and the freedom to stop whenever I want to. Someday I'm going to get in my car and just drive, with no idea where I'm going. Just to see where I end up.

Yes, I know that this means the whole process takes much longer, and therein lies the lack of logic, considering flying is a mere inconvenience to me and not a fear. I have no defense; it's just the way it is.

And to add more illogic to the scenario,  I have to admit that my stamina for travel is less these days. Like today.....I am sitting in a hotel room not more than 10 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico, but I've been too tired to get myself there. I can practically smell the salt in the air, but this bed is soft and comfy, and my room has a balcony that allows me to watch the sunset through the palm trees outside. Maybe I wouldn't have been so tired if I had just flown here, boredom be damned.

My days of "Got to get up and DO something!" are long gone, too. Hotel rooms have become much more comfortable, I think, with pillow top mattresses, a real desk with wireless Internet, sofas and coffee tables, and happy hour in the bar. Sure, I would like to get over to the beach, but I'm pretty comfortable where I am, too. Maybe I can live here.

So many things change as we age, and I've found that traveling is one that has changed the most for me. No more airplanes, hitting the road instead, and the willingness to just sit and enjoy wherever it is I find myself. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me that they are wonderful things for other people to go on. 
~Jean Kerr, "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall," The Snake Has All the Lines, 1958

Saturday, August 13, 2011

After all, tomorrow is another day.....

Scarlett and I have much in common. Well, maybe I've never had to dig in the dirt to grow my food at my daddy's plantation, or rip the green velvet curtains off the windows to make a dress, or even shoot a leering soldier that broke into the family mansion, but she and I grapple with life on our own terms in some very similar ways.

Those of you who know me can probably pinpoint the first time I repeated Scarlett's famous line in your presence: "I'll think about that tomorrow!"  We all laugh, but maybe some people think I can't deal with reality, choosing instead to swerve and avoid it when it suits me to do so. Think what you will, but as I've maneuvered my way from my 20s to where I am now, I've learned to accept the wisdom in that philosophy. As a matter of fact, it has saved me many times......saved me from acting impetuously in ways that might have hurt me or others, from uttering damaging words that could never be called back, or from wasting valuable time. I think those words and their guidance have also allowed me to toss a lot of worry into the trashcan. On the spot.

What a gift.

Dredge up the last time YOU fell prey to the worry cycle. Did you toss and turn all night, dreading what might come the next day due to the situation you were wallowing in, only to lose a night of valuable sleep to find that the very thing you thought might happen never happened at all? Or you made a decision quickly based on the information you had at the time, only to find out the next day how incomplete that information actually was. (I can recall a marriage that happened for me that way, flying to Reno, something about roulette.....but I digress.)  Hopefully the results for you weren't too dire, but I have made some really bad decisions because I acted too quickly, spoke too soon.

Now, I channel Scarlett frequently, she and I meeting green eyes to green eyes as she stands tall and utters the words that pull me back from the brink of disaster more than I probably will ever know. I trust her, that strong Southern woman who was, admittedly, a tad self-involved, but she had a backbone of steel.

True, she didn't know much about birthin' babies, but give a lady a break......we all have our limits. And hopefully, as we age, we learn who we can trust and what is worth worrying about.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No, I don't want to do that......

"No.....I don't want to do that."

Sounds simple, right?  But for people-pleasers, like I once was, they are some of the hardest words to say, believe me.

No matter that I already had a full calendar on that day, if somone (anyone) indicated that they wanted me to do something, I would scramble, I would rearrange, I would inconvenience others to accomodate this latest request. The result? One person was happy, most of my friends were mad at me for changing the "yeses" I had told them the day before, and I was miserable doing things I didn't want to do.

But one of the beautiful things about getting older is that we can throw off that heavy cloak of accomodation. We probably get away with it due to society's tendency to think we don't matter anyway, so who cares if we show up or not? I hate to think that, but another thing that happens as we travel this road is that we lose our rose-colored glasses. Actually, we probably just forget where we left them.

Go to the outlet mall in Georgia? Don't think so.....riding on a bus and then tottering around with a group of hard of hearing women doesn't quite match my version of a "fun" day.  Sorry, I don't want to.

Watch your dog while you're out of town?  Last time I did that the dog refused to go out into my fenced in back yard because the grass was over 1/2 inch long. Sorry...find a kennel for your darling. I don't want to do that.

Babysit for your grandkids so you can go to the movies with your daughter? Nope....don't want to do that.  The only babysitting around here will happen when I have my own grandkids, which hasn't happened yet.

The ability to say NO with no excuses is a gift to us as we age. The people around us probably aren't having as much fun with it as we are, I realize, but they don't expect much from us anyway, remember? We're OLD.

But at least I am not pushing a stroller with your grandkids and a dog at the Georgia.

“Don't worry about growing older or pleasing others. Please yourself.”

David Brown

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dancing fool, part 3

A simple spin, that's all he was asking me to do. Of course, my arms are going one way while my head is supposed to be keeping me focused on a spot in the corner. All of that while I'm pivoting half-way around......without falling over, that is.

You do know about my coordination issue, right?

What is wrong with me? I can stand at a podium and talk to an audience of hundreds for hours. I mediate between some very angry people, and no one has gotten out of control yet. I can write 500 words in about 15 minutes, and it sounds coherent most of the time. In other words, my skill set is pretty well developed at this point in my life.

I've gotten complacent. Self-satisfied. Competent in my chosen profession. So, I experience quite a lot of  success and don't often have anyone tell me that what I'm doing is lacking in some way.

Until he asks me to spin without falling over. Even gently and with a lot of patience.

So, today when he said, "It doesn't have to be perfect," the room lit up. I DON'T have to be perfect at everything I do?? Even though I'm a driven Capricorn who is never without lipstick or every hair in place? For real??

 Imperfect humans are allowed to practice dancing. No wonder I love this so much.

Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness.
Karen Nave 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Don't ever call me a "senior citizen"..........

Don't call me a "senior citizen".......ever.

Or "retired"......that day will never come, I'm afraid. To be honest, I'm not sure I want it to.

"Aged"? Don't even try that one.

I have decided that Active Master fits the bill just fine. I discovered this term in Deepak Chopra's book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, one of my current stack that I'm reading in the morning on my back patio as the sun comes up each day.  I wish I could claim it as my own, but this column is about honesty above all else, so let's give credit where it's due.

Since I left the world of "doing what the boss wants" for doing my own thing, I have become my own master in that sense of the word. I write for a living now, full time, and am relishing the life of creative effort. And I'm certainly active, since discovering ballroom dancing while also keeping up my gym routine of weights, circuits, and cardio. Then there are my 2 mile walks with a friend a couple of times a week so we can chat and catch up on our respective lives, plus a weekly high-intensity fitness workout, and you can see there isn't much time left in my week for the "active" part.

But I think there is more to the Master part.

Here's what I think: As we age and experience life, with its successes and defeats, we learn to master the roller coaster. We realize that the ideals we had in our youth might still be valuable, but the road to their achievement will not be straight. And often not pleasant. That doesn't mean they have no value; it just means we learn to take the downturns that life throws at us, yet we still fly back up to the top of those rails every once in awhile. And sometimes what appears to be a defeat turns out to be a blessing after all; but sometimes it works the other way, too. What I thought was a valid, worthy goal when I was 20 or 30 or even 40 turned out to be a devil in disguise. I had to experience all of that to understand it, though.

And here I am. I'm still standing and I'm stronger in all ways possible. I'm an Active Master revelling in the journey.

Now, if I could just master that Latin hip thing, I'd have it made.

How a person masters his fate is more important than what his fate is.