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.”