aging gracefully…

January 2, 2011

Starting another new year…which is following right on the heels of 57 other new years, I am considering what it means to age gracefully.

I don’t mind telling you that while I curse, curse, curse the notion of plastic surgery, or injections of any kind to aid in my appearance, I do stand in front of the mirror and oh so gently pull up my slightly limp checks to get an idea of what I might look like with just a tuck here and a pull there. I am aware that if I pull too much, or in the wrong direction, I can look like the Japanese version of myself…not that that is a bad thing, just a radical thing given my Norwegian heritage.

My husband caught me standing naked in front of the mirror, both hands grasping my “soft” belly while vigorously shaking it up and down..it .looked a bit like a taffy pull and I felt a bit like a Shar Pei. His sweet and I am sure supportive comment? ”Honey, the trend is not UP”.

Was I recently tempted by the patent pending Chin Up? Hell yes! At $19.99, and guaranteed result in just 2 weeks! That sagging turkey neck (their words, not mine) was bound to disappear for good and they had pictures of Brittany Spears, Minka Kelley and Katie Perry to prove it…wait, aren’t their combined ages less than mine NOW? Of course they look good after trying Chip Up, their’s were never down to begin with. Still I was enticed.

We, “women of a certain age”, are desperately trying to find peace with the fact that our appearance is changing, and we are looking more and more like our mothers. As intelligent, politically correct and mature females, we are supposed to embrace the wrinkles with little care and in-fact pride and honor that we have earned them and more, much more.

Still we jiggle, and stretch and buy the latest cream made from the egg yolks of endangered sea turtles. We make deals with the mirror…”okay, that’s enough now…if the wrinkles could just stop here, I could live with that.” A month or so later when a new wrinkle or line or droop appears, we offer up a new deal…”okay, that’s enough now…if it could just stop here, I could live with that.”

Truth about women aging…we don’t really want to have our face or bodies match our years. We welcome the wisdom, enlightenment and freedom;  the fact we no longer date one loser after another; feel dependent on someone else’s validation of our self worth, or stress over what the neighbor lady thinks of us… We also would like to think that our appearance has little to do with how we feel about ourselves at this stage in our lives…

Truth is we do struggle…don’t want to but we do. We buy the cream, the Chin Up, the “guarantee to cover gray” hair color…because we care. We care. We are aging. We are learning to let go and accept… and sometimes, just sometimes we just have to jiggle and see if the trend might be changing.

Chin Up my friends…we are in this together.

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My Private Tony Award

December 31, 2010

who among us doesn’t have a story…one we tell others and one we tell ourselves. There isn’t a person, given enough time, that can’t teach us a thing or two about overcoming adversity, fear and insurmountable challenge. It always makes me feel like a small part of something so powerful when someone confides in me what they have had to do to wake up and face yet another new and often impossible day. The experiences each of us goes through contributes to the depth and richness of our lives. It is the things we face, the heartaches we bear that do in fact make us stronger and our lives richer…eventually.  If we manage to survive what often times feels like un-survivable, we have stories to tell that prove the notion that we are each stronger than we think we are.

then there are the secret…dirty little secret…stories we tell ourselves. the theater is dark, the stage is empty and yet we execute an entire drama inside our heads; stories of self loathing, stories of inadequacies, stories of worthlessness. I have one…over and over again I see it and hear it and it tells me that I have never been, nor will I ever be successful at anything. depending on my circumstances, levels of depression, lack of self-confidence the story can render me helpless. My story of inadequacy, as ridiculous as it may seem to others, makes perfect sense to me. I know it, I have cultivated it and shaped it for years and years…It is my story and I am sticking with it (no matter how much therapy there is).

yet the “stories” that others live by, listen to and believe are so completely ridiculous to me. how many amazing writers among us, wake up each day and feel that today is the day they will be discovered for the fraud they know themselves to be. or how many gorgeous young women spend day in and day out comparing themselves to any number of photo-shopped images and find that they are disgusting by comparison. how many young devoted mothers tell themselves every minute of every day that they are doomed to be the same kind of distant, unfeeling parent who raised them. how many men live day in and day out with feelings of inadequacy around what they can provide and how they can compete; young teens who beat themselves up on a regular basis because they are different from the norm.

what is it about the negative thoughts that claim the lion’s share of our thinking brain cells? why does one or two or even ten disparaging remarks/thoughts carry so much more weight than the thousands of uplifting ones we are likely to hear in a life time.

I am voting that the mantra for 2011 be… I AM ENOUGH. How about that for story…how about that replacing the countless hours of self doubt; the wasted comparisons to those who look like they have it all…because I know those people, and the stories they tell themselves are the same ones you tell yourself and I tell myself. the secret dark theater thoughts where the story comes alive and is real enough and vivid enough that the Tony Awards should have a category for performances such as these. those people, the ones who must be so very confident,  are looking at you and thinking that you’re the one who must have it all together.

each of us deserves a break from self-imposed suffering. we do.

I know you, I read your brilliant thoughts; I am humbled by your beauty; in awe of your unlimited capacity for love, creativity and stunning accomplishments. You are more than enough. And the deal is if you don’t know and live as if you are, you confirm the shameful story I tell myself. Because I watch you, am inspired by you and follow the examples I trust you to create.

You are enough, and I hope to be just like you someday.

As good As it Gets

December 29, 2010

another year bites the dust.

it came and went and took with it jobs, homes, sons and daughters.

there has been grief and hopelessness, anxiety and fear. 2010 will be a year to remember…a year that felt like not only did Mercury not rise when it should have, it crashed and burned and limped into the repair shop with a diagnosis of total loss.

so here comes another chance…on the heels of one test after another…here comes another chance. will this year be better, more lucrative for “the american people”…will it bring soldiers home and reunite families…will it bring jobs and stability and health care for those who have none? will it offer more kindness and understanding for those children who often feel ostracized and different?

truthfully, it will be what it is…another year; another chance to exercise the best of us…another year to care for others in greater need than ourselves…It will be another opportunity to forgive. It will be what every year that has come before it will be…

It will be as good as it gets.

each year, each month, each day, each moment we get to choose what to do with the circumstances around them…what to do with our friends, families, co-workers. we get to create the life we live inside ourselves regardless of the chaos happening around us.

there is little we can control…god knows i’ve tried. once again, in this new year, in this new opportunity, welcome the chance to experience it all and with as much grace as you can muster….because my friends, that is as good as it gets.

gracious thoughts and deeds in the new year

How many shopping days left?

OMG! … is usually my general state of mind at this point.  It seems no matter how far ahead I plan, or shop, or bake or decorate I am always behind. For as long as I can remember I have been the one descending the stairs with wet hair, struggling to button or zip, while welcoming my family and friends who managed to arrive on time. With the exception of being greeted by a composed hostess, they entered my well designed and executed Christmas “Set”. The tree, the decorations, the perfectly wrapped and terribly thoughtful gifts under the tree; the scents of abundance, candle light and just the right holiday cheer.

I assume I am not alone here when describing the scene. The  cast has arrived, the set is decorated and the performance begins. Usually I am so exhausted and/or stressed out that I am numbed to a great deal of the magic I have worked so hard to create.

Every Christmas Eve since my kids were babies, our family and friends sit down before dinner and listen to my husband attempt to read a lovely little book, A Certain Small Shepard. It is a simple story about a motherless family who tries to make the most of Christmas given the cards they have been dealt. One particular Christmas Eve an unexpected miracle arrives…but instead of being the recipients, they are in-fact the gracious and most generous benefactors

For 30 years we have read the same story and for 30 years there is not a dry eye in the room. My husband always starts, but rarely makes it past the first couple of pages. Seeing his eyes well with tears and a tenderness envelop him have been some of the dearest moments associated with Christmas. The book is then passed to me, and I give it a whirl. On more than one occasion one of the girls takes over, or my father or my beloved nephew. It takes a village to get thru this small work of art. Yet every Christmas Eve we all gather around again to give it another go.

This year I have listened and heard the whispers of my family above the cacophony all around. They don’t want the exquisite set, they want the real thing. They want less and they want to give more to those who really need a hand. They want less wasted food, and more time spent enjoying the simpler food we prepare together.

There is a Certain Small Shepard coming to our house this year, and I want to be fully present. I know most days of the year that what truly matters is the unconditional love I share with family and friends. Somehow though Christmas preparations tend to cloud what I know to be true. This year I want to accept the miracle being given to all who gather; to listen to a simple story, see the aging faces of grandparents light up when surrounded by those most cherished, and realize memories made that are in fact the gifts that we will cherish in years to come.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night…filled with the matters that truly matter to you.

  

 PEEC Presents:  WOMEN LIVING FULLY…INVESTING IN OURSELVES 

 

 Oct. 24 – 27 2010 

Imagine yourself nestled in beautiful, inspiring surroundings, your only goal to rest and indulge in self discovery.  Imagine meeting like-minded women who come prepared to explore the same questions that run through your mind constantly… “Now What?”  …“Who Am I?… 

 “How do I make the most of the life that is ahead of me?”  “…What is it to be a true friend – to have a true friend?”…“What matters the most to me at this time in my life?”… “How can I  make a difference in the world?” 

PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center, Dingman’s Ferry, PA www.peec.org) is holding this, their  first annual Women’s Retreat, and have invited  inspiring authors, experts in their field and other speakers who will gather to explore all of those questions and more. 

We all know that our lives and daily choices are best governed by ourmost deeply held values, beliefs and priorities.  Yet there is much to distract and dilute even our best of intentions.  This glorious three-day women’s retreat offers you the opportunity to reconnect with that which is most important to you and find new ways to live that are reflective of who you are and what your value.  This is an experience dedicated to women’s complete well being, both individuallyand collectively. 

 You will be inspired by award winning and internationally published authors and other experts, including: Amy Ferris: Marrying George Clooney: Confessions of a Midlife Crisis –   

 Kristine Van Raden & Molly Davis (www.mattersthatmatter.com) : Letters to Our Daughters  

 Monica Holloway Monica Holloway – Cowboy & Willis;  Driving with Dead People, and others.  

Gregory Anne Cox of  midlifewithavengeance.com 

Robyn Hatcher, Amy Litzenberger, Hollye Dexter…and more! 

This one of a kind retreat will provide an insightful and inspiring program highlighting the things that are vital to women in mid-life, and encourage living life to the fullest.  Topics range from living authentic and meaningful lives, financial well being, health and wellness to the need for women to move beyond competition and towards mutual support, completion and collaboration. 

Believing that learning can be a collaborative and supportive experience,  all offerings will be participatory and introspective, inspiring and challenging.  Sessions will include a combination of teaching, discussion and thoughtfully designed writing and thinking exercises. You will write, rest, eat amazing food, drink great wine, voice your ideas and opinions, reflect, rest and renew. You may even be cast as a character in the new play Common Threads…interested? REGISTER SOON, AS SPACE IS LIMITED 

  

You are invited to participate in an experience that will both inspire you and allow you to inspire others.   

Space is limited.  

Cost is $560. which includes lodging, meals and all workshops & activities.  

To register:  Call – 570-828-2319 and ask to register for Women Living Fully

the simple magic of insignificant details

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Inspired

June 18, 2010

What is it about women? Those who see hurt and lend a hand…those who see pain and lend a shoulder, those who see possibility and commit to a cherished outcome? Where do they come from? How do they know that there is enough for everyone and thrive in generosity?I am surrounded by those women and inspired.

Long ago, we decided that when we saw beauty in anyone or anything we would notice it and appreciate it.  Every time we see a woman with lovely eyes, beautiful skin, a kind heart or gentle spirit shared with the world, we speak our appreciation to that person.

Those few words of goodness can change the course of the day for the waitress serving us breakfast, the grocery clerk packing our bags or the exhausted receptionist checking us in for our doctor’s appointment.  We have come to understand that everyone is blessed with their own unique kind of beauty, and once we make the choice to not only see it, but appreciate it, we find ourselves surrounded by the miraculous in the midst of the ordinary.  And, the most astounding insight has been that when we choose to extend goodness in the midst of this imperfect world, we receive that goodness back in abundance.

Where might you see beauty in the midst of your day?  To whom could you extend goodness, and in the extending, receive in abundance?

THE BEE.

Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry

Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.

His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.

His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

by Emily Dickenson

The Elk Ate My Ivy

March 25, 2010

It was a full moon…so much moon light that night looked like day.

We were watching some horror(ish)  thing on t.v. , so my skin was crawling a bit anyway. Out of the corner of my eye, just beyond the window, I saw movement. Holy Creepers! First reaction to fear?…punch the husband. He hadn’t noticed, but agreed to take a look.

There were at least 100! The size of horses on steroids. They moved out from  the shadows of the pine forest towards the house; like The Bloods  moving in on The Crips.  Step by step, without a sound, they surrounded the house. LITERALLY.

We turned off all the lights to get a better view…eventually daring to open a window so we could  listen to the power of the masses destroying our yard, garden, hedges of ivy…the occasional slurp from the pond. Massive beasts daring to dine on the hours and  hours of our gardening labor.

IT WAS MORE THAN WORTH IT…I can’t begin to tell you the power that these animals have. They stayed for several hours, munching their way through acres of new spring growth. This morning, it looks like a thousand tiny bombs went off in the yard. Not a green sprig in sight.  The hub and I decided that it was like a free pruning service and that everything will probably come back bigger and stronger…thanks in addition to all that free fertilizer they left behind.

They came, they ate, they pooped!…Kind of like a family Thanksgiving.

The moral of the story? Sometimes the things we cultivate serve a  completely different purpose than what we intended. Let go and look for the gift.