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.

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

If you don’t know this blog, you should. Peggy is brilliant and thoughtful and often hits the nail so squarely on the head that it explodes…the following is one of those.

The best reason to be rich and famous.

November 8th, 2010

Ever had dreams of being rich and famous?  I admit it.  I have.

Way back in yesteryear, when I was a kid, there used to be a show on TV called The Millionaire.  In it, you saw, only the luxuriously clad arm of “an anonymous benefactor”, sitting in his velvet wing back chair.  We knew his name was John Beresford Tipton but we never, ever saw his face.  He had so much money that he decided to find deserving people to give it to through his loyal employee, Michael Anthony. Michael Anthony’s job was to find the right people and then make sure they received the money, transforming their lives forever.   I never missed an episode.  In my feet-pajamas, drinking a warm, Bosco-laden milk, I dreamed of one day being rich and famous enough that I could be the female version of Mr. Tipton.

I have had my moments, although on a much smaller scale.

A few years ago, a friend, who was radically changing his career from rocket scientist to professional photographer was lamenting the fact that he had spent all his money on cameras and a studio to live and work in.  He had run out money for producing the great business cards and brochures that had been designed for him.  So, while he was taking a phone call, I slipped the artwork into my bag.  At the printer, I instructed them to deliver the business cards and brochures to my friend anonymously.  What a thrill. I was living out my fantasy of being an anonymous benefactor!

One day, he called to tell me about the ” miracle that had happened”.  When he stepped out the door the week before, there were boxes full of his cards and brochures—just sitting there.  He had shared his predicament with a number of people, so he had no idea the source of his good fortune.

AND, as it turned out, this was the same day he had been invited to an event showcasing up and coming photographers in the area.  He was planning to skip the event, altogether, because he was ashamed that he had nothing to hand out to anyone.  But, lo and behold!  About face.  Not only did he go, but he landed his largest, ongoing corporate contract—enough to pay all his overhead for a year!

For me, that’s always been my primary reason to work so hard and do well—to have those moments when I can just make it happen for someone else, especially at a time when it is needed most.  Success that’s shared is the best success of all.

So,  fast forward to a real star.  One we all know.  One who is using his fame and fortune without a shred of fanfare…….Denzel Washington.

Recently, while visiting the wounded soldiers, transferred from Germany to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, he was taken to one of the Fisher Houses on base.  That’s where soldiers’ families can stay for little or no charge  while our young heroes are healing, mostly from catastrophic burns and loss of limbs.The houses stay booked at maximum capacity, with a perpetual wait list.

After seeing how much both the patients/soldiers and their families benefited from being together during the long recovery process, Washington asked how much it would cost to build another one.  Upon hearing the amount, he simply wrote a check, right on the spot, for the full amount.

He demonstrated the best reason to be rich and famous

http://www.screamsofconsciousness.com

  

 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

INVISIBILITY

July 15, 2010

Friends and readers…a while back I asked women to send me the one word that best described their feelings of SELF at this mid stage of life. The most common word I received was INVISIBLE. We need to corporately change this notion. Women are nurturing, compassionate, reliable. We have an innate understanding of cooperation, grace and tolerance. The world is dying for the very essence of what it means to be a woman. A dear friend and amazing talent sent me the following. Prepare to be inspired.

Cloak and Dagger
Invisibility? Everyone has felt invisible or wished to be invisible, for one reason or another. Perhaps they are insecure, or feeling particularly vulnerable during a period of time and want to disappear. These are not reasons I would wish to be invisible.

I never felt unheard, or ignored. I’ve always had a roar inside me, and I’ve not been afraid to make it known. During my current mid-life experience, I often have moments which I believe are true epiphanies – moments when I really ‘get it.’ People tend to  over complicate  issues, relationships and our life experiences instead of just ‘being.’ I always remember my French lessons, and the term ‘être’ – the most important verb, meaning “to be.”

My desire for invisibility stems from interactions I have with people that just don’t get it. I feel frustration about trivialities that are made into huge issues. No point. I prefer to detach myself from this, and just observe. Really, more often than not, I would rather simply read a book, or write in a journal, if given a choice.

Life is fleeting, and every moment must count. Effort is often needed; sometimes there are big things that must be attended to and handled with care and concern. Real issues. It is the nonsense that is overwhelming, and the fact that one’s insight may often be totally disregarded. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and it doesn’t matter if you are 16, 25, 46, 60 or 80 years old. The true tragedy is that life passes so quickly, and time is so intangible. In the world we live in, everything is intangible.

It’s easier to email than to pick up a telephone or visit someone; digital pictures can be lost forever with a computer malfunction. Entertainment has morphed into reality TV – essentially spying on someone’s false life – talent is ignored, people no longer need to create. Music is played on guitar hero, rather than with a guitar in hand and working out a tune.

My solution to this madness is to become invisible to the falseness to which we are now conditioned, to march truly to the beat of my own drum. Not worrying about conforming to someone else’s ideas or expectations, but just to be. Être.

Give me that cloak!

lisa kendigian