Sunday, December 9, 2018

                                                           I’M CHEATING!

      I am cheating. I am writing this Monday Musing on Friday and posting it a day ahead. With everyone so busy preparing for the holidays, some may not read this until February, but that’s ok. I’m sorry, folks, but I must share with you something I learned last night, and some thoughts related to it. I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know, but if there is one person, like me, who never thought about this, then my message will help the world be a better place—one of us at a time.

     We met a couple last week-end. The man never made eye contact with either of us, and the woman acted very snobby. We came home and once again marveled at how strange people are, and asked each other why people need to posture. Last night, we encountered the couple again. This time, neither of us made any effort, initially, to engage the couple in conversation. We figured that if they were going to posture, they could go do it with someone else. So we ignored them. Later that evening, we found out that the man is partially deaf. He can’t hear unless he can see you so he can read your lips. I immediately felt ashamed. We had both checked him off as a jerk, instead of considering that this could be his problem. As we age, we find more and more people losing their hearing, and we forget that if they can’t hear, they will certainly not want to initiate a conversation, particularly in a crowded room. I didn’t learn this until the end of the evening, but I certainly learned a valuable lesson, not to mention the fact that I had fallen into judging people without thinking of the “why?” The woman may not have meant to posture; maybe it was just the way she worded things. I hugged her good-bye, and I thought to myself, “You need to be bigger than her posturing, even if she was doing it.”

     People posture for many reasons, but one is that, particularly in later life, we feel invisible. We used to be important and feel confident in our careers. Now we are retired, and the playing field is leveled. Some don’t want to accept this, so in order to be “seen” and “heard,” they rely on successes of the past to let people know who they were/are. No matter how careful I am not to talk about my past, sometimes I am guilty of dropping a “tiny brag” without intending to do so.
It’s human. The challenge is to not let “tiny” grow to “tall.” 

     If we are self-aware, we know that we are never too old to learn, to reframe things and to say in some way, “I’m sorry. I judged you too soon.” 

     At this holiday time, before you think ill of someone or ask yourself, “How could they do or say such things?” ask yourself if there are reasons you hadn’t considered, when those feelings surface. 


*Photo will be used for both the Sunday and Monday blog, as it’s relevant for both. If you can relate to an occasional feeling of “invisible,” just imagine feeling like that all the time.

Monday, December 3, 2018

     It’s Monday, and here I am right here musing. Who muses on Mondays besides a zany blogger who can’t let go of her pen. This week my pen has brought me some pretty creative ideas.

      My pen is an extension of my mind, my heart, and my follly. When I put it to paper, there is no editing device—no stifle, no delete, no censor. Whatever comes from it is raw “to do,” “remember this,” and “wtf!” 

     I used to carry my Franklin Planner, but some of my friends made fun of me, so I only write my list in it and leave it home, praying I can remember the 173 things I wrote on it. It’s so exhilarating, however, to check things off with my giant blue marker. I am a writer, a checker and an eccentric. What else can I say?

     Some of you may not remember pens. These are things that look like short Twizzlers, but you can’t eat them. They are used to make curving lines that turn into letters and ultimately words on a page. Others read these words, and voilĂ :  instant communication. Cursive (the forming of such lines) has been discontinued from the public schools, as the DJ (Dumb Jock) Administrators got together behind the Mega-Mahoghany and decided that communicating was over-rated. It was decided that all ideas shared between humans should be sent in random-thumbed code only understandable to humans under 12. 

     Today, on my “hurry-up” list is “Write Thank You notes.” Some might think, “What’s the point?” You said, “thank you” to the person. Isn’t that enough? In my generation, the answer is “No.” A hand-written thank you which takes time, thought and heart means much more than a throw-away remark that takes it off the “to do” list. 

    When I receive the very rare handwritten thank you from someone these days, I am so touched. Someone knows cursive and has decided to keep it alive. That person took the time to either take our or go buy a card, and then he sat down, thought about what he wanted to say, wrote it, put it in the envelope, found a stamp on the bottom of the sock drawer, took it to the mailbox and smiled. The message I received isn’t “thank you;” it’s, “I care enough about you to take time in my busy day to tell you how much you mean to me.”  Hello.

     I believe my pen is a gift. It keeps “caring” alive. It helps me remember my shit. It serves me when I want to rage and giggle, and it keeps me focused so I don’t spend too much time thumbing. I can also use it, I found out this week, to stab an attacker in the jugular. Now that’s refreshing. 

       Do you still have a pen in your house?


Thursday, November 29, 2018

     Visiting an Estate Planner is a humbling, sobering experience. Perhaps the giggles that echoed from the mahogany desk were from nervous reactions to the topics examined. I submit on my 1600th blog a fresh-lens glimpse into the process.

     Old couple enters lawyer’s office after nodding off in car in parking lot on wrong side of the building. When entering the office, they notice the name on the door is different from the one they had written on their sticky note. He says, “Damn. I knew I should have parked on the other side of the building. Now we have to walk in the street.” Spouse replies, “It will wake us up. Let’s go. We’re old. They don’t get points for wiping out seniors.” 

     The couple enters a lovely living-room-type setting warmly welcoming them with homemade cookies, craft coffee and small bottled water. They take a seat in the lovely turquoise upholstered chairs that match the ornaments on the Martha Stewart Christmas tree. Soft holiday music plays as the couple anticipates how much it will cost to plan their demise. This decor is reminiscent of . . . don’t go there.

     The couple shakes hands with the handsome, impeccably-dressed, perfect-smile lawyer, who leads them into his sunlit office decorated with historic ship paintings and framed degrees. 

     Two hours later, the couple walks out of the office, stunned, sobered and scratching each others’ heads wondering what life was like before executrixes. 

     No words are spoken on the way home. The man tries hard to pretend he is not overwhelmed by the 28-task “to do” list to be sure there are no loose ends when she “passes.”
The word “pass” has taken on a whole new meaning. In front of the Michigan/Ohio State fiasco Saturday afternoon, we thought it was a play to gain yardage. 

     Excerpts from his “to do” list:

  1. Make sure her money is in your name.
  2. Think about who gets the sports car. Drive this more often, even when it rains.
  3. Be glad there is nothing the kids really want.
  4. Don’t think about what her next spouse will look like in your Tommy shirts.
  5. Look at the bright side: Maybe the next wife will know how to cook. 

     Excerpts from her “to do” list:

  1. Find my stash.
  2. Spend my stash soon.
  3. Drive his sports car more often, even when it rains.
  4. Be glad the kids don’t know about the stash.
  5. Buy the Christmas lights now. Maybe the next guy will hang them.

     This may be pathetic humor, but humor is crucial when you have to spend your money when you’re not there. 

     Life is fragile. Last night, our youngest daughter was hiding under a table at a mayor’s office dodging a drive-by shooter. Today, a friend called who is losing her voice due to a life-threatening illness. There is so much to be scared and angry about; we must keep a sense of humor to deal with all we cannot control. There is no chuckle in illness or death, but humor is the mask that shows the world and the mirror that we aren’t ready to take it all seriously. 



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

    Two more blogs to 1600. I have decided that one blog a week starting the first week of December, 2018, will be the answer to “What’s next?” I will post on Monday mornings, so all of you followers who dread the week’s “Opening Day,” will have something more to think about besides the fact that you have five long days ahead before the week-end. My “Monday Musings” will focus on thought-provoking drivel and inspirational guffaws. 

     I will pepper your Monday start-up with cartoons, hilarious self-deprecating incidents, “wtf”-observations and deeply-thought-out gaffes. 

     There will be film reviews, book reviews, body reviews and bullshit. I will keep you guessing by making up your Monday horoscope and predicting what happened yesterday.

     Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

     Three blogs to 1600. Is this where I should stop? Every time I think it’s time to stop, someone out of my past surfaces to say they are enjoying my posts, so I will continue, but just once a week. When I come up with some clever schtick as to which day, I will post so my loyal followers don’t abandon me. 

      One would think that after 1597 posts, I’d have said all there is to say. That’s one gigantic amount of words, huh? But then again, every day there are fresh adventures, provocative news stories,  delicious rants,  noteworthy reflections, funny incidents and  morning musings that many enjoy. 

     For example, today we left Michigan on the verge of a blizzard, and we arrived home in balmy 70+ degrees. Now that sounds like I’m bragging. I’m not; I’m being grateful as well as amazed that in this incredible world of ours, we can fly across time zones and climate differences in less than 2.5 hours.

      I remember my grandmother saying that the most stunning invention in her lifetime was the airplane. What is the most stunning invention in your lifetime so far? Most would probably say some form of technology. What do you think? 

     As we reflect on the past eight days we spent with our daughters and families and close friends we haven’t seen for a year, we are so grateful that we are healthy enough to travel and coherent enough to remember where we put our boarding passes. Actually, I am very proud to announce that we actually put our boarding passes on our phones. I must admit, I was nervous. I thought, “What if I get up to the guy, and my phone fails somehow. Will they not let me on the plane? Will people look at me and think, ‘wft, that old woman is really lame. she doesn’t even know how to show her bp.’” Well, it worked, and we were so proud of ourselves. Life’s little joys:)

     Here we are in our cozy little jewel in the upscale ghetto counting our blessings. Mr. Wonderful cooked steak on the barbie (funny, his ex-wife’s name was Barb). We had a delicious meal and enjoyed a discussion of how we are living beyond our means, and it’s such a great adventure.

     I recall our former CPA telling us, “Spend the money. That’s what you saved it for!” Yeah, right. Easy for him to say as he laughs all the way to his island home. I suppose if I hadn’t bought all I did on Black Friday, we might have more for our trip to France. What? Come on, I have to taste the Bordeaux wines and have my picture taken in front of Debussy’s home in Paris before I croak. It’s only fitting.

     Two more days. If you have been a “follower" for more than 1000 posts, please pm me. I need to put it in my diary. My kids won’t believe it.

      What do you think I could say about this scene? We often go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast when we travel. I couldn't wait to get there and sit by the fire. My favorite dish is a special yogurt fruit parfait that comes with a grilled blueberry muffin that is to die for. Well, no blueberry muffins, and . . . 




Thursday, November 22, 2018

     On this Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for misfortunes. Yes, misfortunes. I remember many years ago, a colleague whom I didn't particularly care for approached me one day and said, "You are so strong! I can't believe you come to school every day with a smile on your face, considering all you're going through." I was stunned that she even noticed my face, and I replied, "You think I'm strong? I sure don't feel strong." She said, "I don't know if I'm strong; I've never been tested."

     Little did either of us realize at that time how true and profound her words were. We don't know how strong we are---what we can endure, until we are tested. Lord knows, you can't live 3/4 of a century without being tested, and if you're still standing, that's a gold star right there.

     I remember a note my piano teacher wrote to me when I was 17. She was so wise. She knew the wisdom of Seneca, as she read extensively throughout her days. She wished me pain. I thought, "Why is my teacher wishing me pain?" In her card, though, she explained that pain is part of living, and it makes us stronger. That sounds so banal, but it is one of history's true-isms. Pain stretches, and misfortunes teach.

     On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for the pain I've endured. I am grateful for the stretching that has given me guidance and strength. I am humbled by the misfortunes which have shaped my thinking and inspired my journey. It is a reminder to me and to all of us to listen to those who've gone before us---our parents, our grandparents, our ancestors, our philosophers, our heroes. They all have such wisdom, if only we would take time to read, listen, reflect.

     If you are in pain today, hold tight. Think of it as stretching and guiding. If you've recently endured misfortune, know that there is solid ground ahead. Be patient. It's so hard, but the resilience we gain from the agony and angst of our experiences  will provide wisdom for our loved ones when they need it.

     I am thankful on this Thanksgiving Day, the birthday of my beautiful, talented, loving daughter, that the pain of giving birth has brought me joy beyond my fondest dreams. I am better for my failures, stronger for my losses and more prepared for whatever lies ahead. Hold tight. Lean in. Kneel.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Mom and daughters then and now. Omg. What a difference 15-20 years can make. I am so proud of my girls! They are both thriving. Chris juggles her career as a social worker with caring for three sons and a wonderful husband, and Katey balances her travels around the country speaking out about the dangers of social media while raising four daughters. 

I am so proud not just of what they do, but who they are. They are loving, compassionate, caring, giving and humble. 

We all love our Ann Taylor and White House Black Market treks, and sharing a piece of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake is a sister tradition now. 

The discussion at the lunch table was hilarious and eye-opening, although I am thinking I might have been better off with my eyes closed. Sometimes, there are things parents really don’t need to know.

I did make them giggle, however, and that was such fun!

I checked off Katey’s birthday present—a darling lbd for her holiday with her sweetheart, and a sweet sweater and slacks outfit for Chris for Christmas from AT. 

The blouse that Katey picked out at WHBM was one I never would have chosen, but now we each own one. We laughed hysterically when I got stuck halfway into mine and couldn’t get my arm in the sleeve. Life’s little joys:)

At this time of the year when we are all counting blessings, I certainly put these two at the top of my list (along with Mr. Wonderful, our daughters Sue and Crissy and families, and, of course, the ten grandchildren). I am humbled by the blessings of today. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and thank you, Big Guy!