Friday, November 17, 2017

The Quintessential Christmas Letter
Dear Friends:

     Since last year, our life has been a real roller coaster. From Jimmy’s National Merit Scholarship designation and ceremony to Bob’s getting promoted and transferred to a Penthouse office in Paris, it has been one thing after another.

     Megan’s husband was transferred to San Diego with Google so she and the twins followed him out there last month, and they’ve just moved into their cliffside home. We pray the four dogs don’t end up in the ocean below. One of them had puppies the day they closed, so she’s been somewhat fussy lately (the dog, well, actually she and the dog). 


     Kevin’s parents have moved to a Senior Facility, and they love it, but his mom is jealous of all the women who are after Charlie. She says they fight over who will dance with him at the weekly cotillion. He’s been known to disappear at 5:00, and she suspects he’s down the hall in Mabel’s room.

     I’ve just finished my third  Iron Woman race. I came in first in my age category, so I was pretty hyped. Unfortunately, I knocked over two competitors on the way, so they’re threatening to take away my medal. Stupid bitches were in my way.

     The baby is teething, so sleep is sporadic at best. I’ve tried everything to get her to sleep through the night including Chopra meditation tapes, but nothing seems to work. The bags under my eyes are the size of grapefruits. I tried cucumbers, but I need about nine slices per eye, and I can’t hold them on my face and juggle nursing the baby at the same time. Maybe she needs to be weened.

     My job has been hell lately.They want to promote me to Vice President, but I’m just so busy juggling my Iron Woman training, the baby, the move to France(oh wait, we're moving) and skyping my high school sweetheart who just surfaced (and is he ever hot!), I don’t know if I can take on one more thing. It would be nice to wear that badge, however.

     Well, I hope this letter finds you all healthy and thriving like us. It’s a “Wonderful Life” here in the Hamptons. Vive la France. 

Merry Christmas with love, 

Mary

P.S.  My mother recently married the Mayor of Poughkeepsie. He’s 38. 




     

     


     

Thursday, November 16, 2017

     So I have to take a fasting blood test this morning. The worst part is that I generally eat my favorite meal of the day at 4:53 a.m. The twelve-year-old at the doctor’s office called the other day to say the woman who was to draw my blood had something better to do, so she had to change my appointment from 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Oh, Lord. Don’t they understand that some people have already worked half a day by that time? And what about my favorite meal. My banana is whining in the pantry, my coffee is groaning in the pot, and my cereal squares are jumping up and down in their box. My peanut butter packet is hyperventilating, and I am 100% crabby. 

      This is not a good way to begin my Thursday. Off schedule, off kilter, off put. If I have to wait more than ten minutes in that office, I will throw a seventy-something tantrum like none they’ve ever witnessed.

      Add to this the fact that my sleep was interrupted by silence. Yes, the noise machine went off. Don’t the gods realize I can’t sleep in total silence? I woke up in a panic. “What happened to my effen noise?” I shouted into the darkness. If I got up to turn it back on, I would be wide awake, adding to the hours sans petit déjeuner, so that was not an option. Fortunately, I was able to fall back asleep for a few more hours, albeit with furrowed brow from the disruption.

     I leaped out of bed at 5:01. I’ve been fussing around with my hot water and emails since then. I only have two hours and fifteen minutes to wait for the prick (not the phlebotomist). After she has taken four gallons of red out of my tiny vein and left me with a huge black and blue mark to show the world, I can rush home and inhale my organic nuggets before getting ready for the ladies luncheon an hour later. 

      


If you were paying attention, you will recognize something wrong with this picture.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

                           
                                            IP:  In Progress, I’m Pooped

  When I glance at my “To Do” list each morning before the world has even dreamed of getting out of bed, I realize how I am still “In Progress,” and that’s why “I’m Pooped.” This is not to say I am tired or sleepy; this is to say that my brain is fried, but I just keep going. 

     When my blond curls hit the floor pillow at 2:30 p.m., it’s not that I’m tired; it’s that my brain desperately needs a break from having strained it since 4:30 a.m. each day. I am absolutely convinced that I didn’t think this hard in my 40-year-career. Maybe it’s a different kind of thinking.

     Part of me (a teeny, tiny part) begs to let go and just chill the rest of my days. I am retired, after all, and that’s what retirees do. They get up later, eat more, relax a lot, play games or engage in sports and think only when necessary. That plan never worked for me. I tried it for a week and gave up. Too much energy, too much to learn, too much to see, too many lives to touch. 

     This begs the question:  When is enough enough? For me, never. When that time comes, please think of my ashes dancing over the Mediterranean, and put a giant smile on your face. Ask, “How would she frame this?”

     This week, we met two new couples. After listening to their stories, I was exhausted. How can people do all this in one lifetime? One couple has been all over the world, and they take vacations that last months. I admire them, and a part of me envies them. But think about your own story. Would people be amazed at what you’ve done, where you’ve gone, how you’ve lived so far? Not only are our lives in progress, we are in progress.

     When we travel, create, risk, we are growing, and, hopefully, we have discovered a humble way of sharing those experiences with others without intimidating, flaunting or one-upping. Both couples framed their experiences in ways that engaged us rather than making us feel like we do and are nothing. 

     We are all IP; and where in the process we are depends on what path we’ve set for ourselves. The path can change. It can take a detour, and it can end. It’s up to us, and w we needn’t compare it to couples like the one I described. It’s our own journey, and we are the only ones who know how enjoyable, successful, stimulating or devastating it was and is. 

       I’ve done four things on my “To Do” list so far, and it’s only 5:23 a.m. Yay. 

     


     

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

                                
"SELL BY"


     I am getting close to my “SELL BY” date. Yup. If I don’t get to a few things on my bucket list soon, I am going to expire, and this will not be pretty. It’s not like I would become wilted lettuce. At least that’s graceful, and you can even make center pieces out of the butter bunch. No, my “sell by” would look more like an over-ripe banana—brown spotted, faded yellow with mush and strings inside. No, not pretty at all.

     There comes a time when we know change is in the air, and regardless of whether we want to inhale, we must. What is your “SELL BY” date telling you? Time to retire? Time to stop eating so much? Time to let go of the stress and reinvent? 

     What’s stopping you? Fear? Money? Time? Energy? Age? Naysayers? Every moment of this life is precious; there is no reason to continue doing the same things if they are not nurturing, energizing and fulfilling you. 

     I am already thinking about what I want to accomplish by 80 and 90. I’m not done yet. Some are done at half my age; they just don’t recognize it. Every day we are healthy, we have more opportunities than ever before to make a change, make a difference. Don’t let your “SELL BY” date catch up to you. Start today. Dream the dream. Articulate the dream and live the dream. 
     


     

Monday, November 13, 2017

                             

HEAD SHOT

     A friend of mine just had a head shot taken. It was a great photo, but it took about 10-15 years off her life. Is this a good idea? If you’re marketing yourself (your business, your performance), should you include a photo that makes you look like you just graduated from college, or should you show it like it really is?

     


     My former music coach was giving a recital last year. She is a wonderful musician and an attractive 60-something. The photo on her flyer showed her at about 30. I laughed, as I thought, “Why would she do that? It almost accentuates the fact that she’s aging.” 

     On the other hand, my beautiful head shot taken last year is more like the lady in situation one. A so-called-not-so-nice friend said when he saw my business card, “Wow. Was that taken in high school?” He thinks he’s funny. I was hurt and annoyed, but guess what? He was almost right. Sometimes the photoshopping is not such a good idea. I’d rather someone say, “Wow! You look so much younger than your picture,” than mutter under her breath, “She’s got some miles on her since this was taken.”

     Such narcissistic dilemmas to face on a Monday morning. Why am I thinking about this at 4:48 a.m.? Because I’m having a photo shoot for my upcoming book, one-woman show and old-lady birthday. I am no spring piglet. I am an immature almost-75-year-old spunky senior whose inner years are pubescent and whose face fell way before its time. 

     The other night, I met a lovely woman to whom I could relate easily. She is full of life, attractive, fit, shapely and a potential friend. Close up, though, it’s apparent that she’s “had some work.” Who hasn’t? I don’t fault her; I support her. Whatever we can do to make ourselves feel good in this youth-obssessed culture is just fine with me. Au contraire, I would be bothered if someone looked at me and thought, “She’s had some work.” 

     How much tugging, pulling, stretching, masking, hiding must we women do to feel good about our aging selves? The fact that I’m even discussing this is sad enough. Men don’t worry about how many wrinkles they have or whether their hair is thinning. If they have a little pouch, people simple say, “That guy obviously likes his beer.” But women? Someone set the bar way too high in the 14th century, and we’ve been tucking and sucking it in ever since. No, Virginia, it is not fair, but it is not going to change anytime soon. So save your pennies for whatever must  be done, and even if you grow out, never grow up!


      

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I put some disappointment in my sock drawer
hoping it would climb into one of the toes and just disappear
I put my frustration into my winter boots
hoping that the zipper would squeeze the life out of it
I put my anger into the laundry basket
hoping that the agitation of the washer would 
whirl it into something productive
I put my sadness into into the frying pan
hoping that it would melt away
I put my longing into the garden
hoping it would bloom into the return of a loved one
I put my tears into my shampoo bottle
hoping that the suds would wash them away.
Where does one put all these feelings?

My heart grows too heavy sometimes with the weight of it all.

Friday, November 10, 2017

            BOOK CLUB

     The book club:  A loosely-knit group of people coming together to discuss a book that someone thinks might be good but isn’t. 

  A tightly-knit group of women who come together to talk without discussing the chosen book.

  A group of people who want to show each other how smart they are by reading a designated book and offering an off-the-wall opinion that sparks a heated discussion.
           Do you belong to a book club? I know people who belong to multiple book clubs. When I asked an acquaintance the other day if she wanted to be in a book club that I find myself running, she said, “No. I like to choose my own books and read at my own pace.” That was my response for the first 70 years of my life. This year, I decided to give it a go. After all, I was a literature teacher. I facilitated discussions about books for years; however, I was the one choosing the books. 

            When I was not present, the group decided to read the memoir of Carrie Fisher. I knew nothing about this woman, nor did I see any of her films, with the exception of the first Star Wars in 1977. At that time, I was trying to figure out how to juggle toddlers, play tennis and decide whether to stay married. Star Wars was a blur. I do remember a young woman with buns on either side of her face. She looked like a cute hamburger. This was the extent of my Carrie Fisher knowledge. 

             Last night, I facilitated The Princess Diarist discussion. There were five ladies. I am good friends with one of them. the others I know only casually. By the end of the discussion, I learned about people’s attitudes about love affairs, fantasy, writing style and movie stars. Ah, how the Book Club can enlighten. One woman’s interpretation was the complete opposite of mine. Another’s made it clear that she would not have wanted to know about my love life in my divorced years. Another agreed with everything I said, and I came away loving a book that I initially thought was junk. 

              What can you tell about someone by their book choices? Are you a fiction or a non-fiction reader? Are non-fiction readers smarter than fiction ones? Do you read both? If you had to link your personality traits with you reading choices, how would you describe that? Hmm. John Grisham or Bill O’Reilly? F.S. Fitzgerald or Kurt Vonnegut? Jodi Picoult or Nicolas Sparks? Erik Larson or Bill Bryson? Brené Brown or Depak Chopra?

              Are you a day reader or a night owl? Do you read several books a week or one a month? Do you feel lost without a book in your hand or without one available? If you had to take three things to a desert island for a month, would a book be one of them? 

              Now that I’ve ruined your morning by sending you into a self-reflective snit, have a great week!