Wednesday, February 22, 2017


                                     TOO POLITE? STAND AND DELIVER!

       “We need to stop being so damned polite!” said a friend at dinner last night. Is there such a thing as being too polite? I think so. In my note to my friend later, I said, “Our being polite could be construed as cowardice in the name of kindness. Enough!” Mr. Wonderful and I are always careful not to interrupt, not to one-up, not to contradict without selecting our words carefully. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some of the people with whom we engage from doing that to us. The result is us doing most of the listening, and others dominating the conversation. Sometimes it leaves us bored to tears. But whose fault is that? 

     I was brought up to be respectful to my elders. I was taught that interrupting is rude and that saying something unkind was not ladylike and very unbecoming. Rude was wrong. Disrespect was not tolerated. One-upping was for the insecure, not the enlightened. Well, guess what, I am becoming enlightened in my golden years. Decorum and refinement are, unfortunately, passé in our narcissistic, entitled world. If the “too polite pack” doesn’t step up and demand that good manners and kindness become the norm once again, we are all going to suffer. 

     I don’t care what you thought of the political platform of our last President. He was a role model of refinement, class and dignity. He was a model father and husband, one whose venom was aimed at those who were endangering our country, not those who got in the way of his agenda. I was proud to call him my President, and it was easy to point to him when explaining good manners and respect to my grand-children. He represented all I was taught growing up.

      Whether it’s fighting for a cause, holding your own at a dinner table or refraining from  criticizing when it will only hurt not help, those of us who are too polite need to say, “Enough!” We need to stand up to the conversation bullies, push back the hate mongers and stand up for those being harassed. Standing by is no longer an option. We need to stand and deliver. If the enlightened never show their light, there will only be darkness. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Never stop dreaming of my dream car!
2017 update
Getting ready for my Gershwin one-woman show.

Mr. Wonderful captures Lido Beach susnset.

Maman and daughter march on St. Pete Beach

New friends bring joy.

Forever friends visit.

Soul mates connect at Ringling.

Music bonds beautiful friendships.

Fun with friends on Lida Beach.

Always striving for the next certification no matter what. 

My new oasis.

Mr. Wonderful never disappoints with "Ma Belle."
Getting ready for April shows. Photo by step-daughter Sue Richardson, Timeless Images, Belleville, Michigan.
Always missing beautiful daughter, Chris, but we talk every week.

Words to live by!
Watching baby daugther on TV 

Monday, February 20, 2017

     If you only had one week to create a legacy, what would you do? Would you continue business as usual? If not, how would you reframe, restructure, remodel your lifestyle to serve as a legacy for your family or for mankind?

      I was thinking this morning, I would like to make this the best week of my life. How could I do this, and who would benefit? The first answer would most likely be, “It would benefit me.” That’s a choice.  What if, however, I wanted to do something, change something that would benefit someone or some group of someones as well as myself? What would or could I do?

     Here are some random ideas that came out of my caffeine consciousness:

  1. Put a small gift on a neighbor’s porch. (Not identifying the sender gets extra points)
  2. Walk up to a stranger in the grocery store and give them a copy of your favorite inspirational book.
  3. Send a letter to a soldier.
  4. Volunteer to do something at a nearby school where you are surrounded by young children.
  5. Send a round-trip airline ticket to one of your grandchildren, and plan a week of life’s lessons for ____-year-olds.
  6. Send a birthday gift to someone with whom you never exchange gifts.
  7. Send a prayer to someone sad, even if they don’t believe. 
  8. Send a thank you note to the produce manager at your grocery store.
  9. Leave a thank you note for your postal carrier. 
  10. Leave a 50% tip when you go out for breakfast.
  11. Write a thank you note to your son or daughter just for being who they are.
  12. Write a “Save the Date” invitation to your spouse for a night out with surprises.
  13. Give a theatre ticket to someone you know can’t afford to purchase it.
  14. Treat yourself to a day with no “To Do” list. 
  15. Put a love note on the steering wheel of your spouse’s car.
  16. Send a thank you to a special friend.

Fill in the blanks.

      Yesterday, we learned that a very lovely acquaintance from our former home town lost her sister to a devastating disease. Almost monthly, we hear of some tragic loss among our circle of friends and acquaintances. 

     Yesterday afternoon at a tailgate, we met a couple who could not be more than 45 years old. He had just suffered a heart attack which resulted in a three-way bypass. She had “botched” surgery on her leg, and lost it from the knee down. They asked us if we wanted to share their wine and cheese with them.

      Tragedy is so random, and crises appear out of nowhere. There’s really few ways that we can prevent many of them, so what can we do? We can stay grounded in the gift of giving selflessly to others in whatever way we are able and in being compassionate with ourselves when we fall short of our own expectations. 

     It all seems so simple. It isn’t. At some point, we realize that the banal clichés are true. We utter them, but we don’t really believe them. Life is short and sometimes complicated. The only way to make any sense of it is to know our purpose, figure out our unique path and follow our hearts. Sometimes we lose our purpose, take the wrong road and feel our hearts breaking. That’s when we need a good strong cup of coffee and a burst of creative energy so we can come up with new ways to ground ourselves in the good.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

     One of our visitors used the term, “PIP, a couple of weeks ago. I asked, “What’s that?” He responded, “Previously Important Person.” He said his golf group doesn’t allow any “PIPs.” What does this mean? It means that some people, even in retirement, have to remind us of how important they were. I assume because they are no longer important. Moving to a new state and meeting new people on a regular basis, I have found many “PIPs.” They are not pleasant, and they remind me of the newest trend in narcissism:  “I’m much more important than you, and I always have been.” 

     If you have to tell me how many boards you were on, how much money you made, how much your house in the Hamptons cost, then you don’t belong in my personal space. You are pathetic, self-consumed and out for yourself. You are obviously so immersed in your own accomplishments and lost in your ego, you couldn’t possibly have room for friendship. Good-bye.

     I empathize with people who leave their identities behind when they retire, move, or change careers. I left my classroom of over 40 years kicking and screaming. But when I refer to my past, and that is rare, I always say things like “I really miss the kids,” or “When I was teaching, we used to laugh about teacher tummy or August teacher jitters.” I didn’t list my credentials, my degrees or the positions I held over the span of 40 years. Who effen cares? I don’t care about that part of your career, so why would you care about mine? 

      Retirees sometimes like to replace their number of board positions by how many countries they’ve explored or how many cruises they’ve taken. Do you really care where I’ve traveled or how many times I’ve climbed the Eiffel Tour or descended into the Grand Canyon. I doubt it, so why would I want to know that about you? If you’re curious when I tell you about an upcoming trip, you might ask, but if I run on to you with my hour by hour itinerary, I guarantee you will glaze over. So please don’t bore me with the details of yours. Give me a highlight or two that doesn’t make you look like a rock star. Tell me funny things that happened or scary close calls you’ve had with a grizzly in Yellowstone, but don’t try to impress me by telling me you paid $773 a night at the Jenny Lake Lodge. 

     What is it about us that we feel we need to one-up others? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer that one. We’re insecure. We’re without a title, without a strong sense of self, so we have to create a fake one so people will like us or think we are special. Am I insecure? You betcha. Do I brag? Rarely, but sometimes I  flaunt when I shouldn’t. Our new President has raised the Lovemelovemelovemeworshipme bar. He has made bragging a national sport. No matter how much you flaunt your talents or riches, fake or imagined, you will never be as wonderful as him. 

     Are you a “PIP?” Do not come near me. Turn on a tape recorder, and listen to yourself. I guarantee, you will be amazed at how pathetic you sound.



Saturday, February 18, 2017

                                    GIVING BACK

In this day of taking, taking, taking, I would like to focus on giving back. Here are some of the things on my give-back list:

  1. the chartreuse towels trimmed in mohair given to me by my Aunt Mabel.
  2. the bronchitis offered up by the clerk at the lingerie counter.
  3. the plaid wallet given by my Grandma in 1953.
  4. the 8”  fake-ruby broach handed down by my great Aunt Sadie (age 103) from the “home.”
  5. the ability to sprout wrinkles before the age of 40 from some distant relative with a wicked sense of humor
  6. my double-jointed thumbs.
  7. my ability to lose my temper in a matter of seconds from who-knows-who.
  8. my talent for gaining weight as soon as I spy a donut.
  9. the 471 freckles that cover my body.
  10. the 3 cowlicks that grace my crown.

This is not to say that I am not grateful for what has been given to me. I am most grateful that I can remember the above list and can still spell cowlick. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

     Were you “programmed” like me? Was there a script in your parents’ cupboard that said, “When you have a child, this is what she should become?” My father had a plan for me. I don’t think he realized that he had it. It may have been just random thoughts floating around in his head when he watched me crawl, then pull myself up in my playpen, then take my first steps. Maybe he saw potential and ran with it. Maybe he saw what he wanted for himself and never achieved, so he had a fresh piece of clay to mold, and there I was smiling up at him. No matter. Sometimes parents have an agenda. Sometimes parents create the agenda as they go. Sometimes parents create so many boundaries that children do not have the strength to overstep them. 

     In the forties, this was my program:

  1. Go to school and get all As.
  2. Go to college and get a degree (the first in the family)
  3. Find a husband who will have a career with status.
  4. Live in a fancy house.
  5. Give birth to two children.
  6. Enjoy two beautiful cars in driveway.
  7. Be a member of a country club.
  8. Become a successful teacher.
  9. (In spare time, be a concert pianist).
  10. Be the club golf champion.

    As young children, we listen to our parents, and whatever they say is gospel. As we begin to grow up and learn in school, we might question our parents’ thought and ideas. In my day, we weren’t taught to think in school; we were taught to memorize things. I was good at memorizing; I never learned to think or question. As a result, I did whatever my parents told me. 

    I went to school. I didn’t get all As, so I thought I was a failure. I went to college and got a degree (the first in the family). I married a husband with status, but that ended. I lived in a fancy house, and that was wonderful as were the fancy cars in the driveway. I gave birth to two beautiful daughters, and, before the marriage ended, my husband and I enjoyed many years of golf at the country club. I spent over 40 years in the classroom and loved every minute of it. I never came close to becoming a concert pianist. The furthest thing from my own “success” list was being the club champ. 

      So what’s the point? The point is that sometimes the programming works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I chuckled when I read the first line in the recent best seller, “The Four Agreements.” The sentence read something like, “everything you’ve ever been taught is a lie.”Our parents create our first belief system. As young children, we don’t have the resources to question anything, so we embrace all we’re taught even if, one day, we find that our ‘progamming” wasn’t in our best interests. By the time we figure out that it was not right for us, it may seem impossible to change it. That is not true. We can always change our beliefs, but it might feel very uncomfortable. The first real decision I ever made in my life was to divorce my husband. That was against all programming, and it was certainly not supported by my parents. I was 42. All the “things” and status symbols suddenly became trite and almost laughable in the whole scheme of happiness and fulfillment. This is what gives us perspective—the dead ends and detours of life.

   Were you programmed? Did you program your children? Are you programming them? Are they listening? Is your belief system today the one you were taught as a young child? Does it matter? 


Thursday, February 16, 2017

If you haven’t read the past week’s posts, take time this morning to get your laughter effects fix. I have company coming. Stay tuned for some tips on what not to do when company comes.