Sunday, October 22, 2017

               

DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING, STAND THERE!

     No matter whether we admit that we may have changed during our years of married life, we all have. Sometimes, that’s not a good thing. We really loved that person with whom we walked down the aisle. How many of us knew that the person waiting on the other end or approaching us would not be the same person all these years later. Has your spouse changed? For the better? After all, it was supposed to be “for better or worse,” but none of us really thought about the “worse.” That wouldn’t ever happen. We were all going to live happily ever after. If you have, lucky you. If your road has been bumpy, that’s all right, as they said on “This is Us” the other night, we will be fine with living “bumpily along.” 

     So have you changed? How? Has your spouse? Did the changes occur suddenly? Most often, it’s a gradual change depending on our own interests and our own levels of compassion, tolerance and ability to let go and forgive. 

     A friend told me years ago that marriage goes in cycles. I absolutely believe that, and when we are in a “honeymoon” cycle, I sometimes wonder how the other cycles inch their way into the bliss. They do, and that’s to be expected. The hardest thing for women, I believe, is recognizing that Prince Charming will fall off his horse occasionally, and that doesn’t mean he’ll never ride again. 

     We may lose our slippers, and the evening gown we chose so carefully for the ball may not fit anymore, but we are still that fairytale beauty in our own minds. “Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s still lovely after all?” Were you more lovely in your size 2, or are you more beautiful in your cloak of tolerance and your veil of forgiveness? Two, three, four kids later, does it matter where your other shoe is? Not really. You’re too busy finding and polishing everyone else’s.


     How have I changed? That’s a very hard question to answer. Am I more mellow, less driven, more patient? Is he as much fun, less demanding, more affectionate? It is very hard to look at ourselves objectively, but maybe we need to try every so often. Maybe we will find that “the old slipper” in its comfort, its warmth, its just-the-right fit is the one we will always want to put on at the end of the day as we sit side by side—him snoring in his paper and you cuddled up next to him smiling at the photos in the family album.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

     I want a divorce. Yes. I can’t take it any longer. You scrutinize everything I do. You look with that critical eye at my appearance, my productivity, my housekeeping, my talent, and as they say in France, “J’en ai marre.” (I’m sick of it.)

     It has been so many years that I’ve tolerated your constant nagging, your vicious comments, your unforgiving nature. Why have I put up with this all these years? Got me. I have, and I’m done. In the few remaining healthy years of my life on this planet, I need peace, and I can’t have it with you in my face day and night.

     I don’t apologize, as you have caused me oceans of tears, eons of angst and hours of rationalizing. I have had enough. It’s time to walk away.

     Good-bye, alter ego. Bon D├ębarras!


     

Friday, October 20, 2017

                                    JOINTS



     Do you remember your parents advising you to take care of your joints? I don’t. A “joint” in my day was a place to hang out. It was also a medical term understood only by those old people over 30. 

     Years later, “joints” were smoke sticks enjoyed mostly by hippies. In the seventies, the “joints” were inhaled by teens and rock stars as appetizers for more exciting stimulants. 

     For those over 40, especially those who indulged in extreme sports and 7-day-a-week Bally workouts, joints began to ache. Joints became a bad word in the back of the minds of those who  maybe knew that one day theirs would have to be replaced. “Worry about it then—enjoy now!” was the mantra. Well, guess what? All of you who abused yours while I sat on my buttocks at the piano practicing my loathed arpeggios, are filling my ears with “replacement” stories. You know, I really don’t need to see your scars. I’m fine with just imagining. ugh.

     Joint replacement is big business in this country, if you haven’t noticed. If you have no insurance, you’re in big trouble, and if you don’t want to walk like a 90-year-old, you’d best think twice before you run that next Marathon. Used-up joints=pain+opioids. Pfizer loves you. 


     Do I sound like your grand-mother. I probably am. I’m sorry about your pain, but if you caused it yourself, shut your pie hole, and go sit on your hot pad.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

     















       Every healthy day is a gift. Every healthy day is a gift. Every healthy day is a gift. 

     I shouldn’t have to remind myself of this, but sometimes we get so caught up in the minutiae of daily living that we just forget to be grateful.

     It sounds so trite, but, trust me, the older one grows, the more sadness, sickness, madness we witness, so we try to feel the joy of every second that feels good. Life is not all good. There will always be pain, tragedy, senseless violence. It’s really not new, although it feels new these days. Living it is way different than reading it or even remembering it from another decade. 

     How many times do you hear your kids say, “i don’t feel good.” Or it could be a spouse who moans from some minor ache, or it could be you yourself thinking,”Damnit, why does that hurt?” How many times, though, do we say aloud, “Boy, do I feel great today!” or “This is a wonderful moment. I think I will celebrate it!” We tend to be like the headlines we mock. The negative is always sensationalized, and it often becomes that way in our heads. 

     My father always told me that sickness was “in your head.” If I said I felt sick to my stomach, he would say, “Get busy. Get your mind on something else.” I did, and it worked most of the time. Funny, because distracting the mind is my number one method for getting out of a funk or calming my anxiety.

     That rant above may be considered an “old folks” cry, but it’s not. People of all ages face tragedy, loss, pain, illness. It’s not reserved for the over 60. 


     Every healthy day is a gift. Every healthy day is a gift. Excuse me, I must go unwrap mine.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

     If you think about the dance steps you learned in your youth, they will provide you with a humorous chronology of your life. Think about how you looked as a toddler just bouncing up and down with your diaper thrust out behind you and your little chubby feet plunking down on the linoleum. (translation in Appendix A for those under 30).

     From that little spontaneous movement, I moved into my pre-teen stage to the rockin’ rollin’ of Chubby Checkers, Fats Domino and Little Richard. I have no idea what those dances were called. We just jumped around and thought we looked cool. All we cared about was how loud the music was and what cute boy would look at our felt skirts and wink. Today, those boys would be arrested and sent to Weinstein Work-off Camp. 

      There was also the “Chicken,” not to be confused with the Chicken Dance. The Chicken came in two versions:  High Chicken and Low Chicken. It was most often danced to the illustrious "Hernando's Hideaway." "High" and "Low" referred to the distance above the floor that your foot tapped. What? The High Chicken must have been when the hormones took your breath away, and the Low Chicken must have been when our feet got sweaty, and we needed to keep them out of smell-zone. 

     In eighth grade, for some reason our school taught square dancing as part of our PE curriculum. I learned how to do-si-do, and that was helpful at our hayrides when I wasn’t smash-facing with whatever zit-face male I could corner in the hay wagon. Ah, those were the days.

     In high school, the Platters, Pat Boone, more Elvis took over the spotlight, and we began simply rubbing against each other, sometimes in time with the music. I will never forget “dancing” under the stars with Glen Davis (r.i.p). I don’t know who was feeling more, him or me, but it had little to do with the music. As American Bandstand became the go-to-after-school-eat-a-bag-of-chips program, we learned to do the 50s version of the jitterbug, the Madison (or the Soc, pronounced So-sh), and the Stroll. The first two were done with partners, holding hands or bodies. The latter was a line dance that attempted to teach us to walk in rhythm. For the guys whose feet were growing faster than other body parts, this was a real challenge. The jitterbug (or the Swing) had the guy twirling us around so we were so dizzy that it’s a miracle we didn’t crash on our ponytails. Oh, and we can’t forget the Bunny Hop. Now there was a sight to behold—a bunch of snot-nosed teens jumping like rabbits in a human train. Lord, help us. 

     How can I forget “The Twist.” “Twist again like we did last summer.” This dance was great for staying fit and seeing just how low you could go. Some twisted all the way down to the floor. Ray Charles was “the High Priest,” whatever that meant, and I recall dancing to his Twist hit with my heart-throb my sophomore year. For us girls, it was never just about the dance; it was about whether the guy looked at us while we were flaunting our stuff in an effort to snare him. I did love the music. If was infectious, hormone-stimulating, fun. Some 60+ somethings are still doing this dance publicly. They should be fined. The Marlboro Man and I won the Twist contest at some bar when we were in our 40s. Now there’s a pathetic visual.

     In college, the Beatles craze gave us the Jerk, the Monkey, the Bump, The Frug, the Loco-motion, the Swim. These were all dances that required no specific partner, as you rarely touched him or her. They were much more fun with a significant amount of alcohol, but suffice it to say, they had a great deal of hip and pelvic thrust movements. Shoulders were weaving up and down, and speed was the norm. Oh, my. What were we thinking? Again, most 60+year-olds still dance like this, and they do it in public. 

     My parents were avid ballroom dancers, They danced beautifully and often. As Mr. Wonderful is a very good dancer, but refuses to let me lead, our short tenure with the ballroom dance phase turned sour. We were getting pretty good, and then we got lazy and didn’t practice the steps. When the dance floor became a venue for arguing about how the step was supposed to look or feel, we gave it up for guacamole and chips on the couch. Ballroom dancing is beautiful to watch, and people actually danced in pairs. What a concept.


     How about you? What  memories do the dances of your lifetime bring back. If you think about them, I’m sure you will chuckle and roll your eyes. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017




     Six years ago, I decided to write a book. I had never written a book before, and one of my fondest dreams was to see my name on the cover of some shiny tome. I gave birth to a literary infant, and anyone who touched my baby had best handle her with care. I will never forget the thrill when that first box was delivered, and I opened it up and saw my name under the clever title, Before and Laughter. I told all my friends, had a book signing at my home, and soon over 300 copies had been sold. Now that’s nothing to brag about. It was self-published (after hours of tedious, frustrating attempts to format it and send in the manuscript.) The total cost in dollars was over $1000, but the reward in putting the title, “Author” after my name was priceless. Now some would say that a self-published book does not an author make. They’re probably right, but I remained in my fantasy world, and it felt good. 

     Two years later, the second tome was delivered, Laughterwards. Both volumes of humorous essays brought newspaper and radio interviews as well as more sales and a few speaking engagements. It was an exhilarating learning curve, and I made a couple of friends along the way. The second book was better, but I cannot market my own work, so it didn’t sell as many copies. The average book sells about 200-250 copies. Knowing that my creative productions always run in threes, I knew there would eventually be one more book to write. Who would buy it, who knew, as my friends had paid the price, and they were onto Fifty Shades of Gray. 


     The third and final tome is in its gestation stages. Laughter Effects will offer such stimulating chapters as “Kale,” “Sex After Seventy” and “When Your Inner Child Becomes a Teenager.” Stay tuned. This one’s going to be a best cellar (to be read in a dark place with wine).

Monday, October 16, 2017





How can the day start like this. . . 















    


and end like this?
     Just as our lens can be sunny and get cloudy, so nature shows us the natural pattern of ebb and flow. Some days, we wake up all sunny with a fresh outlook—the day, our lives, clear as crystal. Others, we wake up gloomy, foggy, gray and sad. Did we dream something that changed from bedtime to sunrise, or were all the ingredients there, and we just didn’t notice? 
    I believe that every day, regardless of the forecast, we can choose which way we allow our thoughts to go. Some days,  we don’t have to choose; one of the moods just takes over, and off we go with it. Other days, we struggle trying to hold onto the sunshine when the clouds just keep rolling in. I say, we get to choose, but I wonder if we choose the clouds for some reason. What does it mean if I choose clouds? 
     The other day, I awoke all sunny. Within a short time, the gloom set in, and I could feel the thunder in my gut threatening to drown me. I immediately got dressed and headed for the Bay. Lucky me, I have a Bay where I can always find solace. I donned my sneakers, threw back my shoulders and walked for an hour as the sun began its healing, and my limbs stood up to the emotional tsunami that threatened to ruin my day. I would love to tell you that the healing is instant, but it’s not. Sometimes, it takes more than a lap or two across the Bay Bridge, but it always works, and usually within a short time. 

      Was my issue a medical crisis? No. Was it fear of a terrorist attack? No. Was it a financial meltdown? No. It was something stupid that was attached to a core issue—once again, it’s never about what it’s about. What’s important, however, is that I always know that physical exercise and Mother Nature are my “go to” remedies.

     Sometimes, the clouds don’t give way to rain and thunder. They just hover. At times like this, I may be trying to problem solve, and it’s not working. The same process works. Fresh breezes blow away the cobwebs. Inhaling the fresh air allows me to breathe clarity into my thinking. Warm sunshine offers new alternatives to my black and white thinking. 

     Mother Nature is the best parent ever. Thanks, Mom!