Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Past, Present & Future

Christmas is probably the one holiday that can bring us the most joy and the most heartache. It’s a time of lost: the first Christmas without a loved one perhaps, the first Christmas away from home, the first Christmas alone. It’s a time of joy: being with family and loved ones, the sharing of memories, celebrating the birth of Christ. I was five in my Christmas past picture. (I’m the cute one with the big smile and Shirley Temple curls.) But I don’t recognize rest of the people in the picture. They were family and friends obviously. I moved away from California soon after that Christmas. I got a new family and friends in Iowa, then Mississippi, then Texas. I sometimes get depressed at Christmas. This Christmas I didn’t. Maybe it was because I realized that while families and friends may change over time, there’s always been love and that’s what Christmas is all about: love in the past, love now, and love to come. I hope you had a Merry Christmas, I did, and I wish you a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Perfection - Not

As usual, I’m never quite sure what I’m going to blog about it. When I started my blog originally, I had visions of my spending hours selecting and preparing the perfect message that I wanted to send – sort of like that perfect Christmas gift we work so hard to find each year. Thankfully for me, maybe not so much for my readers, that didn’t last. I found myself instead going with the flow. Now that meant sometimes there were errors in my blog because I hadn’t given myself time to find and correct. Some of those errors added to my blog rather than detracted and some I won’t admit were errors to begin with. They were all planned, David. lol.

One of my favorite blogs is Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. I just finished reading an interview she did a few days ago with Oliver Burkeman. I haven’t met this writer yet but plan to as soon his new book comes out in January titled, HELP! How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done. Below is an excerpt from her interview with him that was something I needed to be reminded of. Maybe you will too. Especially during the often stressful holiday seasons.

Question: What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

Answer: Among many, many other things: I no longer think of perfectionism as one of those traits you should be secretly quite proud to possess ("Oh, I'm a perfectionist, yes, I'm just not happy unless I'm producing brilliant work!"). Perfectionism is 100% bad and evil. As Anne Lamott says, it's "the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people; it will keep you cramped and insane your whole life". Working as a newspaper journalist on deadline has drummed much of it out of me — there's nothing like a screaming editor to make you abandon all hope of a perfect opening sentence — but it's an ongoing challenge. I guess I shouldn't be perfectionistic about getting rid of perfectionism, though.

Question: Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?

Answer: Stressing out about potential problems that haven't actually happened yet. Eckhart Tolle recommends asking yourself "Do you have a problem now?" — as in, right this very moment? The answer is almost always no. I need to get this tattooed somewhere prominent on my body.

Question: Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to "Identify the problem.”)

Answer: I love the late Japanese psychotherapist Shoma Morita's advice to stop trying to fix yourself and start living instead: "Give up on yourself. Begin taking action now, while being neurotic or imperfect, or a procrastinator, or unhealthy, or lazy, or any other label by which you inaccurately describe yourself. Go ahead and be the best imperfect person you can be and get started on those things you want to accomplish before you die." To some people this sounds depressing, but to me it's the exact opposite: utterly freeing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Android Techie

I bought myself a Christmas present this past week– an Android cell phone. Notice how I toss out “Android” like I’m trying to impress someone. Did it work? The only thing I know about an “Android” phone is that somehow it relates to Goggle and I like to goggle. In fact, I can goggle with the best of them. I haven’t figured out how to set up my Android to Goggle yet though. I sign on and it keeps rejecting me. But I’m sure once I figure it out, it will be an awesome experience.

Another reason I bought the new phone was so I can start texting. Now texting to me means “youth”. That I’m cool, hip, with it. (All terms that show how ancient I really am.) lol. The fact that I only have one friend who texts shouldn’t slow me down. Maybe I’ll make new friends texting? Or lose the one I have? Like a child with a new toy, I couldn’t wait to send Janet my first text from my new phone. A very profound message if I say so myself. “Hi. M”

I didn’t intend to hit send, only to try and erase the M but somehow I did. Now I had to send her an explanation text which turned out to be even more profound. “sry.cannot-”

Hopefully someone will show me where the space key is because it’s not by the send key that I accidently hit again. Thankfully Janet knows me well and understood what I was trying to do and say. But gee, did she have to be such a showoff with her texted response of “Good try. Keep practicing.”

I also wanted the high-quality camera my new Android offers. I’ve been reading a book on blogging and it seems that all the best bloggers are also talented photographers. Always wanting to improve myself and my blog, I got out my trusty Canon that was once a high-quality camera. It had had a technical breakdown the last time I tried to take pictures of the newest member of my pack. I pushed buttons, opened tiny doors, and finally got it working for a minute. But then I'd forget what combination of buttons I’d hit and I'd have to start all over again.

My new camera phone is wonderful. I’ve taken pictures of the dogs, the floor, the ceiling, my thumb, and my fireplace mantle that I decorated last night for Christmas. You just won’t see them on today’s blog. I need to go for a drive to try out the Android’s GPS, shop for a few apps, get it to goggle, and …. Say, can someone give me a quick call? I guess I ought to see if I can talk on the new phone as well.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reading Buds

I’ve always been a voracious reader starting with Grimm’s’ Fairy Tales, the Hardy Boys series, Call of the Wild, and graduating to The Autobiography of a Yogi by the time I entered junior high school. Perhaps I read for escape from a not-perfect childhood or was just bored. Regardless of why, reading is the one addiction I have that I’m proud to claim. I also took pride in my selections, boasting about Ayn Rand’s Atlas Struggled and Fountainhead like I’d been the first to discover the literary prizes in the 60’s. I never considered myself a high-browed literary reader though. How could I when I stole my mother’s copy of Peyton Place, inhaled Gothic romance paperbacks until they started all reading the same and actually loved The Bridges of Madison County? Thankfully I advanced past the romance novels and most series genres a long time ago, except for the Harry Potter series, of course. Ya gotta love them.

My computer room has one full wall of book shelves. They are no longer crammed full for several reasons now: 1) one shelf has already cracked due to excessive weight and 2) I’m trying to downsize my life and belongings (with little progress unfortunately). What concerns me though about my reading addiction is that its favor has changed. This morning as I prepared to write today’s blog, I tried to remember my favorite fiction books that I read last year. The only one I could remember was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The year before only The Historian stands out in my memory block. I’ve been struggling with Freedom for over three months now and that scares me. Am I losing my love of reading and writing? Or am I losing brain cells? Will I have to give up my addiction?

Or is it simply that as I have aged my reading buds have changed? While I really worked to recall my fiction favorites of this year, my non-fiction favorites roll off my recall as fast as I can type. Lit by Mary Karr, a memoir of sobriety, The Happiness Project, Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections and Pack of Two, The Intricate Bond between People and Dogs. These are only a few but they all say something to me, make my cry or make me laugh. Maybe I no longer want to escape real life but relish it and all its emotions with others that have been down my road.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


With four days off from work, one would think I had all the time in the world to write, clean house, cook, shop, start and finish projects, and relax. And maybe once upon a time, I did. Aging is a sneaky little devil though. I remember once a senior writer and member of a large writers’ group critiqued a piece of my work with bared teeth. “You’re wrong when you have your protagonist says he feels his years. I’m that age and I never feel old.” I hope that I managed to hide the smirk lurking within me that evening as, of course, he was oh so wrong. He was in denial. At his age, he had to think and feel old! I’m that age now and while my body occasionally reminds me of that, I don’t feel old. And because of that, I often misjudge my timing. Yes, in four days I should have been able to do everything I needed to do as well as what I wanted to do. Well, I’ve discovered a hidden joy in aging. I can choose to ignore the “need-to’s” without guilt and be grateful instead that I still have the “want-to’s” and the ability to enjoy them.

So as I step over dog toys, dog hair, dust bunnies and squeeze through the clutter on my desk to the keyboard, I’ve decided to stay within the spirit of the holiday weekend and remain thankful:

That I listened to my heart instead of my mind when I chose the “perfect” dog last week.

That I have a handsome, healthy and loving grown-up son who can still smile without being condescending when I ask, “Where’s your coat? It’s cold outside.”

That a wonderful Kurecka family still wraps their arms and warm hearts around me and my son each Thanksgiving Day.

That I see, through Facebook, a niece creating her own holiday traditions for her son in a very untraditional but wonderful way.

That I have a soul sister that I can miss and love and know we are there together whenever I see a Cardinal, a Bluejay or a Wren.

That my holiday was completed with a text message from a long-lost beloved brother and sister-in-law wishing me a “Happy Thanksgiving.”

That sharing breakfast over laughter and stories with dear friends has become a weekly tradition that I hope never stops.

That I spent time with a girlfriend shopping and tasting wine instead of vacuuming, and

That today, I’m going to romp in the sunshine and crisp fall leaves with two little dogs that fill my heart and house with love and all kinds of stuff….. before I start on the "need-to's".
Thank you God

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Imperfect Dog

I went to pick out a new dog for Shelby, my little Chihuahua on Saturday. Every time I’ve said that I wasn’t going to get another dog, that Shelby and I were happy as a pack of two, I’d find myself still searching Petfinders for that perfect dog. I had found a new face this week, a black and white supposedly part beagle, part border collie female. She was full grown at 22 pounds and since Shelby weighed in a hefty 13 pounds, I thought it might be the perfect match. If not, there were a couple of other dogs that I might be interested in. Maybe. Just as all of the other dogs I’ve looked at in the past few months.

I asked two dear friends to go with me Saturday. They are the epitome of dog lovers and recently lost one of their dogs as well. I wanted their opinion and to help me with Shelby. Yes, I know. She’s a little dog and no, I probably didn’t really need the help. What I needed was a shove. I’d become obsessed with finding the perfect dog which meant no dog.

David and I met Bindi while his wife went to Home Depot. I instantly realized that the beautiful wiggly 22-pound bundle of black and white joy would be too much for Shelby. I also realized that David had fallen in love with her. He'd found his perfect new dog and he hadn't even been looking. I moved on, looking for that dog that was meant for Shelby and me. A dog that would replace Mercedes in that crying hole in my heart. The “perfect” dog.

I’m not sure how it happened but I came home with the most “imperfect” dog there. A male one-eyed Yorkie/Silky Terrier mix that looks more like a possum than a dog. Shelby had seemed okay with the little fellow at Petsmart but it's not going smoothly now that we are home. Shelby is jealous and can’t stand him; I’m a little queasy with the missing eye thing. Peeve, now Petey, brought home a fleet of fleas, and spent his first few hours male marking everything in sight. Definitely not the perfect dog. I’ve resisted calling the rescue organization to take him back so far but it’s been hard and there’s no guarantee that I won’t end up doing that. A lot depends on Shelby. Or is that a cop-out on my part? I don’t know. I didn’t fall in love with this strange little dog like David did with Bindi. Still, when Petey looks up at me with his one eye beaming with love and affection asking to be held…. It’s going to be a difficult next few days for my heart.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Wasp Whisperer

I met a Wasp Whisperer last Sunday. I didn’t know I was going to and if I had, I wouldn’t have gone to the book discussion. You see, I am petrified of wasps and yellow jackets. Actually almost any insect except for pill bugs and lady bugs will send me into a screaming mass of fraying arms and legs as I try to escape the portion of my world they are in at the time. I still remember once when my then to-be-husband, Eddie, took me, my son and his three children to the local park to play tennis. Not being that athletic, after a few sessions of chasing the tennis ball instead of hitting it, I opted to sit on the sidelines and watch. Everything was going well, his kids seemed to like me, and then… a bug flew inside the front of my blouse. I’m not sure that my screaming and pulling my blouse over my head made the best impression on Eddie or his kids that day. Or the folks playing on the other tennis court. But he still married me eventually.

In my defense, I am deathly allergic to stings from wasp, yellow jackets and fire ants. I’ve also had some close calls in the past when stung. I always carry my Epi Pen in my purse which never leaves my side. This might explain why I’ve often been compared to Sophia of the Golden Girls.

Now that I’ve given you a bit of background, you can understand better why, while sitting in the living room where the book discussion group met Sunday, I abruptly interrupted the leader by standing up and saying, “Excuse me, but there’s a wasp climbing on that picture,” before I darted to the hall way. Eddie always boasted, that even in a group of 500, if there was a wasp anywhere I’d be the first to see it.

I honestly expected everyone to rise in mass hysteria as well but no one did. It was as if they were waiting for her to take command. The Wasp Whisperer. This woman serenely, a word I would have never imaged using to describe this scene, got up, opened her spiral notebook, walked over the wall where the wasp was, invited it into the page, gently lowered the notebook cover just to the tips of its wings, and said, “Open the back door and I’ll let it outside.” Don’t hold me to this, but I swear I heard her sweet-talk it as well.

Dazed and not believing what I just witnessed, I went back into the living room to join the book discussion. Four more wasps appeared in the room and throughout the meeting, the Wasp Whisper would nonchalantly nudge one into her notebook and quietly release it outside without disturbing the group. Amazing as this sounds and more so to have witnessed, I was more awe-stuck with how calm I became and how safe I felt being surrounded by this group of woman, wasps and the Wasp Whisperer. Hum, maybe this woman was a Betty Whisperer, too?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blogging & Butterflies

Blogging is work, I’m discovering. I set my timeline for Sunday once- a week-postings. You’d think that would make it easier, not having to come up with either wisdom, humor, truth and just plain good writing more than once a week. I remember the days when I could sit down to the computer after an eight-hour demanding job, followed by a one-to-two-hour commute from hell, allow brief playtime with the hubby, dog, and cat before cooking whatever was the quickest for supper, clean up the mess, and write a 5,000 word short story that I knew was a candidate for any top literary press smart enough to recognize my wordsmithing talent. As the old song cliche goes, those were the days, my friends. So what happened to me? Sure, I got older and that’s good thing, something I would like to keep on doing, but my daily demands are less now, my commute shorter by an hour or so. Since writing isn’t necessarily a physical task, it can’t be that the muscle tone and strength that I’ve lost so maybe it’s the brain cells? Naw, can’t be. Just ask my friends who should pay me for the entertainment I provide with my oral dyslexia.
Blogging is work because we have to write about ourselves, explore the events of our day or week with honesty as well as style. Sometimes, if we are lucky, life is uneventful. If we are more than lucky, are blessed with family and dear friends, our lives interweave and our particularly mundane day or week is brightened by their joys or shadowed by their sorrows and pain. And as we get older, it seems that more days are spent in the shadows than we’d like. Yet, as I write this, the morning sun is reaching out to me, chasing the shadows away so that I can see golden butterflies. Hang in there, Soul Sister! The butterflies are coming.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween sounds wrong. Happy goes with Happy Birthday or Happy New Year or have a happy day. Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays although judging by the picture I’m showing, I thought it was then. According to the familar script on the back of the photo, I was five and it was my first Halloween costume. I don't recognize the background but I’m assuming it was taken in California where I was raised until I was five and a half. Proud of my costume and obviously so very happy and well-loved, still innocent of the evil and cruelties in life, I had no clue that that my life would change dramatically within a few months and I’d lose some of the people that I loved. I would move to Iowa and start life anew by the age of six.
My original plan was to write a few miscellaneous word fillers as I really only wanted to show off how adorable I was in my costume way back when. Yet this picture means so more to me. It was one that returned to me late in life and it haunts me, this happy little girl that I once was. Don’t we all study pictures of our youth, amazed that we were so full of life, joy, and innocence then? Don’t we all miss that part of us? Or maybe we still have it but are hiding it behind our masks? I know I do.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Class #2 on "Successful Retirement Planning"

While out one night with friends a few weeks ago, I accidently told them about one of my less sterling driving episodes. What prompted me to true confessions was their teasing me about my driving. Being competitive in some ways, I merely wanted them to know that my Iowan left turn they had just observed was nothing compared to my adventure of driving backwards. I prefaced the anecdote with my boast of “I’m really a very good driver. I’ve never hit anything moving.”

I then proceeded to tell them about my last accident fifteen years ago. It was Mother’s Day and I had a lunch date with a tall, dark and handsome son. On my way to Arlington, I heard a terrible noise coming from what I thought was a tire. Being a safe and caution driver, I exited off the freeway and pulled into an empty parking lot to check things out. Everything seemed fine so I got back into my car and looked at the clock. Late for my date. I put the car in reverse to turn around and gave it some gas. Hum. I didn't get very far. Had I hit the brake instead of the gas pedal? I floored the gas pedal a second time. Again I didn’t get very far and my head and neck were starting to take a beating from the head rest. What was the problem? I rechecked the rear view mirror and saw nothing to stop me. Getting a headache and becoming frustrated, I decided to give it my all to the gas pedal. Third time had to be a charm, right? My car rose to the occasion. Literally. When the car stopped, its rear was up in the air. Getting out I realized that my car was resting on top of a brightly orange painted cement post.

Now my friends who claim they keep me around for entertainment purposes only thought that this was a really funny story. So did everyone else I told when it originally happened. Did I feel pretty stupid? Yep. But in my defense, the post hadn’t been high enough for me to see through my rear view mirror.

What does this have to do with my second class for “Successful Retirement Planning” that I attended yesterday? While I sat there, I caught myself thinking that if I could only have twenty more classes and thirty more years, I’d be in pretty good shape for retirement. But would I? Would I have made that many changes in my life, made less mistakes, done things differently? All good questions that most of us ask ourselves more than once during the course of our lives, but that’s looking backwards. I don’t know about you but I don’t drive well backwards. Nor have I gotten very far.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Retirement Rant

I’ve always considered myself fairly intelligent even with my temperamental dyslexia which flares up at the most inconvenient times. I graduated from high school, attended business college, went on to earn an Associate’s Degree while working for a Fortune 100 company and raising a family at the same time. While my I.Q. isn’t a qualifier for Mensa, it’s high enough to get me where I wanted to go most of the time. So why am I feeling so darn dumb?

It’s because of the Continuing Ed class that I am taking titled, “Successful Retirement Planning”. Even though I’ve just started the class, I know I’m going to fail. What’s worse is the fact that all the time I thought I’d been fairly successful in life, I’ve been a failure.

We baby boomers are messing up the whole economical system it seems. There’s too many of us and we are living too darn long and are too healthy. Why does this sound more like a curse than a blessing, I wonder?

I also wonder why it takes fifty plus bar charts, certifications, designations and licenses, plus a degree in statistics to manage my retirement successfully? Some of these designations/licenses are obtainable in three-month easy installments plus a series of tests. Surely I could do that myself? Oh, I forgot. I’m slightly dyslexic. Plus my passion lies in the written word, not numbers.

All the doom and gloom of retirement made me think of my mother and the generation that raised us. I don’t know about everyone else, but money was a taboo subject in my house. It was considered uncouth to ask someone how much they paid for something, how much they made, and how much they owed. I knew my family was better off financially than some because when my mother bought me nice clothes, I was told that I needed to care of them so that they could handed down to the next family who wasn’t quite as fortunate as we were. We lived in a big house and we had a cottage on the lake. But I wasn’t spoiled as a child. If I had been, my mother would have given me that pony I always wanted.

My mother’s generation believed mortgages were to be paid off, furniture was to last a life-time and credit cards and the stock market were the devil’s making. Ahead of her times, she was the bread winner of the family. She didn’t work for a company for years; she started her own. That meant no pension plan; only tiny social security checks and herself to depend upon when she retired. But she never got to teach me how face the challenges of retirement. She died at the age of 46. She remains with me still, teaching me when I take the time to listen. And instead of reprimanding me for ranting and feeling sorry for myself, she is whispering, “Stop the search for a retirement genie and instead learn to trust yourself and your own wisdom.” Thanks, Mom, I needed to hear that. Love you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


My weekly blog will be short today for several reasons. One, I don’t have much to write about and two, I really need to clean house, go to the grocery store, do laundry, clean house, work on my novel, take the dog to the doggie park (a first if we actually go), work in the yard, cook myself a decent meal, exercise on my Wii, clean house some more, and somehow squeeze in a nap. And since I’m a morning person, I’ll have about two and a half hours to do it all except for the nap. I never take naps in the morning. I have too much to do.

If you are a detailed-type reader, you’ll question what time did I get up this morning that only leaves me two and a half hours before afternoon? A bit of a personal question, I think, but a fair one and one I’m embarrassed to answer. My little dog, Shelby, is a morning activist as well so she woke me around 7:20. Sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays is a treat for me so I tried to ignore her. It’s hard though when your closed eyelids are being tickled by doggie kisses.

Once up, I had my usual morning routine: make coffee, get the morning newspaper, feed the dog, drink the coffee, and read the newspaper. Then I make my breakfast and read the newspaper some more. On weekends, I manage to sneak in a load of laundry into the washer and a short walk with the dog before I get busy. Remember I’m a morning person.

I’m really motivated this morning to clean house though. A friend with whom I was going to spend Saturday doing Halloween crafts thought she’d locked herself out of her house. This sent me into a panic because my house is in such a mess. I lucked out when she remembered the keypad entrance to her garage. She’s one of those who have those forever neat-and-clean houses. Hum. I just realized that I’ve never had a friend who is a house-slob. What does that say about me? That I’m a morning person who simply does not have long enough mornings? Makes sense since I can’t be the only messy housekeeper in the world. Can I? Or maybe I just have good taste in selecting my friends? All three answers are correct.

The blinds have been opened to let in the cheerful morning sunshine that exposes the dust and dog hair, the oldies-but-goodies music I’ve turned on is making my toes want to dance and now I have only two hours left so…… watch out dust bunnies, here I come. Unless I decide to dance to the music instead. It is a beautiful morning, you know, and life is short.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I’m going to blame my sudden attack of melancholy on the weather, an easy target like the full moon, the stars’ alignment, low blood sugar, and hormones. But the moon isn’t full, I don’t know the North Star from the Eastern Star since I’m directionally challenged, my blood sugar tested fine at my last checkup and I’m at the age when my hormones are basically nil.

It’s a Fall-perfect weekend that I should be enjoying especially since Fall was my favorite season growing up. I grew up in a generation and small Iowan town where we looked forward to school starting again, the colorful leaves that snapped, crackled and popped under our feet, and the changing of our wardrobe from crisp cottons to soft wools and cashmeres. Early nightfall meant drive-in movies fell within my curfew. I remember how I loved to snuggle under a blanket with my boyfriend in his old Studebaker while pretending to be watching a B-rated movie… oops, I digress.

Perhaps I’m melancholy because Fall means changes and I’m not changing? My life is as it is and that's not bad. I have a good job when so many don’t have any, I can pay my bills and still occasionally splurge on a pair of tennis shoes that are guaranteed to lift my tush and firm my thighs, and I have a collage of good friends. I have a son I’m ever so proud of and I have Shelby, a little dog who rules my world.

Or is it the losses that are making me melancholy? I lost Mercedes, a dear little blond dust-mop of a dog and Shelby's best friend, about two months ago. She was only three years old. Healthy one minute, gone within the next hour and no one knows why. I tried to replace that heartbreak with another little pup last weekend who visited us on a trial basis. This pup was literally nothing but skin and bones, a hank of gray hair, and huge eyes full of love.

I discovered that the pup wasn’t housebroken (nor had Mercedes been). I told the rescue group that I couldn’t handle that. But I lied. What I couldn’t handle was the way she hung on my every word with cocked head, like Mercedes had, and her developing raspy cough that panicked me into sending the e-mail, “Come get her.” I couldn’t open my heart right now to more pain. Or love. Or loss. Maybe later. So I settled for guilt instead even though I know the rescue group will find her another good home.

Or is because of the box of photographs that I found yesterday while cleaning out a closet? Pictures I hadn’t looked at for almost ten years. Pictures of the family I once had and loved so much. I’ve never written about Eddie, my husband, who died before his time. I still can’t. Maybe later.

Fall, a season of both changes and losses, is fleeting though. Especially in Texas. And so will be my melancholy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dreams of Youth

I had the opportunity to hear Amy Tan at TCU’s 2010 Fogelson Honors Forum this past week thanks to two dear writer friends. I was actually just as excited to see them as I was to see Amy Tan but don’t tell them that. Ms. Tan, a best-selling author, was an entertaining speaker and I tried to hang on her every word. But I couldn’t. I was too distracted by the heady atmosphere of the college’s Ed Landreth Auditorium and the youth of the honor students who handed out brochures and collected question cards. Did they realize how lucky they’d been to go to a college of TCU’s caliber? Did they realize what amazing opportunities they have in their futures – opportunities that I could only have dreamed of when I was their age?

But I never had those dreams of an amazing future or opportunities. For some of the early Baby Boomers like myself, our parents still considered college a waste for young women. My mother wasn’t one of those women who thought that the little woman belonged in the home or that only men could become successful in business. But she did think that the only reason for a girl to go to college was to find a husband and she had learned that husbands could disappoint. Her own secretarial and business skills provided for us when my father couldn’t. She wanted the same for me which meant business school instead of college. But it also meant no dreams for me of what I could be.

She also believed that it wasn’t a college education that got you somewhere; it was hard work and good work ethics. Her secretarial skills got her a good paying job; her intelligence and work ethics earned her the opportunity to join forces with an attorney to start their own company and corporation. She’d never had the mentality that she couldn’t do something because she didn’t have a college degree and she never felt less for it. While I learned from her that I too could do anything, be something, I never learned not to feel less for not having a four-year degree.

My mother proved herself right. When I ended up divorced and a single parent, I didn’t moan and wail about how I could provide for my family. I knew I could and I did. I take joy and pride in that as I should. Still, there are times, like last Tuesday night, when I realize what I regret the most – the dreams of youth.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Betty Oops Beauty Tips

Like most women of any era, I’ve never been too pleased with my looks. Nor did I want to spend a lot of time on them having been raised by parents who attempted to convince me that it is what’s inside that counts, not on the outside. Brains over beauty always won big in my house and I often felt that I hadn’t won much in either category. If you think I am being modest, let me share with you some helpful beauty tips that I’ve learned over the ages – the hard way.

 Never use Nair or any other hair removal product to shape your eyebrows unless you want your eyelids to end up looking like giant strawberries. (Hey, I was only 17 at the time!)

 Never dye your hair black with your Siamese cat napping on the bathroom rug under you. (It is highly embarrassing for a cat to be called Spot even for a few months.)

 Don’t lather on a new miracle face cream guaranteed to clear up all blemishes without testing it first. Hives tend to be larger and redder than zits.

 Don’t try putting on individual false eyelashes before that big first date without making sure you’re not allergic to the glue. You may have end up canceling that date if your eyelids have swelled shut. Also, those tiny hairy buggers are harder than heck to pull off when you can’t see.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that I hesitate to try Botox to erase my frown lines and fillers to plump up my lips and decrease my clown lines. Besides my fear of needles and having an allergic reaction, I can’t get rid of the image of an elderly woman I saw in the grocery store one day. Back bent and leaning on her cart for support, this sweet old lady was the happiest looking 80+ woman I’ve ever seen thanks to her wide surgically closed-mouth smile and her Botox- raised eyebrows that touched the edge of her coiffured black wig. All I could think of is that I never wanted to look that happy. When someone crowds in front of me in line or rams into my grocery cart while talking on their cell phone, I want them to know that I’m hacked off!

Still, I haven’t resigned myself to growing old gracefully or lost my desire to look good. Last weekend I spent an unmentionable amount of money on “Anti-aging Products That Really Work!” per Good Housekeeping’s October issue. It’s too soon to tell if they will do any good, especially since what I really need is aging-reversing products, but the good news is that I haven’t had any allergic reactions.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blank Sheet

Yesterday, while I was trying to write this week’s post to my blog, I went totally blank. I had nothing to say and, for those who know me well, that’s quite unusual. It scared me. Both as a writer and as a leader-of-the-pack baby boomer. Then when I woke this morning, my mind racing on what to write for today’s entry, I panicked again. OMG! I have no life! The fact that the past week was mostly a sheet of blinding rain and that a close friend was going through an especially hard time last week with both her divorce and her health didn’t play into the picture. Nor did I consider that having a rather boring, non-eventful week isn’t necessarily bad.

Desperate for inspiration and tending to do things backwards, I goggled the term “blog” early this morning. Just as I feared—I am writing a “personal” blog which means I can’t hide behind my fictional characters as I love to do. It also indicates that, by nature of doing a blog, I must be a rather self-absorbed individual, a huge no-no taught to us by our parents who grew up in the real depression era.

But that was never my intent. I wanted this blog to explore the unique concerns and situations that we original baby boomers might find ourselves in—by writing sometimes with introspection, inspiration, ranting, and all done with a dash of humor whenever possible. I also realized from reading other blogs that I admire that it doesn’t have to be “all me”. So for today, I’m calling in the professionals just for us gals (sorry guys, maybe next time). There is an excellent essay by Terri Kirby Erickson on Boomer CafĂ© titled Aging Gratefully. The web address is: It’s what I needed to hear today. Maybe you need to hear it too. If not, enjoy anyway.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Senior Perks

This week I want to rant a bit. Not that I don’t often do that, but I usually try to keep my rants where only my house plants and dust bunnies can hear. However, the subject of my rant this week is one that I think is shared by a lot of us baby boomers—the “Senior Perks”.

I admit that four years ago when I walked into a McDonald's to order coffee for the drive back home after visiting my soul-sister-in-law in Temple, I wasn’t overly pleased when told that “coffee’s free for seniors”. OMG, the little gal behind the counter hadn’t even asked for my ID so how did she… Needless to say, I immediately pulled down the vanity mirror when I got back into the car. (Note to car manufacturers: rename mirror to “vanity crusher”.)

When I go to the movies with my girlfriends, I have no problem requesting my senior discount. The only drawback is that we have reached the age where we prefer the early matinee to avoid the crowds. When I ask for the senior special, I'm told no because early matinees are already discounted. Call me greedy but if I’ve reached that magical age, I want my senior discount regardless.

Speaking of magical age, I used to not know what it really was. Sometimes it is 55; sometimes it’s 60 or 65. Fortunately for me, it doesn’t matter anymore. I will soon meet any and all criteria which finally leads into the main reason for my ranting today.

In last week’s Sunday paper, I saw a notice from the local community college for a Senior Education Program for Seniors 55+. Excited to expand my comfort zone and add some fun into my life, I went online to register for a class. I wasn’t even particular about which class I took. Jewelry Making, Yoga, Watercolors, Creative Writing, Stained Glass, Belly Dancing, etc. all sounded good to me. The only class listed that I wouldn’t be interested in was Square Dancing. Guess what? The only class offered in the evening is Square Dancing.

I still work full time. I can’t image that most of the baby boomers my age and those to follow aren’t still working. Not in these economically challenged times and stock market. So you can understand my frustration to learn that these classes are only offered in the daytime. Am I unrealistic to assume that most unemployed 55+ would want day classes that offered them a second career instead of “classes for fun” and that the 55+ who have been able to retire have the means to find their fun elsewhere?

This isn’t the only time I’ve run into this problem. The City Recreation Centers offer special exercise classes for seniors but only in the daytime. Senior Centers are closed after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends.

Since I was taught not to make a complaint without a request, here goes: Let’s redefine the word “senior citizen” to include the working seniors who refuse to be old. We want to enjoy the perks too!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Comfort Zone

I spent my weekend outside of my comfort zone although I didn’t wander far. Only to Denton on Saturday with my son and Carrollton on Sunday with two dear girlfriends. Now’s that sad that such few miles take me out of my zone. Except it really isn’t. I like my comfort zone. We baby boomers have worked hard to get to our comfort zone. Like generations before us, we struggled and fought years for equal rights in the work place, equal say over our bodies, and equal rights for the minorities. We feel that we’ve earned the right to snuggle into our comfort zone at this time of our lives.

My comfort zone is the place where I nurture myself, unwind from the stresses of work and the world and I only step out of it with special people in my life, my son and close friends. When I’m really blessed, a new friend like Alexis will drop into my comfort zone for a short visit.

Other times we have to clean out our comfort zone. I had to do that this week—a chore I needed to do several years ago but kept putting off like cleaning out the clothes in my closet that no longer fit. I resigned from my writing group that has been a major part of my life for over fifteen years. This should have been more painful than it was and that makes me sad. But it taught me that our comfort zone isn’t stagnant; it breathes in and out and can’t nourish us unless we keep it fresh and renewed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I gave up writing two years ago or it gave me up. Either way, I didn’t resist much. I’d lost my passion I figured. I blamed it on getting old perhaps, a condition that I’ve been suffering from way too much, way too early. But being 64 is not old. It’s the beginning of a new era if I stop being afraid of it. So why am I so afraid? Maybe because I don’t know how to be old? Being one of the first baby boomers, I don’t have many role models. Instead, I am one of the leaders of the pack. I’m the one who’s supposed to leave the bread crumbs for others to follow but I can’t seem to find my loaf of whole-wheat bread.

I have a niece (by marriage so I can’t take credit for the gene pool) that I’ve encouraged to write. She’s a natural writer with a gift of voice and writing style that I covet. She wrote a particularly poignant piece last week that exposed her wounded heart and I was again awe-stuck with her writing ability and honesty. It made me wonder though, that perhaps this is why I stop writing? That (hopefully) I’ve reached that age where I won’t have my heart broken again or that (sadly) I’m at an age where this is all that I get or am.

When I complained to a friend that I had nothing to write about anymore, she said that I was being silly. “You have so many interesting stories in you that no one else can write-- your childhood, your marriages, your jobs.”

I whined. “That’s all in the past. I have no future.”

Pretty pathetic, huh? Thankfully I heard myself and mentally pulled myself off the pity pot I’d been wasting away on for too long. The writing gods weren’t convinced yet that I really got it so when I went home for lunch, I found my September/October issue of AARP waiting. And just for me, they included an article titled: Unleash your Inner Genius! Okay, I’m really not that narcissist, nor am I a potential genius, but I am smart enough to get the hint that I’m the problem, not my age.

Still, just in case I needed a smidgeon more convincing, my talented niece wrote me this: “The problem I see for that when I write a lot and things that are heartfelt it is typically when my heart is broken or aching. I destined for a life of misery in order to be a writer? :) “

Dear Niece, here’s my answer and trust me, I’ve taken forty years plus the last three days to find the correct answer: “OMG – No!”

Neither do I.

Two weeks ago I met a fascinating woman from Chicago who suggested and encouraged me to start this blog. She even gave me the theme for it. Hopefully you will enjoy it. If not, let me know and I’ll send you her e-mail address.