Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winding Down

photo by Kristin Repp

I love this week between Christmas and New Year's - it's a time for  much needed rest and deep reflection.  I am spending the next ten days up in Northern Idaho, watching the snow fall over the lake and lounging in front of the fire place.

Here are a few things I wanted to share with you at the end of 2012:

Heartwarming News Stories - We need these right now to be reminded of all the goodness in the world.

Susannah Conaway's Unraveling the Year Ahead workbook  is a fun / insightful way to plan the life you want to have.  Some of the questions she asks are difficult but I believe that her wisdom will push us into awareness and accountability.

I am sinking into this book right now - engaging and thought-provoking, perfect for reading in crowded airports and on cold winter nights.

Chex Party Mix is my favorite holiday snack!  My mom used to make it this time of year and the smell of it roasting in the oven brings back such warm memories.  I double the liquid part of the recipe, skip the bagel chips, and add lots of mixed nuts to make it the way I like best.

This is a personalized gift that is perfect for just about anyone!  We have been enjoying our own and have found it to be more challenging than we had thought.

I will be taking a blogging break (a real one this time, unlike my unintentional lapses) until New Year's Day.  Until then, I wish you lazy days with the ones you love. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Response

my first class as a teacher, 1992
I am a teacher.  Every day I and my thousands of colleagues around the world go to work to protect children.  We protect them against failure, against hopelessness, against giving in to negative urges that keep them from their best selves.  And, yes, we protect them physically.  We watch them on the playground, as they walk down our halls, while they eat their lunches.  We remind them to get a drink of water when they are hot, to be careful while using scissors, and to wash their hands after they use the restroom.  We protect them to the best of our ability each and every day.
Teachers become “mama bears” with their students.  We advocate for them, stick up for them, and continually learn about them as individuals.  We use our own money to buy classroom supplies, snacks and even items like shoes if it will make a difference to one of our kids.  We teach them to think but also to empathize, problem solve, feel, discover, plan and reflect.  We arrive at school hours before the buses roll in and leave long after the bell rings.  It is not unusual for us to wake up in the middle of the night to plan a lesson or forget whether we already used conditioner in the shower because we were going over an intervention to try with a student later that day.  We are on duty even when the school is closed up and empty.
You hear a lot of negative things said about teachers.  It is said that we don’t work hard enough, that we get too much time off, that we can’t teach kids well enough to ace standardized tests.  And, yes, there is room for improvement in our profession and we should be more open to the changes society asks of us.  But you can’t question where are hearts are or how far we are willing to go to make sure your child is successful for a lifetime.
Last Friday we heard about how our fellow teachers in Connecticut went to the ropes for their students.  I was heartbroken, sad but also very proud of the bravery those teachers displayed under horrendous conditions.  And I know that if we had to, if any of us in any school was in that same situation, we would do the exactly what they did.  Without thinking twice, we will shield our students from danger even if it puts us directly in its path.
A deranged individual has pulled the rug out from under us.  But he can’t erase who we are and what we do.  He can’t make us hide in our homes and be fearful of each other.  Fifteen years ago he was protected by teachers, maybe even some of the same teachers he was targeting.  We protected him then because that is what public schools do and will always do.
I know it will be hard for parents to watch their children board a school bus or to drop them off at school this week.   I cannot change what happened and how it has and will continue to affect us.  But I can promise you, we teachers will be there in full force prepared to do what we do best – protect, educate and care for your child at school.  We will be on-duty and more visible than usual because we want you to know you can trust us with your precious child.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Now why didn't I think of that?!

When I was growing up, Joy Dishwashing Soap gave away these cute little elves clinging to their bottles during the holiday season.  We had several since my mom preferred Joy and they became beloved toys around Christmastime.  Their hands were fastened together, which limited their mobility, but they were embraced by our Barbies and other dolls for lots of imaginative play.

Now there is a popular "Elf on the Shelf" item that embodies this same sense of holiday playfulness.  The "Elf on a Shelf" comes into your home during the day, watches the young ones for good behavior, returns to the North Pole at night, and comes back to perch in your home at a different location each morning.  Apparently, kids become more aware of their own actions while the elf is present and are excited at the beginning of each day to find where he/she is perched.  It's the Joy Elf with a few adendums.  My sister, who has four young children and an "Elf on the Shelf", exclaimed, "Why didn't we think of this?!"  At about $30.00 a pop, it's a worthwhile question.  I just kept hoping they would reappear on dishwashing soap.
Do you have an "Elf on the Shelf" ?  Do you remember or still  have a Joy dishwashing soap elf?  I would love to hear your story.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Holiday Season!

Somehow December slipped in and there are signs of the holiday spirit everywhere. 
Mixed in with all the joy, there are dilemmas that this time of year presents.  Among these are "Who to gift?" and "What to give?"
I work at a school and wanted to do something for our support staff.  I certainly didn't want to give anything that needed to be receipricated.  And since there are eleven people in this group, the gift needed to be within my budget.  Here is what I came up with:  I bought these snowman/santa pens from Geddes School Supplies for $.54 cents each and attached a tag to each one saying "Thanks for all you do.  Happy Holidays." 


This gift is useful, inexpensive and doesn't require a thank-you note or a gift in return = perfect.
Here's hoping all your holiday dilemmas can be matched with an easy solution.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Breastfeeding Baby Doll

With all the new toys out there for the holidays ahead, there is one that is getting lots of press.  Berjuan Toys has a doll that makes suckling noises prompted by a halter worn by its young owners.  The Breast Milk Baby has received much praise along with an equal amount of critisismBill O'Reilly says this kind of doll "sexualizes young girls" while others feel there is a valuable place for this toy in families who have recently acquired a new sibling.  It costs $89.00 but has not flown off the shelves here in the U.S. like it has in other countries.

I have an opinion but it isn't mentioned in all the press this doll has generated.  I loved dolls when I was young, like many girls, but when it came to the pretend babies' responses, we used our imagination.  My sister and friends did not need dolls that had robot reactions, we just pretended whatever it was the moment called for, based on our experiences and age.  One time when my family was camping out in the Colorado wilderness, my sister and I pretended that small logs set aside for the fire were baby dolls.  They had names and all kinds of characteristics that real babies possess but lacked anything physical that resembled live little ones.  And that was ok because we were playing for us, not the benefit of anyone outside the interactions.  Our imaginations were exercised in a way that led to creativity and the independent ability to make our own fun.  Kids are capable of that when they aren't force-fed alternatives.

I'm sure the debate this toy has stirred up will not be over anytime soon.  What do you think?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ten Years Later

Ten years ago today my mom died as a result of breast cancer.

Ten years.  Sometimes it seems like so much longer that my family has been without her.  Some days I have an urge to call her up with news to share before I remember that I can't.  Ten years expands and contracts and remains the same on any given day.

Last month, I made this portrait of my mom through Bank of America's Everyday Portrait fundraiser.  It required a downloaded photo and a list of words that you associate with the person you are honoring.  Bank of America donated $5.00 to breast cancer research for every portrait made and you could download your own tribute.

I don't know how many words I came up with for my mom but I do know it made me go back in time to remember what kind of person she was and how she lived her life.  I got to really think about her in a constructive way, sifting through and choosing adjectives that described who she was during her 56 years on earth.

We all expect to lose our parents at some point in our life but knowing this does not make it any easier.  Many of you reading have lost your own mother or father and know exactly what I am talking about. There are no words, no preparations, no hiding spots to retreat to, that will lessen this sadness.   Our comforts lie in the memories we cherish, the legacy we were gifted, and the way this shared experience binds us to others.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Measuring Time

photo by Kristin Repp
There are so many ways to measure time:  seconds, minutes, hours, days, years....  and events.

Some events mark time in a way a clock or calendar could never do.  Some events define entire decades, movements, generations.  And they give us touchstones to refer to as we look back on our lives.

These events place us in an exact moment in time.

Yesterday, 49 years ago, John F. Kennedy was assasinated.  Can you picture where you were when you heard this devistating news?

Some other significant events include:

- The assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968)

- The assasination of Bobby Kennedy (June 5, 1968)

 - The day Elvis Presley died (August 16, 1977)

 - The night John Lennon was killed (December 8, 1980)

 - The Space Challenger Shuttle Disaster (January 28, 1986)

 - September 11, 2001

These are some of the events that tie us together as a generation.  We suffered and grieved together.  Then we managed to move forward because we had each other to hang on to and provide for. 

If you have a moment, I encourage you to jot down a few notes about how you experienced each of these significant happenings, for yourself and those who follow.  Our stories matter.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Wishes

This photo was taken by my good friend, Kristin, who is such a talented photographer.  I love how it speaks of bounty and emptiness, reflecting the autumn season and the uneven beauty of life itself.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  May this holiday find you surrounded by family and good fortune.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Look Who's Fifty!

[Doctor No poster]Skyfall poster

The James Bond film series has been alive and well for fifty years.  The first movie, Dr. No, came out in the UK during the fall of 1962.  The latest thriller, Skyfall, opened in theaters just a couple weeks ago.  I have yet to see it but my local newspaper gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars.  The main character is aging along with the rest of us, perhaps a bit slower than most of us, but the film industry is certainly not done with him yet.  There is even an official James Bond 007 website, if you would like to know even more about these exciting, entertaining movies.


Another fifty candles can be lit for the iconic Rolling Stones.  They started playing half a century ago in London and have managed to retain 3/4 of their most notable original members.  The new guy, Ron Wood, has been with the band for 37 years!  At their start, they were dubbed the "Anti-Beatles" for being the bad guys compared with the fab-four's shining reputation in the early sixties.  The Stones have a 50th anniversary tour coming up and a new documentary out on HBO titled "Crossfire Hurricane."  If you are a fan, or just interested in cultural longevity, you must check them out.

Both of these events make 50 look like more of a stopping point than a large number.  And don't we all love a Happy Birthday?!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anthropologie - for the rest of us

 I love walking into an Anthropologie store in the mall.  Immediately, you feel transported from suburbia America to a vintage flea market in Europe.  French music is playing, fragrant candles flicker here and there, and the merchandise seems refreshingly different.  The skirts, blouses and assessories could make any of us look Parisian, complete with an amber aura as if we were being viewed through a retro camera lens.
But, and there are two big ones, the price tags are high and the sizes are small.  Trefis states that Anthropology appeals to affluent women  by selling a "lifestyle", rather than individual products.  I happen to like the lifestyle but am not affluent, by any means.  Their pants are offered in sizes 24 (zero) - 32 (size 14) but there is no way I could fit into a pair, which is more my problem than their fault.  Tops also come in XS - L or XL but even the more generous sizes seem rather petite and I doubt I would be comfortable for long in one.  *Sigh.* However, Antropologie is a very successful company and is not being held back by the small part I might contribute financially if I happened to be rich and skinny.
Still I can't help but wish there was something like this, unique clothing in a bohemian atmosphere, for people like me.  If you are an inspiring entrepreneur, I hope you will look into creating a store similar to Anthropologie for "the rest of us."  Maybe it could be called Budget-pologie Plus.  That kind of takes away all the ambiance, doesn't it?  And maybe that's why it doesn't exist.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ginger Snaps

My mom used to make these cookies as I was growing up and they became my absolute favorite treat.  This recipe is so easy and the smell of these baking is better than any fall-scented candle out there.

Ginger Snap Cookies

2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg
4 T molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Mix oil, sugar, egg, and molasses.  Add flour, soda, salt and spices.  make small balls and roll in sugar.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 13 minutes.

Let me know if you make these and how you like them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Say Yes

This beautiful image and quote is from the weekly newsletter of Where Women Create.  Here is their website. If you subscribe, you will receive goodness like this each week in an email.  And who wouldn't love a positive message to savor and think about every now and then?!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Yummy Fall Recipe

I made this dish for dinner the other night and it was so fabulous I wanted to share it with you:

Butternut Squash and Green Chile Enchiladas
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 Anaheim peppers
8 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1 can (about 10 ounces) green or red enchilada sauce (I used a green hatch chile style)
Sour cream and chopped cilantro, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss together squash, oil, salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet and roast until tender, 20 to 30 minutes depending on size of chunks.  Move squash to a dish.  Place peppers on the baking sheet.  Switch heat to broil and broil peppers, turning often, until skins are charred and blistering, about 5 minutes.  Place peppers in a brown paper bag to steam for 10 minutes.  Switch oven heat to 350 degrees.  Remove peppers' skins, seeds and stems and cut into thin strips.  Pour half the enchilada sauce into an 8 by 8 inch baking dish.  Warm tortillas in the microwave for a minute or so, until pliable.  Place about 1 tablespoon cheese, one or two squash cubes on each tortilla.  Roll and place seam side down in the baking dish.  Top with remaining cheese and sauce.  Bake 15 minutes.  Garnish with sour cream and cilantro.
I got the recipe from my local newspaper.  It was easy and so tasty.  Let me know if you try it out - I'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Safety vs. Independence

clouds over Arizona, my home
I read an article in the paper on Sunday by Larry Neumeister titled,"Superstorm Was Cruelest to Elderly" (you can read an on-line version of it here.)  Superstorm Sandy claimed victims of all ages, but those over 65 were especially vulnerable for a variety of reasons.  Older adults often have mobility or health issues which are affected when evacuation is necessary and power supplies are lost.  The article states that many elderly residents decided to stay put even when advised to leave their homes which were in the storm's path.  This leads to the question, "Should senior citizens be forced to evacuate when there is danger or should they remain autonomous in their decision making?"  No one wants another human being to perish in a natural disaster when there was plenty of warning and opportunities to avoid this scenerio.  But then again, I don't want someone making decisions for me just because I am a certain age that society deems incapable of weighing risks and doing what I feel is best for me.  I want to retain the right to stay at home, if I choose, in such a case.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Taking the Hard Way Home

Brandi Carlile's latest album (above) came out in June 2012.  It's a great collection but there is one song on it that I sang out loud all summer long because it resonated with me so strongly:  "Hard Way Home."

I'm not sure about you, but I could have made things a whole lot easier on myself by making better choices in the past.  I know that we learn through our mistakes and that those experiences are what make us who we are but did it really have to be that difficult?!  So this song is kind of a fun take on that thought. 

Give it a listen and you might be singing it loudly yourself.  And even if you don't relate to the lyrics, it has a good beat and it's easy to dance to.  :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Do You Want to Do (with the Rest of Your Life)

April is a creative business coach and has a website titled Blacksburg Belle.  She is oh-so young and beautiful but wise in a way that spans generations.  She recently created a video, "How to Figure Out What You Want to Do with Your Life", which included a list of ten questions to ask yourself if you would like to approach an answer.  I printed these off to ponder and I believe that, with a few tweaks, these inquiries could benefit the not-so-young, as well.

I know there are many of us mature women who have a second career in mind, whether this is a volunteer position after retirement, a different job for the rest of our employment years, or a "hobby" which may or may not be a financial venture for us at this stage of our lives.  We women live a long time and it is only natural that we could decide to have more than one career. 

You may already know what your want to do next but, if not, April's list could be just what you need to narrow it down.  I have added a few words (that are highlighted) to her original list to make it more applicable to the over-thirty (ha!) crowd.

10 Questions to Consider
By April (and me)
1.  What do you want to be known for (in your later years) ?
2.  What activities give you a thrill?  What can you get lost in for hours?
3.  What lifts your mood?
4.  What would your perfect day look like?
5.  What do people thank you for?
6.  What is something you'd love to do but your don't even let yourself go there because it's too scary (or impractical or even embarrassing) ?
7.  What do you think about doing when you retire (or reach age 50, 60, or any other milestone) ?
8.  If money wasn't a factor, how would you spend your time?
9.  What about your current work or career bores you or frustrates you?
10.  When are your fascinated with learning?  What did your always like learning about in school?

*  Is there any career/passion you wanted to pursue when you were younger that got pushed to the side by daily life?
I am still contemplating some of these questions but feel them pulling me closer to my own soul's longings.  I hope you take some time to go through them yourself, opening yourself up to what may be waiting for you just around the bend.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Superstorm and Full Moon

As I watched the moon rise last night over the desert, my thoughts were with those who are dealing with Superstorm Sandy on the east coast here in the U.S.  May you all stay safe and cozy while riding out the rough weather.  If you are reading this from there, please check in and let us know how you are doing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Boomer Women Today

I recently read an ariticle on-line titled "Boomer Women Struggle in the Great Recession's Wake."  It mentioned so many issues that touch the women in our generation and describes how a couple of individuals have been affected by all that has happened in the past forty years. 

Many women entered the paid labor force in the 1970's and juggled a life at home with one at work, believing they could have it all and be rewarded for the effort.  We hoped that someday there would be equality in pay between the genders, but that has yet to happen.  Taking time off to raise children cost women in terms of job status and retirement savings.  Even if they did manage to sock some money away, the recession has diminished that significantly.  As a result of increased pressures and freedoms, many of us have gone through a divorce, which often adds to a woman's financial burdens.  And women over fifty are looking for a job, they may be turned down in favor of younger, more currently educated, canidates.  In this presidential election year, it is difficult to determine who has our back because, even though much has been said and promises have been made, I have yet to hear either party mention our particular demographic. 

So, although nothing has become easier with time and we continue to navigate new ground, we are a strong, diverse and talented group of women. Moving forward, we can weather this recession and the ever changing political landscape by sticking together, defining our needs, and making ourselves heard.  Are you with me?!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there are pink ribbons everywhere.  I realize that we are all at different levels for various reasons when it comes to how much we want to know and get involved.  When my mom died ten years ago from breast cancer, I was tired of hearing about it and needed a break but my sister jumped in to participate in the Komen 3-Day Walk.  There is no right or wrong, no pressure or guilt-trips when it comes to Breast Cancer Awareness - you have to do what is right for you, your own health, and your family.  I am going to list a few resources here for you so that you can gather the info that you need at this time.
There are so many products that donate a percentage of the purchase price to breast cancer research, some during this month and some all year long.  Here are a few that caught my eye:
I want one of these, simple but a cute statement.
So handy, and I may be able to finally find my phone at home!
Make one of these (it's free!) and Bank of America will donate $5.00 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

We have all been touched by this disease, in some way or another.  I hope this post helps you, if you are at a place where you are ready to learn or do more.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

52 Weeks

me at the Grand Canyon in Nov. 2011

My husband is celebrating his birthday today but in one year he will hit a milestone, the big five-oh.  He decided that he wants to spend it at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Now, he has gone up and down and all around this natural treasure many times.  I have enjoyed the view but always from the rim or a short distance from it.  But I would love to stand at the bottom, see the stars from down there, and add the hike to my list of things I've done.  So, in order to be with him on this special day, I'm going to have to get myself in shape.  I have to be mentally and physically prepared to make the trek down and back up the canyon walls.  The Grand Canyon!  The good news is that I have 52 weeks, one whole year.  I need to exercise, train, lose some weight, and, most of all, commit myself to doing this. Let me know if you have any tips or suggestions. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Happy Birthday List

I love to celebrate other people's birthdays (not my own, though) and usually try to give them a handmade card or unique gift.  But, since I'm not the best at time management, the date often sneaks up on me and I don't have anything on hand. 

That's what happened last week when one of my best friends had a birthday.  She is so special to me so I knew I wanted to do something for her.  That morning I got up a few minutes early and wrote her an email, just an email.  She turned 41 (a youngster!) so I made a list of 41 reasons why she deserves to be celebrated.  At first it seemed like a daunting task to come up with so many items but it really didn't take much time. I wrote about her character ("You are always full of energy and enthusiasm."), about our past together ("You were my student teacher!" and "You were with me when my nephews were born and on 9/11."), and some of the reasons she means so much to me ("You stuck with me during a very big change in my life and continued to support me.")  Then I sent it off.  She let me know later in the day how much she loved reading my birthday email that made her both laugh and cry. 

It was easy.  It was immediate.  It made us both feel good.  The next time you want to honor someone on their birthday, I suggest you make them a special list.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Whole New Seventeen

I remember the first time I saw a Seventeen magazine:  my aunt (who was only five years older than me) bought one at the drugstore in my small western hometown.  I was amazed she was able to do so because she wasn't seventeen years old yet!  This was sometime around 1972.  Soon I was buying my own copies and subscribing to the magazine.  I remember reading about fashion, new products and how to treat friends.  I loved the bright photos and the chance to see how other teens were living "out in the real world."  And then, when I got older and went to college, I switched over to Cosmo and Glamour, leaving Seventeen behind.

Welcome to 2012.  My step-daughter, who is 15 years old, left a copy of the latest issue on our couch so the other night I flipped through the pages.  Yes, there is still plenty of fashion ("Clothes That Love Your Body") and articles about beauty ("Perfect Makeup Every Day") but this magazine has kept up with the times more than I have.  There is an article about how to quit smoking and another titled "Is My Vagina Normal?"  There is a piece, "The Secrets of Super-Happy Couples" that features a lesbian couple.  I don't remember any content this diverse 35 years ago but maybe my memory is not as sharp as it used to be.  However, I am glad that it seems to be a source of information that is factual, socially responsible, and inclusive for young women of today.

It was quite the experience to relive part of my past and step into the life of a teenager today through the current Seventeen magazine.  I wonder if I would even recognize Cosmo these days?!  I'll save that for another, far in the future, day.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Searching for Sugar Man

Last weekend we went to see the movie "Searching for Sugar Man", which documents the transformation of a country and the man who sang the songs that inspired its citizens.  Sixto Rodriguez was a folk singer from Detroit in the early 70's with a promising career who ended up disappearing from the public eye.  A bootleg tape of his music found its way to South Africa, becoming a favorite to those young listeners who were looking for a life beyond aparthiod.  Rodriguez, himself, is a man of emense musical talent who is as comfortable on stage in front of an audience of thousands as he is carrying a refrigerator on his back out of a house that is being demolished.  He has navigated for many years in a world where his talent stands far beyond his living conditions but his character never wavers.  The movie is a bit hard to follow at times and the scenes have a vintage quality to them, for better or worse.  I heard fellow movie goers cry, cheer, and sing along.  This film is a testiment to the old adage that we never know exactly what kind of impact we will have on others or how far the reach of our existance may extend.  I highly recommend seeing it.  We bought the sound track and have been enjoying it as great music and also a way to reflect on the depth of this story.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Marinating in Autumn

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "The earth laughs in flowers."  If so, then I believe she seduces with the colors of autumn.

My dad, who also favors this season, has talked about how we only have a finite number of the events in our lives:  birthdays, vacations, Christmases.  And that is also true about seasons.  Although there may be dozens of autumns left for us in this world, the number is still limited.  Sometimes we take for granted the turning of the earth, the comings and goings of the things we have now expect without fail.  But it is good to keep in mind that these days are precious and to enjoy them in those small ways that keep us mindful. 

Go outside and take a deep breath. 

Notice where in the sky the sun comes up or goes down today. 

Forgo your usual coffee for a pumpkin latte.  Take deep whiffs of the steamy goodness.

Collect some fallen leaves or other follage to display on your desk or window sill. 

Take the time to witness exactly where you are right now.  Because by honoring these worldly moments, we are truly alive.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Permission Slip

The lovely Susannah Conway published a post called The Permission Slip which prompted me to write my own version here, which you are welcome to adopt or revise for your own:

You have permission to spend your time with those that make you feel good and to decline spending time with those that don't.

You have permission to stop and just BE sometimes.  Productivitiy does not equate to worthiness.

You have permission to enjoy yourself, even if doing so makes you feel a bit juvenille.  We are entitled to happiness when it comes our way at whatever age it finds us.

You have permission to occasionally forget a birthday, be late for dinner, not answer a phone call, or pretend to be sick.  This does not make you a bad person.

You have permission to come up with a crazy idea, to bet on the underdog, to believe in a lost cause, to wave your freak flag.

You have permission to veer off the main drag, to opt out of a trend, to be behind the times, to wait to jump on the latest bandwagon.

You have permission to drink cream with coffee, sugar with tea, to eat dessert before dinner, to bake a cake for no reason, to eat an apple right off the tree.

You have permission to close your eyes after you wake up so that you can revisit your dreams.  And to decide what you want to dream about before you go to sleep at night.

You have permison to linger, to take a second look, to question and to form an unpopular opinion based on your experience.

You have permission to use age as an excuse, to rely on your instincts, and to remember events the way you choose to as long as that way that makes you a better person.

You have permission to be YOU.  Each and every day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Right (?) Shoes

these are my feet in shoes that really do fit
Last month I ordered a cute pair of shoes that I believed would fast-forward me into a realm of fashion far from the one I am in currently.  I imagined not only wearing these shoes to various places, but the outfits I would buy to go with them and who I would be when I wore them.  They were the right shoes and I couldn't wait to receive them in the mail and get them on my feet.
The first day I wore them I ended up with five blisters on my feet before noon.  Shortly after, I ditched them and went barefoot the rest of the day at work!  My poor feet were swollen, rubbed raw, and ached from my toes all the way to my heels.  I kept thinking that if these were the right shoes, then there must be something wrong with me.  Forget about the cute outfits, the hip events, and the elevated confidence they were to bring to my life.  The shoes and all that they represented got put into a Goodwill box before sunset.
A few days later and with a bit more perspective, I realized that I had been picking out shoes for a younger me with a different life.  There is no right or wrong with shoes - they either fit comfortably or they don't.  Now I am approaching footwear shopping with a whole different mindset, believing that I must be able to function in my life with the shoes on my feet.  "Cute" has a lot more to do with ease of movement, feeling good, and a smile on my face than it does with an article of clothing.  Don't you agree?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Roasted Goodness

I am by no definition a good cook and this is not a recipe blog but I wanted to share this sensory experience with you.  Healthy eating has proven to be quite the struggle for me so I am thrilled when there is something I like that is also good for me - a win/win situation. 
My husband and I went to the farmers' market on Saturday and came home with this beautiful array of treasures (the bananas we got at the grocery store):

We (actually, he) cut the beets, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, peppers and onions up into bite sized pieces, mixed them up with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roasted them in the oven at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes.  There are other variations of this, some with more ingredients including fresh herbs, found on the internet but this method worked very well.  The smell while it was cooking was heavenly and permiated the house beyond our kitchen.

The result, seen above, was so tastey and colorful.  It was a meal all by itself and we ate it outside in the cool fall air as the sun went down.  I couldn't help but think of the way these vegetables grew all summer, soaking up the sun and afternoon rain showers. 

This seasonal treat is so good for you, both nutritionally and psychologically, so I am encouraging you to make up a batch yourself this autumn.  Let me know how yours turns out and if you have any other tips for making it since I plan to have it again very soon!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fall - a season of the year and of life

Fall is my favorite season - the colors, the light, the celebrations, and the way it opens up time for slowing down and reflecting.
Often, the season of the year are used as an analogy for a person's life.  Spring is the first twenty-five years, summer represents the next twenty-five, and so on.  I like this way of thinking about aging because it is familiar and seems to make some sense.
In my own life, spring was a bit blustery and unpredictable but there were some strikingly beautiful days.  Summer was hot, at times a bit sweaty, and jam-packed full of activities - I had a lot of fun but it exhausted me and I am not disappointed to see it go (although I did look pretty good in that swimsuit that I know I'll never be able to wear again!)  So now it is autumn and I am moving a bit slower, deciding which activities are worth my time and declining other invitations.  The weather is perfect and I am taking it all in.  I know I need to work on making some preparations for winter, even though fall can linger some years for quite a while.
How do you feel about this popular analogy?  Where are you in the year right now?  Which season do you miss or are you looking forward to?  How can you get the most out of this current season and what it has to offer?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who You Really Are

I just love this quote.  We may or may not be born blank slates, as John Locke once theorized, but it was soon evident who we really were during those first five years of life.  Then, after the age of five, we begin to get "messages" about what was considered "ok" and what was not, so we complied to an extent, a little or a lot, depending on the individual.  It is likely that we even forgot who we started out as, but that's ok because it is never too late to embrace our true selves.

You might find it easy to reach into your heart and into your past for those lost pieces of who you are.  But, if you are like most of us, time and duty have buried so much of those early characteristics that they are hard to recognize.  We find ourselves having to take on the role of archiologist, searching and digging for our real selves under the years and events we have been through.  Fortunately there are a few shortcuts, if you are interested and willing:

-  Imagine watching yourself as a child.  What do you see?  What does this young person laugh at and gravitate towards?  Write down any images that come to mind....

- Make a list of those things that bring you joy.  The big, exciting things and the simple everyday things.

- Talk to someone who remembers you as a child and ask them to tell you about what you were like.  See yourself through their eyes and what stood out to them about you at that time.

Obviously, these will just be snapshots of your true spirit but they are pieces that can help you compile an idea of the incredibly unique person you were and still are.  It is time to reconnect with who you really are.  It is time.

Sunday, September 30, 2012



How does one begin?  Are you the type of person who dives right into the water or do you wade in one step at a time?  Do you jump in the car and start driving right away or do you put your seat belt on, adjust your mirrors, and fiddle with the radio station before putting it in gear?  I believe it's not as important how you begin, as is the act of beginning itself.

This blog has been on my mind for a long time now but it is still strange to see it on the screen.  I wanted to create a place where we could discuss the elephant in our rooms - the fact that we are all getting older.  And many of us are wondering how we are going to do it.  There is no way we are going to follow in the footsteps of our grandmas, no matter how much we adore them.  We may not be far from the heels of our own mothers but I doubt we will follow those models, either.  So here we go, forging the way through our fifties and beyond, with no path to follow.  Fortunately, we have each other on both side of us and I think that together we can figure this out.

I invite you to join me here as I initiate topics that surround our movement into a rich but challenging stage of life.  I don't have the answers anymore than you do.  We are creating our own lives in the here and now.  This is a community that you are welcome to be a member of because your voice, your story is part of the movement  - the strong and conscious effort to continue being us all the way through.

So let's begin.