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.