I have a rhetorical question (Def: question that you ask without expecting an answer). How many pairs of black pants does one woman need? Since I’m talking to my computer I’m not really expecting an answer (although it would be pretty cool if you would answer via the survey link below. I’ve changed my mind I really do want to know after all). This question popped into my head when my husband and I were traveling in Europe this summer. Since we stayed in five different places there were many days when my suitcase was my dresser. Invariably however, as I was rummaging through my suitcase (because of course the item I wanted was ALWAYS inaccessible no matter how many times I packed for the next day. I guess it’s just not in my DNA to create a clothing strategy and stick to it. It was during this delving I realized I had multiple pairs of black pants from shorts to capris to ankle length trousers. Inevitably I would say, in a decidedly cranky voice, “Not that pair of black pants. I want the ones that have…the seam running down the center, the cotton light weight ones, the ones with spandex, my yoga pants, the ones with the zipper in the back, etc. etc. So the other rhetorical question I pose is this one- When did this happen to me? It just kind of snuck up on me and boom! I have eight pairs of black pants in my closet. There is probably (actually no probably about it) a correlation between my weight gain and how much better my stomach and butt look in black. For the record, black is not really even a color. It’s kind of selfish just absorbing all the colors in the visible spectrum, hoarding them and never reflecting them back. But it does have its attributes, principal among them its ability to hide body fat. I keep seeing this ad on Facebook for the “Little Black Pant” guaranteed to be the “best fitting pant you will ever buy”. My hand keeps hovering over the “order today” button. Help, please stop me now! Please take a minute to complete my fashion questionnaire my clicking here.
My husband and I just completed a trip to Bavaria followed by stops in cities and villages along the Danube River in Central Europe. This has been a dream come true trip for me. My husband dubbed this my “roots” tour of the area from which my paternal grandparents immigrated. Our route took us first to the town of Rothenburg described by Rick Steves as Germany’s fairy-tale dream town. This picturesque medieval town was perhaps my favorite stop. From Rothenburg, we meandered along the Romantic Road (real name) in route to Fussen, a small town nestled in the foothills of the magnificent still-snow capped Alps. In route we discovered an improbably located pilgrimage church to the "scourged saviour", featuring the art of rococo. We toured Bavarian kings’ castles, including Neuschwanstein, the castle after which Disney's Cinderella Castle was modeled. St. Stephen's, a Baroque church in the little town of Passau, houses the largest pipe organ in the world. I was transported to another place as we listened to the gorgeous organ music during a concert and admired the paintings and sculptures decorating this sacred space. The world’s largest museum of Bohemian glass is also a part of this little town with its collection of 33,000 iridescent pieces. We must have visited at least ten churches and almost as many palaces, each one more glorious than the one before. The art and architecture in Vienna, the synagogue and beautiful bridges in Budapest overwhelmed our senses. Many of these places and their people suffered greatly from invasions, wars, and hostile occupations. Vacations provide time for contemplation. Early in our tour I found myself contemplating and researching the concept of beauty. Beauty literally, not figuratively, nourishes my spirit. I can be transported from an ugly state to a state of wonder and awe in the presence of beauty (As can we all of course). From ancient to current philosophers beauty has traditionally been counted among the ultimate values, along with goodness, truth, and justice. Plato called beauty a universal value. In The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton weighs the feeling of walking into a McDonalds in the Westminster area of London compared to the feeling of entering Westminster Cathedral across the street. He theorizes...
Because of the harsh lighting, the plastic furniture, and the cacophonous color scheme one tends to feel anxious in the McDonalds. What one feels in the Westminster Cathedral, however, is a calmness brought on by a series of architectural and artistic decisions. The cathedral helps people to relax and reflect, whereas the fast food restaurant causes one to feel hurried or even stressed. Beauty conjures up feelings associated with happiness.Beauty incorporates an aesthetic attitude which is described as the state of contemplating a subject with no other purpose than appreciating it. The 18th century French writer Stendhal said beauty was "the promise of happiness". Vacations by their very nature help us escape the tensions and stress of every day life. But I can’t help feel the relaxation and refreshment I experienced on this trip was also due to the beauty I was privileged to experience. It’s not just our senses that are impacted by beauty but our very soul. Appreciating all the beauty I was privileged to behold not only fulfilled the promise of happiness but the actuality.
Remember the 60s? The 1960s that is... when outta sight referenced something cool and hip? In the 60s that "something" could have been a Baby Boomer girl/woman. Well, that ship seems to have sailed and now we are just plain "out of sight."Last fall I visited New York City with four other similarly aged Moms. Since that time I’ve pondered the societal status of Baby Boomer women. On one hand, Baby Boomer women (Lady Boomers as I’ve dubbed us) are nearly 40 million strong and enjoy much focus from the media, marketers, and merchants. On the other hand, baby boomer women tend to be invisible. I realize I'm not the first to say this, but being in hip, cool NYC brought this fact into full relief for me. Now, let me be quick to point out, I, at 63, was the oldest among - a former lawyer, television anchor, pharmacist, and practicing lawyer. However, for the sake of this column, I'm lumping our 57-63 selves into this same age cohort. The first clue I had about our invisibility status was at a comedy club- Carolines On Broadway. Our table virtually abutting the stage, and thus, became a convenient part of the show, and, the butt of many jokes. According to the young male hosts and comedians the five of us share the same hairstyle - "just like Hillary's". First of all, I would love to have Hillary's hair or at least her stylist at my disposal. Not one of the five of us believe our hairstyles resemble each other, but you be the judge (see adjacent photo). The comics dismissed us as women who were well beyond child-bearing years (quite true, but nevertheless, a stinging retribution). There were other clues- cab drivers ignoring our hails and ticket takers our stubs. But...there were and are advantages....our age and various infirmities enabled us to jump the queue in the 45 minute line to enter the 9/11 museum, a big help escaping the cold wind and rain; we always had a seat on the subway. Melissa Swann's 31 year tenure as an anchor on the CBS Affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky, enabled us to get a tour of the control room and set of the CBS Morning News show, meeting Charlie Rose and Gail King. One of the Mom's in our group was able to obtain backstage access to a Broadway play because of her daughter's relationship with the female lead.One of my travel companions said the following about the freedom afforded us by our invisibility... "We could smoke a bong on fifth avenue and the police would assume someone else was blowing smoke in our faces". (Not that we tested this theory). I guess while our sex appeal may have waned, the experience and freedom afforded us by all these life years is irreplaceable. And let's say it...Being in our 60s is priceless. Check out this book- Calling Invisible Women. Jeanne Ray describes a woman who awakens one morning to discover she is invisible and her family doesn't even notice.
As some of you may already know, Be Brave. Lose the Beige is a place for Baby Boomer women, Lady Boomers as I like to call us (as I most definitely fit into this demographic). I write about issues facing our generation. I started writing back when we were struggling with how to fill our empty nests followed by how to cope when it filled back up and emptied for a second and third time. The issues have transitioned in the ensuing years to - (1) navigating retirement retirement options, (2) the advent of grandchildren in our lives, (3) our changing bodies, and (4) caregiving and health care issues. Aging, as the pundits are want to say, "is not for sissies". So true for me as I face a myriad of joint issues, thinning hair, feet issues, and a wrinkly neck (remember Nora Ephron's quote in her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck- Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth...You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck.” She was 65 when she wrote that book (not long before her untimely death six years later). At 63, I'm really relating. I find I'm obsessing about the shampoo/conditioning protocols to deal with my dry hair; shoes...I'm totally obsessed with finding shoes that can help me manage a Morton's Neuroma and Plantar Fascitis; even makeup- what can help keep up the lie on my face as Ephron put it. So...periodically I will post tips from experts on these topics. I read with interest a recent article in The New York Times entitled "There Is a Right Way to Wash Your Hair". I actually clicked on it and received good information about:
I'm not much of a girlie girl (if I can even use that reference at my age) but I found this article fascinating. I hope you will too. I'll post tips from other experts soon. (Disclaimer: I researched neck enhancement tips but they all looked incredibly painful.
- The right way to brush your hair.
- Using a vegetable derived oil to moisturize hair as opposed to conditioner which can weigh down your hair.
- The right kind and amount of shampoo depending upon the nature of your hair
- The correct way to rinse your hair
- Even the correct method for towel drying your hair.
I recently met with Diana Silvey, Program Director at the Winter Park Health Foundation. Full disclosure, Diana is a dear friend, and someone passionate about health issues facing older adults and their families. Diana moved to Florida ten years ago to work at the Foundation in part because she valued their mission statement: to make a positive difference in people’s lives by creating the healthiest community in the U.S. Diana also values place-making, which is creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and wellbeing. She gave me a virtual tour of what will be The Center for Health and Wellbeing due to open in Winter Park, Florida in late 2018. This public space, inspired by nature, will feature gardens and social gathering areas. This center is the result of a collaboration between the Winter Park Health Foundation and Florida Hospital, and will offer medical offices, physical therapy and rehab services, a healthy café, teaching kitchen, and an interactive resource space dubbed the Healthy Living Experience. The Center will also be the new home of the Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center YMCA, with plans for it to become a medically integrated fitness facility. But those are just the overall details of this place. Let me try to describe the vision of this space as explained by the architect, Turan Duda. A common theme of the center is the number 7. There are seven gardens ranging from a meditation grove, providing a corner for meditation and reflection to beds of edible herbs and vegetables. Keeping with the theme of 7, the project focuses upon the Seven Dimensions of Wellness. These dimensions include:
- Intellectual wellness, being open to new ideas, creative thinking, learning and seeking out new challenges
- Physical wellness, caring for the body for optimum health and functioning
- Social wellness, building relationships with a positive social network
- Spiritual wellness, finding meaning and purpose
- Vocational wellness, seeking a career or other work that is interesting and fulfilling
- Emotional wellness, having a positive attitude, self esteem, sharing a broad range of emotions with others in a positive manner
- Environmental wellness, awareness of interaction with the environment and the community
First we were the children; then we became parents; then we became the parents of our parents; then our children became the parents; and at some point our children may end up parenting us.Given these intertwined and interdependent relationships gaining clarity about them, regardless of our age, can have a positive impact.
When we bond well with our parents, we're able to feel connected, comforted and secure about our place in our family and the world. On the contrary, to feel less bonded to our parents is to experience a relationship far more precarious.” (Taken from Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. Evolution of the Self.)Now, I would argue it is never too late to get healthy (mentally or otherwise). I don’t care whether you are 63 (my age) 83, or 33, I think a periodic examination of parental relationships can only lead to healthy outcomes. The following exercise affords just such an opportunity. In a previous post I wrote about 6 word stories as the perfect little drive-by of emotional expression. (And let’s face it the parent-child relationship is positively pregnant with all kinds of emotional dynamics. (Sorry, I’m addicted to alliteration) Read the following description of the 6 Word Story exercise. According to legend, Ernest Hemingway bet fellow writers he could write a short story in just 6 words. His companions had their doubts and wagered 10 dollars each to put Hemingway to the test. As the tale goes, Hemingway believed the resulting story to be his finest work ever: For Sale, Baby shoes, Never Worn. Whether this legend is true or not it helped inspire a whole genre of literature sometimes called Flash Fiction. The constraints of choosing only six words is freeing and could turn us all into writers. It relieves the pressure of writing a perfect story. They are a great way to capture anxiety, joy, even pain, in a succinct way. According to an article in the Huffington Post, “ “These abridged yarns do not fall into one genre, or even one tone, their only similarities being their strict adherence to the mandatory word limit. Some anecdotes are funny, some are introspective and others are down right heartbreaking.” These story prompts are parent and childhood focused, and are intended to elicit emotions, which can be written about and/or discussed.
- A funny story about one of your parents
- A story about your earliest childhood memory
- A story about something that made you anxious
- A story about something that made you mad
- A story about when a parent disappointed you
- A story about something that gives you hope.
- A story about your relationship with your Mom
- A story about your relationship with your Dad
- A story about your relationship with a sibling