As a Florida native, I’ve had the luxury of escaping to the beach on short notice. The oceans on either side of me are virtually only a movie’s length distance away from my doorstep. There are pictures of me at four plopped contentedly amid mounds of white confectionary sugar-like sand. (And, unfortunately there are also pictures of me at 64 virtually doing the same thing). I was thinking about this as I lazed away in a low beach chair beneath a Tommy Bahama umbrella recently. (The umbrella was rarely if ever present in my four year old beach days when sun screen and shade weren’t deemed essential by scientists or Moms alike). Even though I’m older and heavier the beach still offers a place of acceptance and equality regardless of size, age, income level, color, or even species. I write a lot about the plight of Lady Boomers (women of the baby boomer generation). Women of this generation have and continue to wear a lot of hats and are simultaneously professionals, Moms, daughters, grandmothers, volunteers and board members alike. Multi-tasking all of these roles can lead to “multi-taxing” our spirits. So my Rx for quieting our chatter-brains and addressing all this multi-tasking is a retreat to the beach or whatever destination affords you a place for meditation and contemplation. Imagine you are driving across the bridge to the beach. Feel and smell the humid, salty air as you allow the ocean breeze to penetrate the schedules, to-do lists, and deadlines that live inside your overworked brain. During your time in the sun, envision yourself.. *reading a novel (non-fiction not allowed) *frolicking in the water, delighting as you dive into the foamy washing machine waves, just like you did when you were a kid *scouting for seashells and sand dollars *walking along the water’s edge at low tide Escaping your to-do list should be on your to-do list this weekend. Now, why don’t you go from imagining this scene to acting on it? What would you ideal day off look like?At least ten years ago I created this clay sculpture which I entitled, "Beauty and the Beach".
My father-in-law, though never personally impacted, used to say something was wrong in the world when a parent outlived a child. He said he never wanted to be a member of such an exclusive club. Our nephew, his grandson, died this week at the age of 47. David is (I can't bring myself yet to say "was") the son of my husband's brother and sister in law. His passing leaves behind a wife of 25 years and two college-aged daughters. Mary, Kelsey, and Emily comprise his immediate family. They lived through his six-year battle (although at times it felt like a full on war) to hold his cancer at bay. This past spring his sweet girls surprised their parents with a trip to the Dominican Republic for a wedding vow renewal ceremony. The event was a demonstration of hope for the future of this man and his family... now it will go in to their arsenal of precious memories. I've been thinking of the domino effect caused by a death. It's like the proverbial ripple effect from a stone thrown into a body of water or more aptly the seismic waves emanating from the epicenter of an earthquake. The initial impact is at the center, the nucleus- the nuclear family. Then come the ripples- David's parents and sister are left to struggle with this loss, people who have known him all his days. Their brothers, sisters, husband, and children who not only love David, but grieve for the pain of their parents and siblings. Followed by cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles, and an array of friends who comprise outer ripples in this sea of love. My husband and I, my step-son and his wife, are members of the outer band of ripples and waves. We have fretted for years about the impact of the stress and strain of this ugly illness on Joe and Sue, David’s parents. At the funeral service I overheard low whispers of - ”But for the grace of God there go I”. I don’t know and don’t want to anticipate how I would handle the loss of one of my children or grandchildren. It’s an exclusive club to which I don’t want to ever be a member. It defies the natural order of life. I don’t know how David’s family will cope with their loss. All I do know, however, after observing the Standing Room Only crowd at the funeral service, is that there are a lot of ripples emanating from the epicenter of that Kitchens Clan and a lot of love. So much love. I am hoping that love and support from those ripples can carry them through.
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.
I think I can safely say most of my readers are Lady Boomers, women of the Baby Boomer generation. Therefore, I think you have heard of or will recognize the term “Senior Moment”, the definition of which is a temporary mental lapse -humorously attributed to the gradual loss of one's mental faculties as one grows older. (At least we hope and pray these are temporary lapses) My friend Suzi refers to her such lapses as “Blond moments” (Although how, at our age, can we assume we still have any authentic blond hair left). Regardless of the label, I had one such lapse recently as I excitedly prepared to play golf with friends. “Prepare” is the operative word here. There are the golf clothes, golf shoes, golf socks, and golf hat to don. Do I have enough balls and tees in my bag? Since golfing takes an inordinate amount of the day, I had to make sure the dogs were walked so they did not leave unappreciated deposits in the house in my absence. Of course that meant taking the poop bags to the garbage after the walk. So, while I was hanging out by the garbage in the garage I decided, for efficiency’s sake, I would move my clubs into the ally outside my garage for easy pick up. My car was parked in front of our townhouse. Between the times I re-entered my house and hopped in my car, I, being the Lady Boomer multi-tasker I am, decided to run the dishwasher and answer a text. Wait for it….here it comes…senior moment time. I lock up, get in my car and proceed to drive to the golf course. Music playing, windows open to a beautiful morning, I pull into the parking lot to behold my friend removing her clubs from her trunk. ##%t! I forgot my clubs!!! Practically performing a wheelie in the parking lot, I dash back home, fearing I’ll be late for our designated tee time. Pulling into the ally behind my garage, I feel my stomach clench, failing to see my golf clubs. They have disappeared. Maybe they are still in the garage? No…. Behind my gate? No…. Did someone steal them?! Men from a lawn service were mowing the median behind my home. I could not imagine (1) why in the world they would want a woman’s golf clubs, and (2) why they would still be hanging around if they had taken them. “A woman in a red car picked them up” one of the gentlemen told me” pointing to a townhouse two doors down. I ran over and knocked but no one answered. I kind of felt like I had fallen through Alice’s rabbit hole, the whole experience just kept getting weirder. Meanwhile, our tee time was getting closer so I headed back to share clubs with my friends. Sure enough, my neighbor, thinking she was doing a good deed, had rescued my clubs, sticking them in her garage. Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s certainly is a fear as we age. I’ve read, however, that what people experience as a memory problem is often a not paying attention problem. I really do believe my experience that morning was a case of not paying attention, or rather paying attention to too many things. I keep promising myself I’m going to be more mindful of the moment…maybe this experience will be the impetus to really do so….unless I forget.
It's back....Mother's Day 2016...Deja vu all over again. It falls on May 8th this year (my husband's birthday. He was actually born on Mother's Day). Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. My question is...if we are going to keep celebrating this made up holiday, aren't we entitled to a designated date so we don't leave the celebration part up to chance? Apparently there are 84 million Moms in the U.S. The average amount of money spent on Mother's Day is $170.00, for a whopping total of 20.7 billion dollars! Second to Valentine's Day, more meal reservations are made for Mother's Day than any other holiday. Do these expenditures make us feel loved? When I was young I still remember my Dad giving my Mom ice trays and a can opener from my brothers and me. She went to her room, locked the door and stayed there for the rest of the day. I was devastated by her reaction. I've been known to express my "mother's day blues" via blog posts in previous years. Read more by clicking here.
Almost two years ago, I wrote a post entitled "Beige-i-fying My House". We had decided to put our house of 32 years on the market and our realtor suggested we hire a "House Editor" for guidance in neutralizing and de-cluttering our home. I whined about replacing my colorful walls with beige paint, removing my funky light fixture and cutting my art supply in half. The objective, according to my realtor was to stage my house to sell. (Post note: The staging did not matter as it turns out, we had already moved out and it was completely empty when the new owners purchased it. Ha!) Well, she's back... (the house editor that is) I actually like my Sherrie interior designer friend and hired her for advice on re-tooling our townhouse. Downsizing between the two homes resulted in cramming a dining room table, an old sofa, an oversized chair and other Choctaw Trail relics into a smaller space. I'm a big fan of consultants. I am a consultant and appreciate it when clients actually listen to the expensive advice I provide. So, I'm listening to Sherrie in spite of the fact she is not allowing me to buy a piece of furniture, rug, or lamp with a spec of color. Everything is gray, cream or beige. Now reader, I’m simply, utterly, and completely not a beige fan. Has anyone really ever taken stock of how much beige there is in the world? Beige houses and buildings, beige sofas, beige walls, beige purses, beige clothing. Sure it “goes” with a lot of things, but does that fact alone deem it worthy to occupy such a vaulted place in this society? (Vaulted by virtue of the fact it is everywhere!) There are so many words representing beige-- cream, tan, ecru, biscuit, fawn, camel, mushroom, taupe, sand, and oatmeal—a testament to its prevalence in our society, but at the end of the day—it’s still beige! And yet here I find myself agreeing to pay too much money for a cream colored sofa and a neutral area rug. The sales rep at our furniture store told me in his 15 year relationship with our decorator he has never seen her allow a client to purchase a patterned arm chair. (I'm her first concession, although let me be quick to add- the background color is cream). She keeps telling me these choices will create a foil for our artwork. (Although she still abhors my melon-head ceramic sculpture, Dr. Seuss teapot, and fiberglass “hand” chair) "The eye needs a place to rest" she keeps telling me. Grudgingly, I'm listening to her. I probably am a little ADD in my quest to fill spaces. I've said all along BBLB is not just about color, it’s also about being brave. In this case I'm being brave about change. Even at 62, I still want to be open to changes and transformations. This one is just a little bit in my face!