Monthly Archives: March 2014

He was 95 and his brother was almost 101.

The boys and I went to get their hair cut yesterday – an unlikely place for anything interesting to happen other than the flavor choices of the free lollipops.  When we got there an older gentleman was waiting with a cane and an african woman was talking to him.  The boys were called back right away for their cuts but we all kept watching this woman walking back and forth between the man waiting and another man getting his hair cut.

When one of my guys was done, he sat on a chair and picked up a magazine.  The man waiting tried to hit the magazine with his cane, talking but not in a way my son could understand.  Instead of moving away, my guy moved closer to him, showing the man the magazine and talking to him about the picture he was looking at.  The african woman came over to us – her accent thick and gentle.  She said she was their caretaker and had been for 10 years.  The man who my son was talking to was 95 years old and his brother, who was getting his hair cut — almost 101!  She thanked my son for being so generous and we (of course) hugged when we left – me thanking her for just being there with us.

On the way home, we talked about getting older and how invincible we feel right now.

We will all get older and, when we do, we will likely need someone to take us for hair cuts, to help us sit down, change our clothes … maybe even feed us.  Some of you have already done that for your parents.

And, as we get older, we continue to hear the echoes of our youth.  The ability to take care of ourselves – to not be a burden.  To do what we want, within reason, with our bodies and our time.  But life is not perfect and inevitably some of us will be like the men we met yesterday – with someone taking care of them.

While this is not something to dwell on, it can help us appreciate our health at this very moment.  It can help us teach the next generation about the importance of the circle of life – that we are helpless when we are born and often when we die. It can remind us to keep spreading happiness and love all around – it’s free and will come back two-fold (research indicates that smiling and laughing results in fewer wrinkles too!).

For me, yesterday also reminded me of the goodness in my boys as they reached out, without fear, to old(er) people they didn’t even know.  This is the joy of keeping our eyes open all the time — even at the $12.00 hair cut place!

Have a fantastic start to your week.  And remind anyone you are “helping” that it is not a burden … it is life. 🙂

“It was a helluva week” Or “The s*** I learned this week.”

I gotta tell you – this was a week from I’m not sure where.  I mean a seriously difficult week, from work to kids to the emotional experiences I had with people I knew and didn’t know.  Yet, I made it through and I want to sum up this week’s lessons:

1. When your body is tired, listen to it. Quiet time with a blanket (or wine) can solve all ills.

2. Sometimes people blame you because there is no one else to blame and that doesn’t mean it’s your fault.

3. Kids will blame you when it is clearly their fault.  That’s their job.  Ignore it.

4. Resting doesn’t always have to mean sleeping.  Sometimes it can mean laughing or just hanging out with people who make you laugh.

5. It’s ok to say, “I can’t do one more thing for anyone.”

6. If your feeling nauseous, don’t go lie down in bed without an ice cream bucket.

7. Keep your eyes open.  Someone needs you.

8. You are beautiful.  And, even if you don’t feel like you are beautiful, take care of your body as if it is.

9. It is ok to get take-out dinner four out of five nights (or five out of five sometimes too.)

10. If you can’t say something nice, then say something not nice in as nice a way as possible.

11. Raising teenagers is much harder than raising elementary school kids.

12. You never know who will enter or leave your life at any particular moment.  Enjoy as much of it as you can.

13. Getting older means we just have more cool experiences to share at dinner parties.

14. Sometimes buying yourself a new dress does help.

15.  Happiness is easiest during happy times, but sweetest during hard times.

Have a really fantastic weekend!

The bruises on her face … I think they were from her husband.

When things happen to me twice in a relatively short period of time, I know I’m meant to write about them.  I can’t write about the first one, but let me tell you about the second one:

Tuesday night I had to swing by the grocery store.  It was 9:15 p.m. and I just wanted to go home.  It wasn’t my usual grocery store with the carpet on the floor … it was another one.

Almost no one was there and as I walked up to the register, I saw a woman with some groceries (not unusual) but she was also wearing a big coat (way too big) and big dark glasses (unusual).  I had a bad feeling.  I see that her groceries are already on the conveyor. It was mostly chips, pop, pizzas and mac and cheese.  As I got up close to her I could almost feel how she was feeling.  And, I was feeling sick.

Let me back up: 6 years ago I was on the board of a local shelter. The experience was amazing and incredibly depressing at the same time.  Being battered is a really horrible, lonely and scary life.

I tried to engage her in a conversation but she ignored me. When the total price was given to her and she realized that she doesn’t have enough money, she lifted up her glasses to look for money in her purse – I could see her panic.  She made a comment about her husband in the car not wanting to give her more money. With my hands trembling I offered to help.

She turned toward me (this was the first time I could see her face) and I felt like crying.  She’d been hammered by someone.  It was bad. I pulled out some cash and gave it to her – I was a bit panicked too and I gave her more than she needed but I told her to keep it.  I really didn’t want her to go to the car but I knew this was outside my control.  I quickly wrote my name (first) and number (work) on a piece of garbage sitting there and told her to call me any time.  She just looked at me and walked out.  Maybe that was the wrong thing to do.  It was just in the moment and it was all so fast …

As I swiped my card to buy my groceries, I realized I was crying.  The cashier walked over, gave me a tissue, hugged me and said, “I will remember the two of you and this moment for the rest of my life.”

Life is so painful.  We never know where we’ll end up, how stuck we will be, or how despondent we could become.  And, we never know when we might have the chance to – for an oh-so brief moment – give out our love and compassion.  Be thankful today.  I hope she calls me.

Have a wonderful and safe day.

He asked me why I was wearing “those” boots.

So, with 50 in the rearview mirror, I’m a little more conscious about what I wear.  I have not changed the all black, all the time look but I’m a bit more careful to not look too “young.”  A few weeks back a friend made a Minnesota passive/aggressive comment about my boots.  It made me think about what I was wearing (he was wrong BTW!).  So, I did a bit of digging and found a list (and added some of my own) of things I (we?) should probably never wear post-50.  Sorry guys, some (but not all) of these are items are for women:

  • Juicy sweatpants or anything with writing on the backside, including Hollister (which is the name not just of a clothier but also of a company that makes colonic irrigation supplies).
  • Miniskirts, mini-shorts, anything to wear that’s been deliberately diminished. Or deliberately ripped — unless it’s you and your muscles.
  • “Strappy” heels. Yes, they’re cute but your daughter is wearing them to prom.
  • Super low-rise pants that showcase a lot of low-rise anatomy. In some critical places, (like in back) more really is better.
  • Super-tight skinny jeans, even if you are both.
  • T-shirts that say “Sexy Grandpa,” “Vote for Ozzy” or the t-shirt gift from AARP.  A tee should not have a voice.
  • Fishnets.
  • Thigh-high boots.
  • Thigh-high boots with stiletto heels.
  • Plunging V-neck shirts. Plunging V-neck sweaters. Plunging anything.
  • See-through tops. This is really true for everyone, men, women and movie stars.
  • See-through bottoms. Need I say more?
  • Pajama bottoms during the day, outside the house.
  • Gold chains with your name on them.
  • Gold chains with anyone’s name on them.
  • Gold chains.
  • Chains.
  • Those big eye doctor sunglasses as your every day sunglasses.
  • Speedos and thong bikinis (unless you really can pull it off … I mean that in the appropriate way!).
Of course, there is the inevitable old(er) person issue where I continue (even last night) to learn that I’ve put on a t-shirt inside out, or have two different black boots on at the office or my brown belt with my black outfit.  S*** there’s so much to remember!  I might need some help here!
Have a great day!

He got married!

My brother was married in Thailand on Saturday to a wonderful woman he met here, while they were in grad school.  Since I’ve got some experience with marriage (and divorce), I thought I might impart some single woman advice! (no groaning, please!)  Actually, this advice is for all of us, married or not:

1. Expect Challenges

There is no way to get around it. Life presents challenges we never contemplate. Think of them as normal. Think of the conflict that will naturally arise from a challenge as normal. Every challenge, including those intimate ones just between the two of you will, in the end, bring you closer together. The greatest tool for personal growth and maturity (if you use it appropriately) is marriage.

2. Listen to Each Other. Talk to One Another.

Communication is obviously the key to any great relationship. I just can’t say that enough. I mean open and transparent communication about fears, hopes and desires. Never, ever bury your feelings.  And, if you do have buried feelings (and you do and will) find loving ways to bring them up … don’t shoot each other with them.

3. Ask for Forgiveness.

Ask for forgiveness and respond with forgiveness. Hold hands when you are asking or receiving. It will eliminate any hostility.

4. Stay Intimate

Never take your partner’s fidelity for granted. There will be slow downs in your sex life (kids, illness, exhaustion, stress). Love each other through those times. Don’t make it a guilt session. Stay faithful, emotionally and physically.

5. Never use the “D” Word or say, “I’m leaving.”

Those words and threats are never really erased. You can’t imagine saying or thinking it now, but it may come to mind someday. Keep it to yourself.

6. Celebrate Each Other

Have fun. Be happy for each other’s accomplishments. There’s no contest here.

7. She Needs Love. He Needs Respect

Please read the book by E. Eggerichs, “Love and Respect.” Of course, men need love too, but when a woman doesn’t feel love, she reacts in a way that feels like she doesn’t respect you.  And when a man doesn’t feel respect, he doesn’t want to exhibit love. It is a crazy, dysfunctional cycle and if you find yourself there (and you will), you can jump off and restart.  Remember – There’s nothing wrong with a restart. In fact, throughout your marriage, expect and embrace every one of your restarts.

8. Imagine It.

It’s hard to believe right now, but some day you will be older. Your kids will be gone and it’ll just be the two of you.  It doesn’t matter if you get together at 35 or 65, have a common vision for your relationship.  It may not turn out exactly as you plan, but relationships suffer when there is no picture for where you two want to go.

So, to my beautiful sister-in-law, welcome to our crazy and loving family!  And, to my brother … I love you and look forward to watching the two of you grow together – in life and love. Congratulations!

XOXO

The easy stuff is easy …

We all know the easy things to do in life — listen without interrupting, follow through, doing the right thing in the moment.  But it is also quite easy to run from the difficult things in life – to force our focus off ourselves and on to others.  Even in my blogs, I sometimes write about things that are easy to accomplish – simply missing the tough stuff.

Yet, if we want to succeed in love and life we must not only do the little things, hold hands, pay attention, think of others first, we must also challenge ourselves to do the hard work.

Hard work pays off.  Look, being physically and emotionally healthy is hard work. Finding and maintaining a successful relationship is hard work. Raising kids is hard work. Getting organized is hard work. Setting goals, making plans to achieve them, and staying on track is hard work. Even being happy is hard work (true happiness that comes from what you chose in life).

Hard work goes hand-in-hand with acceptance. One of the things you must accept are those areas of your life that won’t succumb to anything less than hard work. Perhaps you’ve had no luck finding a fulfilling relationship. Maybe the only way it’s going to happen is if you accept you’re going to have to do what you’ve been avoiding – the hard work of looking at your own behaviors and fears.

Maybe you want to lose weight. Maybe it’s time to accept that the path to your goal requires a discipline of diet and exercise (both hard work).   Maybe you want to make more money … that means working harder.

We achieve a whole new level when go for what we want with full abandon – regardless of how painful or fearful we are.  The truth is, when we surrender to our fear, it becomes our ally instead of our enemy.

What does this mean for me?  I want a better relationship with my loved ones and I’m going to look at my own actions first instead of pointing my finger at them.  I’m going to be more patient for the next thing/person/event in my life (patience is hard work for me!).   And, I’m going to slow down and take the time to breath.

Can you hear me breathing?

Have a great Saturday!

 

Do you ever feel like you just want someone to take care of you?

Sometimes I get tired. Know what I mean? Single mom, three teenagers, working full-time, a house, car, obligations … we all have a billion obligations. And, we all work hard to make sure we leave no stone unturned. But every once in a while I have to admit, it would be nice to have someone take care of me.

Everything we read is how to be independent, be organized, how to get things done. We are told that we can be more efficient, more effective and more engaged in life – all at the same time! We teach our kids to be self-sufficient and go getters. As if that’s the only way.

But, it’s not.

Do we remind our kids that it’s ok to ask for help? That it’s normal to want to have someone take care of them once in a while? Do we tell them that it’s fine to say,”I just need support?”

Earlier this week I got a terrible case of the flu. But, I didn’t really have time to be sick. Who was going to drive kids places, feed them, get my work done? A friend called to say hi and, desperately exhausted I said, I was completely fried. He talked me off the roof, told me how thankful he was that he had called (!!!) and then gave me the best help of all … a quiet night out at my favorite restaurant without having to cook or clean or feed anyone but myself! Friends are amazing!!!

What’s so hard about asking for help? What are we afraid of? Are we scared that we’ll seem less than together? That there will be an imbalance of power? Have we put people in our lives that even want to take the time to pay attention to us?

Someone taught me that asking for help was giving the helper a gift. When you give someone else the opportunity to provide you with a helping hand in some way, you are giving them an opportunity to give back to you in a way that gives them pleasure, increases their level of self-worth and allows them to share themselves with you. Once I came to that realization (likely, while I was on the bathroom floor), my fears of asking for help melted away.

So, I admit that I’m tired. There’s a lot going on in my world right now. And, it was nice to have someone take care of me for once. I also want to remind all of you that you don’t have to do it all, all the time. That it’s ok to ask for a hand, for support, for a night out with friends, for a few hours without kids, a weekend away … whatever. Sometimes, we just can’t take care of one more crisis and we just need someone to take care of us. It’s ok. It’s life. 🙂

Have an amazing weekend!