Thursday, October 8, 2015

     One morning, I woke up and there were long streaks of wrinkle on both of my face cheeks. I thought to myself, “Well, this sucks. What am I going to do about this. This makes me look like my Grandma Hilda.” Now I loved Grandma Hilda, but wrinkles were her specialty, and that’s a trait I don’t care to inherit. After all, she was old. Oops, I’m old. Regardless, I decided it was time to try the pillow dance.

     I have been sleeping on normal pillows for years, but as the years go by, the skin thins, and the pillow becomes the bad guy. Remember when you took your pillow on vacation and slept against the car door with it all squished into your face? Well, the creases it made then disappeared within about three minutes. Now they become lifetime symbols of the “O” word.
Some friends told me that I needed an anti-wrinkle pillow. So I spent $50 for the blue-gray model.

     After feeling that my face was on a polyester frying pan all night, I gave up and went back to “red.” The wrinkles seemed to be quadrupling, so I went for broke and headed for the leopard model that matched my thong. My head kept rolling off the tiny model all night, and when I awoke, my nose was connected to my earlobe.

     I am now in the market for a new model. It doesn’t have to match anything, but it has to be sleep friendly and not mash my face parts. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

     My daughter, who is an anti-bullying activist, suggested I watch Anderson Cooper’s special on CNN discussing Social Media among 13-year-olds. Wow. What a revelation that was. First of all, I am grateful not to have a 13-year-old or even worse be a 13-year-old. The words of young people discussing all facets of their “real” lives versus their “cyber” lives was mind-boggling. As a parent of mothers of young children and as a former teacher, I sat “bouche-bée” (mouth dropped open) listening to these kids. 

     Here are a few of the findings that resonated with me:

  1. Kids post TBRs:  To Be Rude 
  2. Kids admit that their cyber personas are very different from who they really are.
  3. Kids admit that they engage in “revenge” posts (posting naked photos of former boy or girlfriends or spreading untrue gossip online.)
  4. Kids admit to gathering “likes” and “followers” no matter what the consequences.
  5. One girl said she has over 1500 followers, most of whom she doesn’t know.
  6. One post could generate thousands of followers - Self-esteem is apparently defined by the number of “likes” and “followers.”
  7. Kids can also be “unfriended” or dissed so self-esteem can plummet as a result. The constant “checking” is addictive.
  8. Kids are humiliated and humiliate others on social media so the ramifications can be even more devastating. One embarrassing post has the entire school talking.
  9. Kids don’t talk to their parents about their conflicts with their friends. They don’t think parents understand. These conflicts unfold on social media. This has been labeled “social combat.”
  10. There are predators who post false profiles just to get access to young kids.
  11. 2/3 of parents interviewed stated that they were unaware of the conflicts and feelings of their children’s loneliness and depression.
  12. Many parents said they don’t monitor their kids’ social media.

   My take-away here is that there is a whole cyber world that didn’t exist in my day or even my children’s day. This world is foreign to many parents, and they feel helpless in controlling it. It’s all about “what do my friends think of me?” and “am I included?” In the past, if you weren’t invited to a party, you felt sad. Now if you aren’t invited to a party, it’s plastered all over the internet so your humiliation is public. Public humiliation is one of everyone’s worst fears so the consequences on social media can be devastating.

     So what can parents do? Experts say “Get on the sites your kids are on so you know how it all works, and talk to your kids about it. Find a way to earn their trust so they can talk, yes, talk to you about it.” Not so easy for many responsible parents. 

     In my humble opinion, parents need to model behavior, not just preach about it. If I’m walking around with my phone attached to my palm 24/7, what message am I giving my kids? If the family is on their phones at meal time, what does that do for communication? If I’m phubbing my spouse, what message am I giving him and my kids?  If I’m online checking my “likes,” what am I saying about myself? 

     One reaction I had was to keep kids involved in sports, music, church and school activities so they don’t have so much time to be online. Unfortunately, they will always find time to connect with their friends, even at 3 a.m. With 10 grandchildren, this gives me much about which to be concerned. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


     So what are you ready for? If you are the parent of a toddler, you are probably ready for a nap. If you are a parent of a teen-ager, you are certainly ready for a vacation. If you are a cat, you are ready for a good mouse. If you are a deer, you are ready to eat Fifi’s flowers. If you are a thrill seeker like Fifi, you are ready to shake things up and do something outrageous. This begs the question:  What is outrageous?

     “Outrageous” after a month of rain and a week stranded in the house might be a trip to the grocery store. Au contraire, I am always ready for a challenge, a new project, a new friendship, a trip to somewhere where I can meet people who live differently than me, a new stage with a warm audience. How about you? What are you ready for?

     I have a friend who is facing a family crisis. Are we ever ready for those? I have another friend who is battling cancer. Who can ever be ready for that? I have another friend who just got hired to show her art work in Europe. I’m sure she’s ready for that. Opportunities aren’t always like hurricanes. You don’t get an invitation from Joachim three or four days ahead to deal with tragedy or make a life-altering decision. But I get “ready.” Some people just wait to be “ready.” The people who didn’t take risks, didn’t see the poster with “carpe diem” on it as a motivator, who procrastinated, who said, “We should’ve, if I had only known, why didn’t I?” These are the ones who may have been “ready” and didn’t realize it. 

     I believe that the reason my parents traveled to exotic places in the 50s and 60s when they should have been home watching what the hell I was up to was because they had lived through World War II. They had watched their own parents suffer from the Depression. “Ready” was a given; they just did whatever they wanted because they knew how fast time flies and how fragile life can be. My father always pushed me to take risks, to push through my discomfort and face my demons early on. I followed his advice and passed it on to my children. Each of them has interpreted that philosophy in her own way, but they are always “ready,” and to me, their lives and mine are richer as a result. 

Monday, October 5, 2015


     Optimist Just for Today
This was my week-end. It began wet and ended wetter. By now, the earth must feel like chocolate pudding. It sure looks like it, mud oozing onto the twig-peppered lawns. Pine cones are playfully crashing into each other as the wind gusts lift them from one driveway to the next. Heavy tree branches seem to moan under the weight of the storm's unmitigating fury embracing flying debris from flower pots to birdhouses. So what's a girl to do?

Pour a nice glass of tummy-warming red wine, crawl into the old leather chair with her Winnie the Pooh coloring book, and lose herself in honey.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

     You are my BFF. You are always there for me, never failing to say just the right thing to distract my mind or lift my heart. You make no demands, you only give. You can make me laugh when I least expect to, and the way you can draw me out of the chaos of a terrible week or the doldrums of a difficult day never ceases to amaze me. You never interrupt, and you don’t call attention to yourself. Your words caress and soothe, stimulate and simmer.I am so grateful to have found you. I will never let you go. You are my book.

Friday, October 2, 2015

        How the High School Shadow Self Lurks Forever

     My daughter posted an article today about how we all carry a “high school shadow self” with us into adulthood. Hmm. That gave me pause for reflection. Asking ourselves how we were seen in high school is a loaded question. Were we one of the “cool kids?” Were we on the fringe? nerds? “preppies” or whatever the current terms might be? If, in fact, we could label ourselves, would that label still apply in our adult lives? Oh, my. 

     Some people I know hated high school. They cringe when they talk about it. Others loved it, and their faces light up when they reminisce. A great deal of research has been done about how the adolescent brain functions during these years, and one researcher suggests that high school is the grounds for shame. Kids feel shame if they don’t fit in or if they are rejected. Bullies feel shame later in life, and some who were bullied still have the emotional scars years later.

        As the years have passed, there seems to be more and more emphasis on testing and rating as students compete to get into the “best” universities. The pressure on kids seems to be growing to the point where some young people actually take their own lives not being able to cope with the pressures. All of this set me to pondering about adolescent behavior among adults. (I have chosen to keep my adolescent behavior hidden in my scrapbook next to my squished brown corsage).

     When my father was in his mid-80s, I recall him complaining about taking a cruise with a group of his friends. He was very upset because one man always arrived at the dinner table
early and reserved the “best seats.” My father wanted to sit next to the “most popular couple,” but, apparently, so did everyone else. So there was tension on the high seas that had nothing to do with the waves. It was all about the “nots,” not the “knots.”

     I would like to tell you that times have changed, and people no longer engage in such adolescent behavior, but I’d be lying. Maybe what you all learned in kindergarten set the stage for your lives, but I would suggest that from ages 12 through 17, we learn a great deal about human nature and how to posture or fade depending on our individual experiences. Ask anyone who has been to a class reunion beyond the 25 year mark, and they will tell you how things have changed and not.

     When we go out with a group of people, I am the first to admit that I prefer sitting next to someone who is a good conversationalist and who does not see dinner out as an opportunity to brag about grandchildren or whine about their aches and pains. It makes me think about what subjects I address in social situations. How many “I” stories do I tell? Are they of interest to whomever is listening, or am I just rambling about me me me? I certainly hope that I don’t do that, but after a second or third glass of wine, we are much more likely to say whatever we want without thinking of the consequences. From the country club party to the gourmet dinner table at the local “upscale bistro,” the high school shadow eventually rears its ugly head somehow. 

     I love to hear about peoples’ travels, especially to places I have never been but want to go. I really enjoy sharing stories about human behavior—the crazy lady at the shoe store or the kid who threw a tantrum at her baby sister’s baptism. I love to hear about someone’s new adventures, whether it’s writing a book, trying an extreme sport, starting a new business or performing in a local theatre production. 

     Women have scrutinized each others’ looks for centuries, and that never changes. In middle and high school, it’s all about looks and who’s dating the coolest guy. My daughter who has three sons told me the other day that had she known what 8th grade boys were obsessing about, she would not have wasted all her tears. They don’t think about girls. Hello.

     I have friends who look each other up and down as soon as we walk in the door. I guess I do it myself, but what matters is the reason. Are we comparing? Are we celebrating how nice our friend looks, or are we saying to ourselves, “She doesn’t look that great. I look thinner, prettier, younger?” It’s human nature, but the mirror we got with our first Barbie follows us wherever we go and blurts out silent messages that we internalize from an early age. 

     Today, the news reported some high school in Utah replaced all the girls’ bathroom mirrors with positive message posters. Well, I thought to myself, “That’s refreshing, but I’d have to pull out my compact to put on my lipstick or see if my zits were hidden or if my Coke bloat had disappeared.”

    Last night, we attended a function at our country club. I sat next to the husband of one of our close couple friends. I told him that I was delighted to sit next to him, as I never get a chance to talk to him when we are all in a big group. The women tend to sit together, and the men are on the other side of the room. He said, “Well, guys don’t like to talk about women things.” I said, “I know, but sometimes, neither do I.” We had a great conversation about all kinds of topics—none of which had to do with fashion, grandchildren, health or status. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy my female friends. I certainly do. It’s just that I miss the male point of view, and I’m fascinated by how men see the world so differently than us. A former student wrote me a private  face book message this morning telling me that he liked reading my blog as I spoke to and through the eyes of both sexes. That compliment made my day.

     The Society Pages in the newspaper still carry the high school shadow. Who’s got their photo in there from the latest $500/plate dinner? How did they look? Do we say, “Must be nice to have that kind of money or boy, she looks great?” Who was just elected to the Chairman of the Board of our volunteer organization? Are there leaders and followers? Are they the same ones we envied or were in high school?



Thursday, October 1, 2015

The “I” Test (includes “I” brothers:  my and me)

     How many times has someone said to you, “You aren’t going to believe what happened,” and you respond “Well, I. . . “ or “My . . . “? When someone is telling you something, and you hijack the conversation to make it about you, you are resorting to “I-dentity.” I don’t know about you, but I find that’s a real turn-off, and I tune out. Guess what? I just did it. Maybe every time we hear the words “I,” we need to listen more and “I’ less:)