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Girls’ Weekend

29 Oct

I’m freshly returned from an annual women’s weekend. This time the venue was southern Indiana at a house on Horseshoe Bend on the Ohio River.   Scallops, steak, and Shiraz awaited our arrival.  The inky blackness obscured our view of the river until morning.   Women with wine glasses have a tendency to talk, and talk we did into the night.

Many mornings found us bundled up against the crisp morning air, enjoying a gradually pinkening sky.  Adirondack chairs on the wrap around deck held us as we engaged in the kind of easy conversation that comes from living in close proximity.  The freedom to look your worst- hair askance, no makeup, baggy, comfy, clothes and feel accepted “as is” feels affirming.  These women whose house I shared are television personalities and partners in law firms.  Dressing appropriately is a requirement.

One of my few regrets is not experiencing dorm room life at an away college in my youth. But this gathering of women, I suspect, mimicked that experience (sans the catty competitiveness).  Rather than anxieties about grades and guys, we shared anxieties about retirement and families.  The conversations focus on the joys of a good night’s sleep rather than the ecstasy of a night of sex.  Such is the evolution from 20 to 60.  But I don’t think I would trade the sagging chest and etched facial flaws for perky boobs and nimbleness.  Like the river carving this vista, our experiences have sculpted our beings.  Our collective wisdom is hard-earned.  I’ll take that over perky tits any day.

The "Girls" at Girls Weekend

The “Girls” at Girls Weekend

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

 

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Afternoons With Austin

11 Jun


I’m sitting on the family room floor with my freshly formed first grandchild.  I guess he is not all that freshly formed, he is officially five and a half months old.  he is starting to engage in the five month old developmental rituals- sitting up like a wobbly Weeble toy; gumming everything he can shove in his mouth regardless of its taste, texture or size.  He is smiling, even laughing a little.  He is big enough to perch on a grandmother’s hip.

I’m surrounded by a panoply of play toys- a contraption allowing him to reach for linked rings in a multitude of colors; his Michelin tire man legs kick out a tune on the pretend piano at then end of his palette.  There are no shortages of animals — a melon colored rubber monkey (great for chomping); an elephant shaped rattle; a stuffed Mickey Mouse, and a chewable dragon fly.  Austin looks a little like Bam Bam of the Flintstones fame, raising and lowering his rattle above his head with caveman like strength.

I love my afternoons with Austin.  I listened to an NPR interview recently with author, Jenifer Senior whose new book is entitled, All Joy and No Fun, the paradox of modern parenthood.  Senior outlines a number of parental paradoxes-  Parenting is All Joy and No Fun (thus the name of the book) and Children are Economically Worthless and Emotionally Priceless.  Shockingly thoughtful statements about modern parenthood.  These same paradoxes, however, don’t apply to grandparents.  Grandchildren are simultaneously all fun and all joy.  I’m having a ball with this baby.  Even when he arches his back and pitches a wall eyed fit, I think it is funny.  I look him square in the eye and say, “hey pal, I’m not intimidated by you one bit.  I’ve experienced much worse than you are throwing at me.”.  Such freedom!  Such joy.  Now back to my afternoon with Austin….

Baby Austin in play gym

Baby Austin in play gym

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Boomer Cafe…It’s Your Place

16 Apr

I love it that Boomer Cafe published my “I’m On My Next to My Last Dog” article.  Check it out by clicking here.

I’m On My Next to the Last Dog

31 Mar

A few weeks ago I attended a conference on positive aging. As a Baby Boomer I have an acute interest in what aging looks like in the future.  A key theme of the conference was positive and purposeful aging. I kept hearing 60 is the new 40 (music to my ears since I turned 60 this year).  Speaker, Marc Freeedman, CEO of Encore.org., called for a new paradigm on aging.  He took issue with statements saying later life is just a pale imitation of our earlier lives. He argues against retirement communities where residents are surrounded exclusively by the aged rather than a variety of ages.

I have been struck by the fact no one has yet managed to concoct e a satisfactory label for our post middle age years.   At the conference I heard references to… “The vintage Years” (hated it); “Act 3 or Chapter 3” (not a fan); “the afternoon of our lives” (nah).  Freedman suggested the following, “I’m on my next to the last dog.” Any way we can approach aging joints and our sense of mortality with humor, has great appeal to me. Freedman also suggested a “Gap Year for Grownups”.  As the mother of children who took more than a few gap years to find themselves between college and careers, I think a gap year to help us transition to later life and try out new roles is a splendid notion.

Now back to this concept of purposeful aging. Conference speakers emphasized the importance of identifying a purpose in our lives, how older people with a purpose and meaning are 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  So, how do we go about identifying our purpose for our next to the last dog years? Victor Strecher, Ph.D. at University of Michigan’s school of public health suggests the following exercise:

 Identify your core values.  For example, which of the following 4 values resonates the most with you- kindness, security, expertise, achievement, spirituality, creativity, vitality, tradition, self control, responsibility, independence, and enjoyment? Now, write a sentence personalizing these values, i.e. Vitality- “My health, vigor, and energy are essential in helping me navigate my life.”  Once you have written a specific statement for each value, write a paragraph weaving these 4 or 5 concepts into a Statement of Purpose.  This Statement of Purpose can serve as a guide helping you make choices about how and where you want to spend your time, energy and resources.

I would love for you to share your Statements of Purpose below in the comments section.  Send them to losethebeige@gmail.com if you would rather have me post them for you.  Happy envisioning.strecher

Failure Is Another Word for Creativity

28 Feb

I am far from a “techie” (someone who is technologically proficient) but I was fascinated by an NPR story I heard recently entitled, “Failure:  The F word Silicon Valley Loves and Hates”.  The story focused upon entrepreneurs in the Tech field in Silicon Valley.  According to this report, failure is glorified in this Valley of technological start up companies.   Interviewees in this story said things like, “the fear of being a failure drives you.”.  One person noted, “Failure means you just haven’t gotten your success yet.”  Another reported that “failure is mandatory; it’s as pervasive as the weather”.

I was stunned by the optimism of these statements.  My husband and I consider ourselves entrepreneurs.  I think we must conceive of new business ideas every other day.  The process of conception (much like in the other kind of conception process) is the fun part– the brain storming process; the excitement of a new idea; the hope of making the idea an income producing one…

I’ve dreamed of making my Be Brave. Lose the Beige concept an income producing business.  I create art, write books/journals/blogs, and conduct Lady Boomer workshops and retreats on the subject.  Endeavors producing a sustainable source of income are such a point of validation.  Everyone around you affirms your idea is a success once you begin making money from it.  If not, it’s a dream, a silly notion, or worse yet, a failure.  Aside from the obvious drawbacks of failing to earn money from an endeavor consuming significant time and focus, there is the added burden of disappointing family members and friends.  That fear of humiliation is what drives entrepreneurs says Joe Kraus of Google Ventures.  “Threading that idea from the “vision” stage to the “execution” stage is a necessary step in the march to success.

I know what that feels like.  I turned 60 last year.  I can’t believe it.  I feel like I might run out of time at any moment without fully realizing by dreams (although it’s not from a lack of trying.)  I spend an inordinate amount of time writing, researching and sculpting.  I have often hidden these endeavors from my linear lawyer friends out of fear they may say something like, “Why are you wasting your time doing that?!”.  After all, there has not been any kind of a guarantee I’ll make money from all these efforts.  But creativity is funny.  It’s kind of like breathing.  I can’t fathom living without it.  So I loved hearing this story.  I found it encouraging; a virtual support group for creative people.  Remember- Thomas Edison was asked if he was frustrated at his lack of success after his 1800 attempts at inventing the light bulb.  “No”, he replied, “ I now know a 1000 things that won’t work.”

So, if you feel alone in your quest toward entrepreneurship, share you experience here.   We can commiserate.

Failure = Creativity
Failure = Creativity

 

Happy New Year

2 Jan

This has been the most incredible week I’ve experienced in a very long time (and I’ve been around for more than 3,000 weeks).  On December 19th my step son and his wife had a baby boy, their first, and our first grandchild, Austin Vaughn.  Two days later my son and his soon-to-be bride (and two dogs) arrived on our doorstep from Chicago, beginning a week of wedding festivities.   Christmas fell in the middle of this week bringing along its myriad of hubbub.  Each day brought new guests to stay in my modest home– the wedding officiant, brother of the bride, maid of honor…and did I mention with my 2 dogs and my son’s 2 dogs, there were 4 dogs running around.  It was a crazy,  incredibly fun time.  In addition to stuffing gift bags, making the wedding cake, trips to the pediatrician, wrapping presents, manicures, hair and make-up, there was that post-rehearsal dinner beer pong party in my back yard until 3am.  There will be more posts to follow on this topic but suffice it to say, the most adorable baby boy is now a part of our family.  The sweetest ceremony gave me the most wonderful daughter-in-law I could have ever imagined.

So much to be grateful for as I enter this new year.

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Be Brave. Lose the Beige Blogger

11 Nov

I am thrilled to introduce our newest blogger for Be Brave. Lose the Beige, Grace Fiandaca.  Grace has worked in words all her adult life- as a library clerk in college, English teacher, writer, editor, and radio host.   She is also a Lady Boomer with two adult children with lots of wisdom to share on this subject.  We welcome her to our Be Brave. Lose the Beige online community.

Grace Fiandaca

Grace Fiandaca