Month: April 2017

Creativity

What’s at the Bottom of Your Heart?

Dear Reader:

I attended a half day writer’s workshop yesterday…you know the routine. After the facilitator reads inspiring works of literature, you are given a writing prompt and 30 minutes to record your thoughts. Usually, I’m not fond of the prompts, but I liked this one, so I thought I’d pass it along to you.

At the bottom of your heart…

At the bottom of my heart, there’s a mess

A beautiful mess

There are stacks and piles, bits and fragments,

Bright colors and blurred lines

All collected over more than half a century

It is a painful and joyous mix

It is particular and general

Fanciful and serious

It is, I imagine, not so different from what is at the bottom of every one else’s heart

And, yet it is uniquely mine.

There is the face of my very elegant third grade teacher who seemed to approve of me in the way I wished my mother had and often simply wrote “tres bien” at the top of my papers.

There is the memory of the summer day when I drove my shiny new olive-green 1967 Mustang down the street and the handsome guy stopped in the car next to me at the red light shouted out his approval.

There is a small herb garden just outside the kitchen door at my Nonnie’s house. I’m picking and she’s cooking just inside.

There is the note I’ve left on the counter for my grandmother 35 years ago stating that “Tom has picked me up for dinner and will return me at around 8 or 9 …. Or “maybe never” scrawled in his horrible writing below mine.

There is a smile that stands out from the rest. It’s the smile of a darling boy who grows into a very handsome young man but never has the chance to grow old.

There is an angel, Mary. Once a week for that horrible year, I came to her and spilled out my life. She helped me find my strength.

There is the Mexican family who served us dinner for years in their tiny restaurant, and also opened their hearts to me and my family.

There are the faces of neighbors and friends who have come and gone but will always remain.

There is the doctor with the heavy German accent, the stylish blonde hair and the sensible brogues worn with fashionably simple black under her white coat. I trusted her with my daughter.

And my daughter, so difficult in birth, yet so easy in life. My joy.

There is a push and a pull at work in this very messy heart. It can be difficult to leave the door open. It is not without pain or risk or effort. But it is not yet full.

I’d love to know what’s at the bottom of your heart, dear reader!

Sincerely,

Michele

 

 

Dogs

My Dog’s Favorite Books

Dear Reader:

Remember my little editor, Bart?  You caught a glimpse of him in “See the Nose?! He spends a lot of time with me in the pink shed, because he’s a “mama’s boy” and, well, he’s an editor.  This week he has two books to recommend: he hopes you will consume them with as much pleasure as he did.

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His first recommendation is the $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals by Lauren Slater. It’s probably obvious why he was drawn to this book, and, of course, it’s the same reason I was drawn to it. Slater’s memoir is one long, beautiful meditation on the solace and joy that animals can bring to our lives. Slater, a psychologist, survived a difficult childhood with a mentally ill mother. As a child, her bike provided her with a means of escape from her troubled home and the country lane she travelled was her introduction to the natural world. It was there she fell in love with a variety of animals. We meet a horse, raccoon, swan, bat and Lila, her precious dog, who eventually loses her sight despite the $60,000 in veterinary care.  Her dog is resilient, though, and adjusts to blindness so well that it seems to inspire Slater’s husband who is suffering a medical challenge of his own. Anyone who loves animals will love this book, but it is not just for animal lovers. Slater’s honest reflection on life’s joys and sorrows is inspiring.

Bart’s second choice is an old favorite of mine, as it reinforces my eat, drink and be merry philosophy!  A surgeon and a psychologist teamed up to produce:  Live a Little:  Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health. The book covers the full gamut of women’s health topics including: exercise, stress, nutrition and sleep, and contains quizzes to help you determine your current state of health. Love and Dormar debunk some common myths and explain why the studies we read about in the headlines are often highly flawed. The big takeaway is just as my grandmother preached: everything in moderation. Don’t worry!

I’m sure you’ll agree after reading these two titles that my little guy has excellent taste in books!

Have a great day,

Michele 

 

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Creativity, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

How to be Hot…Not!

Dear Reader:

I’m in my final phase of blog instruction…yippeee!

My technology specialist, Kristin, says I’ve “mastered” the basics (I’m proud!), and it’s time to implement Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is just a fancy way of saying that I’m looking for readers who might enjoy my content.  Basically, I’m learning how to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, in the form of keywords, that will lead new visitors to my site.

I had my first lesson yesterday. It began when I innocently searched the phrase “women over 50.” I would love to have readers of all ages and both sexes, but primarily I’m speaking to women in the baby boomer generation, so I wanted to see what results this search would yield.

There was good news and bad news.

The top ten articles involved advice on the perfect hairstyles for the mature woman and lists of the sexiest women over 50.  A couple of articles combined both topics to give advice on how to look “hot” after 50. This was very good news for me, as this is not my niche. If I wanted to dispense beauty advice from my pink shed, I’d have a lot of competition.

But, really?! I love a good tutorial on how to make the dark circles under my eyes disappear or a pictorial of beautiful pink dresses. (See my post entitled The Pink Dress). I love perusing Vogue magazine, “playing” in my closet and trying the latest shade of lip color. This is one small piece of the whole that makes me who I am. This is the antidote to real life worries: fun. But if age brings wisdom, then we understand that holding onto our lost youth will not bring happiness or fulfillment. Sometimes, I feel pleased when I look in the mirror and sometimes I don’t. But I’m always happy when I’m reading or writing, dining with friends, hosting a party, volunteering my time or talent and thinking about my lovely daughter.

So, if you’d like advice on how to be hot, there’s plenty of it out there! You will not find it here! However, I do believe that I have the key to achieving the perfect hairstyle at any age:  find a great hairdresser! Now you don’t have to read those articles!

Have a wonderful day,

Michele

 

 

Family, Friends and Neighbors, Inspirational Women, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

Guest Post: Inner Space by Laurie Seidler

Dear Reader:

I’m packing for Mars.

Yeah. I’m an astronaut. Self-trained. Rigorously self-trained. I’ve been running stairs. Well, not so much running stairs as using them on an as-needed basis. You know, when I’m downstairs and I have to get upstairs. And I squeeze a tennis ball. A lot. Preparing for space travel is an arduous and exacting science. You have to mix anaerobic and aerobic activity.

What drives me? What drives any explorer? Curiosity. A thirst for adventure. The need to test myself. Mars is there and I’m here. Enough said.

Also, I have an empty nest now, and a bit of free time. A fair amount of free time, truth be told, and I don’t do well with free time. I need structure and goals. So I’m planning and executing a 270-day trip to Mars, during which I’ll be following the kind of regimented program of exercise and intellectual stimulation that keeps astronauts sane as they hurtle through the vacuum of space.

You know how people say, “I’ve always wanted to do X. I’ve always wanted to [learn to surf, play the cello, read Proust and not just say that I’ve read Proust]”? Well, I may actually read Proust. And learn to surf. I’m not sure yet. The trip is still in the planning stages. But it’s a go, as we like to say in the space business. It’s on. I’m in the process of establishing the mission parameters that I’ll be following for the 270 days that I’m “away,” and I’m chronicling the journey in a mission log.

We’re happiest when we’re absorbed, when we’re rising to a challenge. Well, everything I know about astrophysics I learned from Star Trek and I get dizzy shaking my head, but I’m going to Mars, if only metaphorically. That’s my challenge. We’re all travelers, I’m just steering my ship in a new direction.

Call it a trip to inner space.

Laurie Seidler

My friend Laurie has a BA in history from Yale and an MFA in writing from the California College of the Arts. Formerly a reporter and editor for Dow Jones & Co., she teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

In addition to those amazing credentials, Laurie was the first mom to be-friend me when my daughter switched schools in the second grade. So, yes, she has a permanent place in my heart.