Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

Eat, Drink and Be Merry, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

This is Why You Need at Least Two Friends

Dear Reader:

Yesterday I had a bit of a meltdown. Tears and everything. That doesn’t happen often …especially over something trivial.

I had coffee with a friend and the tears were a delayed reaction to her, well-intentioned I’m sure, comments. I was complaining about the 5 pounds I’ve packed on since I started setting up my blog three months ago, and she had this to say:

You could do better. Look at how well you’ve done with your blog!”

I was coming to the same conclusion on my own, but I wasn’t quite ready to have someone agree. You see I have a really hard time with balance. I’m a 110% kind of girl and I’ve been focused on improving my computer skills and writing blog posts. I haven’t seen the inside of the gym since I started this creative project. (Unfortunately, the pink shed is not big enough for a stationary bike!)

Exercise is something I love to hate, unlike my friend. She is one of those people who live to move, and she was reminding me that I should at least move to live a better, healthier life.

It just happened that another friend sent a text to me in the middle of coffee inviting me to lunch. She may have regretted asking when I showed up at the brink of tears.

“How could I just let myself go?” I sputtered while trying to maintain my composure.

“What? I couldn’t tell you gained weight. Just get back to your spin classes; it’s fine,” she said. And then, “We are having wine, right?”

We ate salads and drank a glass of wine and then because it wasn’t quite time for her to pick up her girls from school, she ordered us cappuccino and a peanut butter cookie to share.

“These things are delicious and gluten-free,” she enthused. I smiled and thoroughly enjoyed my half of the cookie.

I will always be an “eat, drink and be merry” kind of person. I am Italian, after all. And, it will never be my ambition to return to my very thin younger self, but I do feel better when I regularly exercise. And, perhaps most importantly, exercise allows me to eat more and drink more and merry more!

As I suffered through spin this morning, I felt grateful for both of my friends…the one who kicked me in the butt and the one who hugged me.

Thanks Kristin and Courtney.

Love,

Michele

P.S. Both of these women are 15+ years younger than me!

 

 

 

 

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

How Old Do You Feel?

 

Dear Reader:

It was one of those moments that just sneaks up on you. It was 5 years ago, but it remains fixed in my memory. It was the day I realized that even though I was the one driving from point a to point b, my passengers were not far behind me. I was sitting in the car pool lane at school with my neighbor in the back seat awaiting the arrival of my daughter.  We had just finished an uninhibited, full-throttle, banging on the steering wheel and backpack sing-along with Adele. I was still “Rolling in the Deep” when my 15-year-old passenger asked. “How old do you feel?” I turned to face her and she continued. “Do you feel as old as you are?”

I was impressed with her question, and I wanted to know where it came from before I  answered. She said that it came from observing her mother closely. Fair enough. She deserved a thoughtful response.

At the time, I was a mere 52-year-old, so in some ways I was still getting used to the label:  “50-something.” I was then and still am in good health fortunately,  but I didn’t really think that was at the heart of her question. I had to tell her that, although I wasn’t really sure what “50” was supposed to feel like, it was very hard to believe that it had happened to me, even though I was along for the entire ride.

“So you are saying what everyone says:  time goes by quickly?” she asked. She’d heard it before and I could only confirm that it is one of those truths that can’t be known…until it is known.

She wanted more than a simple, trite, easy answer though, so I drew a comparison for her. I described “Imaginary 50-year-old Michele.” She’s a better driver. She’s very wise in a very casual way.  She’s less fearful. She’s more organized.

In contrast, “Real Michele” was still a lousy driver and a bit disorganized. She knew what she didn’t know and she did not hesitate to ask for help. She was not unafraid, but she had a greater sense of peace than she could have imagined.

I also confessed that the picture that I carried in my mind no longer closely matched what I saw when I looked at photographs of myself. Generally, I wasn’t bothered by that though. I estimated my imaginary mental picture age was about “35.”

If I were asked the same question today, I’d probably reply in the same manner. I’m now closer to “60” than “50” and I’m sure when that happens it will feel sudden, and I’ll bet I won’t feel like a 60-year-old.  I’m guessing I’ll still be a poor driver and a bit disorganized, but, in my mind’s eye, I will have aged some; I’ll probably look about “45.”

I’ve decided a bit of denial is just fine. I know how old I am, but there’s no reason to dwell on how many years I’ve lived except to marvel at my incredible good fortune. When I want to feel really young,  these things always take me back:

  • Listening to the Bee Gees
  • Driving a fast car…fast
  • Flirting with my husband
  • Swinging, you know, in a swing in the park
  • Eating a doughnut or hot fudge sundae or a piece of cake with special candles

My daughter baked me a cake!

This year I visited my daughter at college the week before my 57th birthday and she and her roommates helped me celebrate. They baked me a cake and used the only candles they had in their apartment, as they had all turned “20” this year!

Michele

Creativity, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

Period. space, space.

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Dear Reader:

This is, at once, an explanation for my errors and a defense of my sanity.  Since I launched fromthepinkshed.com, I’ve received comments, criticisms and suggestions from those nearest and dearest to me. There is nothing I like more than constructive criticism…well, unbridled enthusiasm is nice! But seriously, how can I improve if I don’t know where I went wrong?

Here is a partial list of the mistakes I’ve made as illuminated via lengthy text messages from friends and family:

  • You haven’t been alive for a “century”…insert “half.”
  • There is an extra space between the first sentence and the second sentence.
  • The “Bachelor’s” name was Nick, not Chris.
  • There is an extra space between every sentence in paragraph 2.
  • Um, your link doesn’t link.
  • There’s an extra space after, LITERALLY, every sentence in your post, Mother!

What’s with all the extra spaces? Period.  space space.  Period.  space space.  Typing, I thought, is kinda like riding a bike…you master the skill and you never forget how to do it. I learned how to touch type back in 1976 when I was in high school; I topped out at a swift 80 wpm! Fast. I was fast. I’m still pretty fast! I can type faster than I can think.

When readers began pointing out my “spaciness,” I was bothered. Are the extra spaces the first indication that I’m at the top of the hill and will start rolling down very soon. NO, definitely not. The answer came from my daughter, as so many other good things do!  She called one day to say that after a class in typography as part of her Graphic Communication major, she had the answer to the riddle.

Here’s the explanation. Typewriters, it turns out, are very democratic machines. Every character is given the exact same amount of space on the page. That means that the letter ” i” is given the same amount of space as the letter “w,” even though it clearly doesn’t need it. This is called monospaced typesetting. An extra space between sentences was needed to delineate the beginning of a new sentence because the spacing between words was uneven on a typewriter.

Computers use proportionally spaced fonts, which adjust spacing to the size of the letter. There is no need for two spaces between sentences as the print is readable with only a single space.

It’s a simple as that! I’m old. I was taught to double-space. Turns out typing is not just like riding a bike. I’ll need to focus and proof-read or I may drive my daughter crazy!

Michele

 

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. 

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

Dr. Buff and the Older Woman

Dear Reader:

My daughter got stuck taking me to a medical appointment in one of those lovely role reversals that happen once your child is grown.  I was required to have a designated driver after a pain specialist gave me a couple of cortisone shots in my back. Before transporting me home, my daughter was called into the recovery room where the doctor gave her a few instructions.

As she ever so gently helped me into the car, I asked her how she liked my doctor.  “Your doctor. That was your doctor?!”  Apparently, she had assumed she was receiving post-procedure instructions from a medical assistant of some sort.

“You didn’t tell me your new doctor was buff,” she retorted.  ” Young. You mean young,” I responded. Nope, she meant buff as defined in the Urban Dictionary:  very strong or having defined muscles, hot.

I was given the chance to re-evaluate my assessment of my doctor a couple of weeks later, and I found him to be both young and buff!  Wow, how did I miss that? Well, I’ll tell you how…during my initial consultation with him all I could focus on was his bright shining youth. Wow, I wondered as I left his office, are the doctors getting younger or am I getting older? Think I answered my own question!

Other clues that you are getting older:

  • You have to ask: it’s hot in here, right?! Isn’t it? Anybody else feel warm?
  • You can’t remember why you walked into a room.
  • You’ve fallen in love with tennis shoes. Your heels are collecting dust…literally.
  • You can’t seem to call your daughter’s five roommates by their respective names.
  • You don’t recognize your hands.
  • You are super excited that Saturday Night Live will soon begin broadcasting live across all time zones!

Just a few reasons you don’t mind:

  • You can be absolutely sure that you’ll never be perfect, so no pressure.
  • Tennis shoes are inexpensive and being shown on the runway this year!
  • It’s nice to be chauffeured around by your daughter.
  • You realize that most of the things you spent your life worrying about didn’t matter or didn’t happen.
  • Aging is a gift…it’s called life.

Enjoy your day,

Michele

 

Eat, Drink and Be Merry, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

I’m NOT Cooking, Today!

Dear Reader:

“She started this blog and she just stopped cooking!” I heard my husband say as I passed the door of his study.

“Think she likes blogging better,” my daughter responded.

Ah, the wisdom of youth! Yes, I do like writing better.  In fact the list of things I like better than cooking is long.  It includes: eating, sleeping, exercising and reading. I’d rather be spending time with friends, binge-watching The Crown, wine tasting in the valley, hanging out on the couch with my dogs or talking to my daughter on the phone.

It would be less than sincere to say that I like everything about aging, but it is absolutely true that I am happier now than I have ever been. One of the things I like most is that I have the time to do (or not) as I please. That is a blessing!

I’m sure I’ve become a bit more selfish with my time…but, the clock is ticking! NOW is such a good time! My daughter is happy, my husband is retired, my friends are inspiring,  my home and my pink shed are beautiful and my health is good. I’m enjoying my 50’s.

Gotta go now. I’m taking my husband shopping in the prepared meals section at Whole Foods.

Have a great day!

Michele

Creativity, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

Anonymous

Dear Reader:

I googled you with no results reads the poster in my pink shed.  Below the words, there is a beautiful silhouette of a woman who looks as though she lived in the Jane Austen age. I hung this poster up a few months ago …that resembles me, I thought! I pictured myself in my pink shed reading books, writing cards and letters to my friends and family and simply relaxing with my dog in my lap. I did not see myself practicing my computer skills, launching a blog or setting up a Facebook page. But, March has ended and I’ve done all those things!

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I’m reminded of the old saying that: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It seems I am capable of learning new tricks, and, as for my dogs, well…we couldn’t teach them any tricks when they were young! I hope you’ll enjoy reading my posts from the pink shed and I hope you’ll share what’s on your mind, too!

All the Best,

Michele

P.S. Dachshunds are notoriously difficult dogs to train…really!

 

 

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

No Regrets

Natalie LaFollette Creative Portrait_00

Dear Reader:

The woman at the Clinique counter turned out to be right. The day I visited her, I was 7 months pregnant…feeling a bit fat and looking for a “feel good” purchase. Lipstick is always fun! She rather ceremoniously uncapped a long, thin silver tube and twisted the base so that I might see the color. “Perfect,” she effused. I was not initially impressed, but, at her urging, I applied it and checked myself out in the mirror. Fabulous! Almost Lipstick in Black Honey has been a staple in my cosmetic bag ever since.

“So, are you going back to work after the baby?” she asked. I replied affirmatively to which she responded, “Ah, too bad.”

When I left her counter, I’m sure my lovely, shimmery lips were parted in an “um, what?!” expression.  That was some opinionated salesperson. I was working in high-tech marketing and had received a promotion and stock options the year before. Not to mention the fact that I was, and remain,  a staunch feminist. Of course,  I was going back.

I did return from maternity leave, but lasted only six months… and that was a stretch! Everything had changed. The 30-50 minute drive to and from work was never enjoyable, but now it was a lost hour that could have been shared with my daughter.  The early morning calls with the European sales force that I had once so enthusiastically anticipated created a logistical nightmare. The high level meetings that I had felt proud to attend seemed unimportant; I was no longer impressed with myself or anyone else in attendance. I  did not feel the zeal for advancement or the thrill of competition that was fostered in the company.  I found myself wondering who would be there to see my daughter’s first steps: me or the day care workers.

Home life was difficult, too. It was a mad dash every evening to retrieve my daughter within the approved pick-up time.  My husband’s work in high-tech finance was demanding and he usually arrived a couple of hours later than us between 7 and 8 p.m. When he got home, he needed the same things that our baby and I needed: rest, relaxation, dinner, understanding, attention. We were all simultaneously extremely needy! And, very tired. We had only each other. There was no household help or familial assistance. It was just the three of us.

My husband supported my decision to quit working.  We took a leap of faith together knowing that the budget was going to be extremely tight. And, it worked out just fine! Our daughter is a 20-year-old college student today and the three of us are very close.

In the two decades since I made my decision, technology has changed things so much. I see so many women who successfully combine work and family life. Neither my husband nor I had any flexibility in our jobs. It seems ironic that we were both working in the high-tech industry that has revolutionized life for so many, and yet our employers offered no allowances to accommodate family life.

Today, I have an empty nest and time to pursue my interests,  but I don’t think I could fully enjoy myself if I didn’t feel that I’d completely embraced my role as a mother. I feel grateful that I had a choice; I know many women don’t. I have never regretted my decision to be a stay at home mom.

Sincerely,

Michele

P.S. I wouldn’t recommend seeking life advice at the Clinique counter, but that saleswoman was wise!  I recently read that the lipstick she sold me more than 20 years ago has become a cult-classic.  Clinique now ships one Black Honey lipstick every two  minutes.

http://www.glamour.com/story/most-popular-lipstick-colors-review

 

Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older

In Praise of Prozac

Dear Reader:

I knew this was a post I’d write someday, and I wanted it to be sooner rather than later! I truly don’t know how much of a stigma still attaches to those who benefit from counseling and antidepressants, but there was every reason to share my experience with you and no reason to keep it secret. I believe Prozac has allowed me to live a better life, and that’s certainly worth sharing!

Let me start with the day I first felt the impact of my new prescription. Three days after I took that first pill, I had the energy to move the refrigerator so that I could clean every square inch of my kitchen, including the floor under the frig!  My 4-year-old daughter was at pre-school, but  Tom Jones kept me company. He provided the background music. I sang along loudly, energetically. “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone. It’s not unusual….”

What had become usual were the panic attacks I’d been having whenever I left the house. The first attack came in an unlikely place: a bookstore with my daughter. I was in my happy place with my happy girl and yet I couldn’t wait to get out. My heart was racing and I felt completely out of control. The next day the toaster broke and I found Amazon. You can get anything on Amazon, and yet I knew I’d have to leave the house eventually.

I had the toaster delivered, but by the end of the following week, I’d made it to my first counseling appointment and my doctor’s office. I described the event at the bookstore, my brother’s diagnosis and the general “heaviness” I felt. I was taking care of my daughter’s needs, but not much more than that. I was self-medicating with Starbuck’s mocha Frappuccinos, but I had little energy and had to will myself out of bed and into the shower each morning.   Both my psychologist and general practitioner agreed that I could benefit from counseling and an anti-depressant.

My doctor reasoned it out for me:” People take aspirin when they have an ache and yet they can’t imagine taking a pill to cure another type of ache. Your brother has terminal cancer and you have a young child to take care of. You need help.”

“But what about the end-game?” I asked.  I was afraid to start taking the drug, because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stop. And yet, I knew I needed help. Children can help clarify many decisions in life.

That was 16 years ago. Since then, my dosage has gone up and down and I’ve tried to wean myself off the drug.  But without it I am surly to my husband, I retreat from my friends, I feel hopeless and listless. I do not still regularly move my refrigerator on cleaning day. It seems that major spurt of energy was just an initial daylong effect of the pill. (I do, however, still accompany Tom Jones in song; it’s not pretty!)

I’ve never had any adverse affects to the medication. It was all good: I even quickly dropped the 10 pounds of Frappuccino weight I’d put on! I remember telling a friend about my treatment plan. She quite innocently asked how it felt to “be happy all the time.” I explained that Prozac was not a “happy pill.” Life was still hard during the year of my brother’s illness and following his death. I was still sad, but the medication and counseling helped. I had both the energy and courage to leave the house; I knew I could manage it.

There is a theory that some people are born with a switch; stressful circumstances or a major life event can trigger that switch and then it’s done. They need the drug and that’s that.  My brother’s cancer diagnosis was the trigger for me. (If you would like to read more about my brother’s death, see my post entitled Happy Birthday, Brother.)

I’ve made peace with myself. I’m a strong woman who must accept that she too needs help. I am grateful that I live at a time when I have the option to help myself. And, I hope that anyone else who needs help will ask for it.

Sincerely,

Michele