One foot (ouch!) in Front of the Other (ouch!)

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Dear Reader:

This is the third day in a row that I’ve spent on the couch! Despite my recent Lazy Post, this is not like me.

Last week on November 8, I tried to forget what happened last year on the same day. But, it was time to acknowledge that I’d coped with a difficult year by agreeing to a second glass of wine and a decadent dessert a few too many times! And, I have 5 pounds to show for it. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I am in good company as both Stephen Colbert and Barbara Streisand have both blamed their weight gain on the POTUS.

Anniversaries can bring about reflection, and it came to me that we’ve (most likely) got another three years of this administration to suffer through. I may be able to accept a five-pound weight gain, but I’m not about to accept a twenty pound gain. So, I decided it was time to re-commit myself to my exercise routine …and to stop buying ice cream.

Next day,  I hit the gym. I hit the stair-climber; that was a mistake. I overdid it and spent Tuesday on the couch icing my overworked, arthritic left knee.

During my down-time, I took the opportunity to finally call the personal trainer my friend recommended many months ago. My goal is to improve myself, after all, not incapacitate myself!

“Don’t worry,” he assured me, “there are many things we can do without further straining your knee. I’ll meet you at the gym tomorrow.”

Next day, I woke feeling exhilarated with the Rocky theme song playing in my mind.  My knee was better after my day of rest and ice and elevation. I felt lighter and healthier, as a result, of simply making the right decision. I’d see the trainer in the afternoon and resolve to do better.

I began the day with a few errands and it was in the parking lot at the grocery store that I tripped and came crashing down. Hard. I had twisted my right ankle and scraped my left knee. I was lucky my husband was there to pick me up and get me home.  We applied an ice pack and I called the personal trainer to reschedule. And so I spent another day on the couch.

When I woke this morning, there were no theme songs playing in my mind. I knew I’d be spending the day on the couch…again. The dogs were happy enough, though. They spent the day draped all over me.

As they say though…one day at a time! And, one foot (ouch!) in front of the other (ouch)! I’ll let you know how it goes at the gym next week.

Michele 

 

One Veteran’s Story

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Mike enjoying the view from the porch

Dear Reader:

My husband and I had just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War the week before I visited the Avila Valley Barn with my daughter and her college friends. I passed a man in a baseball cap that read: Vietnam Veteran as I entered the property.

I looked at him and said, “Nice cap,” and gave him a thumbs up. It was, I suppose, a rather awkward way of acknowledging his service, but he responded with an open smile.

After I shopped for fresh produce, sampled apple pie and selected pumpkins for my seasonal table, I felt compelled to join the veteran on the porch. I sat down in the rocking chair next to him and said hello. Mike and I began an easy conversation about the fine weather and pleasures of Avila Beach.

Then I began the conversation that I really wanted to have with him by asking if he’d seen the Burns’ documentary. He had not, but he readily shared his story with me. He had just entered high school when the war began, but he said he somehow knew that he would end up in Vietnam.

After graduation, he received a scholarship and attended The Boston Conservatory of Music. Mike was an opera singer for two years… until he was drafted. He was discharged a year later after he witnessed the death of two others standing very near to him. His injuries, both physical and emotional, remain with him. It seems the after effects of Agent Orange have been the most troublesome to his well-being.

“The folks at the VA keep telling me I’m not long for this world,” he told me. “But, I don’t put a lot of stock into what the government says.”

His distrust seems justified.

“My wife and I just settled into the home of our dreams,” he continued. “It’s a small house with a huge garden that my wife loves. And, I’ve finally found some peace.”

I asked what had become of his musical career and he answered that it was another “casualty of war.” After many years of struggling with life on a daily basis, Mike discovered that he had the patience and skill needed to work with disabled children.

“I’d have never known I could help so many kids if I hadn’t served,” he concluded.

I left the barn that day with tears spilling from beneath my sunglasses. My thoughts turned to Mike again this weekend as we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I certainly hope the VA doctors are wrong; I hope Mike has many years to enjoy life in his new home and garden.

Michele

 

 

 

 

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

Guest Post: Painting Barbie by Beth Bordelon

Dear Reader:

Our “From the Pink Shed” hostess Michele asked me why I paint Barbies. The easy answer is, “ I just thought it would be fun.” But when pushed to consider the question a bit more deeply a few things come to mind.

For inspiration, I often take or find photos of subjects I might like to paint later. One of my largest photo files is the Barbie folder. Not just any Barbie, but the vintage original Barbie dolls that Mattel introduced back in 1959. For some reason, later Barbies seem frivolous and maybe a bit tacky to me,  yet the original Barbies seem classic.

When my daughter was growing up in the late 1990s, I intentionally never bought her a Barbie. I felt that those unrealistically shaped, perfect glamour girls would be unattainable or improper role models for her. When friends or family members gave her a Barbie as a gift, I would go out and buy the doll a doctor’s outfit, a basketball uniform or an art studio in order to give her something productive to do, something that made her more than just a pretty face.

I think part of my interest in painting Barbie dolls (and other retro toys) is due to my 14-year career as an advertising art director. I created many a layout for clients’ products or services—hamburgers, soap, cameras, clothing. Paintings can turn objects into heroes. Think of Andy Warhol and the Campbell’s soup can. Painting a Barbie feels a little like creating an ad for her without the need for a headline!

Ironically, growing up, I never owned a Barbie.  My parents gave me a Tammy doll with her very own carrying case instead. (I still have both!) I liked her and certainly had plenty of opportunities to play with my friends’ Barbies, not to mention Midges, Kens and Skippers. So am I now trying to compensate for my “deprived” childhood? My amateur psychoanalyst self says I don’t think so.

If I was to be totally honest —and I’m embarrassed to admit this—there’s a part of me that relates to this perfect long, tall gal. We both came into the world in 1959 — Mattel started selling Barbie five days after I was born. She’s long and lean and so am I, at 5’10” with a 33” inseam. She’s perfect, and I’m, well, a perfectionist. I’ve fought hard to let that label go, but hey, it’s a process! Who knows how many more Barbies I’ll paint. Perhaps she’s out of my system. We shall see…

Beth

My friend Beth’s work can be found at Bordelon Artworks. In addition to being a very talented artist, she is a very dear friend to me. You can reader more about Beth and our friendship here.

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

 

 

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

 

S’mores Please!

 Dear Reader: 

My lovely daughter and two of her lovely college roommates paid me a visit! Ours is a small home, you may remember, so Dad packed up and spent the weekend with his mom.

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Girl’s weekend! I’m sure, you won’t be surprised to hear that we spent the evenings consuming large amounts of rich desserts and sappy romantic comedies.

I simply must share my favorite recipe with you:

Super Simple S’mores

Ingredients:

8 La Petit `Ecolier cookies

4 regular sized marshmallows

Place four cookies, chocolate side up, on a plate. Top two of the cookies with a marshmallow. Microwave on high for 10 seconds. Combine the cookies to make a sandwich. Mmmmm…enjoy!

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At a mere 150 calories or so, you can afford to enjoy one…or two. Recommended accompaniment: coffee or milk and any movie featuring Chris Pine. We watched Princess Diaries 2.

Michele

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