Why Were You Born?

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Dear Reader:

Retirement brings with it the opportunity and desire to clarify one’s purpose…again. I thought a lot about my purpose in my 20s. I loved to read and write and I was inspired by Gloria Steinem and Barbara Walters. It was incredibly fulfilling to focus on my education. Some of the most enjoyable days of my life were spent pounding away at typewriters while earning my B.A. in Journalism.

In my 30s and 40s, I was busy, as most people are. I didn’t spend a lot of time pondering anything beyond purchasing a home, advancing in my career and then mothering my daughter.

Natalie is now an adult and I have the luxury of time to ponder my existence once again. But, it’s not merely an intellectual pursuit. A person’s “why” should serve to order her days. Our values should match our activities and so the exercise has value.

At 58 years of age, I’m struck by how little my perception of my purpose has changed. And, I’m encouraged to discover that I seem to be living in alignment with my core values.

I have always been compelled to create, decorate, celebrate, communicate, question, advocate and challenge myself. And, my voice has always been high-pitched and feminine and aligned with that of other women who believe in the cause of equality.

I know “why.” Do you?

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

No Regrets

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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

 

See the Nose?!

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Dear Reader:

I have a cold today, so I decided to hang out on the couch in the main house where I have ready access to hot soup, sympathetic family and lap dogs.  You can’t see me in this photo; I’m reclining on the couch while editing my site. But you can see one of my dogs who does not like to yield his space to the computer! My little editor‘s name is Bart (short for Bartholomew). He’s a mama’s boy and he likes a good book almost as much as I do. You can read about his favorite books here.

Thank goodness for Progresso chicken noodle soup!

Michele

The Pink Shed

Dear Reader:

It’s fun to feel like a little girl again…at 56! That’s how I felt the morning I met the truck in my driveway that held the makings of my shed. I didn’t leave the house that day, but instead kept a close eye on the progress, snapping photos and offering water to the builders.  By day’s end, I had my shed, as promised!

The next day, I selected a contractor to put in electricity, walls and floors.

“It’ll take two weeks,” he estimated. I am well-versed in “contractor-speak,” so I thought, ok, a place of my own in a month …or so!

Three months later, he was done and I had a place for my desk and books!

A few photos for You:

 

Michele