Granny Went Gaelic — And This Is What Happened

For every night there is a day. For every winter there is a summer.

And for every outing for a 64-year-old there is a price to be paid.

Maybe everyone has a yin with their yang. But mine just seem to come back and bite me in the buttocks. Every good time I have has a clip of wtf in it.

Like Friday. St. Patrick’s Day.

A night out with the hubby…something we haven’t had in a while. Went to an Irish band concert — Gaelic Storm — which I wrote about here. Was all pumped up. Sparkly nails, sparkly hat. Went to a great burger place for dinner, had a Bloody Mary. We were way early for the concert so we stopped into a bar across the street from the concert hall. Made some great temporary friends — had a great time. Went to the concert — had a great time. Went to the bathroom after the concert —

Dropped my phone in the toilet.

A thousand women hit that bathroom before and after me. How many of them do you think dropped their phone in the toilet?

Standing up for myself on wobbly legs, my phone was in my back pocket (I had no front pockets), and somehow in standing up my phone went for a swim. Since I still owe on the phone that now doesn’t work, and its too early to upgrade, I had to reactivate my old phone.

Only me.

This crashing course in reality happens to me all the time. I’m the only one who  flips the SUV on a barely-visible slip of ice, the only one who forgets major ingredients in recipes, the one who gets lost if I don’t write directions down.

I’m sure everybody goes through these things, but sometimes I feel like whenever I turn around there’s something embarrassing waiting for me.

There’s something about getting “older” that is to blame for every slip of the step. Even though it’s an inaccurate assumption, it’s the first one everyone runs to. Oh, she’s not playing with a full deck. She doesn’t remember what you tell her half the time. She just doesn’t pay attention. How easy it is for those words to fall out of one’s mouth. And I suppose the validity of such depends on what side of the fence you’re on.

My son has dropped his phone in the toilet. Very little fanfare was made of that. Mom? Whew! Too many Captain’s and Cokes. How can one get lost when you drive that way 25 times a year? Daydreaming out the window while someone else is driving is not an excuse. Can’t fall asleep? Turn off the TV and phone and just lay there in bed like a zombie for 3 hours!

It’s all so easy!

My husband has been pretty kind to me after the phone incident. He  accompanied me to U.S. Cellular to get my old phone activated, and even offered his new phone to me in exchange.

But somehow I know there’s a little chuckle going on inside, thinking he let me have too good a time at the concert that night.

Well, he just didn’t see the leprechaun that followed me into the stall, That’s all…

Wearing Purple

I feel like I was shopping drunk yesterday evening. Of course, I did go out to dinner first, but I don’t believe either the walleye or the potato pancake contained any alcohol. Nor the McDonald’s ice cream cone.

But I digress.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to meet my bestie in Ashville, North Carolina, and hit the Art Scene like a internet data conversion analyst specialist online art director writer.  I was in need of a few new artsy outfits to fit in with my fellow abstractionists and surrealists, so I made a pit stop at the most fashionable store around — Walmart.

Now, I’m sure you have seen those pictures on the Internet of Walmart “shoppers”…the images that show off the uniqueness of the characters and their wardrobes. Well, walking out of of the store a half hour later, I am afraid I will be added to their hidden camera library.

First off, I bought a pair of capris. No problem. Except they’re purple. Which is to match the purple and teal print open style Kimono shawl. Which matches the teal peasant top.

What was I thinking?

Every early winter I write a blog about what women over 50 shouldn’t wear. Fuzzy purple leggings always leads the list. Now I’m afraid purple capris will be second. I am running parallel with all the advice I so willingly gave about dressing your age.

Now, the fuzzy purple leggings I’ve been exposed to and write about are a long way from the royal purple cotton capris that are peeking out of my Walmart bag. The fuzzy leggings are usually wrapped around legs that are too big to wear something that tight, and don’t have the advantage of a long tunic to hide additional large body parts. The purple cotton mid-calf pants hang loosely on my chicken legs, and the teal peasant blouse with the same undercurrent of blues will hang down far enough to semi-cover my estomac and derrière. (Sounds less offensive when spoken in French, no?) Then comes the flowery sheer scarf that set this whole wardrobe malfunction into motion. It’s really a pretty shawl thing…it’s sheer and light and one of those patterned things that chubby women shouldn’t wear.

Since I am in this wardrobe for the long hall, I don’t see myself as a chubby old lady in purple capris, but rather a tall, willowy creative artist with a thing for fashion. Since I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror too often, I can picture myself however I wish. When the breeze blows the kimono scarf around my body I can turn into the sultry maiden looking across the moors for her lost lover, or the skeleton thin strutter down the fashion runway. I can be the trendsetting Zelda Fitzgerald or the fashion pioneer Elsa Schiaparelli.

I can also be the poster woman for weird, over-colored, middle aged+ women. Pathetic, insecure, never quite fitting in, never really confident, drawing too much attention to herself wearing bright prints and too-bold colors.

But not today. Or tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how the outfit turns out in the light of day. After a good night’s sleep. And a shower. And some body spray. And a touch of makeup.

Oh my goodness — I just thought — is this totally unexpected phase reflective of the first few lines of Jenny Joseph’s poem….?

 

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

 

 

 

 

Me and Motley REALLY Ain’t Old!

I was flipping through old posts today and came across this oldie but goodie from a couple of years ago. Just think — I’m two years older than when I wrote this. And I think I need this more than ever. Happy Thursday!

Motley Crue Then

Motley and Me Ain’t Old

There has been a lot of angst going around the blog world lately. Problems, thoughts, ponderings.  It seems to be hitting the 50+ group, although I’ve read quite a few -50 uncertainties as well.  It is like we all are jugging the self-esteem balls, and we keep dropping one or two on our foot. The foot doesn’t break, but it sure as hell hurts.

Motley Crue Now

I myself was going to write a blog about feeling like I’ve really aged in the past year. You know those movie stars and rock stars that come out of mothballs for one reason or another, and you find yourself saying, “Man, have they aged!”  You know — the ones you loved in your teens or 20’s or 30’s.  You cut them no slack for having lived — whether it be through raising a family or doing drugs or surviving tragedies. You want to see them fresh and perky and full of energy. Not wrinkled or bloated. For that reminds us of … us.

I find that at 60 I’m caught between making excuses and living them. The wrinkles and extra pounds and the inability to fall asleep at night and achy legs and feet are from meds, stress, drinking caffeine, sitting at a desk all day, walking the dog, and a hundred other things.  It can’t be that I’m getting old. I mean, Keith Richards looks old. Chevy Chase looks old. Surely ~I~ can’t be looking old like that.

Can I?

This goes beyond our sound reasoning, beyond the I-loved-raising-my-family and the I’ve-been-through-a-lot-of-stuff stuff. It’s the accumulation of all those years of self criticism and/or questionable choices that’s winds up as lines on our faces and girth around our middles. It’s all those rock-and-roll concerts, college parties, and lonely nights.  It’s the sleepless nights staying up with children, hard physical jobs, and watching all those soccer games in the rain.  All these things play with our skin, our circulatory system, our psyche. We do all kinds of good things for ourselves and others. Still the legs ache at night, the circles under our eyes remain, and our hair still turns gray.

The good news is that we can always steer ourselves in a positive direction. We can become pro-active, getting involved in projects and people that keep us too busy to be counting years. We can — and do — make a difference in the world, in other people’s lives.

But still, there are tinges of regret in the eyes of the woman who looks back at me in the mirror. To be honest, there will always be a tiny flicker of sadness that I will never be as beautiful as Angelina or as smart as Einstein or as successful as Steve Jobs.  Now and then there will be a faint whisper of shoulda, coulda, woulda. Looking backwards is a natural action; regret (in some form) a natural reaction. I don’t like the idea that the road is longer behind me than in front of me. Nor do I care for the fact that there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

But then I turn on the stereo or put my ear buds in and listen to my IPod, and my youth comes rushing back to me. And I realize it’s never been gone. And will never leave me.

Come on — I know you’ve got it in you. Put on your favorite music — country song, disco song, hairband song. Turn it on and TURN IT UP. You’ll see you’re not an age — you’re a legend.

When we started this band

All we needed, needed was a laugh

Years gone by

I’d say we kicked some ass

When I’m enraged

Or hittin’ the stage

Adrenalin rushing

Through my veins

And I’d say

We’re still kickin’ ass

Kick Start my Heart, Motley Crue

I Want It All

a4d9a6e95ab9b4ddaac67a2adb860cb5Are you your own best friend?
Or are you your own worst enemy?
Have you found a way to balance the two?

I have the world’s best intentions — I really do. And sometimes I’m even able to carry them out. On the other hand, sometimes my intentions last as long as a thought. Big burst of emotion/intention, then big hit of sidetrack/misdirection.

Now that I’ve finally found the loves of my life (except from 9-5), I am finding it nearly impossible to balance it all without falling asleep at my desk.

Everything is temporary, I know. My kids living with me for a few months has been the greatest gift I ever could have received. I spend my day thinking of what my GB and I can do when I get home. He is a bundle of energy (vs my total lack of it), so I try and plan accordingly. I also plan time for him to be alone with his parents. After all, they all WOULD be alone together if it weren’t for me. First act of balancing.

But spending the 5 hours (ideally) between work and bedtime have drastically cut the time I have to spend on the other love of my life: writing. Specifically (at least at this moment) my blog(s).

I know there is no comparison between flesh and blood and words on a screen. No comparison between talking to my daughter-in-law and responding to posts online. This time will soon be gone, and I’ll have evenings to myself once again. Every day is a new experience, a new adventure. Who want to miss that?

But I am a Sagittarius, and I want the glory, the excitement, the magic NOW. I am an adventurer, even though I may fall flat half way through my trek. And I (like all of you) are multi-dimensional. I love creating, researching, building, perfecting whatever it is that sets my heart a flutter. My blog (especially the Art one) is quenching my thirst for personal satisfaction. It is something I can call MY OWN. Not hunting or fishing like the boys; not going back to school like friends; not raising children like my kids and friends kids. It’s something created out of my soul and warmed by the sun and fertilized by the moon. It’s something that has turned from a fad idea to a real pursuit of the extraordinary.

I think I suffer somewhat from the life-is-running-out syndrome, too. I’m getting older:  there are fewer years ahead of me than behind, and there’s tons of things I still want to do. I’ve given up dreams of visiting the museums of Rome or wandering through the moors of Scotland. Discovering the planet China is off my list, too. But I can still do things that make me happy, that make me proud. I’m just running out of time to do them.

My circadian rhythm is so out of whack I doubt I could get it back in line with a baseball bat. I get home, am awake, creative, love the evening, the sunset, the kids, the night. Then I can’t fall asleep. Midnight, 1, 2 a.m. and I’m still cruising through the galaxy. I get up at 6 so four hours of sleep isn’t doing it for me. I’ve tried everything to calm down at night. My fear is that I’ll have to give up everything creative if I want to sleep. Or clean my house. Or even make it to work on time.

I admit it. I want it all. I’m too young to retire, too poor to quit working. All of you creative sprites know how it is when you just start getting into your project and you look up at the clock and it’s midnight. Einstein’s time travel continuum has struck again.

So. I ask you. Any suggestions on how I can do it all?

In this lifetime??

Reflections of Disney World Through Middle-Aged Eyes

0956dc8c1d8c51f1fab033809ce7a99fMy feet  are aching, my wallet is empty, and I have Wished Upon a Star. I’ve had an exhausting, sweaty, mostly wonderful time in the Big D; I’ve learned a lot and observed more. So here, for better or worse, are reflections about Disney and its mystique.

*   The Disney World transport system is a force come into its own. It’s slick, by golly. I hardly had to wait for a bus to go anywhere.

*  On top of that,  I have to stand up and cheer for the way the Disney System takes care of those with disabilities.  The buses are amazing; the entire fleet has wheelchairs down to a science. The drivers are patient and helpful; the rides in all the parks have special entrances and spots just for those who have to use a wheelchair to get around. Disability is just another word around there.

* The Fast Pass is the way to go. I can’t tell you the devilish delight I had passing those who stood in line for an hour and a half for a 1-1/2 minute ride. At 90 degrees, this quick fix beat melting into a puddle.

*  The biggest terrorist threat at the parks are people pushing strollers. Now, I understand that they, too, have little hot potatoes squiggling and crying and being totally unreasonable, but that doesn’t mean they have to run you down in order to get to the next ride/air conditioned show/home. I had my ankles nipped once and nearly pushed off the boat by parents who then look at me like I’m the alien. Steer clear if at all possible.

*  There is a total lack of modesty at the Magic Kingdom when it comes to Mickey Mouse Ears. I saw so many ears in so many colors and styles it made my head spin. Bride ears, groom ears, pink-and-white polka-dot Minnie ears, Minnie ears with Malificent horns, red velvet ears, sparkly silver ears, disco-flashing ears — the variety was endless. And that was mostly on adult heads.

*  It was great that there were 6 adults to one four-year-old. No one individual had the energy to keep up with the little guy. So, if possible, bring reinforcements.

*  I am the first to admit that I don’t get it. There were lots of people there with children under 3. I understand if the older siblings want to go on rides and meet Goofy, but it seems pretty goofy to me to take a 1-year-old on a spinning tea cup or a flying elephant. The kid doesn’t get it, won’t remember it, and will have sunstroke before noon. Plus — just the hassle of bringing your entire changing table everywhere you go. I don’t get it.

*  Every meal was $10+. No matter if it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Every small bottle of NesQuik was $2.79 and every ice cream bar $4.  I know a lot of people bring a lot of their own food, but practicality dictates it’s not worth it. Ask for ice water at any stand (it’s free), split meals, bring snacks. Share, share, share. It doesn’t take the entire bite out of the budget, but the sting becomes more like a sweat bee than a hornet.

*  I used to think I was a people person. Working in downtown Chicago didn’t bother me a bit. Alas, that was 30 years ago. My patience has, shall we say, waned a bit through the years, and my tolerance for stupid people has waned along with it. Sticking to the person sitting next to you on the bus ride back to the hotel just didn’t do it for me. I realize that, in an environment such as that, we all have our limits. I definitely am not a people person. And am glad for it.

*  I also noticed that obesity is rampant in America. I admit I add to that pool; being 20 pounds overweight didn’t help my sweat-energy factor. But there were a lot of BIG people out there — especially kids. I read a note online somewhere to not attack obesity when salads are $7 and burgers are $1, but come on. $1 burgers did not do the damage. Bad eating habits and lack of exercise did. Hopefully walking around the park for days was a start of a new exercise regime. It is for me, for sure.

*  Sun and chlorine are wonderful aging elements. I don’t think I looked this old when I started vacation. But a week in the pool didn’t do much to make me look younger.  Maybe all I need is some Wisconsin weather. And Wisconsin cheese. And Wisconsin beer.

*  And, lastly, bobbing around in the pool or waiting for the kids to get off the ride gave me a lot of time for thinking. For recalculating who I am and what I want from life. Most of what I wanted was right there. But there was something lacking.

When you’re traveling in a group, your say is only one fraction of the whole. In this case, my opinion was only 1/7th of the whole. And somewhere in that percentage I lost myself. Not on purpose — it was just the way of the percentages.

I found that I wanted to be seen and heard and felt in a whole new way. That sharing is all well and good, but I wanted to do something that stood up above and beyond my 1/7th. I’m working on that readjustment this Memorial Day Weekend. I’m working on the reality that I can be 1/7th of an opinion and be 100% of one, too.

You can too. Just find a way to be yourself.

Maybe that’s what the point of all those Mickey Mouse ears was!

Fashion Rule Number Two

CAM01211I didn’t think I’d be adding to my Fashion Advice Blog (my FAB blog…heh…) so soon. After all, I just packed two paper bags to give to Good Will.

But dressing this morning Lesson Two dawned on me:

Don’t let the crabbies dictate your outfit.

Now, being on a different shift than my other half, I’m often looking through my closet in the morning with the flashlight app on my smartphone. Yesterday I woke up crabby, and neglected — no, downright ignored — the outfit I had picked out the night before. I couldn’t fall asleep, I didn’t want to wake up. So why should I look fresh to the world?

Because of that frumpy choice I felt off-center all day. Even my bling of a necklace couldn’t push me left or right of the funk. By the end of the day, though, the temperature outside was near 60, the sun danced between the clouds, and I had a great time outside with my grandbaby.

Just think that I could have had that feeling all day long if I’d just dressed in what I had originally chosen.

We’re not big dresser-uppers at work; the younger generation does wear great outfits, but the middlers and post-middlers don’t often follow suit. Well, I want to follow suit. As I said in my earllier blog (Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-ZR), I don’t want to be that monochrome person (paraphrasing, of course…)

This morning I was again crabby. Not the I’ll-knock-your-socks-off-if-you-talk-to-me crabby, just a why-do-I-have-to-do-this-five-days-a-week crabby. The sun was rising over the trees out my back window; the promise of 60 degrees in the air. So I went back and picked out yesterday’s outfit: a blue top and flowered skirt, and a pair of blue sandals.

And I feel young again.

Now, I hear many of you say, “I’m not a skirt/dress person.” During the winter I’m not either. But there’s something in a flowy skirt blowing in the breeze that makes me feel fresh. Different. Lighter. As if my cares have fluttered away. Lightweight pants and flowy tops can do the same. Or colorful scarves.

Kinda like church on Sundays back in the old days.

So that will be Lesson Two. Pick out your outfit the night before (when you still have some fun left in you), and don’t be swayed by the grump you can sometimes be. Lighten Up. Take a Chance. If you can’t do the night-before-thing, take an extra three minutes and do it right in the morning. Don’t go searching with the flashlight app. You may pull out blue bottoms and a different blue top.

Think of the horror of mass boredom you might create.

Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter

giphyFor all of you who are tired of making sure your blues are all the same blue and you wear only one pattern at a time:

This morning I complimented a girl on the color combinations of her outfit. She was wearing a purple t-shirt over a pink shell, with a bright green jacket. I didn’t notice her pants, because I’m sure they were the basic black/navy/dark brown. And that’s point number one.

I didn’t notice her pants because they were very basic.

Despite the fact that she was half my age and weight, she carried off the rainbow pretty well. And I told her so. (I like to give out compliments when I can.) That led to my second thought — if I were dressed like that, I’d look like I was heading off to the circus.

Tada dum. An instant putdown to a healthy thought.

Now, the outfit wasn’t offensive in any way. It wasn’t too short, too small, too tight, too sloppy. It was a play on colors I had not seen together. And — I liked it.

Yet I hide in my black-on-black and silver-and-black and pink-and-black. Summer may throw in some whites and greens, but it’s pretty much old lady old. Last year I wrote a blog called Old Lady BoHo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu) where I was going to lighten up my wardrobe and wear flowy skirts and peasant tops and whatever felt good.

And here I am, writing this blog, dressed in black pants and a black-and-white mosaic shirt.

Woo hoo.

And I think — I can’t do this any more.

I know there are plenty of women who are perfectly happy in the monochromes of the world. But deep inside I am not. I think I’m so afraid of “stepping out of the (color) box” because I’m afraid of looking stupid, so I pass on a lot of fun, comfortable, ME things.

I’m not totally helpless yet — I do have tops with promise, and I have bought a few of those cotton dresses from India for summer evenings.  But I sure could use some advice — and a boost of confidence. I’m sure there are other readers out there who could use a boost in the wardrobe department, too. Or who have taken the plunge and never looked back.

I want to be that person.

I know I cant (nor do I want to) dress like I’m 20 or 30. I might have the legs for mini skirts, but my buttocks and stomach aren’t quite as accommodating — or forgiving. But there has to be fun colors and patterns out there I can put together and not look like the a haushalterin. But my color palate is like the image above and right. Always moving, always confusing.

So I am starting a class on Midlife Wardrobe Changes. Not a book/notes/regular attendance kind of thing. Just a blog now and then that gives suggestions on what looks good on a 62-year-old hip, fun granny.

And I sure could use your input.

Lesson One: Closet Cleaning.

Less is More. And less makes room for more. Get a paper bag. Open it. Go to your closet. Pick out three things you haven’t worn in a year. Ask yourself why not. If there is ONE NANO-SECOND of hesitation, put it in the bag.

Pick out three pieces you love to wear. Ask yourself why. If there is ONE NANO-SECOND of adoration, put them back.

Pick out three more pieces that you haven’t worn in quite a while. Ask yourself why not. And this time wait for the answer. Was it a little too tight? A little too short? A little too baggy? Be honest. Then put them in the bag.

It might take you a few weeks to do this, but trust me, you will have a thinner collection. It’s the too small/too tight/too silly looking pieces that make you look stupid, not some peasant blouse or Hawaiian shirt.

The next step is stepping over the conservative barrels your youth set out for you. Catholic schools are at one end of the horror spectrum, big city public schools the other. You either couldn’t afford the newest duds, or weren’t allowed to think about them. We have to shed this heavy coat of conservatism.

But that is Lesson Number Two. Fodder for another day.

In the meantime, if you want to give me some fashion advice, please do. What works for you or what you’re looking for.

I only have 20 or 25 years to get this right. Better start sooner than later.