August 31, 2011

Standing Still

Chebeague Island, Maine

The tail end of hurricane Irene blew through the Boston area on Sunday. I love summer storms. The smell of damp air, the quick reverse in summertime's splendor. The coziness.

There's something so delicious about summer rain. I think I know what it is actually. When it's cold out and it rains, everyone seems to retreat into instant hibernation, but when it's warm, sun kissed summers simply get kissed again by the rain.

Photo by Ove Topfer

at noon on Sunday we suddenly lost power. "Uh-oh," I thought. Usually I like it when this happens. Not this time. Just a temporary thing, I hoped. I lit some candles.  I was feeling a little jiggy- what if it doesn't come back on for a long time? I have so much to do!

I started by at least cleaning up the breakfast dishes. Couldn't run the dishwasher...couldn't do laundry...with my cell phone uncharged, I couldn't even return any calls. No music. Nothing in the house was working except the Ipad, which I find kind of annoying.

I couldn't even go for a run.

Trapped, I thought.

And the electricity didn't come back on for nearly 5 hours.

Luckily, the kids pulled out some games. Games are great equalizers with teenagers. It took me a long time to figure this out unfortunately. Games are a great connector between all the generations actually.

For starters, the four of us played Apples to Apples. As usual, I find my game mate's goof ballish-ness and smarts very entertaining...

Then we went on to my favorite game: Bananagrams. Oh man do I love this game. If you don’t know it- it's similar to scrabble but without the board- and you create your own little crossword puzzle, unconnected to anyone else. Kind of like having your own little individual pie. And then you race against everyone else to use up all the letters. It's a fabulous game I tell you. I could seriously play it every day.

And the cute little yellow banana pouch, with the zipper, that the letters come in?

The beauty of it is that you can take it with you absolutely anywhere.

Photo by Fran Priestly

So in the end

the engine was cut and I was forced to stand still.

Sometimes the saying “everything happens for a reason” bugs me.

But the older I get

the more I think

that oftentimes

it is absolutely true.

August 26, 2011

And In The End

There is no duty

we so much underrate

as the duty

of being happy.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

August 24, 2011

Driven to Distraction

Manchester-by-the-Sea Bathhouse   by Erika Chan

I grew up in a hippie household

in the 1960s.

The youngest of five,

by a long stretch.

My atheist DAD

and my non-atheist MOM

did their best to get us to

our Presbyterian church on Sundays.

Photo by Caroline Fernandes

But my religious education

went amiss,

having witnessed my older sibling's

religious revolt,

not to mention my own slight ADD'ishness.

And now

forty years later

I can't say I've come any further

except to know

that we're all connected

and simply

just need



each other.

August 19, 2011

Aging Gracefully in Theatre

This week’s beauty is 81-year-old Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent. Being a keen admirer of older people, he caught my attention recently when I saw the movie Away From Her in which he played the loving husband to his wife (played by the beautifully aging Julie Christie) who is struggling with Alzheimer’s. One of my daughters thought the movie was depressing but I really enjoyed it because it was such a sweet, sweet love story and a beautiful moving tale that deals with memory and its sometimes circuitous, enigmatic path over the course of a long marriage. Away From Her came out in 2007 with good reviews and an Oscar nomination. I’m happy that I finally got to see it.

One of my favorite quotes from the movie was, "I'm thinking that sometimes you just have to make the decision to be happy. Just decide. Things aren't ever what you hoped they'd be. Not ever, for anybody. The only thing that separates one kind of person from another is there are some who stay angry about it and there are some who... accept what comes their way." ~ Olympia Dukakis, as Marian.

Pinsent says that "retirement is never a question. Retire from what?"

How many people get to say that?

Here the actor discusses the positive side of aging.

Keep it coming Gordon. I like you.

And P.S. maybe you and Betty White should have dinner? No?

August 16, 2011

So Who Are We Really?

Photo by Annesen Kjartan, Denmark
I have the kind of mind that enjoys taking personality tests. I'm not sure why. Most of the tests seem like useless information that I tend to forget soon after I take them but it was not the case when I took David Keirsey’s temperament test from his book Please Understand Me II. Similar to the Myer’s Brigg’s test, Kerisey divides human temperaments into sixteen categories. My sister-in-law gave our extended family Keirsey’s test one summer weekend when we were all together several years ago in Maine. It was an eye opener for all of us. I have since given it to my side of the family and several friends.  It has given me a much better understanding of myself and why I like to hang with certain people more than others and what makes every one, including myself, tick.

As a parent, and someone who has been with the same partner for almost 30 years, the test connected a lot of dots. My kids took the test just as they were entering their teenage years-  well beyond the time when I started to wonder how one of them could be so comfortable always wearing mismatched socks, or being in the limelight- when neither of her parents are platform people themselves.

And what about our other child who has been giving me sound advice since she was four years old?  She is almost always right but why is she compelled to zero in on what needs adjustment? Just what is going on inside her little noggin?

And how about Mr. Fix It  Tom, my husband? The guy whose personality over the years has shall I say… grown larger, as I’m sure mine has as well. Seeing his test result really helps me to not take things that he sometimes comments on personally. Like for instance- how I load the dishwasher or how I organize the pantry.  Now that I know his temperament type I can usually just say to myself  "There goes Inspector Watson again." It’s not about me, it’s about him. And likewise, when I ask him as we’re leaving for a weekend away if he has his bathing suit and his glasses- he is more apt to remember now that I ask this not because I don’t trust him to do a good job, but simply because I am just trying to take care of him. It's not about him, it's about me.

It turns out that our little nest over here contains not one but two Inspectors, a Performer, and a Provider and I think if you asked any one of us, we would all say that Keirsey’s test has helped us to better understand ourselves, and each other, and why we say or do the things we do. It has also helped us to appreciate each other more, love each other more fully, and to not take things so personally- and life so damn seriously.  Taking Keirsey’s test was a bit like family therapy but lightening fast with just 70 quick questions and a bit of follow-up reading. Ta Da!

70 test questions here:

Please Understand Me II book review here.

Also in this week’s Boston Globe is an interesting article called Why Do We Get So Annoyed?

August 12, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Synergy

This week's beauties are my 50-year-old chickadees Cindy and Heather, who are my best friends from high school. I am just back from our annual get together.

It's been almost 35 years of knowing and loving each other.

Reflecting our worlds in one another's eyes.

Riding the ebb and flow of life,




Strengthening when the chips are down.

Laughing till

we fall off our seats.

You're my golden girls.

My forever friends.

My soul sisters.

And as Cindy said,

I wish life was like this every day.

I love you two.

This past spring Marci and I joined Cindy on her radio show Hope, Health and Healing to discuss the benefits and importance of friendships. Heather called in from California. Click here if you missed the show and would like to hear it.

Happy summertime weekend everyone,


August 09, 2011

Mind Matter

Photo by Denise S. Leon

Be who you are
and say what you feel,
because those who mind
don't matter,
and those who matter
don't mind.

~Dr. Seuss

Thanks to Maureen for sending this in.

Swimming for 29 hours straight at age 62 from Cuba?....Diana Nyad you are still my champion.

August 05, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Reinvention

This week's beauty is environmentalist and author Ronnie Citron-Fink who is 56 years old ( I know, can you believe it?). Ronnie has written hundreds of articles about green living, design, and the environment for websites, books and magazines. She currently works for the Environmental Defense Fund and blogs at Econesting, Moms Clean Air Force, Care2, and Planet Green. Her posts can also be found on Inhabitat, Yahoo!Green, Huffington Post, and Treehugger- just to name a few. Before Ronnie turned 50 she was an English teacher who became a head administrator but she soon felt like she was just going through the motions, losing patience, and fizzling out. Her long commute didn't help. She was cooked. Today she shares her story with us about starting over:

“Who says I can’t start a new career at 50?” That was the all-consuming question tugging at my core a few years ago. I knew instinctively that if I could find the answer, it would be the key to rekindling my creativity. At the time, the question seemed insurmountable. Why? Because amongst my “people,” I had serious doubters. It was my turn to define this new dimension of life. I knew what I didn’t want to do. I was not interested in a job that dragged me away from home, fed my car endless amounts of fuel, or required me to react rather than create. It was time to dig deep into passions that were lying dormant — writing, design, DIY, and saving the environment. OK, the last one is a tad lofty, but who said a middle-aged woman can’t change the world?

Blogging for me comes out of a passion to share information. It’s like a chat between friends. For almost three years, I’ve been cranking out blog posts and getting paid. I’ve had deeply moving conversations with people from all over the world. Daily, my creativity is sparked as I source how to live a simpler, more sustainable life. Sharing what I learn about new products, eco-designers, and artists feeds my belief that style, sustainability, and social-consciousness are at the heart of what I want to write about.

It has been my experience that women come to the midpoint of their lives with layers and layers of meaningful life experiences. Those life layers have the capacity to guide us towards a new, creative life. I couldn’t have done at 25 what I’m doing now. Years of balancing a family and work have made my life simply full of life. Instead of a classroom, now I share ideas with the world.

How about that finish line? I’m just hitting my stride, and the line is not even on my radar.

Ronnie I love hearing stories like yours. Thank you for being this week's beauty.

Photos by Jen Kiaba
More photos by Jen Kiaba of Ronnie's Hudson Valley home here.

August 02, 2011

Passing Inspection

A few years ago I had an old car. It was starting to fall apart, but I was hesitant to get a new one because my kids were learning to drive. So I waited, and waited, and when I went for my new inspection sticker I held my breath. And. then. one. year. I. didn't. pass. Too much rust. It was relatively easy to fix though- I just went and got a new car.

A few months ago I went for my annual inspection with my doctor. I posted a few weeks ago about how a warning light went on with my vitamin D levels. I then went for a mammogram, and I have my first colonoscopy scheduled for today (yuck).

I also recently had a bone density test which. I. failed. Bad news. I have -3.2 bone loss in my spine which is not just mild osteopenia, but full blown osteoporosis...


So I can suddenly see where this 'aging gracefully' thing is going dear readers. Failing vision, poor memory, and occasional achy hips have been minor things to contend with and I knew it. The more serious signs of aging just hadn't started to hit me until now. The odd thing is that I feel better, from swimming and lower stress levels, then I ever have. I feel terrific, but the test results are telling a different story.

The test results are saying: 'You can't always judge a book by it's cover.'

Last week the endocrinologist told me that swimming isn't doing me a bit of good in the osteoporosis department. I need to be doing weight bearing activity- running! walking! dancing! light weights!


I thought swimming was going to carry me into old age. I thought I had a plan. You're screwing with my plan dear doctor :-(

Anyway, this is the 2nd time that my body has failed me and it's kind of a bummer...

I just
to let