January 31, 2012

The Conversation of Life

This past weekend Mr.Fix-it and I went up to the little bungalow that we are renovating and putting on the market this spring. It's a waterfront property on beautiful Pleasant Lake in Deerfield, NH, just over an hour's drive from our home. A disgusting mess when we bought it eighteen months ago, it is now a gem, which I will be very sad to see it go when it sells.

Saturday evening greeted us with a star-speckled sky and after a night of camping out in the middle of our construction site, we awoke on Sunday to another sparkling January day. While Mr. Fix-it got right to work on installing the kitchen, I headed off to my favorite new breakfast spot called the Northwood Diner, just five miles down the road. The folks who own it and work there are so chilled-out and friendly that it made me consider moving to this neck of the woods.

Back at the house I busied myself upstairs with filling nail holes with putty, and scraping old paint and gunk off the windows with a razor blade. What is it about mindless, repetitive tasks that I like so much? I remember hearing actress Jodie Foster comment on this years ago- about how such tasks are so satisfying to her. Somehow I find such peace when I am doing home renovations. It's kind of like knitting is for me, actually.  I find it gratifying and rewarding to fix, or produce, something physical.

I realize, however, that it certainly isn't this way for everyone!

As I worked away, I got to thinking about what else I really love. Thankfully we get clearer on this the older we grow. I think that discovering what we really love is a big part of what life is all about, actually.  Zeroing in on what really rings our bell.

The other thing that I thought about was how much I love conversations about life. I think this is why I like reading blogs so much. I'm curious, and feel enriched to hear people's thoughts about life, and daily living. About making the pieces come together. About creating happiness around us. Sometimes it's the really small stuff- like what neat combination of ingredients went into a burrito- to the much broader, and bigger, and deeper conversations about figuring ourselves out, and the world that surrounds us.

So that's my weekend in a nutshell. I'm sure I'll have more updates as the project winds down and comes to a close.

Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life. ~Marcus Aurelius

January 27, 2012

Aging Gracefully with Writing

This week's beauty is Kathryn Magendie who is 54 years old. Aside from being an author, and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal, Kathryn has written four books, with her fifth due out this spring.

Kathryn also has a great blog where I found this wonderful piece of hers on aging:

"I flip through a magazine and realize it’s no longer strange to see clever ads for Botox and plastic surgery, the ones that make the decision seem a smart and savvy one for the up and coming woman of distinction. Why are we so hooked on “Beauty” and who started all this madness?

Well, let’s see. In ancient Babylon, not only the women but also the men wore eye shadow and eyeliner, darkened their lashes, curled their hair, and used henna for nail color. Ancient Grecian woman used crushed berries for blush on their cheeks, and wore fake eyebrows made of ox’s hair. The Egyptians slathered blue paint to show off their veins. Those girly Roman women made facial masks out of flowers, honey, wheat, and eggs; hey, that’s not so bad! But Medieval women applied bat’s blood to their faces (good god), while both men and women used pumice stones to rub their teeth (ouch). Beginning with the sixteenth century, women applied white lead to their faces so they could look “pale” (lord help them) and used lye to lighten their hair, which then fell out so that wigs had to be worn to cover the patchy hair/scalp results.

I study my image in the mirror and try not to be so demanding of my face and body—and yes, I’ll apply a little make-up, some moisturizers, zap a little razz-a-ma-taz to the face and hair, work out with weights and do yoga and aerobic activity, watch what I eat. But really, I’m not so bad, am I? A 54 year-old woman who takes care of herself and does not want scalpels or needles plunged into her skin in the name of what some may call Beauty and “Ever-lasting” Youth. I do see the wonders of medical/dermatological sciences so that we can feel better about ourselves, but where does it all end? How far are we willing to go to Deny what is inevitable? We are going to age. Things will happen. When we Over-Youth-a-fy, we lose something of Ourselves, don’t we? The character of ourselves? That which sets us apart and makes us uniquely us? That which makes us interesting. When I look at your faces, I am excited, for I respectfully and happily write about you, the parts of you that show me who you are and where you have been, and the life you have lived. I celebrate you and all your Self.

So when you see me, you’ll see a woman who is her age. Who takes care of herself. But what you won’t see is a woman who is ashamed of who she is at the age she is, for I’m rather tired of being told I should be ashamed and to Do Something About It"

Thank you Kathryn for being this week's beauty.


January 24, 2012

Pack My Suitcase (PMS)

My friend Monica Rodgers, co-founder of The Revelation Project, and single mommy blogger at Alone in the Childerness (like camping; only much more terrifying), posted this the other day and I just had to share it with you.

Talk about a story that everyone can relate to! Even post-menopausal me who is delighted to have finally crossed over.

It totally tickled my funny bone:

When am I going to learn that PMS means:



But No.




Instead it’s like the reoccurring mysterious behavioral phenomenon every month and when it finally arrives I’m all:

"Ooooooh so Thhhhhats why I was such a psycho last week!"

(insert mortified remorse as I flash back to the week in detail… oh, those poor poor people.)


Ok so seriously?  You’d think I’d have a routine down here- you know- every month for the past 28 years like clock work (except for 2-3 of those years when i was pregnant/nursing)   You think maybe i’d have a plan in place to deal with the “situation”- you know, in case it should arise.  



Instead,  I use the week before to simply wonder if perhaps I might be going crazy….  ?

I use the time to be completely reactionary and practice new and more creative ways of losing my grip.

RE action ZONE. Proceed with extreme caution.

Common scenarios and thoughts (one might refer to as clues) that cycle through my head the week before:

“Wow,  I wonder why I am soooo hungry today?- I feel like I could just eat the entire house” (Run kids run for your lives before you get eaten toooo!)


“No one appreciates me – I’m outta here!” (I could just pack my bags right now and leave!- that would show them!)

“I’m soooo tired and I think i need to take a….. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz”  ”just putting the kids to bed honeyZzzzzzz”



“I am NOT being irrational! I’m NOT! It was MY box of Nutter Butters! MINE!- you hear me?!!”

“Did she just cut me off?  Dirty Whore!!!”



"WAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH… that commercial is so. so. sad.- it just gets me every time!”

“Are you done with that doughnut?”



“I have such a headache- it’s like a migrane – I wonder if i am coming down with something?” (taking my temperature every 20 minutes)

“I love you”

“I HATE you!”



Don’t look at me in that TONE!!!!

So… there are in fact a few red flags you know?  but no, every month there is like a big surprise party to mark it’s murderous arrival.


Why am I bleeding? !!!!

Oh, is it already that time of month?

January 20, 2012

Aging Gracefully with Creativity

This week's beauty is Jane Skoch who is 49 years old. Jane is a former chemical engineer, mother of four, crafter, and the creator of Maiden Jane, which is her creative line of practical, yet pretty, accessories and housewares.

Jane has this to say about aging gracefully:

My first thoughts on aging are about acceptance:  the grey hairs, the lumpy body, and the aches and pains. But aging gracefully is about so much more than that.  It is about the acceptance of who I am.
As a young girl it was easy to compare myself to people around me.  I wanted to be outgoing, thin, beautiful, and wear nice clothes. In my mind, whatever I was - was never good enough. There was always someone who could play the piano or speak publicly better than me.

Attending an all-girls high school and working a variety of jobs, I slowly pulled myself out of the shy shell in which I lived.  I gained confidence in myself and my abilities, developed a love of learning and excelled in the classroom.  I became the “best” in my class only to quickly realize I was just like a lot of my college friends.

The evolution of education to career was challenging academically, but more so in the big picture of life.  I was unsure that I had selected the right field, unsure if I would like it, unsure if I could handle it.  I had hoped for a family some day but didn’t even have a boyfriend.  Getting my first “C” helped me.  It forced me to stop and think about my career choice. I realized that I would have many careers in my lifetime. 

That “C” in my junior year in college was the point where I feel I began to age gracefully.  I realized that life is a journey and I needed to embrace the experiences in that journey – not simply worry about the end points. I plowed forward in my major, took on the first job, and learned some things that I liked and some that I didn’t.  A husband and children followed as did a new part of the journey.

Motherhood, frightening at first, helped me become stronger.  I discovered the nurturer and the advocate inside of me.  I also discovered that I needed other people more than ever, especially my family and my parents. Beyond need, I also developed a heightened appreciation for family and friends.  There is nothing more important to me than being surrounded by the people I love and to cherish the time with them.

I have learned that I have opinions and I am not afraid to express them (unlike the shy little girl that I was.) I have learned that even though I have opinions, to be kind is always the most important thing to be.  I have learned that a few grey hairs and wrinkles around the eyes hide a history of worries and laughs and tears.  I have learned that a smile is the most beautiful part of anyone’s face.  I have learned that doubts may still creep in, but I know me – I accept me – I like me.

It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey, in the end, that matters. ~ Ursula LeGuin

You can find Maiden Jane on Etsy.

Jane also has a neat blog.

Thank you Jane for being this week's beauty.

January 17, 2012

Ninety-Five Going on Forty

Brooklyn artist and film maker, Julia Warr, met 95-year-old Russian ballet dancer, Maia Helles on a plane four years ago. Noticing that Maia was as fit and healthy as a forty year old, it convinced Julia of the benefits of the daily exercise routine that Maia perfected, with her mother, more than 60 years ago. Way before exercise classes were ever invented of course!

What is very limber, 95-year-old Maia's secret to long life you may be wondering?

Simplicity, work, and enjoyment.

Julia's above video, My Friend Maia, has gone viral. With only 38 hits on January 10th, it understandably received 3,637 yesterday.

Enjoy this very calming, beautiful clip.
Shot in Fire Island, NY

Many thanks to Carolyn for sending it in.

January 13, 2012

Aging Gracefully with Abundance

This week's beauty is the wonderful author Dorothy Hoffman Sander who is 60-years-old. Aside from having written two books, Dorothy also has a lovely blog called Aging Abundantly, where writes about making the very most out of the second half of life.

Dorothy has this to share about growing older:

Being Older and Wiser is the Icing on the Cake of Life

I know I am not the only one who has said repeatedly in recent years, “Gosh, I wish I knew that twenty years ago!”…or ten years ago, or five, or even yesterday! As we move into our later years it’s easy to bemoan not only our aging body, but that everything we learned getting to this point would have served us better in our youth…or so we believe.

Living all these years has also given us a wonderful opportunity. Our many years of  making mistakes, wrong choices, wrong actions, wrong thinking has allowed us to amass a whole lot of learning and experience.  In fact, we know so much now that we might even be considered “wise”.  One can only be truly be wise by having tried and failed, loved and lost  many, many times and consequently, be old! So, we should put aside our regrets and grab hold of the gift of wisdom and get busy living our todays.

Being older and wiser is the icing on the cake of life. It is our comfort food to savor and enjoy and it will be our companion for the remainder of our days. It is, in fact, a gift that will keep on giving and growing as long as we choose to live life to the fullest.

We get to know a thing or two about life…to have a few answers, to have a better idea of what it takes to be happy and fulfilled. I just think that awareness might just be worth a few wrinkles, sagging boobs and gray hair. Besides, creases around the eyes enhance our eyes, our soft bodies delight and comfort our grand babies, and our gray hair makes us look like queens. We’ve graduated from our jobs as princesses. Now, we not only have beauty, we have the power of wisdom.

Thank you Dorothy!

You can find Aging Abundantly on Facebook.

January 10, 2012

Flipping the Switch

Several years ago my husband, Tom, explained to me that in everything we do we are either trying to gain pleasure or avoid pain.

Hmmm... I thought. Could this be?

He was probably on to something but I had to think about it.

I began noticing what he said was true.

Soon after I had a dentist appointment, which over the years, I had grown to dread. After having had several root canals, I hated going even for a cleaning.

I felt trapped in the dentist's chair, pinned down even, with sweaty hands, a pounding heart, at their mercy, with my mouth gaping wide open.

I couldn't wait until it was over.

It was a painful situation.

So I started to think about how I could gain pleasure from going to the dentist. It didn't seem possible but what I finally came up with was that I began to look at it as a spa experience.

Oh yeah baby.

Suddenly, instead of being in a torture chamber I was in the lap of luxury.  Flat on my back, relaxing. Cleanings became little enjoyable massages for my mouth. Someone was lovingly taking care of me, instead of putting me through miserable agony. 

The change was like flipping a switch.

The pleasure switch.

So next time you are experiencing something painful

look. for. the switch.

and hopefully

you will find



January 06, 2012

Beauties of the Week

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.
~Leonardo da Vinci

I always think that gray haired women and men are so stunning.
A gray haired wanna-be, I remain.

(To enlarge collage simply click on it)

For previous posts on going gray click here and here.

Have a nice weekend, dear readers of mine,

January 03, 2012

Focusing In

New year's resolutions are usually attempts to take better care of ourselves, and in truth, love ourselves more. Be it emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually.

From experience I know that I take much better care of everything in my life when I'm greedy enough to take care of myself first.

We are all much happier, I think, when we take the time to do this.

To put this to the test- next time you feel unhappy- notice what you are unhappy about. It is likely going to be, at least in part, about not taking good care of your "self".

Personally, I think it should be point #1 in the course of Personal Management 101, not to mention in aging gracefully.

So why is it so hard for so many people to focus in and put themselves first?

It may be in part because many people avoid change and the unwelcome emotions that come with it, explains an article in Fortune about why new year's resolutions are so hard to keep.

For instance, losing weight successfully -and long term- is not usually attainable if we don't pull up the veil and deal with why we overeat and stop reaching for the solace of food when we aren't hungry.

My friend Aldra at Consciously Frugal wrote a great post last week on compulsive behavior, if you are interested.

Also, if your goal this year is about exercising more, especially in the pool, Women Magazine is featuring an article about yours truly called Swimming Spirit. Among other things, it has tips for getting started with swimming.

Aside from eating well and exercising, I thought I'd mention a few other new years resolutions that might ring a bell with many of you. I know they do with me:

  • Stop being consumed by things we cannot control. 
  • Stop worrying: so much of our stress comes from impending disasters that never happen or worrying about things that really don't matter.
  • Stop freaking out about the economy.
  • Stop saying "yes" when we want to say "no". A good way to do this, if it is hard for you, is to say that you need to think about it first, and then circle back around to the person with your answer.
  • Stop worrying about where we will be in 5 or 10 years. Think about what we want to do and less about what we want to be.
If we are doing what we want, than chances are that we will be where we want to be.

Photo by Orlando Pinto, Portugal