December 30, 2007

Thanks for the Party!

Whew, that was fun! The parties have all been fun, but this one was especially fun. The facts are that there were over 120 people at the party and you all sure looked like you were having a good time. Lots and lots of new faces, just amazing!

Lots of you told me that you enjoyed reading this blog, and I love to hear that! And lots of you told me that the party was lots of fun and that you appreciate my organizing them, but there's one thing you don't realize! It's YOU, yes YOU, who make it fun! OK, I book the room and have greeters and name taggers, but it's you you have smiles on your faces and talk to people you don't know and dance your hearts out and that's what makes the party fun. You! Really! Already I've received two comments via email: thanks for a great party, last night and Just thought I'd drop you a quick "thank you' email.... in spite of my nervousness being a first time singles event visitor, I met some nice people and had an enjoyable time for the two hours or so that I stayed... next time I'll plan on staying out later!!

I extend my sincere appreciation to Jose and Miguel at the Warner Center Hilton in Woodland Hills (and Richie and his amazing bar staff) for treating us like such honored guests. And I thank all of you for coming to my party because it's a great pleasure seeing you all have a good time. And yes, it was my birthday and it was my shameless way of having a party for myself, but you all made it happen, so I thank you for being such good sports and mingling and dancing and looking so happy! YOU made it a fun time for me and for all!

OK, enough gushing. Here's the pix of the party (Sorry they're dark, but you get the idea):




Your Happy Warner Center Hilton Bar Staff




You Dancing!




An aerial view of the fun!

December 21, 2007

Happy Whatever!




It's that time of year to give and receive presents and spend time with our families and friends. Some have families far away, some have family members from whom they're estranged, and some have little or no family at all. Some of us are financially well off, some are just getting by, and some have very little. For some, this is a very happy and joyful season and for others it is sad and lonely.

For me, it's a mixed bag. I have a lot of family I don't see, after many years or acrimony, and I'm sad about that. I have a daughter and son-in-law I adore and who have blessed the world with 4-year-old twins who enrich my life, like there is really no word to express the joy they bring to me. (Yes, that's their two smiling faces in the picture.) I have old friends I cherish and new friends who I've met this year who had added to my life in new and delightful ways. I have a roof over my head and a cat and a dog and a good car. I am getting a year older at the turn of the year, but I still feel young and vibrant. Even at this age, I'm still surmounting the issues created by a less-than-loving childhood, but I am happy much of the time. I'm in what might be the first healthy and grown-up romantic relationship of my life, and I'm amazed and grateful for that. It's been a year of some tough growth and change, and I realize the courage it has taken me to stay on the path. Really, I am very, very rich.

So, at this time of the year when we, no matter what our religion, celebrate miracles, I wish all of you the vision to see your blessings and the health and strength to enjoy whatever the New Year brings. Love to all!

December 17, 2007

Ships, Shows, and Silliness - The Cruise!






I just got back from the cruise! Last year, a group of us Wowettes went on a weekend cruise to Ensenada and had a great time. This year, I decided to open the cruise up to the Party List, the people who I invite to the free cocktail parties I've thrown this year, and we had an even better time! We had over 80 in our group and from what I could see, every one was having fun!

I was trying to figure out what made it such fun. It would be hard not to have a good time on a cruise, but this one was especially fun. There were activities all day, food available in a variety of places whenever you got hungry, shows to enjoy all evening, and music in a variety of discos for our dancing pleasure. Going with a group is a little different because, no matter where you are, you are likely to see someone in your group to sit with or dance with or eat with or just hang out with, and it's always more fun to have someone to enjoy the fun with. A lot of our group went by themselves or with one other person and, after a short time, it sure seemed like everyone knew everyone else and mingled like they were old friends. It made my trip even more special to see all of you enjoying yourselves.

Not many specifics, I know, but I'll post more pix when I get them and tell more about the cruise then. (Meanwhile, here's a few pix of the ship and those towel animals the guys who clean the rooms make!) I send out a very warm thank you to the guys and gals who came up to me on the cruise to say they enjoy my parties and like to read this blog - I appreciate your kind words. And I want to send out a very big and heartfelt thank-you to our Wowette Bev from the Northridge AAA who planned this weekend for all of us and made sure we were had a good time. She is planning another cruise in May, this time starting in New Orleans, and I'm hoping that even more of you single people out there decide to join us then. (You can reach Bev at 818-313-7677.)

Well, I've got laundry to do and another Cocktail Party to plan so I'll just make this short. If you're single and live in or around the Los Angeles area and you'd like an invitation to the upcoming Holiday Cocktail Party, send an email asking for details to wowthatellen@yahoo.com. See you at the next party or cruise!






December 12, 2007

A holiday party invitation.

I'm throwing another party. I wasn't going to have a party this month, with the holidays and all, but so many of you emailed me asking to do it, I am. (If you aren't on the party list to get the details, email me at wowthatellen@yahoo.com and ask for them.) It's a lonely time of year for many of us, especially those who are single, so having a fun place to go to dance and mingle with people our age and maybe meet a new friend or more, now that's a good idea, I say.

I was remembering that I used to do some computer dating, meeting strangers who I knew very little about, whose picture and profile might have piqued my interest, and so I went online to a popular site and did some browsing, just for fun. Thought I'd share some of the memorable profiles with you!

- "I have a question. What happened to the woman who appreciates the old fashioned guy who opens the door for her, loves her more then life, believes in romance and true love? I love Kids, animals and life and need someone that loves the same things." (Ah, that would be nice, he's polite and treats a woman well and likes animals? But does he like to walk on the beach?)

- "Life is a journey. You choose the direction your journey takes. Your choices can always be pleasant if your choices are thoughtful and true." (That's all this guy's profile said, really! Nice sentiment, but who is he?!?)

- "Expressive artist seeks to lend his hand to your equally expressive and soulful person. Should be real but with a keen sense and appreciation of the absurd. sarcasm and humor a big plus. i tend to go fast so be able and ready to pick up your pace if you want to enjoy my unique view and vision." (Hmmm, could be good, maybe not? But does he open doors for the ladies?)

- "Enjoy traveling, love anywhere near the beach, walking, hiking, going out for a nice dinner along the beach. Enjoy many outdoor activities, including attending sporting events." (Is that a hint that he spends every Sunday cheering on his favorite team?)

- "PLEASE BE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE IN YOUR PROFILE... ANYTHING THAT STARTS WITH A LIE WILL NOT LAST. My age is correctly stated and I look exactly like my photos. Your's should be the same. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A PHOTO POSTED, DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME... CAUTION: THE FOLLOWING IS HARSH BY DESIGN SO THAT YOU WILL SCREEN YOURSELF OUT IF YOU ARE PLAGUED BY ANY OF THE FOLLOWING. Trust me, I'm far happier single and we're TRULY not a match if: 1)you're on anti-depressants or have made therapy your lifestyle; 2)you're in any type of 12-step self help program, 3)you are a "self-help" freak or "unconditional love" junkie (and if you haven't "found" yourself by now, even MapQuest can't help you)." (Ooooooh, this guy scares me. Kinda narrow minded? He probably has never 'found' himself, and likely he's never even looked...)

- "I'm the guy your parents warned you about. I love competition,sports, poker, laughing,& affection. The Ocean any time..sunsets, mountain hiking.
My friends are few ,but quality ! I am loyal. I can be bad ,,in a good way.
YOU must be in shape ,soft on the eyes,love to laugh , not take yourself to seriously." (Ah, honey, we're trying so hard, me and my girlfriends, to finally give up looking for the 'bad guy'...)

" Love the Life you Live ...Live the Life you Love....Know what makes me happy,and aim to please..As I will for you !! treasure our times together, but secure when we're apart. Chivalry is right here." (Nice sentiment but again, who is he?!?)

You know, I like the parties we've had, a room full of nicely dressed attractive single people who are smiling and dancing and talking and have fun. I like the "old-fashioned" idea of actually getting off the computer and the serial browsing that keeps us dreaming and wishing but not meeting, and actually being in the same space as someone I might like to get to know better. Not saying that computer dating is a bad thing, but standing in front of someone, hearing them speak, listening to their inflections and noticing their body language and smelling their cologne....Uh oh, gotta go. See you at the party! xo

December 4, 2007

Love, cement, and freedom

I'm home from work and on drugs. I hurt my back and no, I don't know how I did it. Yes, I work for neurosurgeons and I asked one what happened and he said "no one knows" which wasn't so helpful but he did inject some stuff into the spot where it hurts and it helped a little. So I've been on drugs and putting ice on it and lying down for the past five days. Feels like life is passing me by, like there's all these things I should be doing and I'm not and I've missed the window to do them and that's that.

So I've had some time to think, which sometimes is good and sometimes isn't. I'm too much of a thinker, I've been told, so I've spent considerable time and effort learning to live in the moment which is not a place where there's thinking, just being, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't and I guess that's just life.

I've been thinking about how we pick mates that fit an old and likely subconscious pattern from our childhood. I have a friend I've known since we were pre-teens whose father beat her and told her she was stupid and ugly and she's spent her life picking mates just like her dad, like that's her idea of love, someone who abuses and belittles her. I'm in a relationship with a guy who treats me respectfully and kindly and I often feel like running away, like it's not comfortable at all to be with someone so nice to me. I'm used to men who I fear and who I hold at arm's length so they can't get to me to hurt me, so this guy is very different and it's not comfortable. I said that already, but it's hard to put it another way. I think probably many of us pick the same kind of guy over and over because that's what we know as love, even if it's awful and painful and demeaning, we just learned that's what love looks like. So when we meet someone who is different and treats us well, it's difficult and very, very much out of our comfort zone.

I have a very dear friend, like a sister to me, who had a childhood so much like mine that we could have been raised in the same household, with parents who belittled and where there was little or no nurturing or protection, and we both have a hard time picking good men. We are picky, very picky, and maybe that's one way to keep them away, could be. She gives an analogy that I've never heard but it just so right-on, that it's like cement poured around us. The cement is pliable when it's first poured, like in our childhood when we first encountered destructive behaviors from our supposed loved ones, and then the cement hardens as we get older and we'd need something like a jackhammer to get it off of us. It's not easy, this recognizing what we do, our reactions are so subconscious and triggered by something very deep inside us and often stuff of which we are not aware, so our actions and reactions are just automatic. She says that most people just go on doing the same thing, never realizing the roots of their reactions, and never changing or growing past them into reactions that will bring life and health and relationships that are loving and good. She says I'm very brave to confront this issue and I appreciate her kind and uplifting words.

I'm at that uncomfortable place, knowing that I'm reacting from my past, very aware of it, yet finding it so very tough to do the opposite, to counter that knee-jerk reaction and be a person who allows this kind and loving person to be close to me. I didn't learn much about life from my mother, my role model, except that men are to be feared, and I internalized that reaction at an early age and the cement has layers and layers and layers and I can't imagine finding a jackhammer strong enough to break through it. I have a therapist who helps me, but it's like there are so many hardened layers and I have so many years of reacting the old way that it seems almost impossible to break through, cast aside these fears, and allow myself to follow a different path.

I share this because I imagine that I'm not the only one who faces these demons and maybe those of you who wonder what keeps you from attracting someone who loves you in a good and rich way might want to think about this, how your old fears that you don't even recognize are keeping you from happiness. And, as much as I know in my head what I'm doing, it's almost like I am up against that brick wall, that hole full of concrete that I can't get past to do the right thing. OK, I'm on drugs, so this might not make the most sense, but do any of you relate to this? I'd be interested in hearing how you got through this heavy wall, this stony ground, to be free enough to allow someone good to be close. I'm in bed with nothing to do, so write away, tell me how you conquered your fears. I'd love to hear it.

November 30, 2007

Men, communication, and Keri
















Creating a relationship is like painting a picture. Each of the members of the relationship paint a part of the picture and add or subtract to the picture each time they have an encounter. Their mood, their behavior, their interactions all add to the colors and scene of the picture. The Wow group is that way, a continuously changing scene, full of bright colors and lots of motion, representing who is at a particular meeting and the personalities of those present. We had a Wow meeting last night and the picture was full of pastels, soft and easy on the eyes, lovely to view and creating a mood of fun and warmth for all.

Our guest was Keri Newell of www.cantdatewithoutit.com. When I booked her to speak, I was impressed by her enthusiasm. The joy she feels for her work shined through, even on the phone. In person, she was the living model of beauty, full of life, a good listener, and a smart and compassionate teacher. She joined us for our potluck dinner, sharing stories of her life and listening to ours with an understanding ear. She was like an old friend, and one who brings joy and spirit to every moment.

Keri is a dating coach and I'll bet she is really good at what she does, helping men and women to be more successful in their quest for companionship and love. She spoke about the differences between men and women, how men think and focus on one thing at a time and women have "diffuse awareness," seeing the whole picture at once. We've all heard about the woman wearing some fabulous lingerie but unable to take the man's attention from the game on TV, an example of how we try to communicate with our guy at a time when he is unable to take it all in and then feel hurt when it doesn't work. So, to communicate with a man, we must understand how he thinks. How simple is that?

Not so easy, really, especially for us women who have jobs where we hold power and are in our 'masculine' and then have to switch to our 'feminine' in our romantic lives. It's not that we have to give up our power or be passive, but we need to allow our men to be the providers and protectors they long to be, to 'take care of us' even though they know we are perfectly able to do it ourselves. After days of being in charge, giving orders, and keeping our employees on track, we are supposed to not "suggest, teach, advise, remind, or train" our guys at all! We are supposed to allow them to rise to the ultimate maleness by giving admiration, which is verbal, and appreciation, which is in our actions. And we all know that men love to solve problems, that when we share with them our troubles or vent about the day's issues, they immediately want to "fix" it by giving advice. Keri taught us to let them know, very nicely and kindly, that what we'll be needing from them is a compassionate ear and some hugs or cuddly only. And to do it without an attitude or body language that suggests anything but courtesy and kindness.

And for fun, Keri taught us a flirting technique. How many times are we in a room, like in line at Starbucks or picking out fruit in the market, and we see a cute guy we'd just love to meet and we're paralyzed? Her suggestion was to make eye contact for five seconds (one-one thousand, two-two thousand) and at three, we are to smile and hold the smile. Of course, the guy will look around, thinking you are checking out someone else, but then realize it's him you're interested in. We're to wait for him to make that move to meet us, no matter how around-the-block he does it and then respond to his conversation. Since some men think that rejection will cause them to stop breathing and melt into the floor, this is a brave move for them and they will likely start the conversation with something inane or stupid, but it's our job to go with it and be kind and wait for the scary moment for him to pass until he is able to breathe again and speak intelligently.

So the meeting was a delight. The Wow ladies are so different and diverse, but we come together and share a common bond, being single ladies in our fifties trying to navigate life and dating, greatly enjoying the pleasure of our women friends. Keri was a bright light, a lovely example of a woman learning to know herself and grow and then to impart this knowledge to other women. She teaches in a way that is easy to absorb and understand and I'd love to take her six-week seminar. She gave to us freely and enthusiastically and we are all better women for having the privilege of meeting her. Thanks, Keri!

November 21, 2007

Movies and real life.

There's a movie I've been wanting to see for months. I read about it months before it came out and I've been watching for it and waiting and I saw it tonight, probably the last night it would be in the Valley. While waiting for the movie to come out, I've been going through a bit of an emotional upheaval, dealing with some long repressed old stuff, like peeling the onion and finally getting to the core.

What brought this up was that I had been feeling angry, like mad at people who are close to me, and I was surprised. I'm not an angry person and people often comment on my calmness. So I sought the counsel of a therapist who knows me well. She took me on a imaginary journey to a place where I could feel safe and I realized that I never expressed my anger at things that happened as a child, that I have held it in all these years, like I feared what would happen if I really felt all those emotions. There was more to it than this, but suffice it to say that I feel like a load was lifted from me, that the scared little child inside me who often interferes with my daily life has been quieted and that I'm feeling strong and confident and peaceful.

So what does this have to do with the movie? I saw "Lars and the Real Girl" and it was amazing. (I'm going to give away some of the plot here, so stop reading if you don't want to know.) Basically, this very shy and withdrawn man buys a life-sized plastic woman and treats her as if she is real. He falls in love with her and the townspeople, one by one, go along with this delusion. Turns out that he used this doll to help him face the sadness he felt as a child, losing his mother as a baby and being raised by a heartbroken and withdrawn father. Gradually, he was able to let her go and return, or come for the first time, to real life and allow himself to face his longings and feelings.

So the moral here? Neither Lars nor I realized we were carrying around unresolved feelings from so long ago, so I imagine there are more like us out there, wondering why we do what we do and why our relationships don't succeed. I just want you to know that finally facing these feelings was a life-giving experience, very uplifting and positive, both in the movie and in my life. So courage to all of you. Cry and laugh and let it all happen and see who you really are, under it all. I believe you've love what you find.

Being grateful.

It's that time of year to take some moments to think about what we have to be thankful about. We're pretty busy people, you know, trying to make a living, trying to survive in a world that can be a scary place. So we have a special day, our Thanksgiving, where we gather with family and friends to remember our blessings.

I found a few quotes I thought I'd share a few with you.

Many are religious, saying that our blessings come from above:

George Washington in his first Presidential Proclamation:
"It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."—October 3, 1789


Seneca Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy:
"Our Creator shall continue to dwell above the sky, and that is where those on earth will end their thanksgiving."


Here is the proclamation that created this holiday:

Samuel Adams, father of the American Revolution:
"It is therefore recommended ... to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor ..."—November 1, 1777 (adopted by the 13 states as the first official Thanksgiving Proclamation)


Here's a reminder of the benefits of instilling gratitude in our children:


Sir John Templeton:
"How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative—or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people."



Here are quotes from our leaders:

Theodore Roosevelt:
"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."—1901



John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."


From a philosopher:

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."
— Epictetus

From Comedians:

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence."
— Erma Bombeck


"Here I am 5 o'clock in the morning stuffing bread crumbs up a dead bird's butt."
— Roseanne Barr


From the unjustly imprisoned:

Anne Frank:
"I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy."


From our Governor:

Arnold Schwarzenegger
I love Thanksgiving turkey... it's the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts.


From the Dalai Lama:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.


Me? I'm grateful to have a job that is rewarding, a daughter and her family who are healthy, friends who care, and constant reminders of my need to grow and be a better person. I remember a while back that Oprah took one day a week on her show to have people focus on what they have to be grateful for and everyone single one later said that their lives had been dramatically changed by thinking about their blessings. So I vote we be glass-full people, that we recognize our riches, and that we realize the greatest joys in life are free.

November 14, 2007

Holiday options.







One splendid thing in my life has been making new friends in recent years. I formed Wow to make more women friends, and I have been greatly rewarded by knowing each of the Wowettes. One recent new friend is Kathy Keane, whose guest post you may have read a few months back, when she wrote about how she came to buy a home in Baja. She is a talented and lovely woman, sensitive and self-aware, who has worked hard and has been able to fulfill some of her dreams.

Much to my amazement, I realized recently that Kathy is also a talented artist who shows a unique view of nature through her photography. I've put at the end of this post a copy of an invitation to her art show later this month in Baja, for those of you who might be in that area or just need a gentle prod to take a trip! Those two pictures above are just a little sample of her beautiful work.

And to show you another side of Kathy, here is a note she wrote me with suggestions about holiday giving that I think is very worth sharing. Here is what she wrote: I know many people including the Wowettes may be looking for ways to help those less fortunate this holiday season by contributing to charities while reducing our 2007 taxes. One of my favorites is Women for Women International, http://www.womenforwomen.org/. They choose a woman from a 3rd-world country, particularly a war-torn country, and match you up with her. I think I give $300/yr but there are other contribution levels too. The train her in skills she can use to become financially independent and she writes to you during the process, they translate, and you respond. She eventually "graduates" from their program doing something to earn $$, and they match you with another woman. It's very rewarding. Another one is www.heifer.org, which helps to end hunger around the world by using donations to provide people with animals that help them feed their families.
(If you want to contact Kathy about these charity options or her art show send an email to wowthatellen@yahoo.com and I'll forward it to her. If you have other charitable options you'd like to share with our readers, let me know!)

A few of us have been talking lately about our society's rampant consumerism, how we get into debt for things that we believe will make us happy and then we are disappointed. In this upcoming season of giving, maybe Kathy's suggestions will make us all think about what we buy. Do we really need it? Would our money be better spent by helping lift someone from poverty? Is it time to be less of a consumer and more of a real giver?

No matter how you spend your holidays, I hope they are wonderful and bring you great joy and happiness.



! Art Show !




San Felipe Fine Art Association
 Paintings in various media 
 Photography 
 Ceramics 
 China-painted porcelain 
 Other original art 

Door prizes, and music by local groups!
Saturday-Sunday
THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
November 24-25, 2007
at
PLAYA DE ORO
ON Highway 5 km 179 north of San Felipe
Call Allan at 686-576-0395 for more info

November 9, 2007

Are nice guys really nice?

I'm big on definitions. I think it's important to know what words mean, that when we are in conversation about something, we should define that something. My friends probably get tired of me asking "what does ...... mean?" My first memory of this is when I dated a guy who said wrote he was 'sensitive' in his profile. Oh good, I said to myself, that must mean he's thoughtful and considerate of the needs of others, which translates to he would be sensitive to mine. When I actually met him at a restaurant, he was rude ("discourteous or impolite, esp. in a deliberate way, rough in manners or behavior"). As soon as we greeted each other, he started into a critical diatribe ("a bitter, sharply abusive denunciation, attack, or criticism") against everyone and everything. The waiters, people standing in the lobby with us, the weather, his sister who lived in Utah, his boss, his ex-wife - he had something nasty to say about everything. I learned really fast that sensitive to him was apparently "easily pained, annoyed" and that he was not that kind and thoughtful guy I imagined him to be.

So what brings this up? Nice. The word nice. The person who is nice. Nice movie, nice child, nice view. We say it so much and we attribute good things to that word. We believe it's nice to be nice. "Nice guys finish last"....Can't find a nice guy"..."if you'd only be nice to me"....But what does that really mean? Nice is defined as "pleasing; agreeable; delightful, amiable, suitable or proper" and most of us are taught that being nice is the right way to be. I can hear moms in the market saying "be nice to your brother...be nice to that lady...be nice to your toys"...and it gets imbedded that we have to be 'nice' but maybe that's not always the right thing after all.

Of course, it's important to be kind and thoughtful, but if 'nice' means being agreeable, like in 'not rocking the boat'...'not making waves'...then does that mean giving up what we really believe or feel and just going along with the group or our partner so we don't cause any upset or bad feelings?

When I first married, many moons ago and when I was really just getting out of my teens, I remember being a home with my then-husband and seeing a spider. Not a little spider, but a really big hairy thing and I screamed, thinking that my husband would be a brave knight and rescue me from this icky thing. And he didn't move, didn't get up, just said to me something like "if you scream, I will never help you. If you ask nicely, I will do it." And what did I learn from this? To hold in my feelings, to be rational when I felt emotional, to 'be nice.' And I've spent a lifetime holding in my 'negative' feelings, thinking that there was something wrong with having them, and being agreeable and nice.

Emotions might be the revelation of who we really are. They're raw and real and what is really going on inside of us. They're what happens before we think, so it's not always a good idea to express them and sometimes it is the right thing to think first, like when our boss makes us angry or when our kids get on our last nerve. But in relationships, if we always think before we speak, if we routinely 'eat' our feelings and are rational, are we really there? Is the real us really showing?

The new BF and I just went through a time when we both learned to 'let it out,' to express what we really feel or think without thought to the affect on the other person. I'm not advocating name-calling or blaming or using bad words, just saying our real reaction to what we are hearing. If I don't agree with something or like what he's saying, I'm gonna tell him that. If I piss him off (OK, that CAN happen), he let's me know he's unhappy with what I said or did. I always thought if I really expressing myself, saying what I considered the 'negative things' in my head, that people won't like me or that I would offend someone and what's happened is the opposite. I'll hear him object to something I said and it makes me laugh, in a good way. I like being able to 'tell it like it is' and he is much more appealing to me, now that he's being real.

This all doesn't mean to be disagreeable for the sake of it and being reasonable still has a place and fighting fair is still the great virtue, but let's be who we really are. Let's show who lives inside of us. Let's tell the truth about what we think and feel. Let's be fearless. Let's be real.

November 4, 2007

Carry-on vs. check-in.

I recently received an email from a reader who wrote: "I have been seeing a great guy for almost six months and he's all and more that I could imagine from a guy. My problem is that I've got baggage from the past so, when I tell him something about himself that I can't tolerate and he admits to having a flaw and that he will work to change it, I keep hearing previous boyfriends who said that and didn't change or changed for a little while. Even though he has made some changes, like learning to communicate more, I can't get past the idea that he isn't sincere and this causes me to hold back on my feelings for him. Signed, 'Got Baggage'"

Wow and geez, we've all got baggage from the past. The problem with relationships is that they tend to bring out our flaws, like it's impossible to be that close to someone without being real and showing who we really are. I heard stories about how people get married and then change and maybe it's just that they were being someone else to snare the other person and then reverted to their old self when they got hitched. I've also heard that relationship rub off our rough edges and that's a good thing, but it requires some looking at ourselves and that's not always easy and is certainly not pain-free. But we all carry all kinds of stuff from our past, guys who lied or gals who started off sweet and then turned witchy.

So what should I tell "Got Baggage?" That maybe this guy will be different from the others, that maybe he's sincere and really wants to work on himself? That maybe she should learn to trust this guy because he might be a really good one with honest intentions? Anyone who gets to our age and has had relationships has got some baggage. I've sure got some myself. I've been with men who cheated and lied and I probably look at guys now and wonder if they'll do that or maybe even expect them to.

So the question is, should we look at each new potential mate as a blank slate or should we allow ourselves to view them through our baggage? Do we have a choice - can we even really see others without them being colored by our previous experiences?

October 28, 2007

Auntie Sharon's Reunion.

Nice weekend. Auntie Sharon came to visit from Georgia to attend her high school reunion and her mother's 85th birthday party. Auntie Sharon and I have been friends for almost forty years, having married brothers the same year, bearing baby girls the same year, getting divorced the same year, and then living together. I am Auntie Ellen to her daughter, she is Auntie Sharon to mine, and our daughters are like sisters. She is the one person in the world who knows me best, having been with me during my failures and successes, being my closest confidant for so many years. I think we both know that the other will not judge or criticize and that we will love and care about each other no matter what happens. And she moved to Georgia a few years ago and I miss her very much.

She invited me to join her at this weekend's events, the pre-reunion barbeque and the reunion both, maybe to be able to spend more time together or maybe because she feels more comfortable with me around. I enjoyed meeting her school friends, many of whom went all the way from Catholic grammar through high school together. It was a happy group of people, joyful at seeing each other, and it was a pleasure for me to be a part of it. I went to public schools and didn't have much of a good time, so I didn't attend my reunions. I remember graduating from high school thinking that I was the only one so miserable and then I read a book I think was called "Class of '67" which told the story of the popular kids, the cheerleaders and football players at a posh school who felt just like I did, kinda lost and isolated. So it was fun to relive high school with these people who clearly had memories they cherished and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends.

Surprisingly, there were a few people at the reunion who recognized me from my work. One man saw me and hugged me immediately, saying that he appreciated how I helped his wife through a major spine surgery many years ago. One lady, a friend of Sharon's mom from church, realized that I worked for the doctor who operated on her recently deceased mother ten years ago and then we both teared up, her for the memory of her mom talking about her love for me - and me remembering how sweet her mother was and how fond I had been of her. She and I talked like we've known each other for years and I hope I've made a new friend. My job is often stressful and overwhelming and difficult, but hearing how these people benefited from our care helps me realize that it's a blessing to be able to be part of helping people get well.

Then the party today for Sharon's mom was full of very old friends and old and new family members. The day before the party, I took the birthday girl shopping for new shoes to match her red party dress and I teared up, right in the middle of the shoe warehouse, when I realized that I had never been shopping like this with my own mom.
Sharon's family has always accepted me and my daughter as one of their own, welcoming us to family events like we were really related and I've always appreciated their kindness, especially during the many years when my own family excluded me. They're a loud and vocal Italian family who clearly adore each other, and it's always fun for me to join their parties. There were a few people with more years than Sharon's mom and a brand new baby, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

So what's the moral to this story? Family is where you find it, good memories are priceless and better when shared, and old friends may move away but their love transcends the miles.

October 23, 2007

More Party Pix



The Band - Felonius Funk




My favorite Hilton bartender Richie



The Dancers

A week in the life.




For all of you who have written and asked what I've been doing, here it is. I didn't work last week. My beautiful curly-haired daughter and her handsome (and really nice) husband went away for a few days to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary and their 4-year-old (and fabulous!) twins stayed with me. Just for a moment, it's nice to stop and think of that happy marriage, how they've been together for ten years and are still really nice to each other and seem to love and appreciate each other more and more as they have traveled thru the years.

Having the twins stay with me for four days was oddly relaxing. I expected to enjoy them and I thought I would get tired and worn out, but just the opposite, it was rather invigorating. It's like they walk in the door and any troubles disappear. I stop worrying about my retirement or the war or the environment and just live in the moment. Which is what I've been trying to do for many, many years and it's taken these little people to show me the way.

So we went to their dance class where they jumped and did ballet moves and sashayed about the floor very happily to upbeat music. They rarely got any steps "right" but they surely didn't care about that! We also went to Lake Balboa and walked around once, seeing herons and ducks and geese (who did run after us, but we were faster) and one day I walked and they scootered around Mason Park and then I made a Halloween cape for the little guy and we put together a lot of puzzles and went to the pet store to replace the fish that went to visit her grandmother but didn't come back and they went into the haunted house that was made of dog food and we just had fun every day, all the time. I did put the garage door down on the hatch of my car (ooops!) and we had to take it to the dealer so I bought a big box of donuts for the car guys and told the kids that they couldn't eat their donuts until we arrived, so imagine them in their car seats, holding onto a little white bag with their donut inside for the whole drive! And the day I took the picture above we stayed in our pajamas until lunch and just played inside all morning. Aaaahhhh, one of my best vacations, ever.

And now LA is in the midst of a fire that has scorched Southern California for the past three days and it's really scary, like the air is a weird color and it hurts to breathe and hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated and lots of houses have burned to the ground. And my very smart daughter, who has some issues with asthma, especially with all the smoke in the air, reminds me that it certainly could be worse, that we could be one of the unlucky ones who have lost everything and I'm grateful for the reminder and for a daughter who is so compassionate.

So what else has been going on? Oh yes, the last Cocktail Party was fun, as usual. I put some pictures on the post above for you to enjoy. I'm thinking of doing a Karaoke night for all of you, somewhere locally where we can have the whole room to ourselves and sing (or not) as much as we want. Sound good? And my favorite yoga teacher told us at the Sunday class that she is taking some time off to "tend to herself and her relationships" which sounds very wise and mature and maybe a reminder to all of us busy people to rethink our priorities. Oh, can't forget that the Wowettes and I celebrated the 2nd anniversary of Wow by having a typical date with each other, dinner and a movie, to celebrate the joy of having women friends. The ladies were beautiful and smiling and happy and I was delighted to be in their company.

So I end this by saying that life goes on, sometimes exciting but mostly not, so taking the time to enjoy the little things in life and see it all through the eyes of a child might must be a good thing to do. And that to make time, even one minute a day, to count our blessings will make all that we have seem so much richer.

October 8, 2007

It was a good weekend in Chatsworth.

It was a windy weekend in Chatsworth, a small suburb of Los Angeles, California. It was a little more than balmy, but not like a hurricane. Just those Santa Ana winds clearing the smog from the air in sunny LA. I'd had a bad week,just way beyond stressful, and I didn't realize how tough it was until I started to recount what happened to the patient new boyfriend and realized it had been almost miserable. Or as close as one can get to that in this sunny city. I work for a few doctors who take care of some serious things, like brain tumors and head injuries and spinal cord injuries, and sometimes we all feel really good about our work and sometimes, like last week, it's just overwhelming.

Lucky for me, I had my four-year-old twin grandbabies, one silly but very busy little boy and one curly-haired talkative little diva, for a sleep-over on Friday night. Those sweet little people always make me forget my troubles and have fun. Just can't help it with them around. Their mother, my beautiful curly-haired daughter, was getting ready to host a New Member tea on Saturday morning for her MOMs club, which stands for Mothers-of-Multiples and means they all have or are expecting twins or triplets or, eek, quads, so you can imagine how much the guests would appreciate a morning out in the company of other adults. Making dinner for the little people and giving them a bath, if I can catch them as they run around naked while the water is filling the tub, made me forget everything. Worries about the war, the environment, the economy, etc. etc, just flew away, like the smog in the wind, and I was peaceful again.

And, speaking of adults, I hosted another of my Free Cocktail Parties Saturday night. I invited lots and lots of single people in my age group and tell the hotel we're coming and ask a few people to show up early to greet the guests and then I just stand back and watch it happen. I'm not an artist, more of a thinker and doer, but there are times when I can imagine what it must be like to create a beautiful painting. The hotel lounge fills up with people, one by one and two by two, and each person adds a new color and flavor to the mix, creating a constantly changing painting all night long. Or at least until midnight when the band stops. Oh, there were a few complaints, since the band was playing blues and not rock-and-roll and they were a bit loud, but I asked them for dance music and they rocked and then we all danced and had fun and laughed. And isn't that just good medicine? The women were beautiful, the men were handsome, and the band sounded fine.

And then, on an even balmier Sunday, I went to a really nice yoga class taught by the delightful Jennie at the Total Women gym in Northridge (yes, the site of 1994 earthquake, which we who live here aren't likely to ever forget) and then the very patient new boyfriend took me to a concert that was one of the over 335 concerts all over the world that were dedicated as part of the Sixth Annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days network. Both professional and amateur artists performed as part of the musical movement promoting tolerance, international friendship and "Harmony for Humanity". It was a lively eclectic mix, from classical to jazz to ethnic music and dance that was spirited and heartfelt and lovely. I can't possibly imagine the loss of a child, but Judea and Ruth Pearl, while mourning the death of their journalist son by terrorists, created a foundation to honor him by using music to promote tolerance and respect for differences. A lovely and moving time was had by all lucky enough to attend. I imagine we'd all hope that our lives would have meaning, both while we live and after we're gone.

I ended this lovely weekend by watching Desperate Housewives in bed and it was really silly and I felt refreshed and renewed and ready for a new week. And when I woke up today, it was still balmy in Chatsworth, but the wind has stopped, replaced by a bright sun and blue skies. Look around, I say, it's good to be alive.

October 3, 2007

Assumptions, expectations, and reality.

We make a lot of assumptions. Assumptions are beliefs we hold to be true, like the other drivers on the road will follow the traffic rules, our job will still be there when we get to work, our children will grow up and have good lives, the TV shows we watch will be on at the usual times. So assumptions are really based on conclusions we make from our past experiences, like all dogs are vicious, that our father will continue to be irrational, that Richie the bartender at the Hilton will always smile when he sees me, and that children cry on airplanes.

So when we get into a new relationship, we often assume that this guy will behave like the previous ones and sometimes we're surpised when he doesn't. But worse, we often assume that he has the same rules in dating that we do, like we should always spend Saturday nights together or that we should see each other a certain number of nights per week or that he should call every day. And when the guy doesn't do those things, we feel hurt. I have one friend who has a script in her head that dictates what the guy should do on the first three dates. When the guy doesn't pick a certain type of restaurant on the first date or bring flowers on the second date, she assumes he is a jerk. And he has no clue what she expects.

But really, think about it, what if he doesn't have a list of our assumptions? What if he's never had a relationship when seeing each other on Saturday night or calling every day is assumed? In the previous post, I talked about a women friend of mine whose boyfriend only made plans with her after he made other plans and didn't make time on the weekends to see her and she was really quite upset, thinking that she wasn't important to him. I urged her to have "the talk" about it and she did and was quite surprised at his response. He didn't get defensive or bring up things about her that he didn't like, which she assumed he would because that was the behavior of her previous boyfriends. What he did was to tell her that he didn't know those rules or her assumptions, because she had never voiced them and he had never had a relationship before that required what she said she didn't get from him. And he was happy to comply and made a commitment to see her every Wednesday night and at least one full day on the weekend. And that he had searched all his life to have the intimacy they were starting to develop, but that he just needed her to tell him what she expected and that he would do his best to meet her needs.

Assumptions turn into expectations and we feel hurt when our expections are not met. And it's all unspoken and usually we don't even realize what our assumptions are or that our assumptions are not another person's assumptions. So it's important to figure out what our assumptions are and then we can tell the other person what we expect. Or we can realize our assumptions for what they are, some preconceived ideas about how we expect the other person to behave and then we can choose to put them aside or, drum roll here, we can tell the other person what they are and ask him to comply. Another win-win situation here!

September 29, 2007

Love, hobbies, and time.

What if you fall for the greatest guy ever and he's already married? I have a friend who has the nicest boyfriend and is so happy with him, except that he's married. Or it feels like he's married. He has a hobby, a fun and good hobby, and she's happy that he has something interesting to do and that he's not a couch potato, but it keeps him really busy and she feels like the hobby is his first love. It takes him away several nights a week and sometimes most of the weekend, and she's feeling "second class." He plans his week's activities and then calls her and asks to see her if and when he has an evening unplanned or for the part of the weekend when's he's not busy with his hobby. And she knows almost nothing about what he does or where he goes and she really feels quite left out, like its all a big secret or that she's not important enough for him to share this with her. She says it feels bad having his left-over time and wants him to put her first, just to have an attitude that she is more important, or at least AS important, as his hobby.

So I have to think about this, like how exactly do we fit a guy into our already busy lives. I have one female friend who is so busy that, if I want to get together with her, I have to plan three to four weeks in advance, and I wonder how would she ever have time for a boyfriend? Should we give up something or it is just an attitude shift? If we really say we value our boyfriend but we don't make time for him, real time and good time and time to do things and uninterrupted time to do nothing together, are we really making him a priority? Gotta think, how would I feel if I were getting the left-overs, whatever minutes or hours were left after he's made other plans?

I hear you saying that maybe we should participate in the guy's hobby, but he doesn't invite us and it appears we'd not be welcome there. And I hear the voice saying, "he's such an amazing guy, why not just tolerate this?" But I've been with guys like this and I remember feeling unimportant and unvalued and it's just not a good feeling. Love can't survive resentment.

Relationships require compromise, we've all heard that. My friend really, really likes this guy - he's fun and funny and attentive and kind. So what's a girl to go? I told her that she needs to have "that talk" about it, to sit down and tell him how she feels. Not point the finger at him or tell him he's been bad, but to share her feelings, that she wants to feel she's important to him and that she needs to see that in action. That she doesn't want to give him up because he really is a terrific guy and clearly she loves him and he adores her and their limited time together is really rich. That she wants to work it out and make this work well for both of them. That she wants them to be happy, him having time for his hobbies and her feeling valued. Maybe he just doesn't realize what's happening because she hasn't said anything about it and that her previous acceptance of their schedule has made him feel that all is well, sort of an implied consent for his actions and choices.

One has to be brave in relationships, willing to state the truth and be willing to lose it all. I hear over and over that honest communication is the key to a successful relationship. And this means really telling the other person what we need and what we aren't willing to tolerate. And this means listening, really hearing what the other person is saying, and being willing to hear something that might make us feel uncomfortable. It's tough to really tell the other person what we feel or what we need, there's such a fear of rejection. Really, what could happen? He could get mad and leave. He could listen and do nothing. He could do something and then revert to his old ways when he knows we're happy again. Or it could be the start of something even more wonderful, when both of you get what you need, when one person feels good about having spoken up and the other feels good at helping to make the other feel good. When both people feel important and loved. Sounds like a win-win to me!

September 28, 2007

Exercise, diet, and Al.


We have Wow meetings every month. We met last night for potluck and speaker and, as usual, it was a wonderful, nourishing, and fun time. The ladies bring yummy food and desserts and we sit and eat and laugh and share and generally just have a good time together. This meeting was especially mellow, just a very nice vibe all around. I really enjoyed everything.

Most of us ladies don't take good enough care of ourselves. Oh, we look good, especially for our age, but we often put others first and don't make the time or take the money to do the things that pamper ourselves. Or we do some of the things, like getting our nails done and hair colored, but we don't get enough massages or see enough movies and stuff like that.

The speaker last night was Al Deveyra, a physical trainer, who reminded us, in a variety of ways, that we need to take better care of ourselves. We need to watch what we eat, exercise more as the years pass, and get bone density scans. We need to get enough sleep and avoid sugar subsitutes. We need to watch our portion size, vary our exercise routines, and find ways to get and stay motivated. We need to avoid fructose, pay attention to how we feel better when we work out, and avoid stress. If you want a good trainer or more information, you can find Al at compdude@earthlink.net. Thanks Al, we enjoyed you!

So, dancing is exercise, right? Do you know we're having another Cocktail Party on October 6th? You can see pix and details of our past parties on previous posts. if you want to come to the party, email me at wowthatellen@yahoo.com. Until then, eat your veggies, stay positive, take some deep breaths, and wake up each morning ready to take on the world. Whether you feel like it or not!

September 22, 2007

You are invited to the next Cocktail Party!

We're having another party. Yes, another party. It's hard to meet quality single people our age, and many of us are using online dating sites with little success, so I have hosted six or seven, I lost count, cocktail parties at a local hotel. There's no cover charge, the band rocks, and the room is made for mixing and mingling. There's a connected outside patio and a balcony full of chairs and lots and lots of people show up and it sure looked like they were having fun. I have some lovely ladies greeting the guests as they walk in and equally lovely ladies making name tags and saying hi. What's there to lose?

To get a list of single people our age, I have advertised on a dating sites and I continue to get a great response with pix and descriptions of guys who I know my ladies would like to meet. Most of you sound terrific, really good, and I hope you'll join the next party on October 6th. If you haven't received the details and you live near the San Fernando Valley (just north of Hollywood and Los Angeles), send an email to wowthatellen@yahoo.com and I'll send you the particulars. There will be a few other singles groups invited, including my friend Rookie's www.SuperSingleMixers.com - she has an email list of 1700! So, if the next one is like the last ones, we should have a really fun time, dancing and mingling and meeting some single people our age.

Thought I'd share some of the emails I've received from the new guys interested in joining the party. I asked for the guys to send a picture and tell me something about themselves that would make me want to invite them to the party, and most of the responses were just that, and the guys looked and sounded really good. Here are some of the others (and my comments):

---From "Nice and Sexy Guy":
IF YOU ARE SERIOUS WHY DONT YOU PUT YOUR PICS SO GUYS COULD SEEYOU I THINK YOU ALL ARE FAT AND UGLY OTHERWISE YOU WOULDNT BE HERE YOU ARE ALL DESPERATE OLS AND UGLY AND DRY TO I FEEL SORRY FOR MISERABLE PEOPLE LIKE YOU. (OK, you're NOT nice and certainly NOT sexy - this is NO way to make friends, fella!)

----im a smoker, im 24 and ill give you the stamina and attitude guys lack at that age. (OK, maybe, but we all have children older than you and whatever would we talke about. Oh, right, we're not supposed to talk...)

----Hello, your proposal for a larger get together sounds intriguing and I would like to participate. I am in Orange Co., but don't mind driving to hopefully meet my last romance. (Good attitude! The ladies might just love you!)

---send pics? (Ah, honey, life is a risk! How can you lose when I offer you a room full of fabulous women and you just have to show up?!?)

----young oral stud has counter offer whats up? i am a sexy 23 year old man with a great body and an insatiable libido, and would love to have you and your friends over for an orgy. (OK, I really couldn't print the rest of his email, as he quite clearly referred to, um, um, let's see how can I put this? OK, a "buffet" of something that he liked to eat? 'Nuf said. And no, he's not invited to the party.)

----Not sure if I would be into a group singles thing, but I am looking for a romantic partner in life. (A whole room full of single ladies looking for a great guy? Should be worth the risk, huh?)

----I appreciated your candor as far as your ad. I'm not sure what angle to take so I'll just be straight. I'd like to have a passionate relationship. For example, one that means sharing things like a good joke, a great song on the radio and sharing eating ice cream in the bath tub. (I love ice cream and I love baths, just never thought of doing both at the same time!)

---I am non smoking. I live in your area, i work , have a job, no children, never been to jail. (Well, that's good to know up front, thank you!)

----im 50 sicilian goodlooking and very rich$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ (Ah, money can't buy happiness, sorry, but you're welcome to buy drinks for a few of the ladies!)

Whew! Guys are kinda weird, huh? But we do love them anyways. We ladies aren't weird or strange, right? Of course not. OK, see you at the party. xo

September 17, 2007

A great bunch of women.

Wow is almost two years old. Before I created Wow, I found myself recovering from a bad break-up and realizing that all of my single girlfriends had moved or married or were otherwise unavailable. So, at the advice (and serious pushing) of my beautiful curly-haired daughter, I emailed women on Match.com and JDate who were near my age and location and invited them to meet for dinner and the rest is history. We've had two amazing years together, meeting at least once a month for potluck and usually a speaker and I am a better and happier person for having these delightful women in my life. We've added a few ladies during the years and each has brought a unique view of the world. The speakers have made me think and grow, and the friendship of the Wowettes has brought me joy. I can't imagine these ladies not being in my life.

It's hard to really define the impact of friends on our lives. These ladies have shown me that I'm not alone in my feelings or struggles. They have encouraged me and scolded me and applauded me and I'm a much better person because of them. They bring delicious food to my house for the potlucks and they invite me out for meals to hear about what's new in my life and to share theirs. And I am grateful to be a part of their lives and thinking about the upcoming year together makes me smile.

They are a diverse group of women. A few have been through medical issues and have come through healthy. We've each had heartaches and joys. Some keep a list of their coffee dates with new men and one has been in a new relationship with a dream guy who she met shortly after Wow was formed. We have a travel agent who plans our now yearly singles cruise and always makes me laugh and giggle. Another is always smiling and spent her vacation this year working on an Indian reservation, a big change for someone who never misses her weekly facial and always looks well accessorized. Two have written amazing guest blog posts, sharing their lives with all of you readers. One misses meetings so she can take dance and singing lessons. Another new member invited me to the wedding of her son and shared with me one of the most special days of her life. I have grown to love them all.

The Wowettes have all have expressed an interest in having a new man, a new great love, in their lives. Many have used online dating sites and most are still looking, these smart and beautiful women just hoping to add romance to their lives. Thinking it would be easier to meet a whole bunch of singles guys in person at once, I orchestrated several free parties at a local hotel. We greeted the guests, danced the night away, and it seemed like it was a fun night out for all. And I met a man myself at one of these parties, a delightful and kind and wise and sexy guy who seems to think I'm a great addition to his life. I found speakers easily for the meetings and they've all given us something to make us stronger women and all have expressed their pleasure at meeting us. Whatever I've planned just flowed easily with no snags or aggravations, just like it was meant to be.

What's the point here? That friends, good friends, are like nourishment for our souls. That sometimes we have to listen to that little voice inside of us that tells us what to do and just do it and that we have to be willing to take some risks to make something happen sometimes. That money and fame and security are lovely, but it is the friendships that bring riches to our lives. So, I thank all of my lovely Wowettes for sharing their lives with me so generously and say that I cherish the memories we have created and look forward with great excitement in creating more.

September 12, 2007

This little light of mine.

There is something meaningful and nourishing about traditions, those ritualistic things we do to celebrate events and holidays. Think of weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and all the times where we perform certain acts, hear certain music, and recite certain sayings that really bring us together as we share what has been done for decades or centuries. It's a way to connect with each other, to remember those who came before us, and to think hopefully about the future. This is the season for the Jewish High Holidays, to celebrate their New Year and to atone for the sins of the past year. Rosh Hashanah is the New Year, followed by ten days of personal self-examination leading to Yom Kippur, one of the holiest and most solemn days of the year. Its central theme is atonement and repentance for sins against both God and one's fellow man. There are feasts and fasting, recitations of prayers and reading of sacred text, as Jews gather to perform rituals celebrated in the same way as their ancestors.

We have far more rituals in our life than we realize, and most are ones we have created and continue without thought. Consider the hug and kiss when we see a friend, the "have a nice day" we say here or the "y'all come back" that I hear when I visit the south. I have read from the same Pooh story book to my grandchildren since they were tiny, as they prepare for a nap or a night of sleep, and they won't let me stop or read a different book. When I come home from work, I take off my shoes, unhook my bra, and change into something "comfy" before I read the mail and make dinner. In the morning before work, I put on sweats and tennies, put the dog on a leash, grab my cell phone and a plastic doggy-poopy bag, and head out for a walk, the same walk every time. Rituals are comforting and help us to live ordered lives in the midst of a chaotic world.

But sometimes it's good to shake thing up. Remember when I stopped the home delivery of the LA Times, which I'd received for decades and my life changed? I really noticed the difference, how I found other things to do with all the time I had spent reading it. A little shift, even parking in a different place for work or doing things in a different order, can create bigger changes.

I think I'm trying to say that sometimes we get into ruts. Some are good and help us have harmony and order in our lives. Some we just don't realize we're doing. I keep hearing that quote from Socrates, that "an unexamined life is not worth living." Maybe at this time of the year when the Jews spend ten days in self-examination, each looking individually at ways to be kinder and more generous and more compassionate, when it would be good for all of us to take a look at ways that we could better our lives and the lives of those around us. It can just be smiling at the guy or gal behind the counter when you get your morning coffee or really listening and not talking when our friends or even strangers talk to us. It could be being aware of our negative thinking and being more positive. Everything we do creates an energy in the world, either good or bad, so I vote that we take this time to find a few places or actions in our lives that might be negative and replace them with something positive or even joyful. I'll bet this will make us feel better about life and even might add a moment of happiness to the lives of others. We can't individually end the war or cure cancer, but we can sure shine a little light into the little space and time we are given. Let's do it!

September 9, 2007

Meet my new friend, Nadine.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending the day with the mother of the new boyfriend. He's really a very, very good person and an equally good boyfriend. He's kind and thoughtful and attentive and affectionate and likes to plan fun things and makes it clear to me how he feels about me and that he appreciates what we have together. And this is his mother.

Nadine will be 94 years old this month. You'd never guess her age, just never. She looks young and has a smile that warms a room. When I first met her, I asked her what she attributes her longitivity to, and she admitted that part of it is her upbeat attitude, that she always looks for the best in people and life. Just like me, and maybe most of us, she has to push herself to do what's good for her, like eating healthy food and exercising every day and admits that ice cream is her weakness. She walks, either on her treadmill or about her town, and when I dropped her off after five hours of walking around a quilt show and having lunch, she said she was going to rest a minute or so and then take her daily walk. She goes to the local Senior Center, plays cards weekly with friends, loves to play the penny machines at the casinos, and participates in a book club with a dozen other women. She says that she tends to worry and will usually pick up a good book to read when that happens. She was a college graduate when it wasn't common to see a woman in college and had a career as an educator.

But most of all she is delightful company. She is smart and wise and shares herself freely with me. She's perceptive and sees right through me and surprises me with suggestions on how to surmount what she thinks are my difficulties, even when I haven't really told her the whole story. And she makes me laugh, she just will crack me up without warning. She says that her family gets together at Christmas and she is the one that plans the fun part of the festivities. She comes up with a theme and everyone has to act out some idea of hers and no complaining is allowed. Apparently, last year the boyfriend and another grown male relative picked the card that said they were to dress up in ladies clothes and dance. Oh, I wish I could see pictures of that. Can you imagine how much laughter was in that room, all the creation of this lovely lady?

She shared old newspaper clippings with me that told of her parents, her father a "successful minister and business man" who, with Nadine's mother, opened a small grocery in their backyard in 1911, a single room 12x18 feet, stocked with $37 of merchandise, which grew to seven groceries and many accolades by their community. Called a "living legend," Nadine's mother shared her husband's pastoral duties, managed her growing family, was a "kind and interested friend of her customers and was the "confidant of those in all walks of life," and was "never too busy to have an attentive ear for the troubles of others." Known as a staunch supporter of causes "she deemed right," apparently few politicians "ran for office without seeking her counsel." She shunned publicity and was "content to remain in the background when she performed many deeds of community and personal service." Nadine's parents were both college-educated, as were all of their children, most with advanced degrees.

Life is what we ourselves make it, I'm reminded again and again. We have this one chance to be happy, to have a positive effect on those around us, to leave our imprint in our community. What didn't I tell you about the lovely and wise and fun and caring Nadine? It's that her parents, the successful minister and the well-respected grocery store owner and community legend were children of slaves. It's my privilege to consider her a friend.

August 31, 2007

I am Woman, hear me roar!

My daughter wants me to watch a new AMC show on TV that is set in 1960 in the advertising industry. My beautiful curly-haired daughter is 36 years old and is fascinated and amazed at how women were treated then, how the men held all the power positions and the women were the secretaries and were treated openly as second class citizens and sexual objects. I remember working in a doctor's office in those years, never seeing a female pharmaceutical rep and that there were really only one or two female docs in practice.

Times have changed. Women are still not always making the salaries of men in equal positions but they are in every job, from police oficers to leading their own companies. But I and my friends were raised in the 50s, typically by often frustrated women who knew their "place" as dutiful wives, taking care of the children and feeling quite limited in what they could accomplish. And then came the '60s and the consciousness raising and women burning their bras and being vocal and believing they, and their daughters, could be equals with men and achieve whatever careers they desired. They believed women could "have it all."

Just like any political trend, there is a movement from the far extremes of the position, and then a settling in the middle somewhere. Women now realize that they really can have it all, but that it sometimes requires not really doing everything as well as they would like and sometimes living with extreme stress from trying to make it all work. And, strong women that they are, they're trying to find a way to not necesssarily have it all, but to balance what they want to have.

And those of us raised by those '50s moms sometimes still hear their voices in our heads and sometimes we act like them without realizing it, being meek women who subvert our desires and dreams for our men. I've been learning to live a conscious life, being aware of what I do and my motivations, which is not always pleasant since I have to own my actions and be responsible for my reactions. I realized last week that I have been kinda waiting around, being available for the boyfriend, not making as many plans of my own in case that would be a time he had available for me. I'm just amazed seeing this in print, realizing that this strong and modern and independent woman was acting like her mom of fifty years ago! I found myself getting a bit depressed and then figured out that I was being that second class citizen myself, believing that his time was more valuable than my own, waiting for any left-overs that were given.

So I picked myself up, summoned my courage, and told him what was happening, that I was not willing to be a lesser priority than his other activities, that I wanted to be considered first sometimes and that I was not going to accept anything less. I always wanted a relationship where I could really be honest, where I could say to the guy "I love you and you're being a jerk," where I could really ask for what I want and set boundaries and make my needs and expectations known. And not settle for less. There's always that fear of loss or rejection, of course, but this time I didn't let that hinder me at all. Just said it, nicely and without accusation or blame, but just let it all out. Just told him who I was and what I wanted. And, of course, he really had no clue because I had been this nice and giving and tolerant girlfriend and he was surprised. But maybe not so surprised, since my honesty is something he values.

So what happened? Did we get into a fight, that endless and agonizing "you never....and you always...... and you don't......" Did he just withdraw or leave? OK, being the amazing guy he is, he just listened and listened and didn't say a word until I was done. And then he said that having a relationship as honest and caring as ours was very, very important and valuable to him and he appreciated knowing what I wanted and that he had a great desire to create balance in his life and would certainly take my needs, now that he knew them, into consideration.

What are the lessons here? It's important to be real, to be truly who we are. It's important to keep in touch with what's going on inside of us and stop when we have that churning in our guts and figure out what's really going on and what is triggering it. It's important to own our feelings and our reactions and not just blame the other person for the problems. It's important to be willing to take this risk of being transparent, to really show each other who we are and what we want. This happened to us just at that three-month point, where the honeymoon is supposed to end and the reality takes its place and the relationship either goes forward or ends. I'm happy to say that we had a really nice long weekend together. I was willing to take the risk of loss to be true to myself and it worked out great. I recommend it. Be real, be honest, be kind, be vulnerable. We're not our mothers, we really aren't. We may have some of their lovely qualities, but we don't have to live with their insecurities or fears or meekness any more. We are strong and independent and bold women of the millenium and let's not forget it!

August 27, 2007

I do and I don't.


Having a relationship is weird stuff. All my women friends say they want this, but really it's not so easy. There's all that stuff about space and time, like how much do we see him and does he sleep over and does he really need to leave his shoes in the middle of the room and what happened to going out and having fun? And then there's when he does something or says something that a past guy said or did and we just subconsciously get weird about it, like we remember it's what really pissed us off before and was the final straw for the last guy and this guy is doing it and what does that mean now?

And they're guys, you know, pretty simple beings who just want us to be nice to them and talk to them and let them know we appreciate them and get naked with them. Not much fuss to all of that, is there? So I pride myself on being rational and refusing to do the drama-thing and here I am reacting to this nice guy who just wants me to be happy. I see him doing things like an ex and my stomach turns and I start thinking that he's just like the other guy that drove me nuts just because there is this similarity which might not even really be a similarity at all and I'm off being nutty again.

So what happened to that rational woman who wrote that love is a verb, a decision, a commitment to allow the other person to be themself and to grow and to be the best they can be, regardless of their faults. That it's respect and affection in action, not based on feelings or what the other person does or says. And remember that woman who was determined to walk through fear, to be a watcher and learner, to stay strong in her own person? Yow. This is tough.

It's really so easy to just go with this, to point out the things that bug us in the other person and to blame our unhappiness on their actions or lack of actions. It's easy to point out their flaws and ignore our own, to keep our eyes on them instead of ourselves, to run the other way when the uneasiness gets strong. It would be easy to avoid facing our own insecurities and blame the problems on the other person, to just say it's them and not us. It's not easy at all to admit that these things are even going on in our heads, to admit that we fall prey to our ego or our fears or our feelings of impending doom. We're supposed to tell the other person what's really going on with us, tell that person who believes we are kind and sweet what's causing our odd reactions or withdrawal, but all we can think is that they'll hear that and flee. Fast. And then we'll be alone again, regretting our craziness and wishing for another great guy to come along and then, this time, we'll do it right and not react to anything from our past and just be that loving and fabulous women they think we are when we first meet them.

So what's the answer to this? Maybe it's all about fear, the fear that if we are really truly authentic, then we might be unloveable and that people will leave us. That if we are show our humanness, our not-so-healthy places, that we might be undesirable. So we want to be loved, but we're afraid to be loved, we want to be close but we're afraid to be close, we want a relationship but we're afraid to get hurt. I'll leave you with this quote that sums it up: "Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing." – George Sheehan

August 21, 2007

Packages and other gifts.

This computer thing is amazing. When I was born, my parents had just bought their first TV set and the VCR was many years later. Progress was slow and we had the time to adjust to the new technology easily. I remember buying our first fax machine at work and how great an impact it had on our jobs. Geez, now we buy a cell phone that takes pictures, plays videos, makes movies, and sends emails. I remember that we used to see changes in surgical technique a few times a year and now it's hardly a day that a rep doesn't come in with a new screw or rod to show the docs. Now we use a type of navigation where we do an MRI, put the disc in the machine, and the docs can see exactly where they are in a patient's head during brain surgery. I just think it's magic. I want to understand how they put all that info on something the size of a penny and how I can write a word in google and in a second there are two zillion and fifty answers. It's just magic.

What brought me thinking this way? I write this blog, this way of getting to know myself and share my thoughts with you. And, for the most part, I don't even know who you are. Sometimes at my parties, one of you will come up and say that you enjoy reading the blog and I think, you know that person I just met knows so many personal things about me and I know nothing about him. Kind weird, but then it's been good for me to open up, to write about me and learn that it's OK to be revealing.

I especially enjoy your emails to me, how you comment on something I wrote, how it is just what you were thinking or that you were glad I brought up a certain subject that is important to you. I've recently realized that some of us dearly want a "soul mate" but that we seek someone like the Prince on the white horse and are not realistic about who he should be, like he is our age but has to have all his hair and be really tall and make lots of money and make us laugh. And one of you wrote this really cool email to me: I must comment on the "Laws of the Jungle..." blog. First, thanks so much for including this info. I hope the women in WOW take it to heart. Although I'm considered an attractive man by most standards, I'm just a smidge under 6', have a little more avoirdupoir than I should, have a bit less hair than I used to and most of it is gray. I'm no Donald Trump, but have no debts and will retire with a nice income. You'd be surprised how picky women have been, even in your wonderful group. It's time we all changed our value systems a bit. Do nice guys still finish last? Thank you for all you do. Geez, doesn't he sound like the nicest guy?

Me, I like surprises. I think of all the things I've done in my life that I would have missed if I took the safe route. I might not have traveled by myself to meet friends in Puerta Vallarta, I might not have bought my house on my own, I might not have gone to Paris with someone I barely knew, I might not have taken that amazing parasail ride, and who knows what else. I sure might have never created Wow or these really fun parties that have made my life, and maybe yours, a lot brighter. Maybe we should think of prospective mates like this, like we are open to surprises and that we have almost no preconceptions about what they should be. Maybe we should learn to ignore some of the packaging and wait until we see what's inside. Think about receiving a gift that is wrapped at some fancy store in the shiniest paper and ribbon but might be some silly doo-dad inside that we don't want and some gift that is wrapped in the funny pages with the tape showing and holds inside something that would really make us smile and be happy.

I have a picture of my twin grandchildren walking into a room to see their 4-year-old birthday gifts. They had absolutely no idea at all what might be in those boxes and each time they opened one, they were thrilled, just thrilled, like it was the neatest thing ever. Maybe we should view life, and potential mates, like that, that they might just be the gift we hoped for all our lives. My beautiful curly-haired daughter sent me this quote last week, "Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold." ~Maurice Setter. Let's open whatever special gifts that are waiting for us, regardless of how they're wrapped!

August 15, 2007

Now that you got him, what next?


So we finally meet the guy or gal of our dreams and then what? I've read books and blogs and heard lectures and seen relationship coaches, but they all talk about getting the guy. Where to meet him, what to wear, what to say, telephone etiquette, how to lean back and let the guy be the guy and etc. and etc. and etc. But who actually talks about what to do then?

I've heard that we get "settled in our ways" by this age, that we claim to want a relationship but we want it on our own terms. I favor the Woody Allen method. Not marrying a step-child, of course, but that we live apart but close and see each other whenever we want or don't see each other when we don't want. Or we can buy a really, really, really big house and have separate places to hang out in the same house, but I don't think too many of us have that option.

I have to admit that I might have what someone else might call "bad" habits. I like to wear sloppy clothes around the house, stuff that is clean and not stained but is baggy and comfortable. Guys like lingerie, you know that itchy stuff that costs a fortune and turns them on so you get to wear it like a minute and then they ask you to just take it off. And I like to watch TV, stuff that I TIVO and might be embarrased if anyone knew, like reruns of shows I've already seen or shows that are just silly or B-movies. What if the guy doesn't watch TV and wants to do things together, all the time? What if he wants to watch sports or the history channel and you don't? Got a house big enough for two TVs and lots of space in-between? And sometimes I like to eat junk food and read all night in bed and leave my clothes on the floor and not wash the dishes. So there.

And if you're not living together and you're spending a lot of time together, do you have to be together every minute you're together? Can you say you just want to be alone or read or veg out if he's come over to see you? And we women sometimes wake up in weird moods, like we talk and talk about what to do about a certain problem and he helps us to make a decision and we wake up the next day and have a totally different opinion - isn't that going to drive him nuts? Or that we women are soooo giving and nurturing and kind and want to just make everything so nice and then sometimes we just want to be selfish and be a queen-for-a-day and not do anything for anyone - how does a guy cope with that? Or that something bothered us and it takes a week or two or more to get the courage or the words or whatever to actually tell him about it and by then we're really emotional and talking really fast and not making sense - how is he supposed to handle this?

I know, I know, that men are not such fabulous people to always have around. Sometimes they leave all the planning up to us or they bring us flowers at first and then stop once we have sex or they get moody or insecure and react to stuff we do like it's one thousand times bigger than it really is and we're supposed to soothe them and make nice, even though we think they're crazy. And sometimes they stop saying nice things to us, like how they like to be with us or how pretty we are because we must already know this and don't realize that we really have to hear that every day because what they said yesterday doesn't really transfer over to today and they don't want to do that. Or they drink too much or don't take showers enough or stay out late with the guys or complain because the restaurant is expensive when they just bought the newest really expensive gadget.

Listen, I'm in the beginnings of a pretty nice relationship with an amazing guy who is kind and thoughtful and sexy and calls me at work to say he's thinking about me and still brings me flowers and makes plans and really acts like he cares a lot. But I just wanted to remind us all that the effort doesn't stop when the Prince kisses the Princess and wakes her up, that the stuff afterward is real and sometimes tough and that we have to be very self-aware of what's going on inside of us so that we don't get mad at the other person when it's really just that we are feeling insecure or need some time alone or haven't really told them what's bugging us. It's not always easy to be with another person, to be vulnerable, to let them see the "real" us, all the while being considerate and kind and looking for the best in them - but I have a hunch it's worth the work.

August 11, 2007

The Ferris Wheel Perspective



I went to the Ventura Fair this week, a "Fair with an Ocean Breeze." I had a great time. I went with my daughter, my 4-year-old twin grandchildren, and another mommy and her twins. Lovely to see the world through the eyes of such innocent little people. The picture is the view from top of the Ferris Wheel ("we'll be verrrrry brave, gramma," said the twins) and it reminds me of how we can see life in different ways, from different views, colored by our preconceptions or expectations.

For me, life has been a journey of coming to know myself, learning who I am and what do I like and what do I stand for. I grew up listening to and believing the views of my parents and siblings, people who needed to see the worst in others and who didn't realize or care that we, especially as children, tend to live up to the expections of others, whether they be high or low. So I've had to recognize these old messages, like I'm stupid or that I wouldn't amount to anything or that I'm unloveable, and contradict them with affirmations, like I'm smart and I'm valuable and I'm loveable, in order to love myself and have peace.

And we can't love others unless we love ourselves. So we date and we have lists of what we want in a man and we meet one after another and we find something wrong with each one. They're not tall enough, they don't have enough hair, they don't make enough money, they don't say the right thing at the right time, and on and on. We find reasons not to let them love us, not to let them into our hearts, and we move on to find something wrong with the next one, all the time yearning for that special someone to love and to love us, to give us that priceless gift of being known for who we are and being loved for being just who we are.

I like to read the blog Dating Goddess: Delicious Adventures in Dating over 40. (http://datinggoddess.wordpress.com/ The writer is bestselling author of workplace effectiveness books, speaker and management consultant who has appeared on Oprah, 60 Minutes, National Public Radio and USA Today. Single after a long marriage, she writes about her experiences in dating. In her most recent post, she writes about the book Laws of the Jungle: Dating for Women Over 40by Gloria MacDonald and Thelma Beam and says "I found this to be one of the most interesting books on midlife dating I’ve read in a long while. It is co-written by a matchmaker specializing in people over 40 (Gloria MacDonald), and a couples therapist (Thelma Beam).

Here are the facts from the book:

1) Think there are lots of men out there? In the US and Canada, at age 45 there were 12 single women for every 10 single men. At age 55, there are 15 single women for every 10 men in this age group, and by 65 there are 10 men for 25 women.


2) Think that the guy should make the first move? Midlife women often say: “I’m not making the first move,” or “He has to work hard to win me,” or “I’m not returning his call. I don’t call men.” While this mind set may have worked when they were in their 20’s when there were more men than women, and the woman was in her prime, now in her 40’s, 50’s or 60’s few men will work as hard as they did then. They just don’t have to, as there are more women to choose from. Not that a woman should be easy, but she shouldn’t insist he jump through so many hoops he’ll be pooped.

3) Does he have to be tall or have all of his hair? Midlife women also seem to be picky, their requirements often based on their ex or departed husband, without really a sense that they aren’t in their 20’s anymore. The majority of women say they want someone over 6-feet tall. Did you know that only 14% of men are 6-feet tall? Only 9% are 6′1″? Women of all heights say they want — in fact many say they require — a man who is at least 6-feet tall, even if she is under 5′10″. 45% of men aged 40-49 have some hair loss; 55% of men 50-49; and 65% of men 60-69. Asking for all his hair is like a man insisting that a women has no gray in her hair, or doesn’t dye her hair. It cuts down the options dramatically.


4) Do you require that the guy be “slim, slender, fit?” The data shows that 75% of people aged 45-74 are overweight. So if you insist on this, you’re eliminating three-quarters of the population.

5) Want a guy with lots of money? Women often say they want a successful man, stating they want someone who makes over $100,000/year. Even if their ex or late husband didn’t, or if she makes one-third of that. In the 45-64 age group, only 9-10% of men make six figures.

By no means am I saying that we should give up our values or pick someone who isn't a good fit. But, if we spend time getting to really know ourselves and to really love ourselves, we will be more likely to pick a mate based on the really important things in life, like the quality of his character, the depth of his compassion, and the size of his heart. We are all drawn to people who are confident and who seem to be comfortable in their skin. If we are happy and content with our own life and we have grown past our heartaches and bitterness into people who care about others, we will attract someone similar.


The Dating Goddess wrote an earlier post about what to wear on a first date to "build rapport" and talked about showing cleavage or not, dressing provocatively or not, and I wrote a comment that said, "What to wear? For sure, something comfortable and something that I feel good in. What else? A big smile, a cheerful attitude, a kind spirit, and an open heart! That’s what draws a man to us, I promise." Let us be people who love. Ourselves first, and then a fabulous mate!