December 29, 2008

Hanukah, Christmas, and a birthday.

It's been a wonderful end to a sometimes difficult and sometimes fabulous year and an especially good last few months. From the amazingly fun cruise last month, to the holiday Wow meeting to my annual Jewish-Christmas breakfast with friends and family, to Jason's wonderful angel of a sister being in town for the month (that's her above with my grandchildren), to a weekend of lunch with a friend who is like a sister and a comedy house night with another friend who makes me laugh until my tummy hurts, to a whole day of a birthday with friends and family, to feeling strong, finally, at work, to turning sixty, yes sixty, today, and it's been grand.

Sometimes, when I'm with my women friends or with my daughter and her family, I try to remember to stop for a moment and think about how blessed I am. That the Wow group has lasted for more than three years, giving me the friendship of truly lovely women. That my daughter has grown into such a beautiful woman and amazing mom. That she is married to a man I adore and love like a son. That my delightful twin grandchildren live only a few miles from me and are healthy and happy and that I get to spend really fun time with them every week. That I have women friends who I love dearly. That I am healthy and that I have a job that has allowed me to have a roof over my head and feel useful and productive. That at least five people in the last week, when hearing about my birthday, said that I looked forty. That sometimes I feel sad, but more often I feel happy.

This is a joyful and sometimes pensive time of year. We are reminded of celebrities and dignitaries who passed away. We think about what we wanted to accomplish, but didn't. We think about loves that we lost, friends that moved away, and friends we no longer visit. And we think about the New Year, that we'll exercise more or read more books or call our friends more often or finally take that trip to somewhere special. And, as we are wishing friends and strangers a happy new year, we think about what we hope will happen in the new year for ourselves.

I thought about my late mom this morning, how she used to call me her "teenager," even when I was in my forties, how she'd always tell me the story of my birth on my birthday, that she wasn't here to tell it to me again today, and I was sad. And then my daughter and my grandchildren visited me at my office with beautiful yellow roses and hand-drawn Happy Birthday - I Love You cards and kisses and hugs and I was overwhelmed with joy. I am truly blessed. And I wish each and every one of you a happy new year full of very few challenges and lots and lots of moments when you know you are loved.

December 20, 2008

Snow, Magic, and friends.

It's Saturday and I'm still recovering from Thursday! It started out with one of the coldest mornings on record and snow in the mountains just north of Chatsworth. Snow! Here's a picture of snow to the east of me, taken with a telephoto lens by my very busy (and very beautiful) curly-haired daughter:

The snow prevented lots and lots of people who live north of our valley from driving in to work, so my docs 7:30am surgery started at 11:am and they had to miss a special lunchtime meeting. So the ladies in my office went and look at who we met!!!
Yes, that's the real Magic Johnson with my assistant! He came to hospital next to my office to speak on his new book and talked about how he has succeeded in business. Amidst really funny stories about his adventures in basketball! All I can say is that he's a really big guy, both in stature and heart. He talked about how his goal has been to bring business to the inner cities and to help all minorities succeed. He said that a dollar in a minority community changes hands only three times but, in a community like ours, changes hands twenty times, because there have traditionally been very few, if any, businesses in the inner city. He told a story about trying to buy Starbucks to put into minority communities, but hearing that the company doesn't franchise and didn't want to take the risk. So he invites the head of the company to a premier of a chick movie at his movie theaters in the intersection of gang territory in LA. So there are maybe 5,000 women in line waiting for the Whitney Houston movie "Waiting to Exhale" and the ladies are all talking to each other like they know each other and then, when the movie starts, are all acting like they have a personal relationship with Whitney because they are talking to the screen, telling her exactly what to do with her nasty boyfriend. And the Starbucks CEO tells Magic that he's never had quite a movie-going experience like this before and sells him 119stores!

So, the whole afternoon I'm just completely abuzz by Magic! He really is one of the most down-to-earth, yet inspiring people I've every met. In this giddy stake, I spend my evening with these lovely ladies, the women of Wow! These are some of the Wowettes at our annual Holiday meeting! We ate a magnificent potluck dinner and then gathered to share our triumphs from this year and our hopes for the New Year. With triumphs, there were many shared themes, such as taking care of aging parents, making new women friends, surviving unemployment, reconciling with siblings and grown children, finishing a divorce and getting a life back, helping a handicapped child learn to read, traveling alone, surviving changes at work, expanding a business, becoming more patient and compassionate, and enjoying their single life. In the new year, the ladies want to find a new job, exercise more, travel more, live in the moment, do volunteer work, find a wonderful man, get more fit, continue developing friendships, become financially independent, and be "fearless and focused." Although each of us has had our share of challenges this year, all were upbeat about their lives and successes. Although some were hoping for a man in their lives, most expressed contentment with being alone, all expressing love for their women friends and happiness with their lives. They are a beautiful, glowing, and joyful group of women, and I am blessed to know them all. What an amazing year awaits! Happy holidays to all!

December 16, 2008

Plumbers, challenges, and looking forward.

I learned something new today. If you fill your garbage disposal with ice cubes and then run it, this cleans the little holes that might clog up with bits of food. Gee, I'm hitting a really big birthday soon and I never ever heard that before. How did I learn this? I paid $350 to a plumber to fix a leak and replace a regulator and that's what I got! I also got the knowledge that I took care of something small right away that could have turned into something disastrous really soon.

It's the time to look back and think about what I have learned this year. The Wow meeting is in a few days and it's when we talk about the year's successes and our goals for the new year. I've had quite a year, as you readers know. A new and very difficult boss, a burglary, a few lost romantic relationships, a broken refrigerator, a poisoned dog (who survived), and some more struggles that I've already forgotten.

And maybe that's the biggest lesson of all, that we all have challenges and they pass. We learn and grow or we don't. I'm a better person now than I was at the beginning of the year. I've faced and walked through things like the burglary that could have broken me, but I actually think I'm a better person because of it. I made a few new wonderful friends, taken some great trips, and watched my grandchildren start kindergarten and lose their first tooth. I've done some things that scared me and some things that made me stronger. I guess that's just life, and I'm not done yet. Not by a long shot.

December 7, 2008

Boys, girls, and vampires.

I like to watch Ellen. I'm an Ellen, and I like that another Ellen is famous and fabulous and fine. It's an Ellen thing, I believe. I tape the show and sometimes watch it late at night if I can't sleep. So, there was this very cute little nine-year-old boy Alec Greven talking about a book he wrote called "How to Talk to Girls."
This is how it's advertised, "Are you smart enough to take over a girl's heart? Leave it to a nine-year-old to get down to the basics about how to win victory with a girl. How to talk to girls is for boys of all ages—from eight to eighty—and the girls they like. So read this book and then you're ready. Good luck!"

Like it's that easy. And since when do guys read self-help books? I know a lot of much older guys and many of them don't have much of a clue about talking to girls, so I was curious to hear the wisdom of a child. I raised a daughter and now she has twins, a boy and a girl, and the differences are obvious. The little girl is all diva, wants to be first in line, likes to be noticed, and likes "girlish" things. The boy likes to build things, isn't much on being cuddled because he's busy playing, and usually just reacts without thinking about it. Both wonderful, and both very different.

So little Alec says that the guys have to be careful and behave properly around girls because a girl can like them at the beginning of recess and then, at the end of recess, it's all over. Just like that, fifteen minutes and it's done! He says to learn to "get over it," that "life is hard, move on." His other advice is to "Comb your hair and don't wear sweats. Control your hyperness (cut down on the sugar if you have to)and don't act desperate."

Sounds like good advice. I'm not sure if men my age are still just as clueless as my little grandson or as simple as little Alec, or maybe they're just flailing around out there, trying to make sense of being single in their 50s in a world full of women they'll never understand. And put that together with women who are still trying to find their prince, still looking for that fairy tale romance from the stories they read as little girls. Geez, there's still Lifetime Movies, the sappy stories are strong women who still want romance and, yes, I watch those movies and shed more than a few tears every time.

Not sure what this post is really trying to say. I'm getting over my cold finally. My bosses still think the problems with the healthcare system are somehow my fault. And I'm just trying, myself, to make sense of soon having a big birthday and being single and enjoying my girlfriends and family and wondering if I'll really ever get past the things that shaped my growing up. Think I'll just go read a book. I'm reading the third in the Twilight series, you know the one about the teenage girl who falls in love with that gorgeous twinkly-bodied vampire. Yeah, that's reality. I wish.

December 6, 2008

A cold, Chinese food, and the kids.

Thought I'd let you in on another weekend, here in Chatsworth, California. I've had the nastiest head cold this week and, yes, I did work every day feeling lousy. On Thursday, after hucking up some disgusting green stuff, I went to my doctor and got some antibiotics. And a note to be off work for that day. Funny, huh? I work for a doctor and got a doctor's note to go home and, just as I thought, my doctor boss just laughed when he saw it. I actually did go home around noon and slept the whole afternoon and then dragged back into work on Friday. Wouldn't it be nice to be independently wealthy and not have to work? OK, yes, I'm thankful to have a job and one that give me some pleasure amidst the angst.

So I thought I'd come home on Friday night, put on sweats, and crawl under the covers for maybe twenty-four or more hours but, alas, not to be. My daughter was away on a work trip and my hard-working son-in-law had pulled some overtime duty so I had the twins overnight. Which you might think is an imposition or something like it, but being with them is actually the best medicine. Their happy faces and silliness make me happy and forget my troubles, like when I was reading them a story about a giraffe and a mouse who loved each other but the mouse couldn't reach up to kiss the giraffe and Quinn said, "I know why giraffes have such long necks. They have smelly feet." To which I replied, "Hey Quinn, you made a joke" to which he replied, "No, I read it in a book and it's true!" And Talia, out of nowhere, said "I know why grandmothers are called grandmothers! It's because they are grand and they are mothers!" Ok, melt my heart, you sweet little people.

So here's a picture of them in last year's Christmas pajamas and Santa hats, playing with the holiday decorations they helped unload from storage:
And here's a picture of why I don't put away my laundry. No, it's not that I'm lazy, but I graciously wish to provide my cat with soft and warm places to sleep:
I don't have a lot of close friends, but the few I have are really special to me. Here's the twins with my dear friend Susan after lunch at Panda Express. And yes, that's a statue of a naked guy, not the naked guy who lives down the street, but another naked guy.
Here's the twins this morning, "painting" in the coloring books that Susan gave them yesterday, or actually waiting to paint until the kitty drinks their painting water, since the dozen water glasses I leave around for her are never as good as the ones she's not supposed to drink from. The children loved the coloring-painting books - Susan never comes empty-handed and is probably the kindest person I know. Lucky me to be her friend:
And now it's Sunday night and just got up from a long winter's nap (yes, we did read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" while the kids were here) and, no, I'm not going to the singles dance that some of the Wowettes are attending and, yes, I'll probably catch up on some TV I've taped or read some of the third book of the Twilight series (what a perfect movie!) or maybe I'll just do nothing. Would be nice to have a realy cool guy around to rub my feet and cuddle with and bring me tea, but I'm doing OK on my own, thank you. Still, might be nice.

December 3, 2008

Yeah! Cruise pix!

The towel-swan that greeted us on our bed the first night. How do they do that?

We are OFF the ship! John-Allan-Bev-Dan-Me.

Yes, we are being tourists outside Hussongs!

And drinking inside Hussongs!

Michele is taking pics again!

Can't just eat and drink! Gotta take pictures! You go, Michelle!

And this is all of us, looking fine at dinner!

If you were on the ship and want YOUR pix posted, just send them to me!

November 29, 2008

Clouds, cookies, and PlayDoh.

A few of you have written to tell me I haven't posted pix of the grandchildren lately, so I thought I'd use them to show you what I've done so far for the Thanksgiving weekend:

I had the kids at my house for a few hours before we left for Thanksgiving dinner. Just before we left to pick up their mom, I heard a loud clank and then a thud and then a cry and this is the resulting bump on Talia's forehead from running into a very hard fireplace brick: She stopped crying once she took a look at herself in the mirror!

This is what we saw in the sky on the way to pick up their mommy. Doesn't it look like a face in a cloud?

The kids stayed overnight last night and here's the results of making sugar cookies and decorating them. (You can barely see the cookies on the paper towels on the counter in front of them. Excuse the cat.)

Here's the kids all curled up this morning watching some snippets of Thursday's Macy's parade:

Here's Quinn's self proclaimed, "The Artic of Blanket White House of North Levada." (Yes, Levada. He says it has desert and snow there.)

Here's the kids drawing, Talia wearing her self-made "Badger Costume." (Excuse the cat.)

And finally, the children making "fruit salad" and "an egg around a baby" from PlayDoh.

We've had a busy morning. Are there enough words to describe the pleasure of watching these happy little people play? I have a lot to be thankful for. Have a nice weekend.

November 26, 2008

Questions, punctuation, and knights.

Yes, yes, yes, I will post pix from the trip, but first I must find someone to scan a few and then you shall see them. I promise. Soon.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share some more emails from men who recently answered my personal ad, since you guys on the trip said you find these posts amusing. I really would like to be dating, but consider the options. These are the COMPLETE responses (with NO pix attached) I received from my ad that requested from them a short bio, a pic, and a description of how what I wrote in my ad would work for them:

really like you, you seem to be a nice lady, are you…I would love to talk to you, please let me know sweetie. I’m a nice guy, you will like me…please let me hear from you soon. Sincerely

Just Wondering !!!!
Hows a nice man sound? Thats alot of fun and looking TO GIVE YOU ALL THE SPECIAL TLC YOU NEED !!

I enjoy who I am and enjoy what life has to bring maybe a new friend soon !!!!!! I'm 49 6'2' 195 in good shape and would enjoy meeting you, & This is for real so let me know !!!

Since Obama won, the sky is bluer, the air is sweeter, and I'm so optimistic that I'm writing to a woman online. I'm 56 and
iconoclastic. "I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy
no man's happiness..." The shepherd speaks those line in "As You Like
It." I happen to like it, too. But I'm no Percy Dove-Tonsil quoting
Shakespeare all the time.

So let's have lunch first...
or I won't bother with you.

hi dr bob in westlake. wanna talk?
How big are you?

Would you enjoy a nice, smart, attentive, and
imaginative lover from time to time? Be careful what you wish for.

Ouch. You see the predicament? No pic. No short bio. No telling what appealed to them in my ad. No capital letters. Ouch. I wanna go back on the cruise. Real life is tough. Anyone seen a knight on a white horse?

November 24, 2008

Big ship, great people, and lots of laughs.

That was SOOOOOOOO fun! Where do I start! As you know, I went on a cruise this weekend to Ensenada with a group of single people. There were some of my Wowettes, some guys from the Party List, and some who booked the trip after walking into the Auto Club and seeing the flier.

What can I say? It was probably the most fun weekend I've ever had with friends. Our group was friendly and fun and almost like we were of the same mind with plans to get together for the weekend and enjoy the heck out of everything offered. We ate, we drank, we saw shows, we shopped, we laughed, and we partied. Did you notice that sleeping wasn't on the list?!?

There were so many moments that I hoped to remember so I could tell you about them, but they all just blurred together and I can't remember the specific things we laughed about, but my stomach still hurts from all the cracking up. To start, we had planned to meet on the pool deck upon embarking to have lunch and get to know each other but Bev and I didn't see anyone we knew so we just sat with a view of the Long Beach Harbor, having a drink, and one by one the table filled up. One of the guys I didn't know leaned into me and said, "I read your blog and booked this trip so that I could meet you!" Think about it, over 19,000 hits and I really have very little clue who is reading this and there, just inches away, is a guy I've never met who has read the posts for years and knows all about me and, until that very minute, I didn't know existed. He went on and on, praising me about my writing and my personality and I was totally amazed. Having not dated or had a party in over six months, it was almost shocking to meet someone, a man, with such knowledge and appreciation of me. And that set the tone for the weekend.

The women were beautiful, the men handsome, and everyone was fun. We woke up Saturday morning, docked in Ensenada, and had planned to meet on dry land to walk together into town. Bev and I waited and waited and, one by one, were met by three other guys from the cruise, two from my group and one from Utah who asked to join us, and we were off. Now, I didn't know these guys from anyone until the day before and didn't have any idea of how they would react to browsing through store after store in a strange town, but they were just hilarious. Kept us laughing the whole three hours. I just can't describe what a treat it was to spend the time with these guys who entertained us, let down their hair, and made it so much fun.

I feel rejuvinated, just alive again! It's been a tough year for me, as you readers well know, and this weekend just made my spirits soar. For some reason, which is still a surprise to me, I got more hugs and kisses and un-asked-for shoulder rubs from guys on the trip than I have had all year. After a while, Bev just stood there with the most bemused expression while another guy would come up to me and do something affectionate. Oh, I do remember one strange thing that happened. Bev and I were eating lunch (on the Lido deck, of course), and one guy who I had never seen before came up and asked me "What is there for lunch" to which I answered "There's Japanese food over there and some really good fish dish over there" to which he responded, "You should really be in comedy, you remind me of that comedian, oh yes, Rita Rudner." Listen, I told him what was for lunch. How funny is that? And at least three guys, at three different times, came up to me and said to the person next to me, "She's the most beautiful woman on the cruise." Listen, I have witnesses.

I don't know what got into everyone, but their spirits were high, the booze flowed, and everyone was gracious and friendly, which made for a good time for all. I have big thanks and love for Bev, our travel agent from the Auto Club, who spent so much time and effort booking all of us and turned out to be the best roommate a girl could ever have. (You can reach her at 818-313-7677 for any of your travel needs.) And to all of you who travelled with me, both those of you I have known and those of you who I met for the first time, I say that you were amazing, so friendly and happy and nice to each other, and I appreciate each and every one of you for making the trip so much fun for everyone. I can't wait to see you again. Really. Let's plan something again! (Pics soon!)

November 20, 2008

Juggling, boats, and friends.

I don't know how we all do it. Juggle. We have work, friends, family, lovers, school, chores, homes, errands, and the list goes on and on about all the things that take our time and energy. How do we have enough to do it all? How do we choose which to do and which to put off?

I'm going on a weekend cruise tomorrow, something that's been planned for about six months. There's maybe 100 single people my age going and I think it will be fun, but I had to do so much work and deciding and picking and worrying all week that I am spending the evening relaxing (think hot oil bath with candles), or trying to relax enough so that I can enjoy the trip.

Maybe it's about prioritizing or maybe it's about taking the easier path or maybe it's about giving in or giving up, but it's hard to make it all work. I guess the bottom line is that I can't have it all, that I have to make choices, and that sometimes I disappoint myself or others in the process. I really worked hard this week, just pushed and pushed, and my boss isn't at all happy that I'm taking a long weekend, but I still stood up, "barreled ahead" as my daughter says, and just said that's that. It was a week full of fires, real and perceived, very sick patients and some very sad stories, a sick grandbaby and a retired boss who's not doing so well in rehab and I'm just tired and wondering if other people have an easy time making it all work and I think this is just universal. We're all in the same boat. Life is tough sometimes.

So I'm off to spend a cheery and carefree weekend on a big ship with some old friends and maybe some new ones, to drink and eat and dance and maybe just sit outside and watch the ocean pass by. I hope you all have a lovely weekend, too.

November 16, 2008

Mules, dinners, and smoke.

I'm keeping my promise to tell you what I've been doing lately. That's a picture of Auntie Sharon's family at a recent dinner while she was visiting from Georgia. It's a big, loud Italian family that make me and my daughter and her family feel welcome, like we're a part of their family without the baggage. It's really nice to go to their gatherings since my family doesn't gather anymore, that since Mom passed we really have gone our own ways. I don't mind that, since we have a classic dysfunctional family and the gatherings were always fraught with tension, but I do miss the noise and the joy that exists in some families.

That's the view from the room Auntie Sharon and I stayed in at the Aquarius Casino in Laughlin a few weeks ago. That's the Riverside Hotel, the home of Don Laughlin who built the town. And that's the beautiful Colorado River that runs behind the hotels. One night we walked the length of the hotels along the River Walk and saw lots of ducks and one skunk. Really. We should have done more walking and less gambling, but it was a particularly nice trip. Sharon is my longest friend, like a sister to me, and I miss her terribly, so spending a few days together like the old days was really good. Below is a picture of Auntie feeding a mule in Oatman, a little town in the mountains just outside of Laughlin that used to be a thriving town during the days when gold was being mined, but now pretty much belongs to the mules who wander wherever they please.

And last week I had the flu, so there's nothing much to talk about and no pix. I worked most of the week and went home before I felt like falling over and it was a full moon and very busy, but it's over and so then there was the weekend. I hadn't made plans for the weekend because I didn't know how I'd feel, so I just took it easy and stayed inside. It was pretty weird though, with fires all over the place and the sky various colors of orange and brown and grayish and it felt like an episode of Twilight Zone, like I woke up in a movie or something. It was all over the news, something like 500 homes were burned, and I ache for the people who lost everything. The air was nasty and thankfully my daughter took her kids to the beach Saturday morning to escape the smoke and had a good time, except that she referred to the children as her aliens, so I figured she needed a break and told her to bring them to me on Sunday and they were a delight. There's something about walking through Gramma's door that makes them be good. I didn't know my grandparents at all, but I have to think that having me in the lives of my own grandchildren, with all the love I eagerly bestow upon them, is a good thing. Plus they're just the most fun. If I could bottle the sound of their giggles, I'd be rich. We even had a visit from my friend Kathy and her lab Onyx on their way to her little slice of heaven in Baja. Of course Onyx had to go in my pool, which I believe she thinks she owns, and the children had to hug and kiss her a zillion times. Here's a picture of the twins on my couch, pretending to be one of their stuffed animal friends.

So I ended the weekend taking the kids home and having dinner with my daughter, her husband, the kids, and my niece Debbie. We may not have a very big family, but we love each other a lot. Big bunches. Lots and lots. You get the picture.

November 13, 2008

Computers, viruses, and stuff.

Thanks to all of you who have emailed, asking me where I've been. Interesting few weeks, and I thank you for your concern. I formed about five or six or seven posts in my head, but alas my computer was in the shop. For a week. Except for one hour when it worked and then it didn't again.

Maybe I'll talk about frustration and angst and how little things really can upset us. When my computer gets weird, I just panic. I don't know how they work. I think it's magic, probably. Maybe I should take a computer class so that I won't get so agitated when it fails. Maybe I should just learn to relax and not take it so seriously. Whatever.

What I noticed is that I really felt disoriented, not having this means to communicate. I felt like I was alone in my little house and everyone else was "out there" living life without me. I know that's a bit extreme, but it kinda felt like I was disconnected from life. And then I got the flu or some icky virus and just didn't feel good for the past four or five days or so and that worried me. I'm not a good patient, I admit. Listen, I work for doctors and am really almost constantly aware of my mortality and the possibility of my demise, seeing all these sick people every day. Sometimes I warn my friends to be careful driving or to look both ways when they cross the street and they think I'm nuts, but I see the results of tragic accidents every day and it's really quite real. One of my docs is going to operate on a man tomorrow who was visiting here and got hit in a crosswalk, breaking his upper spine and neck and he's never going to be a pedestrian again or be able care for himself in any way. Ever. Like in that one second, his life and the lives of his friends and family are forever changed. So, sometimes I get weird about my own sense of mortality, and I apologize for the sad story, but maybe one of you will be a little more careful and never have to suffer like that.

So I vow to catch you up on what's been happening that's good, like my week with Auntie Sharon and our trip to Laughlin and Oatman. And that I went to visit a really cool church last Sunday with my friend Kathy, how it was the first service after the new President was elected and the crowd was pretty happy, and how colorful a group it was, and how I cried at the amazing music and the joy all around me. Maybe you can go next time with me. Or how I'm still not dating and have decided that life is about having fun and that I'm thinking of ways to have more fun that don't require a boyfriend. And how I'm having a major birthday at the end of this year and some really nice friends are trying to plan some fun outings but I just can't think that far ahead. And how the grandkids are fabulous (see for details and pix) and that I'm going on a cruise in a few days with 100 singles and how work is OK off and on, more on than off, and that I'm grateful that you read this. Stuff like that. Soon.

October 30, 2008

Potluck, The Pink Lady, and Wowettes.

I had breakfast in Laughlin, Nevada and dinner with the Wow group in my home in Chatsworth, California! The ladies started arriving early and my house, once again, filled with the voices and spirits of these amazing women.

The speaker tonight was Jackie Goldberg, the Pink Lady. I was told that she would be a terrific speaker and she was. She started her presentation by saying "I'm a sexy, sizzling, senior!!! She's 76, looks decades younger, and has the energy and enthusiasm of a teenager. Here's some of her words:

If you have the attitude, you can be anything you want to be.
Live belongs to the living.
Think pink, let the aura of a color allow you to see life through rose-colored glasses and surround yourself with people you love.
Get up, get out, and get a life!

The Pink Lady told story after story of being in difficult situations, like being a 23-year-old widow with three children and no work skills, and how her spunky attitude and exuberant personality got her jobs, good men, and new careers all though her life. You could see some of my slightly cynical ladies thinking that life just isn't that easy, that mountains aren't moved by guts and confidence alone, but she would have none of that. Attitude, again she says. Yes, she has her "down" times, but she is so busy with volunteering in three places, starting a new magazine called "Senior Chic," dating five men at once, and meeting new people wherever she goes that she doesn't stay down for long.

Listening to her talking about starting conversations with strangers and how she just is herself, her outgoing, sometimes loud, always bold self, really hit home to me. I've always been spirited but often held in my quirkiness, like it might offend or people might not like me. I've been conflicted about really letting the world see my true self, really allowing all of who I really am to shine through, and the Pink Lady's words really showed me that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by throwing caution to the wind and just letting me - be me.

The ladies were "wowed" by the Pink Lady. If you want to learn more about her, her website is: She teaches seminars on Getting Your Life Together: Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually, Reinventing Yourself, Words for the Wise, Effective Communication,, Grandparents as Parents, Humor in Life, and Senior Sexuality. Her website writes: She has helped hundreds of people reinvent themselves, stay youthful, improve their sexuality, and much more.

I can tell you that a few hours with The Pink Lady will change your life by making you be more alive, more sure of yourself, more eager to participate in all that life offers. Just being in her company has changed all of us. Oh, and that's a picture above of The Pink Lady surrounded by the smiling and beautiful Wowettes - celebrating the 3rd anniversary of Wow. See, we're already practicing what The Pink Lady teaches, to "Show people that once they hit 60 life is not over, but is still filled with passion, excitement, and love."

October 26, 2008

High school, life, and now.

I'm on vacation. I know I've written that, but I love to see the words. I took my visiting friend Auntie Sharon to a party of some of her oldest girlfriends last night. I met these ladies last year when I was Sharon's guest at her high school reunion. They were best friends in high school, that Catholic school up on the hill nearby, and can go on for hours about how "bad" they were, how they were late to class or spent their first class having breakfast at a local Bob's, only to be discovered by priests from the same school out for a bite. These ladies have kept in touch for these forty years since graduation and now get together for a girls' night out dinner every few months. Even the one who moved to Arizona took part via her cell phone!

I don't know how it is with men, but we women can sometimes laugh so hard our guts hurt. We laughed, giggled, chortled, and generally had the best time for hours last night in Robbi's beautiful back yard. Robbi is still married to John, who we invited to join us last night and who kept saying "this is a hoot!" while he was trying to catch his breath from all the silliness. I thought how it might have been to have been married young and stayed married, raising kids and buying houses and sharing hobbies and trips and adventures, all with the same guy for all those years. They talked about their trips and the groups they party with and I was delighted to listen, grateful to meet a couple that stayed together and still seemed to enjoy each other. It turned out that John and I graduated from the same high school the same year, can you imagine that? I told him for a Republican, he was a pretty cool guy and that I wouldn't write about his toe fetish. Don't ask me.

The other ladies were equally as wonderful. Sandy is single, works hard, and is finally going to Italy on vacation in a few months. She had talked about it last year at the reunion, saved for it since then, and now is going. By herself! So brave. She was so excited about the trip that it was contagious, all of us knowing that she would surely have the time of her life. Lovely Louise talked about how she and her new husband met, how their daughters were friends and brought them together. She's also a patient at my doctor's office, feeling well and looking very happy.

The food was delicious, the company beyond delightful, and I can't remember laughing that hard and for so long, maybe ever. I've grateful they allowed me to participate in their little circle of women that they've kept going for decades. I read an article recently about how having friends keeps us healthier and makes us live longer. I think this bunch might just live forever.

October 24, 2008

Vacations, old friends, and a road trip.

I'm on vacation. My oldest friend Auntie Sharon is visiting this week from Georgia and I want to spend time with her, as much as possible. We go way back, over 40 years. We married brothers the same year, had baby girls the same year, got divorced the same year, and then lived together after our divorces. We were in our mid 20s, looked fabulous, were opposites who got along famously. Our daughters grew up like sisters, and she has a place in my heart that no one else fills. She moved to Georgia six years ago and I still miss her, so having time with her is like medicine to me. We are so different that it's a wonder we get along, but I think we just accept and love each other unconditionally which is a precious thing.

So I worked today until 1:30, left to pick her up at the airport, went to the bank, picked up my grandchildren after school, took them home so Auntie could see my daughter, and then went to surprise her 86-year-old mom. It's a big Italian family where everyone talks at once and it sounds like they're arguing, but the love is palpable. It's so different from my family where we never speak our mind, are so full of baggage that we rarely see each other, and we have animosity towards each other that even outsiders can feel. I love to be part of Sharon's family's noisy and sometimes chaotic gatherings, grateful to be part of a family who care about each other and accepts me as one of their own.

I think we never quite get over the messages we learn as children. After thirty years working for the same boss, I still find myself shrinking in fear that he will get mad at me, like I'm reliving my childhood years with a family of bullies who I feared. It always seemed like I was an outsider, someone they picked on and went out of their way to make feel bad and small and unloved. I've spent many, many years trying to grow out of that fear and lately, at work, it's about 50-50, that sometimes I feel intimidated and sometimes I feel powerful and strong. So we don't just cast off these old fears, but we can submit to them less and less as we become aware and seek a new path.

I'm not the person I was when Sharon and I were pals years ago, but being with her is a reminder of who I was and who I've become. We're going to take a road trip in a few days to somewhere we used to visit together and I think we'll have a great time. I hope we can connect, not as who we used to be, so we can really get to know each other as we are now. I'll keep you posted.

October 19, 2008

Fires, gratitude, and new friends.

One of the new Wowettes, Karen E., faced this mountain of fire last week and was evacuated, not knowing what would happen to her home of many years. She spent a few days with another Wowette Patt, and did end up going home to a very smoky and undamaged home, amazingly. You just never know when tragedy will hit, such as in a medical emergency or a fire or another of life's many surprises. We wake up each day, usually taking for granted all that we have, and a tragedy comes along and nothing is the same. In my office at work, we see people who were going about their regular lives and suddenly they faced a life-changing medical situation for which they are totally unprepared. The human spirit is strong and powerful - we have a huge instinct for survival, and many of us are aware of what could happen and are grateful every day for the roof over heads, the job that pays our bills, and the health and safety of our loved ones.

Karen is one of those women I would never have met if there was no Wow, that monthly meeting where we gather for potluck and a speaker and celebrate our womanness and the joy of friendship. She is 65, divorced, currently unemployed, and taking care of a long time best friend who is battling a nasty cancer. She's a hard one to peg, to label. She's beautiful, has a wonderful smile, is very caring and kind, and sings the most beautiful karaoke with her friend Patt that I have ever heard. She's not really much like me at all, but I think I liked and admired her the first time we met. She's friendly and fun and outgoing and I admire her spirit. And I just enjoy her company, like she's always surprising me. She is a former ballroom dance teacher, sold perfume, and never re-married after a divorce many years ago, but lives life with passion and enthusiasm, even in the midst of difficulties. When I realized that her home might be in the path of the recent fire, I called her to invite her to stay at my home for whatever time she needed, and she was genuinely touched by my offer. I met her at the time of my break-in and I haven't been exactly myself, kinda scattered and distracted, but she put up with that and continues to want to be my friend. Life brings surprises and she's one of the nicest. I wish I had her picture so I could show her her smile - would brighten your day, for sure.

So, I'm home with this painful shoulder and taking some analgesics so I'm a bit spacey. I'll do some housework, read some more in a good book, and maybe sit outside in the sunshine. And be very, very grateful for my many blessings, my home and my family and my friends, new and old, that make my life richer every day. Lucky me.

October 18, 2008

Arthrograms, personal ads, and staying home.

Just another week in the suburbs of Los Angeles. The fires are out and the weather is gorgeous. Blue sky, lots of wispy clouds, and temps in the 70s and 80s. Work is Ok. One of the docs was out of town and I realized that I can take care of the business of one doctor, but not two, so I have to summon up the guts, again, to get them to agree to hire one more person, even though we're really in close quarters and haven't signed the lease for the bigger suite. Still, it's progress for me to feel strong at work and I don't take it for granted. Must say that the guy who works with our office and who looks and acts like the two hunky male guys in my Stephanie Plum mystery novels stopped by yesterday and yes, is still as gorgeous as ever. I know he's taken, but it's fun to look and be in his presence. And, for the first time, he hugged me and said he missed me. I just have THAT effect on men, obviously.

And I did muster up the courage to have an arthrogram of my painful right shoulder. It's been feeling better since the steroid injection, but I really want to know what is happening, what's been torn, and what might need to be fixed. It's not such a bad procedure, just an MRI, an injection into the joint, and another MRI, but the tech wasn't so thrilled to hear that I am claustrophic and sometimes have panic attacks. I just checked out, listened to all the noise and chatter in my head to distract me, and did fine, per the tech, and it didn't hurt more than a few seconds. But afterward? They warned me it would make the shoulder pain worse, but jeez, this is really painful. I had to cancel plans last night to see one of my favorite girlfriends and today am just gonna stay home, take some pain pills, and put some frozen corn on the painful spot. Try it when something hurts, put some frozen corn in a baggy and then on the sore spot, really works nice.

I did hear back from the Hilton where I want to have another party. I offered to pay for the band myself and then charge a small fee to the partygoers to pay me back and then the Hotel can keep the bar tab, which really sounds like a win-win, no-lose situation, but you never know. After going to that singles event last week, I am really motivated to thrown another of my parties where the room fills up, the music is amazing, and people are just having a great time. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I'm still not dating. Here's some responses to my personal ad, just so you can check out my options:
Hope you are having a great day. Let's go hang out. I am 31 years old, I am a normal, good looking, hard working, athletic, open minded guy that is looking for a cute, fun, out going girl to hang out with. I am not looking for a relationship right away. Age and ethnicity does not matter. It would be great to spend some time meeting new people. If you are normal and not crazy, please reply with recent pic and we can take it from there. Thanks.
Sounds nice, but 31? Don't think so.

Another one, kinda simple and to the point. I ask for a pic and short bio and this is what I get:

Nice, likes animals, but something doesn't sounds right. Maybe the garter belt thing put me off:
If you like me, read further. I'm tall, dark brown hair and eyes, (as you can see). I was brought up Catholic but got over it. My philosophy of live is ever changing as I observe and experience life. I do think protecting innocents is important to me. I rescue dogs when I can. On a date, I may very well feel compelled to save some hapless beast wandering in traffic. I will not at all mind if you have some pet-fur on your sweater. You don't have to LOVE animals as much as I, but you must at least tolerate them. Of course, I'd prefer an animal lover. I read alot...among my favorite authors are, Steinbeck, Flannery O' Connor, Ayn Rand, Stephen King, Natalie McKelvy, etc. My idea of good art is what entertains, ME. I go to theater when I can, I've been rather busy lately. I'm looking for no particular (body) type. Chemistry is all important. I do like women who enjoy wearing garter-belts on occassion. I have no idea why, but I like the look on the female-form. Which is NOT to say I'm looking for a Victoria Secret model. Please don't be put-off by my confession. OR, if you are, that's fine, too! I am really uninterested in people who are reticent. I hope all of us find our mate. I do best when I say more than less about my likes and dislikes.
All types interest me, so long as they are kind-hearted and sincere. So, write back if you're interested, and don't,if you aren't.

I don't know. Not enough info? Not enough punctuation?
i love women i want to be with someone who is fun not shy outgoing and honest i am all of those things love

Geez, if I were a few decades younger!!!
I am Male, late 30's, 6'3, stocky/husky build (good-looking, trust me!), former body guard, ex college ball, blond, hazel-eyes, Northern European/Spanish/Native American mix, no tattoos, two earrings. Mentally & Physically Healthy, D&D&D free! I do not smoke and rarely drink, by the way, but do not mind if you do.

Good thing this is an adult blog. Not that I don't like what he likes, but shouldn't we at least know each others' names before discussing these details?
I love sex, and can spend hours and hours making love to you...I enjoy cunnilingus, I love sucking on breasts for hours and hours, and giving sensual massages. My favorite position is doggystyle, but I like cowgirl style too, with you facing me so I can thrust up into you while sucking your sweet breasts. I also love anal sex with the woman, and I am very gentle and passionate about it...

Is it too awful to reject someone because they're really overweight? I would like to talk vwith you to see if there is a connection. I live in Simi Valley, I'm 48 6' and 260. I like going to a good movie or just watching one at home with a special lady. I like to camp, fish and love the beach, day or night.

So I'm home for the weekend, waiting now for the refrigerator repairman to make his
3rd trip to fix my broken water dispenser. Not much of a social life now, but that's OK. I've got some house stuff to catch up on and a good book to read and I don't drive when taking pain meds, so it's just a chill-out-stay-home-enjoy-doing-nothing weekend. It's not so bad. I like my company.

October 12, 2008

Girlfriends, giggles, and clean carpets.

It was a nice weekend in Chatsworth, California. No train crashes and I had a social life. I started off Friday night with a massage and then dinner with my friend Kathy who is heading for her home in Baja for a few weeks, that blissful haven on the sand north of San Felipe where she can do nothing and enjoy the magnificant ocean and sunsets. Aaaahhhh. So we had delicious Thai food, great conversation, and lots of giggles and I'm delighted to have her as a friend.

And then I took care of something that was really bugging me. My stained carpet. Doesn't sound like a big deal but sometimes the little things just irritate me, that subtle under-the-surface constant aggravation that I often don't recognize that upsets my balance. So I had Sylvan from Supermachine Fine Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning spend Saturday morning making my ten-year-old carpets look like new. He and his assistant Rene were amazing, just did the most careful and thorough work while entertaining me with stories about his long and happy marriage, his artistic wife, his successful and good grown chidren, good books, and his views on life. I really like Sylvan, a big-hearted, happy, and hard-working man who is obviously good to his employees and appreciates what he has earned and created in his life. You can reach him at 800-339-4795 or at his website at - he told me he would clean any small room, without moving furniture, for free, just to prove how much you'd like his work. Amazing how much a clean carpet has affected my sense of well-being.

Then I picked up my twin grandchildren so my beautiful curly-haired daughter could go out to lunch with her girlfriends and the kids and I went to dim-sum. Yum. When you walk into this restaurant, there is a huge salt water fish tank and the kids had to stop and name all the fish and plants and tell me that a certain fish lays eggs in one of them and other such fish facts that I didn't know! The children love dim sum, and I love to watch them enjoy it, and then we went to Ross to do some shopping and they went up and down the aisles with me, being really good and not touching stuff and oohing and aahing at all the silly decorations and then they each picked out a new toy and then I took them home to rest.

And this is the surprise. I went out to a singles event. Yes, I dressed up, did the hair and make-up, picked up my lovely friend Gail, and went to a dance. I had those last minute I-don't-want-to-go panic, but I keep my commitments and plus I thought it might be blog-worthy. Well, it was not so much fun, really, a bunch of people standing around a waterfall with the DJ way over there and no real dance floor and these key things that you're supposed to go around and use to find a lock that opens on one of the guys so you can mix more easily and then might win a door prize and I did! Except that I won a free pass for a future similar event, lucky me, but it did motivate me to plan another of my parties since there were several people there who recognized me and asked, almost begged me to do it again. OK, OK, I'll do it. I did get my cards read, which I'd been wanting to do, even though I don't put much stock in the whole psychic thing, but who knows? The cards apparently said that I had nothing to worry about, that I will find a new love partner in June of 2009 who I will meet outside of California and his name will start with the letter L, that there will be big money coming to me in 2010 and that I should be more playful and let things and thoughts from the past go. And then she said that I needed "spiritual cleansing" which she could apparently see in my eyes and that I could call and make an appointment to see her in her office. I'm thinking maybe her cards told her to find ways to make more money, but I can't be sure.

I did enjoy being "out there" but everytime I got to talking to a nice looking guy, he would walk away, so I asked a Ian, a guy standing near me, if I smelled bad and he leaned in and said, no, that I smelled good, so I have no clue. I did finally ask one guy that I see at my parties how it is that these guys don't seem to ever connect with any of the ladies and he said he really had no clue but that he would really like to and didn't know why it didn't happen. I didn't meet Mr. Right or even Mr. Right now, but it was good to get out and be social. The guys were OK and I did get a few hugs and Gail said that at least three of them wanted to date me, which I didn't see at all, so maybe I'm as clueless as the guys.

So that's the weekend. Nice breezy Chatsworth. Today I hung out and read some stuff and watched a bad movie and did some chores and that's it. I guess I have to wait until next June to meet my new love, so I better get busy planning some trips. Or not.

October 3, 2008

MRIs, chicks, and aluminium foil.

OK, I survived the week. I haven't had the water dispenser fixed on my refrigerator and I broke my rolodex at work. One of my docs is in the hospital seriously ill and we're all really upset about it. I finally got up the courage to schedule my right shoulder arthroscopy (an MRI, then an injection of contrast, then another MRI) when I realized it was authorized as "MRI right shoulder without contrast with arthrogram" which makes no sense to me or the schedulers, so we have to get that corrected before they'll schedule it. And my friend Bev, who is booking the November weekend singles cruise, called to tell me that she was finalizing the payments when one person's credit card wouldn't go through. She found out that he sadly had passed away in July and told that to the cruise line person who asked "does that mean he isn't going on the cruise?" Duh? And Auntie Sharon called to say she is coming out to visit from Georgia which is beyond wonderful as she has been my best friend for 40 years and I really, really miss her. And a really cool and powerful businessman who just started to work with my office came to meet me and promised to find me the perfect man. His decision. Strange week.

So now I have my grandchildren for the weekend, which is the nicest thing to happen in any week. My beautiful curly-haired daughter and her fine husband are away for the weekend, celebrating their 11th anniversary. I just told them to promise not to talk about the kids for more than the first few minutes of the drive and to laugh a lot. So this afternoon, the little ones and I went to the local pet food store and saw a few dozen new chicks and a few rabbits and snakes and fish and birds and then walked and ran and played at a park across the street from the store. And we came home to a dinner of Chinese food, which they love, and their blessing on the meal which is "Earth who gives to us this food, sun who makes it ripe and good. Dear sun, dear earth, by you we live, our loving thanks for you we give." The twins have a ritual where they say the blessing before dinner and then say something they are thankful for and Talia said, "I'm thankful we have such a good living life" and Quinn said "I'm thankful we have a new month and it's Halloween." Geez, so simple and so right-on, these two happy and sweet little people.

I did get to go with a girlfriend to a movie preview this week of "New York, I Love You," which was amazing, twelve vignettes by different famous writers and directors, all revolving around the idea of finding love. And I took dinner over to another girlfriend's house last night to listen to the Vice-Presidential debate with her and her mom, both of whom provided a calming influence to my anxiety regarding the current election and the future of the United States and the world and other huge issues that are totally beyond my control.

So I have no point here, except that it was a bit of a tumultuous week, that I survived it well, that I appreciate having girlfriends, that I am blessed with a loving daughter and son-in-law and grandbabies, and that I am healthy and feeling pretty good about myself and life. Oh, I forgot, I found my lost checks, those that I had hidden after the burglary in a 'safe' place. They were in the drawer with the Saran Wrap and aluminium foil. Now, that's weird.

September 30, 2008

Forms, waiting, and going nowhere.

I've been discouraged about my lack of dating prospects lately so I took my profile down from the dating sites I was on. OK, that doesn't make sense, but it seems logical to me. Really, I was not getting any hits from those guys and even guys whose email I had answered didn't go further than that. So I take down my profile and one of the guys who hadn't responded to my response wrote "What? You took down your picture? I want to talk to you! Call me...."

From his profile, he seemed like an active and enthusiastic guy with some views similar to mine about life and politics so, optimist that I am, I did call him and left a message and he called right back and then we had a conversation, or actually he talked and I listened. Not a happy start to a relationship obviously, so I thought I'd share what we each learned about each other.

I learned:
1) That he doesn't like to fill out forms. (He talked for three minutes about forms and doctors' offices.)
2) That he doesn't like to be kept waiting in doctors' offices. (Another three minute story with word for word description of his conversation with his dermatologist.)
3) That he runs a business selling parts to people who don't always understand what parts they need. (Yes, another three minute description of a conversation with a customer.)
4) That he has a sick daughter. (And a three minute discussion about her illness and how much his customers enjoy that she works for him.)
5) That he has heard a certain religious leader speak three times. (And yes, now I know that person's spiritual views and a joke he told.)
6) That he knows about the "butterfly effect." (This is the idea that if a butterfly flaps its wings in the south pole, it can be felt in the north pole.) Can butterflies live in both places? Oh, I digress.
7) That he thinks my job is "right-minded" and that lawyers' jobs aren't. (And that he fired his divorce attorney for fighting too vigorously for him, the details of which he didn't spare.) Apparently, my job helps people but attorneys help someone which causes someone else to suffer. That's what he said.

I think I probably learned even more about him, but my mind is so bleary from all that listening that I may have forgotten someething important. Here's what he learned about me:

1) That I work for doctors who keep patients waiting.
2) That I have a daughter.
3) That I have a soft voice.

I read somewhere today that the thing we most want from our mates is for them to "know" us, to really know and understand who we are. This guy would likely never know me, if this conversation was any indication. And don't go telling me he was just nervous because he really seemed calm and relaxed. It just seemed he wanted to hear himself talk, that he really had no interest whatsoever in learning anything about me except that which would allow him to babble on about something else. He was actually rather intelligent and well read, which would be good in a mate, but I can't be with someone who just wants to hear his own voice. So what's next? I'm back to my Stephanie Plum mysteries which never disappoint.

September 28, 2008

Bicycles, email, and world peace.

I'm not dating. I'd like to date, yes I would. I'd also like universal health care, a six-figure income, and world peace. Pretty sure none of those are going to happen anytime soon.

But optimist that I am, and yes I love getting email, I put another personal ad on Craigslist. I tried my best to describe myself and the person I'm looking for, but it's always quite a crapshoot and I don't have great expectations for some fabulous guy to write me. But yet, it could happen! I know he's out there.

Just so you know who's out there looking for a girlfriend, I present this as an example from the first guy who answered my ad, a guy who calls himself hotbicyclist and sends a picture of a scowling guy in tight bike shorts with a potbelly standing next to a bike. Here is his response to my ad. I didn't make this up. I didn't change a thing. He wrote this in his quest for a girlfriend:

Hmmmm.....How would I fit into your laundry list? I'm afraid not very well. I am an independent person who has a realistic outlook on life. I've learned to accept compromises. It comes with maturity. I admire some of the traits you expound on. Independence, sensuality, smarts all that's nice. Non-smoking,healthy attitudes, all that's a no-brainer. Bio? Democrat? In or near the Valley? You're starting to ask too much. It seems you don't want to leave anything to discover. That's bad. Refusing to accept compromises in some areas is definitely a bad move. It says "immaturity."

Here's what I'm willing to tell you about me right now.
I'm 54, 5 feet 10 inches, white, athletic, about 200lbs., brown hair, blue eyes, drug/disease/drama free. I like politics, art, music, current affairs, science, technology, bicycling, fixing things, and creative writing. In a partner I like; independence, self confidence, sensuous, tactile, radiant, energetic, and good conversation. In a partner I don't like; smoking, drinking, narcissism, materialism, and immaturity.

BTW, your post lacks paragraph structure. To me it says "sloppy thinking." Work on it.

If you're ready to get real, drop me an email. But I think I know your type pretty good by now. I'm not expecting anything. Your turn.

I actually was kind of offended at first by this guy who called me immature for being specific about my prospective mate's politics and location. And I'm a "sloppy thinker?" I just have no words for this. Telling me to "work on it?" Geez.

I would like to have some amazing guy write to me and have him turn out to be just like what he wrote. And I do appreciate when a guy shows me right away that he's kinda creepy, like this guy. But still, I think it can happen, a nice guy coming my way. I've decided to take that cruise in November, even though I don't have a friend going with me. My Wowettes have told me that they've done such trips by themselves and had a great time and I think it will be good for me to do something kinda scary like travelling alone. Maybe my great guy will be on that ship. Or maybe my next email will be him. And maybe we'll get out of the war soon and maybe Sarah Palin will decide to take care of her new baby and maybe I'll wake up looking like Christie Brinkley. OK, so maybe I'm dreaming, but meanwhile I'm enjoying life. Just as it is.

September 26, 2008

Loss, hearts, and friends.

Another Wow meeting, another magical evening for all. We gather each month, maybe twelve to eighteen of us, women in our 50s and more, for potluck and speaker, but mostly for encouragement and friendship. And we are never disappointed. I love to watch as the ladies come into my home, one by one or in twos, carrying their delicious part of the meal, kissing and hugging me and each other, and introducing themselves to the newcomers. I watch and listen as my home changes, filled with the voices and spirits of these lovely women, joining together for an evening of laughter and growth, and I am always touched and moved by what happens.

This month was no exception. We had the pleasure of meeting Eileen Joyce, a Certified Coach and Grief Recovery Specialist whose card carries her phone number of 310-235-1086, her website address, and the message "Speaking Through Your Heart." Her message was profound, yet simple, that all of us face loss in our lives, but that we often avoid experiencing the feelings that come with it, causing us to feel depleted and depressed. Other symptoms of not feeling our grief are having no energy to do the things we want to do, no motivation to make changes, being easily overwhelmed, and the inability to communicate with loved ones.

Think about how often we hear "time will heal all wounds" or "get over it," as if healing might come without any effort at all. Eileen says that grief is often a difficult topic to discuss, both to speak about personally or to listen to another's pain, so we often just pick up and march on, never feeling what needs to be felt so that we can move on to joy and passion again. We are told things like "don't feel bad" and we grieve alone, often replacing the loss with food, alcohol, or other relationships.

Eileen says that we have to talk about the pain, but we really have to recognize it first. She had us do an exercise where we talked to someone sitting near us, one person listening and the other telling of a grief they've experienced, and then switching roles. She asked us to listen and speak from our hearts, not our heads, and we each found ourselves experiencing feelings we might have otherwise avoided. The ladies around me spoke about how a close friend had recently avoided them and the pain it caused. I spoke about the death of my mother and then realized what I had most avoided grieving was that I no longer see my father who lives down the block, having made a decision to not put myself in the path of his life-long abuse one more time. And how it created ambivalent feelings, how I knew I was taking care of myself with this action but that I missed him and our times together.

It's just another magical night in my long list of speakers who I find randomly and who address my specific need at that time in my life. Hearing Eileen speak helped me to understand and feel the pain of the break-in and then connect with the feelings about my dad I had so long avoided. And, just to keep you up-to-date in my continuing saga of not-so-voluntarily getting rid of things from my past since the break-in, I did recover from the demise and replacement of the cable box, thanks to my wonderful son-in-law, but then realized that all the shows I had taped and treasured were now lost. But while I was being so happy that I didn't have to invite a stranger, like the cable guy, into my home while I am still a bit paranoid about my personal space, I went to fill a water glass for one of the ladies from that place on the door of my refrigerator and the thingy the glass pushes in to release the water broke! NOW, I have to let a strange refrigerator repair guy into my home and can just hear him saying "I have NEVER seen this happen before!" So thanks to the lovely and generous Eileen for her time and for sharing her wisdom with us, thanks to the ladies for their delicious food and charming company, and a hesitant thanks to the Universe for trying to teach me something. Can't quite figure out what it is, but I'm still moving forward, now learning to "feel and speak through my heart!"

September 23, 2008

Poison, tears, and muffins.

OK, I'm a mess. If you didn't know me and looked at me, I'd look normal to you. But I'm just a mess. It's been the strangest year. I've survived the pest guys almost killing my poodle and an investigation by a really stupid government worker who the vet said didn't know anything about poison. I've survived three short love affairs, one with a Buddhist who loves porn, one with a 50-year-old guy who can't find himself yet in the world, and another with a controlling guy who tried to manipulate me with guilt. I've survived a change in my work schedule and grandchildren starting kindergarten. I've survived a break-in at my home and sobbing in front of police officers and then crying in front of the checker at Von's. I've survived the loss of almost all my jewelry and cameras, and now not being able to find where I've hidden what's left of my valuables. I've survived being two miles from a train crash that killed twenty-five people and listening to the emergency vehicles overhead and on the streets all night and then booking surgeries for the victims at work. I've survived a shoulder injury and daily pain for the past three months. There's a continuing war, threat of nuclear weapons, countless natural disasters, and Sarah Palin. And what finally did me in? Yes, my cable TV.

I've really been amazed at my fortitude, how I just keep going, no matter what happens. Just try to eat right and exercise and see some friends and do my job and have time with my kids and grandkids and then the cable TV goes crazy and I lose it.
I have no volume on channels 2,4, and 7. The Simpsons on channel 11 are in Spanish and Law and Order on A&E is giving me a continuous description of what's happening, like I'm blind. And I called the cable company and just lost it. I called from work and the lady said she would reboot it from the office and then I got home and nothing had changed and then I called again but couldn't understand what the operator was saying with her accent and she wouldn't put me through to another operator so I hung up. Then I called again and the operator said she couldn't fix it and I said should I just cancel service and she said fine, she could do that for me and then I just lost it and hung up. I called again and asked for a supervisor and she was really nice and said that she really valued me as a customer and could she make an appointment for a service call and I just went blank. I couldn't think of a two hour window of time in my life in the next five days to let in a cable guy and so I hung up. And so I went to bed to try to calm down and read a book and fell asleep at 8:30pm and now I'm up at 3am and can't sleep.

I have no wisdom about this at all. I think my nerves are probably just shot. I think I'll take my cable box to the company and exchange it and maybe that will work. I've got a doctor's appointment in a few hours about my shoulder and I don't want to go nuts there, so maybe I'll pick up some muffins to take with me to the staff in case I get weird in the waiting room. I know none of this is life and death but I guess life sometimes just gets to us and that's just the way it is. I'll keep you posted.

September 13, 2008

Trains, change, and gratitude.

As you all know, my house was broken into and burglarized one month ago. The young men who live behind my neighbor's house heard the glass breaking and called the police who called me at work. It allowed me to come home during the day and take care of getting the mess cleaned up and the glass replaced. Imagine if the police had not been called and I had come home after work, in the dark, to see the breakage and mess? I did visit the guys and thanked them for the bravery, calling the police and running around the block to see the criminals leaving in their car. I told them I was worried that they would have been harmed and these young men said "we used good judgement." I thought their parents would be proud.

It's one month later, I'm feeling like it was all in the past, so I had the twins stay over last night, at the end of their second week of kindergarten. We woke up at our usual 6am and took Buddy the poodle and Onyx the visiting Lab for a walk. The children have been raised to be very respectful of life, in the form of bugs or animals or people, and have been seen lying in the dirt to watch a snail so slowly sliding along and commenting on the event with joy.

I went to bed last night hearing the helicopters and emergency vehicles for hours and hours, evacuating the scene of what may be the worst train accident ever in Los Angeles, about 2 miles from my house. I thought about the loss of life, the horror of families whose loved ones never returned from work, the excrutiating recovery from crush injuries, and how my very overworked physician employers would be operating on those with head and spine injuries all weekend. Yet, I woke up to the voices of these little people and went in to greet them with Buddy and Onyx following close behind, all of us getting good morning wet kisses. And I thought how life can be tragic and beautiful, that we are blessed with even the tiniest moments of this kind of joy, and how lucky I am to have these moments in my life.

So, the walk. We went around a few blocks with the children taking turns walking each dog and the dogs delighting in this early morning trek. I like to walk this early, as if I am watching the world awaken, the birds starting to sing, and the sky changing from dark to gray to blue. It's rare that I see other people walking and always enjoy the solitude, using this time every morning as a meditation on my blessings, such as "I'm glad I can walk, I'm glad I can see, I'm glad I have a job" etc. etc. until I can go forward in my day happily.

This morning, we were walking by the house where the guys who called the police live and, just as we were passing, a woman walked out, looking ready for a walk or a run. I was about to say hi and thank her for what her sons had done when she said that she knew that I was the one with the burglary and asked how I was. I did express my appreciation for the action of her sons and she told me how beautiful my grandchildren are, so sincerely that her face just lit up looking at them. As we were walking and talking, she said that she ran and walked up and around a nearby park. When I told her how good and fit she looked, she said that she and her husband had visited my office for a consultation with my boss and that I had talked to her about being fit and that's what motivated her to "change my life." That she had been sluggish and unhealthy and, after hearing whatever it was I had said, she started eating right and walking and running and talked about how "centered" she became after her morning exercise. I was totally amazed, as I had no memory of meeting her or talking to her in my office. She said "you really change lives."

How wonderful is that moment! What a circle, that I said something to help another and that person's children made a tragedy in my life much more bearable. That, after a night of listening to the sounds of a terrible nearby train crash, I would meet this woman on my walk and hear how I affected her in such a positive way. I feel happy and amazed. And grateful for one more joyful moment in my life.

September 9, 2008

Kids, labs, and life.

I know it's fuzzy, and I'm sorry but this is a new camera and I clearly don't know quite how to use it. But I just couldn't not put it up for you to see. Those are my new-to-kindergarten grandchildren playing with Onyx, the black lab of my friend Kathy who is on another adventure up north with her mom. Isn't that the nicest thing, that Kathy can go anywhere she wants with anyone and she very often takes her aging mom, actually her step-mom, on really wonderful trips to beautiful places. They're in Oregon, visitng family, on their way to a cruise through Alaska. And she let me keep Onyx while she was gone!

I picked up the chldren from school yesterday and it was such a treat for me. They didn't go to a daily pre-school as my beautiful curly-haired daughter was able to be a stay-at-home mommy and kept them quite busy with a hiking group, visiting every possible children's museum, enjoying a variety of nearby parks and beaches, and participating in a co-op pre-school with another twin mommy. So we all had a little apprehension when they started school, wondering if they would adjust and enjoy themselves and be sociable and make friends. I think we all believed that they would do just fine, as they are friendly and happy and well-adjusted children, and they did even better than we thought. They've made friends, come home happy, and wake up wanting to go again.

And me? Doing OK, thank you, and feeling strong, off and on. My shoulder hurts and I wonder if I'll have to undergo surgery again, and I'm not dating at all and not really wanting to. I'm walking more, now that Onyx is visiting, and I didn't catch the really nasty cold that plagued my daughter and her family a few weeks ago. Just really wanted to share that kinda fuzzy picture of the kids and the dog, how happy they all seem with each other. Isn't that cute? I think they are all smiling!

September 5, 2008

Quilts, power, and contentment.

It's a Friday night and I'm home. My twin grandchildren are asleep in their rooms and I'm sewing them a patchwork quilt. So some guy from one of the dating sites IM's me (from Colorado!) and tells me he's bored. He asked me if I'm bored and I said no, that I am enjoying being single and really am content.

Now that's a really good place to be, content. I hear from so many people that they were just this content when they finally found their match and maybe that's the secret, to be happy with oneself and the life one creates and then a mate will be a nice addition, not a necessity. The IM guy asked why I'm not dating and why some LA guys haven't snapped me up and I have no idea how to answer that. Maybe I'm not making enough effort. Maybe it's not my time. I had one friend years ago who thought we might have a "quota" of men in our life and then, when we reached that number, there would be no more. I don't think it works that way, but who knows.

So I write to just let you know all is well. I'm feeling very energized lately, like the break-in has robbed me of some possessions but also stripped me of some inhibitions, like I'm no longer holding myself back in life. I'm feeling really powerful at work and, for the first time, don't take things my bosses complain about personally. I've returned to sewing, a hobby that I've always loved, and am still getting all my errands and chores done and have time left over. Even in this time of transition, where my work hours are changing and I don't have my grandchildren during the week since they've started school, I'm feeling quite relaxed and strong.

How can it be that a break-in has caused this new-found power, this new enthusiasm for life, this new confidence in myself? I don't know the answer to that, nor do I really care to figure it out. I just feel relaxed but still feel like making things happen. I have new ideas about recreating the free singles parties I put on last year and I feel like travelling to see some friends in other states. I would like to date, but it just doesn't seem like I'm missing anything by not dating. I have one dear friend who just met a guy who seems like a really good match, and I'm more than thrilled for her, but it's not happening for me now and I have no problem with that.

So the message in all this? That's it's good to clear away the past. That's it's good to be content. That it's wonderful to feel powerful and confident. And that really, life is just one day at a time, mostly filled with routine, doing the same thing day after day, and that is just fine with me. And boredom? If I'm happy with my own company or curling up with a good book, boredom just isn't in my vocabulary. The future might bring great adventures but for today, just doing the regular stuff is pretty terrific.

September 1, 2008

Expectations, friends, and balance.

Expectations can cause problems. We expect people to act a certain way, we expect friends to do certain things, and we expect romantic partners to do even more. Some think that expectations are the downfall of relationships, that we should just enjoy whatever we get and not want more. I'm a believer in balance, giving and getting and over time it balances out.

I got an email from a friend who wrote that she is disappointed in me, that she wishes I'd do more of this or that, and that I missed the mark a few times she expected something of me. All that makes me sad, for sure. For me, friendships are give and take, that I give what I can or want to give and take what is given, and expect nothing else. I have one friend who has invited me on trips so I do my best to make the trip easier for her, like driving and cleaning the house where we stay and keeping her out of the kitchen. Balance, she does something and I do something else. I have a new friend who invited me to a movie this weekend, our first time out together, and I picked up the movie ticket since she is unemployed and drove her car to my end of the valley. She gave and I gave and each was different but it seemed to balance.

When thinking about this, I realized that I have very limited expectations for friends, that I accept what is given, but that I have much greater expectations for romantic partners. I have a whole list of how I want them to behave, what I want them to give, and how they should act, and I really expect them to live up to those expectations. So just then, I received an email from another friend who is like a sister to me but she is very, very busy and lets me know when she has a few hours free to meet me for a bite and I honor that. I invite her to family events and accept whatever time she gives me gratefully, never expecting more. She is married to a guy I adore but could never live with, but it works well for her. A few months ago, he told her he didn't want to invite any friends into the house for a few months, that he wanted privacy and the ability to watch his favorite sporting events without interruption and she honored that. I heard that they were hosting a few couples this weekend and thought he had lifted his no-company dictum, but it turned out he had invited some couples out to dinner at a nice restaurant, paid the bill, and apparently had a really nice time. The couples had invited them to their house for dinner and now he invited them out to a restaurant, so they did different things to honor their friendship but it balanced out. Nicely.

So, again, we give what we want to give or can give and it might not be exactly what the other person gives but there is a balance. Sometimes I feel moments of disappointment when friends don't support some of my events, but then I realize that they don't have to do that, that they honor me in other ways and I should really just appreciate their efforts in giving in their own way. I like the idea of having no expectations, of each of us giving to each other in different ways, and wonder if romantic relationships would benefit from this policy. It might actually make life more interesting, not expecting others to do exactly what our script dictates, but giving us something of their own making, something unique to them that shows us that they care. Sounds good to me.

Break-ins, love, and friends.

It's important to love ourselves. We hear that from therapists, in books, and from friends, but sometimes it's hard to really know what it means. I was raised by parents who were troubled and didn't really know how to love and likely did not love themselves. They didn't hug us or boast about us or let us know in any way that we were loved. So as an adult, I had a lot to learn about the subject.

It's one thing to hear that we should love ourselves, but a very different thing to be able to do it. We have to clear away the things that prevent self-love, like self-hate or self-loathing or insecurity, which sounds pretty strong but it's true. I've sought love all my life from others and feared those who acted or seemed like my parents, and I've tried very hard to break out of that cage.

So what's really done it for me? The break-in. I don't know how it happened, but since the break-in, I suddenly feel self-love. I just do. I feel valuable and significant and worthy, all coming from a tragedy where strangers damaged my home and stole my material valuables. The jewelry they stole was old, and my very smart and beautiful daughter told me that maybe it was a sign to clean out the old stuff in other areas of my life. I can't really explain or feel the need to fully understand it, but I know I have been changed from this experience and I am a different person.

I've been talking about the break-in to everyone, sharing my feelings and pain, and have been so blessed by the kindness shown to me. My hope in talking about it was to make everyone a little safer and more cautious, but there has been much more gained. Many people have told me that they didn't realize how disturbing a break-in could be and will be more sympathatic in the future. Others told me things about themselves that they might not have shared if I had not been so open. Others pointed out my strengths that I didn't realize I had. An amazingly uplifting time, this recovery from tragedy.

I want to share some emails from three ladies involved in my life since the break-in so you can get a sense of the upbeat and really joyful spirit now in my home and my life:

From my hypnotherapist who has walked me with through many of my awakenings in the past few years, a lovely and calm and generous woman:
Just loved the blog. Not only are you strong, you use your strength and even your vulnerabilities to help others in such a powerful way. It is so impressive. I think what you are doing now with your life and with your WOW group is so important. Gathering thoughtful women together to learn and wonder. Its just amazing. I’m so glad that you are feeling not only ok, but better than ever. You have taken this break in and made a great thing out of it.

From Laurie Hacking, the speaker at the Wow meeting last week who unknowingly spoke to my needs at that very moment and helped me to see more of the blessings in the tragedy:
Thank you for this lovely message, and for your powerful blog entry! It was such a pleasure to be in your home and to talk to, and with, the women you gathered together. It's so good that you have a therapist who's there for you with all you've been experiencing these past couple of weeks. If I can supplement that in any way, know that I'm here...because the energy of that experience is still in, and around, you. I think the more subdued tone that night was in honor of you (totally at an unconscious level from people), but almost a solemn respect to your current struggle. Actually, it's quite lovely that there's such caring, admiration and respect for you! What I also see about you is that you are very resourceful, and you are open to feeling it all and workin' it. You will come out of the 'pit of fire' even stronger. That I'm pretty damn sure of. So, many blessings to you. Thanks so much, again, for having me.

And from one of the lovely Wowettes, a woman who has had way more than her share of difficulties in the past few years:
Thank you for another wonderful evening. Your heart necklace is gorgeous! Wear it in good health. Have a real good weekend. Take care, you are very special. Love,

The necklace is one that I had purchased that very afternoon, a very inexpensive and sparkly necklace that I felt would remind me of my newly felt self love. Life is short and sometimes difficult, but recognizing our blessings, even in the midst of tragedy, makes it all worthwhile. Thanks to all of you for walking on this journey with me.