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!