December 11, 2009

Holidays, friends, and fun.

Ah, life! You ask what's been happening in my life and it's the same. Work, friends, grandchildren. Here's some pics to show you....

This is my amazing grandson Quinn and his Purple Monster. He knows that real monsters NEVER go to Gramma's house. He made this one himself!
This is Quinn's twin sister Talia, the Princess, standing before their art gallery at my house. Yes, she's a bit toothless.
This is Simone, the tabby kitty, lying on my 1000 piece puzzle, even though I've told her many, many times not to do it! Don't you think there are a zillion more comfortable places to hang?


Some of my Wowettes at a recent potluck at my house. Fabulous group always.



We visited a Fall Fair at a local farm about 30 miles north of my house on Halloween. Thousands of pumpkins, lots of animals, fresh vegetables, a ride in a train through a hillside of sunflowers, two happy children, and a very happy gramma.


They love to play on the tractor at the farm!


Talia had her face painted to match her Snow Princess Halloween costume.

Thanksgiving at gramma's. That's a pumpkin pie my daughter made from the Halloween pumpkin. See the smiley face in the pie?

The morning after an overnight at Gramma's. PJs, the tabby cat, and toys on Gramma's kitchen island bar.

Yes, that's me and Santa. I left an office full of patients to see my patient being Santa! He's been playing Santa for decades, starting when he was the only Jewish guy in his military unit. The hospital next to my office hosts hundreds of needy children for lunch, entertainment, a picture with Santa, and a big bag of toys for each! This was held on the same day that my daughter visited the twin's class to teach the 1st graders about Hanukah. There are miracles everywhere.










December 6, 2009

The gifts of the season.


I'm enjoying the holiday season. End of year, Christmas, Hanukah, my birthday, all in a few weeks time. It's a lovely time of year to celebrate miracles. I love that the holidays, no matter what religion, are about miracles, amazing happenings we can't explain logically. The virgin birth, the miracle of the lights, even our birthdays are celebrations of life, that mysterious thing that we so take for granted but is really beyond our comprehension. Our heart pumps, our kidneys filter, our blood delivers oxygen - sometimes the mere thought of how our body works makes me think there must be a god or something much greater than ourselves that can perform miracles and create what we can't understand. It's a season to stop and realize the majesty of our mere being, that we are in a certain place at this particular time to learn or grow or be a blessing to others. Makes me misty, thinking about the miracles in my own life, that I have the most beautiful daughter, that she has created a wonderful family, that she loves me. It's beyond my ability to comprehend, but I appreciate that I exist and that I'm here, right here and right now.

Sometimes I wonder if I should be doing more fun things or seeing more people or doing more charity work or fostering a child or giving my time to the needy or a multitude of things. I'm never going to cure cancer or travel to the moon or even put a needy child through college. Sometimes I'm so caught up in survival, paying my bills, wondering how I'll be able to retire, that I don't even think about those lofty goals. But really, maybe it's enough to just be me, to just give a smile to the checker at the store, to try to make the job easier for my staff at work, to listen to my friends, to encourage my daughter, to hug my grandchildren, to do the little daily things that might make life just a tiny bit happier for the people I see every day.

We don't have big holidays in my family, just a few of us getting together opening a gift or two and sharing a meal. But I think keeping it simple helps us remember the real gifts in life, that we are healthy, that we have a roof over our heads, and that we love each other deeply. I certainly will never understand the meaning of life or how it's possible to create a kidney or a flower, but I'll always understand that happiness in this life isn't in the presents we open, but appreciating what can't be bought.

November 14, 2009

Matters of the heart.

I sailed through my cardiac catherization yesterday, thanks to a fine doctor, my motherly daughter, and my best friend. And some very kind nurses and techs. Nothing to it. No pain, no discomfort, just some yummy drugs and it's over! Again in my life, something I feared turned out to be no big deal at all.

After five hours of lying still on my back to allow the wound to heal, my new cardiologist came in to send me home and my friend asked about proper heart diet. The doc isn't one to give short answers, so we were treated to a lesson on what to eat to keep our hearts healthy. Only two egg yokes per week, no cheese, only occasional red meat,and no chicken skin. Only healthy fats like canola. Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, and dinner should be a very small meal, as food takes eight hours to fully digest. One 81 mg. aspirin daily. 1000 mg. of fish oil twice a day. And lots of exercise. I sure didn't know that eating salt causes high blood pressure which harms the arteries! What he told us were all things I have known to do or not to do but didn't, and now I'm quite motivated to do them. By the way, my arteries are only slightly clogged, nothing to prevent or impinge on blood flow, and proper care will keep them that way. Yeah! (You can check out what Dr. Oz has to say about heart health)

So what did I learn? That I have a second chance to get healthy. That sometimes we have to let go and let others take care of us. That maybe the tightness in my chest is due to bad diet choices, like dairy and chemicals. That I'm pretty lucky to have lots of friends who checked in to see if I was OK. That my best friend is truly a saint. That my daughter is a wonderful nurturer. And that my heart is pretty healthy. Not a bad day after all.

November 3, 2009

Scanners, hearts, and a nice guy.

Ventricular tachycardia. Yep, VT. I had a few beats of that on my recent stress-echo test, and now I'm a patient. I don't like being a patient. I've worked for doctors for forty years, always taking care of patients, and I don't like being one. I've been placed on a low dose beta blocker, which is supposed to prevent those unhealthy heartbeats, so that's good.

Just to make sure my cardiac arteries are open and pumping nicely, today I underwent a CTA. It's a computer tomography heart scan, using a special CT scanner to visualize the heart and the arteries. It's less invasive than the conventional angiogram, which uses a catheter into a vein or artery using a small incision. Just a CAT scan and some dye, but I'm not thrilled.

Ya gotta know I'm not happy to be a patient. I get to the imaging facility thirty minutes early, as requested, having had no food or water for four hours, fill out three minutes worth of papers and then sit. I'm thinking this is not so nice, bringing me here so early to just wait for twenty-five minutes. And the front desk people were civil, but not exactly my best friends. So finally, someone calls my name and takes me back to prepare for the test and right away I tell him that I think being a patient sucks. He just looks at me politely and says in his slow drawl, "we'll just try to change your mind today." So he's tall, dark, and good-looking and treats me with obvious kindness and I realize it's gonna be tough to be a cranky patient with this guy. He takes me into a little room, proceeds to slowly and quietly tell me all about the procedure, what to expect, what I'll have to do, what meds will be used, and how it will all feel. He says that there isn't a tech better than him, and by now I'm believing it. So this is nice, I think, being cared for so respectfully by someone so skilled and I just sit back to let it happen.

The actual procedure was easy. I'm in the CT scanner with my arms overhead, IV in place, leads on my chest, and a warm blanket across my body. He turns on the scanner and I can see some of its mechanism going around and around my the table and I'm thinking how amazing it is that a machine can take pictures of my beating heart, reconfigure them, and create a picture of my heart and arteries, all in a few minutes. I take a breath, I hold my breath, I breathe again, he puts contrast into my IV, I feel the heat all through my body just as he said I would, and then it's all over. I'm thinking to myself it's just magic, it's all just magic, when he says, "Technology properly implemented is indistinguishable from magic." Aaaaahhhh.

And then he talks about what it takes to be good at something, that it takes skill and attention to detail both. He says that some people have one or the other, but not many have both. He says it's important to listen to the patient, to really hear the patient, and then proceed with consideration of who you are treating. A real gentleman, this man.

So I write today to thank Michael for his kindness to me when I was frightened and alone. That I appreciate your tenderness and concern for my well being. That I wish more people were just like you. And yes, you made being a patient not so bad, after all.

October 24, 2009

Hearts, toes, and potluck.

Whew, what a week! It started with a visit to my doctor for chest pains, an abnormal EKG, and then an emergency room visit where all tests were normal. Lucky me, working for trauma surgeons got me into an ER room without waiting, so that was good, but then they wouldn't let me out. It didn't help that when my boss-docs stopped by in their scrubs after surgery and I asked them to get me out, one told the nurse, "Don't listen to anything she says, don't let her go home, she's (and a finger motion circling his own head) kinda crazy - and we have power of attorney so don't let her out." Ha, ha. Finally, a hospitalist doc stopped by to say I could go home if I'd show up the next morning for a stress echo test. Did that, turned out slightly abnormal, and I kinda panicked. My mother died of heart disease so I'm quite aware of what happens. And I'm not a good patient, I admit. In my job, I've always taken care of patients but this being a patient sucks. I got in to see the cardiologist two days later (again, it's who you know in life, isn't it?) who wasn't too worried but put me on some meds to prevent the irregular heartbeat so I'm not so distressed anymore. How do my sick patients do it! Such angst!

And a Wow meeting was this week, after a six month hiatus, and I was really looking forward to the potluck and the noisy spirited women in my house. The night before the meeting, I was cleaning the front room, moving furniture, and dropped the ottoman on my toe. Yow! It was beyond pain! It bled everywhere! And I sat down, put a package of frozen peas on my foot, and the horror subsided. Doesn't hurt anymore, but I'm just wondering how this toenail, in six pieces, will grow out. Oh well.

So Thursday night, the ladies showed up, food and flowers and gifts in hand, and it was delightful. The dinner was delicious and the ladies upbeat and cheery. After dinner, we gathered in the room with the killer ottoman to answer the question, "What did I do this summer?" Interesting answers, very interesting. Several ladies suffered serious health problems, but are recovering well. One finally moved her business and is enjoying increased customers in her new location. Several went to Las Vegas, one for vacation and one to gather with family from other states. One joyfully bragged about her new granddaughter and the engagement of her son. Two have been enjoying singing in the musical I wrote about recently and are both helping fix up a condo one bought. One is a few months from retirement and just bought a rental house in Arizona to increase her income. One, ending a three-year cycle of death and loss, is now enjoying rebuilding the house her mom left her that burned down, but dealing with the feelings for the contractor who caused the fire. Only two of us took big trips, but the others mostly stayed home, having a quiet summer with friends and families.

What was most surprising to me was that several of the ladies talked about being in relationships with men who are less than satisfactory, less than attractive to them, and men they like but aren't passionate about. Before the meeting, when thinking about what to say about my own summer, I realized how much I enjoy living alone, how I'd enjoy a fine man in my life, but still appreciate being able to do whatever I want whenever I want. And not missing the drama that can come with a romantic relationship, wondering what he means, what he wants, what I want, etc, etc. These ladies are holding onto men that are not right for them, men who don't treat them well, men who are cheap and disrespectful, men who cause them grief. After so many years single, it's hard for me to comprehend these fine women choosing to settle, choosing men who don't brighten their lives or treat them like queens. But I do understand not wanting to be alone because I felt that in my early single years, that need to be wanted and loved, that need to feel connected and desired.

I guess it shows that I'm content with myself. That I've learned to enjoy my company and learned to enjoy solitude. And that's good. But I want my friends to be happy, to live joyful lives, to surround themselves with friends and mates who adore them and appreciate them. Still, I can't make their decisions, but their choices show me how far I've grown. And I appreciate that.

October 19, 2009

Why, why, why?

I get questions. This one is from one of my Wowettes, an attractive and fun woman in my group, who writes:

I'm frustrated with myself. Maybe you have an answer. Why do men call your cell number and not leave and message; and then immediately call your home number and not leave a message? Not even a "Hi". Why waste their time and mine? If they wanted to call - don't you think they would say something? Please give me your opinion. Thanks for your help. Or, if you can, give me a "reply" to this guy. Obviously he is under my skin and it is annoying why he just can't say something!

I admit I used to wonder about the "why." Why do men not call? Why do they talk about sex before meeting? Why don't they have manners? Why? I used to have a friend who would call me about something a guy said or something he did and ask me "What do you think he means by that?" She would have already asked a bunch of her other girlfriends and would tell me their opinions and ask what I thought. I figure we could make 1000 guesses and still not know what the guy meant anyway. Even if she asked the guy himself, he might not even be aware of his actions or the meaning of them - or be unwilling to tell the truth, for fear of seeming insecure or stupid or whatever guys think. There's just no way to know.

So, dear Wowette, the answer is....drumroll....It doesn't matter. It might not mean anything. He might just be shy or macho or not like your voice or really like your voice or not be comfortable leaving a message or might be afraid to say the wrong thing or be pissed off you weren't there or be married and changed his mind or one trillion zillion other options. But, it just doesn't matter. It means nothing. It tells you nothing about him. Nothing. Guesses are just guesses. At least he is trying to reach you, isn't he?

After many angst-filled conversations with the girl friends and many hours spent obsessing about what he means, I just let go. He called and he didn't leave a message. So what? If he is really interested, he'll call again and again until he reaches you. Or he won't. It means nothing. What is important is what you find out about him during your conversations. What matters is WHO he is really, in person, and in actions. I give you the advice my to-be-son-in-law gave me years before he married my daughter, when we were in college together (him in his 20s and me in my 40s)after taking a final exam and starting to think I should have studied harder, I should have changed an answer, etc, etc......he said, "Let it go." I can't tell you how many times since then this has helped me relax, have more peace, be calm and peaceful. That's right, just let it go. It means nothing. Really. Let it go.

October 17, 2009

Being, doing, going.

My daughter is in the process of being laid off her job of fourteen years. She's in her late 30s, has a successful husband, and their family can survive well without her income. She's in transition, making a big change, and thinking about what to do next with her time. She's busy, has a nice circle of friends, and the children are doing well in school, so there's no issues creating drama that would prevent her moving on to whatever she wants to do. But what should she do?

Life really is a series of changes and transitions. Just growing older each year and seeing the world from a the changing perspective of our increasing age is change. Some of us marry and some of us divorce, we change jobs, we move, and we make new friends or lose old ones. Our jobs change, our careers shift, and we are constantly affected by what we see and hear about what's happening in the world. We get sick and we get well. We watch our friends' lives change, we have children or grandchildren, prices go up and our income buys less, and life is never quite the same from one day to the next. Even if our routine stays the same, we as people, we as individuals, are constantly changing.

And for me? We took on a new doc in the office three years ago, everything shifted, and I'm still reeling from what those changes caused. I stopped having singles parties and I stopped dating. I made a few new friends and a few others moved on. I'm still a mother and a grandmother, but those I love are constantly changing and growing, so that affects me, too.

The issue is still always "what should I be doing?" Should I date again? Should I go back to school? Should I do volunteer work? Should I take different exercise classes? I've spent the past year or so kinda sliding along, learning to cope with my job, enjoying my time at home, having occasional dinner and movies nights with my women friends, spending time with my grandchildren, taking a few trips, and yet I still ask myself if I should be doing something else, something more.

I have encouraged my daughter to think less, to just enjoy the extra time and space in her life now that she is not working. I want her to just "be." To hold still, breathe deeply, and really go-with-the-flow. Let the world move her to and fro a little. Let life surprise her with what comes to her without her having to figure it out. Allow each day to unfold easily. Be available to whatever comes next.

Even as I suggest she just let go, let things happen, I sometimes think I "should" be doing more, seeing more people, going to more events, being more busy. But, after a lifetime of being a single parent, going to college and working full time as an adult, keeping my own house, being a grandparent, tending to an ailing parent, being very-very-very busy for many, many years, I am having a hard time just sitting still and allowing myself to do nothing. To watch TV. To take walks. To sit outside and feel the sun on my skin. To read novels. To just be and do whatever or do nothing and feel like that's enough. What is it that makes us feel like there's some scale somewhere that we must measure ourselves against to prove that we're productive enough, that we're participating enough in life? Who judges this?

So, for now, I'm going to take my advice for my daughter and give it to myself. That, outside of meeting our personal needs, there's no standard to follow, no yardstick to tell us we're doing enough or being social enough or having enough nights out. It's OK to do nothing. It's OK to coast. It's OK to just....be.

September 28, 2009

Who knew?

I've recently traveled across the world to historical sites, archeological digs, and ancient wonders of the world. And I loved every minute of this amazing trip back in time to sites that have existed for centuries. I think of all the people who have lived there through time, the people for whom these breathtaking sites were home, and even the battles for power in each location. Visiting these ancient sites changed my life, as travel often does.

Yet, I come home and find that there is a theater just up the road from me, a not-for-profit theater group with only their 2nd production, and guest starring two of the the Wowettes! Patt and Karen created Sentimental Journey (www.sentimentaljourneyLA.com)a few years ago after meeting at a karaoke club nearby. One of Karen's parents was in a nursing home and, after visiting and seeing a guy entertaining the residents with CDS on his boombox, she offered to sing for them with Patt. When Patt left town to care for an ailing sister, Karen asked Jocelyn to take her place. Then, Patt returned and they formed a trio, and the ladies have been singing to parties and birthdays and other celebrations ever since.

So the ladies are now being featured in a local theater presentation of "Ain't No Spring Chickens and a Coupla Hot Chicks" (A Rock and Roll review). Having only heard the ladies sing casually at clubs, I was delighted to be able to hear them sing professionally, so I invited a few other Wowettes and we set out last night with great anticipation. You certainly could have missed the theater in this block of what looked like horse ranches, but I had good directions and parked two doors away, at a park nestled in the mountains only a few minutes from my own little tract house.

So the show? I don't have the words. Breathtaking, fun, delightful, amazing. A large group of very talented dancers and singers presented songs from the 40s and 50s, all dressed in period costumes and all seeming to have the time of their lives. Picture big wigs, poodle skirts, and even the tranvestite scene from a cult film. Very clever and lots of fun, it was just impossible not to clap and sing along. I had a smile on my face the whole time, when I wasn't laughing out loud.

And the trio? They sing 3-part harmony that is heavenly. I heard their first note and closed my eyes so I could fully hear their voices without the distraction of their beautiful faces. The songs they chose are delightful, and their lilting harmonies are still with me, even two days later.

So the message? There are treasures near and far. Seeing wonders of the world is memorable and life-changing. Finding surprise treasures right in my own neighborhood and being blessed with such gifted friends is priceless. Want to experience this for yourself? There are a few more weekends left in the show, but it's a very small theater, so call (818) 998-0185 now for reservations and tell them Ellen sent you!

September 20, 2009

These are my options?


I'm thinking of dating again. Could happen. So a friend posts a personal ad, gets lots of responses, so I put one up myself. Thought I'd share some of the responses with you. I know there's lots of crazies out there, but there could just be one great guy made for me. Never know.

First, one that my Jewish friend got: The guy writes all about himself, and everything about him sounds perfect. Then, he adds, "Just gotta say that I hate Latinos and Jews." To which she writes back, "Shalom. Adios." Ah, if only I were that clever.

So I write the ad, staing a few requirements, like he needs to live not far from me, not be married or attached, be politically liberal, etc, and post the above picture from the cruise. These are the responses, just as written:

In the "duh" category:
Sure it sounds OK to me...
But who is the woman in post photo?


In the "I don't date children, but gee, thanks" category:
hello I am 20 years old and I think that you a gorgeous. I would love to get together sometime and just have fun. I love older woman and think you are beautiful.

Hello there sexy my names is Q and I am really interested in your add and what you have to say. I am really atracted to older women, I am 31 years old and full of energy I would like to talk if we can hear is one of my pics..

In the "I don't date children, but sometimes I wish I did" category:
what a sexy sweet woman...would you have any interest in a younger man 34, who is clean healthy hot nice unbelievably romantic and so so much attracted to a real woman, a mature woman, I dont know why but I am so attracted to more mature womenlove red wine kissing talking, being together.......oh how I wish you could be with me and you would not think of me as a young boy or young...age is only a number,as cheesy as that sounds still its so trueyou just look so feminin and soft and sweet,so sexy to me...well,if you dont meet anyone nice and who thinks of you as hot as I do,then am yours...I will just worship you till you have had enough and then will go on my adventure to finding a jobtake a chance darling life is more fun if you listen to honestyand ok you just turn me on so much

In the "Seriously geographically undesirable" or "You live WHERE?" category:
Read your post and it caught my interest; romantic, adventurious, joie de vivre. I think this is someone I would like to be acquainted with. However, at this moment, I'm sitting on a hilltop in Citta` della Pieve, Umbria, Italy renovating a three story stone farmhouse. You won't be able to enter my name in your date book for this evening.

In the "Whaaaattttt?" category:
This is not my Cup of Tea !!!! Please if you will call me,It is cool if you block your # *67 .I Can hear that you are a real Lady, and I will tell you were you can find pics of me

RU real? I answered yes and then he wrote back: unfear but it is okey

In the "Did you think I'm selling something?" category:
35 IN 818 WITH $$

In the "Gee, this is good for my ego" category:
Wish I fit all those catagories you look VERy yummy

OK, still looking. Could still happen. Think I'll go read a good book.

September 19, 2009

Traveling to foreign lands at home.

Yes, I'll put up more pix of the cruise, I promise. Just thought I'd share some of my local travels since I've been home. I had sent out an email to the Party List, saying I'm up for visiting any local clubs they may have stumbled upon and I got, from a list of over 700 people, two suggestions. Two. Not so much night life in Los Angeles, apparently.

One of the suggestioned places was described by my Party List Guy as "They have country bands, Friday and Saturday no cover. It is a very fun place." It's been a tough week for me, kinda going through a post-vacation-real-life-sucks mood, so I was happy to visit a new fun place. I downloaded the directions from Yahoo maps and my scout and I set out for an adventure.

We get off the freeway, turn left, and we're in the mountains. It's dark, it's really dark, and we can barely see, much less read, a street sign. We pass a sign welcoming us to a forest, and we're thinking we're lost. Up and up the mountain road we go, way past civilization, trees and hills on either side of us when, finally, I spot the sign of the club on my right. We screech to a stop, not worrying about other cars since we hadn't seen one in quite a while, turn around and head back to the driveway, which we can't see from the road. But we finally see it, notice a total lack of cars in what seems to be a parking lot, and a very short and wide guy pacing around in a black shirt with "Security" on the back.

OK, we've put on make-up, done our hair, found the place, and we're going in. We hear music, a good sign, and open the door and see a bar, five people sitting on bar stools, and one bartender. We make our way over the the other side of the bar, passing the room with the band, and settle on a few seats near the pool tables. We order our drinks, noting that they don't take credit cards, and survey our surroundings. The band stops for a break and the musicians, tall, skinny, tattooed, and with long hair, pass us and go out a door a few feet away. Turns out the men's bathroom is outside in the patio with all the cactus. We're trying hard to be polite, but we can't help cracking up at this place. Not 5-star, for sure, but a down-home country bar with happy people and live music.

So the band starts another set and we decide to take our drinks to the chairs on the dance floor. There's a family in the other chairs, mom and dad and grown kids and their friends, all six of them having a good time, tapping their feet and clapping along with the music. And the music? Nice sounding country band for sure with a decidedly eclectic play list. Picture a Johnny Cash song, then "Come Together" by the Beatles, then a song about a guy picking up his girl and a bottle of wine and candles and them settling down on the couch and saying, "Don't touch my willie, I don't know you that well. Don't touch my willie, and we'll get along just fine." What? OK, then "Pretty Woman" and then "Achy-Breaky Heart" and then "Knights in White Satin" and then another country tune with the lyrics, "Beer, bait, and apples, and everything in-between." And then the band announces another break, saying "Don't forget, the more you drink, the better we sound."

Did I mention the decorations? A head of a deer on the wall above us, right across from a TV on the ceiling above the band, antlers and beer signs all over the walls, and unmatching chairs and tables everywhere. An ATM machine near the bar and a trash can next to it. And, I can't forget a small, colorful disco ball rotating on the floor in front of the band, right next to the "Tip" bucket, yes bucket.

But did we have fun? Yep. We enjoyed the music, every song. Even the couple on the dance floor, holding each other to a slow song, the guy kinda bent over at the waist toward the woman, with his butt about two feet from us, him leaning in every few seconds to kiss or bite the neck of his partner who was doing some sort of dance step while he swayed. I said to my friend "I feel like I'm intruding," and she started cracking up and I started cracking up and then she started snorting and I couldn't stop laughing and, thankfully, the dancing couple was oblivious to our bad behavior, enjoying themselves like we weren't there.

So definitely a dive, but we had a great time. Would I go there again? If I wanted to listen to some cool music without a crowd, yes. See, there's fun places to visit right here at home!

September 12, 2009

Come with me to Capri.

Travel is life-changing, seeing foreign lands, meeting new people, seeing different cultures. Our first stop was in Capri, Italy, this beautiful beachside town. Being in each port for only part of one day didn't allow us to see inland sights, but here's what we saw of what we could walk to on this lovely island on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in southern Italy. It has a long history you can read about at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capri,_Italy.



September 7, 2009

A sea of gorgeous men.


I post this for all of you who are, or will be, asking "Did you meet any men on your cruise?" Yes, there they are, fun and funny and smart and great company, all on my cruise, at my dinner table, kidding me at the cruise bars, and joining me on shore excursions. And yes, that's me and Bev in the midst of them. I think I fell in love with each and every one.

George and Ken live in Florida. Ken does philanthropic work and his partner George is a non-dispensing pharmacist for a major drugstore who manages meds for AIDS patients. George is the expert cook and Ken makes sure he has the best cooking equipment and together they have a beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Emilio and Scott live together in Hollywood, Florida and own a B&B and multiple rental properties. They've traveled extensively and told stories about people they've met all over the world. Emilio is thoughtful and a good listener; Scott is more lighthearted and silly. Emilio's god-son Eric works for the cruise line and was on a working vacation on the cruise; Emilio and Scott clearly enjoyed his company and extended the end of their vacation to spend a few days in Rome with him. Stephen lives in Toluca Lake and his friend Bob lives in West Hollywood; they met while working at one of the major TV studios. Stephen is now in the travel business and Bob is retired, enjoying TV now as a watcher only. Randy is the organizer of the Seminar at Sea and invited Bev and the other travel agents to participate in this cruise. After law school and passing the bar, he chose the travel business because he loved it and it shows.

I can't remember having this much fun with this many men ever. They were charming and delightful and welcomed us into their circle with open arms. I promise to write all about the trip to Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt in the coming days and put up pix, I do. As much as I enjoyed visiting these amazing sites, one of the best parts of the trip was meeting and enjoying the company of these terrific men. Now if I can only find a straight guy that's nearly as fine!

August 18, 2009

Surprises


We live our lives, day by day doing the same things. We have our routines, getting up at a certain time each day, driving to the same office, shopping at the same stores, even ordering the same food at our usual restaurants. We live in a chaotic world, and we appreciate the order and comfort of life's daily routines. It's been said that change is the thing that our subconscious fights the most. Our routines protect us against the discomfort that change can bring.

So we follow our routines. We might miss out on a delicious meal at a restaurant because we're fearful to try it. We keep the same job, even when it's awful, because it's familiar and we like that. We stay in relationships that cause us grief for fear of the unknown. Change is scary.

What brings this up for me? Two things. One, I'm going away for two weeks, the longest vacation I have taken in decades and to places I've never been. It's a long time to be away from family and work and friends, so I admit I've been a bit nervous off and on, thinking about it. Of course I'll have fun and enjoy myself and the new people, but we often fear the unknown and that's what it probably is for me.

The second thing is something I noticed growing over the fence in my yard. It's that vegetable in the picture above, a pumpkin or a watermelon or what, I don't know. I would not have even noticed it if I had not looked at a portion of the fence I rarely see, this lovely surprise of new life. I watch it grow every day, still not knowing what it will become. I didn't plant it, it just grew over the fence, sending its tendrils outward to seek places to attach, providing a secure place for its fruit to grow.

This gift of surprising new life is like a nudge to me to remember to enjoy whatever surprises my trip will bring. To think of this as a great adventure, taking me to sights I've never seen, historical sites that have existed for hundreds and thousands of years, just sitting there waiting for me to enjoy. And that beauty and wonder are there for me to experience, both near and far, if I'll allow myself to see it.

August 13, 2009

I'm going to Greece.

To those whose emails I haven't answered and phone calls I haven't returned, I am sorry. It's not a good excuse, but I'm kinda busy lately. I'm getting ready to take a two week vacation (I know that's unheard of for me) and my best and longest friend is sick and visiting, getting ready for a serious surgery. So that's my excuse. I'm distracted but I still love you.

I was invited to take what I call A Trip of a Lifetime, a 12-night Greece and Eastern Mediterranean Cruise. I'm going to visit places with names I've never heard. Corfu? Lindos? And apparently I will stand before the Sphinx. To say I'm thrilled is quite an understatement. Except for one trip to Paris and Venice with a boyfriend traveling on business, I've really never had any grand trips. Just not on my budget. Oh, there was that wonderful trip to Hawaii planned by my daughter, twenty-two years after I lived there before she was born. And I've enjoyed the trips to Laughlin and Cottonwood Cove when I was married and had a motorhome and a boat. And the road trips with girlfriends, all of us laughing in the car and getting lost, were lots of fun. But Greece and Eqypt and Corfu? Just amazing.

And my best friend, Auntie Sharon, is visiting from Georgia, where she fled years ago to start a new life. We have been friends and actually sister-in-laws for forty years, having married brothers the same year, having baby girls the same year, getting divorced the same year, and then living together for a few years. She's family and like a sister to me and sometimes I feel motherly to her and sometimes she likes to boss me around, but I have deep feelings that are hard to describe for this woman who is so part of my heart. She's here for surgery, which I hope goes well and she recovers quickly, but I worry. So, I'm taking her on a road trip this weekend, just up to Solvang and the Chumash Casino above Santa Barbara, so we can laugh and catch up and just have some time to breathe and relax and hopefully take our minds off what is to come.

And, of course, I'm trying at work to get all my September work done ahead of time, like taxes and payroll and billing and booking surgeries and collections keeping the staff and docs happy and on and on. I know it's silly to push so hard and I catch myself feeling like I'm running on a treadmill and then I just take a deep breath and calm down and feel better. Until I get panicky again. And there's shopping for the cruise and packing, getting my house ready for the housesitter, seeing my daughter and grandchildren and getting enough sleep. And where the heck is my passport?!?

So the point here? Thanks for being patient with me when I don't write or answer emails and phone calls. I promise to make time for you when I get back. Not just to be polite, but I miss you and your company. See you soon, I promise!

July 27, 2009

Men and Movies.

I'm picky about movies. I don't like gratuitous violence, yet one of my favorite movies is Pulp Fiction and I saw Public Enemy recently and enjoyed it. I like movies with a heart, with characters I grow to love, and that teach me something about life. I like to avoid movies that make people look stupid, but I really enjoy the new Bromance style movies, like Hangover and I Love You Man, that show men's shortcomings yet make them seem human and loveable.

But I should have skipped The Ugly Truth, a movie so predictable that I could have told you the whole plot and the ending within the first few minutes. Listen, we're all human, we screw up and make mistakes and sometimes we embarass ourselves, but this movie made both men and women look bad. Really bad. Granted, there were some laughs, but mostly at the expense of the main characters and I found myself squirming in my seat as I watched them make fools of themselves and then, of course, fall in love. Actually, the guy started out being a real jerk and turned out to be a nice guy and the woman pretended to be sweet and nice and was really a "psycho controlling" b**tch.

So why write about it? I think about my last post where I wrote that it's important while dating to be real, to be honest, to be sincere. And then I think about how, in these movies, we seem to enjoy it the most when we see people at their worst. Is it that we feel bad about ourselves sometimes and laughing at another's goof-ups makes us feel superior? Is it that we are really mean and enjoy seeing people being harmed? Or is it that we are raised watching violent acts on TV and the movies and are so desensitized that we now laugh at another's pain? Geez, I see the billboards for a new children's movie that shows small rodents carrying machine guns and I am horrified.

So what makes me write about this, you say? I hear about my women friends' dating experiences and it just seems so frustrating, how we want to meet someone with good values and similar interests, yet we rule them out for superficial things, like being very overweight or having bad teeth. Yet, we're human and mating seems to harken back to the cavemen times when we women picked the men who we thought would be the best providers and protectors. And don't forget that the men apparently mated with a lot of women in those days, spreading their seed far and wide to keep the species intact. But we're past that, aren't we, and all of my women friends are self-supporting and don't need a man to support us. But still, it would be nice to have someone open the door and tell me I'm beautiful, no question about it.

So I really wrote this rambling post to say that, no, the Guy Panel won't happen this month because I was unable to find enough guys willing to participate. And the Wow meetings have been on hiatus for a few months, after my being sick for the beginning of the year and recently taking a vacation and planning another one and having my best friend visit soon. So who really needs a guy, after all, since we ladies have family and grandchildren and good friends? No, we don't need one, but it might just be really nice to have one around, anyway.

July 21, 2009

A Guy's Point of View - A Guest Post.

Honest or not, here I come.....

....I'm considering that as my new tag line for online dating profiles. I want to talk about honesty and internet dating. Although I consider myself more honest than some people, I am still not perfect. So standing here waving the mighty banner of Honesty makes me squirm a little.

Honesty is the best policy, as Franklin originally said. So why is it so often replaced by some other policy? I think fear and shortsightedness combine to sabotage honesty. Your online dating profile is a blank slate, and you must supply all the "facts". It's inevitable that you'll consider the consequences of choosing one fact over another. Gee, am I five-eight or five-nine? I know which one sounds better (OK, that one hits a little too close to home.) With no one to stop you, and visions of your Prospective Mate selecting or discarding your profile, you choose the better-looking fact, and the first little chunk of honesty erodes.

The web sites sometimes are complicit in this, too. PlentyOfFish.com has many checklists where you must choose a value. For drinking and drug use, your choices are "Often", "Socially", or "No". So if you have one glass of wine with dinner every day, you're an "Often" drinker. Someone who gets blitzed twice a week drinks "Socially". There's a certain lack of precision in all this. In my case, I smoked marijuana once in 2005, in Amsterdam (I was led to believe that it was a cultural requirement), and twice in 2008. "No" is certainly not the honest answer to "drug use" for me. But "Socially" makes it look like I get high and listen to Hendrix every Friday night. Many other users on that web site see it in those terms, and one of the most frequent messages I got was basically "Nice profile, but what's with that drug use?" I would trade a couple of messages explaining my extreme lightweightness, and the explanation would be accepted. Sort of. (It's harder to detect a fisheyed expression in cyberspace.)

So guess what? My profile now says "No" for drug use. I will still be explaining my oh-so-infrequent tokes to my Potential Mate, but I'll be doing it face-to-face now, not in some ham-handed way with email. I'm not afraid of my actual record; I just want a chance to present it fairly.

But that's a slippery slope. Do I fudge the height thing, trusting that when I show up I'll be so charming that my blatant error of fact will be excused? What about age? Weight? Misleading photos? These things are so common in internet dating that they are practically clich├ęs, and these lies all fly to pieces at the first meeting or soon thereafter. Why would people risk such severe consequences? The new relationship, even if it survives that shock, now has to deal with distrust right from the start.

I don't know why, but I'm guessing that fear drives these poor decisions. You envision the Potential Mate scanning profiles, trying to choose one to respond to, and weighing the "facts" in each one. You're very afraid that you might not make the cut, and better "facts" mean that you have a better chance to make the cut. The shortsightedness lets you see the Potential Mate going through this process, but doesn't let you see the Potential Mate freaking out when they find out they've been lied to.

While most people are afraid of missing the cut, I think I'm more afraid of letting someone down. I struggled with the best way to present my marijuana experimentation, and came up with an approach that I can live with, while knowing that it's not purely honest. In other respects, my profile is pretty darned accurate. Bottom line: I don't want to waste my time or the time of women who are attracted to my profile, but not to the real me. I'm in it for the long haul, and I don't want the tension of some discovered or undiscovered lie hanging over what is an increasingly good relationship. I want to be at peace with myself and with my sweetheart.

Oh, and that height thing? I have an inversion table at home, and after a few minutes of hanging I can get to five-foot-nine and a half! However, it's very difficult to drag that thing around to restaurants for first meetings.

Men as Pizza.


An author recently asked me to read and review her book. "Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza," or "How to write an eye-catching profile, search for, and meet the right person online" is by Cherie Burbach, who wrote inside, "Ellen, Happy Dating! And remember, never settle. You're too important for that." Nice.

It's a no-nonsense, easy reading book about how to use internet dating sites, with such topics as how to write your profile, what pictures to post, what to do with the responses, how to handle the first meeting, and how to be safe. It all seems so simple and so obvious, but I'm sure it's good advice. And worth reading.

I have my own set of gripes about online dating. The endless back and forth emails, like the guy is just looking for a pen-pal. The married guys posing as single. The guys from Utah or New Jersey saying that they're interested in me. The pre-written "winks" instead of writing a note about what you liked about my profile. Giving a guy my phone number and never hearing anything else from him. The guys giving me advice and criticism about how I've written my profile essay. The coffee dates where the guy doesn't even buy us the coffee. Ah, is it worth it?

We all have this inherent need or drive to connect, to love and be loved, to meet someone who genuinely appreciates who we are, to experience the joy at knowing we make someone's life a little better by just being ourselves. So here's my dating advice. Listen more, and talk less. Do things that are fun together. Have a mindset that dating is about getting-to-know each other, so really pay attention to what is said. Stop thinking about what might happen someday and enjoy what is happening now. Be real, be really who you are and not what you think he or she might want you to be. Be honest but not hurtful. And strive to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated.

Geez, that sounds like a good philosophy about life. Be real, be honest, be kind.
Have fun. Nice.

July 19, 2009

Men as Dessert.

In my thirties, there were lots of places for single people to meet. I remember on Fridays, after work, a bunch of us single girls would meet at a local hotel for happy hour, you know those cheap drinks and even cheaper appetizers and lots of people who are very happy that the work week is over. There were so many options then, that we’d have to think about which place to visit each week. On Saturday nights, there were clubs and dances and, again, we could pick and choose between lots and lots of options.

Now, we’re older and wiser and still looking for guys to date and, alas, the options are very different. I remember having a great desire to have a man in my life in those days, but lately it isn’t such a strong drive. As grounded and relaxed as I am at this time of my life, it seems unnecessary to have a partner and lover, yet it’s like that book, “Men are Just Desserts” that I read a long time ago – the meal is enough but dessert makes it even more delicious, like a special treat that brings a smile to our faces and adds an extra moment of joy to the meal. But now I’d want every bite of that dessert to be amazing, and I’m not willing to settle for one that is just so-so.

So where do I meet someone so yummy? I can’t find any happy hours where people my age congregate, and there are only two clubs I know in my area for us older-and-wiser folks. One has a good band, but not much of a crowd. The other has a terrible band, lots of people, but not much in the way of mixing and mingling.

What about singles parties, you ask? I did host those ten parties that were well received and lots of lots of fun, but the space I used is closed and I’ve been unable to find another. There’s my friend Rookie, the creator of Super Single Mixers, who is hosting a party in a few weeks that sounds great (see www.supersinglemixers.com), but she only does a few a year. And, of course, there’s internet dating, but that’s for another post.

So, in the interest of helping some of my Wowettes find Mr. Dessert, we went out last night to an advertised party at a club in the Marina, a lovely location that I visit all too seldom. I had been to two of these parties in the past, both times saying when I left that I would never go back. Expensive, a small crowd, and no one that interested me. But, in the spirit of friendship, I agreed to accompany one of my Wowettes. We thought we’d get dressed up, make the drive, and then check out the party before we paid our hard-earned bucks. We drove the packed LA freeways to the Marina, found the restaurant, amazingly found a parking spot, and scoured the restaurant for the party. I had thought we’d hear the loud music from afar, but it was quiet everywhere. Finally, we walked up the back stairs, past the group of guys checking us out, and found the sign-in desk. Still, no music, no crowd, no nothing. We lied (yes, we lied) and said that we were going to wait for a friend to arrive, and I made my way toward the entrance to the party to check it out before we decided to cough up the $25. The closer I got to the door, the closer a big bruiser of a guy got to me, like maybe he would tackle me if I tried to get in without paying?!? I assured him my intentions were honorable, that he had nothing to fear, and I leaned in to the room. What did I see? Now remember, we had arrived one hour after the supposed start of the party. There was a bandstand and no band. There was a dark room with little 4-seat low tables and chairs, each far from another, and a few women sitting here and there. There were supposed to be appetizers included in the price, but the burly guy was getting too close to me, so I abandoned the search.

No music, a dreary room with no way to mingle, and costly. No party for us. Thought we’d go to a movie instead, so we grabbed a copy of the LA weekly and sat outside in that lovely marina air and started to read it. Couldn’t find a movie we wanted to see so we kept reading the paper together and came upon the ads. We read the calendar for the Hollywood Bowl and checked out the clubs for the cool and hip and young and start cracking up when we came to the ads. After pages and pages of pics of almost naked women with obviously surgically enhanced (huge) breasts advertising phone lines for singles, we spot a big ad titled “Two Women Massage” and say, “Well, we’re two women, is that for us?” and couldn't stop laughing. Then, we get to the pages with pics of gorgeous bare-chested guys and see the ad for “Nasty Girls 99c” and the phone # of 1-800-xxx-HEAD and then we just about fall off our chairs, choking with laughter.

We finally got it together, had a delicious meal on a patio overlooking the boats, and then headed home. No party, no dessert, no cool new guys. But another fun and silly and memorable evening with the girls. If I find a guy that’s half as much fun as that, I’m gonna keep him.

June 28, 2009

LIfe, moments, and nudges.


I got an email this week that I can't shake. One of my Wowettes, a lovely woman who I admire for her ability to be her own quirky self, met a guy at a recent event who I thought was a good match for her. They were talking and laughing and looked like they were having a lot of fun. So she wrote that she had an upcoming date with him and didn't know if she wanted to go because she "didn't know if she was ready for a relationship," and her comment still resonates with me.

How about living in the moment, I thought. I wrote back and said something like, how about just going out and enjoying an evening or day together? How about being so in the moment that you don't think about what might happen next week or next month? We label things and then our labels create expectations about what we want to expect, rather than allowing our time together to create its own unique picture. She wrote back recently, saying "thanks for the nudge," and I'm hoping that means that she went out and had fun with him, just like I'd hoped.

This subject came up in my daughter's family recently. The children had just finished kindergarten and were on their way to their surprise vacation to Big Bear when they were talking and talking and talking about events and people from school. My daughter told them that school was over and they weren't going to talk about it any more so they could enjoy what the summer brings. Just like a guy friend who called me recently to tell me about a recent vacation in Hawaii, saying that he'd been so worried about where he'd left his car and if he'd still have his job on Monday and that his dog was acting strange before he left and would his girlfriend stay with him if he were unemployed that he hardly remembered anything about his trip. He was on a dream vacation - he was there but he wasn't there. It isn't really living, experiencing life, if we are always in our heads and not fully present to enjoy what life brings now.

So how about we just go out, have fun, get to know this new person in our lives, and just let it happen? Stop wondering, worrying, questioning, debating. Stop expecting anything. Just enjoy each other. And maybe be pleasantly surprised. Could it be that easy?

June 20, 2009

Vacations, friends, and wealth.

I had a nice weekend. I spent Friday evening happy hour with one of my favorite women friends at a new upscale burger place with live music. Doesn't that sound like a nice way to end a week? We ate, we listened, we laughed. And then we went to another watering hole and happened upon a really, really good band of guys our age playing music from the 60s, the really cool songs. They did a rendition of In a Gadda Da Vida that made me feel like a hippy again. That's a good thing.

Then, Saturday night I had what I call a non-date. I met a guy friend for movie and dinner. Yes, I was out on a Saturday night with a male person. I like the non-date thing. No pressure, no need to try to impress, just be ourselves and enjoy. Kinda like Friday night with a woman friend, just have fun and be real. Maybe we should stop having goals in dating, I realized. He asked me what I'm looking for and what are my goals and I realized that I don't have any, that I am doing my best to live in the moment and let life happen without trying to mold it to my expectations. This doesn't mean that I have to give up my boundaries, those things that people might reveal about themselves that makes me know I can't be their friend. It just means that, if I stop trying to find things in my friends or prospective mate, I might just see them more realistically and be pleasantly surprised. And so far, my non-date guy is fun and well-mannered and silly and doesn't seem to be crazy. Not bad for my first non-date!

And we saw a great movie! Listen, I avoid movies that cater to thirteen-year-old boys, movies that are made by people who think we're stupid. So we go to the movie "Hangover" and I'm slightly worried that it will be stupid and it was fabulous!!! Just like a few movies lately dubbed "bromances," this showed men being silly and crude and nasty, but seriously loveable. I laughed for 90 minutes. Just when I thought I could catch my breath, I would burst out in guffaws, those belly laughs that make your stomach ache. You have to see this movie! A goofy guy movie with a big heart. Go! Geez, just looking at the poster above makes me laugh again.

My daughter and her family had a perfect weekend away. My almost six-year-old twin grandchildren finished kindergarten on Wednesday and woke up Thursday to their mommy and daddy saying, "Pack your bags, we're going to Big Bear!" My grandson called me when they got home to tell me about it, this little boy who is usually much too busy building things to talk on the phone. They hiked to the tallest waterfall in Southern California, panned for gold, and went on a canoe ride. A happy family, well behaved children, and parents who love each other and are on the same page raising the kids. More joy in my life, just hearing about their fun times. (That's them being silly below.)

So all is well. The sun shined today. I have food in my refrigerator. I have a roof over my head. I have a job to go to tomorrow. I have friends I adore. My kids are happy. Life is rich.der="0" alt

June 15, 2009

Music, friends, and mangos.

From Woodstock to Woodland Hills, here's Sha Na Na!

I love people. Sometimes, I think I don't, but that's when I'm tired and my shoulder hurts and I've been bombarded at work by anxious patients and cranky staff and demanding doctors, but I'm human and I get over it. Tonight was one of those times when I was glad to be alive and surrrounded by people. Cool people. Quirky people. New people. Old friends. Fun.

I had invited my Party List to join together to hear Sha Na Na at a free concert in the park in Woodland Hills. I was concerned that hardly any one would come, considering the finals of the Lakers game, but I decided that, no matter what, I would just enjoy the music and whatever else came along. What a surprise!

From one of the guys who has been at all my events, a gentle but fun guy who took photos and kept me company, to the lovely Persian women who drove over the hill, to the new guy who informed me he was looking for a clone of himself in female form, to the Wowette who connnected with him and laughed and smiled for hours, to the newly widowed woman who remembered me from high school, and on and on, I had a ball. Imagine all these people, most meeting for the first time, talking and laughing and dancing under the warm sun? Lovely.

And I must not forget the new guy, who we shall call The Mango Guy. There he was, quiet but smiling, holding a mango and moving it from one hand to another and then admitting, "well, we find love wherever we can." I couldn't tell if he was nuts or funny or kidding or all, but he was a dear. And he carried some of our stuff to the car, telling us a story by reciting a poem by a well known American poet. I can't make this stuff up, I just can't. And then there's my cohort in fun, my Wowette friend, who cracks me up with almost anything she says, and then she laughs and snorts and neither of us can control ourselves and, geez, can you put a price on being with such wonderful people?

So, on those days when I'm overwhelmed and hassled and need to be alone, I will remember that, whenever I want, I can be in the presence of such quirky people who lift my spirits and make me forget my troubles. Lucky me.

That's Bill, Me, The Mango Guy, and Bev.

May 25, 2009

Wealth, friends, and giggles.

Once more, my daughter is right. It truly is the "small things" in life that make us rich and happy. She writes about it at www.itsallaboutthesmallstuff.blogspot.com.
Don't get me wrong, having financial security and health are important, and those are pretty big things. But lately, it really is the small things that are priceless to me.

Like teaching my grandchildren this weekend to play Rummicube and seeing their smiles and hearing their giggles. Priceless. A few people lately asked me how it feels to have grandchildren, and I told them that there isn't a word in our language to describe the joy of being with them. It's truly beyond words. And also this weekend, I was invited by one of my employees to a party for family and friends to celebrate her college graduation and I went, alone. And had just the best time. Her family embraced me, her friends were good company, and most of all I was honored and touched that she would include me. I went by myself and enjoyed every minute, the food and the company and the joy of being included in celebrating such a significant event in a co-worker's life. Is there a proper word to describe this feeling too?

And dinner with women friends? Again priceless. Since I created Wow, over 3 1/2 years ago, I've enjoyed the company of some of the most amazing women. They are down-to-earth, genuine, smart, and good company. Again, it's a joy to watch the ladies at a meeting, how they interact and share and listen and laugh, filling my house with their lively and happy spirits. One of the ladies planned a rather impromptu dinner last night with a few of us, and I was delighted to attend. Lucky for us the restaurant was noisy and the server was a guy with a mom just like us, he said, because we laughed so long and so hard, over and over, that I was surprised my food stayed down. Two of these women have invited me on vacations this summer, one to a quiet and peaceful week at her beautiful home on the beach, and another on a cruise to foreign lands that I never ever thought I'd see. Again, I don't think the language has the words to describe the joy I feel, realizing that I have friends who bring me such joy and happiness.

Maybe I'm just getting sappy at my age or maybe I've just finally broken down the walls I created as a child to protect me from harm, but I often find myself with tears of joy. I spent the years raising my beautiful daughter, being a single mom, working and almost never taking a vacation. Lucky for me, her friends often invited her on their family trips so she enjoyed many happy vacations, but I went many years without. And now, I'm invited on dream trips with women who are fun and upbeat and who I really do love dearly.

We women talked over dinner last night about the fun we have in life, even though we are man-less and I realized that love is love. Love for grandchildren, love for friends. And self-love. And I realized that I have conquered a lot of personal demons, finally allowing people to get close to me and finally reaching out to create a network of friends and family who I adore. And who sure seem to also love me. Life is rich. Beyond words.

May 17, 2009

Beauty, self-love, and women.

I have a theory that a lot of grown men have anger issues. I've had personal experience with passive-aggressive men, you know those guys who promise things and then don't do them and it feels like they're really just saying "f**k you"? Freud wrote about how we, as children, have to separate from our parents by rejecting them, thus the difficult teen-age years. This is tough for little girls who then have to actually kind of reject themselves to accomplish this. For guys, they reject their mom but then she's the 1st woman they ever fell in love with, so do they spend the rest of their lives with anger over this conflict? Or did they just have moms who ignored or belittled them?

I was reminded of this today with an email from a guy I don't know, but who is on my list of guys to invite to my free singles parties. I'm arranging a party in the park on an upcoming Sunday, a free party with a well-known band and ladies bringing desserts to share with the guys. What ever could anyone find wrong or upsetting about that? Well, there is one guy with the words "dirty boy" in his email address who responded to my invitation with this: Delete me from your spam list. I don't care about Sha Na Na, I don't care about your parties, I don't care about your blog, and I REALLY don't care about you. If I get one more email from you I will come to your next party and spill red wine all over you. Geez, if he isn't angry, I don't know who is!

So I was thinking, is this also a female phenomena, having such anger issues? I don't have any women friends who are angry, but I think I know what we ladies do instead. I became aware this week, one of those light-bulb moments, that I spend lots of time each day in self-criticism. Some of it is obvious, like when I see someone who I think is thinner or smarter or better dressed or more confident and I get that immediate feeling in my gut that makes me feel small and not-as-good as her. And then I realized that it's possible that I do this on a subconscious level, like when my boss suggests I may have done something wrong and I feel kinda stupid when I'm not.

I had dinner with one women friend this week who talked about her lack of confidence in social settings, especially around women she perceives as strong,how she feels less-than in their company. So one of those same friends told her this week how much she is admired, that she provides such a balance in their group of women and how she always seems so centered and confident that it calms them all. Another friend is still having trouble letting go from a recent break-up, continuing to second guess her decision or what she should have said or is the guy thinking she's crazy? My opinion is that she did amazingly well, dropping the guy almost immediately after she realized that he seemed to be a bomb waiting to go off and that he was barely controlling his animosity toward women. To me, she didn't fail in any way, but showed her strength and courage to let go of a guy who everyone else liked. She worries that she wasted time, but I think there was a lesson she needed to learn from him and now she is better for it. See, women criticize themselves when the reality is that they are are succeeding big-time.

So, let's vow to recognize our self-criticism. Let's vow to replace those thoughts with kind affirmations about ourselves. Let's tell ourselves that we how we are good to our friends and our family, how well we manage to provide for ourselves, how we do our best at our jobs, how we are kind and generous, how much our friends love us, and on and on. And - that we are beautiful and perfect in this very moment. Because we are.

May 14, 2009

Overnights, crocs, and wrong numbers.

As you know, I am single and haven't dated for almost one year. I'm feeling fine about it, and don't have any great, or even small, desire to seek out some great guy to date. It's a comfortable place to be, and comfortable is good.

But I do have friends who are dating, so I do get to hear about singles-over-fifty-dating-adventures and, the more I hear, the more I'm glad I'm not dating. One of my friends, we'll call her Missy, was unceremoniously dumped by a boyfriend of five years, just before last Christmas. She was pretty shaken, but recovered quickly, saying that it was just the end to one chapter of her life's book. Pretty cool friends I have, don't I!

So Missy has placed a few personal ads on a few dating sites and has been meeting lots and lots (and lots!) of guys, since then. She convinced it's a numbers game, that we have to meet lots of guys to find one we'd like to keep, and meanwhile she's enjoying the process. Last weekend, she had three 1st-meet-dates with three different guys. Mr. Friday night was nice, but a bit too much older than Missy, yet he admitted that "all his parts work" and she enjoyed his company, so she saw him again when he invited her over for dinner and to see some of his hobbies. And made her a dinner that included ...tater tots! And then tonight he called to invite her over again, this time for overnight, to which she said that she'd like to get to know him before doing that, which to her means going spending time together going out, you know....dating?!? To which he responded that sleeping together was the best way to get to know each other. To which she said, no thank you and don't call again.

Mr. Saturday night was good company, not her type, she says, but she wouldn't mind seeing him again. Until yesterday when he called her, she recognized his number, said hello, and he said "sorry, wrong number" and hung up. They had previously agreed that she would call him a few nights later, which she did, but he was curt and non-communicative on the phone, quickly saying, "thanks for calling" and hanging up. What? So tonight he called her on her cell phone at work, said that he was calling to confirm tomorrow's date, and she responded with "excuse me?" to which he replied, "I'm the guy you talked to last night for 1 1/2 hours." Oops. Gotta keep your women straight, guys!

But my favorite from her weekend is Mr. Sunday, the guy who planned to meet her at a local park and bring a picnic dinner. He arrived wearing orange crocs, you know those strange rubber shoes that one should really only wear while gardening, pink flamingo socks, jeans, brightly multicolored shirt, ponytail with the sides of his hair sticking straight out. And really, really huge thick red sunglasses. I'm not making this up. And the picnic? Fresh warm bread. That's good. Argentinian wine. Tasty. But the rest? Olive spread, weird cheese, and artichoke hearts. And oranges for dessert. And Missy doesn't like olives.

So, see, I don't have to date! I can just live through my friend Missy and enjoy the antics of the strange and weird men who inhabit our over-50 dating world. Unless some really nice, really normal, really fun, and really cute guy comes along unexpectedly. Until then, being comfortable without a man is the plan.

May 10, 2009

Mothers, daughters, and love.


Happy Mothers Day! I hope you and your families have had a most wonderful day, celebrating motherhood. I had a wonderful Mothers Day!

Holidays like this always bring up old feelings in me. My own mother had a tough life, being raised like Cinderella, having to take care of the house and four brothers, suffering abuse and lack of love. Her life with my dad was a struggle, with my dad being difficult and not much money to go around, but she maintained a joyful spirit, always finding something to be happy about. She had her children in the 50s and was the kind of mom who worked hard, doing the all the housework and shopping and ironing and tending to her husband and children, always holding down a full time job at the same time. Maybe because of her difficult childhood, she didn't know how to be a good mom, and I have no memories of being loved or held or told that I was special, but we made up at her final illness. When she died, I knew she loved me, and all of my past heartaches were replaced with a sense of peace.

I have a daughter of my own, and I raised her not knowing anything about how to do it and being divorced when she was three years old. I know I made a lot of mistakes, but she turned out to be a warm, caring, intelligent mom who is devoted to her family and it shows in her happy husband and lovely children. She took me to a brunch yesterday, a fund raiser put on by the Moms Club (mothers of multiples) and we had a really good time. The location was beautiful, the food delicious, and the activities were fun. But, most of all, I was able to watch her in the midst of friends and acquaintances, see her be confident and strong, enjoy how she participated in the conversations about how to pick a child's school, and see how others greeted her with pleasure.

I've always said that having a child and watching as they turn into a self-sufficient adult who makes healthy decisions is one of life's greatest joys. Seeing my daughter as an adult is having watched a miracle unfold,as she grew from the child of a clueless single mom into a really magnificant and beautiful adult. She writes a blog about finding joy in the little things (www.itsallaboutthesmall stuff.blogspot.com) in which she shares her philosophy about how important it is to pay attention to the little things in life, like a child's smile or the pleasure of making cookies together. I'm not sure what is the point of this post, except to say that I'm incredibly blessed to have her in my life, this beautiful child of mine who overcame her own difficult childhood to grow into a spirited and loving adult. That's her in the picture with me above. Isn't she something?

May 1, 2009

Dizziness, labyrinthitis, and personal ads.

Once again, I’ve been home from work with a new illness. This one is labyrinthitis. So I wake up in the morning, look at the clock and decide I can sleep another 45 minutes but I’d better feed the pooch so he lets me sleep and I get up, walk to the door, and crash into a wall. When I got my bearing, I tried to walk through the doorway and found I couldn’t walk straight and the room was seriously spinning. Holding on to the walls and the furniture, I made my way to the kitchen, fed the dog, and staggered back into bed. Later, I managed to crawl to the couch where I stayed most of the day, since sitting caused the room to spin and standing up caused me to fall over. Labyrinthitis. An inner ear thing, I was told, and I spent several days watching bad TV on the couch. Obviously, I couldn’t go to the doctor, so I called and she told me what she thought it was and said that it would go away in a few days, and she was right.

Meanwhile, when I was finally able to sit up for a minute or two, I decided to place a personal ad so I would at least have some email to read during my recovery (and boredom). Since my previous ads have brought little in the way of quality men, I wondered what it is that I should really say that would entice good guys in an ad, so I titled it “What does a man want to hear?” and listed my attributes and what I wanted from a man as questions, asking if those were things that would interest men. Thought you’d enjoy some of the responses……


From a man who doesn’t know what men want:
I’m not really sure what a man wants to hear but I’d be interested in hearing more about the man you’re seeking …

From a man of few words:
A man wants to hear 'yes' ..

From a whiny guy:
A man does NOT want to hear whiny.... "I want..I want... I want"... "I want my prince charming just like in the movies, we will waaaalk on the beach into the sunset"... Do you think guys want to hear that kind of drivel? Why do women think that guys just want to hear their lists of "I wants"? Try to captivate, not to antagonize.

From a guy who clearly didn’t read the ad:
you got my attention - I'm in pasadena - 52 and single .. yippie!

Just listen and feed them pizza?:
All we care about is that you have cold sodas and good pizza on the weekends when we want to see a fotball game! And if you behave good we might just spend some time with you . OH ! and we love a lady that listens .Good luck -and you will find a good man soon ! just be positive and you are beautifull like all the others ,feel it and believe it ,we sence what you want us to sence from you gals. !

Yuck, who’d want to meet this guy?:
Every woman says she's looking for someone to make her laugh... is that real? How about being responsible for your own happiness and then sharing that with a man who does the same for himself. Then you both are contributing. I don't know anyone who claims not to love to travel. Being 50 is no guarantee that a person has grown or become wiser for the years. I'd have to say, based upon the dependent conditions/wants you stated, that you are not wiser for your years. I wish you were, I'd love to meet a woman near my age who gets it that men are not responsible for her happiness. It's a partnership right down the middle, and if you don't want that, does that mean you will give up your half of the "say so" in the relationship? I doubt it, so lets be real shall we.
You want to know what real men want to hear... well now you have it.


What?!?!?
INTERESTING !ARE YOU A CHILL FOR A SITEPLEASE EONT REPLY I NOT--- I LIKE TO TALK TO YOU

Is it me, or does this guy not make sense?
that there was strong empirical evidence that females from 14-28 aren't looking for "fun" (aka casual) relationships and when they get into their latter years, only then start looking for serious guys to marry, bear children, and financially provide for someone who lived their life so selfishly and narrow-minded. and then continue to breed and feed the younger female generation to emulate those predecessors. how about one that is career oriented and when guys think successful, they think ceo. when girls think successful, non-mom, non-homemaker, probably non-wife to many guys, non-golddigger, non-life leech, and as non-full-of-shit as they can be.
or as close as to that deviation where a latter generation of males, do not perpetuate nor instill this type of jaded-perspective that i have come to think and seek out of despair.


And from a guy who keeps it simple:
All a man wants to hear is that his woman is loyal,
respects him, and that she sincerely loves him.
That would be plenty!


So, yes, I’m better. I can walk a straight line and the room is holding still. I hear that this might occur again if I move my head a certain way, but I think really that I’ve had just about enough ailments this year and will be healthy from now on. It appears, however, that I will continue not to date, considering the kind of guys I seem to attract, but I’ve got my kids and grandkids and good friends and interesting books and now, my health, so all’s well!

April 26, 2009

Puzzles, airconditioning, and repairmen.


That's a picture of my amazing twin grandchildren putting together a puzzle yesterday with the not-so-helpful assistance of my tabby Simone. The kitty was a "gift" to me years ago when a friend of a friend moved away and couldn't take her, and she's been the sweetest cat ever. A little six-pound furry thing is such a pleasure in my life.

It's been a quiet weekend in Chatsworth, nothing earth-shaking to write about, but a few interesting thoughts to share. It was my daughter's birthday on Friday, and that day always brings to mind the story of her birth, the first natural childbirth by Lamaze at a local hospital. I love to tell her the story and she always acts like she hates to hear it, but I think she must appreciate it anyway, how I always end it by saying how beautiful she was, and still is. It's one of life's greatest treasures to raise a child and see her or him turn into a healthy, well functioning adult who makes good decisions and is happy. I admit to not having been the best parent for her, so I'm constantly amazed at how strong she is, how she has raised such well-balanced and happy children, how she picked such a wonderful man to marry, how she has made such really great friends, and how she chooses to stay close to me. Amazing.

And yesterday I talked to one of my best friends who just went through a break-up. I was reminded that everyone has faults and quirks and things about them we wouldn't like, but the trick is to find someone whose faults are tolerable. She was with a guy who seemed like he was made for her, but in reality he had anger and control issues that she disliked and couldn't tolerate. I applaud her for making the choice to break up within a few months of meeting him, rather than making excuses and growing to resent him or putting up with something that makes her feel bad. Then I was lucky enough to have lunch with another very busy friend and realized that, although we can tolerate certain things in a mate, sometimes those things taken to the extreme can stretch our patience. She's been married to a guy with his own special quirks for a while and talked about how, if she were single now, her list of what to look for in a mate would include such things as if he is in debt, if people owe him money, if a business of his ever failed, etc, etc. I think about how much time I spent researching the purchase of a car and how little time we spend researching a potential mate and I wonder if there is a way to have our dates answer all the important questions before we get involved, but I know that wouldn't work. Too un-romantic, I suppose.

And I got my airconditioning fixed! It was super hot for a few days this week, like breaking 95-year-old weather records, and I realized that my AC didn't work. So I called my favorite appliance repair guys (AM PM Appliance Repair - 818-718-0702) and figured it would be likely $1000, but to my great surprise, it was fixed in thirty minutes for $250! I love those guys, a Russian immigrant family who I always think could be cousins of my dad, they look so much like my relatives. They're honest and prompt and courteous and always do a good job. Another of life's little treasures, knowing quality repairmen.

So, not much exciting in my life, but I'm relaxed and content and feeling well. My daughter and her family are healthy and happy. My women friends are doing fine. The weather is beautiful. I have a roof over my head, a job, and a few dollars in the bank. Life is grand.

April 12, 2009

Illness, nurturing, and Tarnie.

Yes, I'm back! And yes, I've been sick. I'm feeling like my old self again, after months of feeling pretty bad, and my advice to me and everyone is to get medical care when the first strange symptoms arise. Just took me a lot longer to get well because I waited a few days to see the doctor. So thanks to those of you who wrote and emailed and called to find out what's up and offer your help, I really appreciate your kindness.

And now that I'm well, I want to tell you about another Wow meeting, held in the midst of my illness and no, I didn't want to cancel because I wanted to meet the speaker Tarnie Fulloon (www.bodyfreedom.com). As has happened over and over with these monthly meetings, the info the speaker presents seems to be exactly what I personally need in my life, right then and there. Tarnie talked about elements of feminine energy, which means our ability to nurture, give, be nonjudgemental, and be the care givers to those we love. In our usual everyday lives, we use male energy to be strong career women, meaning that we have to be in our heads, be driven, push and strive and be aggressive. And most of us, having achieved this power and independence, have found that something is missing, unless we spend the time to access again our feminine energy and, most of all, use it to take care of ourselves so that we can replace the energy we give away, that we can learn again to receive, to connect, that we can feel again. We need to nurture ourselves, just as we usually nurture others, and we need to find ways to do it daily, before it affects our health and our bodies.

So, for the first time ever, I actually took one week off of work to allow myself to heal. And I did it without guilt, which is the major victory, thanks to Tarnie. It was especially interesting how she helped us re-access our feminine energy by using movements, by swaying and moving to music, focusing on certain parts of our bodies where we felt tension or pain. Rather than just hearing the message, Tarnie helped us to integrate the message into our bodies and our psyche, to have the message become part of who we are internally, and it sure worked for me. I have never chosen to stay home when sick, to purposely decide to tend to my own needs, and probably this is why I have recovered from what could have been a catastrophic illness. My hugs and love to Tarnie - check out her website for more specific details on her philosophy and her classes. She's a delight, just a treasure, and has so much to offer and give. (www.bodyfreedom.com)

So, again, thanks to all who inquired about my absence. You are all in my thoughts and my heart. Please take care of yourselves, nurture yourselves, take time each day to be quiet and still, eat well, and think positive nurturing thoughts. I'll see you soon! xo

March 20, 2009

Personality, teeth, and men.


I'm feeling alive again!!! I'm almost well!!! Yeah!!! It's been over two weeks and now I'm still coughing and sneezing and sniffling, but I feel pretty good! Yeah!

I admit to watching way too much TV while I've been sick. I love the Millionaire Matchmaker, the show where the CEO of a matchmaking company tells the guys what they don't want to hear. These supposedly really rich guys pay her lots of money to find them "true love" and seem not to have a clue about themselves or women. The millionaire guys list their desired qualities in a mate such things as being a good mother, being strong and independent, and having financial success, but then they pick a woman based only on eye appeal, the one in the slinky dress with all her physical attributes right up front. And then there is a millionairess who lists as her desired qualities in a man as what he wears, what he drives, where he travels, etc. Even Dr. Phil had a show today with a woman who says that the guy must wear certain labels and drive at least a Maserati or a Bentley. Do they consider a mate's character, love of family, desire for spiritual growth, or willingness to be respectful and loving? No.

I admit I'm still not dating. I am, however, enjoying hearing about one girlfriend's adventures in dating land. Sometimes, she has three or four dates in one weekend, meeting guys who found her through dating sites, and usually will report in after the meeting that she liked the guy, but he wasn't for her. Sometimes, the guy is fabulous in email or on the phone and lacking in personality in person. Across the board, they list their height as 5'9" and have all been shorter than her 5'4". But my favorite is the day she had been on two happily anticipated coffee dates and left a message afterwards on my phone that said, "I've met the two guys and all I can say is that - teeth are important." I'm still laughing at that one.

So what's really important in a mate, I ask myself. I'd like a guy with good character and who is a bit of a character. Kinda out-of-the-box, a guy who thinks for himself and doesn't follow the crowd. Liberal politically. Makes me laugh. Likes to make a woman feel special. Healthy, financially and emotionally. Likes animals and children. Has passion about life. And yes, has teeth.

March 17, 2009

Sniffles, music, and girlfriends.


For all of you who've been wondering where I've been, I'm here, but I've been down with a nasty, icky virus that makes me cough and sneeze and not be able to talk. I did go to the doctor after four days, hoping for some magic pills, but alas all I got was a message that it would take two to three weeks to go away. And now it's two weeks and I can see some improvement, so apparently the doctor was right.

So I've been working, of course, and then coming home to crash. Ten days in a row without going out, except to work. Yow. This past weekend, I did go to UCLA to see Dan Zanes in concert with my daughter and the grandkids and that was really wonderful. How to describe Dan Zanes? A guy raised in the 60s with an obvious desire to bring people together through music, his concert moved both children and their parents to sing and dance and have a great time. (That's a pic of the happy grandchildren before the concert.) And then the kids stayed over that night, and they were delightful. As usual. Lucky me.

I did have dinner Friday night and last night with two different girlfriends. Friday night, I met a new friend, a woman who works in another doctor's office. We've talked for years on the phone about work issues and lately been sharing some personal things, enough to realize that we have a lot in common and might enjoy being friends. And sure enough, she was a delight and enough like me in so many ways that it was both strange and wonderful. She's a spunky woman, lived her life her own way, from leaving home as a teenager, travelling to work in Japan, and staying with the same man for thirty-eight years. She's a Buddhist and a spiritual healer who teaches yoga to teens in jail, obviously a strong woman but still having some of the same feelings as I do, like feeling overwhelmed at work. It's always touching and comforting to meet others who share similar angst, like just knowing each other makes us more able to cope with our daily struggles. And sometimes she calls me at work just to tell me she's thinking of me or to sing a few bars of a silly song. I feel stronger and more alive just with one evening with her and look forward to getting to know her better. Again, lucky me.

And last night, I was invited out to eat with my friend Kathy, her new boyfriend, and her mom. Kathy is a woman who is hugely kind and generous, who takes care of her aging mom, runs her own business, and has the most beautiful home in Baja. She's been wanting to meet a great guy for a long time, with no success. But she's taken the past year or so to confront some of her demons, do some healing work with a therapist, and continue to be a very dear friend to me. And just like that, a friend introduced her to a guy who really does seem like a gift, a guy who seems like he was made for her, a guy who obviously adores her, and I'm amazed that this could happen. Delighted for her, no question, but amazed that there could be a guy, a very nice guy, who has been there all along and now, just when she is healthy and ready and free of baggage, he appears at her side. He was so much fun during dinner, just made me laugh the whole time, yet he was kind to Kathy's mom, obviously a loving father, and I feel like he's been our friend for years. I'd say that Kathy is lucky, but she dearly deserves such a great guy to love her. Lucky me to know them both.

So I haven't done much in the past few weeks, but I feel richer than ever, especially with making a new woman friend and being part of Kathy's new life, and I feel blessed. Very lucky me.