December 12, 2010

My winter vacation.

It's the end of my one week, stay-at-home vacation.  I'm finally feeling relaxed and, of course, I have to go back to work tomorrow.  I took the week off because my son-in-law had back surgery on Monday (by my doctor-boss) and I wanted to be available to pick up kids and give my daughter a break or whatever was needed.  Jason is the best patient, does exactly what he was told to do, is walking and resting and almost pain-free, and well on the road to a complete recovery.

It's been a strange year for me for vacations. The only other week I took off was in April when I stayed home and painted two rooms in my house.  No Europe or tropical trips for me this year, but I do enjoy a week of not working, even if it entails household chores or tending to the family.  It took me until Thursday to really feel relaxed, but now I'm realizing how much less stressed I feel, so we'll see how long that lasts when I return to work.  And yes, I remain thankful to have a job at all.

I did get a few things done that were important.  The leaky shower is fixed, my hair is cut and colored, and I saw the third of the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. An amazing story, well written books, and edge-of-the-seat movies.  Filmed in Sweden and in Swedish with subtitles!  Three movies and not one minute of sunshine in any of them.  That's somewhere I'm not planning to visit.  But I sure do recommend the books, an astonishing story of government intrigue and the most fascinating character I've ever seen - start with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I finished my holiday shopping, and found out about a great place to buy gifts that change the world for very little money at Oh, and I mustn't forget that I got myself back to the gym and took a few long walks outside, so all in all, it was a pretty good week.

Oh yes,  I took a one-day trip by myself up the coast to Santa Barbara and then to the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez.  It's hard to find a more lovely view of the ocean driving up the coast with the sun shining on the water and the view from above on the Freeway. It almost felt like meditation, and I found myself taking deep breaths and feeling calmer and calmer.  And I took a few new CDs of folk and popular music from the 1960's, so I sang my heart out the whole way.   I ate lunch and gambled for three hours and came back with a little more money than when I left, so yeah for good luck.

So what's the moral here?  Really, not much.  I'm grateful that my son-in-law is on the road to better health, I'm happy to have had extra time with the grandkids, I'm happy with myself that I am on the road to a stronger body, and I'm happy to have taken even a one-day trip out of town and that, even alone, it was a really fun day.  I haven't visited exotic new lands, but I still feel changed.  A little more relaxed, less stressed, and a bit more confident. Sounds like a good vacation to me.

November 21, 2010

Gratitude and puppies.

Another month, another amazing Wow meeting.  We gathered for a yummy potluck and to answer the questions, "What has made you most happy this year....or for what are you most grateful."  The dinner was noisy, as usual, with all the ladies sharing stories and getting to know each other - picture 15 women in a small space eating and laughing and having fun.  In my own life, I know that counting my blessings changes my attitude, takes my mind off my troubles, and makes me grateful for even the smallest good thing I have. In one of my favorite blog feeds, the message today was "Gratitude feels so good because it is the state of mind closest to your natural state in which you were born to live."  -Abraham-Hicks

After such a boisterous dinner hour, I figured it might be tough to settle the ladies down to this somewhat serious topic, but I was touched and moved by their answers.  Many talked about their families, how they had repaired relationships with their children, and some were grateful that they even had children. Some were grateful that their adult children continued to include and welcome them into their adult lives. Some shared their joy that they were to have a new grand baby soon, including one who had seen her daughter through a variety of very tough times, including drugs and alcohol and finally 12-step recovery. They talked about how their relationships had grown more healthy , how they had learned to set boundaries and maintain those friendships, and that they were very grateful to have friends.  Several ladies talked about their new assertiveness, how they no longer put up with men who were bad for them, and how they became brave enough to open their lives to new jobs and new possibilities.  The teachers were grateful that they could positively affect their students and one was grateful just to have things to be grateful for.  One told about her 91-year-old mother, still strong and bright, and having had the time to repair and now enjoy their relationship. Several talked about being content with their lives, how they no longer struggle or strive to make things happen, such as finding a mate, but are open to what could happen. Several were grateful for the ability to continue to pay their bills. Two were delighted to have a new love in their lives, a new puppy that brought joy and love into their homes and hearts.  Another two were here for the first time and expressed their gratitude at having friends and now being able to make even more.

I looked around the room at this very eclectic group of lovely women, feeling grateful that they were in my home, happy that they so easily shared their struggles and successes and desires.  Several of them included just being part of this group in their gratitude list, which filled me with the warmest fuzziest feelings of the evening.

I continue to be amazed at how much joy and pleasure these ladies bring into my life.  It's nice to have a boyfriend as a few of the ladies do, but the warmth and nurturing that comes from women friends isn't something we find in a man.  We can enjoy his company, the fun of doing new things, the pleasure of intimacy, but only our women friends can bring this kind of love and warmth.  I may not be close friends with all of my Wowettes, but I really do love and appreciate them all.  Here they are!

November 14, 2010

Our traveling Wowette visits.

I'm fascinated by an update of one of my Wowettes.  She was always been a quiet presence, even in the midst of a houseful of noisy women.  She tends to listen and not leap, but I've always felt a strength to her.   Quiet and seemingly shy as she is, she is one of the first Wowettes in our five plus years together to find a man she wanted. He was her "type," rugged and handsome and earthy, but kind and respectful and loving.  They had their ups and downs, but she never failed to say how much they could talk and share and enjoy each other's company.

But they had some conflicts.  She had recently been divorced from a long and not always very happy marriage, and her grown children were off on their own building successful lives.  Clearly, her bad experience made her not want to remarry and having raised her own children, preferred a relationship where her mate's kids were out of the house, too.  But her guy's adult kids were still hanging around and he allowed them to stay.  And she wanted to retire in or near a city where she could find peace and quiet and not much traffic but still have culture and fun....and he wanted to retire in the mountains, far from civilization, just the two of them.  And he definitely wanted to get married.  What's a girl to do?

She retired. She moved to a senior community in a nearby state.  And she started to create a new life, make new friends, and have new experiences without him.  They stayed in touch, but it appeared that their future wouldn't be together.  Lo and behold, his adult kids moved out.  He accepted that she was living elsewhere and that she wouldn't marry him.  And he decided that a committed relationship, even if they didn't see each other every day, was OK with him.  So she lives there and visits here and he lives here and visits there and they are very, very happy.

So what's so amazing to me?  That she attributes some of her courage to stick to her guns and live the life of her choice to being part of our women's group, that seeing other women in similar circumstances, single after long marriages, gave her the strength to be true to her desires and dreams.  And that she refused to give up how she wanted to live her life to do what her guy wanted, but in the end worked out a compromise that made them both happy.  I have only the greatest admiration and respect for this lovely woman who, by the way, has kindly invited me to visit her new home and see the sights!

I know that relationships require compromise, that we all have to give up something to get something, but so many of my friends really give up too much, surrender their dreams and goals, and end up with a relationship that is unhappy, especially over time when resentment and bitterness can set in. I think that many of these women know that they are giving up too much and allowing the guy to give up so little or even nothing.....but they do it anyway, maybe hoping that somehow it will still make them happy, knowing in their hearts that it really won't.

So kudos to my dear friend.  For making my heart sing by saying that I, and my women's group, were a big part of helping her create a new life after a failed marriage.  For being honest with herself about what she wanted for her life and for sticking to her guns, not in a mean or hard way, but in a tender and compassionate way, refusing to give up her dreams but still keeping space in her life so that her guy could make the changes, on his own and by his own choice, to create a life together. And for staying in my life, even with such distance between us, so that I could continue to enjoy the story of a woman who dreamed.....and is making her dreams come true..

October 28, 2010

What is my truth?

Yes, yes, I haven't written.  Is my lack of something to write about bad or good or neither?   I'm really coasting, actually enjoying work some of the time, seeing a few friends each week, spending at least one day and maybe night with my grandchildren each week.....and enjoying listening to the stories of my BFFs who have recently met men they consider pretty great.

I really would love to post the pics of the kids, the amazing lego spaceships and cities they've created, the fairs we've recently attended, and the silly rides they've laughed through at the local events.  And I will.  But what I can't stop thinking about is something I heard this week on Dr. Phil.  Yes, I watch Dr. Phil.  I tape it and, when I get home from a hugely exhausting day at work and crash on my comfy sofa, I lose myself in Dr. Phil and disappear into his stories.  Not the icky shows about violence or drug addiction and stuff like that, but the more watchable shows about how people handle what life throws at them.

He's got this weekly Tuesday thing going on where Dr. Phil Housewives get together to figure out their issues.  Pretty annoying, I must admit, like chalk on the blackboard some of them, but mostly it's thought-provoking to hear their stories, how they get stuck in lives that I think I couldn't tolerate, lives that I'd just run away from, yet they're caught for years in their particular cycle of pain and lack of happiness.

There's this one young attractive woman, successful in her own business, but totally unsuccessful in finding a mate. She went through a bad break-up over one year ago and hasn't dated since, so Dr. Phil set her up with a nice guy and she proceeded to spend most of the date being negative and verbally pushing him away.   She had no clue what she was doing, but it was so obvious to us viewers and the other housewives.  Rather than teach her what to say and how to act and what not to do, Dr. Phil talked about what it was in her past that made her need to self-sabotage and destroy her chances of finding what she wants most in life, a husband and children.  His question was, "What is your truth?" and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

It seems we hold a truth about ourselves that influences our decisions, our actions, and our reactions to what happens in our lives.  This particular woman had been raised by a father who made it clear he didn't like her or want to be with her, so she spent her life feeling rejected or rejecting others before they rejected her. She was doomed to repeat this pattern unless she recognized her "truth" and took steps to change it.  Think of the difference between having parents who encourage and adore us versus parents who criticize and humiliate us, never letting us know by words or deeds that we are special and loved.  It's easy enough to recognize that I was raised by a father who was a bully and a mother who was too intimidated to defend or protect me, but what indeed was the message I internalized from my past that affects my every action today?  I need to know.  It feels like this is maybe the last piece in the puzzle of my freedom from my past.  I'm searching, meditating, asking the universe to help me understand my own "truth".  Do you know yours?

September 9, 2010

Dating with Dignity - Imagine!

Another Wow meeting, another fabulous time!  We had the privilege of meeting Marni Battista, founder of Dating With Dignity.  A summary of Marni from her website states, "I have a Masters in Education, am Certified as a Life Coach by the International Coaching Federation, and am also a Master Practitioner at administering an Energy Assessment — “The D-Factor” that helps clients pinpoint exactly why they are, or are not date-able, and what types of messages they are UNCONSCIOUSLY broadcasting to men based on their thoughts, feelings, actions and attitudes. I am also trained as a Facilitator and Mentor Trainer by the Hoffman Institute, a world renowned leader in personal development."  

In Marni's case, these words describe her credentials and viewpoints, but hardly begin to describe her vitality, her enthusiasm, her spunkiness, and her courgage.  How I enjoy meeting a woman who is so beautiful inside and out, who really has a grasp on what makes relationships work, and who expresses herself so fearlessly.  After years of emptiness, she ended a marriage of privilege to begin a path of working with a therapist and quickly realized she was destined to repeat her past over and over unless she grew and changed, creating a life she loved and finding dignity in all areas of her life.

Translate this, then, into helping others, and Marni created a process to help women and men clear away the "crap," the baggage one carries from one relationship to another that hinders and even prevents finding joy and peace.  She starts with a "dating ability assessment" that helps people understand their own energy.  Are we negative, are we feeling like victims, do I have to fight to be right and won't settle for less?  She teaches her clients to take responsibility, to stop blaming, to give up self-doubt and unforgiveness and resentment and instead find the opportunity in the difficult, by asking, "what can I do" to make this different.  We all have limiting beliefs we carry around and thus attract partners who fit those neuroses.  Her coaching finds out how our past affects our present and teaches us "SBA" - stop, breathe, ask what's really going on - the very foundation of living fully and consciously and in the moment, allowing us to be "as connected to your authentic self as possible on a date."

Can you tell I adored Marni? I love, love, love to be with a woman who is smart, isn't afraid to speak her mind in a room where her views might not be understood or appreciated, and still believes in herself and her work.  Her upcoming courses are "How to Increase Your Attraction Factor Man Panel Event," "Breaking out of your Romantic Rut," "Your Total Dating Game Plan - Who You Want and How to Get Him," and "Dating with Dignity's Winter Relationship Rejuvenation Retreat."  You can see her website at or call her at 310-880-2476 or email her at  I can only imagine the positive changes her work can bring to those who are willing to grow and change.

So a big hug and thank you to Marni for sharing herself with my Wowettes for an evening and to my Wowettes for bringing me a yummy potluck and their always sparkling company. There is hardly any more fun and nurturing than a room full of amazing women. xo 

p.s. Our very own Patt and Karen form the Sentimental Journey, a singing group that will be presenting an evening of "Music and Yummy Dessert!" on Saturday November 6th at 8pm at a club in North Hollywood.  If you want to join me and my Wowettes in what I know will be a fun, delicious, and amazingly musical evening, please email me at

August 29, 2010

My delicious weekend.

Yep, feeling better, alive, enjoying my life.  Still, I keep hearing from my friends that I "should" be dating.  I agree that it would be pretty cool to have a great guy for company, in and out of the bedroom, but it's just not happening lately, so I thought I'd share what an attractive and eligible single girl over 50 does in LA to have fun on a weekend.

I do admit that it wasn't such a terrible week at work.  My boss was relaxed and even cracked some jokes and, drumroll, ended the week by saying good-bye to me and asked, "we had a good week, didn't we?"  I was speechless, this coming from a doctor who rarely if ever notices our needs or what goes on around him.  And then I had the pleasure of meeting a good friend, the one who works in another doctor's office and totally understands my work-day angst, for a yummy dinner (and marguerita for me and dirty martini for her). Really, there's this bond we women friends have that cannot be matched by even the coolest guy.  We just "get" each other and that kind of understanding and support is priceless.

And Saturday?  A 90 minute hike with my 7-year-old twin grandchildren in Aliso Canyon, an amazingly natural land hidden in the midst of our big suburb north of Hollywood.  Up and down we walked on the hills of the trail in surprisingly cool weather after a week of 100+ temperatures, stopping for the kids to swing on ropes across a   now dry creek or to check out horse poop and figure out who matches the animal tracks.  We're walking and walking and the little girl is way ahead and the little boy behind me, enjoying his newly found branch that he uses as a hiking stick and we're having this discussion about what is the difference between a bunny and a rabbit when, really I'm not kidding, a cotton-tail bunny scampers across our path. Never saw another one the whole time, but heard a great variety of bird calls and saw lots of wildflowers tucked between the blackened tree limbs from last winter's fire. A change of clothes and a big drink of cold water and then we're off to lunch with another very dear friend who enjoys the children and clearly they adore her.  Plus I get the pleasure of watching them have conversations with her about their week, the girl's first sleepover at a friend's house, and the little boy taking his role as brother very seriously by gently poking and pushing her while she talks, giggles, and then ignores him.  Aaaaaahhhh, there are no troubles in the world when in the company of those wonderful little people and a girlfriend I love and appreciate more than words can say.

And Saturday night?  Karaoke!  Without any of my usual single girlfriends, I met up with a new and struggling singles group and formed a singing group I named "The Girls" so any of the ladies in the crowd could join in.  And we sang for two hours!  Picture Motown and Neil Sedaka and Broadway tunes with four or five or six of us "girls" moving and grooving and singing to the music.  Oh, no, I'm not a singer, nor have I ever participated in Karaoke, but this was really a blast.  Me and my new friends finished our evening after Karaoke by sitting on the restaurant patio, listening to a live band sing songs from the 60s to the present.  Brave me, I went up to the guys during the break to tell them how much we enjoyed them and found out that one guitar player was older than me and the singer was my daughter's age and together they were grand.  Need a really cool band for a party?  Call "Last X" at 323-360-2469 or email them at

And there's more!!!  Slept in until 7am on Sunday morning, leisurely did some household chores and made my favorite hot cereal for breakfast and then drove to Burbank to usher with three friends at the Colony, a wonderful little theater tucked into the Burbank mall near an Ikea.  It may be a small theater, but the plays are professional and full of heart and this one is no exception.  Titled "Free Man of Color" from the theater's website, "A stirring drama about one of the first freed slaves to graduate from an American university — and he did it almost 40 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Based on a true story, Free Man of Color explores the life of John Newton Templeton, a fascinating but forgotten figure in our history. A young African-American scholar, he learns in the course of the play that with freedom comes great responsibility and that his future is not as obvious as the color of his skin. Winner of the Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding New Work in Chicago, Free Man of Color speaks to the humanity in us all and reminds us that true freedom is derived not from the law but from determining our own destiny."   Then, a walk through the mall and dinner at Pasta Pomodoro, a little but amazingly good Italian restaurant where I ate butternut squash stuffed ravioli with the most delicious sweet topping and a side order of spinach grilled in virgin olive oil and garlic. It hardly gets tastier than that.  A walk back through the mall with a quick stop for a free See's candy for dessert and then a twenty minute drive back home to feed the cat, get into my jammies, tidy up the house a bit, and then crash in front of the TV to watch Drop Dead Diva.  Pretty cool Sunday, huh?  Oh, I almost forgot that I started a thread on my facebook page, saying "I want (need) to take a vacation - anyone want to go?" and surprisingly I got quite a few responses already, saying plan it and we will go!

So would a great guy fit in?  I'd make the room for him, I promise.  But I'd sure not give up those totally memorable moments with my grandchildren and my women friends.  Never!

August 19, 2010

Fashion and boogie boards.

Things are looking up.  I still wish I were retired and could go to the beach or read books all day or see every movie that comes out or travel the world, but I can't and that's it.  I do think I'm coming out of a long, long funk since I went to a dance party last weekend and really had fun and went out to a really enjoyable dinner with one of my favorite guy friends last night and I'm feeling pretty OK with work. I even have a dinner planned next week to meet with a prospective new employer and another with a guy who leads another singles group and wants to brainstorm some new ideas about getting our groups together for some activities. Did I mention my new purple couch?

I have always had to work, even when my daughter was small and I did day care to make ends meet.  But amazingly my daughter gets to be a stay-home mom to her beautiful seven-year-old twins.  Yes, it's terribly hard work to teach them and make sure they learn how to be good and kind people, but she's doing a wonderful job of it.  And kids do say the darndest things, no question about it.  The children were heading out last weekend for an adventure with their wonderful dad when he was playing music from The Who with the words "I can see for miles and miles and miles...." and the little girl Talia piped up with "He must be eating a lot of carrots."  I mean, you can't buy that kind of pleasure, hearing something so real and smart coming from such little people.  And the little boy Quinn comes up with some brilliant observations himself, which we have dubbed Quinnisms.  So they were shopping today for boogie boards for the beach and Quinn picked his out right away but Talia couldn't find what she liked so they had to go to a few stores until she found a purple one..  Which led to today's Quinnism, " "Fashion, it doesn't always have to be pretty. What matters is that you like it. It's like with humans, it's the most important what's on the inside. The outside doesn't matter so much."  He's seven, loves to run and play and is amazing at building things with Legos and his mind is thinking things that some adults never realize.  And I get to be their gramma. 

Clearly, I'm feeling better and more alive.  I'm even participating in organizing a karaoke night on August 28th and the next Wow potluck will be on September 2nd with Marni Battista as speaker.  If you want to have fun with us at either event, just email me at for details.  Meanwhile, I think I'll curl up with a good book (which I got from the library with my new library card!) and my loudly purring cat and enjoy some well earned relaxation.  

p.s. That's a pic of the twins who just turned seven and were writing thank you notes for some birthday gifts.

August 15, 2010

Fixing men.

Thanks for your emails asking about when I'm going to write again or how I am or what I've been doing.  Really, it makes me happy to know you care.

I'm just been coasting.  My job is still exhausting, but I'm no longer feeling the fear of my boss, the flip-flop in my stomach when I have to face him.  One more old issue resolved, or at least controlled.

With that weight lifted, I'm finally feeling more interested in socializing and even went out last night with fellow Wowettes to a dance.  OK, it was a dance we all thought would be so dull that we'd eat our chicken dinner and leave within an hour or so.  But!  We had a blast!  There weren't any guys there that interested us, except the one guy I always see at these events who always laughs and kids around me, is affectionate, and never asks me out. But we chicks had our dinner, a glass of wine, and spent the rest of the evening dancing with ourselves to the music of the 50s and a fabulous live band. And I mean really dancing.  Picture five or six of us women on a dance floor full of couples, in a circle and doing all the moves from the 50s and 60s in unison.  I swear we looked like go-go dancers without the pedestal to dance on.  We laughed and we giggled and we had the best time.  I met two women I invited to join Wow, two women who were classy and smart and played with us like we were all old friends.  We're fabulous women and we're single and unattached and we had a great time.

Not that it wouldn't be fun to have a great guy in my life.  But meanwhile, being single is fun.  I had a week that was pretty tough at work, talking to three elderly married women who were taking care of very sick husbands, women who sat at my desk and cried.  And I thought of some of my single women friends who claim that they desperately want a man in their life so that, when they get old and sick, he will take care of them.  How do they know the guys won't get sick first or would the guys they pick really be their nursemaids when they get old and disabled?  And this week I heard from several other friends in long term relationships, complaining about their husbands, how the one who has always refused to travel now refuses to take a trip or the guy who always refuses to go to parties with her now refuses to go to a party.  And the single one who just met a guy who fell head over heels for her but has some traits she can't tolerate so she gave him some books to read so he'd suddenly become the man of her dreams.

Maybe the biggest problem in relationships or marriages is not money or lack of communication or not enough sex.  Maybe it's unrealistic expectations and denial.  My theory is that we women have really long lists of what we want in a mate and then we meet a guy who has a few of those qualities so we decide he must have all the items on the big list.  When we find out he doesn't, we make it our project to make him into the guy we originally and mistakenly thought he was.  Remember that line from Samantha in an episode of Sex and The City where she said something like, you can't change a guy, that maybe you can change his hairstyle or clothing, but even's that's a struggle.  I read this week that personality is fully formed by the age of seven years old.  Seven!  How can we possibly change a guy in his 50s or 60s?!?  I've heard so many times when a woman friend doesn't like something her guy has done, like he's unmotivated to get a better job or he doesn't show up on time ever or he'll never go to the movies with her, and she says, "I'm going to have a talk with him."  Ladies, it doesn't work.  It's like talking to my Suburu and telling it to be a Mercedes.  Just not gonna happen.  You get what you buy. That's it.

I know all this because I've done it.  Many times.  It's hard to get all that attention and affection and warm fuzzy stuff from a guy and face the fact that he has qualities that are intolerable so we have to give him up. Being such strong successful women, it's hard to admit that there really is something we cannot change or fix or make right. And I do admit that sometimes guys, and probably some of us women, put on a good show until we're hooked and then turn into slobs or get moody or refuse to pick up our clothes.  But ladies, he is who he is.  Accept him or move on.  Really.  But meanwhile, you can always count on your women friends for a great time. Every time.

June 27, 2010

Kitties, jobs, and little people.

Been a tough week in Chatsworth. Simone, the tortoise shell tabby cat, has been sick.  Last Sunday, she just laid around, barely lifting her head, not talking, hardly eating or drinking, and not jumping up onto my lap.  One vet visit, lots of lab tests, four different meds, and a lot of money later, she seemed to be feeling better.  Then, a nasty infection grew on her back, exploded, and there were more meds, more money, and an even better feeling cat.  Such a scare, especially after losing her best friend, the poodle Buddy, only one month ago.  Whew, if I can survive feeding three pills and two droppers full of medication twice a day to a feline, plus washing the boo-boo, we will both be fine.  Nice to hear her purring and "talking" once again.

Still, I've been a bit under the weather, emotionally.  It's hard to do the job at work of three people, work for unhappy employers, take care of cranky sick people, and try to keep my staff from quitting. A sick  Really, it's exhausting and that kind of emotional exhaustion makes me want to burrow inside of myself and do whatever it takes to stop feeling bad, be it carbs or a little wine or too much TV. And I find myself not having the energy or desire to be sociable, even though I know it's really the best remedy.

So thank goodness for happy, silly grandchildren.  I had the company of the little ones yesterday, and listening to their giggles was salve for the weary soul.  The little boy comes up with facts out of the blue, such as "Ice has no friction" and the little girl goes on in a voice that sounds so grown-up as she discusses protecting a classmate from bullies, "Well, you know, Gramma, that my friend is verrrrry little and verrrry quiet and sometimes the bad boys make fun of her and I just go up to them and tell them that it's just not nice to do that to her."  Ah, the innocence of youth, how they see things so simply, how they are so brave, and how much pleasure they get from something like jumping in my pool or making a tiny village out of assorted castles and legos and play animals.  Such a blessing to have them in my life.

So what's the message here?  That life is tough.  And that I may not have a lot of money and may not be happy at work and I may be be pretty worn down lately, but that I'm really blessed to have things, or people, in my life that make me smile and be happy.  And that all the tough stuff in life is forgotten after even a few minutes of that kind of joy.

May 30, 2010

Margaret the Magnificent.

I was treated to another Wow meeting at my house this week.  Once again, my quiet home fills with the smells of potluck dishes and the cheery voices of women.  I send out invitations and the Wowettes bless me with a delicious meal and their delightful company.

Our speaker was Margaret Futerer of  Once again, I picked Margaret from an online speakers site and really didn't know if she would be a good speaker, but I was intrigued by the introduction on her website, "Each one of us is magnificent, each one of us has magnificence within our core. We have our own unique gifts, hopes, dreams, passions and purpose. Every woman has within her the incredible power to change her life and become more of the amazing woman she carries within her.  Through a series of books, speeches, workshops and mentoring, Margaret Futerer guides women of all ages to discover and liberate their magnificent potential. Her programs are designed to help women develop the courage and compassion to set themselves free from the stories of their past. Through Margaret's workshops and weekend retreats women are inspired to connect with their life purpose and become the Magnificent women they were born to be.  After the last very difficult four years on my job, I had finally realized, with some professional help, that the buttons in me being pushed by the new doctor were from my childhood and the thought of Margaret helping me to get past those wounds was irresistible.

And so was Margaret.  Lovely, friendly, and smiling, she entered my house and I immediately felt a kinship.  She was soft spoken but clearly strong, and I anticipated her story to inspire us all, and it did.  Margaret was raised in a polygamous commune and grew up believing that the purpose of girls was to be wives and have babies and that they were to never have opinions or make decisions of their own. She watched girls grow up, be married in their mid teens, and have baby after baby.  Her own mother had fifteen pregnancies and twelve children. The curious would sometimes visit her commune and move on, often leaving their children behind to fend for themselves. Even as a young child, she seemed to know she wanted more than this life and escaped at 17, creating a life of travel and adventure, all the time changing like a chameleon, always trying to find out who she really was. Different clothes, different behaviors, different cities, different men, and still Margaret didn't really know herself.  Without support, she managed to survive on her own, even attending college and creating a business.  She finally devised a three page list with descriptions of each quality she sought in a mate and amazingly did meet the man who fit the bill completely.

So she got married, was successful in business, had two children and was still not happy.  Then, when the economy struggled, she lost her business and almost her house and then, after believing she could fix anything, she found herself flailing.  Still, this challenge prompted her to reconnect with herself and her intuition.  She started to really listen to herself and become aware of the "shoulds" she had placed on her self and her life and began the process of healing.  She realized that she had focused on what was wrong in her and her life and that it had caused depression, so she decided to stop listening to those thoughts and instead focus on gratitude.  She said when we shift from the negative to the positive, we become able to see the real possibilities in our lives.   Next, she realized she needed to forgive.  In forgiving her parents and forgiving herself for holding on to the emotional attachments of those old resentments, she found emotional liberation.  Free of anger and bitterness and negativity, Margaret was able to connect with her real self, which led to her beginning to write and thus finding the beautiful creative voice that was within her.

Finally, Margaret discovered she was magnificent and realized that ALL women are magnificent - sensitive, nurturing, passionate, intuitive, and creative. If we connect with the magnificence in us, "we can do anything."  Rather than being defined by our possessions or our job or our family, we are truly defined by "the relationship with ourselves."  She ended by saying to all of us women, "I am magnificent.  You are all magnificent."  And for once, we were completely speechless, like something extraordinary had just happened within each and every one of us, as if each of us had realized, yes, regardless of our difficult childhood, our failures in relationships, our financial hardships, our anxieties....we are really, really magnificent.

When I had called Margaret to confirm that she was planning to attend the meeting and thanked her for her willingness to drive one to two hours to share her story with us, she said, "I love to inspire groups of women."  I know the Wowettes were wowed by Margaret, and myself, I think I'll never be the same.  After struggling all my life to overcome the pain of my upbringing and the ensuing failures and struggles of my life, I finally realize that it's just about realizing that I am magnificent, just as I am today, and that really, none of the past matters.  Thanks, Margaret, for opening our eyes to recognizing our own magnificence and loving ourselves.  Just as we are. Today.

May 24, 2010

A few guys respond...

Sometimes my writing touches a nerve.   Remember the guy online who I was liking in the first emails and then sent me naked pics of himself?  He apologized for offending me with the pics and then we had some nice emails back and forth.  He complimented my past blog writing and my appearance and we had a few cool discussions of philosophy and our ideas about relationships.   Then he suggested we meet in person and sent him my phone number and he wrote that he "hated" phones and preferred to meet in person.  I replied that I'm not comfortable meeting without talking on the phone first but, since his emails only came during the day during work hours and he didn't want to call me, I was getting the idea that he was probably married or otherwise attached and then he wrote:  "I'm sorry, but I think I'm going to stop this back-and-forth between us. You seem like a very intelligent, thoughtful, and physically attractive (!) woman, but I keep getting the feeling like you're trying to leash me and house-train me. Starting with the tsk-tsk about sending you some tastefully revealing photos, followed by the public flogging on your blog, the largely negative remarks about men ("passive-aggressive", alpha-male, father fear, etc.),the reluctance to discuss or contemplate anything sexual until you've been treated like a princess and wooed, and now concluding with the terms under which you would meet, you've left me afraid that you really do like to domesticate your men and call the shots. Maybe this is because you've had a lot of less-than-satisfactory experiences with them, but I don't want to put on a leash all the time because you've had a few dogs that behaved badly. I'm too nice, intelligent, and well-mannered for this bullshit. You blew it with your strong-arm tactics."

 Yikes! I'm always glad to find out a potential date is angry or bitter or nuts in some way before I agree to meet, so thank you for showing me this side of you up front.  Somehow, I don't think that being offended by naked pics showing details of your private parts or asking to speak on the phone before meeting are "strong-arm" tactics but, again, thanks for sparing me seeing this side of you in person.

I was kinda unnerved by this guy, obviously, and was delighted to hear from another guy who told me his opinion in a very kind and amusing  way:  "Hi Ellen - Maybe you're setting your sights too high? I mean expecting to find an employed Prince Charming with a brain who is ALSO single on line???? Hope springs eternal doesn't it? You hit it right though - no matter what our age, we really do have just one thing on our minds. (I am fond of saying that God only gives us enough blood to run one head at a time.) But even though you've probably made some nice female friends on line you haven't met any male keepers have you? I can't speak for all men but I'd hazard that you won't meet the man of your dreams there. You're obviously good looking and intelligent but do you project approachability (if that is even a word) when you are out and about? I mean you are able to
'converse' with a stranger on line but have you ever walked up to a guy in the supermarket and struck up a conversation? Even a smile might invite a man to ask you to dinner rather then cook that single piece of chicken in your basket.  Sometimes you just have to take a chance and let the Universe provide..."

Thank you for your opinion!  It's really the conundrum of the times.  I remember in years past, before computer dating,  how we girls would go to Friday night happy hours and meet nice guys every week.  There were really cool guys at Parents Without Partners events and friends' houses and at the Longhorn Saloon where I was on the dance team.  But there hasn't been PWP for a long time and the Longhorn closed years ago and friends don't have parties like they used to.  And yes, I've been to dozens of local singles events recently, like Meetups or dances and it's like a graveyard, $20 for a bad dinner and singles my age hanging out with the ones they already know, not even looking my way and no way to mingle with them.   

Really, I'm quite friendly.  I'll talk to anyone in an elevator or in line at a store.  I put on ten free singles parties a few years ago, each attended by over 100 40+ singles who mixed and mingled and laughed and danced and I talked to each and every person who attended, but that hotel has closed that room and the cost of other locations is prohibitive.  I really don't see single men at Trader Joe's or Von's.  I've been redecorating and painting my house, so I've been to the hardware store a dozen times recently, but the men there were with their wives or were contractors with their carts loaded with wood and tools and not remotely looking around.  It was suggested to me to visit an Apple store, which I did and it was full of people, but everyone was completely engrossed in their individual computer. 

Jeez, now I sound like I'm whining, but I seriously think many guys are sitting at home behind their computers, where they can write to as many women each day as they have time.  It's almost like there are too many choices, and it's too easy to carry on conversations online with dozens of women at the same time.  So what's a girl to do?  As much as I'd love to have a great guy in my life for cuddling at home or adventures out in the world, I'm pretty content with my life as it is.  I have some great friends, get to see my grandchildren every week, and like being by myself.  In some eastern philosophies, the mere act of wanting "more" is noted as the cause of unhappiness, so I will choose to enjoy the moment and appreciate what I have right now.  And, as the guy above suggests, if the Universe provides something or someone new, I am open to receive what it is with open arms and heart. 

May 18, 2010

Men, want a woman? Read this.

You don't get it.  We get it.  We know that you're all about sex.  That your drive for sex can be stronger than your drive for food. That you can only do one thing at a time. That you don't understand, "please take out the trash more often," but you do understand, "Please take out the trash on Mondays and Fridays."  We understand you like to belch and fart. We understand you don't hear understand hints.  We understand you aren't mind readers.   We understand you can't use both sides of your brain at once.  We know you love us and don't always know how to show it.  We know you don't care if the house is a mess, as long as your favorite chair is available.  We know you don't care if we cook gourmet meals or what brand of clothes we wear.  We know you just buy more underwear when you run out of clean ones.  We understand that you don't completely ever grow up.  But we love you anyway.

But really, could you just try, just for a few seconds, to understand us?  Why am I not dating, you always ask me?  Because you ask to meet me for coffee and then you don't buy my coffee.  Because you ask me out and your idea of a date is bringing over fast food and watching a video.  Or you don't listen to anything I say all evening, talk about yourself and your ex-wife and your life all night....and then you expect me to have sex with you.  This doesn't work.  For me.  Or for any woman with self-respect.

I did try to meet some guys by posting an online ad, again asking for some info about you, like where you live and what you like to do and what you're looking for and that you are over 50 and nonsmoking and to send a pic.  So who answers this ad?  I get a guy who is 30 who likes "older women."  I get a guy who goes on and on about wanting romance and love and, by the say, is in Africa right now but he'll be home soon and why don't I use his IM to contact him?  And I get a guy who just writes, "What size are your breasts?" 

And then I get the guy who just writes, "do you like boats?"  And I'm in a weird mood, so I write back, "Big boats?  Small boats?  Ocean boats?  Fresh water boats?"  And he writes back, "Lake Havasu."  And I'm figuring that, as much as I really do love boats, this guy isn't for me since he doesn't seem to have much to talk about.  And then another email pops up from him and I open it to read, "Delicious.  I like my women delicious.  I like to eat them all night."  I don't know his name, I don't know where he lives, and I don't know anything about him except he likes boats.  And how did this get from boats to my most private parts?  See why I don't date?!?

And then I read one more email from another guy and I think finally, just maybe, you guys have redeemed yourselves because he writes, "a bit about me:  50yo, 5-10, 165 lbs, in good shape from regular running/yoga/weights, single (divorced).  Ph.D. scientist, quiet, considerate, generally optimistic about life and appreciative of beauty when it can be found.  let me know if you'd like to know more..." And so I do write back, telling him that yes, I'd like to hear more about him and he writes, "I'm looking for a Renaissance woman. Someone who's aware of what's going on in the world and can discuss it over a beer or Malbec. Someone who feels good about herself and radiates casual charm and confidence. Someone that likes to do things like hiking, biking, going to museums and concerts. Someone who can laugh easily and find humor in most situations." So clearly, this guy is sounding better and better and I'm just about to write back and tell him that when another email pops up from him and it says, "Thought I'd give you a peek behind the curtain. Hope it's not too quirky!  I do bathe regularly and like a clean woman as well."  And there, right in front of me on the screen are not one, not two, but THREE pics of him in his complete nakedness, showing all of his assets from each angle, up close and personal!  NOOOOOO!

OK guys, this is the message.  You like, OK you love sex.  You need it.  You might really do it to anything breathing.  You can get turned on by anything, what you see or hear or smell. Or by nothing.  We know that. And, believe it or not, we love sex too.  But we are turned on by YOU, by your personality, by how you treat us, by your character, by how you make us laugh.  We are turned on by when you hold our hand, when you tell us we're beautiful, by how you kiss behind our ears or how you run your fingers on our arms, by when you open the car door for us, by when you listen to us and respond to what we say, by how you remember what we said we liked and get it for us for our birthday. When you bring us flowers or rub our feet or cuddle with us after sex or when there is no sex.  See, we fall for you because of who you are or what you do to make us feel special.  We need to feel close before we feel comfortable and desirous of sex with you. 

So don't send us naked pics. Don't talk about sexual acts until we're having sex.  We're women. It doesn't work that way for us. Get to know us.  Show us who you are as a person.  Make us feel important to you.  Do something every day or every time you see us to let us know you're glad we're in your life.  And then we'll want you.  And you'll be glad you waited.

May 13, 2010

Furry love lives on.

I lost another love this week.  For the past twelve years, that furry little guy was my companion, rarely more than a few feet away.  He was silly and happy and wild and sweet.  And wonderfully nice to my grandchildren, never once nipping or growling at them, always by their side or kissing them or lying across them.  He loved to walk, he loved the cat, he loved food, and he loved me.  Actually, he loved a lot of people and would practically wiggle out of his skin when one of his favorites came to visit.  He would be on your lap just as your butt hit the couch and I believe he thought your reason to visit was to snuggle with him.

He was sick for a while, still cheery and wiggly and happy.  But, at twelve years old and having lost five of his 23 pounds, he was at that point where treatment would be difficult, causing him pain and distress, and I made that impossible choice to end his life before great suffering began. I told him he was a really good dog, that I loved him very much, and that I appreciate how good he was to the children.  And then he was gone and I am left with my memories.  Wonderful memories of sweet, furry Buddy.

May 1, 2010

Painting, cleaning, and a new path.

My Wow group was treated to an evening of fun, food, and nurturing.  My home fills with these women who are very different, yet bond and nurture and bring yummy food to share.  Our speaker was Judi Lirman, a marriage and family counselor, who chose the subject "Transitions and Silver Linings."  Just as every speaker for five years of Wow meetings, Judi picked a topic by herself that spoke to the exact time of my life, just what I am trying to surmount or deal with or learn from.  I'm written about my problems at work, how I'm finally learning to stand up to the alpha males who push old buttons in me, those times from my childhood when I learned to fear my father. I've been thinking about moving on, getting a new job after decades of this one.  All transitions, all unnerving.

Judi talked about how change is always around us, how the world is changing so fast, how the rules changes, and how this can make us feel scared.  She loves quotes and used this one, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."  As in consider the challenge of change, not fearfully, but with excitement.   Change hits us, so re-invent and recreate, stretch and learn.  She talked about how we were raised with such TV shows as Leave it to Beaver, where the parents were perfect, the house was never a mess, all problems were easily solved in thirty minutes, and we learned that life was that simple.  Then we were faced with wars and recessions and divorces and the reality of facing the big world on our own and we found that the script we had believed was unrealistic. Women in the 50s and 60s found their voices, realized that the lives of their mothers were not what they wanted, and launched themselves in the unknown, a world of their own creation, one never before seen.  We learned that transitions, happy or not, can be stressful, that the end of a relationship or the lack of success in implementing a goal can be the end of a dream.

Judi said that there are three stages to a transition, the end, the middle, and the beginning, in that order.  Something ends, pushing us in the middle stage where we feel neutral, floating, like treading water, unproductive, scared, empty, excited, like we've lost our bearings.   The scariness is that we no longer know who we are, being uprooted and seeking a new beginning, which leads to new beginnings, new perspectives, a new sense of priorities, and even a change in values.  She says that, during this stage, we should remember what we have previously accomplished, that we have skill and perseverence and the will to go on, that we have faith in ourselves and the universe that gives us the courage to face the unknown.  She suggests that we rethink and re-evaluate our dreams, ponder what we might be missing in life, allow ourselves to believe we can accomplish new goals, and to be still enough to hear and learn what they might be.  She says to pay attention to what entices or intrigues us, face the new fears we feel when we think about this new path and what could happen to use if we proceed, and realize that change is normal, part of life.  Helpful tools include keeping a journal by writing in a stream of consciousness, jotting down whatever thoughts pop up, exercise and walk as meditation, get enough rest, take baths with candles all around.  In other words, create an environment in which we feel good and are open to hearing the small voice that tells us the truth, suggests a path, leads us ahead. Judi reminds us that it's a process in growth and learning and that we need to celebrate each small accomplishment on the path.  Clearly, Judi is a delight, a spirited and wise woman.  You can reach her at 818-998-3205, and she encourages your calls.

I followed the Wow meeting by taking a week off work, just to rest and renew.  I had been feeling less fearful at work, feeling more strength and power, but I just knew that it was time to take a break, to do something for myself, to take more steps on this path of change.  After hearing Judi, I'm not so sure I'm supposed to take a new job, but rather conquer my fears where I am. Remember I started the process of moving forward by getting my carpets cleaned so this week, seeking to break out of what my daughter calls being "safe" at home, I painted my bedroom purple and taupe.  I removed closet doors, curtains, and blinds and the room feels open and light and soothing. There's still more to do, like buying curtains and window treatments, but my very wise daughter reminded me to take my time, that I didn't need to do the work in a frenzy, that I could do it step by step, and to resist setting a deadline for it to be finished.  Again, change is a process and yes, I am relishing in the work I have accomplished and the feeling I have created in the room.  My thanks to my handyman/contractor Sam, who refused to charge me for doing the heavy lifting - you can reach Sam at 818-992-1884.  He does everything well, was generous with his suggestions about painting, and even called to offer to loan me tools and brushes and dropcloths.  And again thanks to my carpet cleaner, who gladly returned to clean the parts of my bedroom that were under the old bed, changed me 1/2 his minimum fee, and ended up redoing all of the most heavily traveled areas because, "I care about my customers."  You can reach Sylvan and his "Supermachine" at 818-335-2775.

So I've enjoyed my week off work, appreciate the hard work I've accomplished, and relish the changes in my home. Now, I will look forward to whatever changes or challenges come next with a spirit of optimism and cheerful anticipation..  I'll keep you posted.

April 19, 2010

The gift we leave behind.

I just heard that a friend of mine died a few days ago. Larry Painter was a boyfriend from the late 80s who I saw every few years since then, catching up on our lives like we'd never been apart. Tall, blond, good-looking with dimples, always with a smile on his face. He was the only person in my life who called me, not Ellen, but L...N. The initials, said with affection.

He wasn't the usual guy in our materialist society. He never had much in the way of possessions, but he really appreciated what he did have and did not seem to desire more. When he was with me, I always felt that he was fully there, concentrating on being with me, for whatever time we were together. There was something in him that kept him from deeper commitment, but he was content with his life and never sought the answers to what it might be. He made friends easily, he loved people, and most of all he loved his daughter. I always felt there was some unexplained sadness beneath his wonderful smile, like he never quite knew why he didn't achieve many of his dreams, but he lived like each day was enough, that he was grateful for whatever pleasures that day might bring.

I don't think love goes away. I think that we carry a piece of everyone we meet, that the minutes or years we are together change each of us, make us different people. Larry's joy and love softened me, made me more relaxed, allowed me to breathe in life more deeply. I'll bet he did that for lots and lots of people lucky enough to have known him.

April 10, 2010

The fog lifts and the carpets get cleaned.

Picture a really foggy day. You can't see the light, it's cold, you don't know where you are, and you're scared. OK, that's been my life for the past few years, but I didn't realize it. And then, I had a melt-down, couldn't stop crying, and my assistant at work made me go to my doctor. Since my regular doc is out on maternity leave, I end up with a handsome temp doc with the loveliest Italian accent and the very, very kindest manner. He didn't know me and there I was crying in his office and he talked and listened and talked some more and gave me some nice meds and said to come back in one week. Then he said that I needed to stop rescuing my employers, to just agree to do what they asked, even when I knew their ideas wouldn't work and might even cause them harm. And then I started getting better.

There's this thing with momentum. Either you are stuck in one place or you're moving forward. How did I get moving? I got my carpets cleaned. Simple, huh? But now I was moving, feeling more in control of my life, starting to feel empowered and strong. I cleaned closets, sorted through the garage, and had a garage sale. Got rid of dirt and clutter and old stuff and I feel like a big weight has been lifted. Along the way, I did update my resume and start thinking about how I really could, after 32 years in one job, get another one and that it might be really good for me and a great adventure. I went to the doctor again and he said I have reclaimed my life. Nice. I'm sure feeling better. Still have some moments of panic and fear, but generally feeling strong.

Now that the fog has lifted, I'm feeling like dating again, so I create a personal ad, telling a little about me and asking for the guy to be over 50, live near me, be unattached/unmarried, and asking that the guys write something about themselves and send a picture. Pretty simple instructions, I think, but the replies? I'll just let you be the judge:

In the “what about unattached/unmarried don’t you understand” category:

I am peter 60wtm, 5.6" and 170 lbs. very healthy and active and like your ad, very open minded, but before we start i would like to say something as an honest man. My wife is disable for 11 years and my first time I decided to start a life. is this acceptable? I live in Burbank. I appreciate your honest answer

hi im 52 years old im from n.hollywood im unhappy married lets meet


In the “I’m only going to write one line and I just know you’ll want me anyway” category:

What are you doing ? Blessings G

if you like lets hook up

i wouldn't kick you out of bed.

do you have any tats?

Hi,looking very nice lets strike up a conversation lv.a no.

Hello, Want to know if your real? Don't mine send a pic

my lucky day...i just turned 50

Hey I will love to get to now u

how about an ongoing casual relationship...


hello i am 55 i am 6ft 2'' i am 215 lbs i am interested in you we should talk

hey my name is Jessy...please respond

I'm 40/m LA close to pasadena. You Make The Call?


In the “I’m leaving town for a long time but I’m just so sure you’ll want to wait for me” category:

I'm 57 years old and live in the West SFV. I wish I had more time to spend communicating this reply but I'm very busy right now trying to put business and personnel things in order before leaving on Wednesday to spend a month exploring The Yucatan. I liked what you had to say in your post and would like very much to get to know you better. Please send me and email or give me a call and let me know how to contact you when I return in the beginning of may. I hope to hear from you,

In the “I refuse to use good grammar or spelling but aren't I fabulous anyway?" category:

well i see your looking for a older man well i am older (55) and getting older by the day i am a privet body guard and own a security business i travel all over the world with clients and would love to find a strong woman to share my time with i am sending a pic of myself so you tell me..

ok now talk to me what you arent a 1 and done type are you you got my pic but still i have not recieved yours all i ask is that you be up front with me ok if i dont make the your cut just tell me ok so i can at least move on is that to much to ask for ????

wow I like the way you look, my name is emilio I have 41 yrs old 5:06 (tall) 135 lbs. I like to go 3 or 4 times to the gym I like to do Sport E. so I want to be honest w/ you I realy like to meet you I love the people like you honey w/ more age them me please I just neet to meet you I live close to you lest give me a change I not desapoint you please thanks and have a nice day I hope you hear of you

In the “I’ll bet my anger will make you hot” category:

In the order mentioned: I think I'm real, divorced 15 years ago, not
attached and 66. Done drown spiritually, like to lauch but what is there to
laugh about in this economy, who is emotionall healthy in this economy
screwed by the Republican deregulatinist. How is that for putting you on the

I am ready for a good, solid relationship with any intelligent person.
Period. I am somewhat solvent at the moment provided the economy does not
tank dramatically even more. I am a realtor which explains all. I do not
think that it was the subprime loans that did this economy in but the credit
default swaps that were widely sold by AGI and others that did us in.

And finally, in the “Let’s get right to the point” category:

I Like to Kiss and F--- and Dance

March 20, 2010

The choices we make.

Life is a series of changes. Each decision we make takes us down a different path. We marry or we don't. We have children or we don't. We take one job over another. We stay with our decision or leave our mate/job/city and do something else. Each time we make a decision our life changes. Even not making a decision is a decision. The story of our life can be dramatically different, depending on each and every decision we make. We are the artists of our own lives.

I'm at a place in my life where I am reaping the rewards of those many decisions I've made throughout my life. And I'm thinking about where different choices would have taken me. I'm stayed in a job I treasured for decades and now my work has been difficult and sometimes unbearable, and I'm realizing the toll it has taken on my life and emotions. It makes me wonder about where I'd be if I'd changed jobs years ago, gone to college earlier in life, choosen a different career, or lived in another state.

So I'm rethinking where I am now. I could retire. I could change jobs. I could sell my house and downsize or move away. I could travel the world, spending time in different countries, as long as I please, and move on whenever I feel like it. I think about the book and now the movie, Eat...Pray...Love and wonder if that should have been the story of my own life, coming through a divorce and taking one year to see the world, living in different countries, making friends of other nations, finding myself along the way.

I was a hippie in the sixties, long hair and beads and dancing outdoors to psychedelic music at Griffith Park, surrounded by crowds of similarly dressed and drugged revelers. I was invited by a guy I barely knew to live in the center of this movement in Haight Ashbury and I chose not to go. I stayed in my parents' home, married a sailor, moved to Hawaii, had a child, and got divorced, and then it seemed like most of my choices were then made for me. I had to work, take care of a child by myself, and survive. Living in an ashram in India was no longer an option, and I settled into a life of surburbia, my hippie days long gone.

Sometimes I feel sad when I think about those outer things that would have made people see me as still free-spirited. My house is classically middle class and average, notably free of beaded curtains and bean bag furniture. I dress in jeans and sweaters and have short hair, not long dresses made of tie-dye, and haven't had long hair since my early twenties. Have I lost myself? Have I sold-out? Do clothes and furniture and hair styles determine who we are?

Maybe those trappings can be just costumes, a way to make the world think we're really hip, like we think dressing and looking a certain way makes others, and ourselves, think we really are free-spirited when we might not be. I remember a recommendation letter written for me in my twenties, describing my silly humor, my multi-religiousness, my quirky demeanor, and I realize that my "Ellen-ness" was there then and is still within me.

I may work a traditional job and live in an average-looking home and have a poodle, but I'm still me. I'm spunky, I'm creative, and I make people laugh. I'd still like to travel the world, going wherever the wind takes me and moving on whenever I want. I'd like to work for the Peace Corps, bringing schools or water or education to those less fortunate. I'd like to live in Topanga Canyon and have a funky house, full of mis-matched furniture that looks really cool, but really I'd worry about the fire danger there. If I traveled, I'd miss seeing the joy in my daughter's eyes when she is happy. I'd miss seeing my grandchildren grow and change and giggle. I'd miss my friends and the safety and comfort of my home. I still can retire and travel and see the world whenever I please, I really could. But I really think I like my life, just the way it is, right here in the Valley, close to those I love.

January 31, 2010

Money, money, money.

We need it. It's hard to get. Some have more than others. Some don't have any. Money. "Love of money is the root of all evil." The Bible. Jackie Mason - "I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something." Edith Wharton - "The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it." Rita Rudner - "Someday I want to be rich. Some people get so rich they lose all respect for humanity. That's how rich I want to be." Woody Allen - "Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."

I'm at the age when I'm thinking about retirement. How good it could be, how much I'd like not to work, what wonderful things I could do with my time.....And then I wake up and think about the reality of how much money I might have, how much money I would need, and how the two don't jive. I think about how I should have saved more all these years, how I shouldn't have bought this or that, how I should have invested better, how I should have sought a more lucrative career. Shouda, woulda, coulda.

So it was good timing to have a financial planner as our Wow speaker this month. Meet Elad Goren, partner in Financial Pointe, a 34-year-old man who was well dressed, well spoken, and very down-to-earth, the advisor to one of our Wowettes who is retiring with a nice solid nest-egg. He taught us about what financial planners actually do, which is a lot more than investing your money, and talked about how boring his plans for our money will be. Find a way to make our money grow and leave it there. How easy is that? It was surprising how little we all know about investments and how little money some of us have. It's never too late to start making money for our retirement, he assured us. That's good news.

I like Elad. He was a good teacher, explaining concepts so we all understood them easily. Like how people pull their money out of their plans when the value goes down and then put the money back in when the value goes up. His example was like going to Nordstrom's for a 50% off sale and saying we would wait until the prices went up again before we buy. It's amazing that, with something as vital as our money we are not so smart.

Just like any other of life's problems, it's best not to just sit and worry, but to take action. Best not to fret about the future, but do constructive things to make it better and still enjoy the moment. So my advice is to call Elad at 818-338-3570 or 888-339-3570 and talk about your money and your future. He promises to take any calls and answer any questions. Nice guy, seemed honest and smart. And he just might make your future greener!

January 27, 2010

Marriage as a purchase.

Geez, I haven't posted in forever! Really, not much to say, just living a quiet life, single, listening to married girlfriends reminding me how being married isn't necessarily a great thing, going out with single girlfriends and having the best time, and fielding phone calls from other single women friends who are meeting not-so-fab men. Ah, last week I did two loads of laundry and left the clean clothes on my kitchen bar counter for five days and no one complained. No one noticed. I can do 1000 piece puzzles on my kitchen table, wear baggy sweats, and not get dressed on the weekend and no one notices. Is that bad? Naw, kinda cool, I think.

So I'm home from work on a Wednesday, having survived another day working for doctors. Excellent docs, but picky and unreasonable and demanding. Another day, another dollar. And I remain grateful to have a job in these tough economic times.

So I have that new doctor, finally calming down after three years working with us, maybe finally realizing that our combined 50 years experience might just mean that we know more about running a medical office than a new doctor with zero, none, not-one-minute, of training in billing, coding, scheduling, authorizations, collections, and the other zillion things required for us to have such a successful office. We're actually starting to enjoy him, now that he realizes that we might be an asset to him.

Our new doc is pushing to switch to an EMR system, the new electronic medical records package we can use for all the office functions and allow us to see our records online, rather than in paper charts. I find it exciting and daunting all at once, having heard many horror stories about how it can take six to nine months or more to get past the chaos of learning and using this kind of system. Remember, I'm the one who went to college in my 40s and had the best time, so clearly I like a challenge.

So I've been talking to a guy at one of the systems we're considering for the office, a smart and rather no-nonsense guy who tells it like it is, but clearly thinks his system is one of the best. After days and days of me calling him with my "Question of the Day," he finally said that buying such a system is like deciding who to marry, that we should make a very careful decision since getting out of it can be a nightmare. I don't know, I looked at 60 houses before buying mine and researched many long hours before buying my Suburu, but made some pretty emotional and impetuous decisions about husbands. I still have my house and my Suburu, but I'm definitely single.

Being human beings, maybe most or even all of our decisions are emotional. I buy a dress because it makes me feel pretty or sexy. I like to eat comfort food, see funny movies so I can laugh and romantic movies so I can feel happy, and I like to be with my friends because I feel loved and wanted. We buy things or pick out mates based on what we hope to feel, wishing that the object will bring us satisfaction or our mate will hold our hand in hard times. Just as whatever system our office buys will have its good and bad points, the mates we choose will have qualities we like and some we wish he didn't have. We make our decisions based on the information we have at the time and the hopes we wish it will fulfill and sometimes we get more information and regret our decisions. But sometimes not making decisions is worse, requiring us to use old outdated software or not dating and missing out on the possibility of a new romance. So I say to my docs, pick one and let's get started! And to myself, maybe it's time for me to give a new guy a chance. Maybe.