Monthly Archives: May 2017

Life through my living room window

There is a question that has been plaguing me lately. Not really a question. Perhaps more of an observation.

When did everyone get so old?

Athletes like Jack Nicklaus, dashing princes such as Prince Philip, heart throbs like Robert Redford–even perkiest of perkies Sally Field–are over 70, some a decade or two more.

I watch current movies and the sex symbols of my youth like Jessica Lange are now playing grandmothers, not femme fatales. King Kong’s object of affection is now a Nanna?

Men I used to think of as the hot dads at elementary school spring sings now have a head full of gray and tote grandchildren to these events.

Most notably watching this slow progression to the grave has started through my living room window. For thirty years I have seen the same faces walk past my house to ride the morning and evening trains to the city from our suburb.

Folks who used to jog to the train bouncing by my house with backpacks now shuffle by, humped over dragging their ancient briefcases. Some park outside my house to save the half-mile walk. Same faces. Same people. Just an image and persona that’s older. Tired.

It’s as though I have watched Shakespeare’s Seven Stages of Man performed right out my front door.

Recently, we took our kids out to dinner for my son’s birthday. Being the hip mom that I am, I planned a pub crawl of sorts and at the first stop, the bouncer asked for ID’s.  Without blinking, I said I didn’t have mine. He gently patted my shoulder and said with a smile, “Don’t worry, we are letting minors in tonight.” He might have well asked to see my AARP card and offered me a walker. I knew I should have left my Ray Bans on a minute longer and taped my loose neck skin behind my ears.

I was standing in a children’s shoe department a few days later looking for Natives for my grandsons. (Natives are the new Crocs.) Their display is my least favorite merchandising idea of all time. They have each pair attached by cardboard hangers on long hooks off a pegboard with at least eight pairs to a hook. And the size you need is invariably in the back. So most often as you reach for your size, the entire line of shoes fall off to the floor or worse, the whole metal peg detaches from the wallboard and you are left with six pairs of rubber shoes dangling on the metal pole like you just played Go Fish for Keds at the county fair.

Anyway, as I reached for the size 11 , sizes 6 through 10 went tumbling to the floor, piles of colorful rubber rolling in all directions. I looked down and staring up at me was a miniature human no taller than my knee with saucer-sized blue eyes. “What happened here?” he asked earnestly, offering me a single capped toe orange shoe.

And I thought, “Man are you right, tiny person.”

What did happen here? Where are my babies and how I am shopping for grandkids?  Can tempus fugit  please stop? Or at least slow to a nice stroll?  Can I just take a deep breath before I am the face in old family pictures where the next generation asks, “Who is that again?”

I remember my mom saying in her 80’s that she looked in the mirror at a face that didn’t match the 18 -year -old girl that lived in her heart.  And maybe that’s the secret to aging.  Keeping your youthful joy in your soul.

It makes me think of one of my sister’s favorite quotes by Albert Camus:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

Invincible summer. What a great name for a season.





I’ve been thinking lately about anger.  Where it comes from and who I am really mad at when it boils up inside of me. I just finished a 21 day meditation with Oprah and Deepak online. (Like Adele, last names not needed.) It was my third round of meditations with those two.  Since Oprah thinks she has reached enlightenment and Deepak appears to actually have, I thought it was a combo worth trying for a meditation neophyte like myself. The idea of stopping for ten minutes to breathe deeply and clear your head has always intrigued me, but I have also dreamed of being 5’11” or 21 again, so go figure concerning the general practicality of the thoughts that fly though my brain minute to minute.

Meditation I thought, and now believe, can bring a calmer, more reflective outlook on life rather than a knee-jerk reaction to events or people. And my quickest responses to upsetting situations is most often anger. What confuses me about anger is that it is seldom directed at the correct person or situation.  And often I realize, the person I am angriest at is myself.

As a child,  I was angry when I received Poor Pitiful Pearl for Christmas (not kidding, look her up: when my playmates got Barbies. I was angry I wasn’t Shirley Temple after hours of practice dancing up and down our basement stairs and laborious, stinky Toni perms. I was angry I was number 11 in my high school graduating class when the top ten were featured in the newspaper. Childish resentments perhaps but I was angry nonetheless.

In therapy sessions sprinkled throughout my adulthood, I worked though some of those childhood slights and tried to heal my bruised inner child as Oprah and Deepak suggested I do. So now, I wouldn’t call myself an angry person. But maybe a closet resenter is more appropriate.

Like many of us, I resent unfairness, injustice, incompetent politicians and those who function with a myopic view, often no further than their own nose.

But on a day-to-day basis, I resent people and situations that don’t reflect my view of the world and how we all should act or interact. What I think should happen, how I think a person should react, how I want to remember my past and what I want for my future is not what I always find when my expectations meet reality.

When those two don’t match up, I am disappointed. And too often when I am sad or hurt or disappointed, I get angry. And anger, like failing to forgive, hurts you much more than the object of your anger. It raises your blood pressure, interrupts your sleep and makes you look much worse than the person or situation you are attempting to dress down.

Anger is ugly.  Spewing vitriol looks and sounds ugly.  And although harsh words often reflect a deeper pain, the message they send does nothing to heal or fix underlying feelings. In fact most often, they push the receiver further away. And give you a heavier load to carry in your backpack of anger and resentment.

Throughout my meditation experience, the underlying theme seems to always drift back to letting go. Letting go of expectations of others, letting go of judgment, letting go of the past, letting go of worry about the future. While meditating, my goal is to stay in the present.  The exact time and place you are in at that moment.  That is a tall order for someone who functions with at least an eighteen track mind where my thoughts always seem to be speeding and colliding and intersecting.

But I stop.  I make time.  And I try.

Deepak would say, and I agree, that meeting others where they are, rather than where you expect them to be, with compassion and hope is life altering. For me, putting that attitude into my everyday life would be a game changer.

I do believe that accepting life as it actually unfolds, rather than how you have planned it, keeps you in the present. Where the real stuff happens. Where the living is really done.

And offers a life of more joy. And less anger.