Wild River Review
Wild River Review
Connecting People, Places, and Ideas: Story by Story
May 2010
Open Borders
 

July 19, 2013

Well, I’ve done it — I’ve gone and turned 50!

While the rest of the world innocently shopped for Isotoners and iPads and little pigs in the blankets last holiday season, I was not-so-gently entering the half-century club (you didn’t know I could kick that high or scream so loud, did you?), rolling over from one decade to the next, like the cruise ship Concordia or a rickshaw in an ice storm. Not so gracefully.

And yet, that’s how I, uh, roll. It’s how I do many things (like banging my right temple almost every time I get into my convertible, reaching for mugs on high shelves invariably knocking over something I shouldn’t, demanding my stepdaughter keep her dirty hands off of my pale yellow walls), but my birthday in particular.

When it comes to my birthday, I am known for being a stickler: An ace promoter, advocating for attention well before even Halloween. It’s my brand. The promise I make to those who matter (more like a hard nudge or a hip check): And I’m likely to remind them that since my birthday occurs on December 22, it comes first. That it will be a gift-receiving event, despite protocol. And that I have expectations.

For 50 years, this has been my modus operandi. Obnoxious and irritating, I’ll give you that, but tradition nevertheless. And this year—technically, my 51st—all that changed.

Instead of racing around with a banner and balloons, demanding people celebrate the day of my birth, I acquiesced to a small gathering at my house. It was lovely, of course. The cake layered with chocolate icing and yellow pudding was quite tasty, and the gifts didn’t suck either; but for the first time I would have traded it all in for the chance to be 49 for just one more year. Why? I don’t know why—even though I’m supposed to be fully self-actualized by now. All I know is that, for me, 50 is a hard pill to swallow. Probably because (and check me if I’m wrong) unlike 30 or even 40, 50 shows.

Baby needs her beauty sleep

For example, I am no longer down for a late night out on the town. Baby needs a consistent eight hours of REM sleep or risk looking like Nick Nolte in his 2002 mug shot (Google it). Dinner at 8? Way too late. Lipstick without the invisible fence of a good liner?  Forget about it – unless I want to look like the possessed ingénue in a low-budget horror film…

And while I used to pride myself on being able to a) sing happy birthday in full Pig Latin and b) read up close without the help of glasses, I’m lucky now if I can see the clock on the cable box from 10 feet away…or remember the words to the song. But that’s not the worst of it.

Forget that I’ve lived half of 100 years. Even if I wanted to celebrate my march into the fifties with a chocolate-covered box of confidence and joyful anticipation of what comes next, a cruel cadre of marketers will have none of it. Hell bent on keeping me hyper-conscious of my location in the circle of life (and not in a good way), they’re less than subtle in reminding me that Victoria’s Secret is no longer interested in selling me black lace bras and baby doll pajamas. They have welcomed my entry into this particular demographic category by practically water-boarding me with messages of death and disease—wagging their virtual fingers, telling me in no uncertain terms how to prevent, treat, and prepare for these things emotionally, physically, and financially.

Ouch.

I am being virtually assaulted by 50

A tour of my AOL inbox on any given day boasts a veritable who’s who of advocates for the elderly. The subject lines alone are enough to offend, promoting a collective marquis of products and services designed to keep me upright and oiled.  Check it:

The American Association of Retired People is practically stalking me, trying to lure me into their grips with the persistent offer of a free tote bag. The Arthritis Association somehow misses me. (Don’t ask.) And the Reverse Mortgage folks are very eager to ease my financial worries.

Just yesterday, I got an update on Medicare Open Enrollment, along with a list of the best foods for joint pain. And don’t get me started on the Hover Round folks and the Scooter Store: Those two are neck in neck for the chance to keep me mobile. Seniorsingles.com is also vying for my attention, even though I am married and hardly a senior (shut up). And the Premier Bathing folks, bless their little hearts, want to put a seat in my shower so I don’t fall onto my Venus razor accidentally.

But the piece de resistance—the solicitation that had me drop hard off the virtual vine was an email outlining all the reasons I needed burial insurance and how to get it. Yes, you read that right: B.U.R.I.A.L.  While very practical informationwise, it was also supremely depressing. Because I know how marketers work (I am one): They don’t just send a sales pitch to anybody. And if they sent one to me, they must know based on a great deal of research that I could very well need what they’re selling. Theirs was a not-so-gentle reminder that the specter of death looms ever closer, given my turning 50.

Coming to grips with new realities

And they’re right. Because suddenly, people are dying around me. Oh sure, it’s logical (albeit still sad) that some of those who passed might be my parents’ age, including some of my mother’s friends who doubled as beloved “aunts” when I was a child. My agent, who couldn’t sell my first novel (not that I hold that against him and it’s a moot point anyway) and who was, okay, well into his 70s when he passed. My friends’ parents, starting to go one by one, leaving behind middle-aged orphans—and me to wonder when it will be my turn to lose them (I cannot bear the thought of it, so let’s move on…). Because at 50, I’m all too well aware of the fact that none of us lives forever or escapes the pain of loss.

These kinds of goodbyes are bad enough. But when your peers start passing – when friends who share your historical references and who watched you grow into the person you are start dying, when their doing so is well within the realm of possibility given your  having lived half a century – well, that’s hard to process.

My ex-boyfriend of 12 years just passed after a five-month battle with kidney and bone cancer. I hadn’t seen him in eight years, but we kept in touch, exchanging the occasional text and phone call. Little did I know at our last meeting (where I told him I had met somebody else and he told me how much that hurt) that it would end with me living happily married in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and him in a hospital bed on the West side of Chicago, tumors climbing up and down his spine, preparing to take his last breath.

None of which takes into account other friends who are fighting their own battles – against rectal cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, and even lupus. So while I hate to give it to them, those burial insurance folks were right: The experience of death is now in my wheelhouse. It’s a fact I couldn’t get out of my head during my last mammogram when, instead of wondering whether I should stop at Starbucks on the way home, I wondered what I’d do if they actually found something. Thankfully, they didn’t.

Dying aside, when these kinds of thoughts and experiences start happening, as they do at 50, you begin to realize something profound is going on: You’re no longer that young girl who knew that she’d grow old someday, but that “someday” was too far off to even ponder. Who despite the years going by, never seemed to age or even think about it. Never stopped to contemplate that before she could blink, saving for retirement would summon a feeling of panic and the face in the mirror would change–slowly at first and then, in more pronounced ways (think defined lines around the eyes and an overall look of exhaustion that doesn’t always go away with sleep).

Just yesterday, I stood in the bathroom, and caught a glimpse of the skin on my neck looking a bit less taut. I noticed a few more “freckles” on my chest.  And the bags under my eyes no longer as easily concealable with makeup. For some reason, on this particular morning, I looked somehow different. Almost overnight.

I took a step closer toward the mirror—and this new self staring back at me with a look of both fear and curiosity—and thought, “So, this is how you look at 50.”

It’s a harsh transition that feels like you go to sleep in your 20s and wake up one day five decades in, wondering when did that happen? And, why did I think I’d be different? Why did I think that aging—visibly—would happen to everybody else, but me?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could age backwards?

And yet, it’s happening. Not aging backwards, but aging forward with unstoppable force (or so it seems). Sure, people say I don’t look anywhere close to my age, and that may be true for now, but it’s only a matter of time. I mean, can a 60-year-old really pull off looking 35? Because frankly, that’s what I’m hoping. But I know it’s not very realistic. Even with the modern-day wonders of Botox, Restylane, and plastic surgery (which I won’t be doing since I’m a big baby when it comes to needles and dentists and really bad break-ups, and anything painful overall), it’s a stretch.

And while you may think 60 is 10 years away, think about it. At this age, time whirs by. I remember when a year used to feel like a lifetime, and now it’s like a snap of the fingers. New Year’s Eve turns into Valentine’s Day and then Memorial Day and then Labor Day and then Thanksgiving and then the holiday holidays, and then before you know it, it’s my birthday and then 10 snaps later, I’m 60. And then what?

Now, I’m sure there are some of you out there, over 50, saying “lighten up” would you? Being 50 is great!

Good for you! I’m sure you appreciate the freedom of self-expression and wisdom that accompanies the passing of the years, but I’m just not there yet. I’ll take having to hold my lip any day. Being able to legitimately shop at Forever 21 (okay, maybe Forever 33). I am MORE THAN HAPPY to have a period every month. In fact, last month, it was several days late and I thought it was all over and cried for three days at the gynecological passing of my youth, until of course it did finally come, but for how much longer?

Frankly, I don’t care that much about having the wisdom of a sage. Nobody listens to me anyway. Besides, I know I’m right. Isn’t that all that counts?

No, I’d rather be the female Benjamin Button—a bit naïve and inexperienced, aging in the other direction, with great bone structure and youthful possibility—than somebody who’s old enough to play somebody’s grandmother in a Lifetime Television Movie. But instead, I’m all too aware of time going by. I can see it in the faces of my nieces and stepdaughter—now in their teens and 20s respectively. They think they know it all, making dumb mistakes, probably like I did. And yet, it’s their time now. Not mine. I have to remember that when I want to scream “DON’T DO THAT”. I had my day and now, well, I’ve got to let them have theirs.

It’s a new chapter and I’m sticking to it  

On the one side, it’s like I’m morphing into the graying-haired every-lady on those fibromyalgia commercials. On the precipice, aging gracefully; still wearing khakis (or in my case, black Gap body stretch pants), riding bikes, smiling at a table set by candlelight, and crying poignantly at the opera.

One the other side, I’m accepting the truth of being 50, trying to find the joy and meaning in this part of life. Appreciating that I’m still here. That despite what might lie ahead, my parents are still here. That I have a good job, great friends, and that I love my husband.

It’s not always easy, but I’m not the only person on earth who just had a big birthday. In fact, according to Department of Health & Human Services, there are more than 99 million people over 50 in the United States, 40 million of which have taken AARP up on their offer of a free tote bag. (That must be some bag. Although, unless George Clooney pops out in a Speedo ready to clean my toilets, I’m still not interested. But then again, would 52-year-old George Clooney even give a 50-year-old woman a second look? Don’t answer that…)

And I’m hoping to get there. To join the many people I know who covet the joy of this time of life. Like my friend Joan who, after years of nursing hospice patients, is giving herself permission to move on and spend more time writing and painting and teaching art therapy, things she loves and has wanted to do for years. Or my friend Jill, who takes pride in the well-earned lines on her face and the gray at her temples, seeing them as signs of wisdom, maturity, and a life well lived.

Then there’s my husband, about to turn 56, and the best person he’s ever been. Strong, smart, secure. Still handsome, still searching, still curious about so many things. Sure, he can’t find anything beyond the first layer of the refrigerator, but is that such a bad thing?

For my part, I don’t know what my 50s will bring for me—or what permissions it will lay at my feet. What I do know is that I better get to it. And that, no matter what my age, nothing will take away my love of silver earrings and lipstick, my penchant for nude sandals and black boots, my commitment to physical activity (yeah, I did P90X, although it did require a fair amount of Motrin), and my propensity for silliness. I’m still down for wearing tank tops with skulls on them as long as the skulls look more like flowers and the tank tops have a little stretch. And I remain a big Katy Perry fan. I thought the movie “Pitch Perfect” was awesome. And I’m all for wearing blue nail polish, as long as it doesn’t make the thinning skin on my hands look ashy.

I even take sheepish pride in telling people what to do and how (whether they listen or not), using the excuse that “Hey, I’m a lot older than you,” and reveling in the right to say, “When you get to be my age, you’ll see that [insert meaningful and wise insight].” I’m grown up enough to admit that I often enjoy hearing the sound of my own voice.

At the same time, I’m also extremely proud of the era from whence I came. After all, it gave birth to Judy Bloom, the first-ever computer (like the McIntosh I had in grad school that was shaped like an upright shoe box and fascinated me endlessly), and the awesome music that’s aging right along with me (yes, I’m talking to you Bruce, Billy, Madonna, and even you, you mad wrinkly old Mick … although have a sandwich already, seriously).

And I’m not ashamed to say that I don’t get Justin Bieber or Pit Bull (isn’t that a dog?) or text slang (what the heck is LMAOKCD anyway?). Or that I miss eight-track cassettes and shoulder pads.

And don’t get me started on VHS.

So I guess, at the end of the decade (or the beginning), regardless of which, age really is a state of mind…including 50. My state of mind is conflicted. I wish I were younger of course, and yet, this is the youngest I’ll ever be. Right now. Today. I feel pressured to enjoy it.

And yet, I’m not comfortable with (let alone joyful about) the uncertainty of what comes next—after 50. Will life bring chaos or contentment? Good health and harmony (I pray) or illness and discord?  Wisdom or curiosity? I’m not sure how to anticipate any of it, which is really no different than any other moment in my life, just more pronounced given my acute awareness of the calendar. It’s like I’m rolling down a hill versus the slow climb up. And I don’t like it.

So I brace myself for whatever lies ahead and pray that it’s even a hair more wonderful than anything else (says the realist who, at 50, knows enough about how the ebb and flow of living goes). One thing I know for sure: There will be no tote bags involved.

 

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August 12, 2012

Is anybody else tired of being a grownup or is it just me?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — sherer @ 12:38 pm
As you may or may not know, when you get to be a woman of a certain age, you find yourself having to multi-manage an increasing number of fairly high-stakes tasks. For example, in this very moment, I’m trying to a) recover from the world’s worst vacation (think traveling with a moody teenager exacerbated by her narcissistic and inconsiderate mother), b) create a will (a fairly depressing task), and c) refinance our house (which requires too much hassle and interaction with title companies, banks, and complicated math for my taste).  This, all the context of my busiest season at work, a never-ending assault of demands and requests via technology that never sleeps (thanks a lot, Apple), and my husband’s need to travel more than usual—leaving me alone to care for two needy dogs and a temperamental sump pump. Suffice to say, it’s been quite a month. I know, I know, this is life. But, these days, it’s got me so frazzled, that I’m not thinking straight. 
For instance, eager to leave our vacation resort (where upon arrival, after an eight-hour drive, we were unsuccessful in coaxing a hysterical 14-year-old out of a locked bathroom because she didn’t like the perfectly lovely suite), I accidentally left an ENTIRE drawer full of important clothes behind.  Fortunately the cleaning staff found them and sent them back to me, so I can put that horrific experience in the past. But my monkey mind continues… Case in point: Yesterday, I put the creamer in the microwave instead of the refrigerator. The other day at work, I wore my shirt inside out all day (yes, even during a meeting with clients).  And, on the way home, I sat at the Starbucks drive-thru window even after they’d delivered me my drink. “Excuse me, uh, do you need anything else?” 
 Instead of feeling bad about myself or worrying about early onset dementia, I simply attribute it to the human version of my Intel processor being overheated—my brain is moving slow, trying to compute the overwhelming cadre of tasks and responsibilities on my plate. And while I’d hoped to get some much needed rest and rejuvenation this weekend – in fact, I had the doing of nothing all planned out – life, once again, had something else in mind.
You see, yesterday morning, I woke up at 6 to start the day so Dan and I could be at the farm for our scheduled 8 a.m. work shift (a requirement of our participating in a community-supported agriculture program in our area).  When I came downstairs to retrieve our much-needed coffee, I was greeted by a two-inch layer of water under my feet. Apparently, the dishwasher (which we’ve been setting to run in the middle of the night for six years, since it’s too noisy to run while we’re awake) broke and leaked water, well, everywhere. We soon learned that it had not only formed a wading pool in our kitchen, but seeped through the walls to our dining area and down into the basement through the fancy Owens Corning tiles left to us by the previous owners, forming a small but determined waterfall over our prized treadmill, favorite sofa and loveseat, and two-year-old shag carpeting.
 It goes without saying that we never made it to the farm, but instead, spent the day filing insurance claims, shaking our heads, and entertaining the folks from ServiceMASTER, who promptly ripped apart our basement, and set up a series of dehumidifiers and air blowers that make us feel like we’re living in a hostile wind tunnel. The irony that they’re excessively loud is not lost on me (nor is the fact that running the dishwasher while you sleep is a bad idea). 
All of which sucks—including the fact that our dishwasher is now busted, so we have to wash everything by hand--something I haven’t had to do since living in a city apartment my early 30s. It makes me wonder: Is the crest of 50 about the time in life we start going backwards? Or is it just me? 
Whatever the answer, these are grownup problems, to say the least. And I could use the levity of backtracking right about now—of juvenileness. I thought I would get at least a piece of that when we went to see the Jackson Browne concert (two days before the debacle that was our vacation), but even then, as evidenced by the aging crowd, I felt like I was at a PBS special on how to keep your brain healthy.  (Something I could probably stand to watch). What was even more depressing was that I fit right in. In fact, when my beloved Jackson continued to play well into the 10 o’clock hour, I actually complained to my husband, “Gosh, is he almost done? I’m exhausted!”
 What I didn’t know was that I would spend the next few weeks being reminded of just how far afield from my youth I really am. Not that being young is the Holy Grail or that it doesn’t involve problem solving; to the contrary. But I could use the vitality and low-stakeness that generally come along with it. With that said, I know we’ll all be okay. I’m really just venting. (Thanks for listening?) Our house will eventually restore itself to order, the wills will get done, my monkey mind will resume normal pace, and Dan and I will enjoy a 2.7% interest rate. It will all be worth it. (Although, I fear the Scooter Store will send me emails into perpetuity…)
 It’s just that, well, sometimes I miss the days when problems were more about fitting in than staving off a flood or having to always be a grownup.
 How about you? What’s happening in your grown-up world? Do you miss the laissez-faire of youth? Do tell!
 And until next time!
  

June 26, 2012

Questions, questions, so many questions

The other night, I sprang up in bed and proclaimed to my sleeping husband (waking him up, of course, but it was important): “Can you believe some people eat potato chips every day and never even think twice about it?” I don’t know, the thought was just burning through me for some reason and I had to talk about it – right then and there or else it would have simply been impossible for me to go back to sleep.
“I mean, they don’t worry about how many carbs they’ve had that day, or whether the chips are low sodium or low fat or whether the scale will register a win or a loss. Can you IMAGINE? They just pop open a can or rip open the top of a bag and, WHAM, go at it. Shoving chip after chip into their mouths as if the little frazzled pieces of potato deserved it.”
Fortunately, my husband is a good sleeper, so he wasn’t too disturbed by my middle-of-the-night query or its randomness.  (Although, he did say he dreamt about onion dip.) The dog, on the other hand, was none too happy. She growled and snorted in response. After all, she likes potato chips. And never gets to have any. (Please, pet lovers, don’t report me—we are good to her in other ways.)  
It’s funny, given my food lot in life, I’ll never know what it feels like to casually toss, say, a can of Pringles into my grocery cart.  Does anybody else feel a Bucket List forming or is it just me? 
Which brings me to another question: What is the official age for starting a bucket list? And is it coming up for me? One more: How do I get the Hover Round people (and while we’re at it, the SCOOTER store folks as well) to take me off their mailing list? (And AARP? I’m watching you too …)
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So this past weekend, we went out to dinner with some friends and it was super fun but I have noticed something about going out with other people now that I’m super vigilant about what I eat and drink: They’re absolutely fascinated by it. Very early in the evening the conversation started like this:
 My friend (let’s call her Justine*): Do you ever drink?
Me: Not really. I’ve just never been a drinker.
Justine: Seriously? (As if I just told her that I’ve never had a bowel movement.) Oh my God, I could never live without my wine. Although, I do like a good margarita every now and then.
Me: Sounds good. Enjoy!
Justine: Dan (she interrupts my husband’s conversation with her husband), one of these days, I’m going to take your wife out, get her drunk and, without even stopping the car, push her out so you can do what you will with her! Does that sound good?
Dan smiles and nods – he’s nothing if not cooperative.
Justine: So what is it? You’d just rather eat your calories than drink them? (Which, as you’ll see, will open another whole can of beer nuts…)
Me: Sure, why not?
Justine: So do you ever eat anything bad? (By now, we’re sitting down the dinner and I have just ordered dry grilled salmon and broccoli…to her “more bread please” and rack of lamb…)
Me: Of course! I’m not a martyr…
Justine: So if I order you flourless chocolate cake for dessert, will you eat it?
Me: Probably not. (I have to get in a bathing suit this upcoming weekend – more on that in a few…)
Justine: Pie?
Me: Probably not.
Justine: Gelato?
Me: No.
Justine: Crème Broulee?
Me: No.
Justine: A cheese plate? (We were at a French restaurant.)
Me: Not on your life.
Justine: So what will you eat? 
Me: I like Thousand Island dressing a lot. Oh, and tuna salad? 
Justine: Dan, pour your wife a big glass of that Pinot Noir. You’re out with me, you better drink some!
Me: Okay, okay! 
 After finally acquiescing, folding under all the pressure (yeah, yeah, Go Ask Alice), I then proceeded to sip on that glass of wine all night until, about 1/8 of the way through, I quietly slid it over towards Dan’s plate and he finished it off. This is what marriage is all about.
 Sadly, this is not the first conversation I had like this last week. I was out to dinner with another friend recently and she was bothered by my one bottle of sparkling water to her three margaritas (up, no ice, salted)—not to mention my measly shrimp cocktail to her very large hamburger and French fries. 
 To which I ask this: People, people, why can’t you just let me drink my sparkling water and eat my dry, bland, tasteless health food in peace? (I do ask this with love, of course.) I’m not judging you – I’m simply trying to keep my donkey down to the size of a dehydrated Smart Car. Does that make me bad? Don’t you think I’d like to margarita the days away? Lavish my digestive tract with a veritable cornucopia of fine liquors and sugar-coated chocolate that, as a delightful side benny, put me into an altered state? Believe me when I tell you: Hyperconsciousness is overrated. 
 But not being the size of a small mini-van is not. So, I do what I must do to avoid it. That’s all. Believe me, it hurts me more than it will ever hurt you…
 *Name has been changed to protect the innocent
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Moving on…
 A couple weeks ago, I went into New York to have lunch with a client. Knowing that I’d be doing a lot of walking, I tried to select a pair of shoes from my vast collection that was both stylish and comfy.  The winner? A nude patent wedge mule with a peep toe and a 2” inch padded heel. Sounds perfect for NYC walking, right? (Wait for it…)
 Uh, NO.
 By the time I got from 41st and 8th to 46th and 5th, the shoes had given me enough blisters to play connect the dots on my feet and actually form some sort of recognizable image. 
 So here’s my question: Why do all shoes feel really cozy in the store and the minute you get them out into the real world, they turn into sick little monsters that chew away at the fragile skin on the sides of your toes, the tops of your foot and the sides and backs of your heels?  Does the shoe industry really believe the hype about “comfort technology” (yeah, I’m talking to you, Aerosoles, Clarks, MERRILL) or are they just f#@*ing with us?
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Okay, last one: 
 So we’re off to visit some friends in Chicago for the weekend who just built a very large house with a pool and Jacuzzi. Sadly, that requires me to bring a bathing suit that I might actually have to wear--especially since they’re hosting a pool party in honor of our visit (and despite the fact I’m usually able to excuse my way out of having to swim … you know, lady issues, stomach cramps, the dog ate my spandex, etc.).
 So I made the brave trek to the Annie Sez near our house, where they had three bathing suits available from which to choose (slim pickins since we’re almost into the fall inventory). Two of them were black and one was a leopard-like print of pink, white, and black. Tired of dousing myself in post-mortem black, which I’ve been doing for year, I opted for the print. Which I must say, doesn’t look too shabby – until you get below the hips. 
 Ye gads, Mom, I love you, but thanks a lot for the really really bad legs. (My mother is beautiful, but her legs, well, they’re not her best attribute. Love you mommy.) And to you, the woman who yells at me every morning on my exercise DVDs and who promises that the pain and agony from the 5,600 squats done in just under an hour will result in long and lean legs (LADIES, YOU ARE RESCULPTING AND RESHAPING YOUR BODY RIGHT NOW!!!! KEEP GOING!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!)? Well, you are a LIAR and you deserve to be punished. 
 With that said (and while I work on DVD lady’s punishment), I’ve made a pact with my friend Lisa on the day of the party that, if I get so hot I really want to take a dip in the pool, requiring me to lose a well-placed cover up, she has to scream she’s having chest pains to deflect the group, allowing me to slither into the pool unnoticed. Then, she can be suddenly and perfectly fine again. 
 Everybody needs a friend like that, don’t you think? (But that’s not my question…) 
 My question is this: When will swim suit designers come up with a bathing suit that reverses the impact of genetics?
 Just curious.
 How about you? What are you curious about these days? Do tell! And until next time!

May 24, 2012

Borrowing from Vanity Fair…

Hello to all! Hope this post finds everybody well. It’s been a while since my last post and I’ve had a lot of life in between. To convey this in a way that I hope will hold your interest, I’ve decided to borrow from a popular column in Vanity Fair, where they feature photos of celebrities and ask them to act out their responses to a particular situation or emotion (for example, “you’ve just eaten something that’s spoiled” or “you’re really mad at the driver who just cut you out”, etc.). I have always been intrigued by that particular section. Instead of showing you a photo of my face, however, I’m going to share my most innermost thoughts about those scenarios that made an impact on me most recently. Enjoy!

A stranger insults you on the street…

A few weeks ago, I was in New York visiting some girlfriends for the weekend. As I walked the some three or four miles from Midtown to the hotel in Soho where I was staying (after lunch with a client, in heels, with a roller bag in tow and the blisters to show for it, thank you very much), some young guy (think early 20s) walking beside me looked at me and then looked again and said, “Hey, you have beautiful eyes.”

He was tall and swarthy with a thick accent and made no secret of his ogling a variety of women within eyesight.  But it seemed he only called out to me (at least in that moment, and maybe because I gave off a vibe that I really needed to hear it). And while I found that creepy, I also felt grateful for the attention—in a way that one might feel when they’re crawling up the ass of 50. It felt good to know that I wasn’t invisible (yet) in the sea of youthful beauties around me, sipping lattes from green and white cups, walking swiftly in their short skirts from their newly minted jobs to their barely affordable studio apartments, thinking they’ll never be anything but young. 

In response to his comment, I looked up only momentarily to meet his gaze and said, “Thanks.” Then, back down my eyes went as I picked up my pace. To which he said, “What, you’re not going to talk to me?” To which I said, “Sorry, I’ve got to meet somebody.”  Creeeee-peee.  To which he said this:

“That’s okay. You’re too old for me anyway. You could be old enough to be my mother.”

It was as if someone hit me in the chest with a long bag of rice.  I could feel the breath form a knot in my chest and then leave my body in short uncomfortable bursts. Did he really say that? Not only touch a nerve, but rub it with sandpaper, throw it on the ground, stomp on it, and then feed it to the pigeons in the park?

When I recounted the story later that night to my almost-50-too friends, my long-time pal Jill (who enjoys aging, doesn’t mind the physical after effects, and, to the contrary, loves the story the fine lines on her face have to tell) said: “Well? You could be old enough to be his mother, Jill. So WHAT?”

But still. I don’t want to look old enough to be anybody’s mother (unless they’re still wearing baby diapers and sucking on a pacifier). Now that I’m over the horror of it all (sort of, okay, not really)—which took some time since I’m a person who makes no secret of clinging to her youth, of wanting people to be utterly shocked when I tell them how old I am, of refusing to believe I shouldn’t be shopping at stores like Forever 21 because a cardigan is for all ages (right?)—I’m pissed.  

You just lost your best friend…

Well, I guess it’s official: No more bestie for Jill. And I’m moving into the next stage of grief: Goodbye Denial. I won’t miss you Anger. I’ve been waiting for you, Sadness. (Say, what time do you expect your friend Acceptance? I’ll set an extra place in my frontal cortex…Bargaining is welcome, but by now, I really don’t see the point…)

So what happened, you ask? Beats me. I left my formerly best friend Lorrie’s house last September (yes, 2011) after a lovely evening with her and her family to celebrate Yom Kippur (where we vowed to make it an annual ritual) and had no idea that I would never see or speak to her again.

We have been friends for 40 years. That’s 160 seasons OR 14,600 days respectively (if you’re counting). We have shared four decades of hopes, dreams, tears, laughter, husbands, boyfriends, children, jobs, holidays, tea parties (at college, with our stuffed bears, in the middle of the night, during finals mostly) and most importantly, feelings. And yet, she has completely cut me out of her life and I have no idea why.

Sad really.  Life is so short. People, if you’re mad at somebody for something—or even a little bugged—just tell them. Give them a chance to respond.

You just realized you can’t do that anymore…

And you thought I was talking about a split, climbing the ropes, or wearing hot blue spandex. Silly, I’m not. I’m talking about the fact that my niece is living my life – or should I say, the life I once lived when I was not almost 50. She is young, a new college grad readying to go into the world as a communications professional, living in a one-bedroom apartment in the city. I know it’s her life, but it was once mine as well. So many years ago, when I thought, like the pretty girls walking the streets of Manhattan, I’d always have the world at my feet …

Big sigh.

You just realized you’re not the only one on earth with this problem…

I was trying on cardigan and boyfriend jeans and long-sleeved tee’s at Talbot’s this past weekend (yes, I’m shopping at Talbot’s now – what’s happening to me?), when a woman in the dressing room next to me asked if a shirt she was trying on looked “okay” on her? Turns out she had just lost 11 pounds. On Weight Watchers. And “at age 52, that’s no easy feat”. After all, the weight wants to cling to her like a pack of leeches. Lack of sleep is not helping, springing up at 3 a.m. every night is just cruel. And the mood swings? I can’t imagine, she said.

I really can’t.

To which I laughed. Oh really? I said.

Try me.

You just found out something you thought was true really isn’t…

Turns out, I can eat mayonnaise and it doesn’t make me gain weight. (Scallops and bacon, now that’s another story…) Who knew?

You just had a really good idea and can’t wait to explore it…

A big cozy desk, in front of the long windows in the living room that nobody ever uses. After all, who needs an old piano that’s always out of tune? A sofa that nobody sits on (except the hairy dog, sorry Winnie)? An rattan chair from Pottery Barn’s 2000 collection that, frankly, is owed a Rolex?

I have been thinking for a while now about creating a sacred space from which to write. I’ve had those spaces all my life, in every place I’ve lived, except in this house. I just haven’t been able to pinpoint just the right spot … until now (perhaps?).

How about you? What stories would you tell in response to these prompts? What are you feeling these days? Angry, hopeful, confused? Do tell. And come see me at the Philadelphia Writers Conference on Saturday, June 9. I’ll be giving a workshop on blogging. For more info, go to http://pwcwriters.org/.  Finally, if we don’t talk, have a great holiday weekend. (And call your best friend, would ya?)

Until next time!

March 27, 2012

Florida, Chicago, Atlanta, Oh My!

Filed under: Uncategorized — sherer @ 9:36 am

Hello friends! I’ve been doing a lot of traveling these days, which is why I haven’t had a chance to write. Please forgive. I was in Florida for seven days with my husband and my parents, who rented a place in Delray Beach for the winter, then Chicago for a conference and trip down memory lane, and then Atlanta for business.

It’s been an interesting trichotomy of experiences, starting with…

Florida

There, my husband and I enjoyed a seven-day adventure with my parents—now officially “snowbirds” that fly South for the winter with friends from their over-55 community here in Bucks County. With the social lives of teenagers and looking in their mid-50s at best (they’re in their 70s—gosh, I hope those genes pass down), they only show their age in their hearing and their impatience.

It was a pleasant enough vacation, despite my mother’s noticeably growing anxiety over the small stuff, the insistent lack of sunshine, and an iPhone that refused to hold to charge for more than an hour.  

(If you can’t already imagine, having a lifeless smart phone can put a serious dent in any life experience—especially when you consider how utterly dependent we are on it.  After all, almost everything in life [vacation or otherwise] nowadays requires either a) instant access to information [e.g., how do I find out what time it is in New Delhi?] b) the ability to video an interesting exchange that’s none of your business [don’t ask] or photograph a cute haircut on a stranger, or c) display an interesting photo, function, or mobile app to fill in any awkward silence [e.g., look how that little cartoon cat spins!]. It’s the stuff that replaces the eventual and perhaps inevitable disintegration of conversation that’s bound to happen when you spend day and night with the same people for several days in a row [regardless of who they are].  BUT not to sound cynical…Hugs to all!)

 Fortunately, in between trips to the Apple and Verizon stores (not on my vacation to-do list, by the way) and rain, there were tennis courts and shopping malls and flea markets and long walks down Atlantic Avenue—and friends from years back to be seen in various directions. Like Stacy in Golden Beach, who I hadn’t seen in more than three years. (And who we loved being with despite her adorable three-year-old Elle spewing several rounds of vomit during our meal at Bella Something on a busy Saturday night – to which my husband said, “at least it wasn’t projectile” and to which she did at least warn us by proclaiming it was “too loud in here” and then holding her ears as if were readying to skin them with a butter knife and to which the bus boy who had to clean the mess almost certainly cursed at us even though WE didn’t do anything. Hey Stac!)

And sweet Debbie in Orlando—who we hadn’t seen since our wedding six years ago —and who had us laughing from the moment we stepped into her warm house, and who still knows absolutely everybody everywhere  (at the Starbucks, the grocery story, the gas station) like she did some 20-plus years ago when we both lived in Chicago. Hey Deb!

 

 What I took away from these seven days of vacation was this: Good friends (along with a loving family, spandex, anytime access to quality ice cream, and realistic expectations) really do mean everything.

Chicago

With only three days to recover from my Florida vacation (think laundry and repacking, which I loathe), I was off to my next destination—my beloved second city of Chicago for a conference and a few days with friends.  You might like to know that if Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, I left mine at the intersection of Ainslie and Western on the North Side of Chicago. Here’s why.

So I’m in Chicago, staying in my old hood with my friend Marilyn (also newly thin as a result of the HCG diet—hey skinny!), taking the El train to the Merchandise Mart like I used to when I lived just two streets over from hers’ on Carmen. Then walking the eight or so blocks along the river to my final destination—this time, instead of my job at Gatorade, to the University of Chicago Gleacher Center, where my conference on internal communications and social media was being held. 

It’s amazing how, after seven short years away, I remember and forget everything. I remember how much I loved walking along the river in the early morning and forget which direction to head in once I got off the train. I remember how I was once a 20-something who rode the El train to work each morning (like most of my fellow passengers), and lost in my memories, momentarily forget that I am now almost 50. And that it was their turn now—to be young and hopeful. I remember how much I loved taking the train the morning (when I was alert and could get a seat) and forget how I hated taking it at night (when I was tired and we were crammed into the cars like a can of chopped artichokes).

I remember how the shops and restaurants in Lincoln Square and Andersonville, near my old digs, were so enticing—and I forget how much I miss my now-gone beloved dog Sophie, until a wave of grief washes over me crossing the intersection of Ainslie and Western on the way back to Marilyn’s—and then I remember.  When I get to her condo and she asks me how the day was, I cry hard and suddenly.

I could fill the length of a novel with what I remember and what I forget about my whole other life there—but I won’t do that here. Instead, I’ll just say that the conference was interesting.

Atlanta

This one will be brief. I was on a 7 a.m. flight from O’Hare to Atlanta in a suit and heels for a one o’clock client meeting. It was unusually hot in Chicago (think 85 degrees) and typically hot in Atlanta (think 85 degrees) and unpleasantly hot on the plane (think 85 degrees) and surprisingly hot in the airport (think 85 degrees, although maybe it’s because I was rushing), where I took two trams (yes trams) to meet my work colleagues at the rental car building.

The three-hour meeting went as expected, after which we head straight to the airport. I raced into the restroom to change into my stretch pants and flip flops (inspired by the new blisters forming on my big toes and since I could do that, since I was schlepping my luggage from four days in Chicago and needed to enjoy the perks…) and met my colleagues at Houlihans for an Asian Chop Chop Salad before heading through security to hurry up and wait to get on the (fortunately, not hot) plane.

I made it home by midnight.

And this, my friends, is the glamorous life of a modern-century middle-aged career woman (yes, I am still describing myself as middle aged, LET ME HAVE IT). And why I haven’t been able to post in a while. Suffice to say, I’m back now and, whether you like it or not, you’ll see more of me.

In the meantime, I would love to know how your travels are going. Where have you been lately? Has it been hot or cold? Did it evoke tears or laughter? Was it sunny or gray? And, as importantly, did your smart phone work?

Do tell. And until next time!!

February 24, 2012

Filling the void with something other than chocolate

 

The other day, I stopped at Wegmans to pick up a few last minute items for dinner—a roasted chicken, some green beans, bottled seltzer, and a plastic tub of spring mix. While there, I was suddenly compelled to duck into the candy aisle (just to the left of the soda aisle) to get my husband some caramel creams, since he loves them and, well, I don’t.

 

Lo and behold, the universe always looking out for me, as I turned the corner, I found my friend Sara looking conflicted in front of the Mallowmars just a few feet away. I called out to her and, of course, we hadn’t seen each other for a while so she went on and on about how great I looked and I went on and on about how great she looked and then we skipped right over the rest of the pleasantries and got down to the business of a) weight management (and how she can help her husband manage his waistline and why she’s sometimes an enabler, hence the scowl in front of the cookie section) and b) the meaning of lost friendship (since my best friend of 40 years recently dumped me without giving me an inkling of a clue as to why or the benefit of a conversation to discuss what’s on her mind) c) and how spirits from the after-life are available to us in paperback (thanks always, Abraham), should we need help navigating such things and then some.

 

After 20 minutes of sharing our deepest feelings around the topics of health, friendship, and dying, the most notable takeaway for me was that we did it all in the middle of the candy aisle. Spoke from the soul in a place where all things covered in dark chocolate were, for the first time in my life, silent. Usually, they scream and taunt me, to the point of preventing me from having an intelligent thought (let alone the several in a string required for even the most superficial of conversations). And yet, there I was: undaunted. The chocolate silenced by my accidental resolve. That’s what I call it because I didn’t really think about it—or have an awareness after 30 seconds of the fact that I was standing just a few inches from several stacked bags of chocolate covered almonds and their equally voluminous and cocoafied cousins (you know, the ones that used to be my favorite in the family).

 

And that’s progress.

 

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Still, with progress comes growing pains or, in my case, shrinking pains. As I said to my handsome husband the other night after the fifth night in a row of chicken and salad and my being perfectly okay with that. (So sad, really, this new peace and contentment with clean eating.)

 

“Everything in my world is flat now,” I proclaimed almost robotically, as he tossed a piece of avocado on my plate much like I toss the animals Pupperoni from a freshly opened bag.

 

“What’s at, hon?”

 

“It’s flat. Everything around me is flat and dull. Food is flat and dull. There’s nothing to eat anymore.”

 

“Oh really? Say can you put on Channel 17?”

 

“I mean, what is there to look forward to, now that I no longer have the fantasies of my food cravings to keep me engaged?”

 

“Well, there’s the Academy Awards on Sunday night, right? And hey, we can go to Marshalls tomorrow if you want.”

 

I let him have it. Nodded my head and fake smiled. What does he know—perpetually thin man who could always eat whatever he wanted without having to think too hard about it or suffer any consequences–still.

 

And yet, I feel like I’m now seeing things through glasses with a dull film of wilted romaine since I am no longer very interested in the food things that used to keep me excited like the prospect of great sex (sorry mom)…It’s the stuff I used to hang on for after a tough day, use as a backdrop to the more poignant moments (like re-uniting with an old friend, celebrating a promotion, or trying out a new restaurant experience) or just to numb out.

 

As a result of my almost 30-pound weight loss and the change the HCG diet had on my taste buds and metabolic psyche, I’m no longer as interested in the things that used to color my world: Like a pizza, a tuna hoagie resplendent in the proper ratio of meat to cheese to mayonnaise, or that good chocolate lava cake a la vanilla mode at that whatchamahoochie place off of Easton Road.

 

It’s an interesting sensation—to not have a steady stream of desire around these things any more. As I shed a dear human friend (an upsetting post that I’m not quite ready to write), I’m also shedding the culinary kind in the foods that used to soothe me (now replaced by Dr. Oz-approved counterparts). And now, as a result, I have to contemplate how to fill that long open void with something else. But what? At some point, it can no longer be cable on demand or shopping for clothes to wrap my new self. 

 

Which brings me to the question of what to do with my larger sizes? Now that they’re swimming on me, do I get rid of them? Make my smaller self a coup for Greene Street Consignment? Or do I keep the excess of fabric that used to both choke and swaddle me in a box, in a secret location just in case my body decides to blow up like a helium balloon through no fault of my own (much in the way I found myself in my previous oversized predicament in the first place)?

 

Okay, okay, I’ll stop complaining. After all, I haven’t forgotten the days when these were conundrums I longed to have. But what do you think?

 

What kinds of conundrums are you having? How are you rising to meet them? And how have you filled a new void of late? Do tell!

 

And, as always, until next time!

 

 

 

February 5, 2012

27 pounds, 26 inches, 40 days

People, I am free. After three long years and 12 unsuccessful diets, I have finally shed the clown suit. Lost the weight of a small toddler. The sheltie/cocker spaniel mix that lives with me. The oversized speaker that doubles as a lamp stand in our basement—and that my husband’s been lugging to and from various households since the late 1970s.

I’ve lost 27 pounds and 26 inches in just 40 days. And that, my friends, is the miracle of the HCG diet, and more importantly, of never giving up. I can honestly say now, without reservation, that if you stick with it—whatever “it” is—you will eventually find what you’re looking for. And it will feel fantastic. (Next up: The perfect white tee shirt, free money, a pain-free way to get taller, and the four-day work week…)   

I can’t tell you how relieved I feel to have energy. Like what I see in the mirror. And to be shopping in my own closet again: You know, the kind that’s filled with a range of sizes (think Bloomingdales) and once instilled in me a sense of dread (think Poltergeist). Because the fact of the matter is, I’d gotten way too big. And as such, I’d taken to waking up every morning and wondering whether anything in the bright light of my possessed wardrobe would ever fit me…again.

But now, the demon is dead. Jo Beth Williams is at the spa with girlfriends and Carrie Ann is safe in her pink princess bed. And I’m moving with a spring in my step, shopping in the more petite section of my closet, which has been metaphorically cleaned. Jo Beth, you know what I’m saying. (Can’t you just see that little old lady with her arms crossed–hear her helium-inspired proclamation: This closet is clean.)

I think they’d both be proud to know (okay, well, maybe not) that I can wear things again – ladies, you know what I’m saying: Pants, skirts, tops, dresses, and even jackets that over the past three years, have not been kind to me. Like an ugly ex wife. A grade-school bully. Short shorts. Straight leg pants. Windows 97. Those do-it-yourself waxing kits. A best friend who refuses to tell you why she’s angry. Or too many hours on the beach without the confidence to stand up in a bathing suit OR sunscreen.

Now, these clothes are practically tossing me dollar bills, offering me manicures and pedicures, and inviting me in for tea and 83 percent cocoa.

Clothes that I’ve refused to part with over the years (finally some appreciation) in the hopes I’d someday be able to wear them, now look good on me again…athough it’s not lost on me that people are no longer wearing Huckapoo shirts, spandex jumpsuits, medieval wool dresses, leopard leotards, or pastel stirrup pants, but whatever…

I didn’t say I was especially stylish these days. (I’m sure once the novelty wears off, I’ll retire my Underoos and the hot pink elephant pants I saved from my teens, but until then, I’m going with it….) I just said, I was FREE. And for now, that’s good enough for me.

How about you? What’s freed you these days? Do tell me.

January 9, 2012

HCG anyone?

A few weeks ago, I was out running errands when I came upon an older gentleman, perhaps in his 70s, out walking his dog. He looked a bit scruffy, with an overgrown white beard (think winter hedges) and tufts of hair that didn’t quite hide the pervasive baldness and sun spots that lay beneath. He appeared somewhat disheveled, but not disoriented, so I didn’t give it any undue attention. Instead, I focused on his legs. His long, lean almost chicken-like legs and wished to myself: Gosh, if I could have legs like that for just one day. It would be glorious…

Then I realized: That’s probably not normal—to covet an 80-year-old man’s bony legs. And yet, there I was—full throttle into my dysfunction.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to realize it. 

———————————————————–

And so, that night I shared the story (and then some) with my husband, who bless his heart, tries so hard to empathize with how I feel about my body but struggles with it. “If only you could see what I see,” he says  a beautiful woman with a curvaceous body”.

Bless his lovestruck heart.

And so I use a particular description to help him understand my viewpoint of feeling, well, icky in my own skin despite what I can’t see and longing for the legs of an opposite-sexed octagenarian: Imagine—I say to the handsome and rugged man I live with (who lives mostly in blue jeans that always look fantastic on him)—you were stuck in a clown suit and couldn’t get out of it. After too many nights of costuming and bold self-expression, it seems you can’t get the darned thing off.

After trying everything—loosening the zipper, pushing the big buttons through the too-small holes, trying to pull the ruffles up and over your head, or down and off of your feet—it simply won’t budge. Not even the bulbous red nose is willing to compromise even an inch.

And so, there you are: Every day, in a clown suit. At work. On vacation. For family dinners and nights out with friends. To high school reunions, corporate meetings, and birthdays.  You are big and red and puffy and polka dotted through it all, fabric stuck on you like a tenacious ex-boyfriend or double-sided tape.

Until finally, you can take it no more so you decide to research seamstresses – get referrals from trusted friends, tailors, and retail shops – and finally make the rounds. Seamstress number one tells you her scissors won’t work on your clown suit, but you can try a knife from your kitchen drawer – she’ll write down exactly the kind to get. When that doesn’t work, you go to another, who tells you that you need to meditate the problem away, that’s it all a figment of your imagination and if you’d just let thoughts of the clown suit go and relax, it would miraculously disappear. Still not satisfied, you go to another one who suggests you try a surgical approach with the appropriate tools. Still another recommends a beef rub and some quality time in a cage with a hungry tiger. She has connections at the zoo. Why that suit will be off before you know it!

And, if, they all agree, you don’t want to do any of it, the best course is just to embrace it. Accept that this is your particular clown suit and that, despite, you can still enjoy a happy and productive existence. Try to be content in the suit—make it your own, maybe spiff it up with the right jewelry or lipstick. And then, remember your good job, your loving friends, your family. Remember that how you look on the outside is really, in the scheme of things, not all that important. Nobody notices, cares, or wants to hear about it.

Seriously.

————————————————————————————

So, the next day, after this deep conversation with my husband (who I love), I decided to call my friend Marilyn who despite having a great body, shares many of my screwed-up body issues (I love Marilyn too). I hadn’t talked to her in a few months, but that’s okay. That’s sort of the rhythm of our relationship, especially since we live in separate states. Although we do stay connected via email.

In any event, the urge was strong to get in touch. And sure enough, she answered the phone with a vigor I hadn’t heard in a while. What did she do? I asked. She lost 25 pounds. But when, how, why? Because, she said, losing weight was like rolling over the Titanic all by herself (I could relate), she decided the time had come to do something radical. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Like… 

…the HCG diet (Google it).

As a person who hates to see anybody cry or do something radical alone, I hopped on the desperation train with her.

ALL ABOARD.

——————————————————————————————–

So let me tell you a little about the HCG diet if you don’t already know. Turns out it’s been around since the 1950s. Essentially, it’s a medically supervised protocol that has you take a controlled amount of the hormonal supplement every morning for 23 or 40 days (by pill, injection, or drops) and eat a very specific 500-calorie-a-day diet to lose weight. Now before you go all Mehmet Oz on me, consider that while 500 calories a day is technically considered starving, the HCG pulls from your natural fat stores, allowing you to feed off of those additional calories (between 1,500 and 4,000 a day) and, as a result, shed pounds SAFELY at the same time. 

To help you make the transition to 500 calories without wanting to hang yourself from hunger, nausea, and dizziness—and knowing it takes three days for the HCG to fully enter your system—you start the first two days by “loading” all the fats you can possibly consume over 48 hours to hold you through. Well, I’m not sure if the brochure reads precisely in that way, but at least that’s my interpretation. (Remember that old game show that had contestants climb upright into a plastic tube with flying money and they had 60 seconds to grab as much as they could? Yeah, like that.)

And so, I did. Most fun I’ve had in a while (sorry babe). Watched the eyeballs roll clear out of my shocked family’s collective heads when, upon meeting for breakfast on the first of my gorge days, they witnessed me eating an unprecedented chicken salad melt, cheesy fries, and a black-and-white milkshake. That was preceded by a bowl of General Chao’s Chicken and pork fried rice for breakfast and followed up with a large meat-lover’s pizza for dinner. And that was just day one! OH GLORY DAY!

Suffice to say, by the end of the second day, I was stuffed, three pounds heavier (which they say is normal), and ready for induced vomiting. Those 500 calories were starting to look like the Hope Diamond…which I suspect is part of the point.

So where am I now? Sixteen days in, 11 pounds down, bursting with energy and feeling great. And although I am my own science experiment, I am also the most hopeful I’ve been in three years that I will finally be able to retire this flesh-colored clown suit. And that maybe, just maybe, find my way into a pair of skinny jeans by Easter.

And I invite you to stay tuned for my progress. By all means… 

Now onto you: Conducted any radical experiments of your own lately? What bull have you taken by the horns in 2012? Do share.

Until next time!

December 28, 2011

They say it’s my birthday…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — sherer @ 4:20 pm

So my birthday was on the 22nd. You know, on Hanukah, just before Christmas, when people are immersed in the holidays and too busy for anything but picking up slippers and gloves and assorted electronics for those who are not having a birthday and who just happen to be family members or friends or colleagues they need to get stuff for – for really no good reason. Unlike, say, getting a present for somebody for their birthday—to celebrate their actual presence here on earth—and not penalizing them for happening to be born at a time when the whole world is obsessed with the holidays by giving them a combined gift, skimping out, or even worse, forgetting it… (December birthdays, help me out here…)

 

With that said, I’m okay, really. I no longer have any issues around it. But, sheesh, it’s taken me a while. I’ll admit that. Now that I’ve established how sucky it is to have a December birthday – or a birthday that’s uber-close to another event like Easter, July 4th or even a September 11th (how sad and depressing)—I must say: I think I’ve adjusted quite nicely to the fact. After all, I’ve had 49 straight years of celebrating in the shadow of Hana-mas (although my friend Marilyn has gently reminded me that I’m officially starting my 50th year – thanks a bunch Marilyn…)

 

What I haven’t adjusted to is turning another year older–one that brings me precariously close to the big one. (Officially, okay?) The age that qualifies me for membership into the American Association of Retired People (AARP). The half-decade mark that moves me into but another demographic category—the botox, hormone cream, and sensible shoe marketer’s dream. And quite frankly, none of it is sitting all too well with me.

 

(By the way, did I mention the first very lovely text of the day on my birthday was from my stepdaughter? I was so touched by it  … and the fact that I did receive an impressive array of birthday greetings throughout the day…more than 42 friends, family, and colleagues [and yes, that includes our State Farm agent, Piperline, and our accountant, so what?]…but who’s counting…they called, emailed, or texted to wish me a happy birthday…even some I hadn’t spoken to in AGES… even friends from childhood, gosh I must’ve really drummed my birthday into their heads … seems funny now and probably slightly annoying to them huh?…to make such a big deal…)

 

In fact, I’m thinking this year will be the last overt b-day celebration, since I’m planning to spend my official 50th birthday (Marilyn) in bed, singing Christopher Cross and England Dan and John Ford Coley songs from the 80s, watching Season 1 and 2 of Hot in Cleveland, gorging on deep-dish veggie pizza and black and white milkshakes, humming minstrel hymns, and going through several boxes of Puffs (without the manipulative lotion that just makes you sneeze more, thank you very much).

 

This much I promise.

——————————————————————————————

One of the things I was heartened by on my birthday (okay, sorry, I’m almost done talking about it) was the number of people who actually CALLED me (versus texting or emailing) to sing me a birthday song or just give a birthday “hey”. I was beginning to wonder whether I would ever hear a live voice on the other end of a smart phone ever again. Sometimes—okay, most times—I feel as if the only way anybody communicates anymore is by text, where there’s so much lost in the translation. All the important things, if you ask me.

 

Now I’m sounding old, yes?

I guess that’s what happens when you start crawling up the ass of a big birthday. You start thinking about things differently. Looking more closely at the people who count – appreciating the sound of a friendly voice. Conversations live and in real time take on new meaning.  

 

Besides, my thumbs hurt. Who’s with me?

————————————————————————————————-

So now it’s December 28th. My birthday is well behind me – along with Christmas and even Hanukah.  I’m home this week – enjoying a little R&R, writing a blog (obviously), sleeping until 10 a.m., and catching up on some yoga, The Doctors and too many old episodes of Friends.

 

It’s nice. I’m also doing a little cleaning, reorganizing my closet, and taking stock of all the holiday cards we got this year, wondering why they’re mostly pictures of people’s kids. Do you stop mattering once you go through puberty? Reach legal drinking age? Why aren’t there any adults on my holiday wishes? I’ve always wondered about this.

 

I’m also noticing some interesting trends: Like several seasonal cards from my various and sundry diet programs: PureFoodsFreshStart home delivery, Ultrawellness Center, Queens Health, Eight Weeks to Wellness, Weight Watchers, Jenny – they all wish me a healthy and happy. Oh, and by the way…

 

I guess you can learn a lot about a person by the cards they keep.  

 

I’m just grateful that I’ve not gotten any from the AARP (and by the way, no thanks on the free insulated bag…), the folks who make the Hover-Round, Reverse Mortgagers, or the Senior People Meet website. Well, not in hard copy anyway. I don’t think I could handle seeing those cards on my sideboard. Not yet…

 

With that said, tell me about the cards on yours? Have any surprised you? Any missing?  Any you want to frame? Burn? Do tell.

 

Oh, and Happy New Year! (I’ll reserve my resolutions post for January … :) ) Until next time!

 

 

 

 

November 13, 2011

Functional medicine, the mystery of football, and the gospel of a cabbie

Filed under: Uncategorized — sherer @ 7:07 pm

So I know I promised to write every week, and my bad. I don’t know, the weeks just fly by and before I know it, several weeks have passed, and I don’t know how that happens, but it does. So my deepest apologies. Although, I’m sure you can relate.

 

In any event, first things first, as promised, for those who care or may be interested, here’s my healthy living update: I can still go outside during severe wind gusts since I’m in no danger of getting swept away any time soon BUT I do think there have been some slight changes (if not massive weight loss) as a result of my newfound and profound commitment to health and wellness:  

 

I feel better.

I no longer look like I lost the fight.

I have the occasional bursts of energy—just enough to swap out my closet, putting my sandals away for the winter, and organizing my shoes rack with my winter boots.

My cheekbones have started to emerge from a long period of hiding.

I’m sleeping like a normal person. 

My cravings for white flour and sugar have subsided. In fact, the only thing I really crave is a vacation, the silver and crystal Chan Luu bracelet at Southmoonunder.com that’s now out of stock, and a pair of FABULOUS four-inch Tsubo black pumps that a) are way out of my shoe budget and b) would serve no real purpose in the spirit of my lifestyle. Getting rid of my food cravings is like being released from some digestive prison, some white dusty hell that gripped me without mercy, and almost resigned me to a life of distraction and preoccupation with things like chocolate layer cake, everything bagels, and Twix bars.

 

So thanks for my freedom, Dr. Mark Hyman, and thumbs up for your fantastical functional medicine.  I think I’ll stick with it for a while and let’s see. Hey, anything can happen. Even thin knees…?

 

*Just in case you want to know what that commitment looks like, it includes eating mostly protein shakes, soy milk, brown rice, vegetables, and homemade broth; doing yoga every morning and about five days of cardiovascular interval conditioning. Sounds like hell, right? It’s not. In fact, I kinda like it.

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With that said, I’d like to switch gears and talk about Sunday football. I don’t get it. Okay. There, I said it. Go ahead and send your letters. I know people love their football. Personally, I’d rather watch A Millionaire Matchmaker marathon or Revenge reruns (that show is so JUICY).

 

And yet, I guess that’s what makes the world go around – we’re all different. But football is starting to monopolize Sundays in the Murray household. After about 1 o’clock each week, I lose my husband to the television and his iPhone alternatively, ear plugs firmly in place, monitoring the scores of several games simultaneously, shouting the occasional expletive. I don’t get it. I mean, wouldn’t he rather be watching a good Lifetime movie and rubbing my feet?

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Okay, so I’m avoiding the real subject here and that’s about this: I’ve got another birthday coming up quickly. And while it’s not the big one, it’s the prelude to the big one. Yep, I’m crawling quickly up the ass of 50 (December 2012) and I do NOT like it.

 

Frankly, I don’t think 50 is going to go well for me.

 

Now, it’s not like I’ve ever been all that hung up on my age. I still have no problem telling people how old I am. And I managed 30 and 40 well—like a big so what? I’m still young. I don’t take any prescription medications. And I do not qualify for membership in the AARP or need those really intense moisturizers that bill themselves as being for “mature skin”.  I can still get a facial for pleasure instead of need.


But with the recent demographically charged barrage of media (e.g., advertisements for SeniorSingles.com, direct mailers for reverse mortgages and retirement planning, and ongoing AARP solicitations for membership, etc.), I’m not feeling so good about things. I’m getting old and there is no getting around it. (Well, there is, but let’s not even go there…)

 

After all, nobody ever looked at a 50-year-old woman and said, “Oh Dear (in a nice granny voice), you’re still just a kid.”

 

In fact, it’s starting to hit me that, with moving into the new decade comes with some serious ramifications that I have not yet had to deal with: Like not being able to wear my hair really long (which puts a serious dent in my desire for hair extensions), not being able to wear thigh-high boots, or sweater vests with fringe. Forget about glittery nail polish – not that I particularly like glittery nail polish, but I did enjoy the option of being able to wear it. Then there’s the having to be extremely judicious when going through the Free People catalogue, making sure any items of interest are first and foremost age appropriate. In fact, I find myself asking the very trendy 24-year-old who works in our department whether “this poncho is okay for me to wear at my age, this nail color works, this haircut isn’t too funky for somebody who’s riding over the crest of her 40s? ”

 

With the onset of age 50 also comes the first colonoscopy which puts the nail in the coffin of the concept that one’s youth now super officially officially behind them. 

 

And then there’s something else that I’ve never even thought about: My worth as a professional in the job market. Why just this past week, my colleague and I went to a conference on social media in New York City (near the university which, with students everywhere, made me feel both exhilarated and ancient simultaneously). And during a conversation with the 50-something cab driver about the Occupy Wall Street protests, she said, “Well it’s about time.  Because the fact is, if you’re over 50 and out of work, you can forget about it. You’re done for. You’ll never get hired again. You’re too oooollllddddd…..”

 

I heard that last part in slow motion. And as I nodded my head in foggy agreement (wondering if she could guess how old I was [I’ve been told I look mid to late 30s, but c’mon]), I couldn’t help but have a silent and all too thoughtful panic attack in response. What if it was true? I looked at my colleague, who I’m pretty sure is the same age (although she’s one of those people who’ll “never tell” which makes me crazy, like we need to hide it or apologize for it?), and she avoided my gaze. I was all on my own with that statement. And I’m still thinking of it, not sure whether to ignore it or take it to heart. (I’d much rather do the former…) 

 

I mean, really?

 

What do you think? Once you turn 50, is it okay to dye your hair pink? Grow out your bob? Dare to send out a few resumes? What else lies in wait for this new decade? Help me out, people. Tell me something good about aging. And be quick about it …

 

Until next time!!

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