gratitude-a-thon day 526: don’t get me a gift. I have everything

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It’s my birthday. BUT DON’T GET ME ANYTHING. Really.

Unless, it’s like jewelry. Because you know how I love me some bling. A little sparkle goes a long way in my book. But really, I have a lot of jewelry. So don’t get me any more. How much jewelry can one person wear (an endless amount, actually), But I’m all set for jewelry. DON’T GET ME JEWELRY OR ANYTHING ELSE. I don’t need anything. Really.

Unless it’s clothing. Like something cute, or warm, or you know, has a ruffle, or is made of leather, or makes me look thin. If it makes me look thin, you should probably give it to me. But really, you should not give me anything, you should buy yourself something, and think of me. Yeah, that’d be a great gift to me–BUY YOURSELF SOMETHING, AND THINK OF ME.

But I mean, if it’s for my house, and it’s like an antique, or decorative, anything white, or you know, like a candle, one of my favorite all time things, or art, or something like that, well, gosh, how could I say no. But honestly, you should not buy me a thing. Seriously. I’m good. I have everything.

If it’s food, maybe you should give it to me. Because it will go bad, and also because I LOVE FOOD. But probably, you should just eat it yourself. I’m good. I mean, unless someone gives me some clothes that make me look thin, then I could eat it and not have to worry. But that’s not going to happen, because nobody should give me a thing. I am really and truly good. I don’t even need one thing.

Unless, it’s like a book, God, I love a book. A good book, which, I’m sure is all anybody would get me, if they were getting me a book. But come to think of it, I have a Kindle, so I could like buy a book right now, at 7:04 AM if I wanted, so don’t buy me a book. I have books. And I have a bookstore on my nightstand. Please, buy yourself a good book and think of me when you read it. That would be awesome.

Of course if you wanted to take me somewhere, like out to lunch, or dinner, or for drinks, or coffee, or to a museum, or play, or a book reading, or concert, or to the gym, or the movies, or something like that, that would be something hard to turn down. I love to spend time with friends and family. I mean, who doesn’t, right? Am I right? But I know you’re probably busy, so you should skip taking me out, and just take some downtime for yourself. It’s important to do your stuff, and if you get some downtime, to just relax a little. We’re all rushing around too much. Yeah, forget it. Just cool out, and that’s a gift to me, in and of itself. Me thinking about you relaxing. Because I’m so fine. I don’t need anything. I have everything. I’M JUST SO GOOD.

But if it’s jewelry. Well…….

 

gratitude-a-thon day 303: happy birthday, karen!

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Dear Karen,

Welcome to your fifties, babe! We’ve been waiting for you. In fact, we’ve had enough time waiting for you to make some guidelines  that might help escort you into your fifith decade.

1. Continue to be yourself. Fuck the number, it’s just that. Don’t cut your hair into one of those Pat-on-Saturday Night-Live-Nancy-Reagan middle aged nightmares. Forget the sensible shoes. Go for the big earrings. You can still rock any clothing item you think looks good. Key here is whether you feel comfortable. I’ve found that I know when I shouldn’t (although I’m sure not everyone out there would agree).

2. Make like Nike and just do it. It’s time. Your 50’s gives you license to do what you want with a little bit more swagger. I don’t mean you need to be all John Wayne about it, but if you want to do something, I think the fifth decade gives you more confidence to go and kill that thing. So, go, do, be. Don’t wait. The time is now.

3. By the time you hit the middle of the five oh’s, you’re nest will almost be empty. So, hug those kids, and be in it with them. Don’t miss the moments. The journey is an interesting one. Don’t be afraid of it, you’ll know what to do when the time comes. It’s actually not the end, it’s just the start of a whole new something, something.

4. Make your friendships a priority. We here in the fifties know that as we get older, it’s our peeps that will sustain us. So, get together with the girls. A lot.

5. LAUGH. This is good advice at any age, but as the physical symptoms of menopause strike, and you are wiping sweat off your upper lip in a meeting, or experiencing a pimple the size of dessert plate on your chin, you will need your funny bone. Believe me.

6. Be active. Having just lost a bunch of weight, and being more fit than most anyone I know, I’m preaching to the choir here, but still, worth noting.

7. Be curious. I have found I want to know more stuff in my fifties. I often have a foggy brain, but I also have a laser focus for new things.

8. Challenge yourself. Thinking that being 50 makes it impossible to do that thing (whatever that thing is) is just plain shit. I mean, no you probably won’t be a ballerina or a Victoria Secret runway model (although I think you could be), but aside from that, you got the world on a string, man. No limits.

9. Namaste. Get quiet however that comes for you (I try and meditate, but I find walking works better for my restless self). There are challenges to getting older, but if you allow yourself to burrow down into your soul, you can overcome, accept and celebrate where you are.

10. Be grateful. Oh, we here at the gratitude-a-thon (meaning ME here at the gratitude-a-thon) think this is the key to a happier everything. So, remember all that you have, and say buh-bye to the nagging thoughts of all that you don’t have.

Have a happy birthday, old, I mean young friend. Thanks for always championing my causes, being so positive and super fun and often making me need Depends Undergarments. Thanks for all those years of your fabulously inspiring blog. Thanks for being there for my kid. And thanks for just being your sunny self so much of the time. I hope I see more of you (I already see less of you) this year and all the years to come. You’re on my top ten list of great. xoxooxoxoxoxoxo

gratitude-a-thon day 41: Pete is 80

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Here’s the crew. I gotta say, they know how to make cheesecake in Buffalo. We voted it the best we’ve ever eaten. And that’s high praise from Ally, the cheesecake maven!

I recently came back from Buffalo, NY, and I am still wondering why anybody would live there. Although every single person I met was exceptionally nice. AND I MEAN EXCEPTIONALLY NICE.  It’s where my husband grew up, and where we went for his dad’s 80th birthday. His dad is having some major health stuff, fluid surrounding his brain, which makes him not remember things, and lose his balance. This was thought to have been Parkinson’s for several years, but was recently re-diagnosed as adult hydrocephalus. There are some things you can do to help this condition, but he’s not really in good enough health to do them. We’re probably dealing with a series of strokes here, too. Last week he found an infection in his leg, which put him into the hospital, and now into a rehab center, so last night’s party was there, in a special little room just for families to hang out. It’s a nice place, as far as those places go, and it doesn’t have that awful urine smell, which is what I most remember about where my poor Aunt Josie was.

Anyway, here’s the grateful part. The night we celebrated, I said something to Pete (my father-in-law) about being 80 and what a big birthday it is. And he said, something like, “Yeah, and I’m going to have a lot more birthdays.” And later in the night, he said something else, in a hearty voice, about living a long, long  time. He said it with conviction and joy.  He said it like a man on a mission. This guy clearly doesn’t want to give up. He wants to live. I admire that. I know that for a lot of people getting old brings with it too many super hard and pain-in-the-ass (back, leg, head, shoulders, knees and toes) challenges, to be excited about more living, but Pete has not only the will to live, but also the drive. What he doesn’t have is the health. And that’s a bit of a problem at this point. He may have to move into assisted living from the rehab center, and there’s the tricky and the icky. Pete will not want to leave his house, the house where his kids grew up, where the majority of his adult life was lived, where there are still so many reminders of his wife, the mom to his kids, who lived with him there, before she left him 20 years ago for her high school boyfriend while on a celebratory vacation to Hawaii in honor of their 35th wedding anniversary, and died from breast cancer a year and a half ago. (I told you this guy is a survivor.) He will not want to leave all the comfort and familiarity, (not to mention his baby grand), of this dwelling where he made a new life with an amazing new woman, who was sent by divine intervention after his wife left, and has been with him ever since, and who is as intelligent, beautiful, upbeat, and vivacious  a person as you could ever find. And his kids don’t want him to leave either, and they don’t want to have to dismantle the house that represents their childhoods, and a time they can never get back again, but that this house reminds them existed. How come stuff has to happen like this? Couldn’t there be a better last chapter for all of us? REALLY, people, we need to work on the ending.

It’s all so complicated, like one of those stupid Rubik cubes–you turn it one way and it works, you turn it another and the whole thing falls apart. I understand this scenario my husband and his siblings and Pete’s partner are going through because I have already been on this shitty roller coaster ride. I have already had to walk this long and crumbling road, watching both of my parents get sick and die. And I have had to face losing the only house that I ever lived in growing up, and all its soothing contents. There was something so comforting about knowing that while  I moved onto have my own life, that house remained untouched. And in my mind,  some part of my younger self still lived there.

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Still rooting for the Red Sox at 80! Go Pete.

I find the whole situation so unspeakably sad and difficult, that even though I’ve never been close to my father-in-law, I abhor watching what’s happening to him. I want to make it better, be Cher and turn back the hands of time, invent some plan that could turn the whole thing around for everybody. But as for Pete. He wants to live. Perhaps it’s how you are, when you’re the son of a Holocaust survivor, or maybe it’s just his inherent nature. But this guy chooses life. And I think that given the circumstances, that’s just all kinds of beautiful.