Not long before I was born, then Massachusetts State senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline visited the city where my family lived. My father, a local police officer at the time was on duty assisting with the security of this popular politician and his wife. I don't know why they chose our city but my guess would be to visit our waterfront as it boasts one of the oldest fishing ports in the country. After JFK's business there was complete my father had the opportunity to meet our future President and First Lady. It was a brief but memorable meeting for my dad for sure but it would be the senator's wife Jacqueline that would make a life long impression on him. He was captivated at first sight by Mrs. Kennedy's beauty and poise. He recounted many times her sweet and kind nature. So taken by her he would go on to name his fourth child, a daughter "Jacqueline" . That would be me. I always kew that I was named for Jackie Kennedy and I grew to love her too and was proud to be named after our First Lady. To me she epitomized grace, beauty and intellect. In my eyes she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I was only 10 years old when our President was assassinated. A sad day that would be marked in history. Most people know where they were that dreadful day 50 years ago on November 22 1963 as do I. News coverage of the assassination broke my young heart but it would be the images of Jacqueline leaning into her injured husband and then frantically trying to escape the car that haunt me. 50 years later I am still brought to tears by those news clips. I love my name and what it stands for and I still feel oddly connected to the memory of the late Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
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Well here we go again. New England is in the midst of another monster storm; especially on the coast where I live. Predictions for snow amounts are in the area of 24" - 26". That's a lot even for us. I am happy to say though because of this snow storm our Christmas vacation has been extended a few days. There was no school today and it has been cancelled for Friday as well. I work in the school system so for this I am thankful. I have two extra days to put my life back together. Christmas certainly takes its toll, on the house, the kids and on me. I am tired but forge ahead. My Christmas tree is down, the and the ornaments and decorations are packed away. You would never know that Christmas was ever here. Now it is time to welcome the new year. I Love this time of year; it fills me with hope and wonder. I reminds me that I have yet another chance to get it right. A clean slate. For the first time in my life I don't go into the new year with an endless list of resolutions of things that I will stop doing. I go with one. To do my best; that's it. My best in all things.
So Happy New Year My Friends
I hope you find love, good health and peace in your life this year!
Although I can't seem to remember where I put my glasses these days I do have an acute memory of certain "important" events in my life. I know where I was when President Kennedy was assassinated. I can recall what I was doing "when the lights went out" in 1965 leaving the whole North East in darkness and of course like everyone else I clearly remember the NYC tragedy of 9/11. There is one other event I can add to the list! I remember exactly where I was when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago this week. I, (like every other pre-teen and teenager in the country) was glued to the old black and white television set in my living room watching history being made before my very eyes. The "British Invasion" was in motion and rock and roll was coming full throttle from England to the U.S.A. and the American youth here were ready and willing to embrace it. Within seconds of seeing the Fab Four aka John, Paul, George and Ringo I knew I was in love; in love with the music, the men, the clothing, the hair styles and the overall package. That Sunday evening 50 years ago the Beatles burst onto the scene and for me they never left. Their influence has been phenomenon for most of my generation and I for one am thrilled that I was here to witness it, (and of course to remember it ) lol
In the past few years Massachusetts has captured the interest of Hollywood for their movie locations and I have to admit I couldn't he happier. I know, I know, I'm a geek but I love seeing celebrities and stars walking the streets on the North Shore. I love that they shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants. I am thrilled that they can enjoy the beautiful landscape of our little town of which we are so proud. They hire natives to work as extras and bring much needed revenue too. Not to mention how beautifully they portray New England on the big screen. While filming, some of the actors rent private homes here while others stay in hotels closer to Boston. Either way they bring a little glamor to the otherwise humble little town. We spot "them" all over, in our super markets and retail shops. When the Perfect Storm was being filmed George Clooney and other actors hung out with the locals at a little bar in the neighboring city. Among others this area has hosted Sandra Bullock, Ryan Renolds and Betty White (The Proposal). My favorites, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Sellek and Kate Capshaw (The Love Letter) and Cher,Wynona Rider and Bob Hoskins.(Mermaids) The list goes on. "Clear History" with John Hamm, Kate Hudson and Larry David, Eva Mendes and Michael Keaton wrapped up a month or so ago and now the HBO series "Olive Kitteridge" starring Frances McDormand is here
The winter weather here in New England this year is unbelievable . In the past 3 weeks we have had about 60" of snowfall and in some areas it is still snowing. Most news stations are reporting that the storm has moved on out. Forecasters are already talking about the next "plow able" storm brewing for Thursday night. Our little town has come to a screeching halt with most residents screaming Uncle! Luckily we have not lost power this time around. Many municipalities have closed for the day and parking bans remain in effect so that emergency vehicles can do their jobs. Schools are closed as are all State offices. The MBTA a has stopped service of all commuter rail service for trains and subways. A thick blanket of snow covers our little town as far as the eye can see. The sound of snow plows can be heard in the distance. The cleanup has begun. We feel trapped.......but not for long, after all we are New Englanders. We are used to the ever changing climate here. We know how fickle Mother Nature can be. Today dawn breaks and with it a renewed hope and resilience. We take the collective deep breath and together we begin the dig out. Neighbors emerge from their homes and one shovelful at a time we get it done. That's what we do here. What choice do we have? None. Most of us wouldn't have it any other way, THINK SPRING!....only 38 days!
There is an old Buddhist proverb that says "When the student is ready the teacher will appear". This student is indeed ready. As I continue my Timeless You program with Dr. Deepak Chopra we explore the wisdom of Mindful Eating and again I find myself informed and inspired by Chopra's expertise on the subject. We have all heard the saying that "we are what we eat" and in this episode among other things we learn about the many benefits of drinking water for the body and the mind. One would think that by now I would know more about this topic. Let's just say, I didn't know what I didn't know.
A few years ago my friend's mother was rushed by ambulance to the hospital after she collapsed at a family gathering. It seems that she had complained about feeling weak and light headed just moments before she fainted. The doctor on duty at the nearby E.R. examined my friend's mom and quickly diagnosed her as severely dehydrated. She was hooked up to intravenous fluids and spent the next few hours regaining her strength when she should have been celebrating with her family. Upon discharge the physician explained to my friend and her elderly mom the importance of staying well hydrated. He added that if people drank more water on a daily basis many emergency room visits could be avoided. He added too that other ailments such as memory problems and bladder infections can be related symptoms of dehydration. While I found this information interesting, at the time I didn't apply it to my own life. I've never been a big water drinker, I hate to admit it but when I am thirsty I usually reach for a sports drink or worse a diet soda.
Deepak Chopra's Mindful Eating episode couldn't come at a better time for me. In my quest to make this 6th decade of life a healthy one. I have committed to nourishing my body, my mind and my spirit in a healthier manner. I am absolutely amazed at the evidence of drinking water and
Deepak's formula for suggested consumption amounts is simple math:
body weight divided by 2, so....
my weight is 140 lbs. divide that number by 2 and you get 70 .
So for me the recommended amount is 70 ounces of fluid per day and the best part of all of this is that you start to feel the benefits immediately.
Click on the link below for a complete list and drink up!
Ever since I can remember I have been drawn to bulletin boards. I can't explain the attraction but it is one that has stayed with me to this day. I was the child in grade school who couldn't wait to see what the teacher was going to do with her board displays and now as an adult I stop at every one I see. If I ever go missing, check the nearest bulletin board and there I will be perusing the ads. The thing is I'm not fussy about the displays, they can be neat or messy, full or sparse as long as they are current. From lost pets to yoga classes, church fairs to used furniture these sources of pertinent information have served me well. I have attended many events from information gleaned from these boards. Open Houses, Musical Productions and Craft Shows have all caught my attention. Over the years I have learned to carry a notebook in my bag in case I need to write down a phone number or details of an item. While most of my friends prefer electronic "yard sales" auctions or Craig's List I remain "Old School" there is something about the personal touch that I love. It's kind of like window shopping without the window.
A few years ago my elderly mother had to leave her apartment in the Veteran's Housing Development; the place she called home for most of her married life. Her family had grown up and out and the housing authority needed her spacious three bedroom apartment for another growing family. They transferred her to a smaller apartment in an Elderly Housing Complex nearby. Quietly she did not go! The family got together and helped her clear out what she couldn't take with her and packed what she wanted to keep. We stored the rest. The new living quarters was much smaller and each item's use was weighed and assessed carefully. That is how I got the bag of my grandmother's handmade, crocheted doilies. Happily I accepted them as I could see their future potential. We moved my mother into her new living situation; the adjustment was difficult for her. She mourned the memories she felt she was leaving behind. She and my father had raised their six children in that home and had enjoyed a happy marriage. Sadly 35 years ago and at the age of 60 my dad passed away leaving his 52 year old widow to fend for herself. He was too young to die and my mother was broken hearted. Her children rallied around her. Shortly afterwards it was clear that her own mother,my grandmother would need help and could no longer live alone. She moved in with my mother and happily lived out her final years. She passed away in 1994. Well, my mother finally moved. She had no choice if she wanted to live independently. Eventually she settled in and has adjusted nicely. She has grown to actually love her new neighborhood and her neighbors like her. This year as Valentines' Day approached I happened across the bag of old, or should I say "vintage" doilies. Age had discolored them but surprisingly they were intact. I soaked them clean and blocked them. I then fashioned the pillowcase in a simple envelope style and sewed the doily in place.I visited my now 87 year old mother the day before the holiday and gave her the pillow. She was genuinely thrilled. She has remarked that she loves having something handmade by her mother on her sofa. It has invoked many happy memories. This is my mom below. (her picture is posted here with her permission!)
Happy Valentine's Day Mom, I Love You!
My grand-son and I went to the movies last weekend, something we do quite often. We saw "Saving Mr. Banks"; a beautiful story of Walt Disney and the making of the movie Mary Poppins. It was a wonderful film and one that gave us plenty to talk about on our ride home. I love movies. I come by this passion naturally as my parents were movie lovers too. Our family of 8 lived in a tiny 5 room apartment in a Veteran's Housing Project. By today's standards we would be considered poor; movies were always considered affordable family entertainment. Whether it was a Sunday night episode of The Wonderful World of Disney or a trip downtown on a Saturday afternoon with my siblings, the theater was a familiar and loved activity of my youth. One of my earliest memories of growing up is being herded into the old family station wagon on a hot, summer night for the brief drive to the local Drive-In movie theater. Apparently comfort was never a consideration as there were six pajama clad children in the back of the wagon and parents up front. An old blue cooler and thermos tucked between then for snacks, as expensive concession visits were never an option. The movie was always a family flick and something we would no doubt talk about at a later date; probably around the dinner table. History has a way of repeating itself. My husband and I raised three movie buffs and now they are doing the same. It is said that "children will live what what they learn." I guess in this case it is true.
As I continue my quest to be a "better me" I tune into Session #3 of Deepak Chopra's Timeless You series. This episode is called Healthy Relationships. Here we learn of the importance of ridding ourselves of toxic relationships and negativity. Chopra warns us about viewing life through a dirty lens, i.e. Emotional grievances create a dirty lense through which you view all relationships. When you approach the present through a filter of past grievances, you prolong the power of these negative feelings. Chopra teaches us the importance of letting go of resentment and the power of forgiveness of others and of ourselves as well.
I am fascinated with the mind\body connection that Deepak talks about and the affects that stress can have on our emotional and physical well being. I
have even wondered if my diagnosis of aggressive Stage II Breast Cancer 21 years ago was the result of the stress in my life at the time thus lowering my immune response to the dangerousness cancer cells invading my body. I was only 39 years old with no family history. I endured a year of aggressive chemo therapy and 3 months of radiation treatment. Often during these long treatment sessions one of the oncology nurses would lead me in a visualization practice that she believed would help my body fight the cancer cells that were attacking my health. As the poisonous chemicals dripped into my veins through the intravenous tubes we would close our eyes and imagine my healthy cells as "PAC MAN" images eating the cancerous cells as they approached. At the time this all seemed so foreign to me but I eagerly went along with her. I so desperately wanted to live. This same nurse taught me deep breathing exercises to help me endure some of painful procedures I had. She also reminded me of the importance of a daily "belly laugh". I have come to believe that those things were really the best medicine for me. Clearly she was before her time and I feel fortunate to have met her.
I am finding that to get the most from this Timeless You Series I need to go through each session a few times as I can not take it all in at once. There is so much useful information that each time I do, I discover more.
I have a magnet on my refrigerator that my grandson gave to me, it reads:
I have just completed the 6th and final episode of the Timeless You series. Joyful Exercise was the subject this time in the inspirational and informative series presented by Deepak Chopra. While I was familiar with much of the content, once again Chopra surprised me with more. He reminds us that regular exercise has been proven again and again to prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer and insists that when you pair strength training with cardiovascular exercise, the results are in a word miraculous. Studies show regular strength training reduces incidence and symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, falls and depression. Well, I've been a runner for 32 years and am grateful that I have been healthy enough to do it. But it seems that while running and walking are great, it isn't enough. I now know that I need to add strengthening and stretching to the cardio if I want to continue to live my best life. This will be the hard part for me, adding still more to my already busy life but I'm committed to do my best. I want to be all that I can be.
I must say I am sorry to see the series end. I have gathered countless " nuggets" of great information along the way. I feel energized and hopeful and have incorporated much of what I have learned in this series into my on life. I have realized the many benefits of water, mediation, stretching, creativity and attitude. My 60th birthday was an eye opener. It was the first time I looked at "the number" and thought about aging.
Deepak has shown me that much of my future is in my own hands. In my actions and in my mind. I am after all what I think I am and yes,
I think I am growing YOUNGER by the day.
Last night on the eve of the 33rd anniversary of John Lennon's tragic and untimely death, I had the opportunity to witness an amazing tribute to this great legend. The Nutopians a phenomenal band of 8 incredibly talented musicians were playing in my home town. I had seen the advertisements and had made a mental note to attend. Honestly I got busy and forgot, plain and simple until my daughter asked if me yesterday if I was going. I highly doubted I would be able to get tickets butI logged on to the theater's website anyway. To my delight there were three single tickets left. My husband had no interest in going with me and my daughter was unavailable and that was just fine with me; I don't mind going to the theater alone, I actually kind of enjoy it. So, off I went to our new community arts center. I had a wonderful seat with a great view. I no sooner got settled when the lights were lowered and the Nutopians were introduced. For two and a half hours I was transfixed to this incredible talent of the Nutopians. They weren't your typical tribute band, while they stayed true to the lyrics of the songs they made them uniquely their own. The audience laughed and cried at each vignette that was shared about John's life as a poet, musician, and pacifist as well as his life with Yoko Ono and with the Beatles. We learned of the back story behind each song. The night ended all to soon with the poignant rendition of Happy Christmas (War Is Over) and just when I thought I couldn't love John Lennon more the audience was invited to sing along with Give Peace A Chance. I don't know when I have been so deeply moved. IMAGINE!
Tomorrow, on January 19th I shall turn 60 years old and I can not believe it. I've always felt that age is a number, nothing more nothing less, but I got to tell you, this one feels different. Over the past few months my discomfort about seeing 60 on the horizon has grown while I try to embrace the fact that yes, I am getting older. There are no answers to the obvious questions that I ask; where did the time go, how did I get here and how much quality life do I have left? But I do know one thing for sure. There is alway now, this minute, this second and the opportunity to live my best life . The six decades behind me for the most part, have been spent on others; my youthful self, my husband and kids and my aging mother. So for my birthday I will give to "ME", my best effort and to tenderly nurture my mind, my body and my soul. So here today, the last day of my 59th year that I make a commitment for next chapter life is offering. A promise of sorts to include "ME" in life's equation...if not now..........WHEN?
A few days ago my husband and I were chatting with friends. We are all in our 60s now. As the visit wound down the conversation drifted toward things that we would do differently if given the chance to live our lives over again. With the wisdom of age and the benefit of a clearer lens people were ready and willing to share.The answers weren't surprising for the most part. I listened as my friends lamented their past choices. Some would get more education. Some wouldn't have let themselves get stuck in the job they didn't like. One wished she had traveled more before settling down with children. Some wished they could go back and do it all over again while others were content to be where they are. It was my turn. I chose my words carefully. I wanted them to be thoughtful and not hurtful. If I was to do it all again there are many things I would do differently; continuing my education for sure. Most importantly though I think I would not have been so nice, so easy going, so eager to please. I would have stood my ground more where it counted and not let myself be used and taken for granted so easily. I know these things don't seem paramount but they are too me. So many of my life decisions were based on the needs or wants of others and except where my children were concerned, I would have been more selfish. I know I have taken a back seat so that others could do something that was important to them. Unfortunately this is where resentment grows. I know it takes time to mature to this point but if I had it to do over I would have tried harder to be true to myself.To have the courage to say no without apology and know it doesn't make me a bad person. I would be brave enough to forge my own path and accept the consequences of my own decisions. I would have taken more risks. I know that none of us have the opportunity to do it over again. It is only the future that allows such change and I am ready to embrace it, finally on my own terms.
Every time I see this topic Are You a Long distance Grandparent ? I am tempted to write but for some reason I don't get to it. My heart breaks for those who are far from their grandchildren, I know it is hard. I am fortunate as mine are pretty close by. My son is a about a half hour away and my daughter an hour and a half. We are close but I know people who live even closer in proximity and are not "close" to their grand kids for so many reasons. The relationship is definitely not all about the miles that separate us I think. My own grand-parents lived very far from us. We saw them for a few days at Christmas time and maybe a few days in the summer. (depending where they were living at the time) We did not have the means to travel nor did they but never the less we were VERY close to them. Long before Skype, Face Time, e-mail and internet there were letter writing, packages and phone calls; that is what we had. My grandmother especially nurtured our relationship with her. She was "famous" for the birthday boxes that she sent us. So often we would be surprised by an unexpected package, card or letter. My mother encouraged us to write regularly to them, keeping them informed of any and all areas of our lives. I recall proudly telling them of my good report card and happily receiving a card with a dollar in it a few days later. (that was a long time ago and we were happy to have the dollar ) We grew to love them "long distance". As we got older and they grew elderly we were able to bridge the distance gap and when my grandfather died my grandmother came to live with us. We were still close, but not because she lived with us but because there had been a loving foundation built for us to stand on.
Here we are at the end of October; a time of year that I find myself feeling a tad melancholy. Sadly we bid farewell to the final warms days of Indian Summer and prepare for the cold New England winter. Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner and will be upon us before we know it. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The month that is dedicated to bringing this devastating disease to the forefront of our minds. An opportunity for media, merchants and other organizations work together to raise awareness and funds for research and education. They have made great progress and I am personally thankful. 20 years ago at the young age of 39 I discovered a lump in my left breast while showering after my daily run. Numerous tests and doctors visits later I was given the grim diagnosis of Stage II aggressive invasive ductal carcinoma..... Cancer. I had no family history and was vigilant about checking my breasts as advised. I have always tried to live a healthy lifestyle. I had been a runner for years. I don't smoke and eat very little red meat. It made no sense and I was scared to death. My hair thinned and my spirit waned. I worried that I wouldn't see my children grow up and I grew depressed. The next year was a whirlwind. I underwent 2 surgeries, a year of aggressive chemo-therapy and 3 months of radiation. As a young wife and mother I was paralyzed with fear but I was also one of the lucky ones; I made it. I am a survivor. For me though October still feels bitter sweet; a season of endings but also a time for reflection. I can't help but be grateful for every day that I am here as I know too well how fragile life can be.
Earlier This year I decided I would give family gifts to my three adult children instead of individual gifts for each member. This idea was met with enthusiasm from each family and I was thrilled. I figured I'd have a few online orders and practically no wrapping. I would be finished early and then be able to enjoy the holidays stress free. My daughter and her husband chose theater tickets to a show that they have been wanting to see. I bought the tickets online and promised my babysitting services. DONE. My son's family wants a gaming system for their kids and I guess it works for playing movies too so that was easy. DONE. My other son wanted a software program for his computer. DONE. A few baby things and an obligatory gift or two and I have wrapped up my Christmas obligations while saving a bit of money too. That should be good right? Wrong. I am feeling lost, left out and completely unfulfilled. Each day I see something special I want to give someone on my now non existing list but I stayed strong; well, kind of. I tried, I really did . I made an effort to sit back and enjoy the spirit of Christmas but that was the problem. I had too much time on my hands. I made an effort to fill my time with cookie and candy making but that wasn't enough. I wanted my loved ones to have at least one Christmas surprise under the tree so I went shopping. The kind of shopping I vowed not to do this year. Mall shopping! Soon one thing led to another and I had small inexpensive trinkets for some and not others. That created a problem so I have been scurrying to even out my list. By the beginning of December I had picked up my knitting needles with hopes of making the ladies infinity scarves that I knew they liked; a lofty ambition this late in the season I know. I've been knitting myself blind the last few nights. It is the 22nd and I am not done and now I am behind in my wrapping and I'm beginning to feel stressed. I will have a house full on Christmas morning and I am far from ready. I have resigned myself to the fact that not everything will be done nor will it be perfect. There will be chaos and it is sure to be hectic; just the way I like it. Happy Holidays"
Well my husband and I just got back from what has been labeled as "The Happiest Place on Earth" Disney World! We took our oldest grandson who is 12 years old. It is a trip that we have been saving for and planning for some time. We had a blast! It was a dream come true for our grand child but I have to tell you, WE ARE EXHAUSTED and indeed in need of a recovery vacation. We thought we were doing pretty well keeping up with our boy. We visited everything he wanted to do without complaint. We went on every single roller coaster in the park and waited in every God forsaken line there. After all how much fun would he have had going alone right? Yes you might say we took "one for the team". We ate too much, stayed up too late and spent too much money.....and the truth of the matter is we wouldn't change a thing ...oh except my shoes. I brought the wrong shoes but thankfully packed an old pair of sneakers " just in case". Just in case presented itself on day 2 forcing me to band-aid my aching feet and keep going. The airplane flight was my grandson's first and he was a bit nervous. On the flight home after being over saturated with the glitz and fantasy of the Magic Kingdom this child looked out the window and through the clouds below and said. "Grammy, it is a wonderful world". ........Indeed it is!
The "beat goes on" for me and my journey with Deepak Chopra's Timeless You Series. Like so much in my life these days I am taking from the program what serves me now and leaving the rest for another day. Session #4 is about the Mind/Body Connection. We have arrived at the gate of meditation, yoga and mindful breathing. Whew....NOW I am in my comfort zone. Over the years I have been an "on again off again " student of such disciplines. When I am "in the zone" I feel better about everything. When I am not, I feel somewhat "off balance". Deepak has reminded me once more why I need this component in my life in order to be well in body and mind. Again Deepak Chopra has inspired me to recommit to these important rituals. I love too that the exercises in Timeless You are "guided" as I feel more successful with help than I do when I do them alone. I need the assistance and my guess is that many people feel the same way. Maybe that is why we flock to group settings for support. I witnessed an example of this very thing in my own life six months ago when my daughter was preparing to deliver her second child. Unfortunately, the birth of her first child three years ago had been a long and traumatic ordeal and she was scared. Filled with anxiety and fear, my daughter asked me to be with her during the birth. Of course I was thrilled. When the call came that she was in the early stages of labor I headed to her home to be with her. As the contractions became more regular I took the opportunity to share with her the overall benefits of deep breathing and my own experience with "breathing through pain." I had done it a few times during bone marrow biopsies and other cancer therapies. I shared with her how helpful it had been to have someone with me coaching, guiding, and encouraging me. I asked her to let me help in this way. She listened and embraced the idea whole heartedly. We practiced for a bit and when the time came to go to the hospital my daughter was more confident and relaxed than any of us expected. Through it all I stayed at her side, breathing every breath with her and pacing her along the way. If she got distracted I helped her re-focus. She soon discovered that by regulating her breath she could actually relax between contractions thus allowing more stamina during active labor. The pushing stage came and to everyone's surprise my daughter (and I) delivered that 10 pound baby boy with just five pushes. In that moment I saw my grandson enter the world. I heard him cry out his first breath with a hearty bellowing scream thus changing our lives forever. Our baby is a joyous, happy little boy with a sweet disposition and I am grateful that I was there to witness this miracle. I know in my heart that the deep mindful breathing helped both mother and son.
I love Boston, Massachusetts. I live about 45 minutes from this beautiful historic city but don't get in nearly enough. There is so much to see and do there so when my oldest grandson expressed an interest in seeing the show Blue Man Group I quickly agreed to take him while seizing the opportunity to go to the city I love. As luck would have it the temperature that day was freezing cold with howling winds. It was impossible to walk around the city or do any sight seeing so instead we went into a nearby restaurant to have lunch and escape the brutal cold. Once inside and seated my grandson immediately took out his I-pod and picked up the restaurant's wireless internet signal. I couldn't believe my eyes. We had discussed the issue of the electronics before we left for the show and it was agreed that he could use his i-pod on the train only. I reminded him of our agreement and he begrudgingly put the device in his pocket. We ordered our meal and small talked about "this and that" while the restaurant began to fill with families going to various shows. By the time our meal came I couldn't help but notice that at least half of the diners around us were using some sort of electronic device at their table, i.e.I-Phone, I-Pads and I-Pods. Of course my grandson noticed too and quickly asked once more if he could use his too. Again I said no. I was amazed at the people nearby not talking to each other but on their mobile devices texting or talking instead. One man actually had ear buds in while his daughter chatted away unaware that he couldn't hear her. I was bothered more than I expected but put it aside and concentrated on my own day in the city. My grandson and I enjoyed the show immensely and made our way back to the train station to head home. Once on the train my boy could barely wait to "plug in" for the ride home. I sat quietly deep in thought. I couldn't help but wonder about what would happen to human contact and the "art of conversation"' for people today. I know, I know, this is the generation gap we all hear about but it still makes me sad. How will society be able to connect on a personal level when we are "glued" to these mobile computers screens. Where is the smile, the sigh or smirk in a text? How will we see tears in a loved ones eyes through e-mail or know if we have hurt someone's feelings? I don't know, I guess its up to us then to show them, to remind them and model for them the value of human connection that can only be found face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart.
Like most people I love to receive gifts. Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary, you name it but what I really love is the unexpected gift given by someone who really, really knows me. The gesture need not be expensive but thoughtful. A book by my favorite author, a fragrance I like or the perfect journal. These tokens let me know I was heard; someone listened, someone cared. You know the gifts I mean. The ones that catch you off guard, that touch your heart or take your breath away. Sadly these occasions are few and far between. Recently I had such an experience. I had driven the hour plus trek to my daughter' s house for a visit. I am a "white knuckle driver" and hate every second of the trip which requires me to be on a major highway most of the way. I arrived rattled but never the less in one piece. As I entered the kitchen the smell of freshly brewed coffee welcomed me. " Help yourself mom, I'll be right out", my daughter yelled from the children's room. "I bought you a new mug", she added. There next to the coffee pot was a brand new Beatles mug. For me, for no other reason except that my daughter knows that I love the Beatles. I poured a cup of my favorite brew into my new mug and basked in the moment of feeling so loved.
Recently my 12 year old grandson has shown an interest in cooking. He has even begun suggesting recipes for us to try at mealtime. This poses a minor problem for me as I possess limited culinary ability. I still I want to encourage his new interest so I go along with almost anything he wants to try. I can't imagine where he comes up with his ideas...social media or some other popular internet sites no doubt. A month ago his first suggestion of Spicy Doritos Chicken was surprisingly good. The chicken tenders were dredged in flour then dipped in an egg wash and then finally rolled in crushed, spicy Doritos and baked. A few weeks later my grandson asked if we could put chocolate cake batter in the waffle maker..."hmmmmm, ok, let's give it a try ", I say. What harm could there be in that I wonder. As it turned out The chocolate waffles were very tasty (even better when ice cream and whipping cream were added. ) Today he wondered about a chocolate chip cookie with an Oreo cookie baked inside. Well, now he's talking my language! We shopped for the necessary ingredients and he made the best cookie I have ever tasted. As a result my grandson's interest in cooking has peaked my own curiosity for trying a new recipe myself. Now isn't that the darnedest thing; at my age learning something new from a child? Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks after all.
I am about to enter a new chapter of my life. Retirement. I've made this decision without any of the angst or discomfort that I thought I would feel. People I know that have retired before me have said that I "will know when it is time". I know without reservation that it is indeed.....TIME. I have held a job not a career in the public school system for over 25 years. It is my turn to move on and move out and make room for the younger generation to take over. It is now my opportunity to slow the pace and as they say and "smell the roses". I am looking forward to enjoying the things that I love but have not had time to do and try my hand at few new prospects too. I've been working nearly 50 years, starting with my first babysitting job at 12 years old; I'm done. I am well aware that I am one of the lucky ones, my husband of 41 years is alive and well and we enjoy spending time together. My 88 year old mother is doing great too but now needs a bit more help these days. She is sweet and kind and funny and it will be a pleasure spending more time with her. Frankly, I can not wait for my new life to begin. My daughter and her family are relocating. They are coming home and I will help her part time with childcare. I am thrilled; finally my three grandchildren will all be nearby. I have a large extended family, many interests and hobbies and a few good friends. How fortunate I am to be retiring on my own terms and not have to terminate due to illness or position cuts. My last day of work was just over a week ago and it has been a whirlwind of events ever since. This has been the long goodbye if I ever saw one. Between the end of the school year activities, tearful congratulations and my retirement party I am definitely "feeling the love"! People keep asking me how I feel and honestly all I can say is "I don't know", I have never felt this way before. I have never, in my adult life at least, known what it is like not to have to go to work. I just can't put a label on how I feel.
A favorite quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt keeps coming to mind though,
"Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason turn his back on life.