nurturing thursdays: powerful words…

A few things in historical documentarian Ken Burns’ speech to Stanford University’s 2016 graduating class, continues to resonate with me. He said…to educate all of our parts…to make babies…and that the arts make our country worth defending. 

To educate all of our parts.

I always tell my daughter “Being fully informed makes your decision, whatever it is, an educated guess. Whatever the outcome, you know you did all you could to make the best choice you possibly could in the moment.” Because she was a blessing, my only child after 16 years of hoping I would one day become a mother, I live with the thought that she could be gone in the blink of an eye. With the hateful rhetoric inciting Trump supporters to take America back to a darker time when the world was white and black, I worry as I see other mothers lose their children to gun violence.

An adult and wife at 30, I can no longer stand between my daughter and the world. And yet I know I have armed her with a clear vision of the real world ever since she was a youngster. Unlike a friend who felt her son at age 5 was too young for the truth, I felt my daughter was not too young to learn the facts of life. In doing so, however, I always followed the truth with positive words reinforcing hope, not negative resignation.

To make babies.

Not until you have a child, can you understand what it is to lose a child. Not until you lose a child, can you understand a mother’s desire not to go on living afterwards. I hope, as parents the world over do, that my daughter outlives me by decades.

The arts make our country worth defending.

Supporting my daughter in her desire to dance professionally will always be something of which I am proudest. It was not an easy path; neither was it a lucrative one. My daughter said, when featured in Discount Dance Supply Magazine at age 16…

Dancing is a gift that I would like to share with the world.

The greatest satisfaction is knowing when my performance has touched or moved someone.

She may not have secured millions as a professional athlete, but my daughter garnered millions in spiritual wealth. If she were taken by an act of violence tomorrow, my daughter can return to Our Father having lived a Christ-like life. And if I were to die first, I would do so knowing that I have been…

…a mother in Mary’s footsteps.

………hugmamma.

(Note: Click on the following link for more inspirational posts…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/nurt-thurs-my-prayer/

 

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back in time…but in the present

Does anyone remember dancing to the music of the Average White Band…say in the 60s and 70s? As I explained to my husband enroute to our favorite jazz venue where the band was performing this evening, they seemed peripheral to the music scene. They didn’t draw the crowds like other groups, but their songs had a distinct beat that made me jump up and dance. Still does.

As with other groups from my generation, AWB has undergone a transformation over the years, with musicians coming and going. However 3 who performed tonight were originals, two guitarists and one saxophonist. They were white; the remaining two men were black. Together they melded beautifully into the Average White Band of old.

Why is it that the years seem to fall away when listening to music from the past, allowing us to recapture our youth, if only for a little while? The lead singer/guitarist, one of the founding Scots from Dundee, probably in his mid to late 60s, could still hold the audience as his voice undulated to the rhythm of “A love of your own.” And as I swayed in time to the beat, I felt like a captivating 20-year-old once again. The outer me not at all in sync with my sensual, inner self of long, long ago. More like the young, blonde groupie who giggled giddily after a word with the Scotsman on a brief break. He too eyed the beauty with the smile of a more vigorous alter ego. But perhaps a musician’s lifestyle and daily imbibing of spirits (a fact he offered) are the secret to his vitality. Whatever the case, tonight was for the young at heart…

The Average White Band performs in Rochester, NY.

Image via Wikipedia

…no matter the age………hugmamma.  😉

for sure, outrageous fun!!!

Teatro Zinzanni, a cabaret dinner theater acro...

Image via Wikipedia

Found a YouTube video ofTeatro ZinZanni that I wanted to share with you. As much as I tried to explain its spectacular brand of zaniness in conjunction with great performances by amazing professionals, topped off by tasty eats, I know I didn’t do it justice. You have to see it to believe it. So enjoy an appetizer of the real thing.

Madames e mesieurs (my French?)………………….welcome to Teatro ZinZanni

…hmmm…i may be going again soon…hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: invite

This is a fun challenge, although it’s not always easy to come up with the perfect photo for the “word-du-jour.” But it’s great trying. So if you’d like to join the fun, check out the details on the blog, my life in photos: 365 challenge. She’s always got great stories to go with her pictures.

Teatro Zinzannia blend of Cirque du Soleil and Broadway, fulfills its promise of a night to remember. The fast-paced spectacle caters to adults because of its bawdy humor, but I find it no more objectionable than films that are rated PG-13. When we’ve gone, the master-of-ceremonies, different each time, has embarked on a classy, but definitely gay, modus operandi. God help the men in the audience! They’re easy pickings for some good, old-fashioned, tongue-in-cheek humor. Throughout the show those who have involuntarily “volunteered,” find themselves the center of attention. Women needn’t hold their breaths nor keep their eyes averted, for they’re rarely called upon to make a special appearance. While I’ve relaxed completely, my husband has tried to appear invisible, sitting back into the shadows of our booth. But it’s all in good fun, and nobody is maimed in the delivery of a great show.

Duffy Bishop belts out the music in "Radio Free Starlight" at Teatro ZinZanni. The costumes are gorgeous, colorful, whimsical, over-the-top! Audience members are welcome to dress up as well. In fact, the gift shop is equipped to accessorize those who want feather boas to drape around their necks, or glittering masks behind which to take refuge, or stylized hats to add the finishing touch to a woman’s “crowning glory.” Baubles glitter within glass cases, perhaps a ring for each finger, or bangles that swath the length of one’s forearm, or a tie awash in crystals to accent a simple, black dress.

The minute I step inside the front door of Teatro Zinzanni, I find myself whisked back to a time when an evening out included dark, velvet curtains, a glass of bubbly, an underlying excitement barely contained, eyes darting everywhere soaking up the circus-like atmosphere, women dressed for the occasion, men minding their p’s and q’s, performers mingling, heightening everyone’s expectations of a fantastic evening.

And by the way, a wonderful dinner of several courses is part of the act. The night’s entertainment unfolds around the appetizer, the soup, the salad, the entree and the dessert. What an imaginative way to help the digestive process. I’ve heard that laughter is good for the waistline. Believe me you’ll be skinnier at the end of the evening, what with all your belly-laughing.

So for an uproarious good time………………………………………..you’re invited      

and tell them………………………………………………………..hugmamma sent you!!! 

short films, michael jackson’s

Below my blog’s photo header is a new “page” entitled “mj’s short films.” Because readers often overlook the pages, I’m including this post to alert you to the new addition, in the hopes that you’ll have a “look-see.” I’ve recopied the text below, and included a few of the youtube videos…to entice you. You can view more on the page “mj’s short films.”

Michael Jackson invented music videos as we know them today. It is a well published fact that he catapulted MTV into television’s stratosphere with his creations, best known among them, THRILLER. Not only a stroke of genius, but also of magic! Thriller went “outside the box” in its storytelling, its costuming, its haunting lyric and MJ’s unforgettable moves. He went on to create numerous other short story videos, some of which have rarely been seen by the general public, among them, Speed Demon and Captain EO. As you scroll through the youtube videos below, these 2 will appear towards the end. 

Captain EO  was a collaboration with Walt Disney Studios. It had been in place at Disneyland from 1986 through the 1990s. With Michael’s passing, Captain EO has been restored to Disney’s amusement parks. I’ve visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California, numerous times. But my family and I have never ventured to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Captain EO may just be the excuse I’ve been looking for “a ticket to ride.” I may have finally found the fountain of youth at age 61. As they say, “it’s never too late.”

As with my other page “boogying with mj,” I wanted to extract my favorite short films from the vast intergalactic space known as the internet, for my personal viewing pleasure as the spirit moves me. This is so much easier than having to click endlessly through files and files of videos, to discover the ones I most like. I hope some of you will derive enjoyment from them as well. If you do, you might check back to see if I’ve added others to my personal catalogue.  

Remember, there are more to view on the “page,” entitled “mj’s short films,” under the photo header at the top of my blog.

i’m hoping you’ll boogy on down with michael…and me…hugmamma.

boogying with Michael Jackson

If you’ve read my blog since day one, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s talent as a performer. Singing and dancing have always been in my blood, so I recognize the genius that he was. While the internet is rife with MJ’s videos, it’s not always easy finding my way through the miles and miles of inventory to uncover those that keep me riveted. This page is my own catalog which serves as a reminder of the once-in-a-lifetime entertainer that was Michael Jackson. And it lets me “get down with my bad self,” as my daughter has said of me, once or twice.

Am posting this, as well as making it a permanent page beneath the photo header at the top of my blog. “Pages” aren’t always readily noticed; posts are. There are additional youtube videos on the page, “boogying with mj,” that aren’t on this post. Coming soon will also be another page of short films created by MJ. Hopefully there are some Michael Jackson fans among my readers. If not, bear with me. I’m just “getting down with my bad self.” Even seniors have their moments.

i’ve got music, i’ve got rhythmn…who could ask for anything more…hugmamma.

made my day, “footloose”

We all have one of those days now and then, maybe even more now, than then. I went to exercise class bright and early this a.m.; would’ve preferred remaining warm under the covers. As I age, Hawaii, its warmth and sunshine, beckons ever more. Like sirens of old, it calls to me, “Come lay your weary head upon my white sands, and let the warm waters of the Pacific wash away your concerns.” If I could only bottle the sun, releasing its warmth and light, as needed.

Of course exercise class always gets my endorphins moving, and my heart rate up. When I returned home, I spoke with my daughter, who agreed, that Kristina, the instructor, gives one fierce workout. Only time, and body, will tell how long I can keep pace with the younger women, those in their 40’s and 50’s. While I can always “take it down a notch,” as my daughter reminded me, I never see that as an alternative. I always challenge myself to do everything 110%, or at least 100%. I don’t usually drag myself around after working out, but I could barely register enough energy to get up out of the chair to fix a bite. But I did. Then I ran a couple of errands, returned home and plopped myself back down in the same chair, the one in front of my computer. That’s when my day took a turn, for the better.

A good friend must’ve read my mind, and knew I needed a boost. Dancing and rythmic music levitates my spirit like nothing else, well…almost. Watching my daughter dance gives me a tremendous “high,” that lasts and lasts. But I smiled nonstop during the following video which my girlfriend emailed, moving my head from side to side. The movie “Footloose” was great, but this version combining pieces of 40 movies or so, should be awarded a prize of some sort. Congrats to its creator, whoever he or she might be. Of course, I’m thrilled that an excerpt of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” was included. That was like “icing on the cake.”

So I share my friend’s gift to me, as an early holiday gift to you.

huge holiday hugs…hugmamma.

“stuffed” full of food, memories, and feeling old

Had a fantastic Thanksgiving celebration! Hope you did as well. Am sure we had a lot in common, turkey and all the fixings, family and friends gathered around the table, laughter, small talk, and oh-so- full bellies. What we may, or may not, have shared in experience was feeling, for the very first time, like senior citizens.

Original plans were that my husband and I would have been the middle-aged folk since friends, a couple in their early and mid-70’s, were set to join us for our holiday meal. Of course our daughter was always to be the young chickadee, at 24 years. A call from our nephew who lives and works in Seattle, altered the dynamics. Because of the snowstorm that blew our way, his plan to spend Thanksgiving with his mom’s relatives were canceled due to icy roads. We expected that Kanoa and his girlfriend Erica would dine with us, but were pleasantly surprised to learn that his brother, Sam, would be in town as well. We’d not seen this nephew since he was 11 or so. Now he’s an aerospace engineer, with a degree in aeronautics. Another welcome addition to our cozy home was Kanoa’s roommate, Darnelle. As it turned out, our first guests, Sylvia and Jim, cancelled because of icy weather conditions between their town and ours. So my husband and I quickly moved up, or down, depending on your viewpoint, the age ladder.

My gourmet feast was a hit! Conversation was lively! After some expected “hiccups,” that is. I mean, 30+ years difference in age does require some fancy footwork. I love dancing, and talking, but even my brain was working overtime trying to “connect the dots” in our conversation. I did miss a couple, “dots” that is, like the time Sam told a joke about an antelope in rut who ran into a stopped SUV. The animal was chasing potential mates, who’d smartly sidestepped the vehicle. I got that part because it’s a known fact that females are smarter. Ahem. What I didn’t get, is that the story was a joke. I thought the anecdote was a true story about a friend whose car was hit by a stupid animal. So what began as laughter at the joke, evolved into hysteria when I asked in disbelief, “Was that a joke?” Thank God they thought I was a cute, little, old aunty. Hey, I don’t deny it. I embrace it, especially when I ponder the alternative.

Decades old memories with a Long Island friend and her family, is one that remains with me. Even many years after having lost touch, I can still picture sitting around the dinner table with as many as 10 guests. The food was the best Italian fare I’ve ever tasted, all homemade and exquisitely delicious. The manicotti with delicately, thin pasta shells and the large, flavorful meatballs topping handmade spaghetti drenched in Carmella’s mom’s marinara sauce, were two of my favorite dishes. Even more memorable was to be enveloped into the loving warmth of an Italian family. So like Hawaiians who embrace one and all. I loved them dearly, Carmella, Vito and mom and pop Adamo. Still do, though the parents have long since gone to Heaven, and we’ve lost touch with sister and brother who moved to other states. Even Christmas cards have stopped arriving. But no matter, I will always remember them with fondness and love.

As I sat listening to our young dinner guests last night, I was reminded of pop Adamo. When we first met, he was virile, engaging, witty, and “in command.” Though small in stature, pop was the “man of the house,” though his daughter and son hovered above him like giants, and even his wife stood a half-a-head taller. It’s true, Italian men rule the roost. They might be small, like pop, but his “presence” was large. Vito was taller than 6 feet, but “shrank” when pop barked. When they wanted to convince pop of something, son, daughter and wife would have to cajole him, sometimes for days or weeks. It usually endured for some amount of time, so I can’t remember if they succeeded more times, than not. I do know that I always tried to remain on pop’s good side. He did have a small, soft spot in his heart for this island girl.

I’m not certain when I first noticed that pop was no longer “himself.” Was it before, or after Carmela told us he had Alzheimer’s? Or was it when his voice no longer reverberated through the house, or when he sat in silence after we said our first hellos. But the image foremost in my mind is of pop sitting in his usual chair at the head of the dining table, looking “lost.” It saddened me that he was unable to participate in conversations, where before his witticisms were part of the social gatherings. While his body sat, his spirit seemed elsewhere, perhaps floating overhead, disengaged. In time, pop became permanently wedded to the dreaded disease.

Alzheimer’s assumed a stranglehold on the Adamos, and their home was never the same again. Somehow the family evolved, as we all do, moving forward to become newer, updated versions of their former selves. Carmela married a wonderful man, Steve, and they were blest with an only child, daughter Christine. Last we heard Vito had moved to Las Vegas where he enjoyed the many pleasures of “sin city.” I’m sure pop rolled over in his grave. Mom grew more frail as the years passed, finally succumbing to eternal peace. I’ll always remember her charitableness, especially for those who sat at her bountiful table. We celebrated Thanksgiving every time we sat down to dinner with this loving family.

Last night I caught a glimpse of my own “evolution.” Aging is inevitable, as is change. Resisting either, or both, is probably unwise, and unhealthy. Granted, I am who I am because of 61 years of accumulated experiences, memories, and “self-diagnosis.” There’ve certainly been “detours” along the way, which meant tweaking my life, here and there. But true happiness, I think, is the “thread” that courses through our lives as we evolve, from birth to death. Standing still, inflexible and unchanging, would probably cut, or at least thin, the flow of happiness. Though I may be goofy at times, acting “abynormal,” as my daughter and I label my zany behavior, I am normal in wanting, like others, to know happiness in my daily life.

So I owe much to the young folk who sat around our dinner table on Thanksgiving Day. They “stretched” my brain cells with their chatter about X-Box games, reasons for disliking Windows 7, multi-tasking on 3 computers simultaneously, all while checking their cellphones intermittently. I did hold my own, however, when relating stories about life experiences. They seemed to enjoy my fear of bear anecdotes, and my general “c’est la vie” attitude.

Thanks Kanoa, Sam, Erica and Darlene! You added to the cozy evening, with your youthful gaiety, “geeky” conversation, and contribution of  “ono” food, the lomi salmon, poki tako, kalua pig and pumpkin cheesecake. More than anything, you added to our family’s Thanksgiving memories, about which we’ll be reminiscing for a long time.

are you as “stuffed?’…hugmamma..

decorating tip, “change it up”

Growing up, our family never bought a stick of furniture. Everything was a hand-me-down, or a thrift shop leftover. Needless to say nothing matched. Since one of my Saturday chores was housecleaning, I taught myself to meld what most might consider junk. I didn’t know it then, but my passion for antiques and vintage collectibles probably grew out of necessity. Overstuffed armchairs, a long sofa with missing springs, a vintage, stand-alone radio whose flat top displayed religious articles, along with an assortment of odd pieces was my introduction to decorating. Each time I swept and dusted, I also rearranged the furnishings, even if it was just a nudge here and there. I continued this practice during my stint in retailing, during and after college. As a sales clerk and then a department manager, I was advised to “change things up” regularly. Customers would perceive that the store was constantly bringing in new merchandise, when in fact it wasn’t. To this day I redo my rented space in an antique mall, which always derives compliments from management and customers alike. Reworking the space freshens the look, and casts each item in a new light. It also helps with the “bottom line,” sales.

My house undergoes the same rearranging, more so in the past than now. Older age brings contentment with the status quo. Forty years of housekeeping will do that. “Been there, done that!” However friends and family will attest to the fact that the holidays consume my time and energy as I transform my home into a wonderland. For Halloween and Christmas my stored treasures are retrieved from the garage and incorporated into my furnishings. As in bygone days I have fun blending furnishings, with seasonal decor. Rather than relegate normal household items to the bins from whence the ornaments, wreaths, and garlands came, I intermingle all to enhance every room, including the bathrooms. I usually “pull out all the stops” for the holidays, because it always gets a jaw-dropping reaction. There are drawbacks, however.

It usually takes me 2 weeks of cleaning and decorating, to dress 5 or 6 medium-sized trees for display in various rooms, to hang garlands with ornaments atop cupboards, to create elaborate centerpieces for the kitchen island and dining room table, to configure a unique vintage vignette across the fireplace mantel. And that’s only a sampling of the holiday facelift. THEN there’s the dismantling, not done until April the last couple of years. Having taken so long to arrange, I’m in no hurry to destroy my masterpiece. Luckily my husband enjoys my creativity, or else he’s a saint for humoring my eccentricities. Probably a little of both. Friends don’t mind either. They enjoy a prolonged Christmas, especially when it’s in my house, not theirs.

So while visiting with my daughter, it’s fun for me to redo her apartment. Physically and mentally spent at day’s end,  learning and dancing new choreography, she is only too happy to let me “have at it.” She enjoys her mismatched furnishings, bistro table and chairs from Pier 1, ottoman from Bed, Bath and Beyond, long, antique dresser serving as a side table, antique Queen Anne side chair in need of reupholstering, vintage corner cupboard in a pretty, muted yellow. My daughter has grown up with my eclectic taste, and passion for vintage and antique furnishings. And we both love a good bargain, so Target is always one of  the stops when we’re out shopping for something new.

Well I’m off to perform some “magic” on my daughter’s apartment. Will chat again later. Enjoy all the moments of your day…

hugs of energy, as you go about your day…hugmamma.

bump and grind

Returned to exercise class this morning after weeks of sporadic attendance. At 8:15 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it’s a real challenge for me to get myself up and primed for moving. I’m an habitual night owl, never have been the early bird, at least not willingly. I’ve long since chucked the routine of rising at 4:30 to dress and breakfast before schlepping to the office to make a buck. I’ve tremendous respect for my husband who goes to work like the mailman, in rain, snow, hail and thunderstorm. Regardless of how he may feel, though I’ve never known him to be anything less than passionate about work, his mantra is “The show must go on!” I guess it’s true what they say. Introverts blossom on stage, and my husband’s job is definitely where he takes to the spotlight, and shines.

My shining moment is in the gym during exercise class. When the music starts, so do I. My surroundings are transformed into an imaginary club, and I become a dancing fool. When my daughter’s been home and accompanied me, she lovingly recaps my butterfly arm movements as I move from side to side. She’s just jealous, I think. Her career has already caused the beginnings of arthritis, so she can be as stiff as me sometimes. So she might be wishing she could move like her 61-year-old mom. Although I don’t think that’s really the case. She just thinks I’m goofy,loveable, but goofy.

Thank goodness our class is comprised of mostly seniors like me. Nobody competes; we just try to survive. The instructor, a Brit in her 50’s, is a dynamo. She’s a role model for all of us, but we could never be her equal. She’s been teaching classes for 20+ years, and was a student herself before that. She also subs for the senior center classes, and is a personal trainer as well. I believe she also works with a trainer, and attends refresher classes. Her life is exercising; mine is avoiding it whenever I can.

Thankfully, my mind has been dragging my body to exercise class for several years now. My body would rather remain on the memory foam mattress; my mind wants to harness the sun and be up and at ’em. Unless I’m suffering with allergies, a sore ankle, aching back, sleep deprivation, or the day is overcast or rain is threatening, you get the drift, I drag myself to the gym. Once there, I have a blast bumping and grinding with my fellow weight conscious friends.

There are 2 very important benefits to be reaped from sweating until it hurts, it counteracts the effects of Alzheimer’s and the camaraderie is priceless. Doing step on Wednesdays must stave off the disease that robs one’s memory. (Back from a time out. Sitka, my mixed-breed Maine Coone, wanted to give me hugs and kisses.)  My brain cannot wander for a second, otherwise I’m completely out of sync with everyonelse. And I have to bring my entire focus to bear to get back into moving with the group, for they, of course, continued without me. Fortunately no one laughs; they’re too busy making sure they keep up. However, I do chuckle at my own mistakes. It’s either laugh or cry. I’m way too old to cry over “spilled milk,” or a misstep. Besides it’d take up precious seconds which I desperately  need to get my groove back again.

Coffee with the ladies afterwards is always fun. Conversation runs the gamut from talking about deadbeat husbands or kids, to sagging body parts. We’re not brutal, just honest. Venting with others going through similar experiences helps us realize that we’re living in the same world. We’re all trying to get through the day, the week, the month, the year, and the rest of our lives with as much vim and vigor as possible. We all get a good dose of positive reinforcement while sipping a cup of flavored coffee, soy latte, or green tea. “Sisters” in exercise; “sisters” in life.

take a “step”, and sip some coffee…hugmamma

may be my best year yet

I awoke to a “new” year, my 61st. My husband reminded me, indicating that he’d forgotten until he saw my sleepy head come into the living room. He’s an early riser, unlike me. On the weekend, he enjoys his favorite pastime, reading his e-book. I enjoy mine any day of the week, any time of the day, writing on my blog.

As “empty-nesters” our lives have settled into a comfortable routine. There’s work; there’s play; and there’s the in-between time. Forty years of wedded bliss and 3 years dating prior to that, can make the passing of years a challenge. How do we keep life together interesting? Fun? Getting into a rut happens to the best of us. We’re probably “middle-of-the-road. “We’re not jumping onto roller-coasters (I know I’d throw up my innards.) But we aren’t lying around in hammocks either (We’d never get up.) We enjoy similar interests, like visiting Barnes and Noble Bookstore or Half-Price Books, shopping at Lowes and Home Depot, going to an occasional movie, and spending time with our daughter. As we’ve become more comfortable with each other, however, our individual likes and dislikes have made their way from the “bottom of the heap” to the top. Funny how that happened, without our realizing it.

My husband abhors dancing. When we first met, he had “2 left feet.” He made no secret of it. But I didn’t think it was a permanent flaw; I thought I could fix it, with a tweak here and there. Not until our 38th anniversary, give or take a year or two, did I realize he really DOES have “2 left feet.”

The story of our first date is one my husband loves retelling. I was 17 or 18, he a year older. Living in Honolulu at the time, we headed to Waikiki Beach for some fun in the sun. I was so awestruck by his movie star good looks that I was speechless most of the time. (Can you believe it?) Furthermore, I was sensitive to the fact that he was the oldest of 12 children. With so many mouthes to feed, I didn’t think he had money to feed mine. Visiting the nearby zoo, he asked if I wanted some lunch, perhaps a hot dog, popcorn, soda? Lying, for I was starved for food, I replied that I wasn’t hungry, that I’d had a big breakfast at the dorm’s cafeteria. In disbelief, he pointed out that it was hours since I’d eaten. His protestations fell on deaf ears. Adamant that I didn’t need a morsel, I did give in to his offer of a soft drink. Not until 8 hours had passed, when he drove me home, did I fly down the dining room steps just before it closed. I ate like a truck driver who’d fasted for a week. I scarfed down everything I could lay my hands on. My husband left me that day thinking I was the quietest girl he’d ever met (not that he knew many since he’d been a Catholic seminarian before we met), with the appetite of a bird. Well, it didn’t take too long for him to learn the truth. He’d married Lucille Ball who ate like Ethel Mertz.

I enjoy shopping; my husband waits patiently, e-book in hand. My husband “saws wood” when he sleeps; I use ear plugs and lay a pillow between us, partially covering my head to muffle the sound. I enjoy tuning in to “Bethenny Gettin’ Married?”, “Say Yes To The Dress'” and “The Bachelor;” my husband can’t stomach reality TV, so he leaves me in peace and heads to the lower level family room to watch the History channel. I find pleasure in talking with people, including total strangers; my husband doesn’t interrupt, but he doesn’t hang around either, preferring to wander off.

Laughing over inconsequential, silly, little things at one point today, my husband and I agreed that he rarely speaks a whole paragraph. His reason, “Why should I say a paragraph when a word will do?” I replied that it might make him more approachable socially. Not skipping a beat, he merely smiled back at me. He is a man comfortable in his own skin, never personally needing the approval of others. I have always admired that quality in him. I, on the other hand, am like most who need to know that we are loved. Into my 6th decade, I am finally seeing my husband’s point of view. I am who I am.

We make our marriage work through give and take, neither of us doing all the taking or all the giving. It’s a balance that requires daily effort. It helps to think “Would I really want to start all over again, bringing a total stranger ‘up to speed’ about me and my likes and dislikes?” And more importantly, “Would someone else love me as much for the person I am, and not the person he’d like me to be?” So growing older with my husband of many years is a gift for which I am very, very grateful.

As I advance through this decade of my life I find myself happily reinvigorated. Writing has enabled me to get my creative “juices” flowing once again. I’ve always favored the left side of my brain. For most of my business career I sat behind a desk, watching a clock. I relished my “free time” when I could do cross-stitch or other handiwork, prepare a gourmet meal, decorate and then re-decorate my house. But transitioning from career to motherhood didn’t allow much time for self-fulfillment. Not that I minded for being a mom has always been my favorite job, hands down. But now that I’ve regained use of my own life, figuring out what to do with it has given me pause. There were the “fall back” options, volunteering, part-time work, full-time work, ramping up my exercise regimen, spend more time cleaning house or tending the garden. None of these possibilities caught my fancy, my creative fancy that is. So I bided my time and continued doing whatever it was I was doing, until now.

Fleshing out ideas, thoughts, opinions and feelings in my blog posts has grown new brain cells for sure. Writing has given me a youthful outlook that is couched in the experiences of a 60 year old. I’m rediscovering my past, reflecting upon my present, and pondering my future. With my mind leading the way, I’m sure my body will strive to keep pace. Writing makes me process my thoughts, then attempt to formulate them into words. It’s like going back to school, without having to go there. I’m motivated to live life large, in the moment. It may be that I’ve found my own “fountain of youth.”

hope you find yours…hugmamma

attitude adjustment

One day I had occasion to visit a beautiful, upscale mall in sunny southern California, The Costa Mesa Mall. Sprawling over several acres, it was a shopper’s paradise. A favorite phrase,”eye candy,” coined while strolling the cobblestone streets of Venice, seemed just as applicable at this retail complex. Anchoring this shopping mecca, were giants Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Sak’s, and Sear’s. Sprinkled in and around them were other name stores, Gap, BCBG, MaxMara, Mango, Barney’s New York, Abercrombie & Fitch, and a seemingly endless list of other brands. Rolex caught my eye. I’d not seen it in any other mall I’ve visited. In fact, I’ve never seen its storefront before.

My first stop had to be Bloomingdale’s. Our first “introduction” was at 53rd and Lex in NYC in 1976. Several years ago, my daughter and I visited a branch in Soho, New York. There’s a distinct vibe to the retail icon. It’s upscale with a contemporary, youthful flavor. New York is culturally diverse, with Chinatown and Little Italy as neighbors, deli workers commuting alongside doctors on subways, and homeless setting up house across the street from Trump Tower. As a result, Manhattan’s Bloomingdale’s caters to customers from all walks of life. Everyone is treated equally. When you enter the store, whether you browse or buy, you’re a BFF (best friend forever).

As I wandered through Costa Mesa’s Bloomingdale’s, the mood was the exact opposite of its “sister” in the east. I felt invisible as I made my way through different areas of women’s wear. Several of the saleswomen were young and Asian. None approached to assist me, instead greeting and speaking with Caucasian shoppers. I took notice because I’m half-Chinese. Perhaps I didn’t appear to have the money to spend. No matter I thought, I’m just browsing. If something “grabbed” my attention, I would’ve made myself known.

In lingerie, I looked at a selection of bras displayed on a table. While fingering one in particular, a lovely, black, young saleslady approached saying “Isn”t that nice!” I replied that it was, but couldn’t find the price. She checked one like it nearby. It too had no price, so she left to make inquiries, indicating she’d be right back. Upon returning with the price, she pointed to another bra that was on sale. Following her to the “sale” rack, I explained that I had been searching for one that I had seen more than a year ago at Free People. The saleslady quickly informed me that the store had a branch in the mall. I was pleasantly surprised that she referred me to a competitor. Her recommendation reminded me of the Santa Claus in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” If an item was not in stock, he sent customers from Gimbel’s, where he worked, to Macy’s where he thought they’d find exactly what they were looking for.

Leaving Bloomingdale’s I pondered what had just happened to me. I was ignored by my own ethnic “sisters”, and treated kindly by a black woman, who reached out in true sisterhood. On my way out of the store, I saw BCBG, a retailer of expensive, designer wear. Stepping inside, I strolled about, stopping to more closely inspect items that were of interest. The 3 young, Asian, sales help never acknowledged my presence. Interesting, I thought. As I made my way from the back towards the exit at the front, I stopped to allow one of the sales women to pass. I noticed a half-smile on her lips as she walked by. Continuing towards the door, I saw a Caucasian customer enter and heard one of the sales ladies call out “Hi! How are you?”

In my 20’s I perceived such affronts as there being something wrong with me. Almost 40 years later, I find such experiences curious. On its face it might seem that the Asian women thought I was “beneath” them and their Caucasian clientele. I was dressed well, but not anything like their regular customers. By contrast, the young, Black woman treated me as an equal or better, since I was a potential consumer. But setting aside what might seem like the obvious, it may be that the Asians were behaving according to stereotype, quiet and shy. And the black woman was, perhaps, more outgoing by nature. Murmuring to myself, I continued on my way.

My next encounter, more pleasant than those previously, added another dimension to the racial question. Sylvia, in DKNY, greeted me with a pleasant smile and “Hi! How are you?” As I wandered from table to rack, looking at Donna Karin designer digs, Sylvia’s eyes followed me. Stepping closer, she commented that I should let her know if I needed any help. I thanked her. When I finally spied a long, grey, sleeveless dress that might fit my daughter nicely, I asked for Sylvia’s assistance. We talked a little about the details of the dress, its fit, its color, its multiple use. I shared a picture of my daughter. Sylvia complimented my daughter’s beauty and her pursuit of dancing as a career. I learned that Sylvia was of Korean-Polish ancestry. I expressed my feeling that marriages between easterners and westerners, can produce attractive offspring. My husband and daughter who are Hawaiian-Chinese-Portuguese are proof-positive. I left in a very good mood, promising to return later that day, my daughter in tow.

Before heading off to get a bite to eat, I stopped in at Free People. Immediately inside the doorway, Ashley greeted me with a huge smile and friendly manner that wrapped around me like a warm blanket. We chatted continually while I moved hangers aside to better inspect each piece of clothing. I couldn’t stop staring at her, wondering who she looked like. After a few moments playing charades, we arrived at the conclusion that she bore a close resemblance to the youngest of the 3 protagonists fighting the “good fight” against the witches in “Hocus Pocus,” a Halloween favorite on the small screen. Throughout the boutique, Ashley met up with me to comment on an item that I’d hold up for a better look. A native Californian, she was the friendliest I’d ever met, and I told her so. She laughed, and thanked me for the compliment. To better explain myself I told her of my experience in Bloomingdale’s. “Oh!” she exclaimed, eyes rolling, “They need an attitude adjustment!” Well, I just loved her absolute candidness. She was too precious, I thought.

It was so refreshing to make small talk with a young person, so totally unimpressed with outward trappings. She was Caucasian, but it didn’t matter. She was a resounding reminder that it’s what a person is like on the “inside” that matters, not skin color, or social status, or age. Because of her innate skills for serving customers, Free People made a tidy sum when I returned with my daughter to make a number of purchases. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I wanted to return to Bloomingdale’s and BCBG to say “I was the one you wouldn’t help. Big mistake! Huge mistake! Huge!”

best not judge a book by its cover…hugmamma

in the spotlight

Did we miss out on something as children? The need to talk or be seen are phenomena which have overtaken our lives. On its face, blogging and reality shows seem like the highest form of narcissism. Why our need to be heard, to be seen? Author Lisa Sabin-Wilson says it best in “WordPress For Dummies.” Blogging is “…a means of expression.” I’d say the same might be true of reality shows.

I was very fortunate to accompany my husband on a recent business trip to Venice. Attending several scheduled events, I was able to watch the President and CEO of the company speak before large assemblies of people. What a performer! Of Norwegian descent and striking at 6’4″, his appearance alone commanded one’s attention. Speaking in accented English, smiles interspersed to lighten the mood, one couldn’t help but be charmed. He seemed unrehearsed, yet he spewed forth facts about the business which boggled my layperson’s mind. Most appealing was his humility in sharing the stage with employees recognized for their longevity with the company, serving in the least skilled to the highest skilled positions. Don’t you just love a boss who doesn’t take all the credit, and hog the limelight? (If I think really hard, I might have had one or two in my corporate career. Hmmm…thinking… thinking. Still thinking.)  And this is a man who rubs elbows with corporate giants, heads of state, European royalty and ambassadors.

In a million years I could not walk about a stage, owning it. I did try in my middle and high school years. In the ’60″s I was the dancing “queen”, doing the “mash-potato” all over campus. I harmonized in an all girls, Beatles look-a-like group; captained the cheer-leading squad; and choreographed theatrical school shows. When I wasn’t entertaining the masses, I was still a “cut-up” before family and friends, mostly friends.

In my own family I am still the “ham.” My daughter’s favorite description of my antics is that I’m “goofy”, loveable, but goofy nonetheless. I’m sure my in-laws would agree. But I pride myself in bringing humor to their lives. Without me my husband’s life would be pretty quiet. I bring a little luster to his life, according to my daughter and mother-in-law.

On the other hand, it’s my husband and daughter who work in front of people all the time. He makes regular speeches in meetings and public forums.  My daughter dances for a living. How much more public can she get? Talk about getting “butterflies” in one’s stomach. They would consume me before I ever made an entrance! Yikes!

So I blog. I blog to express myself as a writer. Therein lies my passion, putting thoughts into words. I will never have “writer’s block”. In fact I sometimes wish the ideas would cease flowing. They rush tumbling over one another trying to be heard. It’s as if I’m sitting encircled by little children, raised hands in my face, clamoring for attention. Calling upon one who begins to speak, only to be interrupted by others too impatient to wait. I have no choice but to give voice to them, these thoughts that are restless, wanting out of my head.

I think we all have a hint of Narcissus in us. A youth who in Greek mythology “fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and was transformed into the narcissus flower.” Did you know that it has a beautifully, pungent fragrance? Perhaps we’re all reincarnations of this heavenly blossom.

are you? I am…hugmamma.