Pitching the Past

We all have obsessions, maybe I have a few more than most.

One of mine concerns the thousands of photos, loose and in books, that fill my attic.

My issues are this:
If there’s a fire, or I have to leave in a hurry, or move to a smaller place, I may lose my photographed memories of the past.
My living in the present it hindered with all these photos of the past.
My neat freak OCD persona is challenged living alongside boxes full of photos.
Lately, with a push from my first boss in NYC 35 years ago (yes, there are photos of her in my war chest) I decided to make a change that would satisfy just me.

I took my camera-phone up to the attic and book by book, photo by photo photographed only those photos I wanted to keep. They have specific meaning to me: best friend, old boyfriend, important event, blessed family member. Then I enter them with a year in order to file by decade into the cloud. Funny how the older you get decades are important, not the year. So the 60s, 70s, 80s are now populated with only 20 or so personal bests, whereas at the time these photos were taken, 100 plus photos made up a great day on the beach with friends. Not necessary any more to keep them all.

The level of catharsis this project creates is hard to explain, but my ability to sleep has improved. I can live less in the past and more in the present as I transfer memories to the cloud.

Breaking News

 

I thought it was a good idea: get a valid “breaking news” app on my phone so I could be the first to know when breaking news hits. Of course how do you define “breaking news”? I did not want a buzzer every 5 seconds to alert me about inconsequential news. So, after sizing up the competitive news channels, Bill set up my phone to receive “qualified breaking news” during waking hours only, which I thought with our son in Israel for 2 weeks was a good idea.

 

Not so. At 6:30 am, we received “breaking news” in Jerusalem: a bus drove in to a crowd of young people killing several, one a 20-something year old male. That was the first report, sending my husband and I into a tailspin. I texted our son in Israel: no response, and then called Birthrights 24/7 800 number which on Sunday sent me to another number, which I did not call. Instead, I sat in stress while seeking internet updates on this story until finally I got the answer that let me breathe again. The dead were all soldiers in uniform. Not our son.

 

Nathan promptly responded from Israel saying he was in a Holocaust museum when we texted so could not respond. Naturally we set up his phone to work internationally before he left.

 

When the panic died down, I quickly had my husband disengage any “breaking news” alerts from my phone. He could keep his on, as he’s not a freakazoid worrier like me.

 

Experiment over.

 

Lesson learned: Protect yourself. Better to start the day with deep breathing, meditation and gentile yoga, which I do, in a heated, aromatherapy studio, which I have, and not be assaulted by news, which unlike the Birthrights phone number is 24/7 and then some.

I could while away the hours

 

IMG_0861boulder, colorado watching my son “while away the hours”

 

The End of Daydreaming   

“I could while away the hours, conferrin’ with the flowers

Consultin’ with the rain.

And my head I’d be scratchin’ while

my thoughts were busy hatchin’

If I only had a brain.”–The Scarecrow, Wizard of Oz

We all know that tune and could easily hum it out loud.

This tune runs through my head when I lament the end of daydreaming, the root of all creativity. Whatever does “while away the hours” even mean these days?

In olden days, prior to computers, when boredom set in during long drives our choices included counting telephone poles from the backs of our parents car or simply fighting with siblings. All of which produced creative thoughts.

Those days are gone, thanks to Facebook, e-mail, Zillow, Homeaway, Google Earth, just a few of the apps that have me by the back of the neck. They suck away my boredom and create an emotional vortex. I need my Facebook “likes” like a rat pressing a bar for water, a classic Pavlovian response also known as addiction. I can spend hours fantasizing about renting homes on Homeaway in warm, sunny locales. I can turn to Google Earth to spy on friends’ homes around the world. Or look up former colleagues on Facebook, not to mention voyeurism among “friends” as I view their expositions. Habits are formed, addictions are made since according to Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s much quoted research from 1960 it only takes around 21 days to form a new habit.

“Post less, live more” is the motto many young folks already know. They have figured out the dark and down side of needing to share what you do, eat, and who you enjoy life with. It’s funny how they know this more than most of my middle aged friends. My kids tell me it’s only a real and pure experience if no one but you sees and feels it.

Recently my husband quoted a Facebook post that said, basically, “I’m glad I lived in the times I did, before Facebook, when no one knew the shit I did, nor can find it out now”.

352 words  Jan. 3, 2017

In My Closet

img_2971One of the benefits of spending lots of time at home, combined with an addiction to organization and clothes, is that your closets rock.

By ROCK I mean you learn and improve things as you go along in order to create something quite wonderful.

In the past I organized my clothes by color. All whites folded or hung together. Same with black and a few other allowable colors. This basically looked great but did not function well;  I never really dressed by color. Nor did I take the time to unfold those beautifully folded foundation pieces to create a look, electing to  grab the usuals instead.

Just the other night, after returning from another unfulfilled shopping trip to realize  I have what I need, I was charged.  Reorganizing my closet  I began to put together the outfits already assembled. Genius! So sweaters had the appropriate layer underneath (color, length,  flow and fabric). I can now put on my standard black leggings and grab the top(s) that work, already layered and ready to go. This is essential, as layering is the only way to dress for me. It flatters me, gives me a longer waist, hides my stomach, resulting in a taller, creative look. Thankfully layering is also IN STYLE, but either way, it’s what I need to do. I’d be layering even if it were out of style.

These dates with my closet  could be one of my favorite times. Could this be a sign of OCD? Who says you have to do something amazing to feel good about yourself? Whatever, it’s what I love to do. My creativity does not require messy materials like paint and clay, just clean clothes and hangers.

 

Empty Nesterhood Starts in Aspen

maroon bells, aspen.jpgEmpty Nesterhood Starts in Aspen

 

Dear Kids,

As you are aware, Dad and I went on to Aspen for 3 days after dropping your brother off at CU Boulder to begin our life as empty nesters.

While driving the most majestic Route 70 through the Rocky Mountains, with Dad reminding me to look up at the mountains to find the long haired sheep vs. my facebook posts, we decided to stop at Hanging Lake to do our first climb.

The sign said “strenuous hike” which immediately turned me off. Dad changed into his hiking boots, while I lazily remained in my new black Nike Air’s on, thinking if it were too strenuous I’d blame my shoes and turn back. That’s exactly what I did 5 minutes into the hike, as my shoes were slipping on the rocks (the whole climb was a giant step ladder of rocks) and my quads were starting to ache. I went back to the shaded parking lot and did some yoga stretches for about 1 hour til Dad returned in record time (the hike is supposed to take 2 hours). I guess his working out two days a week with a trainer for 3 years paid off.

Aspen was a dream come true. Hollywood-set mountain backdrops, designer stores, gorgeous architecture, and gourmet food. What could be better?

Next day we used the free hotel bikes with those fat tires to follow the Rio Grande bike path down hill towards Woody Creek, where Hunter Thompson lived, died and whose remains were shot of a cannon. Dad rode way ahead and this time I found just a few things to complain about: should have worn my bike shorts (Dad of course did), sun was too strong and worst of all, panic was setting in as I stressed over how I would get back to the hotel which was all up hill. Fortunately at Woody Creek Tavern we found a cab with bike racks to take us back. It cost $50 to go a few miles, but I would have paid a year of your tuition to avoid that monstrous hill home.

Everyone told us “you have to see Maroon Bell’s” which is this cool mountain top lake created by glaciers. We drove up after 5:00, when the tour buses leave, happily cancelling yet another gourmet, GMO free, gluten free, free range, Paleo, farm-to-pricy table dinner night out in Aspen. Dad again reminded me to look at the view vs. my I- Phone, above the line of Aspen trees and wildflowers where campers were starting their cookouts. Bikers and hikers pushed their way up 10,000 plus feet of insanely lit mountain terrain.

The summit was windy and too cold for my blood. I told Dad I would not eat sitting by the lake, with all those dogs around, and I wasn’t even hungry yet. “All about you” repeated Dad, as he seems to say a lot these days.

We went back to the Limelight Hotel and I happily ate my Whole Foods salad in bed, while Dad went to the lobby to hear some live music and drink some local Aspen beer. While he was having his time alone, I imagined he would attract a young equestrian realtor from Aspen, wearing her gold designer slip on sneakers and high-priced athleta-leisure wear. She would set up appointments to show him some phenomenal homes in Little Woody Creek Ranch and eventually he would re-marry the outdoor loving ski bunny Yvonne and stay in Aspen – permanently.

I would sell your childhood home in Wellesley and move to Boca, where it’s warm all year long. Don’t worry about me, I’d find a rich old guy who will be dead in 3 years and you boys will have a winter place in Florida and a skiing place in Aspen. Lucky you.

The morning light of Aspen is beyond description, especially when it casts a shadow on the man I love, who is lying next to me, your father and my loving husband of 26 years. Though he may like biking and skiing more than I do, I cannot imagine a day without him by my side. However long we are together it will never be long enough.

Your forever loving Mom

Packing for College

Packing for College

Back in the olden days, kids left quickly, not slowly. They went to war, or got married, taking all their belongings with them. It was akin to ripping the bandage off quickly, you cried and then started your new life as soon as they began theirs.

Today, they leave slowly, the bandage is tugged one inch at a time. They pack to leave for college, yet leave some clothes behind. All their early childhood possessions are back home, held fast in boxes, labeled and worshipped by their adoring parents. The separation pain for parents will be prolonged.

Today, I packed with my third son, knowing of the three, he’d be coming home the least. Jared is our third son, going off to Colorado, where his older soon-to-be college grad brother has chosen to live after he graduates. Jared will have options during school vacations, he doesn’t have to come home.

Our home is full of empty bedrooms, in all kinds of states. One is firmly a guest room, as our eldest Adam graduated two years ago and lives in Boston. We still refer to it of course as Adam’s room. Nathan’s room is not quite a guest room but anything in there is fair game, as in, Nathan would not miss it or know it was gone, with the exception of his framed Ray Allen jersey. He’s a Super Senior, far away, in Colorado. The Rocky Mountain state has become home for Nathan; he’s immersed himself in the fabric of the place: it’s music scene, it’s natural wonders, and the deep friendships that are like family to him.

Today, as Jared and I organize his clothes and possessions in preparing to pack, his room is beginning the process of becoming extinct. We are tossing what doesn’t fit, and leaving enough behind to draw him home. He will come back, but never the same, as none of our kids truly come home the same; they move on, ready to take on their new lives.

Lake George Saga

 

My 90′ yr old mother-in-law Alice and I walked the lakeside road this morning in the cool mountain air of mid July.  It’s the same road she walked on as a young girl, picking blueberries with her Aunt Rita, or walking to the post office with her cousin Serene.
Her long and detailed stories of growing up here at the lakeside camp her dad and his brother built back in the late’20s are endless and yet they now include my own children growing up here. We are blessed with a loving family who enjoys and honors the traditions both new and old established here at our lake home . We are aware of how rare it all is: a shared home in the family for 4 generations, a financial prescription that works without resentment, a group of siblings and cousins who adore one another, a boat, a beach and enough kept original works of art, China, antique furnishings, books and trinkets to remind us of where we came and why we are lucky enough to enjoy this gift left to us from those whose dreams came before ours.

My mother in law always complements my role as an in law who never obstructed her sons love and commitment to this place.  I grew to understand its importance as my husband’s family history became the history of our children. It’s where our kids learned to camp, waterski, fish, drive the boat and light a roaring campfire. It’s where they come now to drink beer and barbecue with friends and cousins, where they plan to bring their children and even grandchildren when we are all gone. It’s where their hearts lie, and now it’s where mine lies as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay at Home Moms vs. Career Moms

On the subject of stay at home moms vs. career moms, here’s my take in 100 words or less. Having chosen the path of stay at home for 25 years while living in a career focused C-Suite neighborhood  I view things in a unique perspective.

Career moms have to balance life at work with being a mom. That is stressful, but you get to wear nice clothes.

Stay at home moms have to keep their sanity all day long watching their kids. That can cause depression, and they don’t get to wear nice clothes.

 

 

Empty Nester Cruise

 

Empty Nester Cruise

By Beth Nast

 

I’m of the belief that all stages should be marked by something remarkable. In that vain, entering empty nest-hood caused my husband and I to consider how we should mark the fact that our youngest of three boys was sailing off to college in the fall. We debated the pros and cons of travel to all kinds of locales, renting an upscale mobile home to explore a few National Parks, sign up for cooking classes in Italy, bike through Amsterdam. Alas, since Barcelona was on our hit list, the trigger was pulled as we booked a small Windjammer cruise to sail from Lisbon to Barcelona.

Expressing my feelings as “bittersweet” one friend commented on Facebook, “It’s all sweet, nothing bitter”, but she is from Sweden, where emotions play out differently than those whose ancestors hail from Eastern European Jewish descent. We wear sadness on our sleeves and look for pathos in every otherwise happy occasion.

I’d like to say the next stage will be filled with travel and excitement, because that is so very true. To prepare for it, in the usual type-A approach I spent a talk-filled hour with a career coach who specializes in the retirement puzzle, attended a group class at my synagogue with newly darned empty nesters, read books on the subject and blogged voraciously on the subject. And yet, with all the pieces in place: money to spend, a loving husband to share life with, good health, hobbies, friends… the cold hard facts remain unmovable. No matter the positive lens which I happily employ, the future consists of a few difficult emotions you can’t ignore, like missing your sandbox children who now live so far away.

So as we set sail this fall from Lisbon to Barcelona I will enjoy the sweet alongside the bitter, knowing how human it is to balance the two together.

 

 

wanderlust

It’s not about the house, really, or the ocean view or the swimming pool.
It’s about the hunt, the escape from reality, even if your reality is damn near perfect.
It’s about living in a real fantasy world for a moment, or an hour, each day.
That’s why I search for homes on zillow or trulia, with maps to show where the homes are in relationship to the ocean, a lake, full of photos of rooms I’ll never live in, a perfect laundry room, a gigantic  sunset.
In reality you grow older, your kids move far away.
In my fantasy none of these things happen. I live with flowers blooming all year, the smell of lilacs each time the wind blows.
Zillow is my drug of choice,  my fix.IMG_0873