Irrational Inventory

dressingsWe Real Women are generally responsible for maintaining appropriate household inventory levels of grocery items and commonly used home goods. Sure, our husbands or partners may occasionally venture out to the store, but they are either going with a list in hand compiled by us, or they are shopping for immediate need items. They are not going to notice that the household is down to one stick of butter and three eggs, or that the soap dispenser is nearly empty and everyone is on the last roll of toilet paper.   So it is our job to take notice of all of these items and plan accordingly.

Some items are more critical than others. In my house, running out of peanut butter or milk is a fate of horrific proportions; a house that is devoid of English muffins is the stuff nightmares are made of. And no Ginger Ale? I hate to see a grown man pout when it is cocktail hour. We do our very best to avoid such atrocities and have back up inventory on our shelves, in a pantry, or in the basement.  This is not foolproof.  Just this week I ran out of parchment paper. That was a bit disappointing when I wanted to bake some cookies, but nothing to lose sleep over. Replenishing that item can wait until the next shopping expedition, no need for a special trip.

Our plans can go a bit awry, however, when we begin to stockpile random items. We are somehow unaware that we build up multiples of certain items. Either we think that we are getting low on the item and purchase it every time we shop, then get back home to realize there are already 5 on the shelf, or we buy items over time and store them in different places so we never really know how many we have. Or, perhaps, we just lose count.

I have an inventory issue with salad dressings. I have many in the door of my refrigerator. And a couple spares in my cupboard. The funny part is, I really only prefer one type of dressing. It is all I use. Yet I buy others for recipes, or to have on hand when guests are here for dinner, or…well, really, I don’t know why. I’m just trying to come up with excuses.

The other day I went digging through my basement to see if I had a spare disposable tablecloth for an upcoming cookout. Sure enough, I did. As a matter of fact, I had at least eight of them. In a variety of colors. This is a classic example of buying one or two before every birthday, family reunion, summer cookout, and party of any type. Every time. Without checking home stock first.

I happened to mention my discovery to another R.W. friend, and shared that I’m not sure why I have these lapses in strategic inventory planning. She understood my predicament. She shared with me that she “has a recurring problem with mayonnaise and grape jelly.”   Another friend shared that at one point she had an unreasonable quantity of Cumin in her seasonings cabinet. It is good to know that we are not alone in our sometimes irrational behavior.   I take heart in knowing that I’m not a full-on hoarder because I don’t collect multiples of everything. Just a few chosen products — for no apparent reason.

In reality, this errant stockpiling habit is not just an affliction for women. My husband has the same problem with CD cases. He has some stacked by his desk and he’s got a whole box of them “hidden” in a closet. Empty CD/DVD cases. Why? Who knows. Could he get rid of them? Probably. Will he ever? Unlikely.

Sometimes we just have to allow ourselves some lapses in judgment and common sense, or recognize our hidden need to act like a squirrel preparing for winter. Rather than storing nuts for food throughout the winter, we are storing things like condiments for a possible naked salad emergency.

Hey, it could happen.


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The Secret Evil Metamorphosis Portal

mirror on the wallWe Real Women all own mirrors. Usually several of them. There’s the bathroom mirror where we do the private review of ourselves in our birthday suits, sucking in our stomachs or lifting up what gravity has been pulling down, or leaning in close to get rid of errant eyebrow hairs or to take inventory of wrinkles or complexion issues.

Then there’s the mirror where we put on our make-up. This one is either chosen for use due to good light, or just convenient proximity to where we store our cosmetics. Then there is the larger mirror where we assess our outfit for the day – often causing several changes before finally realizing we are running late and just have to go with whatever we have on.

Some of us have other smaller mirrors in handy locations for last minute checks before going out the door, or in our purses or cars to check windblown hair issues and lipstick application.

One would think, that with all of these opportunities for reflection, there would be no surprises awaiting us regarding our appearance.   We know how we look. Some days, on those rare lucky days, we’ve got good hair, a rockin’ outfit, and all of our appearance planets seem to be aligned. Most days, however, we just at some point give ourselves approval to go out in public looking as we do. We reach the “as good as its gonna get” moment and step out feeling, if not confident, at least alright with ourselves.

Most days, we are right. All is well. We did good. We look fine, if not awesome.

Then other days, somehow, between the home mirror and the rest of the world, we enter through a mysterious, secret, evil portal of metamorphosis.   We go into the bathroom at our place of employment and look in the mirror there, or we catch a reflection of ourselves in a window or store mirror, and we are taken aback at what we see. Suddenly we realize that we are having a horrific hair day, or the bags under our eyes are dark and foreboding, or that outfit that looked so cute at home and in our imagination is just plain…bad.

One morning recently, I chose to put on a new top I had found on a clearance rack the previous weekend and a pair of capri’s. I didn’t venture into the ladies’ room at work until late morning, and when I did, I thought “oh dear lord, this outfit looks like I put on 35 pounds overnight! What was I thinking?!”   I had crossed over that line from trendy and fun, and had entered into unflattering and scary. I suddenly wanted to go hide behind my desk for the rest of the day.

Sometimes the error is not in the way an outfit accentuates the least favorable parts of our bodies, but has more to do with wardrobe malfunctions. “I swear I couldn’t see my bra or panties through this material at home!” or “was that stain there this morning?!” or “why won’t this zipper stay up/hook stay clasped/button stay on?”

The clothing isn’t always what changes after we somehow pass through this invisible bad news gateway. “Did I look this tired and pale this morning?!” or my favorite “wait, where did that new crop of grey hair come from?”

We can blame poor lighting or bad eyesight for our delusions that we look nifty when clearly we don’t… but I do think there is a mysterious transformational force at work. When we are in front of our own mirrors at home, all is well. So something else must be happening.   Clearly one of the other secretive portals this force uses is the camera. How many of us have seen photos of ourselves and realized: “Wow, those pants make me look huge, I’ve gotta lose weight!” or “what the heck, my boobs look ginormous!” or “yikes, how did I get so old?”

In order to stop this mysterious dark force in our lives, we would need to remove all mirrors and reflective surfaces outside our homes and hide from all cameras. Or, perhaps we could hunt down Tony Robbins and ask him to cast a spell on us like he did for Jack Black in the movie Shallow Hal. I suppose neither of these are realistic options. So perhaps, we just need to get used to the fact that our imaginations might be a bit more rosey than reality. Or, even better, stop being so hard on ourselves and realize that the people we come in contact with each day are likely never going to notice our bad hair days, the stain on our shirt, a poor wardrobe choice, the extra wrinkle around our eyes, or the five new grey hairs. They are more apt to notice our new shirt, or our smile, or our funky earrings.

They won’t see our imperfections – mostly because they are too busy worrying about their own.







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They Didn’t Tell Us About This Part

sandwich-generation-caregivingWe all have our expectations of each stage of our lives. We know, for example, as children, that we need to learn how to play well with others and learn right from wrong.   We know as young adults that we need to start taking responsibilities for our actions and planning our futures. We anticipate that as parents, we will be experiencing the challenges, wonders, and fatigue of raising children. And, as we enter into our more mature years, we are aware that we’ll need to deal with our maturing bodies, make solid plans for our careers and retirement, and care for our elderly loved ones.

As we progress through each phase, we learn, and adapt, and every experience shapes who we are. We realize there are ways to find joy in every part, even the most challenging ones. By talking to friends, mentors, and loved ones, we feel prepared for whatever comes next.

Lately, however, I’ve been feeling that some vital details were left out in our expectation-setting process for entering our middle-age years. And it has to do with that last little item I listed: caring for our elderly loved ones.  Certainly none of us are naive enough to believe we won’t be somehow affected by the needs of the aging generation before us, and we all know that some day, each and every one of us, will pass on beyond this earth.   We all expect to need to help care for our parents, aunts, uncles, even older siblings and cousins. We also know that the bulk of this care will land squarely with us, Real Women. But now that many of us have entered this phase of our lives full force, I’m realizing there were details that “they” just didn’t tell us.

They didn’t tell us that:

  • It would happen suddenly. Sure, our own aging process has been gradual and transitional. But while we were focused on ourselves, virtually overnight the generation before us became old.   Suddenly they are all 75+, with the majority in their 80’s and 90’s.
  • It changes in a heartbeat. Literally. Just as quickly as our loved ones became old while we weren’t watching, like the flip of a switch, their health deteriorates. They go from healthy and vibrant seniors to elders with serious concerns like heart conditions, diabetes, dementia….and they need medical attention and increased care.
  • We have to become medical experts. Most of us did not go to school to become nurses or doctors, but now we have to learn what medical terminology means, how to organize and dispense medications, what to watch for in our patients, and how to help them.
  • We have to become pro-active hard-asses. Our sick and elderly loved ones are no longer of strong mind and body enough to be their own advocates. We have to do that for them. We have to manage the red tape of our healthcare system, we have to ask the right questions and get clear answers, we have to demand attention and focus from medical professionals and insurance companies. This is no longer the job for the meek and mild. And we have to draw on every multi-tasking and comprehension skill we have to keep everything on track.
  • The exhaustion is never ending. We begin to remember all too well the exhaustion we felt when we had newborn babies. The lack of sleep, the worry, the stress, the draining of emotions… it is all back. But this time, we are decades older with far less inherent energy than we had when we were young mothers or aunties.
  • Flexibility and understanding become the most important benefit offered by employers. Before, we were focused on our salaries, our 401(k) contributions, our vacation time, and whether or not we had a window near our desks. Now, we need, and desperately appreciate, the flexibility to leave at a moment’s notice for an emergency, or work different hours to accommodate medical appointments, or use company time for tracking down doctors, getting updates, and calling family members.
  • It is an epidemic. Literally every day I hear from an R.W. about an ill relative, or her time spent caring for an elderly loved one, or, sadly, someone’s passing. Yes, it is a life stage. What is remarkable is how many of us are all experiencing the same thing at the same time. The time will eventually come when we can get back to other, more fun topics, like who’s got the best sales, what trips we are taking, what books we are reading, and where we want to go to lunch. But right now, the conversations are more about who’s loved one is in the hospital and why.

And that brings me to the final piece they didn’t tell us:

  • How much we need to rely on each other. Our fellow R.W.’s get it. They understand the pain, the stress, the exhaustion. We have all been there. And, hopefully, on this roller-coaster path we take, one can be strong at the time another one feels weak.   Even though we don’t have a magic wand to keep everyone young, healthy and vibrant forever, we have strong shoulders, open ears and warm hugs to help each other through.

One of my ever-so wise BFF/R.W.’s, who of course has also been dealing with her share of caring for loved ones, stated: We are now tasked to be the Buddha and stay ever present in the moment. And that is so very true. A week or so ago I was working on one of my scrapbooks, and came across photos of a trip we had taken a mere four years ago to visit my Dad. The pictures showed my son roaming around a museum with his grandpa. At the time, my dad was still healthy, sharp, and mobile. He was the wise old sage sharing his wisdom with the young sponge who was eager to hear it. Looking at those photos, both looked so happy to be in each of their roles and having time together. At the time, it seemed like just a fun weekend visit. I had no idea then how quickly those would become cherished and magical memories.

This life phase may be our most challenging yet, and it sure would have been handy to have an instruction manual to study ahead of time. (Funny, I think I asked for a similar instruction manual on raising children!)  But like every other stage, we will learn, we will persevere…. And as long as we keep our overwhelmed moments to a minimum, and band together to gain strength from each other, we will still find pure joy in the important moments.



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No Choice in the Matter

Over 50 years of being cousins.

Over 50 years of cousin-hood.

“ You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”    — Desmond Tutu.

According to Merriam-Webster, Family is defined as a group of people who are related to each other, or a group of persons of common ancestry.   This is appropriately vague, because in our modern world of blended relationships and creative dynamics, the term “family” has wide-reaching meaning. To some, “family” refers to our immediate household members – potentially a spouse, possibly children. To many of us, that simple word, family, casts a far greater net than that, encompassing siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. Family can include those not even related by blood and heritage… I consider some of my closest BFF’s to be part of my family, as my sisters. Many others also consider the dearest friendships in their lives to be their family.

Variety is the spice of life with families. Some are small and intimate, with members living near each other throughout generations past and present. Others are large and complex, spread out far and wide. Yet no matter what the format, shape or size, there is some sort of common thread that connects family members. We can drive each other crazy, have differing opinions, and have varying life goals – but somehow, there is still an undeniable connection. If I were to create my own dictionary (move over, M-W!) I’d revise the family definition to read something like “a group of people with bonds that can not be broken by time, distance, personality quirks, opinions, or bad decisions. “

I have one of those spread-out families. I literally have relatives residing everywhere from California to New England. As more time and distance passes, staying in touch has proven to be more and more challenging. I often wish it was easier to see some of my family members on a regular basis, because I know all too well that life is short. Yet gone are the days of frontier living where we all would stay together on the same acreage and take care of the homestead. Now, instead, we are all trying to maintain our own homesteads, far apart, and rather than gathering for a weekly meal at our clan’s ranch, we rely on the internet and social media to stay in touch.

This weekend I had the pure joy of re-connecting, in person, with my cousins from my Dad’s side of the family in what we hope will become an annual reunion. We are all familiar with the phrase that nothing brings family together like weddings and funerals – well, sadly, this group of cousins were all re-acquainted over the past year due to the loss of some dear family members from the generation before us. Even amidst our sadness and despair, we were able to share laughs, hugs, and wonder “why aren’t we spending time together?”

And so, the idea to gather for a happier reason was born. With surprisingly little planning and drama, 25 of us pulled together for what I believe will end up going down in my personal history book as one of my top 10 best weekends. It helped, of course, that the weather was perfect, and the setting (thanks to one generous cousin) was both comfortable and beautiful.

The most remarkable thing about the weekend, besides the blue skies and sunshine, was how effortlessly we all connected even after literally decades of being apart. It took just about a nano-second for each of us to feel that bond, that familial pull.   We compared memories of the past, updates on our current lives, and met faces never yet introduced. Hours flew past over food, beverage, outdoor activities, and best of all: story-telling. Emotions ranged from laughter to near tears, to fascination and hope. And with each re-connection, we learned a bit more about each other – creating friendships to go with that common ancestry.

We glossed over some of the errors and poor choices that may have been made by previous generations that likely attributed to our distances from each other, and instead happily blazed on to forge new connections. One of the greatest moments was watching our children – the next generation of cousins – bond, finding their own common grounds, shared interests, and enjoyment in having time together.

Not only were we all pleasantly surprised how much fun our gathering was, we were all somewhat shocked at how just plain easy it was. There was no awkwardness, no stranger anxiety, no concerns on how to connect. It all just happened.

We came away with high hopes in planning the next gathering as we shared phone numbers, emails and addresses to stay in touch. Life is busy, and we all have experienced the falling off of once-valued relationships, and the ache of empty promises to “stay in touch.”   Yet with certain people in our lives, those promises carry more weight and less doubt. More honesty and less hype. More love and less hollowness.

Certainly not all family gatherings can be as rosy and fun as my experience this weekend. They can be challenging, messy, frustrating and a little bit wild. That still doesn’t change the fact that we R.W.’s need our families, need that piece of string that ties us together. We thrive on the crazy stories that weave us together.

Like it or not, family members feed our souls.


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We Still Wanna Be Hot

wolf callI remember as a college student, we girls knew it was a sure sign of spring and early summer when we’d start getting waves, calls and horn honks from the town & construction truck drivers who drove through campus. At the time, that attention made us uncomfortable and embarrassed, and we sought comfort with each other by making comments like “ugh, that’s so disgusting.”

Flash forward about 30 years, and if that happened now I’d smile and wave back with appreciation. Because, let’s face it, as we head into our more mature years, those cat calls and honks come much more infrequently. Ironic, because now is when we need them most for our egos.

There is a great episode of “The King of Queens” when Doug bribes the construction crew down the road to toss catcalls at his wife as she walks by on her way home in the evening. He gave them beer to keep it up, because the result was Carrie came home in a good mood, and he benefited from that. All was great, of course, until she found out he was bribing them.

One of the best things about that episode is that Doug was not at all threatened by the construction guys. He knew she was in no danger, and had no concern that she would suddenly turn around and run off with one of them. He simple figured out it was an easy way for her to feel good about herself.

Recently, one of my R.W. BFF’s, who has been losing weight on a diet, shared with me how much of an ego boost she had received that day because of compliments from two different male associates at her work. Again, she had no illusions of the comments leading to anything. It just felt good that some male, other than her husband, found her attractive.

You see, for us married R.W.’s, we 100% appreciate the fact that we have a supportive and loving hubby or partner at home, who dutifully gives us attention and compliments. But in a way, we feel like that is part of the marriage contract…after the “until death do us part” agreement, there is a “no matter my age or weight, you will tell me I’m beautiful and sexy” addendum. We know they need our confirmations and accolades just as much as we do. It’s just part of the deal.

As the years roll on, however, our confidence in being attractive to anyone other than our life partners dwindles. We start to focus probably too much on our wrinkles, grey hair, body parts pulled south by gravity, and muffin tops.   Those young women we once were, who strode confidently down the street in cute showy outfits now struggle to find something to wear that won’t make us look dumpy, dowdy, and like someone’s mom or grandma. Which is of course what we are.

So when some sort of unexpected attention flows our way, we are downright tickled by it. Of course, there remains a line between creative and creepy, appreciative and harassing. And certainly I’m not condoning objectifying women, or wanting to start a heated debate.  Because of modern day sensitivities, I think many of us, male and female, are hesitant to express harmless comments of admiration for fear of being taken the wrong way. I know most of us R.W.’s avoid saying what we are thinking because we don’t want to come across as Cougars on the prowl. Pity, as I’m sure there are plenty of men of all ages who wouldn’t mind being told they look good or have a nice smile. Instead, we R.W.’s will wait to have safety in numbers during a girls night out, and do some risk-free flirting with an outnumbered waiter, completely embarrassing him and enjoying it.

Thankfully, there are still a few brave souls out there who have seemingly mastered the art of creative and harmless commendations. Shortly after I got my new car, I was maneuvering through a crowded parking lot, attempting to not run over a group of men leaving a restaurant. One of them paused by my window and said “That’s ok, I’d get run over by you any day.” Of course, it wasn’t until an hour later that I thought of a snappy comeback about him being a nice hood ornament.   I will from time to time get some attention when I’m out on my bicycle. One guy who passed me on his motorcycle put his hand out and made a gesture as if he would have squeezed my tushy. As a young girl I would have been offended. Now I laughed.

The attention doesn’t even have to be sexually motivated. Opening a door with a smile is enough to boost our moods. Talking to us like we are the smart and impressive women that we are, works. Unexpectedly recognizing our hard work or efforts does wonders.   Last week my workout coach complimented me on my muscle tone. Of course I realize that I literally PAY him to say things to motivate me. But I don’t care, even if it was B.S., it made me feel good and made me work harder.

One of my R.W. friends told me the nicest story the other day. Her son, a big, burly, handsome young man, had assisted an elderly woman with finding her seat on an airplane. She had been thrilled and appreciative of his kindness, and I’m sure by his looks as well. My friend’s son, when describing this experience to his mother said “She may have been 90, but I saw a 22-year old girl in the sparkle of her eyes. “ How wonderful that comment was. It shows that he understood that no matter how old we get, we still want to be appreciated as women. We still wanna be hot.

So embrace every moment, every compliment.

Yesterday a BFF texted me and said “I got catcalled last night!”  My response: “Woo hoo!”



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Ninja Skills

female ninjaLast night my family and I happened to tune in to watch a bit of American Ninja Warrior.   We aren’t die-hard fans of the show, but it seems to be on almost every night at this point, and it is oddly compelling. It is easy to get sucked in to watching contestant after contestant try to navigate seemingly physically impossible obstacle courses that require practically non-human upper body strength and agility. As each competitor excitedly steps up to the course, all of us watching cheer him or her on, hoping THIS will be the one who makes it all the way, and doesn’t fall into the pool of water at the bottom.

I ended up keeping the show on for about an hour as I did some other things around the house, and I think in that hour only 3 people made it all the way through the 4-stage journey. The show’s creators of course profile any of the competitors who have overcome diversity to be there, or have trained in some amazing way, just to ensure that we are emotionally invested in what we are watching. I of course root the most for the least likely winners – the oldest competitor, the youngest competitor, the one who has tried for three years prior and never made it all the way, etc etc… I’m impressed and slightly awed by the level of fitness these athletes have achieved to be there, especially since I was watching it after having just pushed myself through a measly one-hour workout session.

This morning, however, as I forced myself out of bed when our ugly alarm went off, cursing the fact I had stayed up too late doing chores, I thought about the challenges and paths we all face. Sure, those Spiderman-like athletes are unrealistically impressive. But what about the American Ninja Real Woman Daily Obstacle Course? Like the Warrior show, our challenges, should we choose to accept them, can be batched into four stages. We do our best to get through them all without falling into the deep end.:

Stage 1: Up and At ‘Em.   After not enough sleep, an alarm, pet, or child gives the Ready Set Go command and the RW is off and running. She has a limited amount of time to accomplish tasks such as pet or child care, breakfast and lunch preparation, answering questions, texts, and emails, and getting herself dressed and presentable. Any number of unexpected obstacles are thrown in, such as dirty dishes, forgotten homework, torn clothing, missing buttons, notes to be written, laundry, and even vomit. If the Ninja RW manages to get through this course without being late to work, and being fully clothed in matching, unwrinkled attire, then she may move on to the next stage.

Stage 2: Mount Workopolus. This is the stage of the course with the greatest variety. Our Ninja R.W.’s step into their public personae to accomplish any number of feats such as caregiving, leading, teaching, customer service, administration, creative development, and even saving lives. They must accomplish this while keeping one hand on the domestic wheel, managing family emergencies, appointments, calls, planning and coordination. Like the Warriors TV show, the R.W. navigates the same obstacle course, and same stages, as their male counterparts. However even when successful, unlike on TV, she will receive on average only 78% of the prize monies offered to the men. She will push her way through anyway, chanting some motivational mantra in her head about needing to pay for vacation, childcare, or a new pair of shoes.  The Ninja R.W. will achieve success in this stage of the course if she meets all deadlines, remains pleasant and professional, and still looks good at the other end. Starting to feel fatigued and battle-weary, she heads on to Stage 3.

Stage 3: The Post-Work-Press. Speed is of the essence with this portion of the challenge. The Ninja R.W. pulls out any remaining multi-tasking resources she has left to run errands, drive the R.W. taxi, care for family and pets, prepare food, repair & clean up any damage done from the first two stages, and wedge in extra chores or quality time with loved ones. At this point, our Ninja is not only battling fatigue, but a sore back, headache, and a lowered level of patience. But she perseveres because she can see the last Stage in front of her and hopeful successful completion.

Stage 4: The Wind Down. With any luck, this Stage allows for a brief rest period for the Ninja R.W., possibly in the form of reading a magazine or book, catching a TV program, or talking with other Ninja R.W. contestants. But the respite is brief, as the preparing for bed process kicks in. While the rest of the family snuggles under the covers, the Ninja R.W. is making the last rounds. Like the TV Warrior competitors trying to climb that last wall or ladder, the R.W. is getting the pet out for a last bio break, putting away dishes, carrying loads of laundry, prepping items for the following day, turning out lights and locking up.

As the Warriors triumphantly reach their end goal and push the big red button and the announcers proclaim their success, the Ninja R.W. gives kisses, brushes her teeth, removes her make-up and turns out the light.

The Warriors on TV receive high praise and a loud cheering and applauding crowd. The lucky R.W. hears a quiet thank you or I love you.

And that is exactly why she is ready to start the challenge all over again in a few short hours.


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Our Own Fascination

woman_question“It is not the question, what am I going to be when I grow up; you should ask the question, who am I going to be when I grow up.” — Goldie Hawn. 


There is a current tv ad spot for a car company (sorry, I don’t remember which brand), that shows a young woman driving through a city. She says something like “There are 8,491,079 people in this city. But only one me.”   That is a great line. And beyond all the marketing reasons why that works, it speaks to something we all seem to be fascinated with: ourselves.   We love to research, discuss, and think about what makes us tick, what makes us similar or different from others… in other words, why are we special? Who is that person in the mirror?

Those of us in sales, marketing and media are enthralled with the Generational discussion. We analyze our differences based on when we were born and how our life experiences have shaped us. Are you from the Greatest Generation? A Baby Boomer? A Gen X? A Milennial? We wear our Generation with pride. What if you are on the cusp in between? Does that give you an identity crisis? How does this relate to our “pecking order” in our own families? Were you the oldest, the middle child, the youngest? In the fairly wide spread range of ages in the average work force, there’s a whole lot of discussion about how these groups work together. How should the “older generations” work with the younger digitally-focused Milennials? Ugh, please give me a moment now while I go take my Geritol, grab my walker and try to figure out how to use this new fangled contraption on my desk…

Speaking of the working world, many of us have taken part in various personality assessments or workshops, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Interesting stuff, giving us the goal to understand why we work and think the way we do, and how to work effectively with other “types.”   (ENFJ, at your service!) This is also handy in our personal lives. I find it fascinating that so much effort and focus has been placed on this, and for nearly 100 years since this philosophy was developed. Leave it to two women (Katherine and Isabel) to take a Swiss psychiatrist’s theory and take it even further. We women love this stuff.

And there’s the other area of fascination: Men vs Women, Mars vs. Venus. There’s no limit to the analysis of the differences here. We R.W.’s can spend hours discussing what is right or wrong with men, and why we are so different from them. Really, we can fill a whole evening or even a whole weekend on this topic. I’m sure men discuss it too. But for them, it goes more like this:

“Man, she’s just driving me crazy.”

“Yeah, chick’s just don’t get it.”

“No, and we sure as hell don’t get them either.”

“You said it. Want a beer?”

When we haven’t been able to find all our answers via scientists or friends, we can of course turn to FaceBook. There is a plethora of almost daily quizzes we can all take to supposedly learn more about ourselves: Which TV Mom Are You? Who Are You in One Word? Who is Your Past Life Boyfriend? What Breed of Cat Are You? Which Inspirational Quote Fits You Best? Which Minion Are You? Although they are all fairly ridiculous, something compels us to take a few minutes away from what we are supposed to be doing with our time, to find out what our answers to the odd questions say about us.   Then we post our results. Because for whatever reason, we feel our friends need to know that our Hippie Name would be Flower Petal.

We collect all of these nuggets like clues to some great personal mystery. We want to know we aren’t crazy because we hate mushrooms, or because we cry at AT&T ads, or because we’d rather live on a deserted island than have an argument. We are driven to learn if we are emotional or intellectual or a thrill-seeker, and who our perfect soul mate could be. In short, we want someone to tell us we are unique and awesome.

It is amazing, isn’t it, that we can be really similar to others – like twins, sisters, BFFs… but there are still some features and characteristics that make us our own person. Just the fact that we can wonder about all this is kind of amazing. We could have been created as a much more simple species, like dogs, who contemplate only their immediate needs, like food, play time, sleeping, and unconditional love. But for some reason, we were bestowed with the abilities to do a whole lot more.

Lucky for us we’ve had brilliant minds like Myers, Briggs, and the FaceBook Quiz people to help us in our journey.



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