Getting Lost on Sleep Street

highway messWe all know that a woman’s brain is wired like a super highway system with dangerous corners and intersections, where the minimum speed limit is somewhere around 90mph. We are supposed to have off-ramps and rest stops that allow us to do that re-fueling thing called sleep.  But most of us seem to have a challenge with taking those exits successfully on a regular basis – even if we manage to get off the highway, we somehow mess up and hop right back on again.

These road blocks seem to come in two pretty darn annoying formats.  The first one is good ol’ fashioned insomnia.  This is the classic case of jumping off the highway and shutting down right away, only to wake up again somewhere between 2:00 – 4:00am (because nothing good ever happens during those hours), seemingly for no reason at all. Insomnia can happen for a multitude of reasons, like stress, life changes, and – my favorite – menopause. Our brain doesn’t really care why, it only cares that it no longer has to come up with those pesky bizarre dreams and says  “oh, hey, great, you’re perky.  Let’s worry and think too much.”

The second road block is our bladder.  The middle of the night get-up-and-pee syndrome.  As women, we train ourselves to develop a delicate and difficult skill: to accomplish this task without becoming fully awake, and more importantly, without letting that brain engage.  If we are lucky, we crawl back into bed and tell our minds “ssshhhh, all’s fine…think of fluffy clouds and waves….that’s a good little brain….back to the rest stop…”  If however, we miss that itsy bitsy tiny window of opportunity to not poke the beast, there it is again “oh, hey!  Great! Let’s ruminate!”

The stretch of highway that the brain chooses to travel during those hours is totally out of our control.  The most common roadway is Worry Street.  Did my son do his homework?  Oh, I have to remember to finish that project at work. I hear the dog wheezing, is he ok?  Will the fires in CA stop?  Geez, I hope I turned off the oven…wonder if I should check.  Am I going to get a call from the hospital about a loved one? Why can’t I sleep, I need sleep, I’ll be a mess tomorrow. What time is it now?   This often heads us over to Irrational Concerns Drive, where literally anything horrible can happen because it only makes sense at 2 am.  I had a headache today – do I have a brain tumor?  My partner is restless and snoring, is he planning to leave me?  If I have one hour’s notice of a natural disaster, what would I pack in the car?  Could we have an earthquake?

This time of year we can also expect a detour over to Holiday Stress Avenue.  Should I have bought an extra ham?  What am I going to buy that person who is impossible to shop for? Ugh, I still need to get wrapping paper and ribbon and boxes.  If I ship gifts on the 21st, will they get there in time?  I really need to finish decorating. Where did I put the mistletoe ball?  Should we have a party? Will 10 different types of cookies be enough?

And finally, the route that can drive us the most crazy when it happens, but makes us all laugh when shared with other R.W’s later: Totally Random Road.  Should I change the curtains in the living room or go with a valance?  Freddy Mercury was born in Zanzibar, where is Zanzibar? What time is my dental appointment? Did I miss it? Wait, did I flush?  If I start tomorrow and consume only water and carrots, I think I could lose 20 pounds by Christmas.  What was that noise?  I should paint this room blue. Maybe I should get up and go clean the kitchen… I mean, I’m awake, may as well be productive.

A couple of my BFFs and I have agreed that some night we should just text or call each other, because the others are likely awake as well, ruminating, worrying, or solving the world’s problems.  Or just having really bad night sweats.  We are not alone in our late night sleepless cruising.

Maybe, just maybe, Santa will bring us what we want for Christmas – a full night’s sleep or even a good nap. Besides, who do you think came up with the cookies for Santa tradition? Every real woman knows it is important to pack road trip snacks to share.

Sleepless woman face cartoon character suffers from insomnia problem


Posted in changes; hibernation, children, Chores, communication, family, Health, home, life phases, moods, natural disasters, real women, routines, self care, simplifying, skills, stress, Uncategorized, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Celebration of… Appetites

dinner food“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes.  Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.”  – Erma Bombeck

Lo and Behold, in the blink of an eye, the holidays are upon us once again.  And you know what that means….  excitement with hustle and bustle, time with family and friends, taking the time to be thankful, celebrating our Faiths and looking forward to a new year…..yes, yes, it means all of that.  But the holidays also mean something else:  Food.  Lots and lots of food.

Sure, food is always important to us. But at this time of year, it is as if it becomes all consuming.  It is on our minds ALL THE TIME.  We start out with the grand-daddy of all food holidays, Thanksgiving.  We literally will plan this giant meal for weeks in advance, and will spend hours preparing the traditional fare so we can all quite literally belly-up to the table together to indulge.   Even the food prep itself can be a social occasion, with Real Women banding together in the kitchen to make the magic happen.  (Yes, I realize that is a stereo-typical comment to make…yes, many men out there assist and participate in the cooking…but really, without R.W’s taking the lead, how likely is it that the meal would include multiple dishes, all ready at the same time?)

But this one day, this festival of turkey and pies, is not all to blame for our Food Fanaticism this time of year.  No holiday social gathering, no matter how large or small, is complete without tasty nourishment.  Social food is fun.  It is festive.  And, oh, boy, is it yummy.  Combine that with the fact that we are spending more hours in the cold and dark, looking for ways to boost our moods, and we have the perfect gastronomic storm.

During this season, certain flavors and mixtures emerge, designed to communicate directly to our taste buds and our yearning for comfort food and calories.  As a matter of fact, certain combinations suddenly seem appealing when at any other time of year we wouldn’t even consider them.  “oooh, look, eggnog tea, that sounds good…..pumpkin bagels, sure!….cranberry and jalapeno relish, why not?”   And some how, I swear food just looks more inviting.  Walking through the grocery store, my head is turned every time I see cheerful packaging, and I’m tempted to buy anything that is a “limited time offer”.  What if I won’t be able to get that flavor snack item in a couple of weeks?  I better stock up now!


At restaurants, and even at home, cooked meals become colorful palates of steaming deliciousness and beverages turn either creamy or warm…and all together they shout “check me out!  I taste even better than I look! Come and get it!”

Of course, let us not forget the other prominent ingredient this time of year: sugar.  Like that mama bear fattening up for hibernation, we start piling on the sweets, bringing any willing accomplices with us.  We use the excuse of Christmas cookies to splurge on confections with a bazillion calories and fat content — all in the name of holiday.  Some of us who really enjoy baking gleefully pull out piles of cookie recipes weeks in advance to plan out what to create….there are the traditional treats that are requested by family members, then there are always a few new ones that just look so tantalizing on the cover of magazines at the check out counter that we’ve just GOT to try them.   Christmas spice-cakes with chocolate

Many of us believe we have a hidden Martha Stewart inside of us, aching to get out and create something amazing… a sumptuous meal to go down in family history, or incredibly beautiful and delicious pastries just waiting for ooh’s and aaah’s.

The one most beneficial aspect of this sordid love affair with holiday sustenance is that we all seem to realize the vital need to share with others less fortunate.  Although Food Pantries need our help year round, we all kick into gear a bit more now, as we remember that there are so many out there who may go hungry without our help… and the thought that someone could NOT have a good hot meal for Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or Christmas is too horrifying to imagine.  So we step up to the plate (pun intended) and donate our time, food and money so everyone can feel the joy and comfort of this time of year.  All it takes is purchasing a few more items at the store, checking our own pantries for what we can share, or even better, donating some time to help out.  Then even more importantly, we should all set reminders on our calendars to do it again throughout the year, not just now during gluttony season.

And those of us who are lucky enough to be able to indulge too heavily and wallow our way through the holidays, we can be thankful that the winter season makes it more acceptable to wear stretchy pants and long sweaters to hide our resulting bulges.  We vow each morning to have a healthier lighter eating day – until the first whiff of a nutmeg-cinnamon-eggnog latte or fresh baked cranberry-carrot-pecan-muffin reaches our nostrils, and we weaken and drop to our knees to pay homage to the culinary yumminess that is the holidays.   Hey, this season only happens once a year – why not splurge?   After all, we know what comes next:  New Years Resolutions.


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There Are Reasons I Don’t Care

face palm emojiI don’t pay much attention to celebrity gossip.  I’m pretty clueless as to who’s married to who, who’s divorcing who, who’s in rehab, who’s in trouble with the law… mostly because for the large part, I just don’t care. Big life events in my friends’ and family’s lives, those I care about.   But “news” about people I’ll never meet who live starkly different lives than all of us Real Women?   I have no desire to keep track.  I have enough to worry about in my own life.  I don’t wish ill-will on any of them, and I have a few celeb’s I’d call my favorites, and even fewer who I think seem to be cool, fairly normal people I’d like to have dinner with.  But most often, when some hot celeb topic makes the newscasts, or the covers of the magazines in the check-out line, I find myself saying “why am I supposed to care about this?”

True, some of the blah-blah about the beautiful and famous can be a nice diversion from all the horrendously ugly news we get every day… so seeing photos of some lavish wedding can be fun, in a fairy tale way.  For the most part, celebrity topics are kind of just fluffy background noise to me. But once in a while, I’ll hear something that stops me in my tracks.

This morning the Today Show team felt the need to share a story about Joanna Gaines, and her upcoming People Magazine cover and article.  I believe this is because it had been a whole 5 minutes since the last time they talked about Chip or Joanna.  Seriously, I don’t think either of those two can pass gas without the Today Show gushing about how wonderful it was.  Again, I have nothing against either Chip or Joanne. They made it big, and then managed to make the news of their “retirement” bigger than any news during their previous HGTV career and mega-business.  Whatever.  Celebrities. Marginal interest on my part.

But this morning, the discussion was around Joanna’s interview about the birth of their 5th (yes, I said 5th) child.  Ok, so 5 children is fairly unusual these days, so as I was putting on my makeup before heading out the door to work, with the usual R.W. 194 things spinning around in my head, they had piqued my curiosity and I paused to listen. She was then quoted as saying that “typically you feel tired, but this baby, he’s just like my second wind.”  What?!?  Really??  A forty year old woman with four children, gives birth to a fifth, and has extra energy?? Come oooooonnn.   But wait. The ridiculousness of this “news” got worse.  “I love the labor part.  This is the moment we get to meet this little baby. It’s so much fun. I want to do it again.” EXCUSE ME??   Did she just call labor and giving birth FUN?   And after 5 children she wants to do it AGAIN??  With all due respect, Joanna, you are clearly a freak of nature.  She did attempt to toss in one scrap as a concession to us normal folk when she added that being pregnant at 40 was more challenging, because she was “out of breath a lot.”  Awwww…. Poor dear, how traumatic.  But they likely will continue to have more children while running all of their businesses and their Magnolia empire and oh, and by the way, she just wrote a design book too.   Freak.

After I shut off the TV in amazement and headed out for my very normal, real woman day, I began to wonder once again why this kind of story was being shared.  Yes, those who are big fans can be happy for the ever-growing Team Gaines.  But beyond that, like every other story about those who are more beautiful, more successful, more “something” than the rest of us, what good does it do?  I thought of how many women I’ve known or I’ve heard of who have had really truly difficult child births.  Or those who have struggled just be get pregnant in the first place.  The number of women who suffered so much during labor, and those who give birth to babies with health issues.  None of them had “fun.”   I thought of the mom’s who go through their days battling post-partum depression, or just plain ‘ol exhaustion, and those of us who many years later are still exhausted. No second, third, or even fourth, wind. And finally, those real women out there struggling to make ends meet with “just” two children, trying to keep them fed and clothed.  And I wondered how any of them feel when they hear this story, or if they decide to pick up the magazine to read the article.  How is this at all supportive, or anything anyone can truly relate to? How are we NOT going to compare ourselves to the unusual and seemingly “perfect” others?   As I said before, yes, some positive news is always welcome. But isn’t there a fine line between good news and rub-your-face-in-the-lack-of-reality news?

I guess it is fine to pick up an issue of People, or any other glossy, unrealistic magazine to browse the pages as a form of escapism.  But let’s not for a minute forget about how much more inspirational real life can be.  I’m more impressed by the real woman who is juggling children, aging parents, and a lack of sleep, cleans up the cat or dog puke on her way out the door to get to work after locating a clean and unwrinkled outfit that is at least mildly flattering and comfortable, finds time to fit in doctors appointments, events and family time and is everyone’s go-to resource for medical and emotional support — yet still manages to keep her job because she doesn’t have 3 businesses and a best-selling book to fall back on.  She is the same woman who will tell you the truth that childbirth is excruciating and life is exhausting, but she wouldn’t change it for anything.

Not even to be a cover model.


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Time to Find Some Calvins

pile-of-jeansWe recently got the news at my workplace that we are welcome to wear jeans most days if we so choose. I’m betting that many of you just said “oooh, lucky!”    Yes, I feel fortunate to have the flexibility and atmosphere to be casual.  Yet after nearly three decades of business attire, this announcement has me a bit… befuddled.

Mind you, when Business Casual became a thing, it was pretty easy for me to happily shed my suits, double-breasted suit dresses (yes, I had one or two), and my nylons.  Especially the nylons. Hate those things.  But this adjustment seems to be posing a bit of a challenge for me.  First of all, it has forced me to take a closer look at my denim collection in my closet.  I have the old beat-on pair of jeans that are reserved for projects like painting or yard work, and the pair I purchased a few years ago when the distressed and torn look was just becoming a thing and I wanted to feel trendy – neither of which I can wear to work.

Beyond those, I have two pairs that I’ve had for at least 10 years (perhaps more like 15+), previously referred to as my “nice” jeans for those used-to-be-rare Casual Friday occasions, because they look good with heeled boots and a blazer.

Other than that, I have the basic Levi’s dark blues that apparently no one wears anymore, one private label brand that are not especially attractive, and a pair of Eddie Bauer that I purchased at a consignment store.

Hmmm, not exactly anything that screams funky, fun, or on-trend.  All of the jeans in my closet are there for two very important reasons: 1. They fit (more or less), and 2. They are at least moderately comfortable.  One would think that all jeans are comfy and look great. WRONG.  Ask any R.W. how easy it is to find well-fitting attractive jeans and the response will likely include an eye roll and a groan.

Guys have it easier. They find a brand they prefer – like Nautica, Levi’s or Lucky, pick their preferred shade of blueness, find their waist and length size and bada-bing, done.  They then have two varieties of jeans in their collection: stained with paint, oil and grime, or those they can be seen wearing out in public.

Not so easy for us women. As with all of our clothing, jeans seem to need to make some sort of statement, or carry some style.  And so, with visions of going shopping for cool new jeans dancing in my head, I started to browse the trends.  My very first “h-ll no” was Mom Jeans.  Sorry, ladies, I lived through the high-waisted, narrow legged version the first time it came around (was that in the 80’s?) and it wasn’t attractive back then either.  Mom Jeans have the potential to only look good on a 20-something who weighs 110 pounds. No good can come of putting a pair on someone over the age of 50.  You don’t want something that accentuates all that we hate about our mature bodies: menopausal muffins, heavy hips and thick thighs.  When I hear Mom Jeans, in my minds eye, all I can see is the iconic SNL Skit.

According to Harpers Bazaar, there are “13 Types of Jeans to Try This Season”. Oh, my.   I’ve always liked the look of a bootcut, yet apparently now I need the “new” bootcut, whatever that is.  Harpers also surprisingly encourages matching denim in full outfit combinations.  The other day I had on a pair of jeans, grabbed an antique jean jacket I’ve had since before my son was born, and left the house worrying that I looked like I had on a Canadian Tuxedo and was dangerously close to O-D’ing (Over Deniming).

I perked up with Harper’s suggested flared jeans – heck, I rocked those in the 70’s – until I saw that this is what they meant. flare jeans

Even if I could get those over my thighs, I’d probably trip on the ruffles.

But wait, it gets worse.

The Roll Down??  Holy 90’s Flashback… and not a good one.  Again, a style that only looks good on someone young and thin as a rail.  Then the top prize of all, the Double Down look.  I have no words for that one.

Ok, so apparently checking out the hottest new styles online is unrealistic.  As an alternative, I’ve begun try to update my denim look by turning to old retail friends like Macy’s, Cato, DressBarn, Kohls – you know, those shops where R.W.’s can actually afford to buy clothes… but so far I’ve seen that the most common styles are Skinny, Boyfriend, and Cropped/Ankle length. Really?   Skinny jeans??  Those look good on about 1/16thof the R.W. population.  The rest of us prefer to NOT look like we are walking on stuffed sausages — and p.s. we enjoy being able to breathe.   Boyfriend?  Ok, at least breathing and comfort are more possible, but on a mature figure the Boyfriend jean can end up looking blah and baggie and ill-fitting.  As if instead of climbing into our Mom Jeans, we threw on our husband’s Dad Jeans.  And cropped pants are cute in the summer, but when the cold weather hits and you have to add socks and boots, they end up just looking kind of odd, like old school high-waters. At least on me they do.

Maybe I’m being too picky. After all, jeans are supposed to be casual, comfy and easy.  News that I can wear them more often should be a good thing.  Is anyone really going to care what they look like as long as they are not torn and stained?  No, probably not.  And I always have my back-up of a whole lotta dress pants, skirts and business casual items waiting in the wings for the days I give up and go back to them.  Some days I’m sure I’ll do just that, because those outfits hang in my closet like grown-up Garanimals.  After years of accumulation, they are the no brainer option.

Perhaps the issue is not necessarily the jeans themselves, but the full ensemble.  The cute and casual work thing requires some sort of appropriate top that strikes a balance between an old T-Shirt and a silk shirt.  And oh boy, don’t even get me started on how I look in flannel.

I’m sure that soon I will embrace and love our new casual atmosphere, and my dress pants and skirts will become lonely.  I’ll hop comfortably on the train just in time for the next new work attire standard to go into effect — who knows, maybe next it will be acceptable to show up in yoga pants and slouchy hoodies.  If that’s the case, game on. I’m ready.


mom jeans





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Fear Not The Mud

mudThis weekend I joined a few thousand other mildly crazy real people to take part in the Rugged Maniac, which is a 5k course made up of hills, mud, and 25 different obstacles to be tackled by the fit and those who wish they were more fit (ie: me).   Back in the springtime, a group of my co-workers thought it would be nifty to sign up for this event.  A great team-building opportunity, and heck, we had months to prepare.  Visions of ninja-like hard-core deeply focused training sessions danced in our heads – until of course we realized we all work full time and barely manage to fit in some form of exercise as time allows — and none of us really want to be a Ninja.

Nevertheless, we persisted, and together, with camaraderie and encouragement, we participated and all crossed the finish line triumphant (also wet, filthy and exhausted) together.

That evening, as I iced my knee and popped Advil like candy, I reflected on the event and what it taught me.

Power:  The sheer number of people who show up and participate in the event is amazing. There are people of all ages (teens and up), cultures, and various levels of fitness.  The ratio of men and women seemed an even match – once again destroying the concept of women being the weaker sex. It was a true mix of people and abilities.  Granted, I was not there at 9am when the elite athletes take to the course as a competitive race.  I’m sure they are speeding up and down the hills and flying through the air on each obstacle.  I’m happy for them, and I’m glad I did not witness the intimidation of their athleticism.  As for the rest of us, we all had some basic level of ability and fitness. As a matter of fact, just to get to the starting line, we had to heave ourselves up and over a chest-high blockade wall.   A not so subtle message that if you can’t at least do that, you may as well go back and be a spectator.  Seeing that many people pumped up to give it their all was a refreshing contrast to the doom and gloom news we hear about how unhealthy Americans are… supposedly skyrocketing obesity rates, debilitating injuries or illnesses and overall sloth-mode.  I saw no sloths.  Rugged Maniac has grown to 30 locations across the country and Canada, averaging a total of approximately 150,000 participants per year. That’s a whole lot of pretty healthy people.  Bravo.

Perspective:  We had a couple of 15-year old young women on our team, and they scampered through the course, with virtually no difficulties.  Mud Runs have been a thing since about 1995, and Rugged Maniac events have been held since 2010.  That means that I could have taken part in an event like this 10, 15, even 20 years ago when I was younger and much more fit.  I wish now that I had, and was wondering why I never did.  I think it is because in those days, I would have felt like I needed to be competitive, to place in the race, take no shortcuts and do every obstacle perfectly.  And I knew, even then, that I was not of the athletic level to do that.  So I backed away.  Fast forward to now, and at 53, my perspective has changed.  None of our team members were “in it to win it”, only to be “in it to finish.”  I chose to participate not just because of a wee bit of peer pressure, but because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.  I knew I had the support of my team, and if anything was just too difficult, I could go around the obstacle.  With age comes perhaps not just wisdom, but also a “what the hell, why not” attitude. My goal was to simply get to the finish line with no major injuries, and to not disappoint my teammates.  There were 3 of the 25 obstacles that I failed at, but still gave them an effort (video clip evidence below).  I went from a fast jog to a slow jog to a walk for much of the course.  And I still felt like I succeeded.  Even when, around obstacle #10, something went “ping” in my left knee and it was no longer operating at maximum (albeit aged and arthritic) capacity… I still finished on my own two feet.

The other perspective that makes me laugh is that not only did all of us crazy folks willingly sign up for the activity, but we paid to do so, AND we spent most of the event splashing through muddy water… either on our hands and knees, falling into it, or speeding down a slide into it, totally engulfed.  When else are any of us happy to be filthy and cold?

Positivity:  Speaking of happy…  every person there came out on a beautiful sunny early Fall day to have fun.  Teammates supported and helped each other, other participants called out warnings about upcoming obstacles, people stepped aside to let team members go together.  We saw one man dressed in a Spiderman outfit, another in a clown costume. There were team Tshirts with clever and funny names.  We yelled, we cheered, we laughed.  We bonded with our teammates – and in our group, formed an even stronger bond among co-workers and friends.  Every person there felt a proud sense of accomplishment.  It was a mass of happy, enthusiastic and muddy humanity in sunny and beautiful New England – a stark contrast to everything we see and hear on the news every day.  This is the stuff we need more of.  Time together doing something positive.

And so, today as I feel sore, am limping a bit, and have counted all of my bruises, I’m still glad I did it. That we ALL did it.

Now, for your amusement, a true Real Woman moment.  This clip is of the final obstacle.  After 3.1 miles of hills, thick mud and cold water, 24 other obstacles, and a knee that had given up, I knew damn well I would not make it up that wall.  But I had to give it a try.  Yes, that hurt a bit.  But it was worth it.


boot print mud





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Identification by Affiliation

hello my name isIt is somewhat amazing that not all of us Real Women are officially diagnosed with multiple personality disorders. As soon as we reach adulthood, we start accumulating roles and responsibilities and associations. Over time, we no longer become known as just who we are. We become…well, a few other related somebodies.

If we marry, we may or may not take on our spouse’s last name, but we become someone’s wife, just as they take on the role as our spouse.  Very nice…although I did lay down a law early on that I was never to be referred to as “The Wife.”

Whatever name we choose, it starts to get a bit lost or buried when we move on to having children.  When those little cherubs start going to school, get involved in sports and extra-curriculars, or are just part of every day activities, we soon become Someone’s Mom.  “Oh, you must be Suzie’s Mom”, or “Are you the Mom?”… We even begin introducing ourselves that way “Hi, I’m Joey’s Mom –”  then, almost as an afterthought, we throw in our name.  Which they may promptly forget.  So forever after, when calling the school, or inquiring about details on any activities, or making doctors appointments, we are Someone’s Mom.  At the gym where my son and I work out, for a long time one of the coaches literally called me Eric’s Mom because he couldn’t remember my name. Those of you who don’t have children, don’t think you are immune to this either!  If you have close nieces and nephews, or even pets, you are identified as such.  When I’ve called the Vet, or other pet caregivers like the dog walkers, I’ve identified myself as Juke’s Mom, Marjorie.  Again, my name seems to be the add-on after-thought.

Beyond our names, our very identities become secondary.  Walk into a room with your baby, toddler, or pet, and all attention goes directly to them. We become simply the vessel or mode of transportation and food provider.  Yet funny thing, attention goes quickly back to us if the child or pet cries or poops.  The majority of our time in our lives becomes devoted to helping that small being. We help them walk, talk, eat, understand life, and nurse them in time of need. It is all about them.

Ironically, as our children grow up, many of us swap our alternative identity for another similar role.  We become Caregivers.  Be it an elderly parent, grandparent, sibling, or aunt, if you are the primary care taker of that loved one, you become Someone’s Advocate, Someone’s Proxy, Someone’s Emergency Contact, Someone’s “It”.   In their world – which is a vast matrix of medical facilities, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and community services — we become known by affiliation.  There does come some level of comfort when all of their contacts have gotten to know you – and the nurses and staff of various facilities greet you as if you are Norm on Cheers.  But instead of ordering drinks and talking about your day, all conversations are about your loved one.  We rely on our previously developed skills, and once again we are helping them walk, talk, eat, understand life, and nurse them in time of need. It is all about them.

Earlier today I was having a phone conversation with a gentleman who works at my brother’s nursing facility, and he told me how much he enjoys his visits and conversations with my brother, and complimented how smart he is.  At that moment I had the same feeling any of us get when a teacher, or another adult, says something nice about our child.  It gives us a glimpse of how the rest of the world sees them, and what they are like WITHOUT our identity tied to them.  It is a feeling of love and pride. It is reassurance that they can be ok when we aren’t with them.  And most importantly, it lets us know that whatever we are doing, all those hours we devote to supporting them, the bits of ourselves that we set aside to be their Somebody, are worth it.

Some day we’ll have time to shine as ourselves again.  We can go back to our original personae or maybe try out a new one.  It will finally be all about us.  And you know what?  It probably won’t feel right, and we’ll miss introducing ourselves as Someone’s Somebody.


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Not So Glossy

mag rackSix years ago I started this blog after browsing a magazine rack in search of something entertaining to read while traveling.  At the time, I was struck by how none of the magazines related to me, or to the other real women in my life, so I decided it was time to have a portal where we could share what regular, real life is like.

Last week I was again standing in front of a display of magazines at an airport, and realized there has been little change over the past few years.  There are more special interest publications, especially those focused on food and home. There are more tabloid/celebrity gossip rags, with splashy headlines about people we don’t know yet apparently should be shocked by their behavior, style, or taste in men.  The biggest change is in the newsstand prices.  In Stylefor $9?  Us Weeklyfor $7? Seriously?  No wonder readers are flocking to digital editions.

What has not changed are the covers, the topics, or the messaging.  Still the unrealistically flawless faces peered down on me, articles promised me rapid weight loss, better style, increased wealth, better sex… and of course shallow peeks into the life of some gorgeous athlete, actress, or model.  I saw no magazines with images of normal, regular women, with helpful articles about things like dressing to hide muffin tops, coping with the insanity of raising teenagers while caring for an elderly loved one, or how to scrape together enough money to repaint your own kitchen and deal with stained ceilings.

After browsing my options, I decided to pick up yet another cooking magazine (one of the few I don’t already subscribe to), and two celebrity tabloids because I never read those and thought they’d be an interesting diversion (and were less than the cost of a pair of shoes).

With my purchases tucking into my bag, I felt prepared for my journey home. Until I was reminded of the stark reality of the continued decline (read: PIA) of air travel.  After learning of my first weather-related delay, I settled in to browse some of the glossy pages while I waited to hear updates on expected departure times.  Within the first 6 pages, I felt extremely out of touch as I discovered I was supposed to care which actress was spotting eating Fruit Loops, what celebrities were caught holding hands, and which celeb wore a certain style better than another. Even worse, I had absolutely no idea who several of the people on those pages were.  Sorry, but I truly have no idea who Tinashe, Rose Byrne, or Olivia Culpo are, and why I should be interested in their lives.  I guess they don’t travel in my circle of running errands to CVS and Stop & Shop, nor are they in the five shows I watch on Netflix.

I set the magazine aside and decided to opt for my other favorite airport past-time, people watching. Which, sadly, has become decidedly more boring now that 90% of people are sitting or standing hunched over their mobile devices.  No animated conversations between each other, no movement or activity, no interesting family interactions.  Just hunched and swiping or tapping.   There was a mom traveling with her two boys…they were on their tablets while she talked on the phone.  There was a young couple snuggled up together, watching videos.  And there was a weary mom with a baby who stared blankly with exhaustion.

Soon enough, my view changed thanks to news of more delays, and I joined others in the painstaking process of standing in line to determine our fate of rescheduling, re-routing and re-booking.  I now could just stand and watch the lengthy process of an airline attendant trying to rebook anyone who would be missing their connecting flight, thankful to not have his job.  At one point the line was so long that the attendant pulled out a snack and water cart which was conveniently kept readily available behind the counter.   It was somehow comforting to see that some human behaviors haven’t changed – free food will cause people to temporarily put down their devices and get up and move. Quickly.

With more time to kill, I ventured down the Terminal to find some quick lunch.  Soon remembering, again, that the options are never very good, nor healthy.  After waiting in another line at a semi-fast food establishment, I received a meal that was not even close to what I had ordered.  Which led me to some bonding time with other travelers standing to the side of the counter with their own incorrect orders.

Eventually we were allowed to board our flight.  One of the most absurd changes in air travel is the juxtaposition of more people, fewer flights, and much less physical space.  Yet so many passengers are still determined to bring carry on luggage, which not only have they had to tow with them through the airport and into bathrooms, but must next wrestle to fit into decreased space in overhead compartments.  Literally every flight I’ve been on lately has been at capacity level, and many of those carry- on’s must be checked last minute, thus defeating the whole purpose of dragging them along.  After a while, we got all settled in, and sat.  For 45 minutes. Then were told the flight was cancelled, and we needed to get back off the plane and – yup, you guessed it – go stand in line again.  Yee ha.

You get the picture of how the rest of my afternoon and evening went, along with a whole lot of other very real, and very tired and frustrated, fellow travelers.  After about 5 hours, I was shuttled over to another terminal to meet a different plane. I tracked down a charging station so I too could be a hunched-over-my-device human, and texted updates to family.  I then flipped through a few more pages of my trash magazines, chuckling at the pages showing that “stars are just like us”,  because they are spotted reading newspapers, grocery shopping, and carrying boxes.  Funny, I didn’t see any celebs hanging out in this mass of humanity waiting hours to get on a plane to head home “just like the rest of us. “

Minutes before boarding time, another announcement was made.  There would be a delay because one of the flight attendants was late, stuck in traffic.

And that, my friends, is real life.  It’s not about JLo and A-Rod shopping at a farmer’s market in Italy, or about Duchess Meghan’s bonding time with the Queen, or about Red Carpet fashion fails. It is about how we deal with delays, cancellations, and changes of plans.  It is about getting the wrong fast food, and hoping the vitamin water you are drinking is powerful enough to ward off the germs of the coughing and sniffling passenger next to you.  Some days, it is about being that woman, late for work, stuck in traffic, stressed about inconveniencing a whole plane full of passengers.

Real life is not smooth and glossy and flawless. It is often messy, bumpy and tiring. It is about adventures and having new stories to tell, and most importantly, it is about getting home safely to loved ones, even at 1am.

Sure, it’s ok to occasionally spend $7 to flip through images of that other world as a form of escapism and entertainment.  And it’s ok to be hunched over your device to get updates and stay in touch digitally. But once in a while, put them both down and dare to interact with other real life humans.  We are a non-glossy yet fascinating and beautiful bunch — flaws and all.







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