SoulCycling Grandma

Today’s spinning grandmothers has nothing to do with spindles and wool. They say today’s 60’s is the new 40’s.  We are healthier, more nutritionally informed and educated about the mind/ health relationship to longevity. We have the advantage of advanced medical care and preventative medicine. Statistics show that normal life expectancy for the Millennials may be into the early 100’s.  Great news, yes?
Maybe for some, but along with this focus on youth and the ability to stay physically fit longer into the ‘grandma years’ is the slowly eroding Norman Rockwell’s image of Grandma and Grandpa. Perhaps a sad farewell and a bitter pill for those who want Grandma to still be round and cuddly and let’s face it – comfortably ‘old-looking’ like most of our real Grandmas looked in the 1940’s.
My 1940’s grandmother was a bit overweight, wore neatly ironed house dresses and her gray hair in a bun on top of her head. She was warm and snugly and wore an apron when she cooked. Grandma looked like all of the other grandma’s I knew as a child.  But the sad reality is that my grandmother also died in her late 50’s of angina from her fatty cooking and hard work slaving over the stove and caring for her ten children.  I would say, honestly, not so great for snugly Grandmas in those days.
The 1940’s WW II women and soon to be grandmothers of the 1960’s were emancipating themselves. No one would  ever have accused my mother or her sisters of slipping into the gray ‘grandmother background’ as their mother’s generation did.   Mother looked like all of the other women in the 1950’s who were still homemakers, but younger looking, interested in homemaking, but just as interested in fashion and looking good. The 1960’s grandmothers were slowly inching their way out of the stereotypical image of grandmas past.  They, like most grandmothers of their era, loved their husband, children and grandchildren first, but keeping up with fashion and beauty trends came a close second.  And a job outside of the home to keep busy after her children were emancipated was not frowned upon either. (As a matter of fact I owe my career to my mother.) Grandmothers were beginning to not live in the shadows of ‘old age’ and were still having a life in their second chapters.  
The Millennial Grandmother. This is where within the timeframe you and  I jump in, and I am a little confused about my role as both mother and grandmother post childrearing, too. Not confused at my overwhelming love and undying support for my children and grandchildren, but confused about who they might expect me to be.  I am not my mother. I am not my grandmother and maybe I may not be like the average over-fifty woman. I am me. As a woman I want to be honored as relevant and accepted for who I am, warts and all, and appreciated for what I have contributed to their lives. We are all trying our best by trial and error. 
Women of my generation, for the first time, are more free to be ourselves, always evolving perhaps, but not forced to be put in boxes with labels. We are women first. We don’t have to be ‘old’ in our thoughts or actions.  We mothers all have always had needs and wants stored on the back shelf while our energies were dedicated to focusing on getting everyone out of the nest equipped with the greatest survival kit we could put together. But those personal needs and dreams of ours never died while sleeping. Our grandmothers and mothers may have dared to dream a life of their own, but few could live those dreams beyond their jobs as mother and caretaker of those she loved most.
Perhaps the label ‘Mother’ is so strong that our children grow up not knowing who we really are after we take off our ‘Mom’ hats and we each begin our own lives. News flash children of ours. We are the same person we have always been.  The same people who wiped your bum and kissed your scrapes when you fell down. The same people who cheered at your football and basketball games and dance concerts. We haven’t changed. But you have, and by doing so, sometimes you expect us to still be wearing the ‘Mom’ hat and not allowing us to be free to be who we always have been before you and I were introduced. 
Every birthday I am reminded that my diary only has so many pages left and how much the conflict of my and my husband’s needs and my desire to spend as much time as possible with my children and grandchildren is a reality.  In this age of family diaspora, the juggling act never ceases it seems. I am sure we are no different than most. 
In the end, I am so grateful to be living in this time – in the NOW, because my generation of women, mothers and grandmothers, as I noted before are usually younger physically and mentally than our chronological ages. Due to this wonderful phenomena of being able to live a full life after raising our children,  I believe we are sometimes a shock to our children.
 Well, mothers unite this Mothers Day. We should have a message for our children.  They are going to have to get over it, because our grandchildren are cool with it and most of us well over fifty don’t want to be other than who we are and comfortable in our own skin. 
As long as we can have ‘forever careers’ if we want-or not, go to Vidal Sassoon, wear MAC lipstick, do yoga, SoulCycle, Tweet, text, WordPress, Instagram and have Facebook friends, humor us.  We mothers and grandmothers are in this life on your side for the long haul and are just being the women we have always been hidden under the ‘Mom’ hat. Could it be you were too busy living your own lives that you just didn’t take the time to see?  
©Sandra Hart 2015. All Rights Reserved.
  

Year Of The Selfie

IMG_2504Hummmm….. I have been told this is the year of the ‘selfie’. Kim Kardashian is publishing a book of the hundreds of ‘selfies’ that she has done throughout the years. Gosh,  I hate to spoil it for Kim and all of the millennium generation, but ever since I became an Apple Mac girl I have been taking ‘selfies’ in my Photo Booth for years.  Surely I am not the only one.   Come on, be honest, I’m sure you’ve done it too.

Just think of the industries that have grown up around the self image. There are ‘selfie’ books, ‘selfie’ blogs,  ‘selfie’ sticks,  phones with cameras so that we can take all of these seemingly narcistic ‘selfie’s’.  This generation will be able to follow their lives minute by minute, breath by breath, event by event, with millions of ‘selfies’ by the time they become adults and beyond. They will be able to chronicle their lives with  their changing hairdos and fashion trends, moment by moment.  Good thing or bad. Time will tell.

In the meantime, not to be outdone by these millenniums,  I went back into my photo booth as far back as 2009 (I must’ve erased the others) and I published my own narcistic ‘selfie’ collage. Some years my face was blown up by prednisone, short hair for the convenience of cruising 120 days at a time, and just my female need for change. But it is a true chronical of my six year hair journey.

Bruce Jenner recently revealed he has always felt like a girl inside, well I have always been a long haired person inside. Beginning with my early years and long braids, I have allowed myself to be a victim of hair trends, but I know I will always come back to the ‘real’ me.  Longing to stay long!

A Mother’s Thoughts

So came the Captain with the mighty heart;
And when the judgment thunders split the house,
Wrenching the rafters from their ancient rest,
He held the ridgepole up, and spiked again
The rafters of the Home. He held his place—
Held the long purpose like a growing tree—
Held on through blame and faltered not at praise.
And when he fell in whirlwind, he went down
As when a lordly cedar, green with boughs,
Goes down with a great shout upon the hills,
And leaves a lonesome place against the sky.

Lincoln, Man of the People – Edwin Markham

The above stanza by Edwin Markham has always resonated with me because I think, even though it is about Abraham Lincoln, it symbolizes Life itself. I recite it often when I’m challenged by circumstances. We all struggle through the ups and downs and whether or not we can remain steady, or not, differs with each of us, but the reality is, it is a part of living – these hills and valleys that we incur just by being.  
The stumbles used to be easy when I was young.  I would get off of my bloodied knees and continue on, but the older I get the reality is getting up again it’s a little harder. It’s not that I am mentally or even physically weak, it’s just that I know the time I have to recover and open another chapter in my life is getting nearer and nearer and perhaps drawing to a close. The last chapter used to be so far down the road that I couldn’t even see, year by year, the door slowly closing on me.  I love beginnings I just don’t like endings. I never have. 
I don’t like when the book is finished and I have to start over. I don’t like when the theater run is finished and I have to start looking for another job. I don’t like it when the movie or television show is finished and I have to start again -looking. 
The thought that someday there will be an end to who I am and what I’ve experienced in this life is still not something I’m willing to except.  I want to find that miracle eternity pill that I can swallow to keep me around for a long, long time.  They say the next generation, if they take care of themselves,  may live past 100 on a regular basis. I would like to hang around and have that magic life.
Mother’s Day is less than a month away and I think the thought I want to share with my children is to enjoy every single minute of your life and to live it, really live it. Drink in and savor every single moment that you are alive. 
Step outside of yourself, close your eyes and just listen.  Listen to the birds, listen to the traffic, listen to the noise, listen to the energy that is completely swirling around us every single day. Drink that energy in and use it to make yourself a better person. Hug you children and those you love everyday, including this dear old mother. Because the reality is one day the universe will blink, I will disappear, you will be gone,  and it will be too late to live the life that both you and I were meant to live.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All Rights Reserved

Start Living With Things That Matter

 At the end of next month we will begin packing up for the summer and traveling North for the snowbird flight we have been making for the last ten years. My wings are getting rather weary of leaving one nest for the other. I am longing to simplify my life and roost in only one nest and start living with the things that really matter. 


Earlier this year we flew to  Los Angeles to visit with a male friend of my husband’s whose wife has decorated their home in museum-quality style. Now I really love this woman. She is kind and intelligent and very generous with her time in helping others. But when it comes to her house, she becomes a different sort all together. 

So it was no surprise as we all showered that evening to go out when I heard a scream that rang from her cathedral ceilings and back again as she ran down the hall. “What! How could he! Arthur is using the guest bathroom!? Nobody uses the guest bathroom!”

 As I opened the door, draped in an ordinary towel I found in the under-guest-guest bathroom, I saw my husband standing there like a sheep-faced child, caught in a dastardly deed. 

Our hostess quickly went into the coveted-never-used guest bathroom and proceeded to wipe the faucets spotless and clean up the chaos my husband made of her perfect-to-look-at room. 

That experience started me thinking about what type of person I am and forced me to look in the mirror at my own idiosyncrasies. 

I learned valuable lessons in Los Angeles. Mainly, the most important was to be a more forgiving wife. And better yet, how to be a more compassionate wife. I had forgotten in my quest to be Martha Stewart, that hugging a mop is not as much fun as hugging a husband.

 When I came home I threw out all of our old ratty towels with strings fraying at the ends and bought big fluffy premiere guest towels for Arthur. Who cares if our bathroom floor becomes the Nile River when he showers, or if I slip into the commode in the middle of the night because he forgets to put down the lid. 

Now, instead of having a post-menopausal fit if I can’t find the new ten dollar herbal soap I just put at the basin, I forgivingly retrieve it in the shower from a cache of soap he constantly steals, because he forgets what he did yesterday.

 This morning  I found on our foyer floor a crumpled baggie carrying a bar he had stolen for the beach. I know Karma slipped it from his bag just for me. 

I have even learned not to straighten up and fluff the couch pillows each time he or the dogs have rearranged them. I leave my grandchild’s handprints for a bit longer than usual on my mirrors. And now and then, when I am really feeling frisky, I tilt a candle in the candelabra just a bit to remind myself life isn’t perfect and human feeling and comfort are worth more than material things with esthetic balance.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.

10 Reasons Why It’s Not Over At Fifty

10 Reasons Why It’s Not Over At Fifty
Sadly, the down economy has put a lot of workers over age 50 in the unenviable position of needing to find a new profession. Don’t believe that old cliché about middle-aged dogs and new tricks, though; lots of wildly successful people found big success in careers they began after their fiftieth birthdays. Here are just a few examples.
  1. Carole Gardner – Zelda Wisdom products.
  2. Grandma Moses- Artist
  3. Col. Saunders – Kentucky Fried  Chicken
  4. Frank McCourt – Angela’s Ashes
  5. Martha Stewart – Lifestyle
  6. Laura Ingles Wilder – Little House On The  Prairie
  7. Tim and Nina Zagat – Zagat 
  8. Takichiro Mori – Architect
  9. Ray Kroc  – McDonalds
10.  Rodney Dangerfield – Comedian

Although Rodney Dangerfield suffered from getting ‘no respect’ he had self-compassion in common with the many late bloomers who opened another chapter in their lives in their 40s, 50s and beyond. 

Late bloomers. I love that title and have been wearing it since I was 21. I wear it proudly knowing that I can bloom again and again and again. I never thought I had to wait until I was 40 or 50.  Some of us are annual bloomers,  or else have so many creative arms that we are perennial and can open new chapters in our lives continuously. We all are only limited by how many years we have on this earth. 
I think it’s getting better, but there still is a stigma associated with aging. We still live in a closed- minded culture, but there is nothing more fulfilling than taking a negative event in your life and turning it into a positive life-changing situation.
For instance let’s take Carol Gardner.  Carol is the creator of Zelda Wisdoms. At The age of 52 Carol was facing divorce that left her with huge debt, a bleak future with no income, and depression. 
It was suggested that she get a dog to keep her company. She did. A bulldog that she named Zelda and she entered a local contest that was giving away 40 pounds of dog food a month free for the winner. So Carol took pictures of Zelda in the bathtub, with hats on and designed a card with a message that said, “For Christmas I got a dog for my husband….Good Trade, huh?”  She won the contest, Zelda had plenty of food and starting with 24 Zelda Greeting Cards, Carol has now created a multi-million dollar worldwide Zelda Wisdom empire. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons! 
Personally, in my 20’s I started a career in television working for others, then in my 30’s overcame the loss of my husband by taking my television skills into marketing while raising my small children. I sent resumes out for a full year before anyone would hire an anchorwoman with small children in a private sector job. But I never gave up. In my 40’s I remarried and became a television producer and entrepreneur. I woke up one morning just before my 50th birthday and realized how fast life was moving for me and I had yet to do what I always had dreamed as a child – to act on the stage. So at 50 I embarked on one of the most exciting journeys in my life doing  theater,  television and film in New York City. 
Nothing was ever handed to me and I had to work very hard opening new doors for each of these chapters in my life,  but I persevered and I had self-compassion and I believed in the impossible dream – just the same as the 10 above ‘second chapter’ successes.   
When I was 61 I opened yet another chapter in my life by writing my memoir,  Behind The Magic Mirror.  I discovered the process so fulfilling that I  continue  to write my thoughts in books, articles, and on a weekly basis through this blog. 
In the end, I hope that I will be open to other journeys in my life. It is not over until it’s over.  As I wrote earlier, only time here on this planet can limit us. Nothing else. It is never too late to rediscover and reinvent your life. It is never to late to make lemonade!
Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.

Where To Begin When Writing

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Except for my children’s books, all of my previous published works have been non-fiction. Giving myself a challenge this year, my daughter suggested that I should try my hand at fiction.

“Write a novel,” she said. “Do something different.”

That thought kind of frightens me, because it is really out of the box in which I have been living, out of my comfort zone. There are so many great novelists out there, I am somewhat intimidated to jump into their pool.

Recently, for my SAG (Screen Actors Guild) voting duties, I watched Frances McDormand in the series, Olive Kitteridge.” I enjoyed the series so much, I ordered the book the series was based upon.

Elizabeth Strout, the author, has such a way with words. From the very first paragraph I was drawn in and couldn’t put it down. It is this kind of writing that really makes it challenging for me to think I could be as talented to paint pictures with words as she does in Olive Kitteridge.

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Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.

When Love and Life Matter

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The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. … However capable and skillful an individual may be, left alone, he or she will not survive. … and the healthy development of its self-confidence all depends directly upon love. Dalai Lama

Faces of Miami

She is an angel of mercy. Formerly a traveling RN from Ohio she came here after working several years in Dubai, fell in love with Miami and stayed making permanent roots under the beautiful palms and banyan-lined streets.

“I work in the ICU for new born babies at a hospital in Miami. It’s a good feeling when the babies survive and eventually go home with their parents, but it doesn’t always turn out that way, unfortunately. Sometimes I rock and cradle them in my arms in their last moments of life. I want them to at least have that comfort. It’s difficult. It never gets easier. We lost three babies last week within hours. A lot of these babies are from poor, or single mother situations. I felt they deserved a better ending, so, my mother and her friends started making baby layettes out of donated wedding dresses. We dress the babies who have passed in these beautiful outfits to give them a final meaning that their lives counted. Even if just hours. To their parents and to us, their lives mattered.”

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Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.