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!

Be Careful What you Wish

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Be Careful What You Wish

Harvey Weinstein, Oscar producer/distributor and the longtime defender of human rights and political freedoms, in reference to the murders in Paris of the cartoonists at France’s satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo by terrorists wrote yesterday, “This preamble hopefully illustrates the humanity and the affection that I think people have for cartoons. From the Sunday funnies like Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie that helped us through the Depression, to Peanuts and Doonesbury, they sometimes provide better wisdom than known philosophers. I’ll take Charlie Brown over Rene Descartes, and put Linus in Socrates’ class, any day of the week. Although it’s Lucy who has the voice of a cartoonist — ironic, funny and eye-opening.”

How very much I relate to his thoughts. When I was a little girl in the late 1940’s living on a farm in Ohio, one of the popular radio shows was called “Archie Andrews” from a comic strip of the day, “Archie”.

Growing up in a farmhouse surrounded by cornfields and livestock, far away from the nearest neighbors down the dusty road, the concept of living in a place like Riverdale with best friends in the same building or next door fascinated me. When my brother clicked on the radio on Saturday mornings so we could eavesdrop on what adventure Archie and his friends were having that week, for that small moment in time, my brother and I lost our isolation and became part of Archie’s family.

Archie’s parents, Mary and Fred Andrews became our parents. His high school, Riverdale High, not the one-room schoolhouse that my brother attended, became ours. Everything about this teenager and his friends Veronica and best buddy, Jughead, were interesting to two kids living a less-than-exciting life on their grandpa’s farm. We longed to live in Riverdale and go to a school just like Archie’s.

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Well, as my story unfolds, a few years later, it would be that life threw us a piece of that emancipation pie. We were headed toward Archie’s teenage dream life. I clearly remember looking back, the dust beneath the tires of Daddy’s shiny new Ford slowly obliterating the view of the house as it got smaller and smaller going away from Grandpa’s farm. We were traveling eighteen miles east to live in a real house and in a real town close to Daddy’s work.

My brother and I soon found out that life on Archie’s radio show was much more exciting than it was in our smog filled industrial town. It wasn’t the Riverdale my brother and I had dreamed about. We got our wish alright and we couldn’t wait to graduate from our high school so that we could leave. We would be free to follow our Archie dream once again.

From the time we eagerly drove away from life on Grandpa’s farm those many years ago, I have lived in exactly six places. Several were big city apartments, several suburban houses near big cities and the one that means the most to me is the house on an ocean cliff with the view that fills my heart every day I look out it’s windows. I can stretch my arms wide without touching anything, see and hear no neighbors and have the silence of only what nature brings to me. This house gifts, yes, gifts me peace from all the static in the world around me. Freedom to live where and how I want.

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Now in every writer’s toolbox is a thread that ties everything together. It contains the embryo, or idea of the story you want to tell and how it sews neatly together the message you want share with your reader. A quilt of words.

This particular quilt I’m sewing today is, ‘be careful what you wish for in this life’ and be sure to be ready to protect it.

I have been able to live in what I believe to be the greatest country in the world with the best choices in life available. For me, FREEDOM is one of the most important words in the English language. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech. Freedom to be me.

So little Archie girl beware of what you wish. Your dream life in your imagination from the radio or Archie comics may never come true if you and humanity are not careful to honor, appreciate and protect the right to dream.

I don’t ever want to feel stifled. I don’t ever want to feel, as a writer, that I am in a box knocking on the lid crying, “get me out of here!”

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.

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Narcissism

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A Facebook friend of mine recently posted this picture. What this picture says is indicative of our future. We are slowly evolving into non-communication vis-à-vie with one another.

The other day our neighbor’s child was going to dress rehearsal for The Nutcracker ballet. She is playing the lead child, Marie, and had her dark hair pulled smoothly into a bun on top of her head. I told her how beautiful she looked and how excited she must be. She looked up at me briefly and then went back to her cell phone, without even a thank you.

The ensuing ride down the elevator, I chatted with her mother bubbling with excitement and pride while ‘Marie’ kept her nose in her phone. I believe if parents are not careful they will be raising a generation of rude and detached children. Social networking and the Internet will be the way they fill their minds with culture instead of real life and the real experiences around us. I don’t know about you, but to me it’s a very scary scenario. In my opinion, it should be a wake up call for all of us.

Friday’s Bits and Pieces-Facebook Woes

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Let me know what you think. Lately I’ve become very bored with Facebook. It used to be when I logged onto Facebook it was everyday stories about your friends – pictures, recipes, family events, sometimes a forward of a funny video, but it mostly was allowing us to share our daily lives and interests with each other.

I find now when I log on Facebook it’s filled with massive forwards, unsolicited advertising, crazy videos, and such impersonal stuff that it really isn’t telling me anything much about my friends, except what they’re reading on Facebook and passing on. For me, Facebook has lost the intimacy and the specialness that it used to have.

Now, I don’t want to clump everyone in this great big lump of impersonal information, there are many of my friends who are very clever about their comments and they share extremely interesting and enlightening posts. But too many of my small group have gotten lazy about posting about their lives. These postings used to enable me to connect with them. It always gave me the feeling that I’m living in real time with them on a personal basis. That I’m sitting across from them at their kitchen table with a cup of coffee and just chatting one on one.

Facebook used to be a cozy corner in my daily life where I could sit and have a few moments of intimacy with friends, new and longtime friends, that are farther away than just around the corner.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of certain internet benefits. As a writer, so many great benefits. But I hope the pendulum soon swings back to the original intent of Facebook’s personal connection and exchange of interesting ideas over a cup of coffee from my house to yours.

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Making Sense Of Your Life.

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The other day I was standing in the kitchen waiting for my Keurig to spit out that first morning cup of coffee, mulling over why I write a blog when I have so many other projects on my plate. I have been taking several online courses about social media and blogging, so I guess that’s why it’s kind of in the forefront of my thoughts right now.

I woke up with a panic knot in my stomach thinking, wow, time is flying too fast, I still have so many things I want to do. The reality of my mortal clock ticking kind of scared me. Inside my head I’ve never felt my age and I’ve always continued to work in some creative form. But I never ever thought of an expiration deadline before. I’ve never ever thought of myself as getting older by the minute. In reality, physically, I guess I am, but mentally I still have the same kind of whirling dervish ideas I had when I was first building my life and career. The fact that I do have a ‘Sell By’ date that is getting closer and closer, I never gave more than a passing thought about it. Until yesterday.

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It seems that the older I get the stronger the fire within me grows to do something more with my life, when it should be the reverse. It’s kind of an ironic joke on some of us to still have a raging furnace inside; to want to live life to the fullest and not just sit around as a woman over 50 trying to make sense of her life. Are any of you feeling that way, or am I just out of step with the rest of my readers?

I want to ride the wave. This new Internet social networking evolution and ways that we can reach out to one another is so exciting to me. When I see all of these young entrepreneurs, especially young women with families, who are able to build wonderful careers while sitting at home without leaving their nest. How super that would’ve been for those of us who were raising our children in the 60s and 70s. To be able to do something fulfilling like that and still be at home with our children. In that respect, this is a wonderful age for women entrepreneurs. For them, if they know how to use social marketing and tools that are available to them with a click of a mouse or iPhone finger, there is nothing to stop them from being successful.

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Oh, I know you say, look, there were artists Grandma Moses, Georgia O’Keefe and presently actresses Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Joan Plowright. They are well over fifty and still going strong. You can probably think of others. And now look at Betty White who is still going in her 90’s. True. But what is the percentage of those who are still given the opportunity to be creative and working at that age. Not very high. But they are there, doing what they love to do. Why not us?

Well, I guess it all comes down to the fact that as a writer, by putting my thoughts out into the universe, I have been able to get this off my chest. Maybe I will be, along with you, some of the lucky ones who can keep going on doing whatever it is they love to do for a long, long time.

It’s good to be young and fearless, sure, but I honestly don’t want to go backwards in time. I’m more comfortable in my skin and am loving where I am right now. So as long as I can remember what I did yesterday, I promise to be grateful. I think I’ll continue to give it a go for as long as I can.

I wrote something in my memoir, Behind The Magic Mirror, that I would like to share with you and that I think is quite appropriate for this post:

In 1972 I interviewed the great violinist Rubenoff. Will Rogers had been a good friend of his and as a token of their friendship Will gave Rubenoff a watch engraved with thoughts he shared with me. The core thinking of what was engraved on the watch is that we go around but once in this life and we had better enjoy every minute of it while we can, because we don’t have the knowledge to know when our time here is over.

A memo to me to keep my fire burning until the last ember.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

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Facebook Friends: I Know You-I Met You Not

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It is no hidden fact that social media has changed the world, has changed our lives and how we connect to people. I have been thinking about this lately, and more so after I recently posted a blog regarding Kosovo and my son’s band tour there in 2000.

I know there are people who have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but I am very selective about whom I bring into my inner social circle. I have no strangers within that group, but I do have a few people that are connected to me by others and I also have a few people who I’ve known, or feel that I have met, because the connection through mail, email and then Facebook has been consistent throughout the years.

One Facebook friend in particular I have electronically known for 14 years, but never have met. His name is Bill Putnam, a photographer and journalist whom I first interacted with when he took pictures of and also wrote a very nice article about the band Tonic’s stop at Camp Bondsteel where he was stationed in 2000.

Since the lead singer/songwriter of that band just happens to be my son, Emerson Hart, the friendship began when Bill offered to send me some of the pictures he had taken of Emerson and the band during their visit during their performance at Bondsteel. Ever since that kind gesture, from time to time, I have been in touch with Bill, following him through the various phases of his life and career, both in and out of service for our country.

Bill has evolved from email-sometimes-friend to Facebook friend and has attended a few Tonic Concerts and generously taken pictures he has shared with this Tonic mother.

Electronically throughout the years I have witnessed him grow as a person, evolve, as my own son has done, and always enjoyed his photo journeys. I have invisibility watched him become a very competent photojournalist who is not just satisfied with standing still in his craft, but always experimenting, learning and challenging himself.

From his postings I gather he likes a good beer now and then with friends, loves certain sport teams, has a good sense of family and most of all, has an eye for what we want to see in the world.

Although I may never ever meet Bill Putnam in person, (the percentage chances of that unfortunately probably are pretty high), I feel I already have had that good fortune through his photography and photo posts. Bill is not afraid to tell it like it is. He crosses the lines for us. He is an interesting and talented guy, indeed, who years ago I “met” because he was a kind enough kid to send me some photos of my son in concert at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.

PS. You can find out more about my Facebook friend Bill Putnam at http://www.billputnam.net

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Photos Copyright Bill Putnam 2000/2014. All Rights Reserved.

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