Holiday Thoughts

The world seems to be crazy and a real mess theses days. Everyone is stressed and a whole lot of folks seem to be really angry all the time.

What has happened to us? What has happened to civility? What has happened to kindness? In every industry here on land in the skies, I have been hard pressed lately to meet many happy people. Oh, I know they are out there, but in very small numbers it seems.

Maybe it’s just a coastal thing – East and West. Hopefully in the middle somewhere there are grateful, kind and loving humans who haven’t forgotten how lucky we are to live in a free society.

This holiday I have taken it upon myself on my Youtube Channel to upload every day until Christmas my Kindness Calendar. If we could each day do one act of kindness for someone else, it will not only help them, but we will benefit emotionally, too.

We have to get some attitudes of gratitude going before it’s too late for reversal.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2017

It’s All About Arthur 

I never thought about age differences thirty-three years ago when I married Arthur.  Somehow when you are really young age difference matters, then it disappears in adulthood, and suddenly the awareness reawakens as you get older. It really is a strange dicothemy.

My husband is thirteen years older than I am and when we got married, I didn’t even think about our age differences. My parents were ten years apart and it worked out just fine for them.

It was only  when we celebrated Arthur’s ninety-first birthday, that I realized how lucky I am. All of his friends are gone and he is standing alone and quite healthy in his nineties.  The odds are that it could be a quite different story for both of us.  Sometimes I think he has more energy than I do!

To celebrate his milestone I recently interviewed my husband about how it feels to be in his nineties. 

Copyright Sandra Hart©2017. All Rights Reserved 

Moving Forward

I have lived long enough that if I would put all of my ‘what ifs’ in writing, l would  have a complete novel. Honestly, think  back. How many ‘what ifs’ are in your past that if you had a ‘do over’ things would be different, or the outcome would have been much better if you had only….

Well, let me stop you right there. You are where you are supposed to be right now because the ‘what ifs’ didn’t happen.  Good or bad, there is no going back,  There are few ‘do overs’. 

A long time ago I quit torchering myself and put  all of my ‘what ifs’ in a basket and lit a match to it.  I refuse to live in the past and think that my life would be so much better if I had made different decisions in my life. I decided that living in the now is what is important.  

Learn from your ‘what ifs’  Burn that basket and move forward into the present and don’t look back with regrets.  Your best life is now!

CopyrightSabdra Hart 2017©

Let’s Give Peace A Chance

This last week has been a hard one. With all of the anticipation of the election here in the United States and the result causing a frenzy the likes of which I have never seen before in my lifetime was hard on all of us. 

I hate to admit it but I was born during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Presidency. So you do the math. I have lived through many presidential races and elections. When I was old enough to vote, my choice was not always the people’s choice. but I excepted it. I supported whomever was in office and I moved on. 

This past week was radically different-something that really was a revelation to me. I think to all of us. Social media has given rise to hate filled rhetoric. 

Formerly our news came from television, newspapers and radio and we relied on those outlets for unbiased reporting. We could make up our own minds in the privacy of our immediate friends and families. Today with existing platforms, we can spew hate behind a post. 

The infighting got so bad on my Facebook page that it was not fun to log on anymore. My daughters and some of their friends felt the same way. Their solution? Unfriend those who were going over the top with hate- filled speech. So two nights ago, with a click, I culled my friends and kept those who may have had other persuasions than I do, but were reasonable in their objections. Now I am free at last to return to Facebook. 

In this democracy there are winners. The winning candidate and those who voted for him. But in a way, we all should feel we are winners, because if the President-Elect does a terrible job, we have the power of our vote to change the POTUS. The people do have the ballot box power and the privilege to decide who speaks and governs on our behalf.  

I have never picked my friends by political persuasion, race or religion and I’m not going to ever go down that road. So, please, let us all move forward and enjoy life and the things that bring us together. Accentuate the positives in our lives and know we do have the power to rise above and accept our differences. 

Let’s give peace a chance.

Copyright©Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

Scorpio Fire

I can’t believe I am married to a ninety-year old man! Next week my husband will have reached the magic number with birthday candles that would singe eyebrows and burn the house down. 

I can’t believe life and so many years have flown by so fast for us. Seems just yesterday he was this older-life-committed bachelor with prematurely white hair who was pursuing me. We met in New York through a friend. I wasn’t at all interested. A week later unannounced he was knocking on my door in New Jersey. Six years later, I said ‘yes’ and two years later we walked down the aisle. His friends couldn’t believe that at fifty-seven he finally made the plunge into married life. I couldn’t believe I was marrying this white-hired guy. 

My father was 10 years older than my mother, my late husband 10 years older than me, so age difference in partners never made me think twice about my marriage choices. Not that ten years today is considered a big gap in age, but when I remarried 32 years ago, there was a 13 year age difference between my new husband and myself. 

Let’s look at it like this, when I was ten years old and probably in the fourth grade my husband was twenty-three, had already finished his service in WWII and was making his way in the world of singles while I was learning to double-jump rope.  

Somehow I kept falling in love, stretching the age difference boundaries. There might be something psychological in my love/comfort choices, or maybe because of my parents successful marriage and healthy aging – who knows – but I never considered to think beyond anything more than that.  

In spite of it all, so-called May-December relationships, in which there’s a big age gap between the partners, can be rewarding — and also challenging if the husband was a bachelor for fifty-seven years. The good news is those issues can be handled, just like any other relationship issue — regardless of age if you are a saint like me. Plus you just have to know how to meditate. 

You know that switch most of us have that allows us to not always say what we are thinking? GOD forgot to give my husband one. Too many embarrassing moments as a result of this Divine mistake in engineering to fit into this blog, but if he has an opinion about you, or anything, he has no qualms sharing it immediately with you.

He is a master at exploding Gorilla glue in the microwave, controlling the tv remote and lovingly breaking most things he handles. I can’t count how many new sets of dishes I’ve gotten throughout the years, or how many clothes of mine that have worn his water, wine or any liquid he has been served at weddings. On the positive side, I always have a reason to buy new things.

My love has slipped and fallen on me in Big Lots dislocating my shoulder, in a Hilton parking lot tearing my rotator cuff and in Honolulu, resulting in a torn leg ligament. Collectively I’ve spent at least two years of my life with him either on crutches or in physical therapy.  

Think of a cross between Larry David and Chevy Chase and you’ve got it. For instance, throughout our lives together he often has walked whatever sweet dog we have had at the time and come into the house without realizing for hours our pet is still waiting faithfully on the other side of the closed door. 

Then there was the time he once drove away with our now-deceased caged bird in top of the car. Now don’t get sad, the bird lived to die of old age and didn’t die as road kill. The Pet Angels intervened once again and the cage landed safely in our neighbor’s yard. 

In the end I’ve had to understand there’s a big difference between being swept off your feet and staying for the long haul. Hard questions about love, aging, permanence, sacrifice, and acceptance have been an important part of our partnership. We are a perfect pair. I have the patience, understanding and independence needed for his personality and he has the Scorpio fire, loyalty and stability I need. 

I have just learned to sit far across the table from him at weddings, check to see if the dog is around after a walk, hide the Gorilla glue, never get another bird and not be offended if he waits a week to notice the Christmas tree is up. And of course, never forget that good night kiss!

 Happy Birthday, Love. Ninety more for you!

Copyright©2016 Sandra Hart. All Rights Reserved

Growing Wings Of Their Own

( Author Note: As former Romper Room Teacher and Pittsburgh CBS affiliate anchor, my children began their lives with Romper Room and Mr. Rogers as their ‘normal’ family. We relocated with my late husband to New Jersey 43 years ago, but no escaping for them – their friends here in New Jersey always remembered me as the lady on Romper Room.)

Growing Wings Of Their Own
It has almost been 20 years since one of my children took his sisters out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ shadow they had been living with for most of their lifetime. A new dimension was added to our lives and nothing would ever be the same again.
In 1996 my Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey singer/songwriter son, Emerson Hart, and his band Tonic released their first album, Lemon Parade, which rocketed to multi-platinum status and garnered him awards, including the Billboard Award for the #1 most played song on rock radio.
What followed in the ensuing 19 years would be world tours, six Tonic albums, two Grammy Nominations, ASCAP Award, movie soundtracks, two successful solo albums and concerts in war zones entertaining our American troops – even being knocked off of his feet by a bomb blast while the band was staying at one of Sodom Hussein’s Palaces in Iraq.
Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Both New Jersey icons, were already firmly established within the 80’s Rock frenzy by the time Emerson and Tonic came along. But the ‘new kid’ on the block from New Jersey, the late ’90’s talent entry, came into the game like gangbusters when music tastes were were changing. Emerson was on the tail end of Rock’s biggest roll, but he and Tonic have survived.
So have his sisters. Each of them with their own quiet, or not so quiet victories growing up and out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ memories.
So a toast from parents to our children and their victories growing up and out from under our wings. A toast for 20 more quiet and maybe not so quiet years!

Why We Sometimes Marry The Wrong Person

“It’s one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.”

The New York times recently published an article on a subject that my children and I have often discussed. Choosing a partner subconsciously on the comfort level of what you knew growing up as a child most often than not guarantees a divorce in the future.

I came from a family where my parents stayed together until death. My brother chose a mate and they have been married for over 50 years. My first marriage ended in divorce. Why?

I have no doubt that my parents truly loved one another, but my father had a terrible temper and he and my mother bickered constantly. I vowed never to marry someone who had a temper, so I chose someone who had no emotion whatsoever. I swung the pendulum all the way to the opposite and instead of reaching a middle ground I ran away from familiarity that was not a comfort zone for me. Although we have been best friends since then, divorce was inevitable. There was no passion in our union. 

The issues regarding relationships and marriage were not open for discussion to us years ago. I wish I had had then the tools that are available today to young couples starting out in relationships. 

I am incorporating the article in this blog because I think it is right on target and explains so much about why and how we choose mates that might not be so right for us.

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person

By ALAIN de BOTTON

MAY 28, 2016

IT’S one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.

Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”

Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when we are working; perhaps we’re tricky about intimacy after sex or clam up in response to humiliation. Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Our partners are no more self-aware. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to understand them. We visit their families. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.

For most of recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons: because her parcel of land adjoined yours, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the magistrate in town, there was a castle to keep up, or both sets of parents subscribed to the same interpretation of a holy text. And from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. 
The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since they met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason, that catalyst of misery, that accountant’s demand. The prestige of instinct is the traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable reason.

But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. 
How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.

We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us: Perhaps we were in Venice, on the lagoon, in a motorboat, with the evening sun throwing glitter across the sea, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the prospect of dinner in a risotto place a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage.

Indeed, marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.
We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.

WE need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.

Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) is the author of the novel “The Course of Love.”
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