I grew up in small towns in Maine, and my folks certainly taught me how to be a good neighbor but I didn’t learn how to be a Neighbor Lady until we purchased our home in South Portland. There, Laurel, our back fence neighbor, took me under her wing. I can’t remember when we started using the terms “Neighbor Lady” and “Neighbor Lady in Training” but I was at that point working from home and a bit more available.
Laurel had befriended a younger couple who’d moved to the area after the husband had become disabled due to a chronic lung condition. I would greet them as they walked the dog, the once strong man riding in an electric cart. As his condition worsened, Laurel asked me to prepare a meal or two, and to walk the dog and I readily agreed. Laurel kept me up to date and I knew she spent part of the nights with the couple as his time neared.
One morning, as I returned from an errand, she called over the back fence to let me know that he had passed in the night. We talked a bit, and she said, “She wants to have a wake at home and I told her we would do it. You OK for tomorrow night?”
Um? One deep breath and I said, “Of course. What are we doing?”
“Making a bunch of food, setting it out, greeting folks at the door, keeping the dog out of the cookies. That kind of thing.”
That’s kind of a lot, I thought. And I have a long To-Do list and … this woman just lost her husband.
“Let me know what you want me to make and what time to be there. Do we need napkins? Are we taking our own dishes, or does she have enough, or are we using paper? I’m in.”
And I was. After setting up, I mostly tended the buffet and prevented the dog from eating all of it while family members and close friends could grieve and share stories.
Hidden in a storage box back in Maine is a “Neighbor Lady Certificate” for that moment when I learned that one of life’s most precious gifts is the opportunity to step in and do something necessary when someone needs you. Once again, I thank Laurel for providing that lesson.
–Midlife Musings and life hacks; this will be a regular segment for Heels and Tevas as we share our own musings, lessons learned and about those who taught us. The wise diva knows that she has much to learn and that not all continuing ed is found in classrooms.
So many images come to mind with that sentence.
We all make plans and we’ve all had things happen. The company gets sold, a family member gets ill, or the car breaks down. Life Happens. Not S.H.I.T Happens. L.I.F.E. Happens.
Because that’s what life does.
Hurricanes happen—whether they are personally devastating or a one or two week hurdle of inconvenience—they sure mess up your schedules and wreak havoc with the To-Do list. Parents, kids, bosses, spouses, and personal tragedies all make us pause or speed up, shift direction or go more determinedly forward, rage unreasonably at a loved one or just sit down and cry. And nearly every time we create more internal stress by continuing to glorify the life before or imagine the unicorn and rainbow life of the future. And always, we just want to get back to our real lives.
We actually tend to do this during good times as well. Some of us may remember planning our wedding and having a moment or two thinking, “I just want it to be over so we can LIVE OUR LIVES.’ We each know at least two moms who felt that way during their third trimester (and we suspect that most of the others were lying).
Well, we have news for you—whether you’re 20-something (and if so what the heck are you doing here?) or 60-something or somewhere between—wake up and smell the coffee. That thing that’s going on with you right now? That thing is Your Life. How we handle it when sugar or the brown stuff happens will make a huge difference on what happens down the road.
Of course a plethora of self-help books, videos, programs, religions, and yoga or meditation classes all offer us ways to learn to be “be fully present”. Some people seem to be better at this than others, and perhaps they have something to teach us. For us, it’s something we need to work on continually. Right now, Lynnelle and her sister and their guys are doing the best they can to take care of their Mom. That’s their focus and that’s where it needs to be.
As Lynnelle said in her elegant and heartbreaking post yesterday, we will get back to our regularly scheduled quirky, smile-inducing, fun, vibrant posts. We encourage you to stick with us if that’s why you’re here. But if you’re here to be part of something that resonates with all women of a certain age, then you’re for all of it: the good, the bad, and the hurdles. If so, we look forward to learning more about you and to growing together.
If you can, share your story about that one time when couldn’t wait for your “real life” to start up again. I bet we can learn from it.
In the meantime, the sun will come up tomorrow. Here’s a reminder from a day at sea.
Face it; yes, we’re active, opinionated, and over 60 – but thinning/graying hair, getting wrinkles, and sagging are also part of aging. That’s a fact. It’s also true that at this moment we are the youngest we will ever be. (Gulp.) If we haven’t already started to take care of our bodies, minds, and sprits then is high time we started to do so.
Yes, this blog will address those physical things we wish we could change (Give me the wisdom to change the things I can and a great outfit to cover the rest) but that’s not the whole story about aging and we hope to address most of the whole story on aging. (Note while we greatly admire Joan Price and her blog and books, we will not emulate her candidness on the subject of senior sex. Frankly, we aren’t that evolved. Plus she does it so dang well, we don’t need to.)
Please understand that a Blog is a fluid medium. The tone and topics will change a bit as we learn and grow, find our comfort levels, and understand your interests. We promise not to talk only about aging because that can get old. (Did you see what I did there?) And we know that a huge percentage of our posts are First World Problems. But they are our First World Problems and your First World Problems and—well you get the idea.
We sincerely hope that “Heels and Tevas” will become a place where we can all exchange information, warn each other about bad ideas, share great stories, and have more than a few laughs. We’ve always needed friendships and laughter just like we’ve always needed sunscreen, broad hats, regular exercise, and annual check-ups—but sometimes we’ve forgotten what we need – and it’s our friends who remind us. We’ve always needed to talk with our dear friends—but sometimes we haven’t made time for it.
We’re not activists, but we are active and opinionated and have participated in a march or two. We are 60 (and counting), but don’t feel old. We have dreams, hopes, and plans for our futures—just as we did when we were 10, 30, and 40. Perhaps we’ve figured out that we won’t reach every goal. Perhaps we’re OK with that. Perhaps illness, finances, elderly parents, or beloved jobs will keep us from doing it all. Perhaps doing what we can and enjoying it is enough.
Let’s figure it out together.
Lynnelle and I met a few years after EW and I had moved aboard the boat; just before her divorce. She is the only deep and lasting non-boating friend I’ve made since moving aboard. New land-dwellers we meet seem to find people who live aboard “interesting”, maybe “fun”, but mainly “different”.
But not Lynnelle! Evidently, in Texas if you want to talk to your girlfriend you put on your high-heeled boots and get yourself on over to her home—and it just doesn’t matter if your friend’s front “walk” is a 100-foot dock.
I loved that!
Lynnelle is nothing like me and I am nothing like Lynnelle. Well, we’re both women over 60. Actually we are exactly 60. More importantly, we both have a great sense of humor and can laugh at ourselves and each other. We both like dogs. We both prefer to be self-employed. We both can be a bit sharp-tongued. But that’s pretty much it.
Here’s how we compare:
When Lynnelle came up with the obviously brilliant idea of combining our talents and wit to create a blog for women over 60, we knew that our union would have three strengths: Our similarities, our differences, and our friends-for-life status that thrives despite those differences (and the occasional disagreement).
Heels and Tevas is not be a fashion blog—in part because even Lynnelle would find that boring—but our styles will certainly be part of the story as will our friendship and our differences. From wild idea, we immediately moved to naming the blog. What title could convey our affinity despite our diverse goals, desires, and closets?
Once we latched on to “Heels and Tevas”, nothing else would do. Lynnelle wears heels (not every day; well not at home or in a casual setting; well mostly not when at home or in a casual setting; well …she has sneakers and I’ve seen her wear them. Really.), and I wear Tevas (not when going to a business meeting; well most business meetings; I have wedge sandal with one-inch heels and that’s tall enough).
After Barb shouted out “Heels and Tevas!” we started riffing on the concept. The Diva discussion ensued and Barb claimed the title, Teva Diva. Guess what, by default, ended up being my title…
Diva: a bitchy woman who must have her way exactly, or no way at all.
-or, more preferably…
Diva: a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. (We can add blogging to that definition and we’re good to go.)
I also found this:
Deva: means “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism.
I don’t think we could pull off Deva…Let’s be sure to spell Diva with an ‘i’; not an ‘e’.
So, welcome to Heels and Tevas, two Divas (with an “i”) and friends who DO love to get our way, but also strive to be honest, humorous, are rarely bitchy, and even more rarely – heavenly.
Heels spirit and Tevas soul
But not any more.
Friends as different as night and day (& Heels and Tevas), but as close as peanut butter and jelly (& red wine and chocolate)—we know we’re not alone in walking through midlife into our senior years (cough, cough, cough) wondering, “When do we start to FEEL like we’re old?”
It’s not until we walk by something reflective, and we look over and have our breath taken away by the older (less svelte) woman looking back at us. Whaaaat? Who IS that? Inside, we’re the same fun, vibrant, wickedly cute babes we were 30 years ago – but … that’s not who we look like on the outside.
So who the eff cares what the outside looks like… No, no; we DO care. Probably a lot more than we should. BUT! We are committed to living our lives from the inside out, not losing who we are as individuals to what others might see or to what social norms might expect.
60 Years. That’s 1 billion, 892 million, 160 thousand seconds. We’ve entered our sixtieth year, but we feel like it’s going to be a good decade (or 2) (or 3?). Here’s to another half-billion seconds, give or take 100 billion here and there.
1960 was the beginning of likely the most impactful decade in our social history. The hope and dreams of prosperity, peace, individual freedoms, exploration, gender equality, sexual equality, political expression, science, space, civil rights – and the list goes on.
As we walk into our own 60s, that same spirit of new freedoms, exploration, and peace is shaping our vision and plans for the next 20-30 years – or so. We’re Barb & Lynnelle. This is where we’ll document our many pearls of wisdom, look forward to your views, and vent on this issue or that—as we mosey through midlife; always with a vibrant, humorous and young-at-heart outlook.
We look forward to getting to know you along the way.