You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Love Your Life Now! How inspiring. How renewing. You can do this! Yes, you can!

But maybe not today.

 “You can’t always get what you want, but when you try sometimes, you get what you need.”

Thank you, Mr. Jagger.

There are days when I’m fed up with getting what I need instead of getting what I want. Today was one of those days.  Enough already with the life lessons.

I’d like my life to go my way. Frankly, I don’t feel very much in love with life today. I feel overwhelmed, overworked, out of balance, and I miss my kids. I’ve got a body that’s aging at every angle: My joints ache. My tooth crowns need replacement. My retinas are detaching from the back of my eyes. My lips are starting to pucker – and it’s not a precursor to a kiss. It’s not going the way I wanted. Darn it.

You know that feeling?

Then on my way to my office here in San Francisco, I walked past the Philippine Consulate General.  At 9 a.m., the line was out the door and around the corner.

Of course, I thought. Typhoon Haiyan.

I saw crying mothers holding babies and men pleading with dignitaries. The air was thick with fear, panic and nervousness.

A wake up call? At first, not as much as it should have been. Yes, my heart broke for their worry and loss. And I did donate to the Red Cross as soon as I got to the office. But did my own selfish melancholy persist? Yes, quite honestly, it did.

Then I remembered what my mother told me: Just because your headache isn’t as bad as your friend’s headache doesn’t mean your pain is negligible. But it does mean that you should get your life in perspective and move on.

This is what I told myself:  Get over it (one of my favorite phrases!). You are not a victim. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Why impose melancholy on yourself when there’s plenty of sadness to go around in the world?

Kat, I said, put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

I had to grow up and realize that while I can’t always get what I want, sometimes, when I pay attention, I get exactly what I need. And walking past the consulate general was exactly what I needed.

When I shut the door on negativity and open the door to hope and resilience, I see that my life is not so bad. In fact, it’s pretty darn nice … and blessed, as well, for crying out loud!

Perhaps that’s why that Rolling Stones song is still so popular. You just can’t always get what you want. But sometimes — pay attention here — you really do get what you need.

Starting Over, Again and Again

“The world is your oyster! You’re just getting started.”

The speaker was the police chief of Ferndale, Michigan. The time was June, 1966, and the event was my high school graduation. The chief’s task was a formidable one – enlightening us about life’s opportunities on a muggy, sticky day in early summer.

I wondered, “What does an oyster have to do with me?” I also wondered when he’d stop talking, because I wanted to bolt with my friends to the beach.

At 18, I was invulnerable, immortal, and full of myself. The future? That was something my parents worried about.

But the oyster thing kept surfacing. I heard it at college graduation. And again at my first teaching job, when I got married, when I gave birth to my first child, and when I started my corporate work.

Then, I hit my mid-50’s. All talk about oysters stopped. Life’s opportunities got less metaphorical and more serious. Now, I was told I would have a “fresh start” with my marriage when the children left home.

Instead, I got a divorce. All of a sudden, I was starting over against my will – and it didn’t begin with a trip to the beach with my friends. To survive, I had a major life lesson to learn: I had to adjust my mindset to see starting over as a golden opportunity.

In the eight years since then, I’ve had more  “starting over” than I ever dreamed possible: six relocations (moving to a new home) and five new business starts.  I couldn’t have done them if I hadn’t constantly reminded myself that every one of them meant new possibilities.

It came down to a simple verb change. Instead of “I have to start over,” I told myself  “I get to start over.” Some days, starting again felt like a delightful walk in the park. Other days, the “golden opportunity” eluded me and I was brutally depressed and lonesome.

There was one constant that got me through, however: How I thought about the new starts made all the difference. My mind believed me when I said I was happy. It also set all systems to miserable, when I said I was lonely. Your brain believes everything you tell it.

The famous psychologist, Sol Gordon, once said, “There’s nothing as energizing as starting something new.”

From where I sit, after a half-century-plus of living, there are still oysters to be eaten. Now, however, I prefer them on the half shell with lemon and Tabasco.

And starting over? Oh yes, I’m a pro at it, as are you. We’re lucky, you and I. We’re not getting older. We’re getting started. And every day is a fresh one.



How to Love Your Life Now at 50, 60, 70 and beyond!

This is my tag line: Love Your Life Now.

With the cascade of changes, challenges, and new starts for women after 50, is it really possible to love your life now – every day- for the rest of your life? Or am I simply playing Pollyanna?

Let me tell you a story. Several years ago, my friend, Susan Sullivan, was dying from ovarian cancer. Susan struggled for several years with the disease that ultimately took her life.  One day, at the end of her fourth brutal bout fighting it, she reached out and took my hand.

“You don’t have time for negative energy!” Susan said. “Why does it take cancer to see how blue the sky is? Love your life now!”

Those words changed my life.

Even though she was exhausted and in pain from chemotherapy and the disease, Susan continued to laugh and love life. Ever the college professor, she helped young doctors better understand ovarian cancer. Up until two weeks before she died, Susan presented herself, bald-headed but bodacious, to answer questions from medical students at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Her parting words to me were: “If I’m not afraid to die, you mustn’t be afraid to live.”

Pretty somber stuff. Those are words you never forget.

What does it mean to lovelife?

Our youth-centered culture blithely bandies about the term “love.” For me, loving life means an intimacy with life not found on the common plane

To love life means to savor, to fully engage, to take a big bite out of life and own it – all of it – the good, the bad, the ugly. Loving life means to recognize that from this moment forward, life will be a series of starting up or starting again – each and every day.

Some of what life brings will be joyful. Other times, life throws mean, nasty curve balls. Regardless, we can choose how we think about it. For me, loving life means tapping our inner resources, a positive mindset, a plan, and a circle of support from others. Loving life means knowing how to get energized and empowered all over again – whenever we need it.

Scent of A Man who loves Women

scent-of-a-woman-2In an attempt last night to procrastinate at all costs, I curled up on the couch with the Oscar-winning 1992 drama, “Scent of a Woman.” It’s the story of a cantankerous, blind Army colonel (Al Pacino) who hires a timid 17-year old prep student (Chris O’Donnell) and takes him to New York City over Thanksgiving to complete his bucket list before ending his hopeless, useless life.

Talk about learning to Love Your Life Now! Is there a better example of overcoming deep depression and discovering life again? You must re-watch this movie! No matter where you are in your journey, this gem takes you all over the place.

You’ll laugh hard, cry intensely, and be stunned by the wisdom of the film’s message: Life is always worth loving, no matter how awful you feel about it. Don’t give up.

OK, so you don’t have time to watch the entire film. Give yourself a gift and watch these highlights:

  • The colonel gives his legendary earthy diatribe on women (and Ferraris, but only as a distant second). For us women, watching this is inspirational and illuminating. So this is what men think!
  • The colonel’s notorious “to-do” list before his suicide includes one last dance with a beautiful woman and test driving a Ferrari. Remember, the colonel is blind!

There’s a part of Colonel Slade in all of us. It’s that dark, lonely place where we think that life as we know it is over … and it can lead some of us very close to the edge. In the end, the colonel’s Manhattan rendezvous reinvigorates him, and he begins to taste and savor life again.

Starting over and starting again later in life can be darn daunting. But like Colonel Slade, we can get past that bleak place. It’s all about our inner dialogue. It can change! We have to tell ourselves we can change, then take the tangible steps to do so.

Meryl’s dress — dignified and daring

Look at Meryl Streep on Sunday, at the Academy Awards.  We all agree – she’s gifted, sexy, brilliant, beautiful, feminine, strong. And, I would add: daring. I found it surprisingly refreshing to see a different kind of daring from her – her beaming visage, first, rather than her cleavage, her legs, her curves. It takes courage to be covered up in Tinseltown, perhaps more courage than baring it all.

To watch her flow to the stage in that dress, gracefully and graciously sent a message to our youth centric mania: I am comfortable in my own skin as a mature accomplished actress and I don’t have to succumb to skin rules to be magnificently elegant and sexy.

022612_oscars_nip_teaser120226210531-300x200Look carefully. Wait a minute! She’s got gentle rolls at her waist. Her arms aren’t sporting taut overly defined muscles. Are those suggestions of jowls? Is her waist just a bit higher than Abercrombie and Fitch would like?

Meryl, what are you thinking? Don’t you get it that showing off your body is what you do in Hollywood? Jennifer Lopez – and her “gosh, I didn’t mean to show my nipple” and Carmen Diaz get it. By the way, look at those arms on Carmen. Is that definition really necessary? Better said: How nice to be able to exhale and stop the madness of trying to look like that.

Can Meryl use her power, her standing and cachet to role model a new benchmark of body image acceptance for us at 50 and beyond? Yes. It’s nice to have permission to be elegant, sexy, powerful, and feminine from someone at the top. What a concept! Feminine beauty as rounded and soft. Thank you, Meryl. You’re in good company with one of the greatest Greek beauties ever known (now living in Paris).

What do you think of Meryl’s dress? Share your thoughts here.

Own it! It’s all about the ‘tude

It’s all about the ‘tude, ladies.

I did a local radio show this morning in Sonoma (KSVY) and had 2 male co-hosts. We talked about beautiful women who have “it” – classic beauties who Own It! You can guess the usual suspects … Susan Sarandon, Raquel Welch, Meryl Streep, Lauren Bacall. Plastic surgery notwithstanding, all of these women exude self confidence.

We decided the poster child for beauty is Sophia Loren. Yes, ok, she was born with a predisposed genetic makeup to simply be magnificently beautiful for a lifetime. Nonetheless, she’s the embodiment of easy beauty.

We hear much about celebrities fighting depression, and many of the names mentioned above have had their personal lives ripped apart by public discussion of depression. Not Sophia! Read her secret in Daily Mail – quoted at age 76.

Sophia, who once famously claimed she ate a plateful of pasta a day, adding ‘everything you see, I owe to spaghetti’, said recently her slim figure is down to a combination of exercise and positive thinking.

She said: ‘I always wake up early and jump out of bed – sometimes not wanting to, because one can always find an alibi not to exercise – and then I take a walk for an hour.

‘And as I walk round the park I always think, “Maybe round the corner I am going to find something beautiful.”

‘I always think positively. It is very rare that you find me in a mood that is sad or melancholic.’

Read more

sophia_lorenHow we present ourselves makes all the difference. Look at her! Shoulders back, big stride. My male co-hosts and I agreed, it’s the ‘tude that makes us spectacular, vital, juicy, and beautiful. Next time you walk away from something as mundane as the grocery store checkout, throw that head back, strut slightly, and let ‘em look. Own it!

I would love to hear your thoughts! Share them here.

Craving compliments? Own it!

I complimented a magnificently adorned woman in her mid 60’s, yesterday – at the corner of Market and 2nd in San Francisco. It was exactly what we talked about in our “I Want My Neck Back … Reclaiming Your Body” sessions. As I approached the corner, she stood there in the most beautiful royal blue and black (trimmed) light coat. She was “owning it” so aristocratically – shoulders back, head up … just waiting for the light to change to walk across Market. Perfect picture? Nope. It all worked except for the frown on her brow. At first I thought to myself, “There’s an angry woman.” (Remember, we lead with our face). Then I stopped myself. Wait a minute! No drama and no stories! She needs a compliment. I said, “I love that coat.” She looked at me and a huge grin spread across her face. “Thank you,” she said. That’s all she said! (Had she secretly attended one of our sessions?) I continued, “Did you get it around here? It’s lovely!” She answered with glee, “No, I made it. I make all my clothes. I learned to sew when I was three.” “You sewed at three?” I asked. She replied, “We were really poor and my mother was a seamstress – no time for anything else with nine kids. By the way, you look amazing, too.” I simply said, “thank you,” smiling to myself as the light changed and we crossed the street. I’ll never see her again, but it was a bonding moment for both of us. The kind of moment that only we women can do. In less than one minute, we both left feeling wonder-full, with a brisker stride. My resolve is even firmer, now. We need to support each other, no matter what. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, join us for a complimentary event (I Want My Neck Back – Reclaiming Our Bodies) as we laugh, learn and share our woes and wonder-fullness around these ever changing bodies of ours. Sags and settling? Enough is enough! Join us and learn the secrets to “anti aging.”  Hint: It’s not about needles or knives, salves or supplements, food or fitness …