I Do…… I Don’t!!

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It’s that time of year when so many brides plan their weddings. It is a time of sunny days and fresh beginnings. I have attended my fair share of these events over my lifetime and each one was lovely. Most memorable was my niece’s wedding held in a lovely, older church and the reception took place in a beautiful winery setting. Everything was perfect!

So, some of you may be wondering why I am on this topic. I am certainly not walking down the aisle myself, nor are either of my children planning a wedding. The reason I am writing this particular blog is to vent! I am so fed up with these reality programs like “Say Yes To The Dress”! Can anyone tell me why this needs to be taking up airtime? Surely the networks are not so hard up for content that these shows play back-to-back for hours every day. If that is the big fascination for viewers these days, then society is really hopeless.     67152b1f03e03fb81266d6dc8f68042a

Also, please tell me why a bride needs 10-12 people to help her pick out a dress. It’s like a contest for who can have the biggest, boldest entourage. If she cannot think for herself, perhaps she should not be getting married in the first place. I understand taking your mom or dad or a sibling. Yes, it is more fun with someone along, but when I see brides being torn in different directions by friends, or the groom’s mom, or Aunt Matilda….enough! It’s not your day!!! A bride should not end up in tears on national tv over her damn dress.

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Pretty sure no one helped her.

And speaking of the dress, is there a good reason why someone would spend $10,000 or, $20,000 or more for a gown for one bloody day? I must be really showing my age because I think this is absurd. If a bride needs to spend that much on a gown to be happy, she has issues.

I know I must sound very negative, but the entire wedding industry today is out of control. Wedding planners make you feel guilty if you don’t get the extravagant venue, or rent the best linens, or spend $1000’s on flowers. Yes, it is only one day, but that is my point. It makes me think their life is all down hill from there on. Come on, ladies! You are better than that. Have an amazing day, but you have the rest of your life to make amazing also. Don’t get sucked up in trying to outdo the next girl. And most definitely, the rest of the country does not need to watch it all on television and judge your dress or venue or center pieces.   6a2351c165fa554989a5da35d0ca3570

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, can we get some decent programming on television, please?

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

Aging vs Getting Old

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Well, now that I have your attention, I’d like to get your opinion. Are aging and getting old the same thing? The reason I ask is that over and over I constantly hear complete strangers say, “I hope I can have as much fun as you and your friends when I am your age.” It’s puzzling to me. Do these people think that we are unusual? Do they think they have to wait until a certain age to enjoy their selves?

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I especially cringe when I hear, “You look great for your age,” or “You don’t look your age at all”. Is there some kind of measurement standard that I don’t know about yet? I always enjoy going someplace and running into people that I have not seen since my twenties. Admit it! We all do it! We compare how they look to how we “think” we look. Now sometimes this backfires when they say, “You haven’t changed a bit and I have no clue who they are because they have changed a lot.” This happens a great deal with former students. I am sure I have that “deer- in- the- headlight” stare because they were eight when I last saw them. When I hear comments like, “You look exactly the same,” I secretly laugh because I like to think I look better now (just joking).

A very close friend called me one day. She was furious! She ran into a very old friend who she hadn’t seen in quite some time. This friend was in her wedding. My friend spoke to the woman saying, “Hi, how are you?” This comment was met by a blank stare. The friend from the past had no clue who she was. My friend explained and they laughed and had a brief conversation, but my girlfriend was offended so she called and asked if she really had changed that much with age. a74604d51ab735b64a6292f1b7c23b45

We all change as we grow older. Our hair grays, our skin sags and wrinkles, we often put on a few extra pounds, and our aches and pains often show as we may move slower or have a limp. However, none of those things have anything to do with getting old. We get old when we stop enjoying and participating in life.

 

Just because we have a few more birthdays, doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you loved to do. Well, within reason I guess!

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We all come to know our own limitations, but it really has nothing to do with the number of candles on your birthday cake. I know people much younger than I am who do very little in life other than going to their job and sitting in front of the television. I feel sorry for those individuals. They are missing out! If you enjoyed a certain activity when you were younger and you are still physically capable, then do it again. Do not let anyone tell you that you are “too old”. And by the same token, If there is something you have always wanted to do, then do it; you may not get the same opportunity again.

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Now, if you will excuse me, I believe there is a lovely, chilled glass of wine sitting on the bar waiting for me. b1f0e9a96abbb9fd68cc6dfd9487bc55

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

You’re Never Too Old



It feels like forever since I last posted here. It’s amazing how busy life gets when you are retired. I must admit, I really worried about being bored when I no longer had a job to go to.  I felt my life would somehow have less meaning. It has become abundantly obvious to me that all of those concerns are in my control. I know that sounds like a very simplistic observation, but sometimes we can’t see things that are staring us in the face.

I recently finished reading Debbie Travis’s book, Design Your Next Chapter. Deb TraI know I mentioned her in a previous blog. Her message is simple. No matter what your age, if you can dream it, you can do it, and no one can tell you otherwise. I’m sure many of you are already saying, “Oh, sure! Debbie Travis lives a very different life than I do. She is younger, well-known, well-off, etc., etc.” All of that is probably true. I know it is for myself as well, but somehow her message struck a chord in me.

I have always liked to keep myself busy, but I have not always followed my dreams because I was afraid of failing. So, in 2019, at the age of 71, I have decided to confront my self doubts and step outside of my comfort zone. If I fall flat on my face, I will be fine. What is the worst that can happen?

So, to start off the year I decided to enter the Toronto Star Short Story Contest. 20190323_100545

I have thought of doing this for years, but the fact that they receive over 2500 entries kept me from trying. My entry was mailed off in February well before the deadline. It is out of my hands now.

For years, I have worked on and off writing a romance manuscript. The idea of completing an entire book seemed impossible to me. I mean, I type with two fingers. Well, I finished! I was so proud of myself. Then, I took it one step further and I have submitted it to a publisher. Now we wait!

My third project this year is a little venture with my daughter. I have toyed with this idea for a while, and when she casually mentioned it, I saw my chance to give it a try. We are starting an online business together. Neither of us has any experience in web design, or shipping out products, or any other skills involved, but we are learning tons and doing a lot of laughing along the way. Yesterday, we went to the bank to set up our business account. The young guys in the bank were in stitches. They said that we “made their Friday”. Our launch goal is April 1, 2019. Yes, it is April Fool’s day!

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Oh, I forgot to mention, I am sewing many of our products. Wish us luck!

So, my time has been filled recently, and I am so excited to see where all this goes. I hope this inspires or gives you the push to try something new. Live your life to the fullest in your own unique way.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

All Pooped Out!

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You know you are old when conversation with your girlfriends includes the working condition of your bowels. It’s true! I use to cringe when my mom and her friends would discuss their bowel movements or lack there of.  Did they have no sense of privacy? However, it has recently come to my attention that my girls and I are now doing the same thing. As my mom would say, “We all go, so what’s the secret?”

Queue outside lady's toilets: 'Please wait to be seated'.
Queue outside lady’s toilets: ‘Please wait to be seated’.

It seems that the older we get, we are in a constant state of trying to alleviate constipation or diarrhea. More fiber, fewer carbs, drink water, take probiotics, try Metamucil or maybe Pepto Bismol. Pharmacies have entire aisles dedicated to our poop. Natural Medicine practitioners say we need to really look at our stools. Does it float or sink, is it loose or formed, is the color brown or black? Apparently, a gently curved, brown, floating sample is ideal. Please do not post Instagram photos like people do with their meals.  toilet

Bathroom habits are definitely a crucial part of the planning when we travel, even if it is only for a day or two. Some people cannot use any other facilities, but their own. They simply cannot poop in public places! Some people have very regular bowels, and they operate like clock work; while others hope and pray they will be close to a washroom when nature calls. This is a very stressful situation especially if you are traveling and sharing a room with one or more friends. You can only hope your routines compliment each other. I mention this because on my last trip to Amsterdam four of us stayed on the houseboat. We chose this particular boat because it had two bathrooms; however, the ad did not explain that one of the toilets was located at the far end of the boat away from the living area. You needed to be a sure-footed mountain goat to maneuver the narrow walkway and hop over ropes to access these facilities. We decided it would only be used in desperation. Needless to say, it was barely used. By the end of our stay we were very in tune with each others habits.

Traveling in non-western countries is not without its bathroom challenges. My biggest washroom feat to date was trying to straddle a hole on a moving train in China. It is definitely a test of balance, aim, and agility, especially as you get older.

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We can all agree that our digestive system, including our bowels, is critical to good health. I mention this because I am fully aware that I should be looking after my colon as I age. Every one of my friends keep reminding me that I need to schedule a colonoscopy. The whole idea simply freaks me out! The preparation alone sounds terrible. That being said, I have promised myself that I will make it a priority in 2019.

So, look after your poop, and it will look after you!

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

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A while ago at the pub, I had a discussion with a gentleman who stopped by our table to chat. He was there for a friend’s retirement party in another room. The conversation eventually got around to the concept of forced retirement. He was quite annoyed that we are often shown the door before we are ready to leave just because we have reached the magic age. Then someone else added that some people stay longer than they should at their jobs.

It got me thinking back about my own retirement. After 32 years of teaching, I was definitely ready to leave my profession. I had had my fill of unreasonable parents, constantly changing curricula, watered down educational standards, and all the political crap that went with it, but I was only 53. Had I reached my employment expiry date? How do we know when it’s time to go?

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Perhaps it’s time!

Initially, I was excited to begin the next step, but also filled with trepidation at the thought of endless time and no place that I HAD to be. Ideas consumed every free moment. I could volunteer; I could catch up on all the reading that I never found time for; I could redecorate the old house that I had just purchased; I could travel; I could write the book that I had always wanted to write.  Yes, I could do all these things and more. So why did I feel so apprehensive, so lost for direction? It took me only a few weeks to realize I  was not ready to be unemployed. 022e426bff51a2f8732e1ea44a72525d Even though I had a decent pension, I worried about having enough money to live my new life with so much extra time to do things.

I had spent a lifetime raising two kids, looking after a home, and getting my university degree while working full time. My life had ticked along on a tight schedule for as long as I could remember, and now all of a sudden there was no discernible routine. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, and even if I wanted.  I was totally unprepared for these circumstances and I was forced to take a long, hard look at myself.

So, how do we decide it is time? Sometimes that decision is made for us. An unexpected accident may take away our ability to work. As we age, our health changes. For many, they can no longer physically do their job. Occasionally, we are able to handle modified work, but this is not always an option. For me, I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. I disagreed with so many of the changes happening within the school system that going to work each day was becoming frustrating. I loved working with the children, but it was not enough to sustain my interest anymore. I was beginning to feel like I was just putting in time to collect my pay and that did not sit well with me. When a colleague suggested that I retire and do supply teaching, I responded, “Hell, no!”

Well, it has been 18 years since I retired from teaching children, but I did not retire from working. About 2 months after my retirement date, I started working with a private company that retrained injured workers to start new careers. I remained with this company for 12 years until it eventually closed its doors. I also did a brief stint in retail just to ease myself into permanent retirement. I can finally say that I am just fine with my status.

Only you will know when it is time to leave the workforce. Just remember, if you feel that you made a mistake, try something new. Life is not carved in stone!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

What Is Happening?

What is happening to our society? I know changes in our way of life are inevitable and to be perfectly honest many changes have been a vast improvement on the quality of life that we enjoy. However, when did we become so thin-skinned that people are taking offense to poor little Rudolph? This year for me has been a sad realization that even the simplest joys in life are threatened and seem to be disappearing right before my eyes.

When the “Me Too” Movement first began gaining momentum, I understood and had no problem getting on board. I don’t know a single woman who has not been the victim of unwanted sexual innuendos. I also knew many women over the years who sought out this kind of attention. We can’t have it both ways. Flirtation between men and women is part of the mating process just as it is for many animal species. Of course, the line must be drawn at forced sexual situations. Are we headed to male/female partnerships which are nothing more than business transactions?

Every time I turn on the radio or television there is something new that has been banned. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is too manipulative! Are you kidding me???  “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” promotes illicit affairs. Really?? I think it is pretty obvious to everyone that Santa is actually Daddy. mommy

It never ends. Songs that once brought happiness and laughter are now considered dirty and sordid.

 

Rudolph promotes bullying; Frosty promotes smoking. What’s next?

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I reached my limit today! Someone I know well posted a picture of herself wearing a sweater given to her by her son 20 years ago. She was wearing this article of clothing today when a woman approached her in a store and told her it was inappropriate. What do you think?

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People, we are officially out of control. When did it become okay for someone to make his/herself judge and jury over anyone  else. Who are these people who decide that something that has been around for decades is suddenly offensive and why are we listening to them?

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Mirror, Mirror!

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We all do it! A child is born and instantly we compare their appearance to one family member or another. It always reminds me of that childhood story, The Ugly Duckling. If there is no family resemblance, everyone seems to be in a fluster and they begin going back generations to find something that says the child belongs. Growing up, family and friends often remarked that I looked like my paternal grandmother. She, in turn, would maintain that I was a true likeness of family members in Ireland who I had never even seen in pictures. As a young child, this analogy secretly bothered me. I didn’t want to look like my grandmother. She was old and wrinkled!

As with all aspects of life, our perception of most everything changes as we age.

My daughter recently posted on Facebook a picture of my mother and I on my wedding day. I always knew we had many similarities, but for the first time, I was struck by our uncanny likeness.

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So many friends commented on how much we looked alike. Why had I never noticed this before?

I have gone through my life believing I looked like my grandmother. What has made this realization even stranger, is that I have let my gray roots grow out, and my hair is now almost white. When I look in the mirror, I feel like I’m looking into my mom’s face, not mine. I catch my reflection in a store window and see her looking back at me. Sometimes it is just the way I tilt my head or smile, but it’s her. More recently, I have heard myself using expressions that my mom used. The words flow out as though it was her talking. It always catches me off-guard.

Do we eventually become our parent as we age? I can’t imagine ever being that lucky.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo