Life Is Fiction

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I love reading stories about women who do an about change in their life because their circumstances are making them unhappy. Two well-known examples that come to mind are “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Eat, Pray, Love”, but I have discovered there are many more out there to discover. I can hear the groans now! You’re probably thinking this woman’s age is affecting her brain. Yes, these stories are fiction, but often real life is stranger than fiction. And I honestly believe that writers use real life situations in their novels because the readers can relate to the characters easily.

Just yesterday, I finished the book, ” Under Italian Skies” by Nicky Pelligrino.

20190724_095220 It was recommended by a friend who knows I love Italy and France as much as she does. The book itself was entertaining, but more important was the fact that it was written about middle-aged women and their lives and dreams. Fiction, yes, but those women could have been any one of my real friends. All of the characters had come to a point in their lives where they thought they had to accept their situations. They were all beautiful women with so much more life to enjoy. All they needed was a gentle push.

 

We often fall into ruts throughout life. Our days become routine and mundane. If you are raising a family, this is especially true, and having been a single parent who raised two children alone, I know how easily we can lose ourselves in their lives. Dreams fade into the background of every day requirements so far that we often forget they even ever existed. When I was younger, my own mom often reminded me that I had no time of my own, but even back then, I knew my turn would eventually come.

My children grew up and left home, and I found myself with a great deal of time for me. Luckily, I had an amazing circle of friends, all in similar circumstances. As time went on, more women joined our group. We were drawn together by our common interests, but we have also expanded our lives by trying new things together. There is something very reassuring about the support from others.

I can’t say it enough. Live your dreams as much as possible; you will never regret it. Just today, I came across a post by Humans of New York in Facebook about a woman who is doing just that. I enjoyed the piece so much, I am including it in this post. It reads as follows:

“I spent thirty-six years as an editor at the New York Times. There were so many rounds of layoffs, and so many buyout opportunities– but I kept turning them down. I was terrified of retirement. I never wanted to ‘retire.’ The word sounded terrible to me. It meant going to Florida and dying. It meant sitting in a chair and watching daytime TV. It meant not working anymore. Not thinking anymore. Nothing but play and relaxation. And that wasn’t enough for me. That’s not living. You always need to have a goal. Grandchildren are great, but they’re not enough. You need something to wake up your brain. A reason to focus. A reason to get out of bed and use everything that you’ve ever learned. I’ll never see myself as retired. Right now I’m trying to become a fiction writer. I love it because my brain is always working. Some days I think about my work so much, that when I finally sit down to write, it just comes pouring out my fingers. I’d love to finish a book one day. Something that people enjoy. And I’d love to have it published. Maybe a hardcover from Random House. That gets optioned for a movie. And wins an Oscar. Oh it’s exciting, isn’t it? I could go on and on.”

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So, the next time that you read a lovely fictional story, and you find yourself wishing that was your life, think again. You are the author of your own book. Write it the way you want it to be.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Reconnect

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How many times have you met an old friend or family member on the street or at an event and after a brief conversation, you both agree to stay in touch, have lunch, or give each other a call? It never happens! We get busy with our own lives and never make that call. So, why do we say it?

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A while ago, I noticed my cousin on Facebook. I had not seen her or talked to her for several years. The actual last time we were together was at a family wedding. I have a good-sized extended family, and we all live fairly close. We grew up attending big family gatherings, and I saw aunts, uncles, and cousins very regularly. So how did we grow so distant? Yes, we all got older, married, and had families of our own, but that couldn’t possibly be the reason. So what changed?

I have given this a great deal of thought. In my own life, the person who kept me connected with my extended family was my mom. She made a point of calling her brothers and sisters regularly to find out how they were. That contact was very important to her. She made the effort to attend dinners and picnics, showers and weddings, new babies and funerals for everyone. She was the glue that held us together and kept us up to date on what was happening within our larger family circle. And then, she died.

Almost overnight, I fell out of touch with many family members. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I did not make it a priority. My only brother lives close by, but if it wasn’t for the fact that we frequent the same local pub, I would probably rarely see him, and this is someone who means the world to me. Unfortunately, this disconnect is not limited to family; many old friends have also fallen by the wayside.

Several weeks ago, I again saw my cousin on Facebook and for some reason it struck me that I am not getting any younger. I clicked on her name and sent a private message. I asked her if she would like to have lunch. She responded immediately and said, “YES!” And without further delay, we set a date to meet. As the day grew closer, I decided to ask my 96 year old aunt to join us. She was thrilled. We spent a lovely afternoon together catching up and reminiscing.

As I drove my aunt home later that day, I told her we should get together with family and friends more often. She was quiet for a moment, then replied, ” I’d love to, but most of my friends are dead.” It was my turn to pause and think now.

I finally said confidently, ” Don’t worry. I”ll find people for us to have lunch with.” Her face lit up. Until now, we had  only been attending funerals together.

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That night I promised myself to start reaching out to both family and friends. So far the response has been amazing. It is much more important to spend time with people when they are able to enjoy your company, than mourn the loss after they are gone. It takes nothing to pick up the phone and arrange a visit. You may be surprised at how good it will make you feel.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo