Friday, April 30, 2010

Mother Nature - Alive and Well at Sixty-Six

Hi, Boomers,
I traveled to Las Vegas last weekend to make my monthly visit to my adult sons and my grandsons. I have made this trek for over three years, beginning with the birth of my first grandson, Jordan Mac, about 5 years ago and a particularly pointed call from my brother who urged me to share visits with my mother more frequently. I had been kind of hiding out, working my tail off for years in Los Angeles, and completely oblivious to sharing mother responsibilities with him. He gave me a needed wake up call.

Two years later, Luc Daniel was born; then a year later Greyson Ambrose was born; and recently Jude Love came into our lives. It's absolutely amazing to me how a mother's love can morph into a grandmother's love for her grandchildren. Being in love with family is beyond verbal description. I was waking up and doing the 1 am feedings with Jude and giving him his bottle and thinking nothing of the time or the effort it takes to nurture a baby, especially a baby that is so darn fun and happy. I wasn't even tired the next day. In fact, my mother's instinct so kicked in that I awoke about five to ten minutes before the baby did, anticipating his hunger.

The weekend brought a whole new set of needs for my growing grandsons. Jordan dresses himself now and Luc is learning the process. With Baby Jude on my hip, I went from room to room attending to clothes selection, to face washing to brushing of teeth to starting breakfast. All in a morning's work for a mother and I was ready set to take on the tasks.

I am astounded at the flood of love and emotion I experience with my grandsons. Who knew being a grandmother was going to be like that. Who knew the unending joys of taking care of young children. Soccer games, swimming classes, basketball practice, birthday parties - the whole wonder of kids.
If I ever thought I would loose my mother nature, I have been proved wrong time after time in the course of the last five years. I'm thrilled that at my age love is easy to provide and the care-taking is effortless for my family. It's so rewarding that later in life we are given so many surprises.

In yoga/meditation, we learn to take time out at least once a day to offer gratitude for our gifts and our joys. It's so easy for me to do that because I teach yoga many times a day and I have a built in gratitude machine within my open heart. But I never take my teaching or practice for granted because it feeds my soul.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sex in the 60's - my new discovery

Hi, Boomers,

Since I have made a new friend in the tango world, patches of mental fog have disappeared. My new tango friend, who is a psychologist specializing in mid-life relationships, put me on to Alison Armstrong. I only wish I had encountered Ms Armstrong decades ago, perhaps even in the far off days of marriage. By the way, my new friend is terrific at negotiating relationship in midlife and has brought a whole new sensibility to that topic for me.

Alison is a nationally know teacher and expert on understanding men and having satisfying relationship with them. What? Is that even possible? My mantra has always been "I never will understand men." Subject closed - until I encountered Alison. I wish I had Alison's knowledge base before I wrote my book; but the, Sixty, Sex, & TANGO would not have been subtitled: Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer.

Alison is the designer of the widely acclaimed "Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women" workshop, as well as several other exceptional programs for workshop graduates, including "Celebrating Women: Regarding Ecstasy & Power, "Celebrating Men & Sex" (my favorite topic), and "Celebrating Men & Marriage." Alison is the co-founder of PAX Programs Incorporated, a company dedicated to promoting peace between men and women. Once upon a time, Alison was a woman who disdained men until she became aware that what women do to men brings out the worst in them. Sounds radical but she proves her point. Google her and discover her philosophy. Get her tapes and be wowed.

I just recently listened to a series of her tapes that focused on women and men getting what they want from a relationship. Relationship is defined by what a man or a woman is looking for and that could be rich in variety: a sex only relationship; long term relationship-no marriage; a marriage without children; a marriage with children, a relationship without marriage, and so on. There are many traditional and non-traditional relationships floating around the universe so just pick one that suits you.

I learned so much how I have mishandled relationships in the past that it almost, but not literally, broke down in sobs. But I didn't because I really I had no knowledge base of how to relate to a man, and therefore, possessed little information on the subject of developing a solid, lasting relationship (exception: my long time companion, David, knew what he wanted and took it and I went along for the glorious ride). I am actually referring to relationship that I have been in during the last nine years - all the men I've known, dated, mated with, and loved.

I think I mishandled my relationships because I wasn't actually clear about what I wanted from that relationship. Women and men think they know what they are looking for, but if they don't put it down in a "log line" - that kind of TV Guide-one-sentence-description of the television show - then a person inevitably falls out, drifts out or just plain opts out of the relationship. Simple. Clear.

But how do you sit down at the beginning of dating and say, "Listen, dude, I just want sex from you and that's it. Come around when you get the urge, or I'll call you when my libido rises, and we'll meet up and have some fun." Is that really possible? I know some of you are smiling about now and thinking that's nuts, but, according to Alison, it isn't. And I know it isn't because I've actually done it. Please don't hate me. I'm really a good person. But a mutual connection can strike anytime/anywhere and if the two people are in sync, set the ground rules, and proceed with care, it is possible. I am pretty certain that these kinds of relationships don't last forever nor are they supposed to because they are not designed to develop into long term relationships. They are not constructed that way. It's about sex and lust and, hey, I'm not going to live forever.

Here is another interesting thing I learned from Alison (and, believe me, the audience reaction was feisty about this issue): If the sexual attraction between two people is - on a scale of 1 - 10 - is 10, 9, 8, 7 or even 6, the relationship has no chance to succeed. That's a big statement and/or opinion. Of course, there has to be sexual attraction, even at 60, but that attraction needs to be in balance. How much of the relationship is sexual, how much of the relationship is other forms of intimacy, how much of the relationship is based on friendship and caring and support - well, when you are living in the your 60's, the last litany of adjectives are the most important and cherishing attributes of a relationship. Sex can be 5 on the scale of attraction/lust and I'll take that.

This is what makes sex in the 60's so darn fascinating. While I might hold on the youthful stud for sexual gratification and have both our needs met, I can also contemplate a longer, more lasting relationship that has a balance of sex and genuine spiritual love. But eventually, I have to choose what I really want: and that's a lasting relationship based on friendship, mutual interests, family values, intellectual parity, a curious nature, the ability to disagree, to be intimate, and yeah! sexual.

I'll share some of my thoughts about spiritual love in my next blog.



Sunday, April 18, 2010

Foraging for Food

Hi, Boomers,

As you all know by now, I'm a single girl living in the metropolitan jungle of West Los Angeles. It's technically just plain Los Angeles, 90049. But for us locals, it is known as Brentwood. I love that snobbery - really I do. I don't ever have anything to be snobbery about. I'm about as unsnobbery as they come. But this little burg I live in is so very convenient, so adorable and so near the Pacific Ocean.

A block and a half away is a Starbucks, across the street from that coffee establishment is Tea Leaf and Coffee Bean, and across the street from that is Peet's. Peet's is my personal preference even though I get horrible heart burn when I order my nonfat vanilla latte. Their espresso could burn off my stomach lining in no time. So I just buy the espresso forte every four to six weeks and brew my own espresso in my old-fashion stove top espresso maker and add more soy so I won't get heart burn so often. It kinda works.

The piece de resistance, there is a Whole Foods right across from Starbucks. - or as some people refer to it as "Whole Check." Yes, it's true. If I do a quick drop shop at Whole Foods, I pay double than if I get in the car and drive to Ralph's. I buy certain things from Whole Foods, like my Women's Blend vitamins, honey roasted hand pressed peanut butter (I'm thoroughly addicted) and homemade soup when I am in the mood and the salad bar when I'm desperate.

Actually, there are gradations of whole foods - from the highest grade to the lowest. My burg is the lowest. It has virtually nothing of the great fresh food of other Whole Foods. If I spend another ten minutes in the car, I could shop at the Whole Foods on 23rd in Santa Monica and get more fabulous cooked food than one would want in a lifetime. I have trouble making decisions at their array of fresh salads and delicious warm dishes. But alas, I never have time to go there except on Friday afternoons when I encounter the 23rd St. Whole Foods after teaching a tango lesson and having a Margarita at El Cholo with my student/friend. However, I'm usually a little looped from my one Margarita (light weight, I know) so it actually takes me longer to shop there.

So, it's Ralph's for me on Sunday where I forage for food down the sterile aisles and endure 50 degree temperatures in any season. I hate to shop, and shopping for one is just egregious. I just came back from Ralph's for my week's shopping and I'm in a foul mood. I buy the same stuff every week, too, so I am really not happy. I can't help myself. It's what I eat during the week out of habit that makes me a dull eater.

My "almost" step-daughter, Camille Garcia, was with me last week and eating and cooking was so much fun. I actually felt human and I actually tasted food. It was wildly exciting to have warm pasta. I can't do it for myself. It's too tedious, and when I get home from work, I'm blasted tired and unmotivated. Besides, it was so much fun watching "American Idol" with her that I am waiting in great anticipation for her to return the second week in May so we can watch the finals together. How high school is that? I'm telling you, I really don't care if it is sophomoric, moronic or altogether insane, but my guilty pleasure is my guilty pleasure and you have your own.

This afternoon, I'm off on a fact-finding mission. I've been thinking about joining a theater group - oh, no! Joan is going back to theater, her chosen profession - but this is different. It's not a acting company or a theater in the true sense of the word. It's called The Jewish Women's Theater. No, I didn't convert to Judaism, although my whole family is Jewish except for one daughter in law and she thinks she is Jewish and Greyson, my 2 year old grandson goes to the Jewish Temple school in Las Vegas and she and my son were married by a female Rabbi. Okay, I'm Jewish because my mother was Jewish and I married a Jew and brought my sons up as Jewish. Now, that's settled.

But the group is rather exceptional in terms of talent and energy. I bought a ticket on the request of my friend and fellow yoga teacher who belongs to the organization. There are a lot different kinds of performances from one woman shows to theater piece bits of plays, to singers and musicians. And they are always looking for actresses, directors, writers to help, to organize, to market. Sounds like a good venue for me. So I'm off to a temple in the Pacific Palisades on another adventure.

I love being sixty and being over it - except for the food part. I'm continuing the journey of self-discovery and transformation and it's as good as it gets.

Next time: relationships and Alison Armstrong.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Post-book Blues

Hi, Boomers,
I am in a kind of slump of late because my book, SIXTY, SEX, & TANGO is finished, and I am just waiting to get back the layout and design from the publishers. I feel like I just gave birth. I' was pregnant for almost two years, and I finally delivered. It was a joyful moment.

Not to worry: life is good, really, and yoga classes are going well. I've cut back from 8 or 9 classes a day to 6 classes a day - some at UCLA and some private. But when my private clients travel, or get too busy with their kid's school, or have a baby and then decide not to return too soon, or buy a house and have to cut back - well those situations give me pause. Yikes! Time on my hands.

But time on my hands is something new to me and something good for me. Where I once jammed home after my last class at night or in the middle of the day and headed to my computer like a homing pigeon, I enter my apartment slowly and look around and actually take in the beauty of my surroundings. Where once a brought my Whole Foods salad to my computer to eat without enjoying the taste, greasing up my keyboard, I now use my stove a few times a week and sit at my table like a real person. Where once I balanced wine next to my MacBook, I now actually taste the pleasures of my favorite Pinot Noir. I bring a plate to the table (with my book, of course) and I don't eat out of boxes anymore.

Part of my time has been taken up by corresponding with some former high school colleagues and that has been rewarding. We have a Facebook page and a high school website. Then again, you never know what will turn up in life and this side-bar reunion is quite interesting. One of the guys is a writer - not professional - but is a writer because he loves to write. He has sent me his work and I have enjoyed his poems and his musing on his early life in northern California, before this state and this country morphed into a slash and pillage environment capped off by the mantra - greed is good. What I liked so much about Dave's writings is that he describes a time when I also grew up in rural California, in San Rafael, a sleepy little conservative town just eighteen miles north of San Francisco. St. Raphael's church was the center of town and so was our Catholic elementary school. What Dave describes growing up in Soledad, California, is a lot like the way I grew up, having dinner together every night and playing soft ball after school on empty lots in the neighborhood, going to Flash Gordon serials on Saturday afternoons, attending Mass on Sundays, traveling together in one car to visit relatives - a slower life to be sure but a life full of known values and consistent parenting. A flood of memories wave over me from time to time. And since my mother's death in December, there have been so many more family memories that I have recalled that I find myself near tears more often than I would like.

I also place greater value on corresponding with friends in my present life. I waited for my tango dancer friend, Greg, to come back from Buenos Aires to regale me with stories of his three week journey through the darkened tango salons and coming home at three in the morning dead tired, sleeping most of the next day and stumbling that night back into the dance salons. When I didn't hear from him, I was concerned, but I remembered that he was away from his job so long that he probably got smashed by the amount of work waiting for him o his return. So finally, I got an answer from him, and as often is the case, not only was the job overwhelming upon his return, but his mother has to be moved to a care facility in Montana. As with my mother's last year, Greg's mother is failing in body and mind. Boomers face these problems daily. I have to remember that in our sixties, life throws us some pretty astounding surprises.

And I have a new friend in Montreal who has become the major mensch in my life. I adore our conversations and emails and this new and interesting relationship brings a bit of surprises my way during the week.

And finally, David, my long time companion and significant other, is back in my life in the the form of his beautiful and talented daughter, Camille Rose Garcia, a famous artist in her own right. If you are curious, check out her website: She is the daughter I never had and this week, she is staying with me and we are having a slumber party. I missed not having a daughter but I have Camille and her wonderful sister, Janine, and my daughters-in- law, so I have some pretty terrific surrogate daughters hanging around my universe.

So time not filled with writing a book is time that illuminates my heart and soul even though I may enter that universe kicking and screaming that I don't have enough to do. I understand that I have plenty of things to fill my life and I am full of gratitude.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

50th High School Reunion Here We come

Hi, Boomers

I've been having a wonderful experience lately. My fiftieth high school reunion is coming up in 2011. I found this out from an email sent to me by a high school friend and the organizer of the reunion, class of 1961, Marin Catholic High School in San Rafael, CA. My friend was also the high school principal of Marin Catholic for many years. Well, the guy was always a straight shooter and one of the guys you always remember when you think of high school. Oh, yeah, the boyfriends come first, but the friends are right up there with "make out" moments at the San Rafael Harbor or under the Golden Gate Bridge.
I was encouraged to sign up on a Facebook page, an idea I have put off thinking about for as long as there was Facebook, and before the My Space age. I didn't want to have people connect with me because I suspected that I wouldn't remember many people from my past. But I did sign up; I did remember most of the people; I did have a good time doing the task. Then my friend began to post high school pictures, even grammar school pictures (most of us went to one of two Catholic elementary schools), and even the announcement of my engagement and marriage to my ex-husband. Blast from the past! Oh, my God, did I really wear that Jackie Kennedy pill box hat. Astounding!
So, I put my picture on my Facebook page and then, with all due haste, I put my book title under it - SIXTY, SEX & TANGO, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer - with the notification that I am blogging.
One classmate, I remember him well because he was the boyfriend of my best friend in high school, read my blog the other day. I think he thought I was sad or unhappy or in too much pain. I think he might not have gotten my my self-effacing humor and thought that I was really lonely or was still struggling with some kind of past pain. It was a good email to me; it made me think again about the state of my being. My response to him is below:

Dear Frank,
How nice of you to take the time to read some of my blogs. I am a writer and writing for me is a way of staying conscious about my life. I try daily get to get in touch with myself is through yoga and meditation. I teach yoga all day, every day and am blessed with my work. I am also a drug counselor and have attended to the spiritual needs of people in recovery.
I have embraced my struggles, find humor in them and take each day with grace. I carry no regrets. My pain is my joy. As the yogis say, "It's all good." I have many gifts which I am grateful for every day. I am grateful, too, that I have used my gifts well, have had positive influences on my students, friends and family. My journey has been unique, fun, loving and welcoming. And I am not sad or lonely. I am at peace.
The direction in my writing is derived from (and this is in my book) the strangeness of waking up at 64 and finding surprises in life that I had not actually prepared for or thought of. It has been a process of re-discovering, re-thinking, and re-learning the truth of my life without the playbook or script that in other decades had been somewhat predictible. I've always used humor to cope with the many changes that life has brought me, and that humor in turn, has brought much joy to my living experience.
So, my friend, don't worry about my state of being. My place in the universe, although not static, is quite wonderful.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

To Protect and Defend

Hi, Boomers,
I'm back editing my book for the last time. I had two weeks off from engaging with the material that I've worked on for almost two years. The publisher sent my book back after an editor fixed the grammar and syntax. But now I am line editing the book after all the technical stuff has been corrected.
Writing is a lonely occupation. There is so much quiet in my apartment and in my mind that it is almost frightening. I feel like I'm in a cell when I write. Not a jail cell but a monk's cell. Isolation is good and bad. Right about now, my tush hurts, but I had to blog for a few minutes just to get the book structure out of my mind.
But I am really kind of disturbed today. I'm disturbed about the Catholic Church. I'm disturbed about the pedophile scandal, about priests and brothers molesting young people, either very young boys or adolescents. I've known for years about priests and women; especially in Latin America where there many priests who serve in remote regions take wives and raise a family. It's only natural. But the idea of covering up abuse, of sticking to the old playbook about celibacy makes me angry and very sad. The other day I read an article about priests in the Ukraine who are allowed to marry and raise a family. No child abuse in that part of the world. The Greek Orthodox priests marry; the Episcopalians marry and the Lutherans and other Protestant congregations.
In 1960, my parents hosting the wedding reception of my brother and his wife at our home. I was standing near my father as I always did and listened to a conversation between my father and my godfather and another man. This is all very vivid to me. They were talking about how ridiculous it was for priest not to be married. Now, these were Irish Catholic men and the Irish kind of make up their own rules about religion but it was a very progressive conversation. I felt the same way and I was only sixteen years old.
So this sexual abuse has been going on for decades, maybe even centuries and it began to surface i the 1950's. It is a horrific circumstance and I feel dead inside my soul. I listened to "This American Life" this morning about a former priest (a brother) who was recruited by the church to cover up abuse cases. After four years of lying to parishioners, the young priest of thirty-three left the church and ended up working for a law firm that represented men who have been abused by priests. He knew the inside of cannon law better than anyone in the firm because he had to implement the church law over and over again. He still went to church, however, until after about the one thousandth case of abuse crossed his desk. He reasoned that the Catholic Church was immovable, absolutely resistant to change, and he could no longer attend mass with his family. His daughter no longer goes to Catholic school.
This is what is on my mind today because I was raised a Catholic and believed like others in the institution until I grew into adulthood and realized that the church's mission was to intimidate and to frighten and to do anything, even lie and cover up, to avoid facing the horrendous truth that there are pedophiles among the priestly flock and the seminaries are rampant with men who use the institution to hide their addiction from society. I'm ashamed.
And I'm 60 and do not think I will every get over this betrayal. I know the other side of this argument is not to condemn the entire church for the sins of some, but the other side to this argument is that the Catholic Church is there to protect its flock and they passed the buck, didn't do it and they should be jailed or at least fired. Shame on them.
As I say in my book, SIXTY. SEX & TANGO, there is no curriculum, syllabus, cheat sheet or playbook to live in our sixties. We are pretty much surprised by life's circumstances and we try to roll with the punches. Did anything ever turn out the way we expected it to? And what did we really expect from our lives? I'll take my corner of happiness and relish it, have gratitutde for my joy, and try to get a good night's sleep.