Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

Thanksgiving tips

I have nothing to say about the food or the tabletop. But I have two important reminders that may help this to be the best Thanksgiving yet:

  1. You know how sometimes your parents (or your brother or your sister) can do something and you’re immediately upset? Like you try to act calm on the outside but inside you can feel your blood pressure rising? Take a deep breath. If that doesn’t help, take another one. And remember the words of my oh-so-wise therapist friend, “Of course your parents/family can push your buttons. They’re the ones who installed them.” Truth.
  2. I wrote about this a few weeks back, but it bears repeating: if they’re is unhappy, put them in water. This statement originally referred to children, but consider applying this to yourself. If you’re feeling stressed out, take a shower. Take a bath. (Of course this won’t work if you’re at your aunt and uncle’s house. Random showering reads crazy.)

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

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Five Love Languages

For years my husband and I were lacking synchronicity. I would think of ways to truly say how meaningful he was to me. My words barely registered with him. One time I jokingly said, “The only time you hear it when I say nice things is when I’m touching you!” Turns out I was right.

One of the best things for our relationship was reading “The 5 Love Languages.” It’s worth buying and reading, but here’s the basic premise. There are 5 primary ways we can give and receive love. They are:

  • Physical touch
  • Words of encouragement
  • Quality time
  • Acts of service
  • Gifts

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All of these ways of expressing love can be nice, but most people have one or two that they feel more deeply than the others. Turns out my husband’s primary love language is physical touch. So I was right in saying I needed to be touching him for him to hear me! My highest languages are words of encouragement and quality time. So in trying to craft the perfect compliment for Tim, I was speaking my own language, not his.

The authors of the book claim that by the time we’re about 7 years old it’s easy to see which love languages we hear the loudest. So whether it’s your children or your spouse or your friends, try to see if you can figure out what their love language is. Learning to intentionally speak love, in the language of another person, can make all the difference.

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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and aging, part 1

Before I get started let me say that men have it so much easier when it comes to getting older. Wrinkles? Sign of character. Beer belly? Easily disguised in a loose fitting golf shirt and some khaki pants. Here’s the thing. (Start of a rant that some of you may have heard. Sorry.) As a society, I believe we value men for the power/status/money and women for their looks. So men “peak” when? Maybe late 50s? Early 60s? Maybe even beyond. But women reach their physical apex at maybe 22 or 23, and nearly every girl of that age only sees her flaws, so she’s past the peak before she even knows it. Fuck! This is why men in their 40s and beyond can be leading men in movies, romantically paired with women who are a decade or more younger, and nobody thinks a thing about it.

Writing about aging is a pull of opposite forces for me. I believe with all my heart that you can’t judge a book by its cover and who you are on the inside is what really matters, and our bodies are just containers for our souls, nothing more. But I’m still going to share my thoughts on how to age gracefully, which will include tips that have everything to do with the outsides. Because the reality is that we can’t help but see what people look like, and while you could not pay me enough money to go back to who I was in my early 20s (I was a mess inside!), I’m trying to be the best 53-year-old me I can be on the outside.

If you took Psychology in school, you were probably introduced to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theory, as I remember it from many decades ago, is depicted by a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid represents your basic needs (oxygen, food, shelter) and according to Maslow, if your basic needs are not fulfilled  then you will not be able to strive for the higher needs (in his pyramid, self-actualization is at the top).

How does this relate to aging? Well, I believe that there are basic things we can do to age gracefully, and once the basics are covered we can look to the next level of taking care of ourselves. If I knew how to do cool diagrams then there would be a very cool, probably multi-colored pyramid here with pop outs describing what each layer consists of. For today, words will have to do. And for today I’m just going to talk about the foundation of the pyramid, from which everything else flows.

BASE OF PYRAMID: a positive optimistic attitude and curiosity about life. Without this, no matter how young or cute you are, you’re eventually sunk.

I’m sure you’ve met people who got more attractive as you got to know them, right? I think that phenomenon is based on having a sunny outlook. I’m not talking Pollyanna here, but to find the good in life is a very good thing. There’s a saying “Life can make you bitter or it can make you better.” This, my friends, is true.

Let’s talk about my mother-in-law, Margaret. If you met her you would be charmed by her smile and how interested she is in life. She is wonderful to be around. But her life has been far from charmed. If she chose to, she could tell you about her physical issues. Or the hardships and losses she’s seen and endured in her 80+ years of life. Or about how her husband of 60 years died. But I promise you if you met her today, she would be talking about her visit to see her brother and how much fun it was, and maybe about the new lamp and table she’s considering for her dining room, and how her bridge game is going. And she would want to know about YOU!

Let’s talk about my mother, Sandy. (I am lucky to be surrounded with such wonderful examples.) Sandy joined Toastmasters about 8 or 9 years ago because she wanted a place where she could wear all her pretty high-heeled shoes. I think she took up ballroom dancing around the same time. Why? Because it seemed fun. And then she started working out with a trainer at her gym, because she wanted to be stronger for dancing. She’s competed several times, and been asked to compete in a younger age group because it will level the playing field for the others. Sandy lives in a very exclusive part of Orange County, and from the outside it looks like she has it all. And she thinks she does. But she’s been through a LOT to get where she is. Hers is not my story to tell, nor will I tell you her age, but I will tell you that you wouldn’t believe her story or her age if I did.

I know that health issues and circumstances can completely suck and are often out of our control. But what’s the “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you make of it” speech? It’s just true.

I’ll write soon about the next level of the hierarchy. In the meantime for those of you motivated by assignments and homework and such, go watch the movie Shallow Hal. It came out in 2001 so it’s probably free on Netflicks or being sold for a nickle on Amazon, and it’s one of the best “what you are on the inside is what matters” movies I’ve ever seen. And it’s wickedly funny.

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