I have a long list of emotion words in my notebook. It’s divided into two parts: one positive, and one negative. The negative feelings are usually the ones that give me the most trouble. One of my goals in this Third Act of life is to connect more fully to what I’m feeling~ and to identify, feel, and express whatever it is. I’ve shied away from doing that all my life~ often to avoid conflict, but probably more often to look good. Also, feelings can be very scary. However, I’m tired of living under a rock and losing out on lots of the really Good Stuff. So, everyday I pick 3 emotions ~ just go through the list and pick 3 that jump out at me. Then I write about how they feel, and what I do to respond to each one. Here are the lists:

Today was a rough day. I felt annoyed and angry and hung up on a friend feeling furious. I realized she caught me at a bad time, when I was already feeling unsupported and overwhelmed. As I reflected on the behavior, I know that’s not how I want to respond.

Yesterday, I felt encouraged, understood, and appreciated by 3 different friends. And admired and supported by the one I hung up on today. Whew. Time to take a break and remember that I can survive emotional upheaval. And get better at navigating it 🙂

That’s it for today. I’m taking a much needed break. But in closing, I’d like to direct you to a wonderful speech written by one of my students at Kookmin University in Korea some years ago. It’s quite moving, and you will be inspired!

The Making of a Seascape


I spent the summer of 2017 at the beach~ walking, talking to the birds, and gathering any beautiful thing that I could carry home. The gorgeous orange quartz below looks like a dazzling jewel, and has resisted being moved by heavy surf because it’s so big and heavy. I check all the time and it’s still there!

The first seascapes I made involved paper backgrounds put in place before adding the sand and shells, etc. The idea of working with and around a mat came with the first deep shadow box. This is how it looked as it began preparing the background.


The piece seemed to create itself. The larger stones in the foreground placed outside the confines of the mat, and sand scattered as it fell as if blown by the wind. My daughter liked it, and it’s framed and hanging at the top of the stairs in her house now.


                                                                               Wind on the Sound, 2017 

Another project at the beginning stage. The First step, laying down the paper


The finished project:


                                                                                   Sea Wall, 2017

The Next Project

The next piece was inspired by a point on the seawall at Seaside Park where I often go. I took a picture (see below) to help me get started.


The twig was the first thing I collected for this piece. When I saw it on the ground, I saw the whole piece in my mind.

The project below is about the beach at low tide.


In conclusion

There’s something wonderful about living near open water. I’ve never done so before. The Long Island Sound and Seaside Park stole my heart at first sight, and I knew this was where I wanted to stay. I can walk there in minutes, and as soon as I see the sunlight sparkling out on the water, or the clouds resting on the horizon, my mind relaxes and I feel the simple joy of being alive. Any time of year.

Seascapes help capture the feeling!

This is truly one of my favorites. It was on a cold windy day in November or December. Most of the birds had already headed south. Surf was pounding rocky shore. My heart pounds now just to look at it. The glass on this lovely frame broke when I was taking it apart to start the project. So it became perfect for a 3-dimensional seascape. It’s hanging in the office of our building because I had no extra space on my walls. Sometimes I peek in there just to get a look, and to make sure it’s still there. I’d like to find a home for it that it can be appreciated more. Any takers?

Seaside Community Garden of Joy ~Spring 2022

Alexi asked me to send pictures. Thanks, Alexi. I need those kinds of invitations sometimes. This is my 4th season of gardening here in Bridgeport. It’s one of the things I like best about living here. The garden is right down the street, almost close enough to be my backyard. Let me say that this year I’ve been less active than last, getting a later start, and doing much less planning. My daughter gave me her extra seedlings, and that got me into the garden finally. Thanks, Emilie! They went into the ground on May 17th ~ ten tomato plants, four eggplant, 8-10 basil, and two peppers. For the most part, this year is more about feeding the pollinators than feeding myself. I get food stamps, I’m not desperate. My focus has been on allowing the flowering perennials that came up early to remain when other gardeners pulled them out as unwanted weeds. Most of what is in my bed came by itself and has something to offer the bees and butterflies, and that’s exciting.

Last year’s thyme is so beautiful!
I’ve already had my first camomile harvest

Why I love Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty has been such an inspiration to me in getting back to seriously working on making music. When I listen to him, his music sounds simple enough to reproduce. I thought, “I can play that.” One of the first songs of his I learned was ‘Runnin Down a Dream.’ I wasn’t scared of trying that song, or later, ‘You Wreck Me.’ Both were interesting and presented some challenge rhythmically or guitar-wise. I remember walking along the beach practicing counting out the beats. I love playing those songs, and others by the Heartbreakers.

I always say that Tom Petty essentially de-mystified rock for me. I like the way he presents his songs. He’s not a screamer or a ‘hard-rocker,’ and his face is usually fairly deadpan. He looks like he’s thinking about what he’s singing. I like that he models a strong leadership in the band, and even though he’s not a super flashy performer, he knows how to capture his audience and give them a great show. I saw him at one of the last stops on his 40th Anniversary tour in 2017. He died just a few weeks later. It was my first live concert of that magnitude in years. The outdoor amphitheater was packed, and everybody knew all of his songs. Lots of older parents my age were there with their adult kids. We were all shouting and singing along. Joe Walsh, who opened for the Heartbreakers that night, made an even bigger impression on me, and I became a huge fan.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers & Joe Walsh at Xfinity Theatre

The Heartbreakers is kind of a model band for me: Drum, bass, rhythm and lead guitars, lead singer and back-up vocals. I decided about 5 years ago after Emilie asked me to play for an event at work that that’s what I wanted, too: to be the lead singer in a band, to make my own arrangements, and to have good musicians around me backing me up and making it happen. About a year after that event, I had found a bass player and a drummer and we’re still together, and getting better all the time.

Another thing I like about Tom Petty is that he could hold his own and take lead parts in the Travelin Wilburys, with guys like George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison. He had this laid-back calm and friendly way about him and he’s not garrulous. When he speaks you listen. I’d like to be like that, too. I like that he stood up to the music industry and won, twice. He decided he wasn’t going to back down, and he wrote a song about that too.

I wouldn’t call him a great singer, or even a great guitar player. So he makes me feel like I have permission to get out there and do it, too. If he can, why can’t I? With Tom Petty, it’s more about heart, dedication and commitment to the craft. He just kept writing, and his band just kept performing. Their success was the product of consistent work.

This is the poster that hangs on my wall. Thanks, Tom. You’re still inspiring me, and I’m still singing your songs!

Last year I set about learning one of Chrissie Hynde’s songs, ‘Brass in Pocket,’ from a Youtube tutorial by Adrian (anyonecanplayguitar.co.uk). I also decided to learn ‘Just What I Needed,’ by The Cars. They’re both so much fun to play. The process of learning new fingering, new chords higher up on the neck, and putting vocals together with new rhythms was a challenge that seemed impossible. My fingers felt like wood. But I’ve seen that perseverance pays off: if I keep working on it, it gets easier and easier. And one day I’m amazed that I can play it with my eyes closed!

The prospect of a 68 year old woman (at that time) performing a song like Brass in Pocket was interesting to me. I felt like it would be smashing some cultural norms about older women not having those kinds of feelings or desires.

Not true! I like being a spokesperson for women who feel they’ve lost some of their voice with the loss of youth, but not their libido.

I had to ask myself, “Can I actually sing this song , at my age??” And the answer was, “Yes! I can.” It’s a message that resonates: not being noticed, feeling invisible, wanting to be noticed; wanting to enjoy life, to feel empowered to ask for what I want, not just sexually, but in any other area. Wanting to be counted and recognized as important, valuable, and unique. Like Chrissie says in the song, “I’m special!”

A new thought that I’d like to try playing an electric guitar came to me one day around that time. Ian has one, so does Vicente. I told Vicente about it, and a week or so later he came over carrying a long hard skinny case. What is that?? ‘For you. It was my son’s first guitar and he doesn’t play it anymore.

I got my wish, but I haven’t played it yet. I’m still loving my Alvarez too much. The electric is under my couch, waiting. There’s a time for everything.

Choosing My Life, Part 2

I just reread Part 1 of this post, written in June, 2019. That was 2 years ago. It was a nice lookback, and I find myself wanting to reflect again on what I’m choosing these days.

I’m still in the garden. This is my 3rd year. I walk over almost every day, even when I can’t think of anything in particular that needs doing. Something always does. It’s summer, and harvest time, and my basket was too heavy to carry home yesterday. Potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers – all abundant, and heavy!

I chose a few years ago to tell everyone I know that I needed a job. And I got one: driving 3 wonderful kids to school and back, and here and there after school. I’ve seen them growing up, and now the eldest has his own car. The writing’s on the wall: my job is winding down. This summer, while they’re away at camp, I chose to answer an add on Craig’s list looking for musicians to play for the residents at a home for elderly with various stages of dementia. That little gig has turned into a bigger job that fits me perfectly and gives me a place to be creative and get paid for it. When I walk in the door, I feel like I’m joining friends. I miss it when I’m not there. My new boss is giving me freedom to create activities for them, and I have lots of ideas. She gave me the go-ahead to start a strength-training program which I do twice a week, and we have done gardening, dancing, a happy hour, nails and hair cutting, and a vision board along with the weekly singing. She’s happy to have found me, and I’m happy to have found her HOME.

I’m still meeting up with my ACOA step group, although we’ve gone virtual and meet on zoom now. It’s still a satisfying part of my week, and a safe place to talk about the challenges of being an adult child working through the process of reparenting my inner child. That looks like a life-long journey, and it’s never boring.

I’ve chosen to move my car insurance from Geico to Travelers, and found a local agent who I can call whenever I have a question. So much better. I love the upgrade, and I’ve made the choice to join the Intellidrive App program and have my driving monitored for the next 500 miles in order to reduce my premium. This is definitely a case of trying something new.

I decided to join Match.com during Covid to see if I could find anyone out there who wanted to get to know me. That was a novel and sudden inspiration. Now that Covid restrictions have lifted and most of us have been vaccinated, I’ve been hoping to find someone to meet for coffee, dinner, walks along the seaside, holding hands…It’s been over a year, and not a single bite by anyone I was interested in. I can say I’ve tried, and that’s something. I also know that I can trust the timing. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. The point is, I’m not completely happy or fulfilled living alone. There is definitely something missing. Emilie is in Europe now, spending time with her Dad in Belgium, and traveling to France with her cousin’s family. Stories of her activities, and seeing pictures of Jean’s smiling face, I know being with her is a very special thing, and her absence will be felt strongly. She and her partner Alexi have decided to marry, another big choice that we are all feeling inspired and happy about. His parents are arriving at the end of this month to visit, and next year around this time all of both of our families will be gathering to witness and celebrate the union of two of our most precious people.

The next big question for Jean and I, and maybe for Alexi’s parents too: how do we want to spend our final years? What’s most important? What will bring us the most joy? And what can we give to our children while we’re still able? Choices need to be made. And they seem BIG and rather daunting. This is a new time in my life. I turned 70 this April, and starting a job working with very elderly has made me recognize my own aging. At first I was shocked. Wow! I’ve lost three inches in height, and I just noticed that my back has the beginnings of a hunch back like my mom’s. For the first time in my life I’m consciously working on my posture every day. My doctor told me I’ve crossed over from osteopenia to osteoporosis, another wakeup call, and I started lifting weights again, and walking up the 4 flights of stairs in my building a couple of times every day to strengthen my hips and my heart. It’s my intention to get stronger and more confident in my body, not just lie down and die 🙂 I’m sharing my program with those elderly residents at the HOME and that’s helping me too. It’s been nine weeks, and I’m checking off the boxes everyday: Walk, chair stands, toe stands, Arm and leg weights (increasing gradually), stairs, mat stretches, push-ups, and plank. I’m back to needing to take a look again at what I’m eating, and do a little tweaking there in the direction of more healthy. Step by step.

One of my band mates is 70 like me. It feels good to have a fellow from the 1951 club in my life. Most of my friends are either younger, or older. When he forgets something at practice, we laugh and give each other a look. Yes, I understand. Me too 🙂 The music is definitely my favorite way to have fun with other people. I’m getting better at relaxing and letting it all hang out, but it’s a challenge to give up that old need to be in control all the time. I’m choosing forgiving friends.

Many of my current choices revolve around doing what I can to insure I’m as fit and healthy as possible for the sake of the future. This is new. Youth usually doesn’t think that way. We tend to forget about aging until we arrive, and then it is often too late. I’m glad to be suddenly spending time with frail 87 and 93 year olds. They remind me of what I do and don’t want to be like when I get to where they are. I’m doing what I can. It is my intention to ask the universe both within and without to guide me. I’ll keep you posted, dearest.

Reflections on a Survey

It’s November 6, 2020, and as of 2:54pm we haven’t finished counting all the votes, and we still don’t know who has been elected president of the US.

Today I received a request from a European Unification Church member for a survey I’d worked on 7 years ago, and I’ve been looking through it again after all this time, only too happy to be diverted from the intense political situation going on. The survey asked only 2 questions: What inspires you about the Unification Church Sunday service, and what would you change if you could? These two questions get straight to the heart of the issue, and make it easy to gather people’s thoughts without putting them through a lengthy questionnaire. Three things strike me today as I revisit the results: the importance of small groups, making a contribution, and weathering times of transition. Let me elaborate.

I belong to a small group of women who have been going through the 12 steps of ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholic or Dysfunctional Families) together for the past 2+ years. There were 4 of us to start, now we are three.

Being part of a weekly small group dedicated to spiritual growth has been an important source of support and comfort to me. We are not all at the same stage of growth, or on the same side politically, nor do we all share a common faith. One of us is a Catholic turned Jew, one a Christian, one an agnostic, and I call myself a ‘seeker’ without any religious affiliation. One of us is a Trump supporter, two of us not. We come together week after week and share our experience, strength, and hope with each other without needing to judge or be polarized by our various forms of belief or disbelief. We all agree that life is for learning, as Joni Mitchell once said in a song.

Small groups work. They create intimacy and an opportunity to share safely when the participants all agree they are there to learn, not to proselytize, or to ‘educate.’

Making a contribution was a very important takeaway from the survey work for me. People tend to think the leader is responsible for making changes and seeing to it that everything works. But the responses showed that contribution makes people feel more ownership, connects them together, and multiplies creative energy.

One of my favorite responses summed it up: “There wasn’t much I liked about Sunday service at all. This inspired me to get involved and help develop a music ministry. That has developed into collaboration with the pastor to make the service more embracing, enchanting and inspiring.”  I happened to find myself in Bridgeport, CT a few years later attending the service that person had been a part of, and I saw the result he had talked about. The musical part of the program was alive, involved many different age groups, and touched the entire congregation.

In my case, I’ve been conscious ever since of being more proactive when I want to see change, rather than just adding an ineffective voice of complaint. That one response changed my participation in my own service in Belgium, and has remained as a way of life for me going forward. I joined the board of the co-op where I live when I felt my input would be beneficial to the building, and this year I joined Vote Forward and wrote 100 letters to voters in Texas and Florida encouraging them to get out and vote. Being active in the democratic process has helped me stay calm and focused, and sleep well at night.

We are currently in a time of transition. I am writing now a day later and the election results have come in. Joe Biden is our 46th president. I am celebrating along with many of us for whom these past 4 years have been filled with a sense of loss and disbelief. Grief over a way of life we felt we knew disappearing. However, there are 70 million people who are not celebrating with me, and I know how they feel. I suffered the same loss in 2016. Going forward none of us can fall back into a complacent life. So much has changed. Democracy takes work, and transition times challenge us to rethink and recreate ourselves and our institutions. When enough people lean in together, a tipping point is reached and change becomes inevitable.

I don’t know what our future democracy will look like, but I hope we don’t squander it, and that we learn to honor our differences with more civility and empathy. Learning to talk to each other when we disagree on just about everything is a good place to start. I am encouraged and moved by Dave Chappelle’s reminder to be a ‘humble winner,’ and by his ‘kindness conspiracy’ message on SNL. “It’s random acts of kindness for Black people. Do something nice for a Black person just because they’re Black, and you’ve got to make sure they don’t deserve it… they can’t deserve it, the same way all these years they did terrible things to Black people just because they’re Black and they didn’t deserve it.”

I’m feeling inspired.