Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Every once in a while, we are fortunate enough to see growth and change so profound, it can bring tears of joy to our eyes. Sometimes it is change within us, and sometimes not. I have always loved my brother and my sister both. My sister has lived her life embracing growth and change. My brother, not so much, and me, I’m sorta in the middle. I love to talk about how I wanna grow and change, but I don’t always walk the walk. But this particular story isn’t really about me. My brother has always been the funniest guy I know. Cuttingly funny. But for many years, not easy to get close to. I wanted his approval so much, just because it felt so hard to get. I always knew if push came to shove, he had my back, my sister’s back, even if he didn’t seem to like us much. Then something strange started to happen. It started with someone else’s dream, a theater company in our synagogue, and while I know for certain this little dream has enhanced many lives, for me the blessing is immeasurable. Putting aside the obvious, getting to do what I love, what I had hoped would be my career many years ago, I got to do what I love with my brother. And suddenly we were talking, and he was learning a little from me and the scales tipped a bit. I wasn’t seeking approval; I was doing something I love with someone I’d always loved, but didn’t really know. And as we sang and danced and made lifelong friends, we became friends. And throughout these years, I have watched him smile more, show his heart more, forgive more. My brother always had a rough relationship with my father even after he died, and when conversation about what people should or shouldn’t wear on the beach inevitably turned to speedos, of course we talked about my dad. My brother didn’t roll his eyes, or mutter under his breath. He spoke about my dad with respect, with forgiveness. He was able to see that for all his faults and quirks, my dad was a good man. For my brother, it had finally occurred to him that holding onto decades of anger and resentment was hurting him. My dad is gone. There is no one to sling the arrows at anymore. And the quiver is f#%^*ing heavy. He told my sister-in-law the other day that he was just going to be happy. And the lightness in his step, the smile that is quicker and less fleeting, the brother that has become one of my best friends, that makes me happy.

HEARTS pin. #HEARTSPortWashington

carynjune

Birthday Reboot

Yes, my loyal readers, it’s almost that time. True, it’s a month away. And I might decide closer to the day that most of what I’ve written is crap and start all over. But what the Hell. Imma start with basics. I’m in Starbucks and they’re playing the Hamilton soundtrack. Sorry, digressing. Went back to WW. (Can’t call it a weight watcher’s meeting anymore. It’s a WW workshop. WW. Wellness Wins. Reboots goin’ on all over the place.). Lost 6 pounds. Bought a stationary bike. Actually used it once or twice. Meditating every night. Although I’m having a smidge of trouble finding a guided meditation that doesn’t make me want to reach into my phone and snatch the instructor bald. The course I’m doing now is geared towards quieting the mind, breaking the cycle of monkey chatter and anxiety. Right up my crooked little alley. And I’ve committed to my therapy. So, good stuff, no? I’m working hard to become the wiser, happier, stronger person that so many my age claim they are. Are they all telling the truth? I’m sure some are and I’m as sure some aren’t. But truthfully, that’s really the issue right there. My real goal while becoming stronger, wiser, and happier is to not give a S$&^*% what anyone else’s life looks life and be happy with mine. That’s it. All of it. That’s all I want. Oh, and to be able to sit on the floor and get up again. Being the impatient little critter I am, I want this all yesterday. And I refuse to call them New Year’s Resolutions because, well that’s just BS. It’s unfortunate that a little health issue has finally kicked me in the head enough to make some really necessary changes. That I couldn’t seem to care enough about myself until now, but whatever gets us where we need to be, right? Now, all of this is great. I’m proud of myself for committing to take care of myself and certainly all of these changes make me feel…hmmm. I wish I could say, I feel great, better every day! But the reality is, it didn’t take 5 minutes to get here and it’s gonna take a little time to get there. And I don’t feel great. Yet. But I’m working on it. And that feels just a little bit great.

Copper and Beads. The Mother of Invention series.

carynjune

Somebody Better Open Up a Window…

It’s a beautiful Fall day. The Sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze. I’ve just stepped off a frigid subway, and I’m sitting in an air-conditioned Starbucks drinking a giant iced tea. And I’m hot. No, not hot. Sweating. No, not sweating. Dripping. I’m looking around, catching the eye of coffee-drinkers around me and fanning myself. “Heh heh. Boy, it’s hot in here, innit? Heh heh” I get various responses from complete dismissal to looks of horror at my red, sweaty face and state of undress. Several just pull their sweaters closer and shake their heads. Truly, I have turned into one of those menopausal cartoons of sleep-deprived, psychopathic women undressing in public and drowning in their own sweat. I suppose there is a kind of justice here. I spent my peri-menopausal years smugly watching contemporaries with bags of frozen peas on their heads, delighting in the fact I was sailing through this. No hot flashes. No dryness. Nothing. I was kicking. Menopause. Ass.  And then somewhere between my last period and gleefully tossing out the condoms, I took a wrong turn. I must have shunned the road that leads to serenity, wisdom and “whee, we can have sex whenever we want!”, and taken the road leading to insomnia, hot flashes, and “if you never touch me again, I’m good with that”. Clearly, the roles have been reversed, and I am the one getting my ass kicked. Now, I have a very patient and understanding husband, but this was causing some friction. And not the good kind. Everyone knows that relationships take work and compromise. And above and beyond the simple acquiescences, where to go for dinner, what color to paint the living room, who knew that there would come a time when sex would be one of them. WTF? So, lemme get this straight. I can’t sleep. I’m hot all of the time, (and not the good kind), my lady bits are like sandpaper, I am not remotely interested in sex, and I live in a body that once belonged to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I ask you, in any of the hundreds of commercials for joint pain, erectile dysfunction, or AFib not caused by heart valve, have you seen the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? No. No you have not. So, imagine my shock and dismay when I discover that I don’t see Christie Brinkley or Susan Lucci when I look in the mirror. Just me. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man with Karl Malden’s nose. I will have to accept that there is no one way to navigate the road as we get older. We can’t all be Christie Brinkley. But if we’re lucky, we have a very patient and understanding partner who thinks we’re still hot. The good kind.

Here Comes the Sun
carynjune 

Have We Met?…

Did you know that you can buy both an Inspirational Floral Wall Cross and the Lover’s Guide to Sexual Intimacy on the Publisher’s Clearing House website? True. Did you also know that Costco is not just the go-to-place for sacks of produce, giant boxes of cereal and gallons of barbecue sauce, but that you can get a mammogram, buy a house, and pick out a casket? Also true. Humans like variety. And they tend to have short attention spans. They’re likely to pass up a shop that sells nothing but exquisite socks for a giant warehouse that sells socks by the gross AND lawn furniture. The thing is, it’s not always easy to be everything to everybody. And quantity is not always the same thing as quality…..I am seriously contemplating scratching out that last sentence. It’s so trite and overused. But, I’ll leave it in. For now. It’s not untrue. Doesn’t everyone long to be the someone that everybody loves? We color our hair, we cover our freckles. We buy our affections, we bury our feelings. We go through life trying to be what we believe someone else wants us to be, instead of being who we are. We try to do everything perfectly, instead of finding the perfection in doing. I’m still not nuts about that quantity/quality nonsense, but Imma let it be. Go. Do. Be. I’ll wait. 

Behind the Curtain, A little Bit of Everything
carynjune

You’ve Got Mail!

Like all of us, I get a lot of junk email. G-d forbid I express even a fleeting interest in something. I will then get emails from that something and all of the related somethings for the rest of my life. Which, apparently, according to the more recent glut of emails, is not very long. All of a sudden, advertisements from clothing stores, makeup lines and home goods have been overtaken by missives about hormone replacement, impotence, walk-in bathtubs, burial plots and something called “Crepe Erase”. WTF? Apparently, Big Brother truly is watching me. No matter how old I get, I still feel like I’m 18. Ok, 30. Spoiler Alert. Not. And it really pisses me off that every ^*%@ing day my inbox cheerfully reminds me of that fact.  And not just my personal email. The specter of death has infiltrated my work email as well. Now there’s a couple of ways I can look at this. I can shuffle along, complaining about my aches and pains, mumbling to myself, secure in the knowledge that the fact that I can’t remember the term for “welcome mat” is the first step towards dementia. Or I can continue to feel 18. Or 30. Travel, sing karaoke, get another tattoo. I can take care of myself so that I can embarrass the crap out of my nieces when I dance with a 25 year old waiter at their wedding. There is something to be said for being smart, being prepared. Taking care of our health, saving for retirement, wearing our big girl panties. But nowhere in the rule book of life does it say that you can’t wear them on your head. 


Carmen 2, commission

carynjune

Let the Sun Shine

The thing I’m finding about getting older, is that I don’t feel older inside. For a moment let’s put aside the obvious. The arthritis in my knees, the bunions, the humps, the bumps, the odd little lumps. The spare tire, the grey hair, the batwings under my arms. Let’s ignore the fact that although, according to those who feel the need to give an opinion, I don’t look nearly 60, not one of those people have said I look like I’m in my 30’s or even my 40’s. Inside, in my head, I feel exactly the same as I did in high school. This is a double-edged sword. While I’m sure the fact that I’m embracing my inner child is great, the inability to let that child put on a pair of big-girl panties once in a while, not so much. I remember sitting in my bedroom in Syosset when I was in high school, listening to The Beach Boys, daydreaming about all the boys I had crushes on, creating elaborate fantasies about how they would finally see how gorgeous I was and drop their girlfriends to ask me out. (Spoiler alert: Didn’t happen). Now, I’ve grown up enough to look back and see that I was as cute as anyone else, but I couldn’t see it. Still can’t. It was and is as much a fantasy as the ones I created in my head. The ones I still create. They’re a little different 40 years later, but they still live only in my head. I am a great actress, I am rich, I am thin, I have the best hair ever, celebs are wearing my jewelry, I travel all over the world, I am going to live forever. Ok, no one lives forever. That really is just a fantasy. The others? Doable. But only if I let them out of my head. There is no dream that can survive locked up in one’s brain. It’s dark and cramped and windowless. Dreams and goals need air, and light, and life. Dreams are what keep us young. Dig ’em up, brush ’em off. Let them see the sun, and dance under the moon. Live forever.
Red-Headed Woman with Beehive Howls at the Moon. From the Red-Headed Woman Series
carynjune

From Where You Came

Remember that old Joni Mitchell song “Circle Game”? It’s a poignant song about growing up, growing old, how as a child we are in such a hurry to be older, but as we age all we want is to slow time. Too young? Hate Joni Mitchell? Never heard it? Go listen to it. Yes, now. I’ll wait. Beautiful, no? Even as a young person, that song gave me a stomachache. I remember wanting to be 13, 18, 21. Wanting to grow up so my real life could start. But even then, my fear of being old, of dying? That was something that got swept under the rug. Locked away in a little box in my head. Not gonna think about it. Nope. Never gonna happen. And now, I’ll be 60 on my next birthday. My husband will be 70. We’re dealing with social security and Medicare and menopause. Friends are welcoming grandchildren. Celebrating silver wedding anniversaries. Dying. I feel in my heart the same as I did when I was 30. But my body’s got other plans. Night sweats, sleeplessness, dizziness. Arthritis, bifocals, gas, poor balance. I’m so afraid of being old and sick, I am making myself old and sick. I’m so busy pretending that I’ll never die, (Spoiler alert: will), I’m ignoring the things that might keep me stronger, that will help me live longer, be happier. Simple stuff that anyone with two brain cells to rub together has been doing all along. Exercise. Eat well. Manage stress. How hard is that? Hard. It’s hard. Very. Very. Hard. I have always lived my life in the peaceful village of Someday. Someday I’ll stop eating so much sugar. Someday I’ll go back to the gym. Meditate. Clean my closet. Big Spoiler Alert. There are never as many Somedays as we would hope. I want my days to be joyous. I want to dance and act and sing. To dream and laugh. Travel and learn and create. Until I’m old. Very old. So I guess I’ll have to accept the fact that the face in the mirror isn’t as smooth as it once was, but I do not have to accept the things I can control. I may be wrinkled. I may be completely grey under the Nice and Easy, but I can still be strong and healthy and gorgeous. I just have to want it enough to work a little harder. And to surrender the fear. Worrying doesn’t prevent bad things from happening. It just makes you less prepared when they do. 

The Other Half of the Orange
Reticulated Silver, Wrinkled and Gorgeous

carynjune 

Um. Ow. 

I fell last week. It’s not the first time I’ve stumbled over a crack in the sidewalk, but this time, I landed in the hospital with a broken wrist. My right wrist. Surgery and everything. The first few days home, I was suffused with anxiety. Fortunately, I’m not in any real pain, and have foregone the Percocet the doctor prescribed because a) I don’t need it, and b) being anxious and a drug addict? Terrifying. As I get older I seem to have lost the grasp of the idea of impermanence. I get a stomach bug, Vertigo, or break my #%^*ing wrist, and I can’t see the end. Or rather, I see the end. Decrepitude and Death. I’ve spent the last couple of days watching old Friends re-runs, muttering to myself, “She doesn’t have a broken wrist, He doesn’t have a broken wrist. Look at that beautiful ponytail! She doesn’t have a broken wrist.” I’m starting to hurt myself with my fingernails, I look like Medusa, and I spent 10 minutes this morning trying to open the bag inside a box of Raisin Bran, something I suck at with two hands. I’ve taken deep breaths, meditated, had quiet, non-judgemental conversations with my bat-crap crazy self. I bought ugly Banana clips so I could make a one-handed ponytail, even one stuck in the 90’s. Spoiler alert. Can’t. But throughout this whole thing, two things have become clear. Neither of them surprising, but lost in the hubbub of life. One of the things my surgeon told me was that the bones in my wrist were weak. WTF??!!! The only scenario that conjures up is increasing falls, walking with a walker, decrepitude and death. No. No. Hell, No. I’m gonna have to take better care of these bones. I am going to get older, but what makes me believe if I ignore it and do nothing, it will go away? Spoiler alert. Won’t. I immediately ran out and bought calcium gummies, Vitamin D3 gummies, and Vitamin C, um, gummies. Ok, don’t judge me. I did calf raises, and light weights with my left hand and I swore when this was all over, I would go back to the gym I pay for and can see from my house. The second thing that I was reminded of was the immense love my husband has for me. He slept in a chair in my hospital room the night after my surgery. He has cooked, shopped, opened bottles, put on my bra, clipped my fingernails, put my hair in a ponytail. And still thinks I’m beautiful. There is really only one person who will keep me strong and change the future. That’s me. But there will be someone supporting me, encouraging me and loving me while I get strong, and catching me when I fall. Two halves of an orange that together make one lumpy, bumpy, perfectly imperfect orange. 

The Other Half of the Orange

carynjune 

And to Top it All Off, I Stepped in the Gum

I can’t seem to make my life work. Everyone around me seems to have the ability. I just…Don’t.  I started a business designing jewelry that I loved. Three years later, it’s more obligation than joy and no one really cares except me and my mother. I’ve just paid my maintenance with a credit card for the second month in a row, because we don’t make enough money to pay our bills, or maybe we do, but not if we want to eat. Or buy a cup of coffee. Or invest in a business that no one really cares about except me. And my mother. I’ve gained so much weight my trench coat doesn’t fit, so I’m praying for cold weather. Of course, if my winter coat doesn’t fit, I’m screwed. I’m 57 years old and I just want a life that fits. I want to enjoy the fact that I’m doing a show for the first time in 20 years. I want to revel in the tap class I finally decided to take after dreaming about it forever. I want to be grateful for my family and friends and the creative spark that I am lucky enough to possess. I want to love my life, not envy others’. What’s the secret?  I wish I knew. I guess you put one foot in front of the other  and keep walking. And pay attention. You don’t want to miss the good while you are fighting off the bad. 

  LIFE, A Bracelet in 6 Acts
carynjune