Archive for the ‘Life Choices’ Category

Just Right at Home

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Gale Steves has more than a hunch. She has an educated observation that wherever you live right now might be just right. You see too few closets and no decent office space?  Gale sees where there’s more storage and how you can set up a working space, all in the home where you are.

For a wider glimpse of Gale’s work, see her recent column at aarp.com. For a 360-degree vista, check out her book, Right-Sizing Your Home: How to Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle (New Century Design).

(Full disclosure: Gale hired me as an editorial intern for her as food editor of “American Home” magazine when I was a pup in the workforce. She’s an amazing source of good ideas, the latest trends, and just plain fun. And, she’s still a friend and creative professional quite a few years later.)

Gale has right-sized her own home, a NYC apt, and influenced design choices for millions, currently as a home consultant, formerly as editor-in-chief for “Home” and in key positions in New York’s publishing world. She sees home in a practical light, encouraging you to make the space work for you instead of trying to live up to outdated definitions of a particular room or piece of furniture.

Nothing like a True Friend

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

A dear friend passed away a few weeks ago. I wrote about Martha in early May (See May 6, 2010). By coincidence, kismet, or simply how things have a way of working out, about the time of Martha’s passing, my octogenarian mom lent me the book, A Walk by the Sea, written by Joan Anderson, known hereafter as ‘the author.’  Mom had received the book from a friend of hers to whom Mom has been a mentor. They are true friends.

The author is a 51-year old woman at a crossroads in her life when she meets Joan Erikson, who with her huband, the psychologist, Erik Erikson, formulated elegant theories of human development. The author met Joan as they each walked on the beach near their homes. Joan, then 91, became a beacon to the author toward how to live the rest of her life.  Joan Erikson’s friendship along with her vibrant outlook and zest for life, helped the author to make bold new choices  and move into a productive, creative tension between action and contemplation. It’s a sweet spot of balance to live into, never to hold.

Martha and I became friends when I was just beginning my professional career as a writer.  She was into her second act as an interior designer. The corporate position she left behind had brought recognition and creative satisfaction. As a prelude to her independent design business, Matha traveled around the world absorbing color, texture, and light.  For the next 37 years, she gave back the color, texture, and light to her clients and to her friends.

Martha was a beacon to me, though as in all friendships, at times, I resisted her wisdom. Long will I draw upon her wisdom and belief in the ‘right idea. as well as knowing when to wait and when to act. But, always, move toward action.

Part of the celebration of a friendship across the generations lies in that the elder can openly receive the younger, not only as a mentee, but as a true friend. The author illuminates this with joy. I am thankful for Martha’s friendship and the lessons of being a friend to her.

“Whew!”

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

One of my goals with this blog is to examine how we age and how we might age better. My life is a useful laboratory for this pursuit. I’ve begun to notice most of my peers have graying hair, as well as aches and pains. My mom has a birthday this week, her 83rd. She lives near me in her own comfortable apartment in a senior complex. She’s moved from her home, from her community, had to stop driving, and has several non-life threatening but limiting health concerns. It takes some adjustment for this independent, strong-minded, creative woman to adjust to life on a different scale.

She comes to stay at my house a couple times a month for a day or two. On Sunday evening, we returned to her complex about 8:30 pm, after celebrating Easter. There was a steady stream of cars to both entrances at the complex. I commented, almost to myself, “Everybody is bringing Grandma home after Easter.”

Mom riffed without missing a beat and sighed, “Whew!” We laughed together, I ruefully. I often leave her feeling both relieved and wary of what comes next. She remembers her own leave-taking of her aging father, her great aunts, and elder friends.

I pulled up in front of her building, moving ahead a little because a minivan was closing in behind me. An impatient voice called out from the vehicle for me to move ahead. I asked her to wait just a minute while I got the walker and Mom got out of the car and in the clear. Pulling ahead would have taken me to the curb and made Mom’s steps with the walker more difficult.

After I parked the car, the minivan family was unloading their elder.  Mom turned around and waved at the elder woman, a friend of hers who is confined to a wheel chair. May have been a challenging day for that family.

Sometimes we laugh.  Sometimes we snap.