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OLDER POSTS

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If you were ever afraid it was too late to see a dream come into fruition, allow me to re-introduce you to David Seidler. At 73-years-young, the screenwriter won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The King’s Speech (Personal fave! Colin Firth–woohoo!) last night. Incredible!

In the past, I’ve talked about personal story and how important it is for us to be aware that we’re constantly living one out as our own protagonist. That couldn’t be more true for Seidler, who once struggled with a profound stutter, no doubt helping him craft into perfection the script for the Best Picture winner. Because of his own painful struggle with his speech and the willingness to once again lean into it to write the little script that could, he has not only brought theatergoers one of the most heartfelt films in, well, a long time, but managed to bring home the big prize, too.

If that doesn’t give you (read: ME, too) a good swift kick in the pants to start tending to your dreams in spite of whatever it is you’re dealing with, then I don’t know what will.

Senior citizen my big toe. Seidler is a 73-years-strong cancer survivor and Oscar award winner who has written one of the most moving films I’ve seen in a long time. Age is just a number, folks. BRAVO!

In honor of the Academy Awards Ceremony airing tomorrow night, I thought I’d share the closest I’ve come to Natalie Portman’s Black Swan performance, if I had ever been even remotely close to becoming a principle dancer in the New York City Ballet Company. Which is and was and always will be not at all, ever, never, never ever. Instead, this is what I leave you with:

Here I am (bottom left) in the Tarentella, a dance from The Nutcracker.  Nearly every last one of those girls ended up professionally dancing at some point or another. Not I, though, trust. I was sort of the smiley one (once cast as the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland=big mouth) with a propensity for closing my eyes at flashing lights, thus this photo. If you could only see the broad mouth of braces I was sporting. Middle school is never kind.

One thing worth mentioning (teens, listen up!) is I was certain I was a heifer when I was this age. Like, I would have bet my point shoes on it. Sad, I know. But never, ever, never ever, would you have caught me eating a poached egg and half a grapefruit for breakfast. Now that I can no longer eat gluten, I’m so glad the younger, smiley me could indulge in some cereal goodness. Munch on, younger self!

Yep, I’ve finally seen Black Swan for myself, and while I think Darren Aronofsky’s a bit of a genius–swan legs at the end, what?!–I still missed Jim Carrey’s contribution to the ballet world, featured on “Saturday Night Live.” Can’t wait to see if Portman takes home the big prize tomorrow night!

And youngsters, eat your Wheaties! And Coco Puffs, and Lucky Charms, and…

Maybe celebrities should start polling their fans when they take major action with their looks. Take Justin Bieber. On Monday the Never Say Never hearthrob revealed his newly shorn locks, and today, just four teensy days later, it’s being reported the teen superstar has lost 80,000–count ‘em!-80,000 Twitter followers. Yowsers. The haircut heard ’round the world has even incited discussion of ruining Bieber’s career. Yes, for reals.

My favorite ‘friend’ (yes, I did) Jennifer Aniston unleashed a new bob this week while on the European leg of the Just Go With It promotional tour, and managed to cause a media frenzy, all because she chopped off a few inches of her hair! Instantly, the polls went up all over the Internet asking fans whether or not they approved of Aniston’s new ‘do.

And just this afternoon, the lovely and talented Matthew Fox has come under fire for a bearded look while appearing on “The Graham Norton Show.” He’s literally trending on Twitter because of a graying beard, and has fans waxing nostalgic about his ‘hot’ days whilst Jack on the never-properly-acknowledged-with-the-shallow-yet-industry-affirming-award-show-regalia days of the finest show to ever hit network television that is “Lost.” Le sigh. By the way, he is appearing in a play in London, so the beard is career-approved.

Yes, the entertainment industry is a shallow one, but lest we forget it, many of our favorite actors and musicians are actual ‘artists’ and should therefore be able to change up their looks for the sake of the craft from time to time. They are not like reality stars, who ‘go lighter’ to get over a soon-to-be-ex (yes, of course I’m referencing the greatest reality series on TV that also happens to be like crack cocaine to me, “The Real Housewives of [Whatever, Wherever, Whenever]“), though that would certainly be excusable since they are human after all.

I suppose the lesson here is not to make a fan base out of ‘tweens and teens, whose tastes may be ever developing and changing (say, within the course of a week) just as quickly as they rotate out romances. But the rest of us are just as judgmental (myself included), judging the very judgmental magazine covers launched by a star’s new image.

Sorry. Excuse the rant, but 80,000?! Sheesh.

Still, don’t feel too sorry for the Biebs;  7,628,349 fans remain–and counting…

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated a certain birthday with a certain hubs who (along with some lovin’ from our family) presented me with a new Kindle to mark the occasion. Oh, and there were cupcakes, too. To mark the occasion. Needless to say, I am smitten. Whereas Vi and I had some acquainting to do (things are working out stupendously, by the by and thanks mucho), my Kindle and I hit the ground running. It really is far and away far too easy to buy a book on this thing, and if you like reading, well, you catch my drift…

First up on the docket was Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, which I bought because Entertainment Weekly magazine mentioned it being ‘laugh out loud funny’ or something. If you know me, you know I am supremely fond of a good laugh, and hold a great deal of reverence and awe in my little heart for those who can really pull it off. Back in the golden olden days when I took to the stage (Bleh! I was always more of a rehearsal rather than a show kind of actor: “It’s all about the process…”), I always found comedy took some serious chops, not to mention cojones, so it never comes as a surprise to me when someone like Will Ferrell or as of today, Steve Carell, takes to something more dramatic.

But when drama meets and falls in love with comedy (no one night stands here, Peeps!), a dramedy is born, and Tropper’s work fits the bill. Before reading it, I had recommended it as an option for my book club (Have I mentioned women from my church are in this group?), fresh off of having everyone read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. Yikes! Just… yikes!

So I thought we should head for something funny–’laugh out loud funny.’ See where this is headed? The only problem with that, folks, is that a modern comedy without gratuitous sex scenes has thus far eluded me. Did I mention one of my pastor’s wives is in this book club? No, not ONE of his wives–I digress.

This Is Where I Leave You did make me laugh aloud, but it also made me laugh through a few tears. Tropper’s protagonist Judd Foxman heads home for his father’s funeral just after his wife Jen has left him for his boss, the misogynistic Wade. And yes, of course, Judd absolutely had to walk in on Jen and Wade going at it, why do you ask? Sure, Judd needed pages and pages and pages to reflect upon this act and in detail.

We won’t be reading this as our next selection in the book club.

Truthfully, Tropper didn’t waste a thing or a device in developing characters a reader cares about and roots for–something Franzen was definitely lacking in Freedom (I could give a rat’s patootie if Pattie and Richard and Walter ever work things out because I DESPISE ALL OF THEM!). Of course, Franzen being brilliant and such probably had good reason, but that didn’t make me want to read a sequel. Please tell me there’s not a sequel.

When Judd arrives home, his mother informs he and his three siblings they must sit shiva for the next week. So for the next seven days, the grown Foxman children must endure a Jewish tradition and faith they weren’t raised to practice, put up with one another and work out their issues all while wondering why their child psychologist mother in her sixties had to have a boob job and wear shirts down to there. Oh, and there’s the whole business of your father and your wife leaving you bit to contend with.

I loved it. Not the dirty birdie parts. But the sentiment behind a 30-something losing everything and waking up to the fact that his days are passing by a little too quickly–like sands through the hourglass, so are the…

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about the no-no parts.

It. Is. Finished. I have finally finished Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which has brought about a great deal of freedom in my personal life. After being chained to the darkest novel I have ever read for the last few weeks, sweet freedom is mine. Mine, I tell you!

Not that the book was without merit. While SO perverse at times, it kind of did this really super brilliant thing where it points out that we humans are, like, so totally never satisfied with what we have. How we are forever searching and groaning in this condition of being human. So what do we do with all that unhappiness? Create and consume a bunch of stuff to distract us from the initial searching and groaning.  Just keep busy.

Addiction. Check! Self-destructive behavior. Jackpot! Attempting to find our identity in all of our relationships and in our work. You’d better believe it.  Now go sabotage yourself to infinity and beyond, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a New York Times bestseller. Not to mention a slap in the face and a harsh reality check. What’s so discouraging and so genius about this book, which I feel like you almost have to hate if it’s done its job, is that it holds up a mirror to the parts of humanity that you don’t wanna sit around singing “Glee” renditions with, nor do you want to buy them a Coca Cola.

And while I was often left wanting and overwrought by Franzen’s ridiculously long prose and the fact that it sometimes hit dangerously close to home, there was some redemption. Some. A skoach. But mostly, relief at it finally being over.

Over for now, that is, because you don’t get called ‘a great American novelist’ (which, by the way, is probably accurate) by Time magazine for nothing. Oh, and the film rights have already been bought, so look to find Freedom in a theater near you soon.

In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to shake the dirrrrty off that comes from reading this here book and hope to do better by my loved ones.

Today is my birthday. Which is fabulous, although the actual ‘number’ attached to birthdays now is a bit harder to swallow. Gulp. Making that fact infinitely more…humbling, is a little W magazine article (already prone to riddle one with the feeling of  ‘less than’ with its outrageous photo spreads of the fashionably elite) pinpointing the EXACT AGE at which a woman begins to lose whatever beauty she might have. No. Not kidding.

Apparently, the magic number is 35.09; that’s 35 years and 33 days. Awesome. It should be said that the study cited is by uber-expensive skin care line SK-II, which, of course, is set to benefit mucho by telling the ladies they’re about to become wretched old hags. While I’m proud to be an American and all (insert Lee Greenwood here), I so wish our culture was one that valued wisdom over a lack of laugh lines. Just sayin’.

Last week, I was talking with some friends of mine, truly beautiful women in EVERY way and remarkably ageless, who had seen my current ‘number’ come and go and called it “great,” BUT… “Wait until you hit your 40s–they’re awesome. Oh, and 50–so great.” Again, no. NOT kidding.

Did they find the real fountain of youth? Possibly. Maybe it’s the one that welcomes change, leans into hardship, finds joy somehow at any cost, laughs in the face of fear, and bears and bares witness to it all. If that’s the life I want to live, then I’d be embarrassed not to walk away with the evidence of a life well lived in laugh lines.

In other news, will I ever remember to spell “embarrass” with two “R’s” the first time? Jeesh!

Bear with me.

The suffix “-ist” means “someone who does something.” Years of teaching English and drilling Greek and Latin roots and affixes into young minds can leave one with a bit of a disorder, one that involves the separation and impending divorces of words and the diagramming of all spoken sentences.

Sexy? Not so much. Nerdy? Abso–bloomin-lutely! (Name that musical! My Fair Lady, kids. Collective sigh for Audrey Hepburn.) I digress.

While gettin’ my book on recently, I couldn’t stop myself from noodling at the title The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

The word “alchemy,” as described by Noah Webster (the fella you can blame and cuss out for a general lack of English language and spelling rules and procedures–Thanks, buddy)’s peeps, is  the “power or process of transforming something common into something special.”

Add the “-ist” and you get SOMEONE possessing the power–or even just going through the process of (insert humble opinion)–to transform something common into something special.

The Alchemist tells the story of a shepherd boy in search of his “Personal Legend” or calling, his purpose in life. The allegory appears to be a simple tale, but Coelho weaves together so many human truths, you’ll be wondering if he’s the first person to ever really “get you.”

On Personal Legend from the book:

The boy didn’t know what a person’s “Personal Legend” was.

“It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.

“At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.”

In short, we lose our shortness, grow up, and forget about dreaming. We don’t want to search for a buried treasure, but instead settle for being the old dog unwilling to score a few new tricks. We believe a lie telling us that to pursue a calling or goal is selfish; we’re neglecting important people in our lives who need us.

Pablo Picasso got it right, saying, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” No, we weren’t all meant to paint pretty pictures, but we were all created with the ability to live life artfully, pursuing our personal mission, legend, calling, chocolate, whathaveyou.

While hanging with my book club last week, I realized that when I neglect to nurture that calling, I take my frustration out on the ones I love the most (sorry, hubs). The groan of the human condition overtakes, and I can become envious of someone else realizing their own dreams. I can become a nasty, ugly poohead, yo.

The point is this: we need to remember the call and pursue it (within reason and without shirking current relationships and responsibilities). We were created for purpose and are still being called to it. We (I) need to snap out of it and listen already.

Ever wake up after weeks, months, years wondering where the time went? When the busyness of life began to become the business of life. It’s like when you’re on your morning commute, and you realize you’re half way to work but you have absolutely no idea or recollection of how you got there. Scary stuff.

That must be why some folks (trying to not be gender-specific here) buy expensive sports cars in the midst of a mid-life crisis. The prettier and more luxurious the car, maybe the ride will be more memorable.

This week Dan Buettner went on “The Oprah Show” touting his latest book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, sort of a follow-up to The Blue Zones. Thrive (here’s an excerpt) is about the happiest places on earth (not Disneyland), and The Blue Zones looks at longevity “hot spots” where folks wait longer to keel over and have a better time doing so–the waiting, not the dying. Thrive is a very natural progression of Buettner’s work as while we all want to live longer, what we really want is to be happy while we’re here and for our days to matter.

While on the program (which also featured the effervescent Goldie Hawn who has made it a bit of her life mission to help others find happiness), Buettner talked about the correlation between money and happiness. Basically, the writer/explorer debunked the myth of happiness being influenced by money. If your household income is $75,000, you’ve got just as much of a chance at being happy as a millionaire. And, in fact, if you simply join a club of some sort that meets just once a month, the positive outlook and resulting happiness is equal to doubling your income. Mama say what?

So, if I were to say, join a club, either glee or book or (whathaveyou), which meets at least once a month, I could majorly start to get my happy juices flowing. Well, I have joined a (book) club. It is fab. It makes me happy to have a designated time to chat up intellectual women on a regular basis.

No, I haven’t checked my Quicken account, but I feel richer already.

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