Author Archives: mickisuzanne

About mickisuzanne

Marketing Writer, Biographer and Activist with two 'home states' - Michigan and Florida.

Holed Coins

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I know I’m not the only Boomer struggling for every freaking dollar. When the going gets tough, the smart people get creative. For me, it meant getting back in the saddle with eBay. A few years ago, I wrote a book on it.

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News flash: We are in a recession.

Us, the normal people. Nobody’s talking about it, but you can feel it on eBay and Etsy, all the usual places. Jewelry is not selling, beautiful things – pfft, forget about it.

I lost one whole day to despair. (I napped and splurged on a bag of  kettle cooked chips.) My big bills are due at the end of December and I am not ready to give up my quirky little place in this wonderful little neighborhood.

If you’re in a bind like me, get angry and GET BUSY. You’ll feel better.

What do YOU have stashed away?

Turns out people are buying what they always buy in a recession; gold and coins.

Nine items end today – coins with holes from years back when I purchased for beauty and era. I was making jewelry and using my favorites as focal points. Who doesn’t want a necklace featuring a Civil War era coin? (Nobody.) But it was a fun idea.

So after all these years I had a box of holed coins. I thought they’d be worth … like change or something. I was wrong.

Note that I don’t know how to sell coins; I simply researched and put them out to auction in their proper categories at a very low starting price. (I also confessed my ignorance, which should have been pretty obvious.)

I forgot how exciting selling online can be. 

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As it happens, coins chosen for beauty seem to sell pretty well. Two more sales and I should be able to head to the vet and buy Princess her prescription dog food in confidence.

It takes about three days for PayPal to deliver the funds to my bank account.

This dance between actual funds and looming bills is mildly terrifying; but sort of affirming when you manage to stay a few steps ahead.

You can do this.  

I’ve been tracking some of my online adventures on my book’s Facebook pagePeople want to know how to do this and $9.99 is a lot of money when money’s tight; so please come get some guidance for free.

Namaste 

 

 

 

Loved ones with dementia: FUNCTIONING ON ANOTHER PLANE

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Gram with her daughter – my aunt; circa 1940

Summer, 2001. We were at my aunt’s long pine dining table watching boats jockey for position on the St. Clair River in Michigan. Their neighbor’s well was vacant. He was out in the mix, in a boat SO fast the speed sucked the “F” right off the logo, dubbing it “ountain.”

The aunt was in her glory preparing and serving yet another delicious meal. A homemade three-layer pineapple cake posed provocatively under Saran Wrap; toothpicks protected the fluffy frosting and made the dessert look a little bit dangerous.

My uncle was (usually) happy to have his grown kids at the table; they – and their spouses – were well into their beers.

Gram and I were the downers. I was mourning my most recent marriage and she was slipping more deeply into dementia.

Conversation and laughter were bouncing back and forth across the table and Gram was itching to join in. She was not yet at the point where she was afraid to open her mouth. When a few of the cousins slipped out for smokes, she found a silence long enough to get a few words in.

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Aunt Julia in the 20s

“I saw Julia last night.”

Aunt Julia, her sister, had been dead for 30 years. My uncle’s grin widened and he blurted out “Was she still in that big brass box we got for her funeral?” And he roared with laughter. Everyone laughed.

Gram forced a giggle, but she clenched her elbows together under her chest and cupped her bony hands between her knees.

I remember thinking she probably did see Julia.

Because the more deeply she slipped, the more open she was on other levels – unrestricted by convention, as spiritually/psychically open and innocent as a small child. When she died in ER – and was brought back – she described her out of body experience this way: “There were two of me, but it was ok.”

We visited in dreams after she passed 9 years ago.

Seven years since my mother started the slide and hated me for seeing it and knowing it. My previous blog, FROM THE LANAI: The Dream with Six Pages shows how the dream/spirit world sent comfort.

But I want more.

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Last week I bought Conscious Dreaming by Robert Moss.

Wikipedia describes Moss as “an Australian historian, journalist and author and the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism.”

Shortly thereafter, something so strange happened, I had to tell him. Today I wrote:

I’m new to your books, but not to focus on dreams. I’ve had past life memories, visits from loved ones on the other side, “postcards” I call some of the imagery they’ve sent – and visions from spirit guides or ancestors.

But with your books I feel like I’ve moved out of the slow lane. I need to share my recent experience.

First, let me say I always used to joke that when my Gram passed, she’d be my first visitor in Florida. (I had just moved 1400 miles south of family.) My beloved Gram raised me and in my heart I knew her dementia would be gone and she would be fully back.

Many visits after her transition proved that was the case. She was a little cranky about me not being with her; she was most definitely back to her usual self.

In the past few years my mother – 1800 miles north in a remote area – has been showing signs of dementia. She got pregnant at 15 and had the bastard (me) at 16. Her sister and husband (my stepfather) have always pushed that button, yanked that chain – spent decades using the “bad girl” card to put her in her place.

She IS a bit controlling and narcissistic.

When her memory loss began to manifest, I encouraged her to see a neurologist. When she resisted, I insisted my stepfather take her. (There’s more to it, of course.) But essentially, these things made me her enemy.

Last summer my stepfather went out of town and left her alone at home; he did that before and she was injured. This second time, she was injured again – and hospitalized. I called him and said I would go up, I insisted she could not be alone and he finally said SHE DOESN’T WANT YOU THERE.

Her behavior after that statement made me realize it wasn’t coming from him – it WAS coming from her. She started calling screaming, making accusations (after her money, trying to come between her and her friends), etc. One day I finally yelled back – YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TALK TO ME THIS WAY!

She never called again. I call when necessary, and she is polite. Nothing more. I realize she has chosen to forget she had a daughter. I was always a reminder, an inconvenience, an embarrassment.

But the other night I dreamed my most difficult client was insisting I attend a retirement party. I hate business parties. (This was also happening in real life.) And in the dream my mother called the client; I was on another phone, listening in. And my mother told her in no uncertain terms that I was sick and would not be attending.

She was stepping in on my behalf. Which leads me to think that in dementia, maybe part of our consciousness separates. That her higher consciousness was able to lift out of her scrambled, fearful self and enter my dream state.

It was a great comfort.

Bless you.

Micki

I posted the message to his Facebook page; he responded with minutes

Dear Micki

I have often observed that in cases diagnosed as dementia, Alzheimer’s etc, a vital part of the sufferer is traveling outside the body, having its own life.

It’s grand that at least that part of your mother cares for you and wants to help.

Bright blessings

Robert

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Mom at 15

It’s so good to know part of them rises to function on a higher plane; and that – with faith and knowledge – we have the potential to meet them there in our dreams.

I highly recommend Conscious Dreaming by Robert Moss.

Buy it on Amazon or Thriftbooks.com

http://www.amazon.com/Conscious-Dreaming-Spiritual-Path-Everyday/dp/051788710X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405019382&sr=1-1&keywords=conscious+dreaming

http://www.thriftbooks.com/viewdetails.aspx?isbn=051788710x

FROM THE LANAI: The Dream with Six Pages

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Rumi

I turned 60 on a Tuesday. Who turns 60 on a Tuesday? I “celebrated” with Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese; consumed a quarter portion, then nibbled through a quarter more. It was my birthday, after all. I didn’t know I had a problem with gluten. I only knew I never felt quite right and my intestines never worked properly.

No, 60 was to my life what 40 was to my vision. One can deal with contacts and glasses; but 60 can throw you right off the rails.

I had already contracted Lyme disease at 52 … undiagnosed with that crushing illness for more than two years … and surprisingly managed to limp out the other side. Moving to Florida gave my bones the warmth I needed and fate (God) placed me squarely within bicycle distance of a true yoga studio. The kind that celebrates spirit along with motion, intent with alignment.

Yoga helped me rise physically, a phoenix from the ashes.

At 63, however, yoga is not an option; it is a necessity. Weeks away from it, you can nearly feel your body crumble. Last week my ankle gave out; it’s an old skiing injury, broken in 3 places in 1965. Thank you Cubco bindings. I nearly had to crawl up my stairs.

Which, of course, leads one to wonder how long one can live alone in a place with stairs.

My mother has no problem with stairs.

Two years ago she did start having problems with math, computers, cooking, cleaning … and me. In two short years they had to close their antique shop because she couldn’t manage the accounting, let alone the taxes – and my stepfather was in no mood to pick up the slack. He told her they had to sell out, auction off. She was enraged. She started throwing tantrums; some at him, and some on the phone to me.

I donned the bullseye when I expressed concern about her memory and pushed my stepfather to take her to a neurologist. They saw in the diagnosis what they wanted to see. “Some” decline. They did not use the term that actually appeared in her paperwork; “cognitive impairment.”

A doctor friend told me that is senile dementia.

We expect to lose our parents through death; not by circumstance.

I finally yelled back in January. Thank God she hasn’t called back. I’m alone but not lonely – strong, but incredibly fragile. She was dragging me into her darkness. I had offered to help, but she needs none. I had offered to find them a place near me for the winters … but no.

I now realize that accepting my offers would have been a confession of age and weakness. While I freely admit my own, they both chose to write me off, out of their lives. They’ve broken my heart; I am newly orphaned.

I have been praying more, I have been meditating. I actually bought a comfortable bamboo sofa for my lanai; it’s the perfect place to commune with nature and achieve peace; but it’s not working.

Freelance projects have been coming in, so I can afford to go back to yoga. My body is regaining strength and balance. During class the inner pain dissolves, but it returns in the morning.

Every night I pray for my parents, loved ones and those who need it.

Every morning I wake to near total despair.

This morning I woke urgently repeating “272 and 273.”

As if a guardian angel told me YOU MUST NOT FORGET! Somewhat unnerved, I groped around for a pen and wrote the numbers in my dream diary.

As I started to wake, I decided to write why I was so sad. The words poured out as I let the straining pain off the leash.

Sad over Mom & my stepdad. “How do you do that to someone?” How does a mother write off her only child?

Sad that one of my clients is hiring kids who drop the ball and waste my best efforts.

Sad that there is no man in my life – and that my most beloved female friend has surrendered to fear and paranoia.

Sad that at this age it takes so much effort to stay mentally and physically functional.

And I wrote “Sad that I don’t know how to get happy again. I feel like my mother is dead but it’s almost worse because it’s near-conscious rejection of the bastard she never wanted.”

Awakening the Buddha Within was next to my pillow. I opened to page 272. It was about practicing the six perfections – generosity, virtue, patience, effort, meditation and wisdom. Always a good reminder. Page 273 emphasized “Making the effort to meditate daily.”

I’ve been doing that and my dreams are becoming more profound; suddenly strong enough to wake me up urgently repeating page numbers.

The second book in my bedroom was The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead. I was intending to read it “one day.”

Page 272 was about the parallel lives … a concept I don’t yet comprehend. It said “The professor explained that he had been tracking the interplay between personalities who lived in different times but were all connected by a common intelligence, a central identity.” Further down the page, it reads “We might discover that in our Now time, from a place of vision and power that is opened through Active Dreaming, we can move to commune and communicate with our counterparts across time and space, to help (and when necessary, correct) each other, share gifts and knowledge, and change the workings of karma in more than one lifetime.”

Page 273 describes the author’s own dream where “I was hurled into scenes of a savage time, with Viking longboats nearing the shore of a Scottish or Irish village. I found myself in the body and mind of a tribal king with red-gold hair. I could feel the weight of his armor and the heavy band of metal around his brow. It was a very physical experience, as he drove his warhorse at a desperate gallop against his people’s enemies.”

Again, it registered. I have a profound connection with my ancestors; I have experienced “dream memories” where you know the weight of your apparel and feel of the soil beneath your feet. To know spirit is to know there is no death.

OK. I felt a little better. Stronger. A little more connected.

I went downstairs and made coffee; there was one last book waiting for me on the lanai. The Essential Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks. Rumi was a 13th Century Sufi mystic and poet. His poetry is like dark chocolates, potent in tiny bites.

Page 272 made me gasp; I nearly burst out crying. (The spacing is authentic to the book … the bold is mine.)

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother’s milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.”

And on page 273, I was filled with awe as the loving messages were brought full circle.

THE MILK OF MILLENNIA

“For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust grains
floating and flying in the will of the air,
often forgetting ever being
in that state, but in sleep
I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time-and-space cross,
this waiting room.

I walk into a huge pasture.
I nurse the milk of millennia.

Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live,
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
in some absorbing work.”

I hope these messages bring you the deep, long, cosmic hug they’ve brought me. I have a sense these messages were meant to be shared.

May you stream at night …

 

AARP, Verizon & Comcast; keeping ’em honest.

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I’ve been in marketing for a long time. My bullshit detector is well honed, but even I get ripped off. The biggest shock was getting ripped off by one of the organizations I trusted most.

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Love the tagline. Let me just say there is a real possibility you’re getting screwed by someone they recommend.

I haven’t had health insurance since I lost all due to Lyme disease; but AARP recommended Delta Dental. AARP recommending something is like being at Grandma’s knee, with her loving, gnarled hand on the top of your head. If they recommend a type of insurance, I’m gonna act on trust.

I had Delta Dental for years. My teeth are well maintained, but I needed work. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford it because I was paying Delta Dental $640 a year.

One day I’m lying back in the big chair after having my teeth cleaned. The hygienist asked me when I wanted to have recommended work done; I said I’d have to wait because of finances. That’s what I always say.

Only this time my dentist walked up and quietly suggested I do the math on my insurance. I took a closer look at the plan and it was saving me zero money. The money I was sending to Delta Dental could have been going into actual care. My teeth would be in much better shape if I hadn’t spent my money on insurance that’s a LIE.

When I cancelled, they were obstinate. They said “you do realize if you cancel, it will be months before you can reapply.” Clearly the woman on the phone had no idea she was working for a predatory company.

So eff you Delta Dental. Now this next one … Verizon.

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We know we’re getting screwed, but what can we do about it?

I always tend to live at the edge of society, where towers are as rare as good reception. Verizon is the only game in my almost-town.

I’ve been swapping from lesser minutes to more minutes depending on the amount of time I spend on the phone. I HATE talking on the phone, but I need it for business and I need(ed) it for mom. Well, we’re no longer speaking. (Read the previous post.)

No sooner did I lower my plan than I got a new client on the west coast; my minutes were going to go over the top. I had to hurry and change my plan back. (Imagining Lucy at the chocolate factory … feeling like a moron.) They would find a way to stick it to me in fees. When I reversed, I backdated the change; but I thought I’d better chat it out with one of their representatives.

She understood that I was afraid I was going to have to pay change fees but no – it was ok because I had backdated.

I know how these help desks work. Most are not going to offer you ways to save money; so I asked – “Can you look at my usage and tell me if this is the best plan?” Turns out I could be getting MUCH better service for less. With the new plans we can even use our phones as hotspots; a feature savvier cellfolk already provide.

Thanks for (finally) getting on board Verizon; but shame on you for making the plan information SO FRIGGING HARD TO FIND.

Last but not least, the worst on my short list. But again, the only game in town for internet.

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Internet is worth $40 to $50 a month, but I was paying an extra $50/month for a TV package. I got pissed off and quit cable TV – only to find I could still watch the main local programs! When a tech came out to disconnect outside, there was a bit of wink/wink. That was great. I felt like I was getting away with something.

Well, of course, Comcast knew some of us were getting it for free so they took it away. I have to say, SW Florida is not a good place to be without TV news; especially during hurricane season.

Months ago I researched other options and found Mohu – an American made (!!) antenna. It was about $40, easy to put up (it goes on the interior of an exterior wall) and I get THREE PBS STATIONS! Plus most of the others. What could be better – smart programs and smart savings!

My Mohu is saving me about $600+/year. http://www.gomohu.com/

Do I miss my Comcast cable TV? Nope. 

IN SUMMARY

  • AARP – the lesson there is don’t automatically trust an established name to promote “services” that are in your best interests.
  • Verizon – call them or chat online; ask them to analyze your plan.
  • Comcast – screw cable TV, consider a Mohu (or other) antenna.

I’m saving more than $1,200 a year by cancelling services like Delta Dental (total waste of money) and Comcast Cable (a luxury most of us don’t need) .

In all cases, we can beat organizations, communications and corporations by paying closer attention instead of higher fees!

Into the Chipper

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This photo is Facebook code for “just got off the phone with my mom.”

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She has always been controlling and a little paranoid. I was illegitimate; she married quickly in an attempt to cover her tracks. But, of course, people know. It’s a delicious piece of gossip and the truth comes out eventually.

I found out at 25. I don’t have hard feelings about past deceptions; somehow she does.

In hindsight I realize she softened greatly when she noticed she was having memory problems; but soon there was no hiding it and I was worried. When she chose to stop using her computer to place orders for much-needed supplies, I warned her she was “cutting off a lifeline.” She hung up on me.

She forgot how to cook and make coffee. She forgot how to clean. She used laundry detergent in the dishwasher.

When I encouraged her – and my stepfather – to see a neurologist, I became the enemy. I didn’t want to be right. I know the ropes. My beloved Gram had dementia. I saw her in the ward every Sunday. That place was an education in how mean mothers can be to their daughters – and which words soothe and which offend.

When I heard my stepdad was going out of town and leaving her alone for a few weeks last summer, I volunteered to drive (1800 miles to bfe) to “hang out with her.” They are in a remote area near Lake Superior. It’s full Fargo with bears, wolves and mountain lions.

I bought her a gun for her 60th birthday. She used to put it in her pocket when she walked in the woods.

Does she still do that? Where is it now?

I wanted to go up and make sure she’d be ok, but the stepdad said “naw, she’ll be fine.”

The first time he left her alone, one of the dogs knocked her off the porch and she nearly busted her head on the pavement. Her shoulder broke the fall; naturally that hasn’t healed properly.

So he left again. Sure enough, she had another dog-related accident and wound up in the hospital. I made panic calls and insisted on driving up since he was making no plans to return and care for her. He was spending time with my stepbrother.

He said the neighbor would check in on her. Since when are neighbors responsible for your spouse.

I didn’t let up. Someone had to be with her. I didn’t blurt out my true fears – she’s already going goofy after dark. When will she start wandering?

I pushed and pushed and finally he blurted out “your mother doesn’t want you here.”

“Here” as if he was home instead of somewhere else. Which was the point of it all. Not that I blamed him. He’s old and frail and denial is a nice warm place to hide. It shouldn’t be like this; you marry a younger woman expecting she’ll take care of you – not the other way around.

Her communications with me changed. No longer one-on-one, they were hearsay-based. She heard (or suspected) I wanted to do this or that and started calling in rages – always at night. She roars her accusations and hangs up on me.

Some of what she says has the power to send me spiraling into my own special darkness. I can’t allow it. I moved here alone for my health. I have no one to lean on.

Recently my stepbrother decided to play peacemaker. We never needed one before she started her descent. He has suggested I need to become a better daughter. He only knows what she tells him, and she plays the victim card. I asked him who insisted on going up while his father was visiting. He was IN THE ROOM when I was told “your mother doesn’t want you here.”

She hates Florida. I have scouted winter digs and sent them information to no avail.

OK, I get it. You want to stay in your home. I’d want that too. I assured him my plan was to drive up and be with her in her big house so little will change after his father passes. I can’t stay in winter because my Lyme is too severe; a real winter would cripple me. But we could find someone else for the worst months.

I am single; expendable.

So comforted, he called to comfort her. I imagine she called me as soon as they hung up. She RAGED that she heard I wanted to live in her big house and take her money. Note that I live in Florida. I’m a freelance writer, I have local clients. I live in flip-flops and can walk to the gulf while they are up to their asses in snow. 

I was shaking. For the first time in my life I yelled back. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TALK TO ME LIKE THAT!

As per usual, she hung up on me. This time I earned it.

I haven’t heard from her in more than a month.

Friends who have been through this say I dodged a bullet because she wants nothing to do with me. Well, I didn’t really dodge it; it’s lodged in my being and a source of pain if I allow myself to go there.

The struggle to stay relevant after 50+

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“To be somebody you must last.”

Ruth Gordon is probably best known for Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Harold & Maude (1971). Most notably, she made these films while she was in her 70s!

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She was born October 30, 1896 and left us August 28, 1985.

Ruth Gordon was an actress and a writer. I did not know that! But I did know she acted with the glamour pusses of her day. Her first big role was opposite Greta Garbo in Two-Faced Woman in 1941.

Many years ago I read she said something to the effect of “personality lasts longer than looks.” I swore I would never forget it, but I did. (If you find the exact quote, please post here.) But I have embraced the gist of it because she was timeless.

Garbo’s career lasted as long as her looks; Gordon’s career lasted her whole life.

In 1970 Natalie Wood named her the godmother to her firstborn Natasha Gregson Wagner. In the 70s she appeared on Rhoda, Newhart, Columbo, Taxi, and SNL.

Wikipedia offers a nice review of her work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Gordon
And IMDb has a nice bio: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002106/bio

HOW TO STAY RELEVANT

In our 50s, depending on career path, the ice grows thin. Our salaries are as big as our offices; younger people want what we have and owners realize they can save money by hiring them instead. As Chief Writer of an ad agency, I was told “You are a luxury we can no longer afford.”

There is nothing scarier than freelance or consulting in our late 50s and beyond. In south Florida, the job market (beyond basic retail or customer service) is nearly non-existent. It can feel like a wasteland for professional or creative types.

But I’ve developed some methods that work well for me.

Follow your passion – whether you get paid for it or not.

You are wise, you know things they don’t teach in schools. I’ve found it never fails; every time I donate skills (to individuals or organizations that represent a higher purpose) it comes back in good karma. Contacts are made and work comes in.

Write that book.

If you are connected on a spiritual level, everything happens for a reason. Last year I realized my freelance drought was an opportunity to write a book that would help others experiencing financial hardship.

Work came in as soon as I published the book. http://tinyurl.com/k9mgrmo

Release the money hungry 80s mentality.

Remember the days of the big salaries? I was making $92,000/yr. as a marketing writer when I got Lyme Disease. Those days are long gone. When I went freelance for the ad agency, they felt $40/hr. was fair; and that’s good money for Florida. But most of the time I charge $30/hr.; less if the task is more administrative than creative.

Remember the days when your employer reimbursed for all of your business-related expenses?  Fuggedaboutit. Be grateful for the work. Recognize that the small companies that are willing to hire us – well, they’re struggling too. I’ve stopped asking for mileage, tolls and other reimbursements. It’s my way of saying “thanks for the work.”

It’s me working to help them grow their business.

Connect online.

Social media is free and it WILL NOT BITE YOU.

Actually, if you’re that afraid of it, just go away. You are thinking like an OLD person and there’s nothing I can say to change your mind.

A recent post … friend me, I’m Micki Suzanne on Facebook. I may ask how you know me, just say “from your blog.”

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This week a project came in via Facebook; the “new client” is someone I worked with in 2000. The kids are growing up and starting their own companies! I am unspeakably honored that he remembered me and wanted me for this project.

Then again, I put myself out there. I am on Facebook like dog fur on my sofa. I’ve been on Facebook for years, but in the past 9 months I’ve been more about positive news, more intelligent environmentalism, only primo itty kitties, less political hissiness and fewer f-bombs.

And a touch of self-promotion – as much as I hate it. But I am working on some fun stuff that helps others.

For the record, Linked In is bullshit. Retired friends and long-lost acquaintances will ask to connect. Social awkwardness ensues as the savvy professional declines the request to mix silliness with actual services.

Real professionals have websites ($XXX) or WordPress pages ($0).  I offer free advice on my sites, www.mickisuzanne.com and www.painlesswebsites.com

Connect offline.

Explore www.Meetup.com

I love my Fort Myers Writers Meetup Group. I can relate to the people and we keep each other inspired. I also see professional relevance from the marketing end, but I haven’t gone there yet. I do everything for free.

Seven years ago I started a singles group with about 5 people; today we have 472 members.

If you don’t see a group you like, START ONE.

Be available.

If you are driven, there is no such thing as 9 to 5. My hours are 24/7 because my work comes in via text, email and Facebook. I have no day off, and that’s ok.

Because every day is an opportunity to STAY relevant … like our hero Ruth Gordon.

Proof that angels walk among us: Bill Murray’s interview with Charlie Rose

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I confess, I rarely go to the movies and I don’t know what he’s up to. I only know where he’s been.

Most boomers remember Bill Murray for Caddyshack.

I remember him for Stripes, especially the Aunt Jemima Treatment; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hOhhgrM3bs

And the march scene … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AvMNXBGgpg

The other night he was on Charlie Rose and I was about ready for bed. I noted he looked quite spent and – fully relating – wondered … “how does he feel about aging??”

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That interview was an investment in self. The man is an inspiration, SO genuine. His focus is on being more fully present and he looks forward to getting very old.

He talks about the healing power of humor. He says he was approached by Stevie Nicks out of the blue and she said one time, during difficulty, she watched Caddyshack for a whole week and it helped.

I say he’s proof that angels walk among us because of how he responded to Charlie’s question “What’s not there that you want to get to.” He responded “I think I’d like to wake up better … just keep an eye on what you’re doing when you wake up.” Because the pillow can feel so good. He talks about being inspired by a soulful black church in Charleston where the music is better.

A guest speaker encouraged the audience to wake up every morning and say “Lord, what do you want me to do.”

Bill echoes it. “What do you want me to do? I’m awake now.”

And watch for his remark about John Belushi being dead as long as he was alive. Feel him in that long pause where he struggles with the reality. SO deeply moving.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/595859

I watched it twice; I will probably watch it a third time.

Do not miss this interview.

Growing up Finn

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I don’t make real friends easily. Maybe it’s a Finn thing.

We met for the first time a few years ago.  A mutual friend – realizing we’re both history fanatics stuck firmly in the Tudor era – introduced us. Linda is obsessed by the Boleyns, especially Anne and her mother Elizabeth; and I’m related to Anne and the Boleyns through Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet – on my Grandfather’s side.

Linda is writing fiction about Anne and I’m writing non-fiction about Sir Thomas and his father Henry.

I knew she was Norwegian, but I was shocked when we met. 

Tall and thin, blonde and beautiful, she owns her space. She is so accomplished, so full of the quiet confidence I’ve lacked for most of my life. I remember we looked at each other with some recognition. It was like “same gene pool.”

Thanks to my Gram’s side, I am pasty white of average height with extreme Finnish pudge factor. (I had my Finnish pouting muscles – jowls – removed in 2000, but they’re coming back; dammit.)

Our personalities are more similar than our appearances. She laughs and says “we’re both Vikings.” I wondered how true that was and did a little research. Darned if my Finnish ancestors weren’t from the shores of the Baltic, the great Viking highway.

Linda is straight from Norway and I’m fourth generation Michigan Finn. Yeah, Yoopers dontcha know.

We were both quiet and shy as children; and understated as adults. We are products of very similar cultures.

The Wuolles, Calumet, Michigan - early 1900s.

The Wuolles, Calumet, Michigan – early 1900s.

Great Grandma with her growing brood. Gram had not arrived yet.

I was born into my Gram’s house, raised by her, her mother and my mother (who was a little too young to be raising a kid). Great Gram spoke Finn with very little English. Finnglish meant adding an “ia” to the English words she liked best – especially “ice cream-ia.” (I grew up understanding most of what she said; but was unable to speak it. The Finnish language has far too many vowels.)

There was no whining or crying in that house. You knew someone was angry if the silence lasted for days; and nobody hugged ever.  Well, there was crying and hugging the day I got married.  (For the first time.)

Linda and I talked about people mistaking shy for arrogant when we were younger. She said “you too?!” Absolutely. As an adult, my give a damn is nonfunctional. If people can’t relate to honesty and humor, we aren’t going to get along.

So it occurred to me after messaging Linda the other night that – although I was raised in a multi-generational house – a 100-year-old Finnish presence ruled my life. And I remembered how blessed I was that some of the ice melted as I grew up in Italian neighborhoods in Philadelphia and the Detroit area.

Italians are a great warm buffer for icy Scandinavian types.

Thank God for Italians.

Thank God for Italians.

The early years in Philadelphia.

My first stepfather was Italian. (I didn’t realize he wasn’t my real father until I was 25, but that’s a story for another time.) I cherish my memories of our short time together. (They divorced when I was 7.)

And I remember my uncharacteristic enthusiasm when my uncle married an Italian girl – emotional, loud and affectionate.

With Aunt Marlene.

With Aunt Marlene.

Visibly enthusiastic? Maybe a dimple’s worth. My Uncle Jerry married Marlene, the neighbor’s daughter.

Aunt Marlene kept stale bread for meatballs for Chrissakes. Who does that?? It’s unnatural.

She raged when she was angry, cried when she was sad and said it like it was.  Holy crap; what an inspiration.

I went to East Detroit High School, where all the hottest greasers were Italian. My sassiest, trashiest friend was Marianna LaFata … I remember she was a great writer.

My first husband was acceptable within the framework of religion, but my first real love was – is – ITALIAN. I met him after my first divorce. We are still the dearest of friends. (Photo on my About page.)

He says his biggest regret was not marrying me. Hey, he (probably) would have saved me from two more failed marriages.

I can hang with da boyz, I know how to roll pasta on a spoon, love Godfather I and II and am (once again) watching the Sopranos on Netflix. It has been emotional since the loss of James Gandolfini. LOVED that guy.

But I can’t wait for the return of The Vikings on The History Channel. It’s like “aha … so that’s why they were (we are) like that.”

http://www.history.com/shows/vikings

Most of this blog is about my Gram’s end of the gene pool. Grandpa’s end gets more attention from my creative side. www.sirthomaswyatt.com

How has your ethnicity affected your life?

How are you affected by other ethnicities? Can you see the past in your present? Please share.