Living in the Present

Anna Chase   Guest Blogger 
Living in the now and being fully present and mindful of each and every moment sounds like a great idea – it’s so Zen!But have you ever really tried it?How can something so basic be so hard?
I don’t dwell much on the past but I do a lot of thinking and sometimes worrying about the future.A certain amount of planning is necessary, but worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet is a waste of time and energy. If you think about it, our feelings of love, spirituality and true joy are “in the moment” feelings.Yet, how to achieve this state all the time seems impossible.
When I try to concentrate on the here and now, my mind always wonders.For example, when I’m taking a walk I’m usually timing myself to be sure I do at least 30 minutes, and all the while I’m thinking about what I’m going to do next, when I should be soaking up my surroundings and just appreciating what is right in front of me at the moment.What’s my hurry?Time pass…

Studying Other Writers

I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing. I try to write every day, I keep a journal. Whenever I read a particularly good book, I write a review for myself. Sometimes I’m so impressed with the author’s writing style, the seamless way in which a story is told combining all the right elements, in the right proportion, I study the author’s technique; not for the purpose of imitating his/or her style, but to understand what makes one author’s writing stand out from another’s.  
In most novels the following elements are present in one form or another - protagonist, antagonist, conflict(s), setting, dialogue, exposition, theme, minor characters, storyline, plotting. But it is the way those elements are put together that distinguishes good writing from bad. I recently read a novel that contained all the above elements; however, as I read I was aware of the author’s missteps and rather than losing myself in the world the author had created, I found myself noticing the problems with t…

You're Not Too Old

“I’m too old,” a friend said to me when I asked her to go with me to the (gym).“What do you mean you’re too old?” I asked.“I’m almost 73," she said, "and when you get to be my age, you can’t do the things you use to do.”
I’ve heard that mantra from people younger than me, “I’m old.”They talk almost obsessively about their age.I wonder if it’s an excuse not to try anything new.When one says one is old, what exactly does that mean?
“I'm old. I’d just rather sit in front of the TV, and watch the world go by, content in my suffering."Satisfied to live vicariously?
Does it mean one is ready to give up on life, sit down and wait for death?Have they stopped living? Not interested in exploring new areas? Close minded, stuck in the past; unable to accept changes?
Does that mean all the aches and pains remind one of ones age. And prevents them from trying something new?
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” one friend said when I tried to get him to accompany me to a cla…

Vanity, Thy Name Is...

I don't think we ever outgrow vanity in some form or another.I remember when I was young, my eyesight was so bad that I needed to wear thick glasses. I wore them reluctantly, and would remove them whenever I could though it left me quite blind. Unless I wore those thick lens, my world was draped in blurred images like the time years ago, when I was in a play at a theatre in L.A. Though I was part of the Greek chorus, every evening before running on stage I left my glasses upstairs in the dressing room and made my way down to the stage. To this day, I couldn't tell you who was in the audience. We could have been playing to an empty house as far as I could see.
Hating to wear glasses as a young girl was understandable then. During my teenage and young adult years I was very aware of the saying "men (boys) don't make passes at girls who wear glasses."More than a few times I and my other spectacle-wearing friends suffered under the moniker "four eyes" hurled…

What Ever Happened To That Old Dress?

Do you remember your old clothes? At times I look up and begin to wonder, "What ever happened to that red dress that I wore to a party when I was a young girl? It was a long sleeve red knit with white dickie." My mother bought it for me from Macy's Department Store where she worked; I wore it on my first date.She was always bringing me the latest fashions which she got at an employee discount; that is until I was a young adult, working and able to buy my own clothes.I remember buying a beautiful chiffon, yellow striped shirtwaist.At the time I wore size 10.I got to wear it once before it became too small or did I gain weight?Still I held on to it for the longest time, hoping one day I'd be able to fit into it again.After a few years, reality set in; I gave it to my local thrift shop. What ever happened to the dress I wore at my wedding? It was beige with brown trim.Being impulsive and a romantic, I had convinced my boyfriend to elope to get away from his domineering…

Laughter is Good Medicine

There is an old saying that laughter is good medicine.It's been around a long time and I believe it's true.Laughter is also contagious.When I was a young girl, just a certain look from my sister would send me into spasms of laughter.And she would do it purposely.I laughed a lot when I was younger.I laughed at movies like the "Carry-on" British series and "Dr. Strangelove." Recently I saw a Carry-on" movie on TV and I didn't find it funny at all.I laughed at my relatives when they'd do something, not intentional, but to me it was funny.My father would lecture us on our behavior.I wouldn't laugh in his presence.That could lead to dire consequences.And I would laugh at my aunts and uncles who had a tendency to imbibe too much and act crazy.
As a young adult, I laughed a bit, but not the kind of guffaws that erupted unexpectedly in my youth. Personal and family relationships, concern with school, job, marriage and raising a family really cut …

Mama's Mouton

During the 1950's Mama saved up from her stock clerk job at a big department store in N.Y.When she had enough money, she purchased a mouton* coat. It was beautiful heavy, capable of withstanding New York winters and probably would do just fine in Alaska.It had a rich warm brown color, lined, with a high collar that covered her ears and wide sleeves almost like the sleeves on a kimono except the lining wrapped around her wrist to keep out the cold.It wasn't a mink, or a sable, Mama couldn't afford either, but she looked fantastic in her mouton.She only wore it to church and on special occasions like when Daddy took her out for a night of dancing at the Savoy Ballroom.For a long time, we kids didn't know what a mouton was or even how to spell it.All we knew was that it was some sort of fur coat and that Mama loved it.
When Mama died, my brother inherited her mouton along with the house and whatever items his siblings left when we struck out on our own.His wife buried it …