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‘Ain’t Life Grand’ Category

  1. How to Have a Midlife Crisis Without Breaking the Bank or Ruining Your Marriage

    November 6, 2016 by Diane

    It’s time for a midlife crisis.

    I haven’t had one. I think I’m missing out.

    For a proper midlife crisis, an exorbitant amount of spending is required, as well as some body alteration, a daring adventure, and an affair.

    But what if you’re broke, squeamish about nips and tucks, and don’t feel comfortable traveling far from home? What if you’re happily married, or committed to someone, and don’t believe in cheating?

    What if you want the crisis without the trouble?

    After some pondering, I came up with a handy manual on how to have a midlife crisis without breaking the bank or ruining your marriage.

    Are you ready?

    Here goes.

    1. Spend, spend, spend!

    I’m not talking about sinking your life savings into a red sports car or a trip to the Bahamas.

    I’m talking about spending time—in ways you’ve always wanted to, but never…well…had the time to.

    Like tap dancing. Dust off those old dance shoes, throw a sheet of plywood down in the garage, and tap yourself silly. Or write that novel you’ve thought about, talked about, done everything about except write. Yeah, that one. Spend the time. Go for broke!

    Do what your heart yearns to do, because Father Time is gaining on you. Whatever time is left is yours. Claim it. Spend it wisely. And with great gusto.

    2.  Have an affair.

    Not with the hottie at the office who’s half your age. Not with the unhappily married neighbor who’s looking for a little spice in their crockpot.

    Have an affair with yourself.

    Buy yourself flowers, and chocolates in a heart-shaped box. Treat yourself to a fine dining experience at home, or in a restaurant. Write love notes and tuck them in your pockets and under your pillow and in unexpected places where you’ll discover them later. Leave sweet messages on your phone, and do the same via email. Write the juiciest love letter of all time, and mail it to yourself. Pamper yourself, honor yourself, wear rose-colored glasses when you look in the mirror. Then give yourself a great big hug.

    3.  Get a facelift.

    Not the plastic-surgery kind.

    The free kind.


    Smile when you wake up. Smile while you shower and make breakfast and brush your teeth. Smile sitting in traffic, and smile walking down the street. Smile standing in line at Starbucks. Let everyone wonder what the heck is so darn amusing. Smile when you answer the phone and sit in a meeting and when you do the millions of things you do every day. And smile when you turn out the lights at night.

    4.  Get a butt tuck.

    Not the liposuction kind.

    I’m talking exercise. Put on some sneakers and take a walk. Lace up some hiking boots and climb a hill. Ride a bike, go roller skating, swim, ski, or do the conga. Play volleyball or basketball or dodge ball. Play duck, duck, goose. I don’t care what form of movement it is, just move!

    5.  Have an escapade.

    I’m not talking about hacking your way through the wilderness, surviving on bugs and urine.

    Treat every day like an adventure. Break up your routine. Take a different route to work. Eat meatloaf for breakfast and Cheerios for dinner. Eat food you’ve never tasted, and order something different at the coffeehouse. Hunt down a long-lost buddy from high school and give her a call. Apply for a job you’ve never considered. Test-drive a Tesla up mountain roads, seeing how it hugs the curves. Read genres you don’t usually read. Ditto for movies. Dance in the rain like Gene Kelly. Tell jokes at the water cooler like Groucho Marx. Sleep in the nude, and wear pajama bottoms to Safeway.

    You get the point.

    A crisis doesn’t have to mean trouble. It can be a turning point.

    You’re not a has-been. You’re a gonna-be.

    So live it up!

  2. Today I’ll Feel Joy, No Matter What

    October 14, 2016 by Diane

    Start Each Day Like Its Your Birthday quote

    Today I’ll find a reason to feel joy. It doesn’t need to be a good reason. It can be real or imagined, big or trivial. It can be the smile someone sends me, or the smile I send to someone. It can be the penny I find, and the happy dance I do in celebration, or the unexpected gift of one thousand dollars (come on, universe!). It can be the time I spend at the ocean hand in hand with a terrific guy, even if that time is spent in my imagination. It can be the chocolate Javiva from Peet’s that I take to the park, along with a sigh-worthy romance novel. It can be the smell of a book, the taste of a cupcake, the hug from a friend, a new pair of shoes, the view of the mountains from a hiking trail, the sound of rain on the leaves at night, and the feel of cool, fresh, moist air through the window. Today I’ll find a reason to feel joy.

    Today I’ll find a reason to laugh. It doesn’t need to be a funny reason. It can be for no particular reason. It can be while sitting in my car at a stop light, or while walking in the neighborhood in the evening. It can be while folding laundry, washing dishes, taking out the recycling, slicing strawberries and bananas for my granola, or pausing in nature. It can be because of a screwy thought I have, or an odd comment I overhear, or a mistake I’ve made one too many times. It can be while watching an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show on DVD, or while talking to my mother on the phone. Today I’ll find a reason to laugh.

    Today I’ll find a reason to shove my anxiety aside. It doesn’t need to be a big reason. It can be small or silly, real or imagined. It can mean setting aside, for five minutes, my worry over the weird pains in my head and the fact that I’m getting older. It can mean sending my short story to someone to read, even if it’s not perfect. It can mean driving over a bridge in the rain, or looking someone intimidating in the eye, or refusing to engage in the latest political discourse. It can mean observing, with great compassion, the adrenaline shooting through my nervous system, and not reaching for an Ativan. Today I’ll find a reason to shove my anxiety aside.

    Today, and every day, I’ll find a reason to feel joy, to laugh, and to set aside my anxiety, no matter what.

    This is my birthday wish.

    This is my birthday wish for you, too.

    Every moment, we’re born anew. And every moment is a gift, an opportunity to experience joy, merriment, and peace.

    Happy birthday, world!

  3. You Can Be the Hero In Your Job Again

    October 2, 2016 by Diane

    child playing with toy airplane

    We played at working, remember?

    We played house and war and spy and doctor and pilot.

    Of course, it wasn’t the real deal. We didn’t clock in and pull double shifts. We weren’t hiding in bunkers as real bullets landed true. It wasn’t us telling a young couple their toddler didn’t make it on the operating table. We weren’t the ones sitting in a beat-up Buick drinking coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts and eating bologna sandwiches, and keeping an eye on a particular house halfway down the block to see if Mr. So-and-So was do-si-do-ing with someone other than Mrs. So-and-So, when all we really wanted to do was find a urinal.

    As kids, work was a game. And we were the hero.

    We just cut out the boring, dangerous, and unfulfilling parts.

    What we really wanted, was to be all grown up. Without the responsibility.

    We didn’t want to pay real taxes.

    We didn’t want to wipe real butts and mop real floors and gaze through the window wishing we were outside pretending to be mommy or daddy. No, no, no. Those were dolls we played with, plastic and rubber and cloth, and we could toss them aside when we grew tired of the game.

    Playing adults, we discovered, wasn’t quite the same as being adults.

    And work wasn’t necessarily all that grand.

    Flipping burgers, babysitting, filing papers, getting up at five a.m. to deliver newspapers on our bike in the rain. Where was the fun in that?

    Bagging groceries was entertaining…for about five minutes.

    Same with waitressing.

    Work became something we worked at. If we were lucky, we found something fulfilling to do that paid for the mortgage and groceries, letting some other poor sap bag them. If we weren’t lucky, we suffered the nine-to-five. Or became disenchanted, working the same gig half our life.

    Where did our sense of play go?

    What if we let the kid in us play at working again, but for real this time?

    What if we did our job…as the kid?

    Here’s what. We’d last thirty minutes, tops. Then the whining would start, maybe a tantrum. “WHERE’S MY COOKIES AND MILK!”

    We’d take naps.

    Then, out of boredom, we’d play.

    Bagging those cans of soup and heads of iceberg, we’d get creative. We’d try it with eyes closed. Behind our back. Twice as fast. We’d juggle them. Loft them into the bag. “Two points!”

    Filing contracts, we’d break out the Crayolas and draw pictures all over them first.

    Serving hash browns and eggs, we’d act like famous movie stars.

    Carting away people’s garbage, we’d sing arias.

    Flipping burgers, we’d tap dance.

    Driving the bus, we’d wear a cape.

    We’d find ways to turn work into a game. And if we got pulled into the boss’s office to hear, “You’re fired!” well, we’d kick off those adult-sized shoes and find a hill to roll down on our way home.

    Fact is, once we crossed the line to adultdom, responsibility came with the package. Unless we planned to mooch off our parents for the rest of our lives—or theirs—we couldn’t unleash the kid on our employer’s time.

    But who says we can’t bring that childlike enthusiasm, that creative imagination, that sense of wonder and exploration, to our everyday work? Who says we can’t find a way to bring the play back into working, and still be a responsible adult?

    No one. No one’s saying it, except, maybe, ourselves.

    So go ahead. Whistle while you work. Be the happiest dang garbage collector in the Northern Hemisphere. Be the most awestruck accountant, the most curious sales clerk, the most inventive mechanic.

    Or find the work that makes you feel like a hero again.

    What did you want to be when you grew up? What did you become? What one thing do you do, or can you do, to make your work fun?