“When I die and they lay me to rest, gonna go to the place that’s the best.”

Seventh Heaven

Hawaii just became the 7th state to legalize assisted suicide. My first thought: cha-ching! Hawaii’s tourism director has to be thrilled. (First of all-what a dream job. How hard is it to entice visitors to your state when you’re Hawaii?). Nevertheless, if this person has half a brain, this new law could be a boon to Hawaii’s travel industry. Think about it. Who wouldn’t want to live the last remaining months in a gorgeous, tropical setting? Imagine the advertising slogans. Hawaii: Death in Paradise-Literally; or Make Hawaii Your Final Destination-For Real; or Hawaii: Where People are Dying to Visit; and finally, Hawaii: The Last Checkmark on Your Bucket List.

Gallup does a poll each year asking Americans where they would travel if money were no object. Hawaii is always at the top of the list. I’m sure that people who know they won’t be around when the bills arrive will spare no expense when it comes to planning where they wish to leave this world. Hawaii wins without even trying.

This new travel campaign will benefit other Hawaiian businesses. Hawaii requires six months residency to take advantage of this new law. What a hardship-live in Hawaii for six months? This means airbnb reservations will not only increase, but owners will have 100% occupancy for longer stretches of time, thereby eliminating having to constantly find tenants. One piece of advice for you landlords: Make sure everyone pays in advance (see previous paragraph). To piggyback this growth in lodging, sales for every forbidden or junk food will skyrocket. I don’t know about you, but if my days are numbered, I’m eating all the ice cream, chocolate, and chips I can devour.

States would kill for such a growth opportunity (forgive the pun). Fortunately, only six other states sanction assisted suicide, so Hawaii doesn’t have much to worry about in terms of competition. California may give them a run, but who wants to contend with smog, earthquakes, and spending your few remaining months stuck in traffic when you can be lounging on a beach sipping mai tais. Vermont may seem enticing for end of life residency, but if you don’t want to be considered a Flatlander for all eternity, or your last taste and smell on earth to be that of maple syrup, you may want to pass. Though, Ben & Jerry’s every single day could be appealing.

Hawaii reaps one more benefit from passing this law. For generations, people have continually requested that their ashes to be spread at sea. My God, Hawaii is an island – an indescribably gorgeous one at that – so how much more convenient can you get? It’s one stop shopping. Live out your days in beauty, say your farewells, and you really are just a shell’s throw away from your final resting place.

P.S. Aloha means both hello and farewell –does it get any better for this state?

 

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“Here comes the sun… here comes the sun, and I say it’s all right.”

Hi. My name is Patty and I’m a Morning Person. My story is like many others who are nocturnally challenged. That means I’ve had to contend with a constant barrage of mockery from Night People if I’m still out when the streetlights come on, or congratulated for not having fallen asleep before the cake is cut at wedding receptions, and endlessly teased for having an earlier bedtime than their three year old. I’ve been asked over and over, “What time do you get up?” only to have the person look at me when I respond as if she’s opened the door on a porta potty that’s been sitting in the 95 degree sun at the state fair.

I’m constantly defending my lifestyle choice. When I reveal my early bedtime, Night People remind me about how much I miss retiring so early. They inform me that the best television shows are on later in the evening (hello – it’s called Amazon Prime), and I miss concert encores (it’s amazing how well sound travels as one scurries to the car), and finally, all the cool people arrive late (there are no cool people where I live).

I’m told I miss gorgeous sunsets, but when have we ever been told to “go towards the dark?” Nighttime is filled with shadows, dark thoughts and dark deeds; vampires come out at night. The warnings start when we are children: “Don’t go out after dark-bad things happen?” Sounds good to me. Not because I’m afraid, I’m just tired!

Scott Fitzgerald said, “In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning.” Talk about depressing, whereas three o’clock in the afternoon is a perfect time for a nap, or gasp, dinner!

What is this obsession with staying up late? It’s a myth that people have more fun partying into the wee hours-they don’t even remember what happened. Why do event planners still cling to the notion of starting the show long after dinner? I’m capable of eating and listening to a concert at the same time and still having the same degree of enjoyment. And fireworks: Fuhgettaboutit.

I’d like to say Morning People reap more benefits, but in all fairness, there are downsides: Morning People are first in line for Black Friday sales, unless of course those damn Night People camped out. Morning People get the freshest donuts though Night People do get the leftover dozens for free. Morning People are first to learn about any breaking news, but Night People celebrate the final score of that championship game with their winning team.

I propose a truce. Night People don’t gloat over witnessing the once in a lifetime meteor showers and us Morning People won’t boast that we’ve run five miles, cleaned the house, and made dinner-all before 9:00am.
 

And the people have the power to redeem the work of fools. From the meek the graces shower, it’s decreed the people rule. People have the power. (Patti Smith)

Surreal. This is the perfect word to describe my experience of the Women’s March this past weekend in Washington DC. The twenty-six hour excursion was like a dream that I’m still trying to process hours later.

Every emotion played out at the March. I was overcome with tears at the solidarity of so many people: all ages, ethnicities, women and men, coming together to demonstrate. I was filled with laughter at some of the creative chants: “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter” or “This is a crowd, a huge, huge crowd” and I was filled with determination as we shouted, “This is what democracy looks like.”

I was in awe at the generosity of local churches (all denominations) opening their doors so that we could use their facilities, and I was amazed that throughout the hours long march, all of us packed in with wall to wall people, common curtsey reigned, and all was peaceful. I was proud of the thousands of marchers who gave their metro cards to organizations collecting for the less fortunate to use, and I was so, so happy that I had decided to make the trip.

The march made me hopeful that our voices will be heard. This is just the beginning of showing the world that peaceful change is possible and that everyone, regardless of age, color, religion, origin and orientation, should be treated equally, with respect and honesty.

It’s the day after the march and the last emotion I feel is powerful. I’m more than ever energized to take action, at the local level as well as nationally, and am no longer complacent to just sit and complain. Change is here and it starts with me.

march-dc

“I’m beautiful in my way, ’cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.”

WARNING! Reader discretion is advised. This blog contains material many consider to be woo-woo and touchy-feely and may be unsuitable for those whose idea of “sharing” means breaking that KitKat bar down the middle.

Love yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this or heard this in TedTalks, and my first thought is always, “OK, got it, let’s move on.” I didn’t think this was an issue with me because unlike many people who harbor self-hate or negative self-perception, consciously or unconsciously, I didn’t abuse myself with drugs, alcohol, or other destructive habits. I’m a confident person who has managed to make it through life with healthy, long-lasting relationships.

But after reading a book by Anita Moorjani, who experienced a death experience, I realized how wrong I was. Her number one realization (I’ll give you her other four at the end) was that you must love yourself first so that we can then be open to loving all others. This time I let myself really think about this statement and how it pertains to me. I had an epiphany:

I was raised in a religion that had me repeating every Sunday that I was not worthy and this belief stayed with me long after I abandoned the religion. Though it was buried deep within me, really an unconscious belief, it was still part of my being. This led me to live of life of constantly doing, always thinking I had to be productive, because this way I may then be worthy…of what I hadn’t a clue as this was all done automatically-with no thought as to why.

I’ve finally realized you, me, we are all in this together and all that matters is love. We are all worthy. When you love yourself, that love is then reflected outward making oneself open to everything. It really is that simple. Did my long held belief system change overnight due to this epiphany? No, but now that I’ve felt the truth down to my core, I know it’s only a matter of time before it replaces my misguided belief.

Be open, be active, and be kind to others

Anita Moorjani’s top 5 lessons she learned from her NDE:

  • Love yourself / Focus on love
  • Live life fearlessly
  • Humor, laughter joy-make it a part of your everyday life
  • Life is a gift, not a chore (even the challenges a gift)
  • Always be yourself – embrace uniqueness

(from Dying to be Me)

“Got a brand new set of rules. It’s just like I was back in school. I got a brand new set of rules I got to learn.”

At what point does a person realize that she is an adult and no longer has to abide by the rules and regulations of her childhood?

The other day, I was trying to dry off after a shower, but my towel was still damp. It had been ingrained in me that you use one towel a week and that was it. With nine people in my family, more towels meant more laundry, so you made due with one. Though now it’s just my husband and me I still abide by the one towel rule! And I don’t even do the laundry! Crazy!

In my family (most of these rules originated from the fact that we were a big family) it was SOP for the oldest child to have the privilege of sitting in the front seat in the car (and control the radio). As the youngest, you can guess how often I rode shotgun. Now that everyone I know is fifty or above, you’d think that rule was obsolete, but I still find myself automatically taking the backseat when traveling with anyone my age or older. I still never get to hear my songs!

Growing up with so many siblings, we all had to learn the art of survival and that meant having to hide that candy bar or can of pop from the others because you knew it wasn’t safe despite attempts at leaving such notes as “Patty’s…don’t touch or you’re dead.” I can’t speak for my husband, but when I see that candy dish going down, I scramble to hide a few pieces just in case. Old habits die hard.

I thought having to save one’s seat or chair was long gone, but I still catch myself saying, “I get my chair back” or “I call mine” when I need to leave my seat for a minute. What’s with that? What’s more ridiculous is that even as young children we honored this seat saving device despite the fact that anyone could have easily taken your spot with no punishment whatsoever. Forget to say those magic words when leaving your chair though and you were toast!

The childhood rules list goes on: that last pickle in the jar is inedible; always smell the milk before you drink it, don’t take long showers and use all the hot water, (that’s one I break every day now that there’s only two of us), last one to the car has to sit in the middle, first person to cry out “I get dibs” gets dibs even though I didn’t even know what a dib was, and the classic: no dessert unless you finish your meal. As an adult, I can do whatever I want, and to be honest, eating that ice cream sundae first does make me a tad unsettled, but this is definitely one rule that is meant to be broken.

Be open, be active, and be kind to others

“So tell me who I see when I look in your eyes. Is that you baby, or just a brilliant disguise?”

I’ve read quite a number of memoirs by physicians and I am struck by how many of them admit to feeling like complete frauds when they began their medical practice. Clad in the ubiquitous white coat helped hide the insecurities, fears and doubts they felt every time someone addressed them as doctor. Their stories made me think of the many disguises I’ve worn throughout my life. I vividly remember my first year as a high school teacher. When I turned around to write on the board, all I could think was, “Please don’t let these kids figure out I haven’t a clue as to what I’m doing.” When I started a non-profit, at the first board meeting, I prayed the members wouldn’t realize I was totally winging it and walk out on me. And now, when someone asks me what I’m doing, I try not to cringe when I reply that I’m a writer because I’ve yet to be published.

We all wear different disguises throughout our lives, and I’ve come to the realization that this proves once and for all that people ARE inherently good and that kindness reigns throughout our daily lives. I say this because, despite the fact that we all know we’re imposters, we all allow each other to carry on with our disguises intact. I now know that my students were kind enough to work on an assignment when I asked instead of ignoring me; I know that the board members wanted me to succeed, so they overlooked my lapse in following Robert’s Rules; and I know that my family and friends will wait however long it takes for me to be a published author.

So, go ahead, don that disguise (life really is a masquerade) and do so with the understanding and gratitude that you’ll always be loved and supported no matter what cloak you choose to wear that day. You do no less for the people in your life!

Be open, be active, and be kind to others

“Up to my knees now. Do I wade? Do I dive?…Swim until you can’t see land.” (Frightened Rabbit)

All I can say is find a way to read Diana Nyad’s new memoir Find a Way, especially if you’re over 50! I was continually shocked as I read about all she had to overcome to finally achieve her quest to swim non-stop from Cuba to Florida (103 miles). I don’t know if I was more impressed with the actual feat or the fact that she tried 4 other times before succeeding. I had no clue that she had not been swimming for thirty years when she decided to attempt this life long dream at the age of 60.

I had to laugh when I read about her 15 hour swimming sessions, right after my half hour in the pool. Though I do admit that seeing someone my age be so physically strong is encouraging, I think I was more intrigued with how she overcame the sexual abuse in her life, and found a way to forgive and move on, though it was not an easy journey. Her blunt and honest recollections were difficult to read at times, but they helped to understand how she became the person she is today.

In one part of the book, she remembers poet Mary Oliver’s rhetorical question: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? This spurred her on to start in motion the plans to reach her dream. I had to think of how I’d answer this question, and to be honest, I don’t know, but it’s started me searching, and maybe it will do that same for you. What is a lifelong goal you’ve yet to reach? If there were one regret you’d have if it all ended, what would it be? What excites you beyond all else?

I love that she was 60 when she took up this dream because it reminds all of us that age doesn’t matter. What is in your mind and heart will guide your way and if you think you’re capable, then you are. If you truly want it, you’ll find a way.

Be open, be active, and be kind to others