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Voices

— Life —

Lionel Richie & Brenda Coffee. Photograph courtesy of Lionel Richie, 2019.
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Dear Friends, This will be my last regular blog post for a while because I’m stepping away to work on my memoir. Writing a blog and a memoir requires different writing muscles and voices, and I can’t do both at the same time. This hasn’t been an easy decision. In fact I’ve put it off for several months, but the time has come. 

Did you know you are the ones who’ve encouraged me to write my story?

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— Life —

Photograph ©Brenda Coffee, 2019
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I was thinking about the 1975 song by Eric Carmen, “All By Myself,” where the refrain (over and over and over) is “Don’t want to be… all by myself,” and I thought about how comfortable I’ve always been alone. How are you with being alone?

I’ve always been an extrovert, a people-person. In my career as a hairstylist I was constantly and happily surrounded by people, chatter and music. After work I was off to Nia classes most nights. More people, chatter and music. My exception was Friday night, because Saturdays are a really busy day in salons.

Oh, how I savored my Friday nights: a book, a glass of wine and popcorn for dinner… in the bathtub!

I’d been an active, working, single-mother for 20 years; then my son moved out on his own.  At 40, I got to live alone for the first time. Twenty years with my parents, 20 years with my son. I lived all by myself, quite contentedly, for the next 13 years before meeting my significant other.

I struggled for a minute before adjusting to living together: having someone there every night had both its pluses and minuses. Not having everything my way did too. And I missed my Friday night popcorn dinners in the tub. But with respect for each other’s freedom and alone time, 16 years have flown by!

It wasn’t until this year… no longer working, not traveling in our motor-home, being in recovery-mode, and living 40 miles from my familiar stomping grounds, that I have experienced feeling alone.

At first it was comfortable. I felt like I was playing hooky, getting away with something. Then I grew bored with my solitude, but didn’t feel compelled to do anything about it other than an occasional phone conversation with a friend or a sister. With social media I could keep up with friends, and it felt (almost) like being there.

Seven months later I found myself frustrated by retirement, loneliness, my illness and by the idea that I wasn’t accomplishing anything. I’d been watching too much TV, wasn’t working on my new book, and I’ve only blogged infrequently here, and on my own blog, SexyPast60.com.

I finally took my judgements about “not doing enough,” to my therapist who wisely gave me something to do: Make Everything Count.

Do you, like me, only acknowledge the Big Stuff you do, and discount all of the rest? She reminded me that getting out of bed counts. Taking a shower and getting dressed counts. Preparing some food, making a trip to the pharmacy, reading a book, watching a movie… all counts.

By being present in each moment, and making them count, I find myself breaking out of my cocoon, making plans and socializing, moving forward with my writing. I’m no longer feeling all by myself… and I think that is quite an accomplishment!

XO Donna

— Life —

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My friend, Pat, uses the term “elderly” when referring to the current state of our high school graduating class. It makes me want to strap him to a walker with nonskid rubber tips and send him flying off of a skateboard ramp. I don’t mind the term “over 65.” I can handle the word “senior” and I will admit to my age, 70, but I’m not keen on telling anyone I’ve had cataract surgery. For the most part, it’s old people who have cataract surgery, and I don’t see myself as old… certainly not elderly… plus cataracts are one of those age-related things that go along with having kidney stones, your gallbladder removed and needing a hearing aid.

What’s that you say? Tuesday?

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— Style —

David Dangle at home in Pennsylvania. Photograph courtesy of David Dangle
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For those of you who shop QVC you probably already know David Dangle, CEO of Joan Rivers Worldwide. You may also know Gus, his whip smart, Smooth Fox Terrier, but did you know David Dangle had already made a name for himself before he and Joan started their phenomenally successful brand or that they pioneered television home shopping? For years David Dangle and I have talked (behind the scenes) on Instagram. 

His legions of fans will be glad to know in-person, he’s the same great guy you see on television.

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— Relationships —

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Yesterday I called a friend whose husband died two months ago after years of numerous and serious medical problems. When I asked how she was doing, she said, “I’m going to be candid with you. I’m relieved.” I understood, all too well, what she meant. I also wondered if there are those who might judge her and find her truthful admission to be shocking and inappropriate? If so perhaps it’s because they haven’t been there… or maybe they’re not allowing themselves to be honest. 

It doesn’t mean we don’t love and miss them. Just that we’re relieved… for both of us… that it is over.

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— Life —

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENDA COFFEE ©2019
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Incase the universe thought it might have slipped my mind that 15 years ago I was diagnosed with this terrible disease, since then five of my girlfriends have been diagnosed with breast cancer as well. I understand their fears. I know how hard it is to think about anything other than cancer because we’re wondering if we’ll be here this time next year or five years from now. 

I also know when treatment is over, it’s sometimes difficult to get on with the business of living. 

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— Essentials —

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According to Webster’s Dictionary, separate is a verb. We separate our lights from darks when doing laundry, our refrigerated goods from non-perishable items when shopping, and we separate our bills from our receipts for tax-time. Separate can also be an adjective meaning different, distinct, unrelated, set apart. Using the laundry example, who hasn’t turned a “white” load pink because of an overlooked item of red clothing? Thus, the important need for separation.

I began obsessing over this the other day when I reached under my sink for eye makeup remover (which is pink) and instead grabbed the nail polish remover (coincidentally also pink) beside it. Oops! That was a close call.

It may be time to overhaul my under sink cabinet situation.

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— Life —

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Over two hundred of Anthony Bourdain’s most cherished belongings are being sold this month—October 9-30, 2019—in an online auction that’s open to everyone who wants to bid. Last night I had the pleasure of seeing some of Anthony (Tony) Bourdain’s personal treasures and visiting with my friend, Lark Mason, the auctioneer for Bourdain’s estate. You may know Lark as the Asian art and antiquities expert on Antiques Roadshow, but Lark is also the owner of one of the premier auction houses in the world, Lark Mason Associates, CEO of iGavel Auctions and President of the Appraiser’s Association of America.

I also spoke with Laurie Woolever, Tony Bourdain’s assistant, gatekeeper, lieutenant, recipe tester, writer, co-author and friend for almost a decade. 

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— Relationships —

ANOTHER USE FOR A SELFIE. Photograph by Brenda Coffee, ©2019
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This summer I’ve been traveling a lot, and everywhere I go, I’ve seen 20-something young women who are obsessed with themselves and how they look. Whether they’re alone, or in groups, they’re taking selfies at breakfast, standing on the street corner, even getting out of an Uber. 

It’s almost as if they can’t be separated from looking at themselves for even a minute. How can they bear to go to sleep?

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— Relationships —

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Everyday I tell Annie she’s the most loved little dog in the world, and I would do anything to keep her well and safe, and as it turns out… That includes canceling two-weeks in England. Today I should be in the English countryside, strolling Prince Charles’s garden, visiting a large antique fair and the private estate of the producer of Cats, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, not to mention spending five days in London, catching up with friends. 

But three hours before my plane left, I decided Annie needed me more than I needed to visit England.

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MAKE LIFE COUNT.

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