Unconventional Wisdom and a Four Letter Word

IMG_2346Learning is something that never stops. All our lives we are learning. Must importantly: how much is just conventional ideas, accepted by most and how much is unconventional and wonderful and good for the soul? Have to say it is a matter of opinion or a matter of timing. Sometimes I think I give this too much thought. Fortunately, thinking have taught me that unconventional wisdom is the way to happiness.

Go with the flow, accept, use everything to make your life better, I tried to tell myself…….and finally I have listened. I am aware everyday of these lessons, I even write posts about them here. Most of the time I strive to put them to work for my family, my friends….mostly I try to put them to work for me!!!

I am sure I will get to ninety since my mother’s female line is full of ladies that got to their nineties. My mother is almost ninety-two. Besides, my paternal grandmother was ninety-eight when she died. So, my ninety year old self would have a lot to say to me. Her advise would be mostly unconventional and very positive.

I just have to listen:

Do not fight everything, pick your fights and win them!!!

Do not pay attention to what people say, they have their own problems and are just ignoring them by meddling in your life.

Pay attention to what you love, what you like and what makes you happy. Everything else is not important, trust me!!!

Financial security can be achieved at any age.

You just have to trust your instincts and be less apprehensive.

Love can last an age, do not give up on it. Who would have thought!!!

Keep doing what you are doing, it’s your time now.

Finally, you are getting to a point where you are happy with who you are and enjoying life. Good for you. You have a long and full life ahead. Live it to the max.

P1000086My ninety year old self would also tell me to FUEL everything in my life, now when it still counts. That is my four letter word,  and what a wonderful one it is.

Fuel your new-found interests, fuel your love life, fuel your relationships with your children, friends or sisters.

Fuel your intellectual curiosity, do not give up on your talents.

Fuel the recognition you are getting for your efforts by keeping up your inspiration.

Finally, she would say: This was so much fun, so glad we had this conversation!!!

Lessons Learned and Curaçao Weddings

After more than 12 years going back and forth to my former home, something did change this last trip. We went to the wedding of Anjali, whom we have known all her life. So you can imagine it was a very lovely occasion. As a cherry on the pie, it was an Indian wedding. Several days of celebrations, meeting old friends, visiting Curaçao…it couldn’t have been better.

IMG-20150722-175101It was a last-minute idea, we were just there for another wedding a month ago. That one was a family wedding, Daniela is our niece despite not been related by blood. It was beautiful, sentimental, the kind of event that warms your heart and you will remember forever.  Seeing the bride walking to meet her future husband on the arm of her brother Nathan, brought more than some of us to tears.

1932381_10153367496863767_8473937129773430490_nWe were missing her father and her uncle, such wonderful men, gone too soon. The party under the stars was a joyful celebration and we danced and laughed and gave thanks. It was also a bit sad. Still, that trip was wonderful, we stayed a week, I played bridge, we went to the beach very day, saw friends and family……recharged our batteries. When we left, I wanted to come back as soon as possible. It was as it had always been, a trip home.

IMG_3927This time we were to enjoy another fun five days. Do not get me wrong, it was exactly that. So much fun as Indian weddings can usually be. From the prayers and dinner the day we arrived to the fabulous wedding party four days later. The ceremonies, the mehndi, the bangles, the beautiful costumes, the food, the friends I haven’t seen in while or in years, the children all grown-up married, with children…..what can I say.

On these occasions, you have no time to stop and think. You go with the flow and soak everything, enjoying every minute. Of course, there were the side trips to the beach every time we could. We had a few mishaps with hotel reservations because the internet service was down and the feeling you are not up to par when you chose your outfit……it’s hard to outshine a sari!!

There was no time for much until Sunday afternoon. After a very good breakfast and time spent with family at a barbecue, we returned to the hotel and the beach again. It was late afternoon and not too many people. The water was just perfect. When the sun set in the usual spectacular way, we walked along the beach. It was so peaceful…….and suddenly so lonely!!!

I felt a bit down, something wasn’t quiet right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I could certainly feel it. Walking back to our room, darkness suddenly fell, as it does in the tropics. The entrance to our building was so quiet and in shadows. What a difference from the day before!!! Up in our room, another mishap: nobody had serviced it…..unmade bed, no towels and more shadows. To say I lost it is an understatement. This was too much, I thought, and walked out all the way to the front desk and complained most forcefully. Fortunately, the personnel manning the desk acted quickly: housekeeping sent someone to make the bed, clean the bathroom and a stack of towels, soft and fluffy was delivered.IMG_3957

Refreshed and casually dressed, we walked along darken halls, listening to the break of the waves, the sing-song of birds and the quiet. We went for Italian ice-cream and checked our emails at the restaurant which did have internet service. Not wanting to go back to our rooms, we decided to have a small pizza. Outside, other guests were sitting on comfortable chairs enjoying the balmy air while zipping tropical drinks. Everything was in shadows, have no idea why this made me sad…..there were laughs and everyone was having a great time.

So it was me. Finally, and without even noticing, I realized that this island paradise will never be home gain. It is that simple. Friends that have lived there for years and moved away have told me in more than one occasion that they do not want to go back. I never understood this. Now I do, trips there should be about enjoying what is there now, never about trying to recapture the past. Letting it go as home and embracing it as a wonderful place to visit, that is what these weddings taught me, and not too soon!!!

What is Style?

The idea of this post came to me last Saturday when I went to watch a documentary about a most fascinating woman. Iris Apfel, 94 years old, is stylish. She has been praised over and over as someone who knows about style. So what is STYLE, really. In the case of Iris, see for yourself, not many of us could pull this off!!

I know this is a topic everyone talks about, not everyone understands and everyone wants to have. This doesn’t mean I know what I am talking about, but I have decided to explore the meaning of this elusive quality.

Starting from the beginning, let’s what the dictionary says. Conventional idea, but a safe one, I feel.

noun: style; plural noun: styles
  1. 1.
    a manner of doing something.
    • a way of painting, writing, composing, building, etc., characteristic of a particular period, place, person, or movement.
    • a way of using language.
    • a way of behaving or approaching a situation that is characteristic of or favored by a particular person.
      noun: one’s style; plural noun: one’s styles
    • an official or legal title.
  2. 2.
    a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.
  3. 3.
    elegance and sophistication.
    synonyms: flair, stylishness, elegance, grace, gracefulness, poise, polish, suaveness, sophistication, urbanity, chic, dash, panache, elan; More

    informalclass, pizzazz
verb: style; 3rd person present: styles; past tense: styled; past participle: styled; gerund or present participle: styling
  1. 1.
    design or make in a particular form.
    synonyms: design, fashion, tailor

    • arrange (hair) in a particular way.
  2. 2.
    designate with a particular name, description, or title.
This is a very long definition, but it has most of what I was looking for: flair, elegance, sophistication, trend, vogue, pizzazz…..you get my meaning.  If we keep digging, we can find other definitions: a distinctive manner of expression, a phenomenon that gives birth to an art motif, a specific manner of behaving. This is also why, writing about style can be a bit complicated.
Not trying here to make-up a new definition of the word, only trying to convey the fact that, regardless of long and complicated definitions, style means different things to different people. Consequently, we can all achieve our own!!!
Coco Chanel, for many the ultimate arbiter in style, once said: “Fashion fades, only style remains the same”. That is a mantra to live by for many women, but not enough yet. Most modern women live to follow fashion regardless if it looks good on them or not. What a pity!!!
If we consider this, then style is very personal. Still, there are certain requirements. Who decides these? and should we care? Also, we all can come up with a variety of women and men with a kind of personal style, but who are not considered stylish. Is this only a preference then? Are we to follow someone’s idea of style? Or are we going to follow our own and be happy with who we have become? From sophisticated to trendy, to in-vogue, from lavish to simple…..from striking to chic, from having or not that special flair: we all have our styles. Be proud of yours.
To help me along the way, I try to concentrate on another quote that I have striven to follow for years with mixed success. “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”. I am most definitely NOT Iris Apfel, in the sense that I am not going to become famous for my style. On the other hand,  truthfully: I feel very stylish…..most of the time!!!

Lessons Learned and Extended Family

I come from a very large family. My mother had eight brothers and sisters. Growing up there were twenty-eight cousins to deal with, play with, spend vacations with. It was amazing. Those cousins did their part and we had twenty-three children among ourselves. Not bad, I would say, since seven of us did not have children. Nowadays, the cousins are having grandchildren: nine and counting.

As with any family, there have been disagreements, arguments, differences of opinion along the way. Somehow we managed to stay in touch and function as a family for decades. Much had to do with our mother. She was the eldest sister and always made sure everyone kept their cool and stay in the bosom of the family. Hard work indeed, we now realize.

For my sisters and I, living for years away from Panama, it was a comfort that she had her extended family around her, keeping her company.  They kept her engaged and occupied when we couldn’t. Somehow, we were looking at the situation in a very different way than the rest of the family. I have always been a bit detached, not quite fitting in, but happy to see everyone and enjoy family time when I visited. My sister Laura was very involved, visiting regularly and taking her children to get acquainted with her side of the family. Ana was more distant, but this didn’t stop her from visiting and doing the family thing.

We thought everything was fine and our mother was happy. We were grateful.  She visited us often, came to all her grandchildren’s special occasions, travel with us for fun. Our relationship was wonderful and we treasured out times together. Without ever telling us, her family thought we were not doing enough. What to do? Isn’t this something every family goes through? We were sure of that, so we didn’t give it a second thought.

On December 31st, 2006, our mother suffered a massive stroke. She was almost 83 years old, active, full of life and so much fun. We were expecting her to enjoy good health well into her nineties as women in her family have done for generations. It was not to be. In a matter of minutes, all that changed.

That it has been a long and arduous road, it’s an understatement. That we have discovered that our extended family is not what we thought, it’s a sad truth. Consequently, my sisters and I have grown very close. There is now a bond so strong, we can read our thoughts!!! They are my closest friends because we have shared so much. We are there for each other unconditionally and I am very fortunate to have them in my life. Would not know what to do without them.

Still, we all need more than the small circle of our immediate family. It is a human trait, we need company, we need people around us to help us carry on. So here is what I have learned. Family is what you make it. Blood ties are not always what bounds us to people and what make us think of them as family.

Family is the people you have near you, the ones that are there when you need a hand, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, a smile, an understanding ear. Family is the ones that run to you when you are sad, take charge when you need comfort, let you grief in peace, rejoice with you when you are happy, do not ask questions until you are ready to talk and support your decisions even if they do not agree with them.

Family, in other words, is so much more than common ancestors. Family is a support system that helps you navigate the difficult times and is there to celebrate with you on the happy ones. Family is behaving in the same manner and reciprocating the love, attention and support you receive. Family is a feeling you share with those around you.

As I have grown older, I realize the importance of an extended family. Who would fill this role? In the years I have lived away from Panama, in different places and cultures, I have been so lucky to have found some wonderful friends. We have shared  experiences, being there for each other at difficult moments. They have seen me cry and share my sorrows, they have seen me laugh and share my happiness. They are now scattered on all corners of the world; we do not see each other often, some of us just  keep in touch once a year, but I know I can call, email, present myself at their door and it will be fine. I am grateful to each and every one of them. This is the other powerful lesson I have learned: these friends are part of my extended family!!!

The Mystery of the Finger Splint

IMG_3145Now I can say all sort of strange things happen to me!!! Let’s start at the beginning. On December 30th, trying not to fall I held on to a shelf in my closet. I managed to hold on, but unfortunately my hand got caught and my pinky was bent out of shape.  Literally. It didn’t hurt at the beginning and Frankie and I had a good laugh looking at it. We were going out to dinner with friends, so there was no time to do much about that. I taped it really tight and forgot about it for the rest of the night.

I should have known it was not going to be alright. At our age, my sister keeps reminding me, everything that happens can cause permanent damage. Don’t even want to think what that means!!! So it was that the next day, I knew I needed help. My finger was hurting like crazy and still looking rather funny. Off we went to the Baptist Urgent Care facility near our home. After a couple of hours of waiting, several X-Rays, doctor and nurses coming and going, a metal splint was fitted to my finger. Immediately, it felt better, but the diagnosis was not good: lacerated tendon. Sounded awful and the doctor talked about a hand specialist, maybe surgery. Not what I wanted to hear the last day of the year. There was a New Year to welcome.

IMG_3153I was to wear this contraption for about 2 week, taking it off only to shower. The finger had to be taped before put back into the splint. If anything, I am good at following instructions if they would safe me a trip to a doctor!!! For the next two weeks, I was very good about this. I went to the pool, went out on a sailboat with friends, sat in the hot tub (great for the dull ache in my finger), completed small chores around the house; everything while wearing my splint.

This past Sunday, there was excitement in the air. The New England Patriots were playing the Indianapolis Colt for the AFC Championship. Boston sports teams are taken very seriously in our house. After spending time in the sun and having some light supper, Camille and I worked for a while on her closet. She is de-cluttering and getting things ready to give away or sell.

When I finally sat down to watch the game, my finger was hurting. I thought I needed some painkillers. To my surprise, I needed my splint!!! I looked at my hand and laughed, it had disappeared. Since I had not been out since we came back from the pool, we decided it had to be in the house. In between plays we all looked, everywhere. Even went through the rubbish, nothing. I knew I needed another one, so Frankie call the Baptist Urgent Care facility where they gave me the splint. He was told to go to a drugstore and get another one. He did at half-time. By then the Pats were winning 24-7.

IMG_3248He couldn’t find the same kind, but for now, I thought, it would do. My finger felt better. The Pats ended up winning 45-7…..a first class trouncing!! I went to sleep very happy, but my finger was not feeling that great.

We were convinced that the splint was somewhere around the house. Monday dawned on us and it was beautiful. Frankie and I went for a walk, Camille had to work. After my shower, we looked everywhere again. I took down things from my closet, cleaned Camille’s bedroom, swept under the beds, chairs, furniture. Nothing!!! The new splint wasn’t working, so off went Frankie again to get a different one. It feels better, but never the same; it’s bulkier and awkward. During the night it slipped off my finger and the pain woke me up. Other than that, it will have to do.

Almost a week has gone by and we haven’t found the darn thing. My house is so clean and organized, you would not believe it. My friends know I am not domesticated, so all this manual labor has taken its toll. I am exhausted. So last Tuesday, I took time for myself. I went out to lunch with a friend and walk back to my house. It was a beautiful, if cloudy day. Nothing of the splint, no idea where it went.

Strangest thing ever and it is driving me crazy. I have a doctor appointment next week to check on my finger, maybe get the right splint this time. In the meantime, I have to accept the fact that it will not be found, period. A real mystery.

IMG_3262P.D. Again, I believe anything can happen to me!!! Last Thursday, as I told you, I went to the doctor. My finger is slowly healing and I do not have to use that kind of splint anymore. I will be wearing a new  design. It’s a small piece of plastic covered in adhesive tape. The finger was gently bent upwards and the tape wrapped around it to keep it in place. Four more weeks to go. Of course, Frankie was really happy, but asked what are we going to do with the one he bought. I had no answer other than we could keep it in our First Aid box, but there was more to come.

The mystery has been solved. Yes, one week to the day, Camille found the elusive splint attached to one of her skirts, in her closet. I went through that place several times, how did I miss it? and how did it leave my finger and got itself attached to the skirt? The Universe works in mysterious ways and may the Patriots win the Super Bowl…..after all the nonsense about the “deflated” footballs!!!IMG_3264

Final Thoughts on L’Oreal Cell Renewal


This is my last post for L’Oreal Age Perfect creams and serum. It seems I just started using these products. When I received them, the packaging surprised me. It looks expensive even if you can buy the products at the drugstore. Have been using them since October and still happy I decided to take part in this campaign. Knowing that I can continue using them and getting results without paying exorbitant prices is a definite plus.

I will not look 20 again or even 40, but my skin feels softer and smoother. Applying make up is easier, which is another advantage I wasn’t expecting. My skin only requires a light make-up base and some concealer to have an even tone. At my age, this is priceless. Getting compliments is another reason to use them, who doesn’t like to hear they don’t look their age?

So far, I can say the #CellRenewal system is working for me. I have stuck with this longer than I had with other routines. I can say that with my constant inner hydration (glasses and glasses of water a day!!!) this has been the easiest and more affordable beauty regimen I have tried. Besides, if this is good enough for Dame Helen Mirren, it is good enough for me!!! Give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

As you know by now, I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign for L’Oreal Age Perfect. Even though I am in no way affiliated with the company and do not earn a commission or percent of sales, I am receiving a fee for posting. The opinions expressed in this post are my own, though.

Will These break the Cycle?


It’s been a little over a month since I started using L’Oreal Age Perfect Cell Renewal creams and serum. I am not usually impressed by beauty creams. Unfortunately, my experience has been that most do not live up to their promises. Over the years this became a cycle: try one, let go, try another, back to the first and so on. When I started this, I didn’t know if these products would be the ones to break that cycle.

True, I was impressed with the creams absorbed easily into my skin. The serum was silky and soft and all had the most delicious scent. Dry patches began to disappear and my skin was softer. Still, I didn’t know if I would stick with them, but was encouraged to continue with my routine.

I am happy to report that so far, so good. I have noticed enough change with these #CellRenewal creams to continue. Not only is my skin softer, its tone has even out and I have been complimented about it!!! Friends have asked me what am I using and a woman at the hairdresser commented on my grey hair going so well with my lovely skin. That made my day.

The Holidays are upon us, this is the time to share the news with my friends. Now, I am letting you in on a secret. L’Oreal is giving away a  $2.00 coupon so you can try these products. Take advantage, here is the link: Holiday Gift Coupon. Who doesn’t like a gift of beauty? Make sure you let me know how this works for you!!!


I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign for L’Oreal Age Perfect. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with L’Oreal Age Perfect and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

Being Thankful

Thanksgiving-Graphics-2On this last week of November, a month of Thanks, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is by far my favorite holiday. It is completely non-denominational, there is no religious affiliation unless you want it to be, there is an openness and acceptance that crosses any such barriers as religion, race, culture and ethnicity. Anyone can celebrate Thanksgiving, making it one wonderful holiday!!!

In this consumer-oriented, expenditure driven and over-done everything world, Thanksgiving gets lost. After all, nobody gets presents on this Holiday, so malls and stores basically ignore it. We go from Halloween to Christmas without a thought. Money talks and this reality proves it. I might be a bit harsh…..supermarkets make a killing. This is the Holiday that brings us an unlimited amount of eating. Yes, that cannot be ignored. On the other hand, food has always been what brings people together. The tastes and traditions we learned at home stay with us forever, so when we give thanks, we eat!!!

Thanksgiving, though, is more than the act of getting together to eat. We might not get presents, is true, but we get something more important. We get to visit with our family, sit around the table actually talking to each other, spending time with our elders, enjoying our young ones and having a quiet day at home. Sadly, not a very interesting pursuit for a lot of people in modern society, but a most important one. Giving thanks makes us focus on the good things in our lives. Giving thanks makes us see what we really have and what is important to our well-being. These are the things we should be thankful for and we celebrate them on this day: who we are, who we love, what we have and what makes us happy. This appreciation of our lives, this feeling of fulfillment and contentment is what keeps us going the rest of the year. We sit down and give thanks and we know it’s the right thing to do.

Have a most wonderful Thanksgiving. Give thanks for everything you have and share your tables and your hearts with those you love.

 Thanksgiving clip art

I am in Very Good Company

Dame Helen Mirren, at age 69, has been selected to be the new face of L’Oreal Age Perfect Cell Renewal products. This only proves that beauty has no age. For the next three months, I will find myself in good company, because I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign for L’Oreal Age Perfect. Not the same, you will say, but still pretty good for me. I will enjoy it very much, believe me!!!

AP-CELL-RENEW-ASSETS-04-200x214When interviewed about this new job, she said that as we grow older, we need less and less make up. Consequently, our skin has to look its best. Women are always searching for those perfect products that will keep our skin glowing. I am no exception. So when I was asked if I wanted to participate, I agreed. The serum, day and night creams, #sponsored by L’Oreal, arrived at my home about three weeks ago. Diligently, I have applied them during the day and at night before bed. First thing I have noticed: their lightness. The serum especially disappears into your skin. The day cream is a little heavier maybe because it has a sunscreen. The night cream is silky soft and easily absorbed. There is no greasy residue with either of them. My skin feels soft and subtle, not a dry spot to be found. I live in Miami, central air conditioning is part of our lives. Unfortunately, this causes dry patches to appear on my face from time to time. These, I am happy to report, are gone!!! The scent is pleasant and since I rub my hands after applying the creams,  they feel softer too. Double benefit.

In a world of expensive creams, spa treatments and plastic surgery, it is hard for the average woman of a certain age to find the right products. Even more than that, the right products at the right price. It is refreshing to know that these are available at drugstores. Now, is  #cellrenewal the answer for my skin? I have yet to find out, but the results so far are very encouraging. I will continue to use these products and keep you posted. Finally, I would like to point out that I am not affiliated with L’Oreal in any way other than using their products. Although I have received some compensation, I do not earn a commission or a percent of sales. The opinions expressed here are my own.


We Change as We Live

I have posted on this blog for a year now. A year of tossing and listening and much more, it’s been fantastic. This has been my first experience with writing without knowing what I wanted to accomplished. Things I had learned were worth sharing, I thought., yes, but what else? Slowly, I have let the thoughts in my mind come out and develop into concrete actions. Mostly it has been a reaction to situations. Different situations, different reactions, but it has worked out wonderfully so far. What has become a constant in my life is change. Yes, constant change.

verb: change; 3rd person present: changes; past tense: changed; past participle: changed; gerund or present participle: changing
  1. 1.
    make or become different.
  2. 2.
    take or use another instead of.
noun: change; plural noun: changes; noun: Change; plural noun: Changes
  1. 1.
    the act or instance of making or becoming different.

I am sure this is due to the fact that I have become open to many things, frequently considering other options and not accepting the obvious. Thinking outside the box, people would say. Some changes have been drastic and came about by my own choice. Letting my hair go grey, for example. I decided, I accepted the consequences and I am happy with the results. These changes are not by far what I expected, but somehow they fit into my new frame of mind and make me happy. Voluntary action, purposely taken steps that have made me realized one can and should do what makes one happy, regardless.

Other changes have been subtle, coming into my life without planning or decisions on my part.  How my relationships work is one of these subtle changes. As I have developed new interests and new ideas, I have noticed that attitudes of friends and family have become different. Surprisingly enough, I have not feel in the least perturbed by any of this. Seems I was expecting the changes and embraced them.

My husband and children have taken it all in without reservations. I was not surprised by that, but still love them for it. My closest friends have been accepting and supportive. Other friends have been reserved, critical, indifferent. Mostly I was surprised at the ones who were critical, but not enough to let them interfere with my decisions. After all, one cannot live awaiting anyone’s approval!!!

One sure thing I have learned: as we live our lives, change happens. It is refreshing and welcome.