You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks (Or, At Least, I Hope You Can!)

I’m sure most of you clicked on this link, expecting me to say something about our dog.  While it is true that our now 10-month old puppy has many, many things left to learn – not the least of which is that electrical cords are not chew toys!! – the “old dog” to whom I am referring is actually me! (Note to my brother:  Don’t EVER attempt to call me an old dog!).

Towards the end of the summer, I found myself eating lunch with my son after his power skating camp.  We were sitting adjacent to the ice and noticed that a woman was taking a private figure skating lesson.  At some point during our lunch, my son asked me “why is that old woman taking skating lessons?”  Needless to say, I scolded him and corrected him for the “old woman” comment (if for no other reason than the fact that she was about my age!).  But I then went on to explain that skating lessons aren’t only for little kids.  “It’s never too late to try something new”, I said.  I tried to convey that it was pretty amazing, but I’m not sure that my son bought it!

It has been a couple of months since that lunch, but the conversation has stuck with me.  I was reminded of something that I read in Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic fame) blog:  “if you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet”.  She talked about the advice that her 73-year old mother had given her – that you should seize as much life and joy and adventure and learning and novelty as you possibly can, regardless of age.  Elizabeth’s mother had issued a gentle warning not to fall into the trap of letting your life get smaller as you get older.

This conversation with my son was a bit of a wake-up call.  I have to admit, I am often guilty of falling into old patterns.  There is comfort in the familiar.  I tend to do the same cardio workouts – running and spinning; as a family, we visit the same restaurants over and over; and I even take the same route most days when walking the dog.

Something I know to be true of myself, at least from a professional standpoint, is that my greatest learning and development has always come when I have stretched myself and gone outside of my comfort zone.  I have to believe that this would hold true in other areas of my life.  And yet, it feels that I have let go of many of the aspirations that I once had.  For instance, I used to think about getting my private pilot’s license, taking a photography course, running a marathon, becoming a spinning instructor, relearning French…  the list is long.  I’m not sure that all of these aspirations still hold true today, but I do know that I want to live a big and full life.  And I think it is virtually impossible to do so without plunging into the unknown and daring to take on new challenges.  So that is exactly what I am going to do.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!


“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson


Feeling Grateful

This Thanksgiving looked quite different from celebrations of years past.  In recent years, we have celebrated Thanksgiving at the cottage, surrounded by lots of family and with plenty of food on hand.  This year, I decided to try something different… I escaped to New York for the weekend!

Before you start thinking that I am a terrible wife, mother, and general family member, let me explain…  My son had a hockey tournament this weekend and all of my daughter’s usual weekend activities were cancelled due to the holiday.  It seemed like a perfect – and rare – opportunity to try something new.  So my daughter and I jetted off to the Big Apple for a short getaway.  We had a wonderful weekend – American Girl brunch, the Met, Cirque du Soleil and lots of walking and shopping.  AND, my son’s team won their tournament.  To top it all off, the four of us were still able to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving dinner (purchased ready-made from a nearby store) together last night.  It was so good, it actually made me wonder why I have ever gone to the trouble of cooking a big turkey with all the fixings.

Thanksgiving brings with it the opportunity to reflect on our lives and give thanks for our good fortune.  As my daughter and I walked the High Line (a NY first for me… how did I not know about this beautiful walk?) over the weekend, I was filled with happiness and gratitude.  At age eight, my kids are entering a new stage in their lives.  They are little people, with distinct personalities.  They are funny and entertaining.  And I thoroughly enjoy spending time with them.  But, above all else, I am so very grateful for my children’s happiness.  They are both at excellent schools where they are thriving.  They are involved in activities that they love – for my son, it is hockey, soccer and x-country running; for my daughter, it is synchronized swimming, ballet and x-country running.  Their schedules are insanely busy, but are driven entirely by their interests and passions which makes it so much easier to get them up in the morning and get them to where they need to be.

I recognize that life can change on a dime.  Today’s happiness could lead to tomorrow’s misery.  With kids, it doesn’t take much – a mean comment from a classmate, a lost game, a bad practice, or a cold.  As part of my attempt to eke out more happiness from life, I am concentrating on living in the moment.  Today, my children are happy.  And I choose to focus on that!

I hope you all had as wonderful a Thanksgiving weekend as I did!