Category Archives: Modern Life

Can you survive an hour without wifi? A test.

I had time to kill in Manhattan last week between work and dinner with friends. That hour or so turned into an interesting experiment that shed light on where I am on the scale of phone addiction.

iPhoneIt was one of those amazing unseasonably warm evenings we’ve been having here in the Tri-State area (thanks global warming) and I was on the Upper West Side and had to get to east Midtown so I decided to take a subway and walk.

There was no cell service in the subway and it’s awkward to read your phone while walking, especially in New York, where you can run into a street sign, construction zone, or really pissed off person in a hurry if you aren’t looking where you’re going. I forgot my headphones so listening to music or a podcast was not an option.

So for about an hour I didn’t look at my phone. No big deal, right?

Have you done it recently? Have you been out and about — not at work or in a movie or exercising or distracted by life at home– but out in the world during prime texting/emailing time and not felt compelled to look at your smart device?

It’s probably more difficult than you think.

I consider myself a thoughtful, balanced person who knows that I should not be sucked into screen time and should live in the moment and enjoy what’s going on around me. I’m constantly scolding my boys for excessive screen time. “Your mind will turn to mush if you watch one more episode of Hawaii 5-0!!” I yell emphatically. “No phones at the dinner table!”

cell phone ban graphic/ carpoolcandy.com

But there I was walking up Broadway holding my handbag on one arm and clutching my iPhone for dear life in the other, willing myself not to look at it. Once I sensed my anxiety, I started to become acutely aware of the temptation to check for a new text or email, or to scroll through Facebook or Twitter.

Then it became a game. I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need to check my phone as I walked through the crowded streets during rush hour. I could use the time to think.

Remember free thinking?

I often find I come up with some of my best ideas while in the shower. That 10-12 minutes of warm water and meditative sounds provide clarity. I remember things for my to-do list, generate story ideas for articles or blogs, and even work through tough writing tasks for ongoing projects.

But in the shower I have no choice. Looking at my phone is not an option.

On the street, I started to feel restless. I was surprised and a little embarrassed as I realized my co-dependence on that small screen in my palm. I forced myself to use the time to look around, take in the people-watching– no place better than New York for that– and see where my thoughts would lead me.

It was a humbling exercise.

When did I turn into such an information addict? I know intellectually that so much of my attention spent online is wasted.

Social Media Relationship Rules

Social media sucks me in the way TV consumed me when I had more time to watch it. I’m a pop culture and news junkie, and I’m interested in people so I find it all impossible to resist.

But there’s something to be said for being with your thoughts. I know I’m not allowing myself that luxury enough. Are you?

 

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My brother is engaged, and other completely unbelievable changes

Sometimes people surprise you.

That’s the collective response to the news that my younger brother– who is 44 and has never been married– got engaged last weekend.

Adam is a late bloomer. It took him at least three tries to find a career he liked. He was in advertising in Chicago for a few years after graduating from Wisconsin. Then moved to LA with dreams of taking Hollywood by storm. He got a job working in the mailroom at a major talent agency and worked his way up to assistant, before realizing he really didn’t have the temperament to be Ari Gold.

Then he got a series of assistant jobs with some heavy hitter producers, but rolling calls and reading scripts until 2am was not his cup of green tea. Then he took a job at a hotel and discovered hospitality was his calling.. After working at several hotels, he’s now the concierge at a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills and loves accommodating guests and helping them find restaurants and entertainment in the city.

Uncle Adam gets engaged on carpoolcandycom

My boys have only known Uncle Adam as a single dude.

All that time he was dating lots of women. To his credit, he was open to meeting people. He was set up, met girls in bars and at concerts, and filled out many online dating profiles.

He said he was ready for love all those years, but I’m not so sure.  He only dated a few ladies more than 2 or 3 times.

He really liked his alone time.

His other passion is music. He was a serious Deadhead and saw more than 100 shows while Jerry was alive. To be clear, he was no tie dye-wearing poser– he loved the music. He still records a radio show every Sunday night of live shows and keeps the tapes in a shrine in his closet. He moved on from the Dead to Phish and has been flying to cities all over the country to see live shows for the last 20 years.

He has a crew he goes to concerts with but he’s so into the music, he’ll even go by himself. In the past when he was dating a girl, he would never bring her to a show because she might be a buzz kill.

So I knew something was up when the girl he was dating this year went with him to a concert. And then another.

Adam, Heather and pals at a concert this summer.

Adam, Heather and pals at a concert this summer.

This is a guy who calls me once every three months when he needs something (he  prefers to bond over text.) But now he was calling me weekly to discuss the evolution of his new relationship.

I knew something about this Heather was different.

I met her last year over lunch when we were visiting LA and she seemed lovely. Attentive, easygoing, and really good with Eli who was the only kid at the table. I liked her right away, but remained skeptical.

Then he started saying stuff like “I’m my best self with her” and “She’s such a good person, she makes me a better person.”

My mother and I were rather speechless. When you’ve been living alone into your 40’s, you tend to be rather me-centric. All this talk about caring for another person, sharing interests, and spending lots of time together was new and refreshing!

By the summer, they were spending all their time together and he was already sure he wanted to marry her. We were excited, but cautiously optimistic.

Not only did that guy propose last weekend, he did it in style. He made up a story about going to a friend’s house in Malibu but secretly had a friend set up a picnic on the beach. He lied his way to the sand and just as she was feeling confused about what was happening, he pulled out a ring and popped the question.

Uncle Adam gets engaged on beach in Malibu on carpoolcandy.com

The ring is the one my father gave my mother in 1966 when they got engaged in Boston. Heather loved the design and the sentiment.

engagement on the beach on carpoolcandy.com

She said YES!!

After their private moment, Adam had arranged for all their friends and her family to be at a party to celebrate.

You may remember that Wilson’s brother– after perfecting his role as Manhattan committed bachelor for years–  also delighted us by falling in love and marrying last year.

We were all beginning to think Uncle Jonny and Uncle Adam were going to be single forever. But within 18 months, they both found their lobster and are looking forward to sharing their lives with someone.

Stupefied friends and family weighed in after Adam’s  big news spread. One text read “Check the temperature. Hell has frozen over!” 

Kids, the moral of the story is, keep believing in love! It’s powerful stuff, and you never know when it’s gonna come along and knock you out.

Congrats to the happy couple! We can’t wait to celebrate with you.

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Why Wilson hates sleepovers

Last Saturday night, Wilson and I were at Eli’s baseball game, freezing our asses off in the dark and willing it to be over when we received a text. It was Aden who was with a bunch of friends at our block party, and he was asking for a sleepover.

Every time one of our kids asks for a sleepover Wilson’s visceral and immediate reaction is “NO!!!”

Wilson doesn’t get riled up over much but if there are two parenting scourges he despises most it’s Playdoh (hardened in the bottom of the toy box and carpet is his fav)….and  sleepovers.

No good ever comes of sleepovers!” he wails each time, as if I’m not aware of his feeling on the subject. “They stay up too late and come home tired and cranky!!”  

sleepovers on carpoolcandy.com

Jacob’s giant sleepover party in 2011. (There was no sleeping)

And he’s right. No matter how many times they swear they’ll go to bed early, they always stay up late and teeter on a tantrum the following day. Or they get sick. Or break a bone. Or bring back lice.

When you host, there’s always the risk of the anxious kid tapping you at 2am pleading to go home…or the broken chips in the bottom of the sleeping bags and sticky juice spills on whatever surface was closest to the video controller.

What’s nuts is that they have zero memory of any of the negative effects the dreaded sleepover has on them. It’s as if their recall of raging, crying, and passing out in a bowl of rice at dinner the following day have been zapped from their brains.

I don’t care for sleepovers either– in the same way I don’t like the shiny synthetic sports shorts my kids wear daily– but I’ve accepted them as part of boyhood. Sometimes you have to let kids be kids, even when you know there’s a better way.

So I’m usually the one talking Wilson off the “NO!” ledge by offering reasons why spending the night at a friend’s house (or worse, at our house) might be ok. Wilson loves a good excuse, so our rule is generally no sleepovers if you have a game the next day before 2pm. One of the virtues of Hebrew school at 9am every Sunday is that it eliminates many Saturday night sleepover opportunities. Homework can also serve as a deterrent.

But none of those applied Saturday night. I texted the host mom to make sure she hadn’t lost her senses by opening her home to 3 pre-teen boys determined to play Xbox and text girls all night. She (foolishly) insisted it was no problem so Wilson relented and Aden was off.

Sleepover graphic on carpoolcandy.com

From ctworkingmoms.com

Not 15 minutes later we got a text from Jacob asking to sleep at his friend’s house. While we wanted to say no– because the more he’s out of our sight, the more likely he is to get into trouble– we couldn’t come up with a legitimate reason.

Sleepovers at 15 are a whole other concern. We’ve developed communication avenues and trust with Jacob, and the “make good decisions!” mantra is so overused (I literally say it every time he leaves, even for school in the morning) it’s become almost comical.

But still. If he wants to be out of the house on a weekend night, there is a high possibility of shenanigans.

Part of the reason I give in when the boys beg for an overnight with friends is because I remember how much I loved sleeping over when I was growing up. Some of my favorite memories are of crashing in my friend Deb’s basement after crank calling boys, pounding Diet Cokes and having deep talks about life as  James Taylor, Queen, and Steely Dan played in the background.

Giggling with my girls circa 1985

Giggling with my girls circa 1985

When we finally turned off the lights, there was a glow from the neon beer sign over her parents’ wood-paneled bar. We’d laugh until our sides ached or until one of us fell asleep. In the morning we’d eat Lucky Charms and gossip with her mom.

Good times!  How can I deny my kids that bonding experience?

There are also life lessons to be learned in the 24 hours spent in another house. Navigating peer pressure, sleeping in a different bed, and respecting another family’s rules (and craziness) can be an education in itself. Sometimes it even makes kids appreciate coming home.

Grownup sleepovers on carpoolcandy.com

Chatting til the wee hours at Tufts reunion 2015. I still love a sleepover!

So when Eli asked to have a few friends sleep over for his birthday in a few weeks I said I would consider it. I’m certain I’ll regret it by 12:30am… and I’ll have to slip a Valium into Wilson’s beer to cut down on the griping.

But I’ll say yes, and hope the exhausted, crabby, ungrateful child we’re left with the next day will be overshadowed by a great memory.

What’s your take on sleepovers? Tell me in the comments.

 

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” lit a fire under my ass

I’ve reviewed a lot of books in the past few years, but never has an author seemed to look inside me and shine a light on the web of ego and dreams tangled up in there.

Big Magic cover on carpoolcandy.com

The book came from the publisher “creatively” wrapped in paper with pretty ribbon

That’s what I felt like while reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new non-fiction book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, which is out this week. I jumped at the chance to review her new book because I’m a big fan of her writing.

Her best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray Love, sparked both lovers and haters of her work, although, being on the love side, I don’t really understand the hate. Sure, it was self-indulgent, but aren’t most memoirs? Whether you bought into the journey, you can’t deny Gilbert’s talent. Her writing is personal, insightful, honest and funny.

Gilbert is able to see a situation, turn it over in her mind a few thousand times and then write about it so honestly and specifically,that even if the situation doesn’t apply completely, you can’t help but recognize yourself.

Elizabeth Gilbert on carpoolcandy.com

Big Magic is a must-read for writers, as it speaks to why we subject ourselves to the uncertainty, rejection, and criticism that comes with sharing your thoughts in public. Not to mention the love of art in lieu of a fat paycheck.

But it’s also for anyone who has creative desires of any kind and isn’t fulfilling them.

She uses an example of a friend who skated as a child and loved it, but quit when she became a teenager and realized she wasn’t going to the Olympics. She went on to become a successful businesswoman who was happily married with kids, but started to feel down and in a rut. After some soul-searching she remembered how skating used to make her feel and decided to get back on the ice.

She could have been intimidated by her age, by taking lessons with a bunch of 9-year-olds watching, by the cold, by lack of personal time….by what others would think. But none of that was enough to prevent her from getting up early to skate for an hour before work a few times a week. The feeling she got from being on the ice again carried over into the rest of her life and she felt joy and ease she hadn’t felt in years.

She hasn’t won any medals, and she’s still skating.

So what are you afraid of doing? What activity have you always wanted to try or tried once and left behind? There are a million excuses not to pick it up, and Gilbert lists them all in the book. But those excuses are hiding fear.

I’ll admit something I haven’t out loud much before: I have an idea for a screenplay.

Just writing this is making me queasy. I don’t feel comfortable sharing my dreams so publicly.

I’ve had the idea for about 10 years and have created characters, scenes and even dialog in my mind, but haven’t been able to commit to it because I’m afraid.

Afraid of failure and success. Afraid it won’t be as good as I want it to be. Afraid I have no business writing a screenplay. I’m no Brooklyn hipster or Hollywood phenom. I’m just a working mom driving carpool.

But Liz told me I have a voice and it needs to be heard. She hasn’t promised my work will be read, liked, produced and released. She just says I have to write it. For me. Because every year that goes by that I don’t write it, I feel like I’ve failed myself.

It would feel really good to get it all out of my head and onto paper (or a PDF file, you get the point.) I’ve spent more time in the last year on it than ever before and I actually have most of Act 1 down and an outline for Acts 2 and 3.

Writing desk on carpoolcandy.com

I spent a weekend alone in NYC last spring working on the screenplay.

But now I need to fully commit. To make room for this project, instead of waiting for free time to work on it. I’m a busy gal so there are lots of great reasons not to work on my story. Helping kids, cooking dinner, volunteering at school, reading for my book club and work. And how about just being dog tired after a busy week and preferring to lay on the couch eating cookies while watching Orange is the New Black?

But Liz has made me realize it’s fear keeping me from the page. And I can’t let fear win.

Big Magic has great stories and tips on how to tap into whatever creative gig you’re into. I gave the book a great review, which you can read here.  I’m not alone in feeling the power of this book, it just hit number one on the NY Times bestseller list.

What are you afraid of?  Be brave and tell me in the comments.  Then commit to punching fear in the face and getting started on your journey to a more creative life!

What shock looks like: pulling off a surprise party

There’s nothing better than planning a surprise party, committing to the white lies you tell to make it happen, and then pulling it off.

Our friends, Tami and Chris, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in August. They are very special people who do so much for others, they kinda make you feel inadequate.

The happy couple in Paris 2015

The happy couple in Paris 2015

They’re generous with their time and willing to share anything they have with people they love– and that’s a large group. Just one example is their commitment to fostering children. They’ve cared for and stayed close with at least 6 kids in the last 3 years. They’ve also been wonderful to my kids– taking special care to understand and build a relationship with each one– and many of their friends’ kids.

They wanted to celebrate their milestone anniversary in August with a party, but after a change of heart, decided to take a trip to Paris instead. They had a terrific time but I knew they were a little disappointed to let the party idea go. So I didn’t let it go. I emailed a few of their friends and cooked up a plan to do a Sunday brunch at my house with a bunch of local families.

Not one friend hesitated for a second, in fact all jumped in to help bring food, set up, and clean up…. and help keep Tami and Chris in the dark. I sent an evite and told everyone NOT TO TELL THEIR KIDS.

Kids would surely blow the surprise– not intentionally, but almost certainly– if they were burdened with the information. Kristin Wiig expressed it best in her hilarious SNL character “lady who can’t keep a surprise,” which you can check out here.

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I surprised Wilson for his 30th and again for his 35th birthdays and he didn’t have a clue. It’s very satisfying.

I did actually break the no kids rule and told Aden — who proved yet again that he is a vault. (Like Kristin Wiig , I HAD to tell SOMEONE or I would burst. Of course Wilson knew, but he doest get excited about such things.) Jacob and Eli both believed the lie I told Tami– that we were having an early birthday brunch for Eli with my mother and a few other friends.

She completely bought it. Why wouldn’t she? Her anniversary was in August, and it was a believable lie. The more I thought about the perfect plan, the giddier I became. I’m a party nerd and the days leading up  to the event I was more excited than I should have been about an adult party.

But understand that Tami is one of those people who knows everything– a busybody in the best way, her son once called her “a compulsive intervener,” because she has to be involved in it all.

So the thought of blowing her mind and gathering so many people they love in one room– well, I was hardly able to contain my enthusiasm.

There were a few close calls, but as everyone patiently waited on my back porch for them to show today, it was clear from their 30 minute tardiness that they had no clue what was going on.

surprise anniversary party on carpoolcandy.com

The look on their faces, including their son Avery in front: “What is happening?”

They walked in the back of the house and everyone yelled “SURPRISE! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!”  and they looked at us in complete confusion. It took several minutes as they walked closer to this crowd of eager faces, to figure out this was a party for them.

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Then, happy, excited, and perhaps overwhelmed.

After the initial shock, everyone got down to eating– it was a delicious potluck spread, including of course, cake.

surprise anniversary party on carpoolcandy.com

As we cut the cake, Tami spoke about what a great decision it was to move to our town because of the friends they made. It is kind of funny how where you live can change who you are as a family.

Tami and I agree we picked exactly the right town.

surprise anniversary party on carpoolcandy.com

Those two love birds smooched for the crowd, and everyone went home feeling like 25 years of marriage is a great thing to celebrate.

Have you ever pulled off a surprise? Tell me about it in the comments.

#BlogHer15: Connecting on many levels

You may wonder why we bloggers do what we do. Why do we toil in the wee hours of morning and night to match just the right photo to carefully chosen words? Why do we share some of our most intimate and/or humiliating moments? Why put ourselves out there to be judged, or worse, ignored?

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Chew, Smiles, and Candy taking time to smell the roses.

I spent last weekend attending BlogHer15— the world’s largest conference for women content creators on social media — and was reminded why we blog.

Only a few of the thousands of bloggers in attendance have hit it big. Winning the blogging lottery can mean different things: building a brand, monetizing with ads, scoring a book deal… but all any of us really want is to be heard.

We want more people to read and engage in our passion subjects.

That’s my takeaway from an amazing weekend of listening to inspiring speakers, meeting real and virtual friends, and taking notes at professional breakout sessions.

The blog is not the thing. Connecting is the thing.

This was my third time at BlogHer and it certainly was the charm. Year one in NYC, I was a clueless rookie, obsessively consulting my session schedule and terrified of missing any events, speakers, or blogging advice. I was all business and just a little fun and I knew like two gals.

Year 2 was in Chicago. I went alone and tried to soak in the experience, but found it difficult to meet people (I’m more shy than you’d think in enormous crowds) and spent evenings with high school friends instead of bloggers.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

We got lots of free stuff at the Expo this year. Here we are trying new Coke Life with Stevia. (I liked it!)

But this year, I had a writer posse and it made all the difference. I convinced my virtual friend Christine of the popular and perfectly seasoned food blog ChewNibbleNosh.com to hop on a plane from Indianapolis to be my partner in crime for the weekend.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Much deserved late night snacks at Eataly with the gals

I also strongly encouraged my local friend Jesse, who writes beautifully about family life with a special child at SmilesandDuctTape.com to take the plunge at her first blogging conference. At BlogHer13 in Chicago, I made only two new friends: the always honest and funny Amy of AMyNameisAmy.com–who writes about parenting, divorce, pop culture and being a bossassbitch— and Emily who makes food and her kids sound equally delicious on Em-i-Lis.com. Both those ladies were back for more in NYC this year, and Amy’s hotel roommate, Stacey, who’s OneFunnyMotha was kind enough to put up with us too.

Whether newbies or veterans, we were all a bit wary, wondering what the energy of the conference would be like, and whether it was worth the hassle it requires to leave your family, jobs, and responsibilities back home for several days.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Blogger friends for life bonding at dinner

But over several glasses of wine at dinner Saturday night, we agreed it was the best decision we’d made in a long while.

It’s intimidating to walk into an enormous ballroom and find a place at the table– as it were. I’ve found that no matter how many page views you have, everyone wonders if they belong.

BlogHer15 NYC on carpoolcandy.com

But the nurturing environment helped us get comfortable and when we weren’t focused on speakers or mechanics, we laughed a lot. It’s funny how close you can get to people in such a short time when you share this kind of intense experience.

Soledad OBrien at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Journalist Soledad O’Brien kicked off the event, talking about her Starfish Foundation, which chooses dozens of girls (who could not otherwise afford college) to financially, emotionally and professionally support through school and career building.

We were inspired to act, to dream, to push ourselves and those around us.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

I got to meet one of my favorite bloggers and the ultimate success story, Jen Mann of PeopleIWanttoPunchintheThroat.com

There’s something kind of magical about being in a safe space with creative women peers. And with some, you know their online voices so there’s an immediate familiarity.

Gwyneth Paltrow at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

So safe in fact, that the embattled Gwyneth Paltrow could wow the crowd during her lunchtime talk. Looking tan and svelte and appropriately fashionable, the actress and goop.com founder talked about everything from building a brand to raising kids in the midst of a high-profile divorce.

Paltrow has been under fire for several comments in the media that made her sound entitled and out of touch with regular folk. She addressed her bad press in an evolved, thoughtful way and came across as relaxed,, intelligent and even funny– quieting many of the haters in the crowd.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

“If I read something that stings it’s usually because I’ve held that judgment against myself. So I unpack that and work through it,” she told the attentive audience.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

I went to a few amazing breakout sessions to learn more tricks of the trade. I took notes like I was back in college about humor writing, building a brand on social media, and time management. Each session provided at least one nugget of wisdom or spark.

Here are a few I gathered:

–“We women are so hard on ourselves. Make realistic goals. Don’t should all over yourself,” Danielle Faust on time management

–“Ideas aren’t unique, your voice is,”  Sarah Maizes on humor writing.

–“Readers don’t want to know the most recent thing you said, they want to know the best thing you said,”–Jessica Woodbury on best SEO practices and setting up a blog home page.

BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Breakout session on SEO

The last two speakers on Saturday evening had great impact on the thousands of attendees. First up was media executive and motivational speaker Tenishia Jackson-Warner who encouraged us to stretch ourselves. “Don’t just follow your dreams, chase them!” she told the eager crowd. Get out of your comfort zone, do things that scare you, be persistent, defy rejection, and don’t give up. Her words made my heart leap into my throat and lingered in my head for days.

I have one particular project I’ve been avoiding out of fear so here words hit a nerve.

Ava DuVernay at BlogHer15 NYC highlights on carpoolcandy.com

Duvernay’s eloquence and confidence were infectious.

“Selma” director Ava Duvernay had us on the edge our seats as she spoke about diversity in filmmaking and empowering women in all fields.

“Women have been trained to ask for what we want instead of taking it. We’ve been indoctrinated in a culture of permission. It’s true for women and it’s true for people of color. But that time has passed,” she said about defining this moment in time with boldness.

The weekend was about connecting–to each other, to our industry, to the larger world– and going after what we want.

You don’t have to be a blogger to appreciate that.

Help me connect with more readers by sharing posts you like and signing up to receive my blog via email. Just scroll to the top of the page and click on “Follow” on the right side. See, now you’re stretching too! Thanks!

 

 

Getting old is not for the weak

bette davis on carpoolcandy.com

Bette Davis once said “Old age is no place for sissies,” and man, was she right.

bette davis

This week, I had to renew my passport so I was up early to avoid the lines at the post office. I was in workout clothes and not vain enough to put on a full face of makeup so early in the morning for the photo, so I just dabbed some eyeliner and lip gloss on before running out the door.

When I went to get my passport photo taken at CVS, I stood in front of the white screen and started primping my hair. The CVS lady– who seemed friendly enough– gave me the passport photo rules: I couldn’t smile and had to have both ears showing — which made my hair flat and mousey looking.

That was the least of my problems.

She took two shots, downloaded them and showed them to me on a computer monitor. Horrifying. I looked like someone had beat the crap out of me. I looked VERY tired and one eye was a lot bigger than the other. Like a cyclops.

“Oh no!” I shrieked. The CVS lady looked at the screen and then to me.

“Yeah, we should take that again,” she said with a pained look. I was both relieved to have a second chance, and annoyed that she so quickly confirmed the picture was ghastly.

I stood again against the white background and tried to pinch my cheeks and smooth out all the lines on my face that had glared at me from the screen. We tried SIX more times. Each time, CVS lady looked at me with a wincing expression and shook her head.

Here I was, thinking I looked ok when I left the house. I glanced in the mirror in the dim light of my bedroom, but I guess not close enough. Sure, I was up til one-am watching Orange is the New Black and reading my book club book, but I didn’t feel as tired as I looked.

“I don’t think it’s going to get better than that,” she said flatly after the 6th attempt. (She seemed less friendly to me now.)

” I guess I should have worn more make up,” I said sheepishly as she printed the photos.

“Yeah, you need a lot of makeup,” CVS lady said. Maybe she didn’t say exactly that, but that’s what I heard at the moment.

passport photo on carpoolcandy.com

This was the BEST of the 6 photos, after she photoshopped it to boost color and diminish lines!

For so many years, I could just get up and greet the day with little effort and still feel like I was putting my best face forward. Not anymore.

Aging has taken its toll.

I had heard that after 40, our bodies start deteriorating at a more rapid rate. I noticed it first when it was taking me too long to read books. I had always had 20/20 vision so it didn’t occur to me for months that I was squinting and having to reread sentences because my eyesight was weakening.

I now have prescription reading glasses that I only wear when reading and sitting at the computer because I’m still self-conscious about them. I can no longer read any writing on medicine bottles, they’re just printing it too damn small.

reading glasses photo on carpoolcandy.com

There are further indignities I’ve observed as birthdays come and go. Despite lots of exercise and walking my whole life, my feet hurt on a regular basis. Food gets stuck in my teeth, forcing me to suck on them like a grandpa. My bedtime routine requires so many steps, I often can’t make it through them all: wash face, brush teeth, floss, slather night cream, apply eye cream, moisturize hands, adjust pillows to avoid lower back pain.

And I’m a healthy person!!

My 42-year-old athletic cousin just discovered he has a hernia and can’t figure out for the life of him what he might have done to get it. Lifting a suitcase? Weird stretching at the gym?

An exasperated friend just told me she can’t find the right bra size because her boobs have become completely lopsided. One has humiliatingly descended at a more alarming rate than the other.

getting old vitamins on carpoolcandy.com

The over 40 self-help shelf. From Flintstones vitamins to this.

I know we should consider ourselves lucky if these are our worst complaints. And I do appreciate my good health. But don’t underestimate the damaging effect physical aging has on our fragile egos.

Who wants to admit we have weaknesses, exactly at the time when we’re finally becoming comfortable with who we are?

Alas, I only have to look at that passport photo for the next 10 years. I guess the bright side is, in 10 years, I’ll look at that photo and think I look young!