#3 — My glamorous Aunt Anita

Beth Conny's Seasons of Goodbye and death of a family member, her Aunt Anita Korotkin.My wonderful and very glamorous Aunt Anita passed away on Thanksgiving day. She was in her early 80s. I couldn’t make it out to Las Vegas to say goodbye, but I wrote this letter to her, which my sister read at the funeral.

Hi, there, Aunt Anita–

I wish I could be with you today. But maybe it is a good thing I am so many miles away. If I were with you, I might be tempted to say goodbye, and I never want to do that. That’s because one of the things I love about you is the way you say hello.

When you see me, you always smile widely and say: ” Hello, darling. How’s my beautiful niece?” You’ve been saying that since I was a little girl. Even now, as I’m approaching 60, I love hearing it because you say  it with such warmth and affection. It’s  hard to NOT feel beautiful, or at the very least special.  So, for that, I thank you.

IMG_3734 IMG_3735There are other things I’d like to thank you for: my first purse–a  hot pink suede shoulder bag that made me feel so grownup. Seeing firsthand that women can be glamorous their entire lives–and to me, you, with your long hair, have always been  movie-star glamorous. And, of course, I’ve got to thank you for introducing me to Mrs. Dash–You’re right. You can sprinkle Mrs. Dash on everything! Read more

How to meditate … or not

Beth Conny offers advice on how to meditate.

How to meditate (not!)
© 2014 Beth Conny

This is how I meditate:

Om …

Om …

Om …

Om … Gotta fight Verizon on my bill. Great, half the day blown.

Om …

Om …

Om … Maybe I should sit on a pillow. My foot’s going to fall asleep. Oh, come on, Beth. You can last 10 minutes.

Om …

Om …

Om …

Om … Do we have bagels in the house? I feel like having a bagel … Stop thinking! Just breathe. There you go. In … out, in … out … in … out …

(Yawn)

Om …

Om …

Om … An English muffin might be nice …

Om …

Om … We’re out of bread … and dish soap, Romaine … Damn! My foot’s asleep. I knew that would happen! (Peek at alarm) Nine minutes left? How can that be?!

Um …

Um …

Um … zzzzz … zzzz …

Huh? Why am I on the floor? Why’s my foot asleep? Oh, that’s right —

Om …

Om …

Om … Did I tell Joe his sister called? Yes, I did. At least I think I did. Maybe not. I should call Joe and let him know, just in case. No, it can wait, I’ve only got 8 minutes left. EIGHT MINUTES???

In … out, in … out … in … out …

(Phone rings)

Probably a telemarketer …

Hmmm, hmmm …

Maybe they’re selling something I actually need … Or it could be Joe’s sister …

Inoutinoutinoutinoutinoutinoutinoutinoutinoutinoutinout

(Peek at clock. Glare.)

SEVEN MINUTES!!!!!!!

Grrrr … grrrr… grrrr …

Now both feet are asleep!

Ouch … ouch …

To hell with this. I’m going out for breakfast.

Splat!

… as soon as I can get off the floor …

(Crawl)

Screw Nirvana!

The 80/20 principle of the heart

Beth Mende Conny - the 80/20 principle and how it relates not to work but to everyday life

The 80/20 Principle at work But why?!
©2014 Beth Mende Conny

Yesterday I woke with a warm heart.

Do you know what I mean? You get out of bed without thinking you’re not good enough, that, yeah, you look in the mirror and your hair’s a mess and you really should exercise, but that you’re okay anyway. One of those days when you lay claim to 80 percent of yourself and say, “Not bad. I can work with this.”

When I wake/feel 80 percent, I care for people more deeply, even strangers. I want them to be 80 percent too. Living at 20 percent is rough; the heart aches as darkness enfolds and dreams slip far, far away, and then disappear.

At 20 percent they are but a fleeting memory. At 80 percent, the future reaches for you as the present widens its arms to embrace all the dreams you’ve ever had. “Choose one! Choose one!” the future smiles. The present smiles too. “Lay claim.”

That was yesterday. Today my 80 percent has, like the weather, plummeted. I am in the cold, cold 20s, through no fault of my own. I swear!

So what happened? Did an evil spirit slip beneath my covers during the night? Was it because I didn’t return my mother’s call or eat my vegetables? Is there a way to wrest back what had so recently been mine?

I guess I’ll have to wait until I’m back to 80 percent to figure out the shift. Until then, I’ll try to hold at 60.

Peg Bracken and I hate to cook (so there!)

Beth Conny writes about Peg Bracken's cookbook: "I Hate to Cook."

On my bookshelf: Peg Bracken’s “I Hate to Cook” cookbook.

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I don’t hate to cook.

Let me now proceed: I really, really, really hate to cook. My poor family. They haven’t eaten in years. Anything edible, that is. Truly. I suck at cooking.

And so I purchased the I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken. Peg was a household name in the 60’s and died in 2007. A 50th anniversary edition of her classic was printed in 2010.

I recently purchased a copy. Since then, I’ve been flipping through its chapters: “The Leftover,” “Canapés and Heartburn Specials,” “Lunch with the Girls”, etc. I have since concluded that the book’s been mistitled. It should be the “I Hate to Eat Cook Book.” Peruse the recipes and you likely will agree.

Consider these recipes:

  • “Cheese-Chicken Soup”: 2 cans condensed chicken soup and 12 ounces of processed cheese spread
  • “5 O’clock Biscuits”: 1 package of tube-type refrigerated biscuits topped with a can of anchovy filets
  • “Grape Cream Dessert”: 4 cups of seedless white grapes, 1 cup of sour cream and ½ cup of brown sugar

Hungry yet? Read more

I am not always kind

Beth Conny writes about how to be kind and showing others kindness.

“Kindness” © 2014 Beth Mende Conny

I am not always kind.

I can be grouchy and not yield to merging traffic. I don’t call my mother as often as I should and don’t always thank supermarket baggers. I kill ants and find flaws in people simply because they are thinner than me. I sometimes turn a blind heart to the plight of war-torn countries whose names I can’t pronounce. I don’t give enough to charity.

Still, I try to be kind, for there is something in the trying that comforts me. It makes me feel I am being a good person and that my good acts matter; trying gives me hope that I am, at least, not ruining someone’s day.

I believe kindness helps us reach higher and wider ground, to see the stars, yes, but also what stands beside us, namely, the people who touch our lives and whose lives we touch. It is kindness that assures our touch is gentle, loving; it is kindness that makes believers of us all.