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When I was a teenager I wanted to be cool. The trouble was, I wasn’t really sure what cool was. Only that I wasn’t it. Like any school, mine had a group of popular kids. The popular kids might have been the football players and cheerleaders. Aren’t they always the cool ones? Or is that just the movies? Anyway, I wasn’t convinced that I had anything in common these cool kids or that I even wanted to hang out with them. Which created something of a dilemma … how could I be cool if I didn’t want hang with the popular kids?

In college I worried less about being cool, a lot less. God, I still had hang-ups; I still do. But I began to realize who I was and began to enjoy it. Since I was an art major, a few people described me as their bohemian friend. I thought that was very cool, perhaps I’d arrived? However, my friends in the art department were not fooled. They knew I was a good girl who studied hard, belonged to a sorority and drank beer at fraternity parties on the weekend.

After college I taught art for awhile. My first job was at an alternative school for bright underachievers. I don’t know if these kinds of schools exist anymore. The school was built on the premise that some smart kids underachieve because traditional education didn’t excite or motivate them. Some of the kids I taught were bright underachievers; some were not so bright underachievers. Most, but not all, were unhappy teenagers who drank a lot or did a lot of drugs or both. After a couple of years I moved on to a more traditional boarding school. Most people in conservative prep schools assume the art teacher is hip or cool. In an instant I was transformed from uptight art teacher to bohemian artist and teacher.

After a while, I got tired of teaching, changed course, went back to school and got an MBA. Rather than join any one of the hundreds of high-tech companies on Route 128, I moved to Switzerland and joined the watch industry. I worked for SWATCH and then a start-up. I was feeling pretty hip. In reality I was far from hip; I was a suit, or at least I wore one, and worried about strategy and budgets. The creative types, the truly hip, were all with the agency.

Looking back, I think that it was about that time that I realized that I didn’t care if I was cool or not. I’d grown comfortable with who I was, including that dichotomy of good girl and artsy type.

That comfort gave me confidence and for the most part has served me well. Among other things, it helped me to build and run a first rate sales team. It’s a bit ironic because that team was part of an organization which had been branded second best. Many of my colleagues were frustrated by this label but I loved that job. With my help and leadership, my team broke all records, or at least a lot of records, for growth and profitability. High growth and profitability are decidedly NOT second rate in my book.

Now that same comfort and confidence is helping me navigate my current challenge, the sometimes frightening, always interesting adventure of self-employment. I still worry and get butterflies but not about being cool. Instead, I wonder if readers will like my work and worry if I can make a living at it. I don’t worry about my next mortgage payment but sometimes worry about the one after that.

I love what I do AND I don’t have to wear a suit or high heels to work. I spend the summer in shorts and t-shirts, bare feet and Converse sneakers. The sneakers are decidedly cool, definitely cooler than a pair of plain black pumps.

 

Do you like the “you” you have become? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going – just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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About My Dad

My dad was in sales for years. I suspect that he is a born salesman. He wasn’t a disgruntled, down-on-his-luck, raggle-taggle salesman like Willy Loman. No, never, Dad was loaded with enthusiasm. He was energized, not just by the deal, but by the people he met along the way. You see, my dad is a people person. He is not only charming; he is completely genuine. Dad would never try to convince you that he’s interested in your story. He doesn’t have to; he really is interested in what you have to say.

No matter where he goes, Dad meets people. When we were little, he would roust us out of bed on winter Sunday mornings to get dressed, grab our skis and head to the mountain early. On the way to King Ridge, we would stop for the Sunday papers. We soon learned that if we let Dad disappear into the store to get the newspaper we would be stuck in the cold car for twenty minutes, or at least it seemed that long. As soon as he entered the building he would start talking to someone, anyone. It could have been an old friend or neighbor or the guy who built our house. It could have been a complete stranger. It didn’t matter. He always had at least a few words, more often several, for everyone. 

And he still does it. About six weeks ago, I picked Mom and Dad up at the airport. They are snowbirds and were just getting back to New Hampshire. With a few hugs, howdy-dos and a flourish of activity, we loaded suitcases and golf clubs into the car. As we turned onto 93 to head north, I got the lowdown on their seatmates. Since they change planes in Baltimore, they make not one but two new friends.

In the space of an hour or two, Dad can learn a lot about a person and their life story. From take-off to touch-down, he learns about spouses, current, past and future. He gets the scoop on children and grandchildren (most of his seatmates are fellow retirees). By the time the plane lands, he knows where they live now and where they used to live. Maybe it goes without saying, but he’ll also know where their children and grandchildren live. He’ll have the rundown on what they do or used to do, not to mention what their children do. Schools, hobbies, any special interests are all fair game. If it interests you, Dad is delighted to hear about it. Almost without exception, he describes his seatmates as very interesting.

Maybe you’ve sat next to him. He’s that nice white haired man. If you have, you know all about me, my brother and sister. And their families. You know that my brother sells stuff that Dad doesn’t understand but it has something to do with telecommunications or software or something. You know that my sister runs a wonderful nursery school. You found out that their spouses and children are as talented as they are good looking. You know that I used to work for a big computer company and now I write and cook. He probably told you that I used to be Joe Nye’s daughter but now he is Susan Nye’s father. He’s not only a charmer; he is a proud poppa.

Happy Father’s Day! ….. Love, Susie

 

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

With Enthusiasm

I spend a couple, sometimes three, afternoons a week with my Mom. It gives my Dad a chance to get out on the golf course. It gives Mom and me a chance to hang out. On Mondays I pick her up from an elder care program. I have a tendency to run late, to get caught up in life. For the Monday pick-up, I’ve been read the riot act. It’s been made crystal clear that I need to get there not at three o’clock. Not at three o’clock on the dot but at two-fifty-five…on the dot.

My mother and I are very much alike. Contrary to public opinion, we are both a bit shy. However, we figured out that our lives would be better, or at least more fun, if we pretended to be extroverts. If not all the time, then at least when we are out and about. I credit my Mom for being a great example on how to live life enthusiastically. I’m not sure I would have figured it out on my own.

On this particular Monday, I’m on time, two-fifty-five on the dot. I can hear Mom as a wander down the hall. When I was a teenager her booming voice embarrassed me a little, but only a little. Mostly I was in awe of her upbeat approach to life. I was always proud that she was my Mom. She was cooler than the other moms but never in an austere, aloof way. Mom was warm and funny, approachable and wonderfully human. She always had it together.

She doesn’t have it together anymore. She has Alzheimer’s.

As I walk down the hall, I can hear her voice. Most important, I can hear the smile in her voice. She makes me smile. Not wanting to disturb the session I lurk in the doorway. It’s clear that in spite of all she’s lost, she still brings cheer and energy into the room. Eventually I peek around the corner. I don’t need to look to know that Mom is being, well, Mom. She is still the life of the party.

Even now, when she can’t remember names and has trouble remembering faces, Mom spreads good cheer. Like a charming guest or gracious hostess; she continues to connect with people. She might forget the response as soon as it’s uttered, but she is always willing to ask a question or fill an awkward, empty pause. She has not turned inward, withdrawn or rejected the world around her. I can see that it’s not always easy, that it takes an enormous amount of energy for her to live with the confusion and chaos of Alzheimer’s.

I am still in awe of Mom, her strength and courage. Every day she gets up and participates in life, with enthusiasm.

Does Alzheimer’s run in your family? I’d like to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going – just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

Like a Thief

Like many retirees, my parents spend the winter in Florida. They flew north about a month ago. I was already suspicious from our chats on the phone but my Dad warned me that I would see changes in my Mother, big changes. At times, her Alzheimer’s has crept slowly; the changes from one year to the next were barely perceptible. Alzheimer’s can be devious that way, sneaking up and taking hold tiny bit by tiny bit.

And then, she takes a big leap downward. That’s what happened this past winter. Mom is now more and more often confused. Time and place are becoming jumbled. Although she has lived in her house for forty-five years, she is finding it difficult to recognize it as home.

Mom has always been comfortable with her own company. Now for the first time, she gets nervous and agitated when left alone. Some days she is concerned that everyone has gone off and left her. She feels an urgent need to get down to the beach and find them. It’s not always clear who “they” are. “They” may be her extended family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Then again, “they” could just as easily be the gang of childhood friends who hung out with her in Wollaston and on the Cape.

Summer has come early this year, with one beautiful day after another. Mom has always loved summer, the slowed down pace and the house filled with friends and family. On several warm, sunny afternoons she has become anxious. At times, she frets about her parents, wondering where they are or when they will arrive. It’s as if she is anticipating a weekend visit although her parents died in 1982.

This confusion is all part and parcel of Alzheimer’s, a horrible disease that is playing havoc with her mind and memory. Like a thief, Alzheimer’s is robbing her of the simple pleasure of doing a crossword or reading a good book. It’s stolen the independence that comes with a driver’s license. And perhaps worst of all, it has robbed her of her  incredible gift for good conversation.

My Mother has always loved to chat. When we were kids, dinner was more about conversation than food. Much more. Mom was never an enthusiastic cook but she was a very enthusiastic conversationalist. She loved spirited discussion, good natured arguments and wholehearted jokes and laughter. Like a thief, Alzheimer’s is taking that away from her and away from us.

In spite of what Alzheimer’s is doing to her, Mom continues to face life with good cheer and goodwill. When it comes to this disease, I’m nowhere near as cordial or magnanimous. I am intermittently angry and fearful. Like a feisty, foolish child I want my Mother back. I’d stamp my foot if I thought it would help.

But it won’t. So instead of tantrums, I’m spending time with Mom. I’m getting to know, understand and appreciate the new person she is becoming.

… then again, maybe this blog is just a new way for me to stamp my foot.

Does Alzheimer’s run in your family? I’d like to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going – just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2010

This note out from the New London Town Adminstrator …

From: Jessie Levine, Town Administrator
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 8:37 AM
Subject: Town of New London: Smoke from Quebec fires

Dear Citizens:

New London’s Dispatch Center has received about 25 calls this morning from people inquiring about the smell of smoke in the air.  Please be advised that the smoke is coming from the wild fires in Quebec that have forced over 1300 people from their homes.  Stories on Channel 9 and New England Cable News provide more background.

Please help us spread this information so that our Dispatch Center does not continue to receive alarmed phone calls.

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day.

Jessie Levine

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

Black Fly Season

We’re in the middle of New Hampshire’s infamous Black Fly Season. Female flies, in the tradition of Delilah and Lucretia Borgia, do the most damage. Their attacks couldn’t be more vicious. These she-devils love to nibble your neck and behind your ears as well as that nice soft skin behind your knees. But beware, these girls are devious and will seek out and find even the smallest patch of unprotected skin. I have the ankle bites to prove it.

While the males stick to flowers and plants for sustenance, they do like to buzz around their vampire-ish girlfriends. If the nasty bites don’t get you, the buzzing, panting swarms of testosterone-charged vegetarians will drive you bonkers.  

Why is New Hampshire a Mecca for black flies? Black flies breed in clean, running water. Between melting snow and spring rains, there is lots and lots of running water in New Hampshire. Almost any stream will do, large or small, fast or sluggish, permanent or temporary. Black flies are hardly finicky; with one exception, they don’t tolerate pollution. A large black fly population indicates lots of clean, healthy streams. Unfortunately and fortunately, New Hampshire has abundant housing for these vicious fiends.

Black flies usually arrive around Mothers’ Day and tyrannize us until Fathers’ Day. Short of staying indoors for six weeks, how can you avoid black flies? Here are a few hints:

  1. Wear light-colored clothing and leave your blue jeans in the cupboard. Black flies are attracted to dark colors and especially love dark blue. Stay covered up from head to toe. If you don’t mind looking like an economy version of a haz-mat worker, a hat with netting is good protection.
  2. Black flies are out and about throughout the day but are particularly vicious and numerous mid-morning and again in the late afternoon and early evening. While there is no such thing as a fly-free day; dry, sunny and windy is better than a humid, cloudy and still. Black flies make excellent barometers and come out in droves right before a storm.
  3. Black flies are slow pokes. You can easily out-walk, run or bike them. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air; but whatever you do keep moving.
  4. When all else fails, do the arm-flapping-head-shaking-run-around-in-circles dance. It won’t help but it will amuse your neighbors.

Enjoy this gorgeous day! Stay safe, sane and bite-free!

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

For anyone who missed last night’s 15th Birthday Celebration with The New Hampshire Women’s Business Center’s … here are my opening remarks:

.

Like many here today, I am a corporate dropout. Seven years ago I gave up a career in international sales and marketing for the fun, flexibility and … yes, the fear of self employment. I have come to realize that for all practical purposes the world is made up of two kinds of people: entrepreneurs and those who wish they were entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial women play a critical role in our economy –

From A to Z …

We are accountants, analysts and advisors,
Bakers, builders and bookkeepers
Consultants, cooks and candlestickmakers
Dog walkers, designers and DJ’s
Engineers, environmentalists,
Franchisees, florists and freelancers.

We are good at what we do.

We are hairdressers,
Ice cream makers,
Jewelers, jugglers and journalists.

We are kindred spirits, killer saleswomen … we are the whole kit and kaboodle.

We are lawyers,
Moms, marketing gurus, massage therapists and manicurists.

And we ain’t nobody’s fool.

It goes without saying;
we are optimistic and passionate about our businesses,
the quintessential queens of our domains.

We are retailers and radio show hosts,
Strategists, software experts and scientists,
Technicians,T-shirt designers and tutors.

We are undeniably very, very good at what we do because
We are wise & wonderful, xceptional Yaa Yaas with a zest for life and maybe just a little bit zany.

I guess we have to be – to do what we do.

Best Happy Birthday wishes to the WBC and women entrepreneurs throughout New Hampshire!

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010