Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What Nancy Did Right

I went to a lone lunch recently at my favorite little hide out. I say lone because I went alone, not because the place lacked for business; it was bustling. I found a solo seat next to a table of four ladies old enough to be my grandmother. 

I had barely ordered my food before understanding that there was an obvious discussion leader of the group. Chatty was dolled up in gold and white, matching her dyed strawberry blonde hair with blonde highlights. She wore lots of gold jewelry and bright pink lipstick. She was very well put together for her age, but she is part of a generation of women who fixed themselves up when they left the house.

She had her smartphone out and was reviewing current events with the gals.

“I'm not into watching funerals....I’m not! I’m just trying to figure out Nancy’s casket. Look. Is it wood on the bottom and metal on the top?”
She passed her phone to the gal on her right who moved her glasses down her nose.
The conversation continued as the lady began discussing her own funeral.
“I told him it's the last time he’ll have to spend any money on me so I want things to look nice...” 

I tried really hard to keep my smile to myself but couldn’t; I pulled my phone from my purse and pretended to be preoccupied by something on the screen. This was like a preview of my mother and her best friends in thirty years. 

Have you read about my mother's last wishes?

She continued by digging in her purse and pulling out an envelope, then a photo.
“This is my favorite school picture. I loved that pink dress; it gave me color,” Chatty said while passing the photo around the small group. I couldn’t help but look over; it was small black and white photo. This woman was something else! 
“So I told him I want to wear this shade of pink,” she said, putting it back in an envelope. 

I’m not sure any of her friends said anything in response or even cared; they all just nodded. Until, Nancy Reagan again came up in conversation once their food arrived. That topic brought more of Chatty’s friends into the discussion. They each remarked about how her health had declined since Ronnie died. How she was the end of an era. How she was an icon in many ways as her role of First Lady, present and former.

Like much of the public, I too was disappointed to hear of Nancy Reagan’s passing. My first thought when Cody told me: There will never be another like her. My second: How happy Ronnie must be to have her home.

Nancy did a lot of things right in 94 years, and as the classic gals at the 4-top table next to me remembered her, I too thought about her influence and a few lessons I could remember from the lady. 

Just Say No
I always assumed our local DARE officer came up with that slogan. Imagine my surprise when I learned - only after her passing - that this was a product of Nancy. I was just shy of five when Reagan left office; give me a break. While Nancy was referencing drugs (and I completely agree with her on that) I think it’s ok to Just Say No when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Give yourself a little time, a little space and a little rest and decline that obligation. Don’t feel guilty for not taking on more. What do you want to remember in ten years?: The anxiety you felt while trying to be all things to all people or those quiet nights at home?

Identify and Own Your Cause
Life is busy…which is such a buzzword right now, right along with sustainable, Bernie and kale. Exhausting. Anyway, you’re “busy” with work and the running around and the commitments and doing favors and returning calls. You do a lot to keep the wheels turning! But what about the one thing you care about that isn’t screaming for attention? Your cause: The thing that lights a fire of emotion within you. Recall it, recognize it and own it. Make time for it. Nancy’s causes were things like awareness of drug and alcohol abuse, annual mammograms and Alzheimer’s research. Your cause doesn’t need to be grandiose, but does need to be true to you.  Find some way to expend your energy in a positive form that strengthens your core, not just staying “busy”.

Speak Well of Your Spouse
Nancy defended Ronnie fiercely, internationally and consistently. The public never, ever wondered where her allegiance lied.  She was proudly his greatest confidant, vocal supporter and loyal advocate. I think there are few things more exhausting than someone who continuously speaks negatively of their spouse or significant other, constantly criticizing them or the things they do - or don't do. What if you used that energy to focus on the good things they bring into your relationship? Consistent complaints only reveal what you're lacking. And if you're not married, but speak poorly of the person you’ve not already committed your life to, how are those around you supposed to support your continuation of a relationship with them? 

Dress Up and Show Up
Nancy had her own color: Nancy Red. She wore it boldly and confidently, the epitome of class. I try to emulate her example every once in a while, but I can’t seem to nail it down. I think I need a statement necklace.  

I’ve often heard that no matter how you feel, dress up and show up. I’m sure you’ll agree: some days half the battle is doing your hair.

Dude. I so get it.

I’m just going to say this. Nancy Reagan never wore a shirt claiming “I woke up like this”, so you probably shouldn’t either. When did it become trendy to claim to not take care of yourself? Put on some pants that have a button, buckle or zipper. Pull yourself together. Comb your hair. Put on some lip color. 

And if you woke up like that, 
are you sure you've gone to bed?

I only made it that far in my Nancy notes before Chatty’s comments caught my ears again. Her attention had somehow (how do you even do this?) shifted from Nancy Reagan to Hillary Clinton.

"Did you notice that she’s been repeating her outfits? That navy blue suit with white trim. It’s back! The cut just isn't right for her. You get thousands of dollars in campaign money and you can’t find a suit that makes you look less hippy (not to be confused with hippie)??" 

I tried to find a photo of Hillary's suit that she was referencing, but couldn't. I'm certain if I had asked to see the photo on the women's phone being passed around, she would have included me in the one-sided discussion. 

Update! Jean's Boots Reader Kristen 
helped me by supplying a photo of the suit 
Chatty was referencing. 
JB readers are the best. 

Drugs, passions, spouses or fashion, the four next to me confirmed something long believed, and another side point that Nancy wore well:  Girls need girlfriends. 

Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford, Pat Nixon, and Lady Bird Johnson

Side note: Chatty ended lunch by telling the group - as they were putting on their rain jackets to leave - that the reason she wanted to have lunch with them was because she was going in for a colonoscopy next week. She promised to call each of them when she was done for a progress report.  

Please, God, let me still be that fun at her age. 


  1. Excellent! Nancy was someone we can all learn from. You are such a great writer. Now I/m going to go put some lip color on.... :) Connie - (Catharine's momma)

    1. Catharine is one of the classiest gals I know - ranking right up there with Nancy and Anne Marie! Maybe there is something about California....?
      Thank you for reading :)

  2. I believe Chatty was referencing this picture.....

    I also hope to be as fun in the future! :) Great post.

    1. Oh My Gosh! That is it! She mentioned it was not tailored to fit her body type. I'll have to update my entry. Thank you for sharing this! I'm laughing so hard -