Donna Ryan / Lifestyle & Retirement


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While growing up my mothers closet had one powder blue dress with a bow on front.  On her dresser was a tiny jewelry box which contained a set of costume earrings with a matching necklace.  This outfit is remembered as the special occasion attire as she wore it to all of our sacraments, graduations, parties, and family events.

It made me sad to think my mother had only this one ensemble but thinking about it now it makes me smile.  I look though pictures of all the times of our lives and Mom looks happy adorned in blue.  It was not about material things but instead the occasion that mattered.  She had her valuable jewelry, her engagement ring and wedding band (which by the way never came off of her hand until I had to remove them a few days before she passed away)  along with her family.

This memory brought me to our pink carnation “special occasion” dishes.  Every holiday as a child I could feel my excitement when I saw the china closet doors sliding open and the plates were removed.  We had the smallest kitchen in that apartment and we would all jam around the table and enjoy the best roast beef or turkey dinners and gravy I ever had in my life.  I tried to watch and learn the trick but the recipe was my mother’s specialty and I have the taste and smell stored in my memory.

I now own the dishes and while they are still special I sometimes wish I could have one more holiday back there.  Things seemed simpler back then compared to today.  I think at times we get so involved with the details of occasions that we forget to show up for the event.

I remember Easter Sunday the year 2006 sitting in the lounge of the leukemia floor of the hospital where my Aunt was ending her journey with the disease.  We all knew it was her last holiday but we had balloons, gifts of beautiful housecoats to cover the green hospital gown, turkey dinners from a local takeout restaurant along with grocery store pie and cafeteria coffee.  Paper plates and plastic forks and the knowledge we only had a few more days but we did not mention or think about it.  We lived for that moment.  That was my best holiday and I doubt I will ever get a better one in all of my life.

Sometimes I wish we could all treat each other as if this were out last day.  When we know a loved one is sick we cherish our time together and we are caring and patient and kind.  While we all assume there will be a tomorrow, and most likely there will be, do we really know? I am learning to embrace the “normal” activities of life and define them as occasions.

We all have something unique that will be remembered down the road.  I am hoping some of the statements for my legacy will be she was the little old lady who was always up to something but was the funniest person we knew and cared!

I now end this blog to begin the day and create more special occasions.  I think I may go into my china closet and excitedly wash the pink carnation dishes and use them to celebrate today!! I am 55  and despite life not being perfect these truly are the best days of my life and i am going to mark the occasion on every single one I have left.
Editor’s Note:  Visit AFL member Donna Ryan at her website:  She says, “I have always thrived on inspiration. I love reading it everywhere I can find it. I am 55 and it has been a journey with many twists and turns. I invite all 50+ women to join me in discussions on this second chapter. Our road ahead is fun and exciting because these truly are the best days of our lives.”

I thrive on inspiration; I read it every day and I try to live and share it through my actions. Stepping out of our comfort zone can be very frightening. I have learned that I will never grow if I don’t face fear! I encourage all women to join me on this sometimes weird and scary adventure. Let’s discuss all sorts of things from makeup colors, to recipes, books, funny jokes and everything in between. We are on this journey together so let’s gather around and share our stories, dreams, and goals as well as happy and sad times too. You name it; we can do it! We are fifty something and these are the best days of our lives. No matter what the circumstances you are living you are only a keystroke away from friends that care! So join the circle of the 50plusstickingtogether friendship chain. Let’s keep learning, growing and inspiring each other together. It’s Never Too Late!!! Visit AFL member Donna Ryan at her website:

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