As I was getting out of the pool today, a little boy sitting on the top step looked me up and down and said matter-of-factly:

“You’re squishy!”

“Squishy?” I repeated.

“Yes, squishy,” he said.

Now I may no longer have my 20-something body but I would hardly consider myself squishy. So I plunked myself smack down next to him and said:

“Exactly how am I squishy?”

He looked me up and down again, then changed his mind:

“No,” he said, “you’re not squishy. Actually, your crumbly.”

“Crumbly? Do you mean I’m crumbling?”

“Oh, no,” he said thoughtfully. “Just crumbly.”

“Where am I crumbly?” I asked him.

“Hmm…your face and on your hands.”

I opened up my hands.

“No, he said, on the back of your hands.”

I turned my hands over and saw all the freckles and age spots.

“Oh!” I said delightedly, “You mean I’m wrinkled and getting old?”

“Yes!” he squealed, as if I finally understood him.

“Well, guess what?” I said.

“What?” he said excitedly.

“I’m going to get even older and older and older and. . .”

“Then you’re gonna die!!” he yelled out with great enthusiasm as if he’d just completed the punch line to a joke.

“Yes, I will,” I replied a bit taken aback. “Does that bother you?”

“Oh no,” he said, “That just means that your human life will be over and then it will be time for your spiritual life to begin.”

“I see, and how do you know so many wise things?”

“Well, I am four and a half,” he said solemnly, “Life goes on and on and is always changing. Old things go out and new things come in.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. But will you do me a big favor?”

“Sure,” he said.

“Next time you see me, will you call me ‘speckled’ instead of ‘crumbly’?”

“Speckled?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes,” I said, “Speckled. Just think of me as a speckled egg.”

“A speckled egg?” he laughed. “That’s so funny. Okay. You’re a speckled egg!”

Well, I figure that’s better than being squishy and crumbly. 

 speckled egg




Up Tumamoc

Too many of us, old and young, are loathe to get out of our comfort zones. It’s nice feeling cozy in your routine, always knowing what the day will bring. Thing is you can’t grow by sitting still, anymore than a muscle gains strength without use. Any challenge, no matter how small, builds us and makes us bolder.

 Which explains the hike I took yesterday with my 24 year-old up Tumamoc Hill. It was billed as, ‘an easy, hike,’ until you read the fine print: It was a 750-foot ascent to the top and a three-mile round-trip! Now, I haven’t hiked in. . . Well I can’t actually remember when, but I did learn a thing or two along the way:

  1. Don’t over-analyze the route before you start or you may never take it.
  2. Swing your arms when you walk whether or not it makes you look foolish. It helps.
  3. The real climb is in your head. Your legs are just there for support.
  4. Don’t worry if someone passes you. Don’t even notice or you’ll alter your own momentum. Besides, you may pass them later on.
  5. Don’t be afraid to pause and admire the view. It will help you catch your breath if nothing else.
  6. Encourage your fellow travellers. You are in this together.
  7. Don’t be shy asking for help. Most people love to offer it and it makes them feel important.  (My daughter’s left shoulder was a great support to me most of the way back down as I have no knees.) 
  8. When you’ve gone as far as you can, turn around and look how far you’ve come.  It will encourage you to go further.
  9. Be present in each step and reaching the end won’t feel so overwhelming.
  10. And finally:

 The view from the top is exactly the same as it was from the bottom, only now you can see it!!!



Helen in locker

 Yup. That’s me, playing, “Hide and Seek” in the pool locker room this morning. Couldn’t resist. Two little girls had been hiding and finding each other as their mothers pretended to knock on all the doors in search for them. The longer I watched, the more that I wanted to play, too. Finally, I said, “Hey you guys, can I play, too?” They both looked at me with wide eyes and open mouths. Neither spoke. They just stared. Finally one said, “You’re way, too big.” I love a challenge.

 “Well, let’s see,” I said, stepping inside.

 “She fits!” the littlest one squealed with delight.

 Unfortunately, I rather filled the space and couldn’t close the door behind me. As I pondered what to do next, one of the mothers kindly said, “Go ahead. I’ll close the door for you.”

 As soon as it shut, one of the girls said in a voice that mimicked her mother, “Where’s the old lady?”

 The other one chimed in, “Where’s the OLD, OLD lady?”

 Both squealed and giggled upon opening my locker door.

 “Found you,” they said in chorus.

 I giggled, too. It is just as much fun hiding as it is being found. In all the trials and travails of aging, it never hurts to be silly now and then. Here is to you finding your ‘inner kid’ today. 









Bell bottomsYou probably think these bellbottoms are my teenage daughter’s. Nope. Every soft, comfy, psychedelic inch of these stunners are all mine and I am mad for them. And get this: they were only $7. How did I score such a deal? I was browsing in a chichi old lady’s shop in Florida a few months ago. Found them on the sale rack marked down from $67.

“Gosh,” I said to the 22 year-old behind the counter. “How come these are marked down so much? They fit like a glove. Is there a hole in them or something?”

“No,” the girl laughed. “They didn’t sell. I don’t think anyone your age wants to be caught dead wearing them.”

Let me assure you that I was not offended in the least. In fact, I then said:

“Well do you have any more? I’ll buy all of them.”

She looked at me like I was deaf or had dementia.

So let me enumerate a few things that are important to know when you are over sixty and dressing to go out:

  1.  You must dress for comfort. (Your body is already uncomfortable and achy enough).
  2. You must wear clothes that make you happy to be in them. (You won’t be taking them off willy-nilly.)
  3. You must wear clothes that make YOU happy to look at. The brighter and wilder the better. (At least people will notice you.)
  4. You must wear clothes that reflect your spirit. (Recently, I have tossed almost all black, navy blue and gray from my wardrobe.)
  5. You must wear clothes. (Sad, but true or you’ll likely be arrested as I once was.)

Now I have worn my bells almost constantly since. They wash and dry like a dream.  Last week, my 23 year-old walked in the house and took a long, serious look at me. I was waiting to be lambasted.

“Wow, Mom, those are really cool,” she said with approval, “Where did you get them?  I would love a pair just like them.”

Come to think of it, I WOULD like to be caught dead in them.










buckle up buttercup

Depression affects more than 18 million people in the US. Interestingly, only 6 million of those statistics come from older adults. What does this really mean? I think it means that far too many people are getting far too sad, far, too young. 20 years ago, depression in youth was unheard of. Not anymore.

I remember my own youth with both fondness and joy. However, the older I get the harder it is to maintain the optimism that I once had. Quite frankly, there is a reason for that: everything is harder and takes more energy now. For example, did you know that it takes a 20 year-old 20% of their strength to get out of a chair? However, it takes an 80 year-old 80% of their strength to accomplish the same feat!

My 20’s were filled with dreams and possibilities. Many of those possibilities came to fruition but few of the dreams did. Didn’t matter. It was just important to dream them. That’s where hope lies. That’s how you discover who you are: putting one foot in front of the other. Though I had nothing to do with how fast the minutes of my life rushed by, I am responsible for what they left in their wake.

A few years ago, I met a woman exactly my age in a nursing home. Unfathomable. Last week, I met one even younger in assisted living! I am humbled to still be here when some of my friends are not. I am grateful to still be mobile while others limp, push walkers, or are bedridden. I am humbled to still have optimism while some of my peers have grown bitter.  My greatest gift now comes when the young seek my counsel. I love the earnestness of their thoughts even though they painfully lack experience. It will come. . .and faster than they can yet imagine.

I have been the duckling, all down and fluff as well as the mother duck with her young paddling behind. Now, I skirt the pond pleased that the bulrushes still grow in a spring rich with color. In spite of all our weaknesses and mistakes we eventually do grow up, if nothing more than because we must. However, I cannot conceive of reaching this age happily without fond memories of a joyful youth. Someone please tell this to the young people in your life: you can’t start over and make a new beginning but you can start now and make a new ending.




NEW Year but the same OLD you??

Well, if that’s the case maybe you should heed the advice of some of these youngsters:

 Don’t believe them? Here is some of the SAME advice from those much older:

 And on that note, I thank you dear readers, now in 86 countries, for all your many comments, insights, and humor throughout 2015. Let’s carry on the conversation into 2016!!







In the middle of a heated discussion on gender equality this evening, my 21 year-old, exasperated with my stance, suddenly said, “Well, you’re in a state of cognitive decline. I’m not.” I thought about that for a moment but said nothing. Technically, she is right. The interesting counterpoint, however, is that I STILL have 40 years experience on her and that is a HUGE difference—in MY favor.

Granted my neurons don’t ‘fire’ as quickly as they used to but I have a whole lot more embers to choose from than a kid who has yet to graduate from college and live on her own yet. That alone is a game changer. She’s never paid rent let alone a utility bill. Her first one will be a shocker: I won’t be running around after her turning off lights and raising the AC temp! And a box of raspberries in the fridge will no longer be a quick snack waiting to be scarfed up. It will someday be for her, what it is now for me: a luxury.

Isn’t it strange how ‘old’ and ‘grown up’ we feel when we are young and how ‘young’ we think we are even when our hair is gray? Apparently idealism isn’t just the bastion of the young. A recent AARP study found that 85% of people over 50 don’t think they are ‘old’ yet and half of them believe that their peers are clearly ‘older.’ Translation: You’re old. I’m not. My favorite finding is that almost half those over 70 think it’s fine to “make jokes about old people.” Only 25% of 40 year-old’s agree. Translation: age also makes you less uptight.

Which brings me back to tonight. I love that my daughter has strong opinions and voices them. I admire her passion and zeal. I also know that one day both will dissipate with time and experience. 40 years from now, I hope that she, too, will quietly smile if some youngster refers to her ‘cognitive decline’. She will know better by then of course, because she is my daughter!

**Helen Hudson speaks around the country on Aging and all things Alzheimer’s.  Visit her website at for upcoming events.


man in casket

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me,” is the regret most often heard from the lips of the dying.  Those were the findings of an Australian palliative nurse.  So, if this is true about us, does that mean the primary reason for our personal sufferings in life is because we are too fixated on pleasing others?  Can it also be the root of our obsession with youth and beauty?  Is this why so many people who should have rich and happy lives simply don’t?

 This morning I watched a boisterous group of three year-olds play, “Red light.  Green light.”  They had trouble getting started.  By the time the teacher had the last ones properly lined up, the first ones were already wriggling out of their places.  Some hopped on one foot, others giggled and twirled, and one little boy never did get in line.  Corralling them was like trying to stop 18 grasshoppers from twitching and leaping; an impossible feat.

 For the half hour that I watched, the teacher pleaded for them to “stand still,” “listen to me,” “don’t push Sally,” “stay on the blue line,” “get back in order,” “no talking,” and on and on.  When I left, I realized that of the 30 minutes they had for the game, they only actually played about 10 of them.  Maybe our lives are like that:  two-thirds of the time we align ourselves with the group, or are forced to.  The other third we try desperately to be our unique selves and navigate our independent joys.

 One would hope that with maturity, we ‘grow out of it.’  However, if that list of regrets is accurate, we just may not.  So, I wonder.  When my own children reach adulthood, will they have found the unique qualities which make them individuals and pursue them?  Or will they, like many, be so influenced by their peers and society that their own true selves get lost in the shuffle?

 My grandmother always said, “Example is the greatest teacher,” and she was a great one.  These days, though, the young take theirs from computer screens, not flesh and blood people.  They are better ‘talking’ with their thumbs than their voices.  So, what will be their dying regrets?  That they didn’t speak up?  In the end, maybe that is the very, same thing.

Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a non-fiction memoir of her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s.




Yesterday, the pool where I swim was packed with about 50 kids.  I was in the middle of my laps when suddenly the lifeguard above me blew his whistle.  “Hey, you guys,” he bellowed in his 20 something, baritone towards the far side of the pool, “She said STOP!”  I paused to look over.  Two little boys were apparently bothering a little girl.  They looked up at the guard, looked back at the girl and moved away.  I wondered how he even observed the threesome so far away and in the flurry of all those screaming kids. 

 “Good for you,” I said to him.  “Above and beyond the call of your job description, I think.” 

“Well, they’ve got to learn sometime,” he said matter-of-factly.

 Indeed, they have ‘got to learn sometime.’  We all do.  Truth is, what we don’t learn well from our parents at home will be taught to us by the world whether we like it or not.  From that first speeding ticket to the finance charge on the credit card we neglected to pay on time, we are learning lessons constantly.  Like that guard, we should also be teaching them.  When you witness events that are disturbing or might put another in danger, don’t be afraid to blow your whistle. 

 In my 20’s, I saw a mother slap her toddler for reaching for something on a grocery store shelf.  When the child began crying, she slapped her again and told her to, “Stop crying!”  When the child cried even louder, she grabbed her ponytail and began pulling her down the aisle.  I couldn’t take it any longer. 

 “I am getting the manager right now,” I said as sternly as I could.  “You are hurting her.”

“Don’t you DARE tell me how to handle my child,” the woman huffed.

 Now, to be honest, I did talk to the manager, but what I said was fairly innocuous.  In the years since, I have become more adept at doing the right thing as opposed to the ‘politically correct’ thing—which to my mind is tantamount to little above dead silence.  A year ago, I informed a mother that her son was doing hard drugs.  It was a difficult call, made more so by her flat out denials and hostility.  Recently, I heard that she put him into treatment.  She has not spoken to me since.  I can live with that.






Age Beholds BeautySeveral times in recent weeks, perfect strangers, when seeing me with my youngest daughter have said, “Gosh.  You look just alike!”  or, “Well I can sure tell that she’s your daughter!”  Funny thing is, until I saw this picture tonight, I almost believed them!  But a picture IS worth a thousand words. . . and as you can see for yourself:  we look NOTHING alike and that’s Okay.  She is lovely for 16 and I am lovely for one who parks in the, “For Seniors Only,” space.

Oh, I could nip and tuck this or that, slap on some makeup, color my hair; all things my girlfriends have sweetly suggested over the years.  But what person in their right mind would put fresh paint on a crumbling wall?  Just today, a woman 10 years younger than me said that she botoxes “like crazy,” and that, “along with Zoloft,” keeps her from being depressed.  But I’m not one whit depressed when I look in the mirror.  Not just because my eyesight isn’t as sharp as it used to be.  Frankly, I don’t really ‘look’ in that mirror the way I used to.  Instead of scrutinizing the shape of my eyebrows or how lush my lips look with that new lipstick, I now use it as a general assessment of, ‘Is there spinach in my teeth?” or, “I think it’s about time I trimmed my bangs.’

Youth hands you beauty without having to bat an eyelash.  Problem is, too many of us spend the rest of our lives trying to improve on it.  The money-mad, media, once found only in print or TV ads, now gnaws for our young girl’s attention from the intimacy of their cell phones!  Sadly, they pay attention.  But no cream, beauty product or laser treatment will ever make you any more beautiful over time.  That happens on the inside, where the real fountain of youth exists.  It’s that reservoir of love, memory,  acceptance, forgiveness, humility and humor which has poured into you slowly over the years.  

So a reminder to young, beautiful girls everywhere:  spend as much time doing good as looking good.  It’s cheaper than mascara and lasts forever  Meanwhile, I’ve decided to go out, “Just the way the Good Lord made me.”  Those were words my grandmother managed to use for almost every occasion.  Now there was a truly, beautiful woman.  Sorry, Lady Clairol.  You just can’t hold a candle to that! 

Hudson’s 2nd book, “Kissing Tomatoes,” will soon be out in print.  The Kindle edition is available on Amazon.