In order to follow your Heart, you have to roll with the punches AND with the bed springs when pursuing a New Adventure.

As we get older, we tend to like coming home and sleeping in the security of our own, comfy cocoons.  I figure in the last five weeks, I’ve had to sleep in ten strange beds, and variations of beds, (alone) in a variety of different places.  No easy feat for a boomer since getting enough shut eye is essential to our well being. And let’s face it. A good night’s sleep is harder to get than… a seat on the G train at rush hour. Like the princess and the pea, I’ve had to stay honest and true to myself by suffering some minor inconveniences like this.

But stepping out of my comfort zone is a constant requirement, and everything is just more strenuous here.  For example, moving into my place took a Herculean effort.  I had to GPS it from Irvington to Brooklyn in gridlock, hope for a place to park without parking restrictions close to my building, and then make eight (I counted) trips that consisted of :  a) unloading an item; b) locking my car; c) carrying heavy item about 200 feet; d) use other set of keys to unlock outside door; e) cart my heavy bag/ plastic tub up two flights of stairs; e) unlock apartment door; f) drop the stuff off; g) lock the door; h) head back down to the car;  i) unlock the car;  j) …w,x,y,z; REPEAT.   Like Sisyphus rolling his rock up the hill, I have my Camu moments of thinking this undertaking is absurd, but they evaporate and the excitement returns.

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Heading home from the G train.

Still… unconscious fears lurk below the surface.

During my first week in the apartment, on the night of the full moon, (December 12th at 12:00PM) I had a vivid dream of being pursued by a crazed and unruly rabble, fueled on alcohol, since I had the distinct feeling that all sense of reason was gone.  And what really ratcheted things up was that everyone was naked. It reminded me of a funeral march of Jacques during the French Revolution, in a scene from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities that suddenly turns in to a bloodthirsty, murderous mob.

Chased from one place to another, I was trying to out run them. But I was getting more and more tired, and there were fewer and fewer places to hide.  Although quite terrifying, I managed to out maneuver them each time, and in my gut, I felt I was going to be OK.  But the question remained: How long was I able to keep this up?

In trying to analyze this, I figured it was about raw, animal fear. Was I able to survive in this jungle of a city?  After all, I am kinda high on the food chain as vulnerable, older  prey. Will I be taken down, or can I keep up–out run its perils and survive?  I have to keep my wits about me and stay present.

And yet, it’s all part of the adventure. The good and the bad. Time slows down when you  find yourself in a new environment, and you’re much more present. Meditating helps foster this too.

The young woman I’m subleasing from has left a pretty good library of books.  I’ve just finished Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, which explores the author’s grief following the sudden death of her husband of forty years.  It begins with these lines:

Life changes fast.

Life changes in the instant.

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

The question of self-pity.

Sobering to read at our age as we tend to bump up against death more and more in the guise of friends and family members dying too soon, and we see, too, our own mortality reflected in death’s face.

And then, interestingly enough, I followed up with The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers.  It’s a wonderful discussion of mythology and what myths can tell us about our own lives. When I came upon this passage, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I had a very visceral response:

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life.  I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking.  I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own inner most being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

Enjoying the first night in my new home, I was sitting quietly waiting for my roommate to come home.  Somewhat intoxicated with a feeling of bliss (and the pungent smell of pot that often wafts through the building) I suddenly heard from somewhere above the vibrato trills of a beautiful soprano voice practicing scales.

WHOA….

I gotta admit. I’m feeling the rapture from time to time.

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Ginger lives happily at Jerannie Deli Grocery on the corner of Clifton Place and Nostrand Ave.

Brooklyn is home to a lot of young, hip Millennials. Would Ageism be a factor in my search for a room to rent? Turned out… it wasn’t.

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Fresh greens for the holidays.

On a recent visit from Irvington to Brooklyn, my brother took my sister aside, and, out of ear shot from me, told her with pity saturating his voice that I wasn’t likely to find a room to rent.  My prospects were probably nil.  Early on I had contacted a high school friend who has been living in Brooklyn since college and told her I was looking for a place.  Her response was something to the effect that people looking for rooms were young people.

I have to admit it did seem daunting.  Brooklyn has gentrified and is gentrifying still, drawing young professionals from Manhattan to its more friendly, quaint neighborhoods.  On numerous times in the past, while out to dinner with my son, I’ve looked around at a sea of Forever 21- fresh faces and wondered if I could blend in without having, what I perceived to be an arrow pointing down at my head reading, “Mom’s in town visiting.”

With some trepidation, I stuck my big toe in to the Roomi app and the Listing Project website, looked around, and then dove in head first and fired off some emails.

Listing Project was recommended to me by a friend’s daughter who lives in Brooklyn.  It’s a no fee, curated (no brokers or third party services) weekly email that caters to artists and other creative (that word again) types searching for everything from studio space to sublets and long term rentals.  The lister posts pictures, price, location, particulars, and info about him or herself.  On average, I found ages to be between 28 and 40.  Oh dear.

Two postings looked promising–the first advertised two professional women in their 30s looking for someone respectful, neat, who wanted a safe haven to come home to.  The other caught my eye–two gay comedians.  Maybe they’d be more forgiving?  My moving in might provide them with some good material for future acts:  The Golden Girl(s) meets Will & Grace?

Zilp zip, nada!

I soldiered on.

No response.

I tried the Roomi app and finally heard from a woman who appeared to be in her 50s.  The location was perfect but upon arriving the building looked like a fire trap.  I followed Maria (names have been changed to protect the innocent) down a very narrow hallway hotter than Hades reeking of cat pee, to a small room still overflowing with the 20- something- tenant’s eerily childish belongings.  Pictures are deceiving. My other roommate would be a young man who just immigrated from South America.  I liked Maria very much.  She had come from Brazil fifteen years ago and was supporting a mother with Alzheimer’s back home. But this is what you get for $1200. a month?!

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I enjoyed meeting Maria, but I couldn’t see myself living here.

I did hear from a woman my age who contacted me about a room, but she mentioned it was way out in City Island and, “You’d never know you were in NYC.”  Isn’t that the whole point?  It was nice to be contacted though.

I persevered, dispelled negative thoughts when they arose, and meditated on exactly what I wanted to manifest.

Next, I heard back from a Listing Project prospect, a psychoanalyst and English Lit professor at CUNY, who was “open to all.”  I had no idea how old the person was or what gender, but on a cold windy evening, I was warmly greeted by a young, good -looking guy in a white button down shirt and khakis–early 30s maybe–originally from Vermont. When I stated that I was surprised he answered my email (I could hear my son scolding me, “Stop saying that!”), Monroe replied, “Why?  I think what you’re doing is cool.”  He told me his mom was relocating to Ireland, and that her fiance was from Camden, Maine. The place wasn’t furnished and he wanted me to split a broker’s fee, so it didn’t work out.  But, WOW, I was encouraged. I recall Sally Field’s Oscar win response, “You like me. You really like me!

Shortly after I heard back from three more young listers who were interested. I met Jen and Jeremy a couple in their 30s who advertised, “We love green spaces, outdoor activities, radical ideas, and non violent communication. Communal living a plus.” O.k.a.y….? Maybe they’re communists?

He actually was a former professional cyclist who now manages a bike shop in Manhattan, and she works in early childhood art education and is studying herbology. Jen’s mom was visiting from Texas when I showed up. Did I detect a smirk? I wondered what she thought of me as a possible roommate.  Again, just the sweetest people, but the place was tiny and living with a couple might be a tad too close.  Besides, the next morning I was meeting a young woman to see what might be the perfect place.

I had arranged to meet Kim at 11:00 at her apartment only two blocks from my son and brother’s place.  Kim is a 32 year- old freelance art director “who likes to illustrate and make puppets on the side” and shares an apartment with only one other roommate and was subleasing her furnished bedroom AND WORKROOM/STUDIO for nine months to attend to a family matter back home in Texas.  We had, what I felt was an instant rapport, the place was perfect and in my price range, utilities included.  Her roommate was also 32, an archivist for a non profit and described as very laid back and considerate.  Since she wasn’t around, we could FaceTime later if I was chosen. Kim was bombarded with emails to see the place, and she would make a decision the next day.  I left a little hopeful...something just felt right. 

On pins and needles the following day, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and texted Kim late in the afternoon.  When she texted back and asked if I minded if some tenants in the building smoked pot (hell no), I knew I had the place!

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My building in Bed Stuy.

And so it goes.

I believe I really did manifest the perfect situation–one roommate and studio space to boot! Unheard of in these parts.

What I find most amazing is how welcoming and open minded these young people are.  This experience reinforces that old thinking based on experiences from the past begets the same old future.  The science of neuroplasticity says that the nervous system has the capacity to create new neural pathways and connections–we can retrain our brains and thinking –to create a vision of the future we want.  Maybe ageism is something we perpetuate?

Recently that same Brooklyn brother took me aside at another gathering and stated that he secretly didn’t think I was going to be able to make the big move. He told me that he was really impressed I had made it happen.

I continue to be blown away.  I am incredibly happy.  What can I manifest next?

Making the Transition from Maine to NYC,the village of Irvington,on the Hudson,offers the best of both worlds with scenic water views, parks, and a short train ride to Grand Central.

With its many amenities and progressive vibe, Irvington, home to legendary Washington Irving, is the kind of friendly place Millennials want to move to after a stint in the City and babies start arriving.  My sister and her family moved to the village center over twenty years ago because of great public schools and an easy commute to Manhattan (36 to 55 minutes) on Metro North Railroad’s Hudson line.  An almost empty-nester, she’s given me a place to stay (I’ve been as helpful as I can possibly be) while looking for a room to rent in Brooklyn.

Irvington has attracted industry big names and celebrities alike. The first African American woman millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker, made her fortune creating a hair straightening formula. Eileen Fisher has her corporate headquarters here, along with a retail shop and second hand outlet. I recently passed Meredith Vieira on a walk in the woods, and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are the newest neighbors.

While Irvington has its mansions and tony neighborhoods, it does offer condominiums, cooperative apartments, rental units, and some affordable housing. Taxes are high, then again, garbage pick up each week is Monday, Thursday, and recycling Wednesday.

I feel like I’ve been on vacation as my days include reading the New York Times each morning starting with the Arts and Business sections, taking long walks on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, walking the dog, Cactus, in the 400-acre Irvington Woods, and enjoying train excursions to Manhattan.  Irvington is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll 19 miles away.

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Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

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One of my favorite houses on the trail.

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Another view on the Croton Aqueduct trail. I love trees, even more so since reading “The Overstory.”

I  so love the train!  Riding off-peak is $19.50 round trip. In less than an hour, Metro North deposits you in the magical world of Grand Central, and you are swept along with the tides of humanity to all the dizzying din that is NYC. This apt quote by Charles Baudelaire captures it: “What strange phenomena we find in a great city. All we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.” Check out on Instagram, Subway Creatures.

I recently met up with a friend from Maine who was baby sitting her grand child in Manhattan.  When I explained taking the subway and locating her address, she responded, “Wow, I don’t know how to do that.” Another recent field trip was to“The Whitney”, The High Line, and a new Swedish Bakery Fabrique, that boasts the best, ever, cardamon Rolls. I’m getting around.

Best of all, I qualify for senior discount MTA subway and buss fares!  A single ride is $2.75: senior, $1.35;  A 30-day unlimited pass is $127.00 a month:  Senior, $63.50; A 7-day unlimited pass is $33.00: senior, $16.50  Something to be grateful for (I list them daily) in this youth-obsessed culture.

How lucky am I to be living again with one of my siblings at this age!  We’ve been able to support each other during times of big change for us both.  After being the sole occupant of my home for so long, I’m really enjoying sharing my space. I even think I said a few years ago, I’m kinda tired of living alone.

Well, this will sorely be tested as I try to find a room to rent in the city and live again with a roommate, more likely roommates, after 40 years. It would be so easy to just pay rent here with my sister, but I know deep in my heart, I’d disappoint myself.  So… this begs the question:

Can a woman my age find a room to rent in the fresh, young, cutting edge world of Brooklyn?

The answer will surprise you.

I’ve always wanted to live in NYC for a year. With my house rented, again, I’m going on a wing and a prayer (and a home equity line of credit) this time at age 66!

My nine month sojourn traveling solo Down Under almost four years ago did change me.  Although I have enjoyed being home again in Maine for a couple of years, it’s difficult to return home after a long time because I can’t go home and be the person I was.  There’s been a change. Another adventure has been beckoning.  This time to New York City… a place many consider the greatest city in the world!

How this all came about started with an article about the twenty-fifth anniversary of Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way.” Billed as “Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self,” it has sold over four million copies since its publication, and advocates writing free form in longhand three pages each morning, and taking yourself out once a week on an artist date.  Doing the morning pages first thing, allows you to dump any negative monkey mind thinking clogging up your brain and be more open (mindful) to being creative–a buzzword that seems to be every where in today’s market/workplace.

I had completed the eight week course a couple of times in the past, and in February found a box of books, including ‘The Artist’s Way” and a binder of morning pages I’d written before making my solo trip, which wasn’t even on my radar at the time.  I took this as a sign (synchronicity) and wrote the pages again.  My practice also included meditation, and, low and behold, the winds of change swept me up again.  Before I knew what I was doing, I had my house rented…  to the perfect couple (he’s from New Zealand).  Just like before, everything seems to be falling into place.

New York City is a different animal.  A beast of many wiles with an insatiable appetite for culture, fashion, entertainment, celebrity, and fabulous food.  It has to be tamed or its sharp claws will slice into your pockets and leave you destitute.  But it also has an infectious energy that lures you in.  And finding an apartment! My brother jokingly said recently he had to get married to find a place.

That younger brother has been in NYC since the late 80s and was smart to buy a place in Brooklyn in 2001. The house was in a seedy, dangerous neighborhood with burned out buildings around the corner and across the street (and always a place to park).  It is now hip and gentrified (and hard to park) and a great investment.  My son, a Pratt Institute grad, rents from him, but no room in the inn for me. Fortunately, a sister lives a 50- minute- Metro North train ride away in the lovely village of Irvington, on the Hudson. I have a soft place to fall.  And Costco is nearby!

I’m living out of my car again with the basics I think I’ll need.  Renting my home and moving again has been stressful, but I’ve become a minimalist and that has alleviated some of the pain.

I’ve sworn this is the last time I’ll do this.

But then again… Asheville, NC, sounds nice.