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A Wakeup Call on a Park Wall

wakeup callThe ankle bracelet with multi-colored heart shaped stones, purchased years ago at a street fair in New Orleans, was not expensive, but it held a lot of sentimental value. Still, something I love to have on my foot and wear every day was now gone. The catch has been a problem, but when it came off it had always been found somewhere in the apartment.

This time, though I looked everywhere, I realized that I must’ve lost it in the street while I was walking the dogs. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not going to find it again this time. This made me sad, but I told myself it was only a thing. Things can be replaced. But of course, some things do have a kind of talisman effect. This was one of them.

And then, this morning, as I was about to enter the little park in front of my building, where I walk my chihuahuas, Lia and Bindy, something shiny on the concrete wall in front of the park caught my eye. Shocked, I reached out for it. I was holding my ankle bracelet. Someone, rather than keep it for themselves, or gift it to another, had left it there, in the hopes that whoever lost it would see it. And I did.

In that moment, something shifted for me. That act of kindness on the part of an unknown stranger melted my cynical heart. It was, I’m not afraid to tell you, a heart, and a spirit, that had been hardened by acts of inhumanity in politics, unfair business practices, lawlessness, crumbling international relations, the plight of the homeless and many other aspects of the world at large that made me want to stay in a small bubble, and shut the world out as much as I could. Read more

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Learning to Swim at Age 83

learning to swimYou take a deep breath, inhaling air. Then, you lower your goggled head into the water, slowly letting the inhaled air out. As you do this, one arm cuts through the water, then the next, and the third part of this automatic process is where you turn your face and inhale air again, then go back underwater to blow it out before the next breath. Meantime, your legs are straight, flutter-kicking like propellers on a boat. Repeat this inhale, exhale, and head and body movements as you move forward in the pool’s lap lane.


This is swimming! I honestly had no idea how it works, and now I do. I’ve only had ONE lesson, but I already know that with this patient and talented coach’s help, I can master this sequence— and finally learn to swim.

Those who read my blogs know that the first entry on my short Bucket List was ridiculous. I had never been to a Dairy Queen and wanted to try a Blizzard. On my 80th birthday, my daughter Heather took me to one in Union, New Jersey—no DQ outlets in Manhattan—and the sweet treat did not disappoint.

And neither did the second item on my list: a first-ever trip to Israel. This past August, I spent two fantastic weeks touring all parts of that beautiful country, for which my heart is breaking—but that is another story for another day.

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Examining Envy, the Most Common of the Deadly Sins

Judy Katz of Katz CreativeWhen people question the fees I charge for ghostwriting a book, I point out that a Timex tells time, and so does a Rolex. This contrast implies that they get the Rolex of ghostwriters by engaging me. (For guys, I contrast a Ford with a Rolls Royce or Maserati.)

One should always feel that you are the best choice for a client to work within your chosen profession—that you are the Rolex. But in selecting a Rolex watch over a Timex, for example, what are we paying extra for? In the interests of full disclosure, I do not have a Rolex. I am happy with my inexpensive Burberry and my fun Swatches. The highest up-the-watch food chain I have gone to is a Tag Heuer, which is nothing like the cost of a Rolex or its elite cousin, the Patek Philippe.

Why do we covet these iconic brands and envy those who own them? Would you still pay the premium if you knew no one would ever see you toting that Hermes bag for which you practically had to take out a second mortgage on your home? Or might you think twice and settle for a reasonably priced Coach bag or a high-brand knockoff?

One could argue that when you buy something iconic—by which I mean extremely expensive—you are purchasing a better made, better looking, better performing, longer lasting whatever, be it a garment, watch, jewelry, handbag, car, etc. In most cases, I submit that what you’re buying is the message you believe it will send: “Hey, look at me. I can afford this. I have made it!” That subliminal message, by the way, is as much for your confidence level as it is for the world at large. Read more

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Who’s Got a Grandfather for Me?

Who's got a Grandfather for me?

his CelebrEighty Column is written by Judy Katz…   ‘m not ashamed to tell you that I have been married three times. Everyone’s journey is different, and I give my all each time. In my first marriage, my husband was eight years older, the second was 14 years older, and my last husband was 16 years older. Now I’m 82. I’m good with dialing it back a little for my next and final husband. How about a nine or 10-year difference?

Before you snicker at my possible interest in dating—and perhaps marrying—your father, grandfather, or great-grandfather, hear me out. Movie star Clint Eastwood is 91, and he still looks damn good. Even better, look at William Shatner, also  91. Another stunning fellow, James Earl Jones, is 92.  I could list another dozen of these fascinating nonagenarians. Some of these icons are married. Some are divorced (Shatner) or are widowers like James Earl Jones. My one true (secret) love, the incredible Harry Belafonte, is 95, and happily married to his beloved  Pamela. Read more

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ETA? What They Don’t Tell You About is Your ETD

judy katz

This article is part of the CelebrEighty series by Judy Katz…At 82, perhaps I can be excused for thinking about death. More specifically—my end. Look, I’m having far too much fun in my later years to want to end my human experience Death, as Hamlet described it in Act 3, Scene 1, Soliloquy, is “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” I’m in no rush to get to that undiscovered country, though I do have some countries on my Bucket List that I’d still love to discover.

I’m not thinking about death because of depression. However, I remain deeply saddened by the recent untimely loss of a close family member—Susan Richman, my brother Steve’s fantastic wife, who was as close to me as a sister. Others I have known for decades are dropping like flies at this stage. Others are taking a veritable pharmacy of pills to stave off their demise. I’m one of the few people I know in their 70s to 90s who only take some vitamins. Read more

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What These Three Kinds of Dog Owners Tell Us About Humanity

curb your dog

This article is part of the CelebrEighty series by Judy Katz…Walking around my new Upper West Side neighborhood with Bindy and Lia, my two eight-year-old Chihuahuas, I am struck by the sheer amount of “unaddressed” poop. Part of the privilege of sharing life with a canine is cleaning up after your dog. Yet many people—and conceivably many dog walkers—apparently feel no obligation and leave anything from huge mounds produced by larger dogs to “tootsie rolls” from the smaller breeds lying in plain sight on sidewalks and grassy areas throughout the city.

Seeing these “left-behinds” on almost every street and in every park—this neighborhood is no exception, as it’s everywhere in the city—I was struck by a realization that there are three types of dog owners—and perhaps, in the same vein, three types of people in general. They are 1) People who do not clean up after their dogs, 2) Those who do clean up after their dogs. And, lastly, 3) People who clean up after their dog or dogs, and sometimes also clean up after other people’s dogs. Read more

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Disoriented: Waking Up in a Strange New Apartment

new apartment

This article is part of the CelebrEighty series by Judy Katz…The move I just made was only seven short blocks away, but forty (yes forty!) years is a long time to live in my old place. I knew my way around every corner of that 2,000 square foot, three bedroom, three bath, terraced apartment. Now others are enjoying its graceful expanse, and I am in an 800 square foot two bedroom, two bath.

In all honesty, it was time to cash out of my co-op. After an exhaustive search, the rental complex I found had killer amenities. There’s an outdoor garden with barbeques, a clubhouse with a huge conference room and kitchen for meetings, and a lounge with a giant TV. There’s a game room, a large pool with a lifeguard, and a fabulous health club with every imaginable exercise machine. Read more

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Some Considerations If You’re Dating Online in Act Three

some considerations

Image licensed iStock; Getty Images

This article is part of the CelebrEighty series by Judy Katz…Sometimes when we say something happened to a “friend,” we mean ourselves. In this blog, when I say friend, I mean a friend, and I will fess up when it is my experience.

Online dating is difficult and frustrating for everyone, woman or man, and at every age. It’s not the same as being matched up by a trusted friend. But the days of friends, relatives, and work colleagues setting you up with someone have dwindled to a precious few. Most of us no longer meet a future partner at church, temple, or special events in someone’s house or while at a business cocktail party or meeting. What does that leave? and all the other online dating sites.

I’m no expert, so I cannot offer you a critique of one online dating site versus another. I will tell you that if you want to meet someone online, you had better prepare for the fact that you’re going to be looking for a needle in a haystack. You’re great—we all know you’re great, so why would there not be a great person searching for YOU? The catch is—you—woman or man—may have to go through many frogs to find your prince or princess. Read more

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I was making Changes to My Bucket List. Please Don’t Judge Me.

bucket list

This article is part of the CelebrEighty series by Judy Katz… On August 29, 2020, I celebrated my 80thbirthday at Dairy Queen. My daughter Heather made the day special by satisfying one of the items on my Bucket List: a first-time-ever visit to try one of their Blizzards. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. I’ve written about this event before—in Blog Two, “CelebrEighty at Dairy Queen.” At the time, I called my Bucket List “pathetic.” I want to walk back that judgment I made on myself. I apologize not just to myself but also to you, dear reader. No wish is pathetic.

At 81 years of age I still have a lot of wishes on my Bucket List. I hope you don’t judge me as a superficial person if I tell you I want to someday, somehow, finally learn how to apply false eyelashes properly so they don’t get unstuck at one end. I wind up looking “unglued,” like a tragically unaware Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. I look much better in false eyelashes and would love to do the job right. If millions of women of all ages can do it, why can’t I? Speaking of developing that skill, by learning those tricks and gluing them on, is that what a “hack” means?

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Ambivalence in Loving a Feisty Feline, and Her Human Equivalents

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This article is part of the CelebrEighty series by Judy KatzSome people are born with a difficult temperament. Often their angry disposition is the result of a difficult upbringing, and a nurturing environment can soften even the feistiest human at their edges. Then why has this not happened with Raina, my rescue cat?

Raina can’t sit on a therapist’s couch and tell us what happened to her before I discovered her in that tiny cage at PetSmart. She can’t relate to us what happened to her when she was wandering the streets. Would that she could, so I could know why she’s not a sit on your lap and purr kind of cat. She has never purred, not once. Instead, she tries to bite your fingers off if you pet her. Read more