In any case, here I am today, over two years without my gorgeous old fashioned, my caprese salad, or my brioche loaf. Why, you might ask? Well, like with so many other things, I blame it on my kids. I'm sixty-two, and my boys don't seem anywhere near having children, or even steady girlfriends, yet. It could be a good ten to fifteen years before that happens—if it happens. That would put me firmly in my seventies by the time I get to be somebody's "Nana." God forbid I'm a drooling, wrinkled sack of bones propped up in a Rascal, receiving the reluctant but compulsory peck on the cheek from little, frightened grandkids.
So because my body and mind are in decline, I decided I need to do everything in my power to keep death at arm's length and keep myself in tip-top shape, even if it means saying good-bye to Gorgonzola, farewell to French toast, and so long to sauvignon blanc!
Now, no one is guaranteed a single day of life, but assuming I have at least a few years left (God willing) I want to make the most of them.
But there's another reason I wanted to make some changes. The glorious years of raising my family are behind me, and during the time I was deep into them, I didn't have much time for anything else other than acting. Now that the boys have more or less launched, some space has opened up in my life to explore those other interests that were put on hold twenty-some years ago. Now if I could only remember what they were...just kidding.
I have lived a life beyond my wildest dreams, and I'm so grateful. Life wasn't handed to me on a silver platter by any stretch. I've worked hard, skinned my knees, cried my eyes out, regretted, doubted, and second-guessed myself along the way. Handing everything over to God changed my life. I've gone up and down many different paths, and looking back, I see how the seed for my second act was clearly planted in my first act. I think you'll find the same is true for you, too.
My first act was, and still is, of course acting, which has been my passion since I can remember. I heard passion described like this: When you do what you love to do at a moderate level, you can call it a hobby. But when you go all out with it to the point that someone deems you one step short of crazy, that's passion.
Throughout the years, I'm sure people looked at my life and thought that I have indeed been one step short of crazy in my pursuit of acting. During my early years in New York, a college roommate visited me in a studio apartment I was renting and I heard that when she went back to Ohio she told everyone, "Patty lives in a shoebox!" She was right. But once you've garnered some success in your career, most people find "crazy" to be perfectly acceptable.
Growing up, I had no encouragement from anyone to pursue acting or to get into the entertainment business. It wasn't that anyone dismissed me or discouraged me, it's just that no one in my family had any connection to that world. However, I've just naturally been a performer all my life. As early on as elementary school I was making up songs in Sister Delrina's class and performing them like I was on Broadway—minus my name in lights and the moldy dressing rooms in the basement. And when my older sisters would bring home a new Barbra Streisand album or the cast recording of Oliver! or The Sound of Music, I would immediately memorize the songs and have all my girlfriends in the neighborhood learn them, too, so we could sing for family and friends, or at the very least, belt those tunes out into the universe as we sailed along on a swing set.
I was also an avid reader, and when I had a book with a particularly compelling story line, I would gather my playmates, assign them roles, and act the whole thing out. In fact, everything in my world was potential material for a performance. I loved pretending, I loved dressing up. I had a vivid imagination that was fueled by having only three channels on the black-and-white TV growing up. And no internet. (I just reread that last sentence and realized I am very old.) When you have virtually no entertainment, you pretty much have to be the entertainment you seek. And so I was in every respect! I was fortunate to be surrounded by a gaggle of girls on my street who loved singing, dancing, reading, drawing, creating, dressing up, and playacting as much as I did.
As I got older, my love for performing grew even stronger. I was always auditioning for plays and musicals. Strangely enough, when it came time to choose a college and a career, I didn't immediately decide to major in theater. My mother passed away when I was in the seventh grade, and she was the only one to take notice of my performer's personality. She signed me up for ballet and acting classes, but she wasn't there when it came time for me to figure out where to go to college and what to study. And unlike today, there was no tutoring, no SAT prepping, and no college tours. From our neighborhood, everyone pretty much went to the closest state school. My sisters and brother went to Kent State, so it was assumed I would go there, too, no questions asked. But one bad experience there colored my view of the school. When I was in middle school, I went there to visit my oldest sister, Sharon, and she had me watch the Hitchcock thriller The Birds. Pretty scary stuff. We also ate pizza and drank Hawaiian Punch, and the combination of all three of those things made me throw up. I could never look at Kent State the same way again. The only other school I had ever visited was Ohio State. And by "visit," I mean I had gone there to watch my high school sweetheart at a wrestling match one time. That was better than nothing, so I became an Ohio State Buckeye, and that's all the thought that went into my higher education.