Drones At Home: Are You Ready?

droneProject Wing was revealed by Google this past week with a video of dog food being dropped from a Drone. Whoah – really?  This may be the first time I may be showing my age, because cautionary alarms are going off in my head.

The reality is, it’s hard not to meet a Drone up close and personal and not have some kind of reaction. Even the word drone carries it’s own tone (so to speak). To Drone is not really a nice image. Unanimously we all want to take flight when anyone drones on and on for too long. But I digress.

This past weekend our friends gave us a demonstration of their new Drone. They skillfully launched this buzzing oversized Jack (you know the game of Jacks that you played with a small ball for hours). Well, they airlifted Jack from their own little launch pad (a white surface the size of Home Plate)–– flew it up to the second story deck where  a group of us were standing and there it hovered and hovered and hovered. Apparently it was snapping pictures in our faces –and as it buzzed and hovered, we all gawked and yakked about this visitor/ intruder/ invader/ stalker/ ingenious device … and then we watched them land their toy Drone – brilliantly and precisely back on the landing pad.

With mouth agape I tried to process the free flow of thoughts invading my brain:

“OMG, that machine is actually hovering in front of us and – it’s taking our picture – that is amazing – no that is disturbing – no that is revolutionary – well I’m not sure what it means but I’m having some negative thoughts about this extreme toy.” And without coming to any conclusion I began to survey my friends to see where they stood on the Drone.

The feedback ran the gamut from disturbing to cool – to ban them or let’s buy one. One friend mentioned how Drones could be at delivering medicine and supplies to remote places and people who needed help – Drones for Humanitarian purposes, pollution control (cutting down on delivery trucks), and bringing internet to remote areas. That makes sense but what about for personal use?

If you’ve only read about Drones at Home and haven’t listened to them  “live-in your face” or seen them up close and personal – it’s entirely different and here’s why:

  1. They make a humming bee like sound (maybe that’s the drone thing – annoying if you’re not into whirring machine like noises).
  2. They look like toys yet appear way smarter than any toy i’ve ever seen – when they hover up close it’s hard not to try to figure out what they are doing: snapping your picture, giving you the once over, grabbing information out of the cell phone in your pocket, or ready to shoot a squirt of water in your face?
  3. A Drone at Home in the wrong hands is kinda creepy – imagine if you don’t like your neighbor and their drone is hovering at your window snapping pix and feeding that info back to it’s source.
  4. Permission to Drone? What is appropriate Drone etiquette – is it ok for the Drone Driver –to just start launching without permission. Is this a solo activity or does it require consent of those being “droned.”

To be fair – I didn’t react well the very first time I experienced the Microwave. I was 14 years old and I was sure I was being radiated, after all, I had just finished reading On The Beach and I was sure the microwave was a gateway to nuclear destruction. In the same vain, images of Orwellian 1984’s Big Brother are going full frontal for me as I looked into the “eye” of this Drone. Yes, the eye – because that lens on the Drone looks like the peering perpetrating eye of a Cyclops.

But, because I am not an overly private person (hence this weekly blog), and am not a paranoid person by nature (except when I can’t find the jewelry I hid in my own home) – why should I be concerned about Drone invaders in the wrong hands?

With a Drone – it’s hard to see who is at the helm – where is the Wizard? A visitor from another planet?

I’m not going to stay up at night worrying about the Drones at my door for now – but I think it’s worth noticing that something revolutionary is happening at our doorsteps – and a radical new toy is making it’s way into our living rooms.

For now I think it’s safe to say,  it will not be on my birthday wish list. However if you’re intrigued you can buy it on Amazon with one click. http://www.amazon.com/DJI-Phantom-Vision-Quadcopter-Camera/dp/B00J8JLOA4/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1409519785&sr=8-6&keywords=drone

They Saved My Husband’s Life: One Year Later

Saving LivesWe got a little choked up at the pancake breakfast at our local firehouse in Edgartown this past Sunday. It wasn’t the pancakes and we didn’t require a heimlich maneuver – it’s just that, last year, they saved my husband Bill’s life.

One year after being pulled out from under a garbage truck after it collided with Bill while he was riding on the Katama bike path on Martha’s Vineyard a mile from our home — we were able to thank his rescue team.

It seems everyone has a story about an EMT who helped someone they know – but when it happens to you – well, that’s different.

My husband and I decided to thank our local fire department and EMTs one year to the day, on July 23rd with a rocking fundraiser for them – a true celebration of life. Dancing to our favorite foot stomping blue grass band (Parsonsfield), feasting on food served up by our favorite local food people, Regina Stanley who brought her Art Cliff Food Truck and Tina from Flatbread Pizza who turned out piping hot pizzas from her portable ovens on site – we danced under the tent at the Field Club on a perfect summer night.

And then the big memorable moment –the entire team of rescuers joined my husband on the stage to tell about their rescue. All 140 of us – who knew – it could have been anyone of us riding on that bike path that day – listened with gratitude to their story of professionalism as they used the jaws of life for the very first time to save him.

The biggest takeaway of the fundraiser was when the Fire Chief Peter Shemeth hugged us both and told us this was the first time his team had been so honored for a rescue. At that moment my husband and I looked at each other and knew – this was the right way to say thank you.

So when we presented our fundraising check — $15,000 of Gratitude raised by our friends and family, at this week’s annual Edgartown Fire Department’s Pancake Breakfast – we felt the big love once again. Healed, but still wearing the souvenirs of that tragic day one year ago – we both had a lump in our throats – not from fear – but from the joy of being able to give back to our community.

Looks like we may be eating pancakes once a year for rest of our lives.

 

Best Part Of The Empty Nest: Summer

best part of an empty nest summerThe best part of being in an empty nest with the kids out of college is – there’s no hurry to end summer. No one else’s deadlines are going to mess with my summer. I’m in charge of this calendar now!

Nevertheless, there’s a strange tick I feel in the back of my neck every time someone tells me they are packing up and heading home to go back to school or work. Normally I don’t want to be left behind but not this time, not this summer.

This summer, I have managed to spend some part of almost every day with my husband plus balance work, kid time and improve my golf and tennis games. I have biked endless miles and even made time for a few beach BBQ’s. I have had quality time with old friends and met a few new ones. I have had magical evenings of dinners filled with belly laughs. And yet still, I’m not done.

The New York Times greets me each morning with sad stories of violence in Russia and the Middle East, Ebola and rioting and it makes me want to shrink further into my hardened oyster shell of summer. The present moment has never felt quite so delightful.

When a hint of chilly fall air invaded an afternoon walk, I banished the thought that was threatening to undermine my day. “It’s still summer” is my mantra for the next 3 weeks. I’m an empty nester and I don’t have to move with the pack. I work remotely and my boys have careers – so I have no back to school shopping or urgent travel arrangements to make – I can chill a bit longer still.

Summer is a season that our activities stretch into every bit of daylight and out into the evening. The only way I could willingly surrender to Fall, is if I could do 5 more things this summer:

  1. Bike to my favorite pond and swim across it and lie on the raft at the far end before the water gets too cold;
  2. Host a dinner for a few treasured friends and dine outside;
  3. Sit on the beach under an umbrella for an afternoon with friends or a great book;
  4. Kayak cross our harbor to town – drink an ice coffee and kayak home;
  5. Nap on the screened in porch with my husband.

Somehow, I know there will be addendum’s to this list but for now, it’s enough. Happy summer to you all –I’m still in it and don’t intend to budge any time soon. By the way, as a protest to Fall, I’ve decided I’m wearing my white pants way past Labor Day this year.

My Hysterically Funny Fashion Crisis

fashion crisisIf I were 20, 30 or perhaps 40-something, I don’t think I would have found my latest fashion debacle particularly funny. I don’t think I could have of handled this “extremely outrageous” turn of events. In those earlier years, if someone had told me I should have worn a razor back bra – I had the wrong one on – or my bra straps showed –– I would have run to the ladies room to confirm my faux pas. If I had a dirt stain on my white paints – I would brush my backside nervously to try to remove the unresolvable for the duration.

My fashion self-consciousness over the past few decades has been driven by sloppy vs. style issues. Frankly, I’m comfortable with my taste in clothes– but I hate wrinkly, stained, spotted, tattered clothing. I like to look put together. And, since I live out of a suitcase most of the year, as I travel between New York and Boston each week, my clothing is often a victim of whatever is in my trunk – such as bike grease, hiking boot crud and my dog Jazz’s paws.

My comfort with fashion came together for me at 19 years of age during my year in Paris. It was then I embraced my “look” and proceeded confidently for the most part – except when I was told — my hem was unravelled or there was a hole in my stocking.

I have always loved vintage clothes. My Nana was the most stylish woman I know and I wore everything she gave me from age 13 and beyond. When I find an outfit that resembles Nana’s style, I am thrilled. That is why, what I wore to the dinner dance party this past Saturday night was particularly fun for me.

I have been savoring my ultra-suede, multi-colored neon, strappy short cocktail dress for 25 years. This dress was crazy cool in the late 80’s and I’ve been waiting for the right decade to bring it back out. It’s been living in the back of my closet all this time.

So, when I excavated it for this summer for some “special occasion” I didn’t have a particular event in mind. When I grabbed it from the closet, I saw the ultra-suede had worn thin along the seam, so my trusty “Clothes Doctor” gave it a good stitching and it looked like new.

When we got an invite to a summer dinner dance, I thought this could be it’s coming out. As I slipped on this little ultra suede number, I chuckled. “Oh this is fun – I am going to have a blast tonight”. (First premonition) As I made my living room entrance – my husband’s brows lifted and he chuckled. My son Jake and his two friends gave me a whistle. “That dress is fun – so cool.” I stood a little taller.

Arriving at the party I joined the huddle of women who were admiring one another’s dresses. The mood was light and playful and it seemed all were ripe for a different kind of night.

The weather was spectacular —  one night shy of the “super moon”, the light of that magical lunar orb lit up the sky. My husband and I settled onto an outdoor couch with our dear friends laughing and sharing our latest summer tales. After a bit – we decided it was time to dance and as I hopped up off the couch my friend Gwen said to me, “you’re not going anywhere – sit down.” She was hysterical laughing – she couldn’t contain herself.

“Your dress is split up the backside.”

I leaned hard into the couch so as not to “reveal” and slipped my hand behind and all I felt was skin. OMG – outrageous, the suede had dissolved! Vintage had vaporized on my backside. This was a riot! I laughed so belly-laugh loud, tears were streaming down my cheeks, and I couldn’t catch my breath. My husband took a gander and our laugh track was growing – Gwen’s husband was aghast – “are you kidding – this is a riot” and we were a full orchestra. We couldn’t stand it – it went on for what seemed like hours.

What I felt at that moment was sheer delight. This was so much fun! My first thought was I’m so glad I’m not 30, or 40 – I’m so glad I’m over 50 because this ridiculous fashion “crisis” is truly priceless – vs. devastating. And let me add – my butt is not my favorite “asset” (excuse the play on words).

I had no interest in sharing my shredded suede opening with anyone. Luckily, the venue we were partying in had a pool and lockers and a friend got me a bathrobe as a cover.

We all took to the dance floor, and laughed and danced a bit before the heat of the heavy robe became impossible.

When we arrived home, my husband and I were still hysterical and we looked up at the almost full moon and he chuckled – that was the best “super moon” I’ve ever seen.

The PMC: A Community That Makes A Difference

riding the pmcRarely have I met anyone who doesn’t love to show up at their annual traditions.

Looking forward to celebrating with friends and family anchored by a good meal or an adventure pushes me to buy that plane ticket to Thanksgiving, spend all day cooking to host a holiday, or train my butt off to show up at my annual biking fundraiser.

But what if showing up at the “event” puts you at risk of a job, your health, or your relationship or even your life? No question, you’d have to ask yourself – how much does this mean to me? Maybe I could just send a check?

This year I had to ask myself, how much risk and misery I was willing to accept to be part of a tradition that I have participated in for 28 years — the Pan Mass Challenge. This one weekend bike event raises money for cancer research at Dana Farber – and this year is committed to a $40 million dollar goal.

The event is a 2-day 194-mile bike ride across Massachusetts from Sturbridge, Mass to Provincetown. For 25 years I have ridden the entire 194-mile event. These past 3 years I have opted for the 1-day ride of 84 miles from Wellesley to Bourne.

No matter the distance, the weather or life event that has tempted me to opt-out – I’ve never regretted showing up.

Unfortunately, for the first time this summer weather.com was accurate in their forecast.  Saturday morning as we rode out of Wellesley in 90% humidity and 69-degree temps, as predicted, within one-hour we were pelted by rain, which did not let up for the entire ride. The temperature dropped to a cold chill of who knows – maybe 62 degrees about 30 miles from our finish. It was brutal and the most challenging ride I have done in my 28 years.  It was the “coldest sustained rain in the 35 history of the PMC.” That said – I showed up for the ride knowing these were going to be the riding conditions as I was fully committed to the cause.

On the road survival ruled. I left my group, unable to wait at water stops as the chill of the day threatened to settle into my bones. With fogged glasses, clammy cold and ineffective rain gear layered with the dirt spitting off the tires of the riders in front of me – every pedal stroke required full on focus.

Chilled to the bone I zeroed in on pictures pinned to the shirts of the riders around me.  Pictures of moms, dads, kids, and friends lost to cancer. I thought about the 3,700 volunteers and the 5,700 riders who came out this past weekend. We are proud that none of the money donated is wasted on top heavy administration. 100 percent of the Pan Mass Challenge donations go directly to cancer research at Dana Farber.

Every rider has a story at this event and Cancer is our common thread. This disease impacts us all. Personally, cancer has attached itself into my closest circle of friends and family and shifted the very fibers of our lives. And frankly, like so many, I feel helpless.

This 2-day bike ride gives all participants an opportunity to communicate their losses, feel the community of those who understand, while at the same time physically participle by riding and raising money for this cause.

The PMC event creates the glue that binds all of us together in our search to help one another as we struggle with this deadly disease.

So as I pedaled forward to the Day 1 finish in Bourne – those thoughts fueled me forward.

I am so grateful for the community that the PMC has created which includes all the riders, the volunteers and the donors who collectively are joined in one singular mission – to find a cure.

However, I admit that next year I wouldn’t mind a little sun, a sweet tail wind and moderate temps. But no matter, as long as I am able, I will ride this event again and again.

P.S. Thanks to my husband Bill Cress for co-writing this piece with me

 

 

4 Reasons To Avoid The Scale

avoid the scaleI used to weigh myself 2 times a day all through college and until I had my first child — and began again after my second was born. It started because the daily dorm breakfast of buttered cinnamon toast (3 slices) ended up pushing on the seams of my jeans. When I finally got on the scale – it turned out I was up 8 pounds – Never had a weight issue before and now I was freaked.

That set the whole ritual of weighing in obsessively in motion. This is not a love/hate relationship — it’s something I saw as an obligation — hence — no fun!  My scale and I have not been the best of friends. For the next few decades as I pass that scale in the bathroom my inner voice nags me, “check that scale to make sure you’re not getting fat “– and then if I’m really feeling powerful, I  bypass it. Finally I have made a major power move and I think I’ve  broken this annoying habit. It’s been 3 months and no-nagging inner voice cajoling me to step on the scale — I’m winning the battle but the war won’t be over til I throw the damn thing out.

As a BA50, I think my body is smart and knows how it’s supposed to look. All I have to do is feed it and exercise it and dress it and be grateful I’m able to do what I do everyday. I’m done with the “fight” to try to have the “boy” hips of some of my friends — I’ve learned to embrace my curves.  Hey, have you seen the curvaceous top model Kate Upton –a  full figured runway model who is now the face of Sam Edelman, Express and Guess Clothing, Bobbi Brown cosmetics and on the cover of Elle and Vogue.  She’s got plenty of skin and it looks damn sexy. Fashion may be trending to a more full figured look and frankly I’m hoping  that takes the pressure off our teenagers and 20-somethings.

So as I walk on by that ridiculous digital floor mat and bypass the poundage check I know there’s at least  4 good reasons why it’s about to be tossed in the recycle bin:

  1. Weighing-in actually has a reverse health effect on me.  If my weight is below what I thought it would be – I am suddenly starving and inevitably eat my way back to equilibrium. If my weight is up, I feel miserable and cranky and it ruins my day.
  2. Scales Lie. They don’t really give you your true weight so why torture yourself. We all know that scales don’t reflect hormonal changes like water retention or irregular bowel movements. Also, If you have a crooked floor or a worn out spring in your scale – lean to the left or right – you can get the numbers to move in your favor. Or if you’ve been working out a lot we all know that muscle weighs more than fat. So, honestly, you’ve learned very little from the weigh-in.
  3. Disempowering the scale is an act of courage and liberation. Anthropomorphizing the scale is a bad power move and we all do it. The scale does not hold power over you – it’s an inanimate object for goodness sakes. Ditching the scale and taking my body weight into my own hands feels freeing.
  4. Not weighing myself feels like a daily act of kindness and self love. Self acceptance is not always easy – but it’s a lot easier when I don’t get on the scale. Just slipping on my shorts or jeans and being in my day – not obsessed by a number that’s “imperfect” feels like a gift.

Firmer Breasts after 50 — Naturally?

bravaAfter 50, once again – I was face to face staring at my breasts thinking – “O.K., now what’s gravity got in store for me?”

We may not be scientists but my girlfriends and I love to talk about gravity – and it’s enormous pull on our bodies. For most of us, our breasts are where we see the dramatic powerful impact of this downward force.

And, that’s when we start to compare notes. “Does this dress make me look frumpy – (code for saggy breasts), Is this T-shirt giving me a lift – (code for perhaps it’s too tight and creating a breast mash effect).

How we support and dress our breasts is something women have been doing most of our lives.   After all, breasts are a big topic at any age. When I was 16, I was still waiting for them and at 18 I could finally take the toilet paper out of my training bra– when I was pregnant I got to imagine life as a “C” cup – after 40 – it was back to “B” and now after 50 – I’m not sure what I’ve got.

I always say to myself on the way to my mammogram, “Please, give me a clean visit – I promise to be grateful for my aging droopy breasts. And once I’m out of the mammo’s breast-clamp and given a green light –I begin my ritual of gratitude. Relieved and exhilarated, I am ready to celebrate a big “Phew” moment, and then I drive directly to the mall.

Yes, it’s true, my ritual post mammo is to take my sore mashed breasts out for a new bra. They deserve some kindness after being squashed and pinched and traumatized. Kind as this sounds – once inside the dressing room at Bloomingdales – with no less than 10 bras to try on – I face myself squarely in the mirror and then my brain kicks in on repeat chanting the old mantra “who said small breasts don’t sag?”

Turns out even small breasts can lose their beans. But the good news is, this is all fixable. I mean one good bra fitting and Poof – Lift – Separate and feel 10 years younger.

A great bra can give the appearance of a surgical lift without the hospital stay.

So when I started to write this blog, and was researching great new bras, I was shocked by what “google” turned up.

I had no idea that there is a new product that increases your breast size. It’s Called “The Brava.”   And it’s a battery powered suction system — brought to you by the people who make breast pumps. You’ve got to wear 2 cone-like cup devices 10 hours a day for 10 weeks for it to work.

Seems like you have to be very, very Brava – I mean brave, to use it. As I read through the description of how it works – well, it’s down right medieval.  Here’s what they say about how it works: the contraption pumps and pulls on your skin and over the 10 week time period, your breast tissue expands and your breasts enlarge a fully cup size – Whoah!  Who would do this?

Hey it was an Elle Magazine cover story “The Next Breast Thing”  this past March.– I mean who knew. The author tried this device and apparently it worked – it’s been available to consumers just in the past year.

But hey- I’m not that Brava – so I’m sticking with the bra store. Sorry – no one’s pulling at my breasts in the middle of the night unless I invite “him.”

 

The Brava is a new product that increases your breast size.

(No this is not an ad – this was today’s on-line discovery.)

BRAVA now gives women a breast enhancement and enlargement option that actually grows their own natural breast tissue, with guaranteed results, in the privacy of their own home. Ok this used to be available onlBe sure to read Ms. Carolyne Weaver’s personal experience with the BRAVA System in the March cover story in ELLE Magazine (Elle.com), “The Next Breast Thing”. (Click on the headline of the article’s title to view the complete article.) Read on to learn more about this breakthrough approach to natural beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Dinner, Tomorrow’s Lunch Ideas

Dinner for LunchMy husband and I just hosted 2 couples at our summer home. It wasn’t the first time. These friends have come for a  communal retreat for the past 6 years. It’s an easy group because we love to do the same things and we move between shared activities with ease– biking , golf and most importantly — eating.

This visit was no different than the last and this is how it went. Day one they lumbered off the New Bedford Ferry weighted down with coolers and grocery bags. We were excited to see them and their goodies.  As they passed off their bags to us – the lists of delights began to flow:

“Here’s the 2 pound parmesan chunk you wanted– Oh, I brought my own tea –and I have that bread you love from Bradley’s – I had it sliced.”

“Oh and Ina Garten’s Orange Yogurt with walnuts and raisins– I know you love it so I made it for you guys.”

“Hope you don’t mind I brought a bushel of kale and 2 baseball bat sized zucchinis that I thought we could grill up” (I hadn’t told them I have a new bountiful veggie garden).

“Oh and wait til you try the phenomenal blended scotch I’ve discovered”.

We hadn’t even pulled out of the ferry lot and the women were in menu planning mode. Meanwhile, the guys had stacked the bikes, golf clubs and bags into our embarrassingly oversized car (we call it “The Beast”) and were instantly in deep conversation about biking routes.

Upon arrival at our home, I summoned my girlfriends into the kitchen as I needed help. I’d been wanting to tryout Farro but needed a support team to brave the cooking task. Turned out none of us had ever prepared this “ancient grain” and so began our group cooking. Immediately, we were totally ensconced in re-reading the prep directions for the 3rd time when the men appeared saying they were leaving to hit golf balls. We barely looked up.

That’s pretty much how the visit played out. Predictably the couples sectioned off into “Defending the Caveman” roles – Darwin called this one right.”

It makes me chuckle when I witness how the male/female natural divide is bizarrely stereotypical and predictable: yet here we were, three women happily in the kitchen reviewing the weekends meals – while the men busied themselves with pumping up deflated jeep and bike tires – rewiring the internet connection (no joke) and discussing our household electrical challenges.

Alas, women to the chopping boards – men to the grill! Seamless from the get go – we began our own version of a domestic square dance.

I am writing this piece as the weekend draws to an end – I hear them busy in the kitchen preparing the last lunch (I’m staying clear and am thrilled to have the excuse of writing – I’m totally done with meal prep at this point).

And as we sit down to this last lunch (see photo) all we can say is “Move over Ina Garten!”

We all are amazed at what we have created this visit. With one large pre-grocery shop before they arrived – we only visited the local farmers market once and managed to turn out outstanding healthy feasts that morphed brilliantly into substantial next day meals.

I can proudly say we mastered the Dinner Becomes Lunch challenge and the Lunch becomes Breakfast hurdle.

So – if you’re looking to stretch your meals creatively across a weekend with a full house of guests – here’s some ideas:

First Nights Dinner Next Days Lunch

Corn and Faroe SaladCold Farro Grains

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/farro-and-corn-salad-recipe.html

We added cranberries and chopped walnuts to this recipe – Next Day – it was even more delicious and we actually didn’t add the corn until the next day.

Butter lettuce and Kale Salad with avocado tomato and toasted hazelnuts- lightly dressed with lemon and basil oil and plenty of salt.

Marinated grilled chicken breast in olive oil, lemon and herbs

Swordfish with our favorite rub (we keep in the freezer)

Next day sliced thin to top off yesterday’s salad

Radishes with butter and salt with dinner … Next day’s addition to salad.

Corn on the Grill for dinner becomes part of next day’s salad fix ins and Farro toss-ins.

Breakfast Becomes Lunch and Lunch Becomes Breakfast

A basket full of local hard boiled eggs from the nearby farm makes for great snacking all day long.

PB & J Farm Style: This is our pre-biking staple. Wild-diced strawberries on toasted multi grain bread with Justin’s peanut butter ($$$ but great). Next Day Panini Grilled PB & J made with Homemade Strawberry Jam and Justin’s on Multi Grain Bread from yesterday’s beach sandwiches.  Just reheat them on the Panini and enjoy for any  next day meal or next day snack.

Oh and here’s my friend’s secret “Ina” yogurt recipe she traveled to us with that lasted for 3 bountiful breakfasts and someones lunch.

Ina’s Orange Yogurt with walnuts and raisins http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/orange-yogurt-recipe.html

orange yogurt recipe

 

 

 

 

What Are We Putting On Our Faces?

Dear BA50 Reader:

L’Oréal contacted us the other day and we were shocked, giddy and skeptical. OMG, finally we thought – the crème de la crème de beauty has discovered us.

After much to-ing and fro-ing we landed a call with 6 of their top product managers and began the discovery process of how they wanted to connect with our readers. Once again we were in learning mode. They needed some specific questions answered and so do we.

What we want to know from  BA50 readers is what beauty products we are using and how we feel about them.  For example, Foundation or no Foundation? If you are a user — what kind of Foundation do you like to put on your face?

I readily offered my thoughts to our friends at L’Oreal about our demographic of women after 50 and their relationship to Foundation. My research was based on my business partner Ronna’s preferences and my own – Alas, a focus group of 2! Our friends at L’Oréal politely listened.

We decided to dig a little deeper.

So here’s our request dear reader – we are hoping you can help us better understand women at mid life’s attitudes about make-up – specifically Foundation because we actually want to know.

Ronna and I will give you our feedback first:

  1. First of all, we don’t use what we call traditional Foundation. At least we think we don’t.
  2. The reason we say we don’t use Foundation is because we don’t put what we consider to be Kabuki products on our faces – meaning layers of masking products.
  3. We want to look natural – not caked up or packed with product.
  4. Thick Foundation accentuates our lines and creases.
  5. Foundation is messy and rubs off on our clothes.

So – what do we use?

We both love tinted moisturizers with SPF. It looks sheer and clean and protects us from the sun. Full stop.

Aging skin is a reality no one can escape. Exposure to the elements is unavoidable and I’ve yet to meet a woman who doesn’t feel challenged by how their skin is changing.

Girls night out topics generally land on solutions for dark circles in the eye corners; masking smile and frown lines and brow creases, lines around endless tributaries around our mouths and of course, the dark spots from too much sun. How can we smooth out our uneven skin tone? We listen closely when anyone – who looks better than us and is our age– offers a beauty tip. We pull out our i-phones and write down their miracle product or treatment or even their dermatologist’s name.

So if there actually was a product or products that could soften the forward march of time on our faces – hey we’d love to know about it.

After noodling around on “The Google” I found a cool DIY make-up video narrated by a mid-lifer. I’m thinking we should all try making one like this — it would be fun to see what’s happening behind the scenes at our make-up tables.  I found this one  surprisingly mesmerizing to watch.

After you watch this one, we’d love you to tell us if it makes you want to go hit the cosmetic counter. I can’t believe how much stuff this mid-life woman is putting on her face and how natural she looks. I wish it weren’t the case that so many products made such a difference – but she does look way better after the applications.

Now we are hoping you can give us your feedback so we can share it with each other:

Please click here to complete this survey.

Thanks so much for your feedback – at this age we learn from each other so we plan to share the results with you all.

 

Women In Media: Marissa Mayer is Making a Difference

melissa mayerIf you don’t know Marissa Mayer, she’s the beautiful and brilliant 38 year old CEO Of Yahoo who is reviving their stock price and believes in niche digital magazines. So right there, speaking as a publisher of an on-line niche magazine, it may sound a tad self-serving to say we LOVE this CEO — but it’s more than “she’s one of us.”

There’s no question that our demo loves to cozy up to a good read – not just flit from Twitter to Instagram — we are still gluttons for a “story” that transports us.  This is why digital niche magazines are becoming Mayer’s focus. Plus, Mayer is putting an authentic voice to her on-line mags — she’s actually hiring boomer women as a voice in her empire.

One of our favorites is Katie Couric (57 years old). Yahoo just made her  chief global anchor (what a great title). Does anyone else in the world hold that title?  It almost sounds presidential.  We BA50′s  are thrilled to see that Katie is back in the forefront of interviewing and did not become invisible. Katie is one of us (a BA50)  and she continues to be extremely relevant.

Also, Yahoo just hired the BA50 make-up guru and favorite boomer Bobbi Brown as editor of Yahoo Beauty. We know that Bobbi Brown speaks to us honestly and optimistically – a combination we relish.

These star power boomers’ voices speak for our niche and BA50 women are thrilled to follow them on Yahoo.

Marissa knows that “Americans over 50 control 77 percent of the total net worth and have nearly $46 trillion of wealth – and that by 2030, one in 3 Americans will be over 50. So she, is putting her funding behind this demo by giving them a public voice. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/profit-aging-baby-boomers-181051199.html

BA50 loves Marissa also because she is another woman in business leader role model for our kids and for ourselves – and we need more women leaders to be sure.

Hey did you know the Fortune 500 ranking of the 500 largest corporations in the United States included 12 women CEO’s in 2011, 18 in 2012, 23 in 2013 and 24 in 2014. And technically Yahoo isn’t in the Fortune 500, but actually it’s ranked #502 and that’s where we can find Marissa Mayer – Woman CEO #26. Women are making their mark but it’s a slow crawl to be sure.

Marissa is a stand-out in the media world man-o-sphere –  (except for Gannett’s Gracia Martore) and turning stock prices up when they had been falling and falling for Yahoo. She is doing this by spending money on the what’s next. We love that. Hey – that’s what every woman we know hitting the mid-life mark does – we focus on our what’s next.

So, this week I wanted to take a moment and give a big nod to Marissa Mayer. And speaking of nods – I wanted to make sure not to over focus on what the Wall Street Journal ripped her on – and that was — well did you read about it?

Turns out Marissa overslept (yes big nod) and missed meeting up with key advertisers from the Inter Public Group in Cannes. She was two hours late and she got front paged (is that a verb?) She felt badly about it – and she apologized – publicly!

Marissa – we BA50s would not beat you up for tardiness. We know you were “late” because you overslept (note to file — you’d traveled 20 hours and have a one-year-old) but we don’t care that you were late – you know why?

  1. Because at 50 we know that we can run late too – not because we are rude and thoughtless – but because we are human and we sometimes can’t remember our keys or where we parked our car and it takes time to get our the door.
  2. At 50 we know that multi-tasking can take a toll and running a media empire – raising a kid and satisfying stockholders entitles you to a late hall pass every so often.
  3. And it’s ok to be late – because when you apologize so graciously and honestly, we realize that even in the top levels of corporate America – not everyone is perfect (some even go to jail)– and being fallible makes you easier to emulate.

Marissa, BA50 wants to give you a shout out and thank you for paying attention to boomers. We are thrilled you support our niche.  And most importantly — we are hoping you continue to forge ahead on the minority woman CEO track giving our kids a woman they can emulate and strive to be.

Bravo, Marissa Mayer – keep on keeping on – and continue to show us what’s possible.

What’s For Lunch?

whats for lunchI never know what to eat for lunch anymore. The truth is, I really don’t like lunch in the summer. Sandwiches are so last year – what with the 2 slices of bread — and then what are you going to put between the slices?

Of course there’s always salad – but then what does that leave for dinner after a lunch of greens – more salad of course — BORING! As I peruse the menu at the local restaurants looking for something refreshing/different/healthy – I’m stumped. American lunches just never really taste fresh. Lettuces are rarely washed and have traces of the chemical flavor they are bagged with– tomatoes are usually mealy and cucumbers taste like soggy rice cakes.   Unless I’m in Italy or Israel (2 x in my life) –there’s never really an original selection – so it’s the usual – I think I’ll have the Cobb, or the Caesar.– How novel – Not!   It’s times like these I wish I hadn’t given up red meat — but that was back in1977, and I think my system would go into shock if I started up on burgers, sausages, and hot dogs.

So — What’s for lunch? This summer I’ve decided when at home, I’m going to drink my lunch. And, I’m going to drink it in a Chardonnay glass. I’ll be drinking liquid that’s elegant, fresh and crisp.  The ambrosia will be full of fresh pungent and complex flavors that coat my tongue and throat. And, even better, I’m going to drink what I have harvested. No – I don’t own a vineyard in California but I do have a 16 x 9 foot garden in Massachusetts. This summer I’m drinking my garden.

Yesterday, my dear friend Debra came over for lunch. She’s a veteran liquid lunch girl. When we talked about menu options – she was thrilled I had the right equipment to make a magical meal. You bet. I am fully loaded with the big daddy of all machines – the Vitamix Professional Series 300. I bought it on Amazon last summer for a pretty penny – but it’s worth it.   So here’s the essentials if you are thinking drinking lunch is for you.

  1. Fresh produce
  2. Vitamix
  3. Mason Jars — for the earthy look
  4. Wine Glass — for a bit of glamour

Although I’m a neophyte greens drinker, so far I’ve learned– if it’s in the garden or the veggie bin – it’s going into my lunch mix!

Here’s what Debra and I threw into the Vita Mix for our liquid green lunch:

Ingredients
  • 1½-2 cups (360-480 ml) water
  • ¾ pound (340 g) organic romaine lettuce, rough chopped, about 1 head
  • ½ head large bunch or ¾ small bunch organic spinach
  • 3-4 organic celery stalks, halved
  • 1 organic apple, cored, seeded, quartered
  • 1 organic pear, cored, seeded, quartered
  • 1 organic banana, peeled
  • ½ fresh organic lemon, peeled, seeded
  • 1 bunch organic cilantro with stems (optional)
  • 1 bunch organic parsley with stems (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place water, romaine, spinach, celery, and optional ingredients, if using, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 8.
  4. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Stop machine and remove lid.
  5. Add apple, pear, banana and lemon to the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  6. Select Variable 1.
  7. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  8. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.

Recipe courtesy of Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie Recipe.

Dealing With My Aging Skin

aging skinYesterday morning, I woke up ridiculously late, like 10 am, feeling like a prizefighter who had taken in the full 15 rounds. It felt great to sleep in – “this must be what the kids feel like – late nights – deep long sleeps – delish.” Splashing refreshing cold water on my face – I looked up and I caught a glimpse of – someone else?

“Whoa, my eyes”, I gasped. Heavy, thickly settled lids blinked back at me – I moved in to examine more closely and it wasn’t pretty. Puffy yet flimsy under-eye skin didn’t even have the decency to push out the creases. Like a well-inked block print, the mascara stuck to my crow’s feet and grooves.

No, I wasn’t sick and I wasn’t hung over. I had been up until 2 am with my son and his friends – just hanging out. It was so much fun. I felt like one of them. This morning I am reminded I am not one of them – I’m 25 years older.

I heard Kate Hepburn’s beauty secret was to get in bed by 9 pm as often as possible – plenty of rest, plenty of sleep and a good facial scrub.

Recipes for the facial scrub informed me to “squeeze half a lemon and add water and a tablespoon of sugar to the mixture.” Hepburn mixed lemon juice and sugar and scrubbed her face with it every night to keep her complexion clear, according to Glamourhttp://cometoverhollywood.com/2011/07/01/classic-actress-beauty-tip-14-clear-katharine-hepburn-complexion/

It certainly worked for her. Beauty regimens all talk about rest and cleansing. But, hey, I had my 8 hours of sleep. I guess I had the wrong 8 hours. Or maybe the Ponds Cold Cream wipe down and my any old night cream applications aren’t enough.

My morning face required another cottoning off with trusty ole Ponds Cold Cream, yet again. I dressed in Lulu’s “short” running shorts ready for a morning jog – and starting to feel my youth re-emerge.

Tip toeing out of the house – kids still in full sleep mode – I headed out to run the 3-miler. Happily singing and jogging along, I approached the coffee shop in town where I was to meet a friend and her husband. Glancing down at my legs I gasped. I had forgotten to put on dry skin cream. Scaly legs hungry for moisture and a good feeding lay all too bare. Dried snakeskin fish legs! I needed a louffah treatment – like now – wished I’d had some oil or cream in my fanny pack.

Brutal reality set in – I was witness to the skin on my legs in full decay. My thoughts drifted to the stories of leper colonies – islands where people were condemned to live in isolation watching while their bodies flaked away. Ok – time to refocus. Enough!

My friends greeted me with big hugs – they showed no sign of shock as they looked into my smiling eyes and seemed not to notice my fish legs. Instantly, I was transported to a happier place – listening, sharing and laughing and not talking about SKIN!

As I left them I was thinking about my Nana’s approach to her aging skin and obsession with routine. Surprise and shock about my daily skin health could certainly be softened if I had a plan – some preparation.

Hey I could cover up – almost everything. That would be one approach. At the age of 70 my nana wore a full body-leotard to the beach and sat under an umbrella – she seem pleased with her solution.

My dear friend who has what I consider the “perfect” figure told me she won’t even wear shorts any more that are 2 or 3 inches above the knees – she hates her knees – her skin is saggy she says. It made me a bit sad that she said that – she is so beautiful. Her knees look fine to me — I love wearing short shorts.

Many of my biking girlfriends over 50 wear capris instead of biking shorts – their aging skin embarrasses them. Really?

I put my foot down – nope I’m not giving up the short shorts, I’m still wearing a bikini not a wet suit to the beach and I am not biking in a hot long spandex leggings unless it’s below 50 degrees. And more importantly, I’m not going to bed before 2 a.m. if my there’s an opportunity to hang on the couch with the kids.

So for now – I’ve got a new skin strategy. I’m putting together a cocktail of a good dose of denial and a dollop of self-kindness. Once ingested, I plan to bypass the mirror until days end. My runs will be focused on the road ahead and not the legs that carry me there. I know I can get some comfort around the changes my skin is undergoing  All I need is a lot of acceptance, a good sense of humor and a of course, a good exfoliant and night cream.

 

Graduation Role Reversal: We Get To Be The Kids

college graduation adult children empty nestLast weekend my husband and I were part of my eldest son’s graduation festivities and we were blown away.

I had no expectations of what the weekend would provide. Frankly, I was mostly thinking, after all these years, how is it that I’m never prepared for these school happenings like other parents? That’s a rhetorical question – please don’t answer. Most of my friends would have had their hotel reservation booked the minute they got the graduation date.

In typical fashion, I was behind the eight ball trolling for rooms the August before the big day and none were to be found. My procrastinations had delivered the expected — a room 30 minutes away in a Marriott for $400 a night – their “special” graduation rate for Mom’s with delusional advanced planning problems.

Are you kidding — A Marriott in gorgeous New Hampshire, off the highway? Nope – I’d rather rent a Winnebago. As I earnestly began my search for campsites, I am serious, my husband laughed saying, “This is so not going to happen.”   Finally, after a few deep yoga breathes, I got some perspective. Reality set in and we went mildly rogue landing a cabin on the Appalachian Trail, 5 minutes from our son’s place. Thank you airbnb.  I’m a convert now.

Next I had to wrestle with my younger boy’s full-blown musical performance commitments to “encourage” him to clear some calendar space. Unfortunately, his schedule had been set by the time I’d delivered the last parental ultimatum of my life to the tune of  – “only severe medical excuses will be accepted”. This time when I brought up our  “family law” of showing up at all milestone events – it wasn’t going to be that simple.   He had bookings locked in with 6 month lead times. Being a mom, the only command performance to my mind was his brother’s graduation. He totally agreed but he had a team, agents and was on contract for a music festival 3 hours away on both Saturday and Sunday of graduation weekend. Uggh!

Needless to say, our musician wanted to be at his brother’s big day as much as we all wanted him there. He promised me, he would figure it out — and alas, so he did. In cahoots with his amazing stepped-up step dad Bill, they hatched a transport plan between shows.

So, as graduation day neared, the pre-planning anxieties melted away. My worry list was blank — we were not in charge of this weekend. Our graduate was totally running the schedule. With emails and instructions about when and where to show up — Bill and I realized we were not in the front seat of any planning. We had nothing to do but “be the kids” and show up on command.  Our job was to experience being his “guests” at his graduation.

Guests at our son’s graduation – Really! This was the twist we had not foreseen. Undergraduate graduations had been orchestrated by us; dinners, organizing the grandparents, showing up and being shooed as far away as possible from where the kids were partying. We were the outsiders then – but this time we were invited to be not only the insiders – but also the honorees. Yes, even better than being guests at the graduation – we were the honored guests. Welcomed into the classrooms, treated to cocktails, and invited to barbeques and beer pong. Given name tags saying who we belonged to (we were Jake’s responsibility)  and treated to dinners organized by the kids. We were so not in charge of anything and it was fantastic.

Our boy sent us a case study to review 2 nights before the Friday afternoon classes we had signed on for.  When I told him the night before I hadn’t read the case — he laughed.  “Mom, that’s going to be pretty embarrassing if you don’t do your prep work because I emailed the professor and told him to ‘cold call’ you”. NICE!  The threat worked, rising at 6 am day of class, I crammed the case. Needless to say, my husband was prepared well ahead of schedule.

The class went great — we were called on – thank goodness there were no wrong answers (at least that’s what the Prof. told us.) We loved being the students and were treated after all our hard work to ice cold beers after class.

The parties started that Friday night and ended into the wee hours of Sunday. The highlights are a little fuzzy as we embraced our student life. Beer Pong became our new favorite sport. Mom-pong, Dad-pong, brother-pong.  Yes, we drank way too much beer losing many a match, ate too much BBQ and slept in way too late both mornings. But the best news — we got an A+ from our boy –he was proud of us. He shined with pride in his handsome cap and gown, introducing us to his friends and professors.

We’re thinking we could get used to this “kid” role.

P.S. Funniest stand out comment of the weekend. My husband boasted to me on our way home from the 2nd blow out Pong Party — “Did you notice, we were the last oldest people there tonight –pretty good huh?”

 

 

 

 

Power Napping For Energy

187649102This Spring/Summer has come on with a blast. We have been catapulted from the couch to the tennis courts, from the kitchen to the grill and from warm red wines to crispy whites. We are off stationary bikes and onto road bikes, kayaking against strong harbor currents vs. ramped up tension settings on our gym rowing machines. Our lettuce comes from our freshly raked garden instead of the plastic box.  And, it has taken just a few weekends to embrace outdoors life again in all its glory.

Friends show up for impromptu dinners, and group cooking winds it’s way into late night dinners. Weekend guests abound and our lives feel full again.

And all feels great until — slam, we realize that our schedules have out-stretched our energy and we desperately need to head for the couch. As we settle into the Sunday New York Times our lids go heavy – we find ourselves in a deep snore when curled up with a late afternoon book.

There’s no escaping it, we are desperate for a nap.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, “A short nap of 20-30 minutes can help improve mood, alertness and performance.”

Up until (like last week), I’d never given myself permission to nap. I power through heavy lids until I am giddy with exhaustion or I can’t string a sentence together. Napping has always felt like an indulgence.

I just can’t imagine leaving a roomful of people to go to a quiet corner for a nap. It sounds like something “elderly” do. But, it turns out that not all nappers are over-age. In fact, there are some really famous nappers in the textbooks including: Winston Churchill, JKF, Ronald Regan, Einstein and Thomas Edison.

Aside from not wanting to join the rank of elder nappers, I have always perceived it as incredibly unproductive. Hey if I nap, then I won’t get the laundry done, or finish my photo albums or I won’t get in 20 minutes of afternoon writing, or return those calls I never seem to get to. Napping means giving up 20-30 minutes and “losing” a precious piece of the day.

But my body has been screaming for a nap lately. And last weekend I gave in. I joined my guests on the couch who were watching afternoon baseball and closed my eyes for 20 minutes. I awoke refreshed. The next day I put in a load of laundry and lay down with my book for 20 minutes between cycles and snoozed. Again, I felt rejuvenated. I was way more alert, way more productive an hour post-napping.

So this summer, I’ve decided to give myself permission to nap. I’m adjusting the way I think about naps –reframing my attitude. I’ve even crafted 6 napping visuals to encourage me to go for the 20-30 minutes time-out:

  1. A nap is like a meal – once I’ve fully digested its benefits – I will be able to draw on the energy I have fed myself.
  2. A nap is a rest for my eyes which unless closed are focused on fine print, computer screens, chasing balls and the eyes of those I am listening to.
  3. A nap is a reprieve for my muscles and joints that inevitably ache and need a break from the gluttony of excessive summer playtime activities.
  4. A nap is a rest for my busy mind, which attaches to every conversation and distraction like a dog chasing a ball.
  5. A nap is a moment of quiet which allows me to pause during the day – and breathe in the richness of my world.
  6. A nap is a way to harness the runaway advance of time – and take charge by saying “I’m in charge of the next 20 minutes.”

What about you — Are you a napper?

 

 

 

 

Hip Fashion After 50: The Sexy Leather Jacket

Ok ladies, there happens to be an acceptable fashion accessory this season that we all have in our closets.  Hint: it’s leather, you used to borrow it from your boyfriend, it covers your arms, it makes you feel Bad Ass. (totally BA50).

So run, don’t walk to the attic or to your kids’ closet and grab that leather jacket.  This spring/summer season you can wear it with sundresses, skirts and blouses, jeans for sure, and even with your cargo shorts and tee’s. Leather is amazing because it keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer – it qualifies as fashion that’s practical!  You can get super creative with leather, but try to keep the jackets short and don’t be afraid to step out and go for a color.  Leather jackets are like jeans – there’s no expiration date on age appropriateness.

So, let’s embrace the universal leather jacket and go shopping. Here’s a few I love but don’t own (yet)!

Vince.com is pricey and stylish - jackets are $995 –  this favorite is not an impulse item to be sure but an investment.

Zappos beige draped leather $64.99

Zappos.com beige draped leather $64.99

Vince.com Sandstone Leather Pure Luxury $995

Doesn’t this look like fun. Walk on the beach — throw on a scarf for a cool summer evening — wear with a white dress.  I think my niece may nab this one from my closet -(the thought makes me smile). This piece is $885, again no small investment at thisisveda.com.

But who woulda thunk that neimanmarcus.com had a “better deal” on blue leather at $320 on sale – ok you do the comp on these options. Which one would you get?

blue leather jacket

Beach Walker Chic by thisisveda.com, $885

Neiman Marcus Blue Leather On Sale for $320

Blue Leather On Sale at neimanmarcus.com for $320

BA50′s, have you seen these Leather Perforated Cardigans?  - They dress up any outfit – breathable and chic/cool. Here’s a great one from neimanmarcus.com yet again.

Perforated Leather Cardigan $395

Perforated Leather Cardigan from neimanmarcus.com $395

River Island Pale Pink Leather from riverisland.com $171.49

We’re  a pushover for petal pink leather. This jacket is “the bomb.” All summer long, fresh and upbeat with white tees. How can you beat the price. I’m ordering 2 now from riverisland.com. One for me and one for my girlfriend.

I Stole My Friend’s Travel Bucket List

466240817My travel bucket list just got really long because I stole my friend’s and added a few of my own to it. Just this past winter, I was on a women’s ski trip and met a new friend from Toronto. We were talking about travels and she told me she had a travel bucket list. I loved that she had it on her iPhone. I asked if she minded sharing it with me and so she did.

When I took a look at her list I realized I wanted to go to almost all the places she had on her list. I couldn’t believe, I had never been to most of them. I thought I was well traveled. That list combined with my own gave me a jolt because…

I’m actually not sure I can get to all the places on it in my lifetime.

Since I’m a firm believer in anything you set your mind to – you can pretty much accomplish – the reality that there’s more places to go on my new list than time available was hard to digest. TIME is the biggest obstacle to tackling this bucket list because I don’t see my husband and I taking more than one big trip a year. With more than 30 places on the list, I’m just not sure I’m going to get to check off all the must-sees and dos before the gong rings.

Travel budgeting is a cruel reality – my travel fantasies can be pricey. I would love to say that “Lonely Planet” is my guidebook, but I’m not a dollar a day traveller. My husband and I like a nice hotel that feels authentic, small and comfortable and we especially prefer a boutique style. Whether it’s a bike trip, hiking, kayaking or cat skiing adventure, a clean fresh bed at the end of an adventurous day in a place with comfort and character is preferred. Hiking biking, ski or history guides to take us beyond the obvious and eating quality local food all adds up to a big price tag for a 10 days to 2 weeks on the road so that certainly limits the number of trips we are able to take.

And last, what gets in the way is the stress of planning. I’m not an enthusiastic trip researcher. Booking flights is my husband’s domain (thank goodness), finding great inns or hotels are supposed to be my bailiwick. Obstacles abound in the planning process and clearing the calendars from the get go is always a challenge.

The bottom line — traveling takes effort, time and money and unless you’re really motivated, staying home or falling back on a repetitive vacation routine can easily be the go-to plan.

I have however developed a process for my trip planning. Whenever I think about hitting a new city I send out an email to my most well traveled friends – asking where to stay. – Where to eat – top sights to see.

Next, I put the list of recommendations in my trusty Notes App on my iPhone under “vacations.”

Then I put in some intense googling research and immerse myself in the destination. Once completely overwhelmed (which doesn’t take too long), I call American Express concierge service and let them do the bookings.

My husband and I recently put together a fabulous itinerary for Amsterdam all through American Express Travel services buttressed by recommendations from my well-traveled friend Susan. Unfortunately we had to cancel 3 days before due to family stuff – we couldn’t believe we were only charged $18 each.

So, as we sit and look at the year ahead we need to figure out which trip t opick from our newly expanded fantastic travel bucket list. This is the kind of stress we embrace (#travelbrats)

  1. Tulips in Amsterdam in April
  2. Iceland for a long weekend
  3. Fjords of Scandinavia
  4. Golfing in Scotland
  5. Biking in Ireland
  6. Family Safari in Africa during migration season
  7. Heli skiing (I think)
  8. Skiing with friends in Europe
  9. Tango in Argentina
  10. Ski Patagonia
  11. Climb up to Machu Pichu
  12. Hiking in Bhutan and Nepal
  13. Ashram in India
  14. Namibia and the Red Dunes
  15. Angkor Watt, Cambodia & Vietnam
  16. Yoga Retreat in Bali
  17. See the Seychelle Islands
  18. Galapagos with kids
  19. Salmon Fishing in Alaska by Sea Plane
  20. White water rafting on Colorado
  21. Climb to bottom of Grand Canyon
  22. New Zealand – a few weeks of biking and hiking
  23. Australia’s opera house for a live performance
  24. Biking in Moab
  25. Back country hut to hut skiing on The Haute Route in Switzerland
  26. Biking and Kayaking the San Juan Islands
  27. Visiting the Pyramids in Egypt
  28. Island hopping via sailboat in the Greek Islands
  29. Dude ranch in Montana
  30. Sail the coast of Maine and hike Acadia

What’s on your travel bucket list? Feel free to steal from mine – after all don’t we get our best ideas from putting our heads together?

 

 

 

 

How’s My Hair?

JazzThe snowfall was higher than my 9” tall dog Jazz. When we looked out the back window and saw that there was yet another 12 inches of snow on top of the 8-inch base we both felt defeated. This new light fluff was lovely but not for my short legged pup Jazz.  Her morning constitution was yet again disrupted by weather and that wasn’t the worst of it.  When I took her out to the street – she was shocked and pained by the salted sidewalk – gravely wet dirt and muddy winter melted mess on the “cleared” area.

Winter was miserable for Jazz and it took a toll on her hair.  Like most women – how Jazz’s hair looks matters.  You see her hair is her calling card.  Jazz gets invited onto friends’ couches, she’s welcomed on sleepovers and is the favorite pup of even my non-dog lovin friends because – I hate to be so superficial –but…..when she looks good she’s way more welcomed in.

Jazz does not have fur – she has hair and and that’s what makes it so temperamental.  Yes, she has a lovely personality, and her breath is not offensive, her eyes don’t have goobers and her nails are never too sharp – but that’s not enough.  Not even her ability to hear and respond to every command gets her couch status. She has an exceptionally high EQ, her Emotional Intelligence rating is off the charts.  But truly, it’s her hair that gets her the most attention.

The snow dried in dirty clumps all winter on her normally unshaved legs. No matter how many baths I gave her, she looked dirty. Even after a good grooming – within hours – she was disheveled.  One evening at a book club gathering – my normally welcoming friends did not summon her onto their laps. She was sad – I could tell. “Get down” was most of what she heard. Not the normal “You are the cutest – you are my favorite pup”

The winter was tough on Jazz and what it came down to – was partially the weather – but mostly because the miserable dampness and snowfall took it’s toll on her hair.

Jazz is a perfect blond – one that Clairol has tried to imitate with their “Clairol #5 Medium Natural Blonde” Many a woman has snapped a photo of her for their colorist to mimic.

Jazz’s hair when perfectly blown – not poofed but “piecey” and soft, sans frizz – gives her face a shape that is irresistibly kissable. Her trims are best as a puppy cut despite her 9 years, because any variation makes her look too snouty and pointy. When the groomer gets in too close to her nose and doesn’t leave enough around her chin – why she looks and frankly acts a bit snarly and older.  Softness around the mouth brings her smile on and attracts more attention and welcome patting from strangers.

Jazz looks younger with the right haircut. She looks friendlier and more approachable with a good facial trim.  Jazz looks like a natural girl – and is more easily accepted by big dog lovers when her hair is naturally shaggy and not poofed like those foo foo poodles.

Jazz goes on 3 to 5 mile runs with me a couple times a week but seems to prefer walking now that she’s hit her later 50’s (9 years old).  Her figure is still lovely and too much mid body poof can add an extra few pounds to her look. Too much shaving renders her – dare I say – rodent like.

Hey, it’s a dance this hair thing. Don’t we know it ladies.

If ever I could relate to my pup it’s truly about our hair. Next week we’re getting our summer trims.  Can you relate?

 

The Good Mother GPA

graduation-rateThe other day I was sitting around with some girlfriends and we were talking about our role as Mothers. How do we rate ourselves as moms – what kind of GPA would we give ourselves?

One thing we can count on is, most of us are our own toughest critics so the grade we give ourselves may not always be particularly “generous.”  Whether we score high or low grades as The Good Mother certainly depends on life stages and caveats. It is based on the rule of “it depends.” It depends on how the kids develop, stuff we can control and can’t control; it depends on life’s curve balls. It depends on our own definitions of whether our kids have grown up “successfully.” Are they thoughtful, egotistical, selfish, do they have skills, are they kind, balanced and motivated?  Are they passionate about something/anything?  It’s certainly a subjective discussion.

One of my closest friends had a top-level high-powered job from day one of her kids’ births through their college years.  She often wondered if she was being a Good Mom because of the time demands of her job. She had a tough time showing up at school stuff and wasn’t around after school.  Today with both kids in their 20’s, she is relaxed and happy with her relationship with her kids and they love hanging out with her too– both kids have very independent lives. She feels like she must have done something right although it didn’t always feel like she was being The Good Mother.

Another friend of mine stopped working within the first year of her child being born and has not gone back to work. She says she loved the early years and totally enjoyed being present for school projects, play dates and sports games. She defined herself as The Good Mother in those formative years. As the kids went off to college, she started to feel some regrets. She was experiencing the big void – and so were her kids. The kids were always calling and having a hard time adjusting to being away. Perhaps if she had given them more space – maybe if she’d had a part-time job – in this later stage she didn’t feel much like The Good Mother.

No question that being The Good Mother of kids in their 20’s is different than the early years – much like the difference between high school and college.  In order to determine The Good Mother GPA, we need to break down the timeline of mothering into three stages.

I. Early Stage Mothering: Newborn to Kindergarten.

A+. I loved these early years. I loved being a Mom to a newborn up until they went off to their first day of school.

B+. I felt pulled in too many directions, it was hard for me to focus on being a Mom. I had work, sleep issues and I wasn’t totally on my game.

C.    I couldn’t wait for them to start school.

II. Middle Stage Mothering: Until They Leave the Nest (up until age 18):

A+. I was a great Mom up through high school. I got involved just enough and enjoyed this entire time period.

B+. I was anxious for my kids and concerned about how they would do – it was a challenging time and I could have done some stuff better.

C.    I’ve had it. This was the most stressful time ever and I believe once they leave it will be better for us all.

III. Later Stage Mothering: College through their Early Careers (22 through marriage):

A+. I love having an adult relationship with my kids. I feel connected and we both appreciate what we have to offer one another.

B+. I am constantly worried about my child and feel that I am not able to help them weather the ups and downs of jobs, relationships and disappointments. I am not sure I’m doing such a great job.

C.   I am secretly hoping I won’t have to field any more calls and that they will just figure it out – or get married so I don’t have to be on the front line anymore.

IV. Latest Stage: (I can’t comment on this so will have to leave this out of the equation).

V. Curve Balls and Caveats. Everyone’s got them at every stage. If you’ve had a big curve ball, i.e. divorce, yours or your child’s health issues, loss, financial and/or work crises etc. – The question is how do you grade yourself as a Mother during that crisis.

A+. I was the best mom I could be, given the circumstances.

B+  I could have done better.

C.    I would like a redo.

Well, how did you do?  What grade do you give yourself this Mother’s Day?  Would you dare discuss your GPA with your kids?  It certainly could be a lively dinner table topic.

No matter how tough you are on yourself, chances are at some point along the mothering spectrum you have in fact gotten an  A+ as The Good Mother.

Happy Mother’s Day — enjoy it as it  is your day to be kind to yourself. Walk tall knowing you have done your best when you could. From one mom to another, wishing you  a Happy Mothers Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Pick The Partners We Do

155670374I had a choice of six talks to go to at The Simmons Leadership Conference last week and I picked Dr. Helen Fisher’s, “The Female Mind: The Biology of Leadership.” Dr. Fisher is a Biological Anthropologist.  Doesn’t that pique your interest?

Dr. Fisher has written 5 books on the evolution and future of human sex, love, marriage, gender differences in the brain and how your personality type shapes who you are and who you love.  She also is the “Chief Scientific Advisor” to the Internet dating site Match.com. She is referred to as “The Love Doctor” over at Rutgers where she teaches.

When I heard that she was scientifically advising Match.com, I came home and started googling Dr. Fisher.  I really wanted to understand how dating and science could be co-mingled.  I found this great video called Dr. Helen Fisher: 4 Personality Types in Men.

Dr. Fisher talked about personality types and how figuring out which type you are informs the partner best suited for you.  She called these personality traits our temperaments, and it was eye opening and confirming to the audience to see which category we see ourselves and our partner’s fitting into.

She talked about 4 brain systems that are linked to personality (not intelligence, but temperament):

1. Estrogen (pro-social/empathetic)  “The Negotiator” – sees big picture, great verbal skills, imaginative, and great people skills. These men often choose Testosterone types to be attracted to.

2.  Testosterone (analytical/tough minded) “The Director” — analytical, logical, direct, decisive, tough minded, good at math, computers, mechanics. These men go for their opposite- such as the high Estrogen type who is more big picture.

3. Serotonin (cautious/social norm compliant) “The Builders” — orderly, respect authority, traditional, conventional, conscientious, cautious, and social. These men go for women like themselves who are also traditional.

4. Dopamine (curious/energetic)  “The Explorers” — risk taking, novelty seeking, optimistic, restless, spontaneously generous, creative, quite liberal and flexible. These men gravitate to women who are just like them, they want women who are also Explorers.

The above describes the “chemistry” of personality; not nurture- but the “nature” of our biological temperament.  She developed a questionnaire for Chemistry.com (a division of Match.com) and got 39,000 responses – a statistically significant study, as my statistics teacher would say.  The goal of the study was to help people determine what category they fell into as a means to match them best with a romantic partner.

She said that the biggest take away of her study proved that the myth — all men are alike — is not in fact true-AND, all men want to be needed by a woman no matter what their personality type. Fisher’s takeaways shake up some of our belief systems about men.  My first stop from the Fisher study was to focus on personality traits to see if I picked the “right partner” in both of my marriages. I loved what I discovered and PS (Yes indeed I did well with both my picks).

As Dr. Fisher moved through her presentation, it was clear to me which brain system defined me. The woman sitting next to me was struck by how she clearly fell into a different brain system.

Let me say, listening to Dr. Fisher describe “me” was way better than reading my horoscope (which I admit to enjoying as a card carrying Sagittarian).  This study was grounded in science and research not just intuition and planet alignment. It was fun to see how different personality traits fit neatly into one of these 4 categories.

At a minimum, whether this is real science or not, it is worth learning about as it makes for great dinner party conversation.  So did you marry the right partner?

If you want to really figure out what “type” you and your husband/partner are then buy her book Why Him? Why Her? and answer the 56 questions in the book that are identical to those on the Chemistry questionnaire.

TV’s Leading Ladies: The Almost 50 Somethings Are Killing It

I was not one of the people who were addicted to soaps, and had their “favorite shows” but that was then.

During our child rearing years, we were never big TV show watchers and the only family TV time was watching  sports and the Simpsons. But,  that all changed ten years ago when Jack Bauer and “24″ first entered our living room. With the DVR at our fingertips we became irresponsible TV marathon “24” junkies and shamelessly drove our  kids bleary eyed and late to school.

We weren’t proud of our addiction but frankly this was the best entertainment series we’d ever known.  And, this was just the beginning as TV series have gotten even better.

Today I credit many TV shows as additive in my life; it’s great for at home date nights,  super relaxing, delightfully distracting, girlfriend bonding, plus it keeps us connected and current with the kids.

What appears to have shifted over the years in TV series offerings, are the number of Leading Ladies who are dominating. There seem to be more women than ever who are at the centerpiece these shows.

Strong women role models, TV heroines, and more importantly for we mid-lifers, women in their almost 50′s  are showing up in great leading roles. I started to make a list and wanted to share some of my favorites, and was hoping you’d share some of yours in the comment section below.

If you’re looking for great entertainment here’s some of my favorite Leading Ladies who are dominating TV these days — and –they are almost 50-somethings.

The Good Wife, boasts 2 mid-life super lawyers, Christine Baranski at 62 years old as Diane Lockhart and  Julianna Margulies, 48, as Alicia Florrick.  For those who have left the law profession, maybe this will inspire you to go back.  If you haven’t started this series — pray for a few rainy days this spring and enjoy.

Julianna-Margulies

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep.  A member of the  BA50 team. Ok, doesn’t she look amazing — she’s 52 years old.  We loved her as Elaine on Seinfeld and  she continues to make us laugh in Veep. She is truly the leading lady and this comedy series is fun to keep up with  – but not as addictive for me.

Julia_Louis-Dreyfus_VF_2012_Shankbone_3

 

Robin Wright, 48 years old in House of Cards. I admit it, I’m obsessed with Robin and just love to watch her steely, smart, conniving, sexy, coolness.  She’s totally unrelatable to most women but fascinating in this drama of demonic Washington power politics.  You will want to clear 2 days for marathon watching if you haven’t dosed on this already.

robin wright
Connie Britton, 47 years old, dominates the TV series Nashville. Have you seen it? Michelle Obama has and will be on this week. If you love great singing, good family dramas and you are curious about the music industry — Nashville will suck you in. By the way, if you missed Connie in Friday Night Lights as Coach’s wife — put it on the must see list.

Connie Britton

 

Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie at 51 years old, is totally compelling. Edie is far from being the “perfect” mother,  challenged with  difficult teenage girls, she is a drug addict, and cheated on her husband who is a great guy. So why is she so damn relatable for BA50s? Because she is flawed. The show is as habit forming as her addictions.

nurse jackie

 

 

Have you  see the new series Suits with Gina Torres at 45 years old? You’ll love the way Gina as Jessica Pearson, managing partner of the law firm Pearson Specter, keeps her testosterone-crazed law firm in balance. It takes a woman to balance out a pack of ego-crazed men.

gina torres

 

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE YOUNGER LEADING LADIES:

Claire Danes, in Homeland is wacked and exhausting to watch and like Jack Bauer  – she leaves us breathless in her attempt to keep America safe. And, she is forever flipping out.  For many she’s an acquired taste but, she gets under our skin and you will most likely wake up on the couch in the wee hours hungover from Homeland. PS: she’s only 35.

claire-danes-cry-face

 

Lizzy Caplan, Showtime’s Masters of Sex plays Virgina Johnson of Masters and Johnson.  I’ve included her on the list because the subject of this duo who revolutionized how women view the big “O” is  one that changed the landscape for BA50s.  Lizzy is sexy, steamy and smart and there’s lots of explicit “matter” in this show. Stick with it because not every episode is great but once you’re in — your in.  Lizzy is only 32.

Lizzy Caplan