Tag Archives: relationships

women sitting on a dock with balloons

Milestone Birthday Panic: Barely 50 and Overthinking

Ah, the milestone birthday and all its marvelous fallout. As those round numbers approach – 50, 60 70, our thoughts turn to “What am I supposed to do now?” For instance, as my 50th approached, my brain went berserk with this sort of nonsense:

“Do I have to throw out all my jeans and purchase more ‘age appropriate’ items?”

“Maybe I need to grow my hair long again.”

“You know what I need? A sports car. ”

“Is this what I want to do for the rest of my career?”

“What DO I want to do?”

“The average lifespan for women is 81? I can’t afford to live to 81!” Which then leads to –

“Is playing the lottery a viable retirement plan?” and “How much are kidneys going for these days?”

And the biggest brain-drain of all – “WHAT HAVE I DONE WITH MY LIFE?!”

I am “barely 50,” but quite a few of these crazy thoughts and questions continue to pop up. Mostly at night, written in capital letters on the inside of my eyelids.

Not Alone

Turns out, women 50 and over are particularly prone to these panic-inducing thoughts. Georgia Foster, a London-based clinical therapist who specializes in anxiety was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, “It’s often assumed women in their 50s and 60s will be financially stable, happy with their professional achievements and content to slow down, but in truth, this age group are expected to work longer and harder, and for those who don’t have a healthy pension there is fear about the future.”

In addition to financial worry, you can toss in the health issues that become more prevalent, the empty nests, caring for aging parents while sometimes still raising children, and the dreaded menopause – night sweats, weight gain, mood swings and a libido that throws up its hands and walks out on you. It’s the perfect storm that can take a once vibrant and intelligent woman and transform her into a trembling, jelly-like mass of nerves.

So what’s a girl to do? Other than refill her prescription for Valium? Some of our thoughts (once you get past the crazy and into what you’re really worried about) are helpful in forming goal-oriented behavior. Read this article by Dr. Jena Field about embracing your inner critic. She tells us that even our most destructive inner voice is trying to help us. (Although the voice could learn better timing than the moment your head hits the pillow.) We’ve also covered some great ideas for coping with your role as a caregiver and options for managing everything from night sweats to that elusive sex drive.

Silver Lining

There is the opportunity in all this milestone birthday questioning that comes with being “barely 50” to ask yourself something more important than whether or not you should take up hang gliding. Maybe what you are really wanting is to step outside your comfort zone. That inner voice could be prodding to make sure you have really LIVED, and lived well. Have you scared yourself lately? Felt a rush of adrenaline from something other than that moment last week when you thought you lost your wallet?

Not everyone can pick up and take off on a trip around the world or whatever else is on their bucket list. Some are lucky to be able to find an hour to grocery shop, or relax in a bath. You may be worried about finances, or your health, or your children. As we get older, we get wiser, and what sometimes passes as wisdom is our ridiculous brain looking too far down the road and scaring us with the shadows of things to come. But at 50, we should have learned that life is always changing. The struggle you have today won’t always be the struggle you have. And somewhere out there is a person who would trade your troubles for theirs in a heartbeat.

Points to Ponder

These milestone birthday moments we celebrate bring us together with family and friends. They give us a moment to reflect over the past year. (Or even the past decade.) Those faces you see around you, too well-lit by the candle flames on your cake… do you see those faces enough? Have you really talked with them? Do they know what they mean to you? Say something now.

Now, here are a few things to consider when the panic of looking ahead or behind sets in:

Stop comparing your life to others.

Count your blessings. You have more than you think.

Call a financial planner. Seriously.

Grow your hair out, or shave it off, but don’t do either because of your age.

Consider what you want to do next professionally that will make you happy and draw up a plan of action.

Get moving. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel if you are getting even a little exercise.

Get out of yourself. Call a friend. Drop off a note for a neighbor. Volunteer to answer phones, stuff envelopes, or hand out water at a charity walk or run. Sometimes “me time” is (ironically) giving yourself a break from thinking too much about yourself.

I hope I can remember that when barely milestone birthday 6-0 strikes and the urge to buy a Harley kicks in.

best places to meet men

26 Best Places To Meet Men in Real Life

Spring is finally here. People are out and about again, so it’s a wonderful time to meet a man. Yet, most women fear meeting men this way because they’re not sure where the single men over 50 are hanging out.

I have a secret to share with you. Men are everywhere! But the reason it’s hard to meet them is because we have a tendency to go to the same places and see the same men over and over again.

Did you know that most of us usually stay within a 3-5 mile radius of where we live? Just think about the same restaurants you go to or the same movie theaters you frequent. We are creatures of habit!

To get out of this habit, you’ll want to get out there and explore some new places. So how do you find the best places to meet men? A creative way to do this is to write all of the letters in the alphabet from A – Z on a piece of paper. You’re going to have 26 lines. After each letter, I want you to write down a potential place, either in your area, or a place you want to visit that corresponds with that letter.

An easy example of the best places to meet men using this creative way is A for airport. Men fly around the world for business on a daily basis. There’s always some man you can speak with whether it’s at one of the bars or restaurants in the airport or at the gate while you’re waiting to board.

I’m going to give you a couple of letters that are a little harder to figure out. Q is one of the hardest. How about the Quick Mart, which is like a convenience store? Why is the Quick Mart one of the best places to meet men?

Well, this is the place you go both head to find something really quick or something you need at the last minute. Maybe it’s milk, a bottle of wine, or even butter for a recipe you decided to make. You’re standing together in line waiting to check out so it’s an easy place to start a conversation.

Now lets do the letter X. You could meet men in the Xerox place. For most of us the Xerox place is Kinko’s, but you can call it the Xerox place, because X is a pretty hard letter to fill in. A lot of businessmen rely on Kinko’s to take care of their printing needs. You can ask a man questions about the sign or books he’s picking up, and from there the conversation has the potential to take off.

When you’re filling out your alphabet list of best places to meet men, you’ll want to think about places where you might have a shared interest with men. You’re not going to find too many men at knitting classes, but you will find them in other places. For example, if you love hiking and climbing, find a venue for rock climbing in your city.

If you love reading, head to the library or watch for men reading books on buses, trains or even in a restaurant. You can always ask what they enjoy reading. If you love music, you can go to concerts and bars that feature music and ask a man what his favorite band is.  You’re choosing places that give you common ground so its easier to get the conversation flowing.

Talking to men everywhere you go creates a new habit in your life that makes you proactive. And, it can lead you to meeting great guys and possibly finding the relationship you want. So you have a choice. You could sit around and complain that there are no good men out there, or you can get out and start meeting new men in all the new places you’ve found by creating your A to Z list. And who knows, by the end of the summer, you could have a new man in your life!

cognitive decline

When Memory Fades: Planning for Care

 

 

With the incidence of Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline projected to rise, this insight from Merrill Lynch Wealth Management could help you prepare financially for a day you hope never will come.

More and more families today find themselves touched by the tragedy of Alzheimer’s. Forty-four million people globally were living with the disease in 2014, and by 2050, that number is projected to multiply to 135 million, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. There is also increasing public awareness of the emotional and financial toll that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can take.

Consider, for example, the story of the Bazaz family. The first signs were subtle. Cecile Bazaz forgot her computer password. Then she asked her family twice, five minutes apart, what they wanted for breakfast. Before long, the successful Atlanta executive began missing deadlines, skipping appointments and going to work on her days off. Medical tests at Emory University in 2009 confirmed that Cecile, then just 51 years old, had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

That diagnosis set in motion a series of life-altering transitions for Cecile and her husband, Alister Bazaz, an executive at Bank of America. And until science comes up with a cure for dementia, more and more families will find themselves facing similar obstacles. Yet as Alister has discovered, there is much you can do to anticipate and prepare for a day you hope will never come. “I cannot think of anything more important for your financial life than planning for the possibility of Alzheimer’s or dementia,” he says.

How Would You Pay for Care?

A big part of that planning involves what to do if someone needs full-time nursing care at home or in a residential facility. Purchasing long-term-care insurance far in advance of when it may be needed is one way to help cover that large expense. Having adequate life insurance, too, could be crucial. Fortunately, when Alister and Cecile were in their early forties and in good health, they beefed up their long-term disability coverage, which pays benefits if you are no longer able to work.

Starting early can be advantageous when considering how to handle the health-related costs of later years. In your forties, long-term-care insurance is likely to be more affordable.

After Cecile’s diagnosis, but while she still was able to discuss her future, she and Alister met with a tax attorney and a lawyer specializing in estate matters. They settled issues such as assigning Cecile’s power of attorney to Alister, signing a living will and a health-care directive, and noting her preferences for care. They also considered estate issues—for example, what would happen if Alister died first? How could they ensure that Cecile would be cared for, and that their grown daughter, Kathleen, would receive the inheritance they wished to leave her?

“Another essential part of preparing for a family member’s cognitive decline is to make sure you have access to financial accounts and documents,” says Cynthia Hutchins, director of Financial Gerontology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who suggests recording critical information such as passwords and storing important papers in a secure location that family members can get to if necessary.

Financial Early-Warning Signs

The early indications of cognitive decline are often hard to identify. What starts as neglecting to pay bills can accelerate to impulsive spending, large account withdrawals or calling a financial advisor multiple times a day.

One way for family members to get an early warning about potential cognitive issues, Hutchins says, is to create a document authorizing a financial advisor to reach out to a family member or another trusted person if there are signs of problems.

Having the Difficult Conversation

The starting point of any strategy for dealing with cognitive decline is a frank, open discussion, says Hutchins. “This is a hard conversation to have, but it can empower everyone by identifying the needs, preferences and goals of a family member.” Those may include where that person wants to receive care and who will manage finances.

If it falls to you to prompt the conversation, Hutchins suggests asking whether your parent has thought about what will happen if he or she can no longer care for himself or herself. “Make sure they understand you are not trying to take away their independence,” she advises.

Caregiving Made (a Little) Easier

Families also need to consider who will take the role of primary caregiver and the financial implications of that choice. You may decide to leave your job to provide care, and as the disease progresses, to hire part-time aides to help with personal care and companionship, or you might consider adult daycare or respite care at a residential facility.

Finding an Alzheimer’s support group in your area can also help. “You need to take care of yourself as well,” says Alister Bazaz. “Make sure you eat well and exercise, and try to maintain a social network outside of your caregiving.”

For several years, Alister shared the care of Cecile with Kathleen, who is now in her mid-twenties, and they also had the help of professional caregivers. But as her condition worsened, Cecile needed assistance with even the most routine tasks, including eating. Alister and Kathleen finally realized they could no longer give Cecile everything she needed, and they made the difficult decision to move her into a residential-care facility.

“That’s a very personal decision for any family,” Alister says. But in cases of serious cognitive decline, caring for a spouse or parent at home often becomes overwhelming, and you will need to find a residential facility specializing in dementia care.

While there is no bringing back the smart, engaged person Cecile had been, “my daughter and I have become closer in the process of dealing with our family’s challenge,” Alister says. 

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living with an elderly parent

Living with an Elderly Parent: When my Mother-in-Law Moved In

When the topic of Grandma (aka my mother-in-law) moving in came up, I’ll admit I was nervous. We haven’t always seen eye to eye on things. We are quite different.

The thing I was certain of was the fact that I was lucky to have room for another adult in our house. More importantly, she is a woman who had put everything into raising her three boys and had participated in the raising of my four girls by babysitting and other types of visits. Her husband passed away, and there was no real reason not to offer my home.

I am very active, and the two children who were still in the house are very active. While we had plenty of room, we didn’t have extra time. The most important part of living with an elderly parent was the communication of thoughts and desires. I wanted to make sure my mother-in-law knew that I didn’t feel like I was doing her a favor. I wanted her to feel valued and needed. I made it clear that I didn’t have any illusions of never needing the same kind of consideration sometime later in my life, and that having her live in my house was an opportunity for all of us to connect better and to learn from each other. None of us know for sure what kind of help we might someday need. I look ahead and try to consider what my life will look like. I can only hope I am not too proud to feel it would be a personal inadequacy if I moved in with one of my daughters. It’s a shame we seem to have exchanged the pride of independence for lack of connection with family, particularly the elderly.

While Grandma was living in my house, I tried to make life appear less hectic. I tried to have regularly scheduled dinners. I also tried to touch base one-on-one with her every couple of weeks to make sure we were on the same page.

I notice if I am busier and have regularly scheduled visits with friends and family members, I am happier and worry less. With this in mind, I sent out group texts to the older children of the family and other family members asking them to schedule dates with Grandma so she wouldn’t get bored. I think this gave all involved a chance to feel worthwhile.

My mother-in-law moved out a couple of months ago. We had a big family meeting before she moved into our house and we all put our heads together to make a plan going forward. Our home was intended to be temporary. My brother-in-law was in the process of moving to a new house, and during the discussions of how best to address everyone’s needs, his family decided to have a house built with a mother-in-law set up. It is within the home with a separate kitchenette, small sitting area, bedroom and bath. It’s the best of both worlds for everyone.

I feel fortunate that our family had the benefit of good timing. We were able to set up a plan that accommodated everyone’s family in the best way possible. We all feel better about knowing what Grandma’s living situation is and will be. We also set up a life insurance policy to cover funeral expenses so there isn’t a situation that could cause financial difficulty for any of our families, considering college and potential wedding expenses for our children. We have also investigated potential living situations should she develop health issues, and established doctors and dentists for her in a town convenient for two of our families.

All of this allows the whole family to rest a little easier and prompted us to communicate better. All our children, age 8 to 32, have had an opportunity to spend quality time with their grandma. They have all had a chance to see what life can look like as we age. Grandma gave us her time as a mother and as a grandmother and helped us learn to be considerate and communicate. We are grateful we’ve all had a chance to feel better connected through this experience of living with an elderly parent.

how to flirt

3 Ways You Can Reinvent Your Flirting Mojo

Most of us would like to be better at flirting. It seems as though the most expert flirters among us mingle effortlessly with the opposite sex, while most of us blush and stumble over our words. Otherwise, outgoing women have no idea how to flirt with men, nor do they want to. They consider it childish, bordering on classless.

I have news for you. Here is what you get when you don’t flirt with nice men: a nice conversation. Yet, the mere sound of the word makes many cringe because how you define flirting is what makes you uneasy.

The Fallacy of Flirting

Flirting defined is to behave as though you are attracted to someone without serious intention of an outcome. Therein lies the reason many women flinch at flirting because they become attached to an outcome.

The excuses I often hear from my clients are, “I’m not attracted to him.” “I don’t want to give him the wrong impression.” “I’m not good at it.”

This is not what flirting is about. Flirting is creating a magnetism; a playfulness that draws people to you. That’s it. Flirt with life. Flirt with babies. And, flirt with men. Flirt without attachment to an outcome.

Work To Your Own Strengths

Lots of us would love to have Marilyn Monroe-levels of effortless charm, but if you’re naturally a bit more goofy or shy than the smooth 1950s American icon, forcing this persona is not going to work. Besides, it’s unnecessary. Plenty of men prefer down-to-earth, funny and self-deprecating women. They find the calculated slickness of more traditional flirters off-putting, so make sure you’re flirting in a way that’s natural to you and compatible with your personality type.

Not feeling confident about how to flirt? Confidence is experience. When you don’t have experience with something you don’t have confidence. The remedy is to start small until you have more confidence.

Here we share how to flirt with flair and class in three simple ways:

1. Compliment him.

Have you ever noticed that we use compliments to connect with other women? “I love your purse!” “Your job sounds amazing!” “You crack me up!”

Why don’t you do that with men? Men love to know that you consider them to be smart, capable, fascinating and funny. A sincere compliment in those areas will give you a leap toward connection.

You can tell him he has nice eyes, and he’ll appreciate it. But that won’t go so far as more substantive compliments. A confident, good man needs to hear more than you think he’s cute.

Tell him when you agree with something he says, ask his opinion, let him suggest a book or restaurant, laugh at his jokes or tell him his business sounds interesting. Tell him you want to know more about something in which he’s interested.

Men rarely receive compliments from women. When you do share a compliment, you will stand out and he will take a second look.

2. Use your beautiful body.

Using your body to flirt does not have to be suggestive or silly.

You can be be subtle but very clear. Stand straight in front of him, feet parallel with his, and make eye contact. Be playful. Brush your hand against his arm or shoulder, twirl and flip your hair, and use open hand gestures.

Responding to this type of behavior from a woman is instinctive. Men can’t help themselves. He won’t even know what’s happening to him; he will just know he likes you.

3. If you want a date, show clear interest.

A simple: “I had a great time” isn’t enough. Everyone says that, and it’s likely to be filed under the “maybe she’s just being polite” category. Instead, add something to that. “I had a great time talking with you, Bob. It would be nice to do it again.” That makes it clear that you’re open.

There’s a big difference between this and asking him out. After you deliver this line, stop! You have helped him feel safe and appreciated. If he’s interested, he will make a move.

Don’t be discouraged if he doesn’t ask. You’ll get points in your dating karma bank by making him feel good about himself, and it will be easier to do it the next time with the man who may be your match.

If you’re smart and successful but can’t figure out why all your work with men isn’t paying off, you need to attend my FREE Master Class webinar on Sunday, April 15th at 8 p.m. EST.

“THE SAVVY WOMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE: 10 Mastery Keys to Attract High-Quality Men”

It’s a no-nonsense, step-by-step guide that helps high-achieving women over 40 create success in love that finally matches the rest of their life. Reserve your seat here!

better sex life

Expect a Better Sex Life Once You Get Older

Let’s be honest, if I told you that there are more 80-year-olds having a better sex life than the rest of us younger folk, you’d think (a) I’d gone mad (b) I was trying to make you lose your breakfast or (c) it was a very slow news day. Well, ya boo sucks to all of those ideas because I just received this press release on the wires.

Arousal is easier at 80 for women, and men over 80 are ‘more obliged’ to have sex with their partners than 50-79 year olds.

New research finds that over 80s report better sex lives than 50-79 year olds, but that more needs to be done to improve sexual healthcare for older people.

A new report published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University has analysed data from the Sexual Relations and Activities Questionnaire within the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to examine difficulties with sexual activities and function, attitudes towards sex and details about the current sexual partners of over 50s.

The data, gathered from over 7,000 over 50s, found that whilst self-reported difficulties in becoming aroused steadily increase in women aged 50-79, these then decrease after 80 to below the levels seen in 60-69 year olds.

It also found that women over 80 are dramatically more likely to share the sexual likes of their partner, feel emotionally close to them and not feel obligated to have sex with them than those aged 50-79.

Men over 80 also reported that they were more likely to share the sexual likes of their partner and feel emotionally close to them than those aged 50-79.

Using the Satisfaction with Life Scale measurement of subjective well-being, ‘How long will I love you?’ also found that for both men and women aged 50-90+, there was a positive association between frequency of kissing, fondling and petting and overall levels of subjective well-being.

However, whilst women’s subjective well-being continued to increase with frequency of intimate behaviour, subjective well-being was slightly lower amongst men who reported being intimate with their partners every day than it was for those who kissed or fondled their partners two to three times per week.

Despite the report’s findings on the importance of intimacy in later life, it concludes that not enough is being done to ensure older people have access to good sexual health care and support.

Baroness Sally Greengross OBE, Chief Executive, ILC-UK said:

“We know that many men and women remain sexually active throughout their lives, and that intimate relationships in later life can continue to have a positive impact of overall health and well-being.

Unfortunately, in 2017 there is still a need to dispel myths around relationships in later life. Organisations like the ILC-UK will continue to make the case for a life course approach to sexual health and relationships which sees advice and services available from the college to the care home.”

Dr. David Lee, Research Fellow, University of Manchester said:

“We know that positive sexuality and intimacy throughout the life course is linked to higher levels of happiness and well-being – irrespective of age. Older people have a right to good sexual health care and should be able to easily access joined up services to help them meet that goal.

Health professionals need to proactively engage with older people to better manage problems that impact on both individuals and couples sexual health and function. By normalising conversations around sex and older people, health professionals can help to counter stereotypes and misconceptions around sex in later life, which will ultimately improve public health.”

With 2 in 3 marriages breaking down, however, it is likely that many of us will be having sex with someone who hasn’t seen us in our prime or grown old with us, so what’s the best way to approach sex with a new partner as an older person to have a better sex life? 

If you’ve been in the same relationship for a huge chunk of your life, chances are that routine has set in. Routine with your former partner can mean there is often three of you in the bed at one time! That may be an entirely different chapter in your sexual repertoire but if the third person is just a ghost from a former life, how do you exorcise them and focus on the NOW?

While not limited by our age, neither should we forget that whilst swinging wildly from the chandeliers may be wonderful at 25, sex is not supposed to be an athletic competition. The benefit of age is the understanding what sex is really about; making a deep connection with another person. The one in front of you, not the one in your past.

Ironically, the advice to people at this stage of their sexual life is pretty much the same as the stuff you ignored when you were younger; take time to get to know your partner before jumping into bed with them. Youth may ignore the advice because of desperation or uncontrollable urges, but older people are not immune to making exactly the same mistake—with the same results. Sexual encounters you hope will add to your life can end off leaving you feeling far less emotionally satisfied with yourself and your life than before your knickers hit the floor!

Without wanting to dampen anyone’s ardour too much, it is also crucial to remember in the midst of your passion that age is not a barrier against sexual transmitted diseases. In the US alone, people aged 50 and over accounted for 17% (6,725) of the 39,513 HIV diagnoses in 2015. People aged 50 to 54 accounted for 45% (3,010) of the diagnoses among people aged 50 and over.

Age may not bring wisdom to all of us, so if your partner doesn’t take precautions, make sure you do. Unplanned pregnancies are not the worst thing that can happen to you, so just because you’re past child bearing age, don’t get too smug about the risks.

A better sex life should be balanced with good sense!

aging alone feature

Aging Alone: Anybody Out There Want to Adopt Me?

I’m constantly checking that my partner is still breathing—which annoys the hell out of him as you can probably imagine. Firstly as he’s a healthy 71, and secondly because we are both aware that I’m doing it much more for my benefit than his.

He was quite happy to suggest I go on a First Aid course recently and learn how to use a defibrillator, just in case. But waking up to my worried face holding a mirror over his mouth every morning is beginning to feel uncomfortably close to being a deal-breaker.

We got together at 50 and 64, respectively, and the last, almost seven years have been an eye opener to me just how happy I can be with another person. On the downside of course, it also lures my mind into incoherent terror of losing the partner I do just about everything with. The truth about aging alone is that I have not the remotest idea what I would do without him.

Of course, I’ve been there before, and it was only after I got divorced after 24 years of marriage that I realised that I had never lived alone in my whole life. But I still had teenaged sons and a waistline, so actually it felt more like opportunity than an ending. (In fact, it was a lot of fun.)

But now, the game is entirely different.

A Mother of Boys

I’ve done it all wrong you see. I ought to be becoming more independent as I get older, more in control of my own finances, secure in independent friendships and building up solo hobbies. Instead, he and I are out grabbing every opportunity to live life together, throwing caution to the winds and maximising this hugely enjoyable second chance as a couple.

It’s lovely, but I should also mention that I am a mother of grown up boys, now 24 and 26. I felt quite smug when my friends were enduring the hormonal years of having daughters distraught over a haircut, or screaming habdabs over some imagined slight by a former best friend they were never going to speak to again, ever. Or for a day or two, whichever came first.

My boys in comparison were calm, accepting and warm towards their mother. Somehow I told myself it would ever be thus. Then woe is me; it’s Mothering Sunday this weekend and one is stuck on an oil rig and the other is at the very opposite end of the country. And he’s genuinely far too poor/early in his career to be able to come back all that way just to take his mother out for lunch.

And then there’s the girlfriends. One, (thankfully now binned) who would physically stand between me and my son at all times and answer for him if I posed a question.

I am deposed.

I tried hard to mentally prepare myself for aging alone since they were tots, but I find myself now ALMOST considering adopting; possibly co-opting and occasionally kidnapping the female offspring of friends. Who, it turns out, were right all along to put up with the tantrums and tiaras for the lifelong commitment of daughters.

Elderly Orphans

There’s even a name for the future I most fear.

Apparently, I am in danger of finding myself as an elderly orphan—either without kids, or without them sufficiently nearby to be much use for the kind of social interaction that might stop me sliding prematurely into isolation and all the health nasties that go with it.

Around a third of American citizens aged 45-63 are single, and as many as a quarter of women in the US are childless.

Perhaps early on they found a solution to the problem of who will tell you if you have a stray whisker (and by that, I mean an outcrop like Popeye’s) on your chin, when your own eyes lack the clarity to find and annihilate the little beggars with tweezers.

You can tell from the vehemence of that description that I haven’t. (And don’t tell me to buy a magnifying mirror. I’ve got one but it’s nowhere near as brutally honest as my 24-year-old when he’s home.)

And maybe any decision to be childless seemed sensible when it meant there were no restrictions on where to go out, what to drink and what time to come home. But as an elderly orphan, those decisions just might, God forbid, be taken by a state appointed guardian. And that ruling might stretch to imposing a care home, where it’s orange squash for celebrations and lights out at nine.

Are you now getting the picture why I’m pumping my poor partner full of vitamins and insisting he goes to a personal trainer so I don’t end up aging alone?

Que Sera, Sera

In a life full of uncertainties, there are no reliable answers. Not everyone has the luxury of choosing to have kids, never mind which gender, and finding love and losing loved ones is an arbitrary business which offers no one any guarantees.

It’s only because what I have gained, relatively late in life, is so good that I find myself disproportionately, even ridiculously, afraid of losing it. But the irony is not lost on me that some days I am indeed in danger of “losing” the day to worrying about it, instead of living in the present and making the most of what I have.

Sure, I need to cut down on cakes and wine so I give myself the best possible chance of growing old gracefully. I need to save towards a pension until I have enough to sustain me and I need to smile sweetly at girlfriends who come and annexe my sons with the ruthless efficiency of Russian tanks.

I need to keep up with my own girlfriends and give generous presents to nieces and nephews in the hope that, should I ever find myself aging alone and needy, there will be people around who will care, and step in, and provide the care I might need in my second childhood.

Alternatively, I could draw up plans for a commune of wrinklies where we all make a binding commitment to look after whoever goes loopy first. Wine, dancing and song would be mandatory and everyone must regularly “wear purple,” as in the poem.

aging alone

That’s the only kind of orphanage I might be able to suffer, if I really had to.

Anybody in?

getting through a breakup

3 Steps for Getting Through a Breakup in the Second Half of Life

Breaking up is hard to do, and when it happens your life gets turned upside down and inside out. Your heart is breaking and needs both time and nurturing to heal. I want to share 3 steps for getting through a breakup that will make the journey of healing and opening your heart to love again a little easier for you.

Step 1: Take time to grieve and mourn the ending of a relationship.

Sometimes we resist this step thinking we should be over the breakup already. There’s a saying that goes, what you resist…persists. And when it persists, that makes it harder for you to heal.

The best gift you can give yourself is to acknowledge your sadness and your grief. It’s a major step for healing your heart. Let the tears flow. Don’t hold back or try to push away how you’re feeling. It’s normal to feel sad. Should the sadness get too heavy, get help from a counselor or a trusted friend to help you cope.

Step 2: Take some time to just nurture you.

As women, we are so good at giving to everyone but ourselves. When you’re in emotional pain, this is the time to take care of you. When my ex and I separated, a friend suggested we go to a spa and get massages. It felt so good to let go and just allow someone else to take care of me.

Journaling is a great way to get clarity on the breakup and what your next steps are going to be. As women, we need a place to dump our feelings. Friends are great to have when getting through a breakup, but they aren’t around 24/7. Your journal will help you process everything you’re going through any moment of the day. You can buy beautiful journals on Amazon, at bookstores or even at TJ Maxx.

This is also a time to gather your friends and splurge on an amazing lunch or dinner. The night of my divorce, my friends and I went to one of my favorite restaurants. Endings are tough even if you’re okay with the breakup and having the love of my friends surrounding me that night was so healing.

Here’s a link to a wonderful template called My Nurturing Calendar. It will help you set up fun and loving ways you can take care of you. Click here to get yours.

Step 3: Take some time to rediscover “You” again.

When you’re in a relationship, often times his interests become yours and yours become his. A blending happens and you forget your own passions and dreams. This is a great time to write a list of things you’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time for in the past.

I took a class in watercolor techniques and ended up creating some really nice paintings. I also met other single women I could go to lunch and dinner with so I wasn’t alone on the weekends.

Check out Meetup.com. I love games and went to a weekly game night. They also have hiking groups and all kinds of groups for men and women over 50 interested in making new friends. There is a Meetup for just about any activity you can imagine. It’s a great way to have fun, rediscover your passions and make new friends.

All these steps can help you remember and get back in touch with the amazing, passionate woman you are as you are getting through a breakup and healing your heart. There will be tough days, but over time, as you heal, each day your heart will open a little more to the possibilities of finding love again.

 

Please scroll down to find out how you can get a free gift from Lisa that can start changing your dating life today. 

getting over your grief

Getting Over Your Grief: Learning to Let Go After a Loss

After the age of 50, many of us are facing change. True, it could be a good change, but this is not always the case.

Did you know that most marriages end after only seven years? Also, 75 percent of second marriages end in divorce. And, women usually outlive their husbands by seven years or more. So women are faced with living alone approximately one-third of their lives.

You are not alone.

How do we cope from this experience? It is not unusual for divorce or death to hit us like a ton of bricks. Even if we expect the loss, it always comes as a shock. Like a tornado, our emotions assault us. Pain, anger, fear, despair and longing engulf us. Not all at once. Getting over your grief isn’t easy. Sometimes the emotions continue for years. And during this time, we are expected to be the best parents or grandparents. You know the type. The one who sends creative gifts in the mail. Or furnishes fun trips to Disneyland, or springs for hosting an elaborate Christmas.

Sometimes, this seems too much to ask.

Here are a few tips on handling loss and getting over your grief.

Solo Parenting/Grandparenting

– Take care of yourself as well as the kids. Show respect for yourself. Walk, jog, do yoga, meditate. Take time for long, hot baths and adult conversation.

– Seek support from groups. Sharing your story with others helps normalize your situation. After you’ve received support and learned what you can change, only then can you help your children or other loved ones.

– Reassure your children. Remind them that they are not responsible for the death or divorce of your spouse.

– Don’t dump. Work through your own emotions. Avoid dumping them on your children or other loved ones.

Other notes of wisdom from famous women follow. Although these women are no longer with us, their wisdom and courage still speak to us.

Ann Richards

After almost 30 years of marriage, Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, met the challenge of living alone head-on. Here is what she learned from the experience:

– Get over your grief. “Get up and get out of your house!” she exclaims. “Get rid of all that stuff. Move to a smaller space — away from painful memories.

– Create boundaries. “I have established life on my own terms. I don’t ask anyone’s permission. Most holidays, she does not put up a Christmas tree but enjoys traveling with her children.

– Divorce. “I don’t mourn that passing.” However, at the time, she said the impact of divorce was devastating. But out of it she found a positive side. “I’ve never lived alone before, ever. To me, that is an enormous accomplishment.”

Joan Rivers

Through 22 years of marriage, she and her husband, Edgar, built a fulfilling life together. That is why his suicide was unexpected. As she traveled to other cities, lecturing on how to reshape your life after a loss, Joan Rivers said:

– One way she worked through her grief was to write a poison pen letter to Edgar, expressing her anger. After the letter, she immediately threw it away. But it was a powerful way to let out her grief.

– “The hell with what anyone thinks about the way you’re acting; listen to yourself.” When her agent told her that no one would hire a woman whose husband committed suicide, she refused to listen to his advice. Against what friends and investors suggested, she sold her home in Los Angeles and moved to New York City. She thought, whatever doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.

– New York gave her instant gratification. “Oh, to see real people! The joy of walking down Madison Avenue! Leaving the memories of her old home opened her up to a new beginning. She enjoyed the pace of New York. She joked with the doorman in her building, and walked everywhere. Exercise became a daily habit. She found that moving opened up her mind and heart.

Unfortunately, Joan Rivers died about three years ago during a procedure to improve her vocal ability. However, she left a strong legacy on reshaping your life. We shall all miss her humor and indomitable spirit.

It is Natural to Grieve, but can it Bring About Positive Change?

“When a person is widowed or divorced, their identity is threatened and they ask, “Who am I?” says Marilyn Dickson, grief counselor and minister. Being without a partner can make you feel vulnerable, but these feelings are temporary, she says, they are part of growing and learning to live alone. And learning to like yourself in the process.

Verdell Davis is an example. Author and grief consultant, she was happily married to a dynamic minister, until his plane crashed in the Rockies. At the time, she was promoted to be the director of a well-known preschool in Dallas. But was this what she wanted to do? Contrary to the safe, secure woman of the past, the woman who craved security as a blanket, “I wanted adventure!” She quit her job and wrote a book based on her grieving. “I let go of the trapeze I was holding without seeing one clearly in sight,” laughs Verdell. “And I’m not sure how I did it.”

When Beth and her husband divorced, she found it difficult to face her mixed emotions. Relieved of the stress of fighting, she welcomed a more peaceful environment, but on Sunday afternoons, she felt his presence in her house. As she cleaned her den, she noticed a pair of boots near the fireplace. Beside the boots was a dusty picture of a young couple standing next to a pickup truck. It was hard to believe the couple was Sam and Beth. Their innocence was touching.

Each Sunday, they’d visited their “ranch” on the edge of town. It was just a few acres. However, by mending fences and caring for their six cows, they found each other. It was while camping out under the stars that they conceived their first child. The hardscrabble land was filled with bois d’arc trees, but to Beth and Sam it was paradise. The beginning of a new life. And one they shared together.

Staring at the picture brought a pain to her heart. She wished for the way it was but knew this was the end.

After several months of struggle, Beth was able to let go.

Just like Beth, you may be able to push through your grief.

As the months pass, you may discover that, you, too, can begin getting over your grief and putting it behind you. You may gain new self-confidence, purchase a new automobile, start a new job, or buy a house — all on your own.

You may discover a new you. One who won’t compromise. Who likes herself. And who has new hope for the future. Your future.

Valentine’s Day Rituals to Practice All Year Long

The history of Valentine’s Day is gruesome, yet this day is a celebration of romantic love for the modern adult or of platonic love for preschoolers. How did it come to be that the complicated melding of the Roman feast of Lupercalia and the celebration of the martyrdom of St. Valentine (named for two men executed by Claudius II, both on February 14) is responsible for an $18 billion industry?

The ancient Roman men were looped during Lupercalia – they got drunk, sacrificed goats and dogs, and whipped the nearby women with the hides of the animals. And the women lined up to get whipped! All of this was done in the name of fertility, as might be expected, because being beaten always improved the ladies’ chances of getting pregnant in the third century AD.

The Valentine’s Days of Dread

Examining the roots of Valentine’s Day rituals only leads me to shake my head with derision. I can remember both feelings of elation and depression on Valentine’s Day in my childhood. Until you get to about fourth or fifth grade, Valentine’s Day is just a fun time filled with tiny cards, word heart candies, and pink hearts. Then the pressure mounts – how many cards will you send and to whom?

Valentine’s Day ritualsShould you send one to your five closest friends and one to your crush? Or should you give them to all the popular kids in hopes you might be included in their next joke about one of your five closest friends or your crush? And it doesn’t end there – all through high school and college you put all your expectations into this one day for a romantic relationship to bloom; if it doesn’t, you feel foolish and depressed at being duped by your own irrational emotions that insist this one day of the year someone besides your mother or your best friend should love you.

Once you are in a steady, loving relationship that has led to procreation, you are party to the same Valentine’s Day Valentine’s Day ritualsnonsense all over again when your child brings home that very first class list – invariably with 26 names on it but the packs of cards only come in boxes of 12. Not only do you have the stress of choosing between the Power Puff Girls or the Paratrooper cards for your kid, but you have to think of your significant other also.

Does he care about Valentine’s Day rituals; what did she give me last year; is Valentine’s Day memorable for us? Two of my brothers have it easy: one’s wife’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day; and the other got married on Valentine’s Day. How simple is that – they know they have to do presents and entertainment on a grand scale, but for the rest of us, uncertainties abound.

Loving Relationships

There are people who do not stress about Valentine’s Day and are almost always happy to celebrate the occasion. Take my parents, for instance, who will be celebrating their sixtieth wedding anniversary this year. They have always given each other something on Valentine’s Day. And even though I can’t objectively comment on the health of their marriage, the longevity of it begs investigation.

There is one other habit that my parents have that I believe has kept Valentine’s Day meaningful in their lives: they always kiss one another hello and goodbye.

For as long as I can remember, before either left in the morning, they would have a quick smooch. When my dad got home from work, the very first thing he did was seek out my mother to give her a kiss. Having a ritual kiss does not prevent or eliminate marital problems, but I think there is something to it. I’ve heard of at least two other real-life relationships that improved with an increase in smooching.

Valentine’s Day ritualsAs I grow in my young (only 27 years compared to my parents’) marriage, my husband and I have picked up the smooching habit and I must say, it is something to look forward to. It’s also hard to do if you’re mad at someone, so that could help with communication issues. A lot can be interpreted from the length, pressure, electricity or absence, for that matter, of a kiss.

Rituals that Work

Smooching is nice, but there are a number of other ways to show your love for your partner. According to the best-selling classic, Fighting for Your Marriage, by Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg (2010), research into social support in relationships has advanced tremendously. Recent findings conclude that emotional or social support from a partner is valuable for preserving all of what’s best in your relationship.

Key actions to take when trying to be supportive are being there for your partner, lightening your partner’s load, Valentine’s Day ritualsencouraging your partner, giving your time, praise, and advice (when asked for), talking and listening, and touching. Touching especially can make a difference – so give a big hug, hold hands, snuggle up on the couch to binge-watch some Netflix, play footsies, or give little hand and foot massages.

If Valentine’s Day has always been special to you and your significant other, by all means continue to treat it as such. The $18 billion industry isn’t going anywhere. But, if you’re a little jaded and find the psychological stresses of the day too much, ignore it. If you’re single, remember it was once a celebration of women being beaten and some guys executed – not something worth celebrating.

Make Every Day Your Valentine’s Day

Instead, turn it into a celebration of love for your family and friends – the day only means what you want it to mean. If you’re in a relationship, do a little something emotionally supportive for your partner every day to strengthen and enhance your bond, because really, if you’re waiting until Valentine’s Day to show your love, you may be a little too late.

dog's love

Never Say Never: What a Dog Can Teach You About Love

Sometimes the thing you want least is the thing you need most.

After the sudden death of my husband and a company relocation that took me 150 miles away from my friends and the comfort of familiar surroundings, the only thing I wanted to do was come home from work and crawl into bed.

“What you need is a dog,” my sister suggested.

“Dog? Me?”

An added responsibility was the last thing in the world I needed. But my sister is a person whose determination is on steroids. Once she decided that a dog would lift me out of the doldrums, she simply did not give up.

After two months and countless explanations of why I didn’t want or need a dog, she showed up at my house one Saturday morning.

“I think I’ve found the perfect dog!”

She explained that a breeder nearby had a litter of Bichon Frise pups that were 8 weeks old and ready for adoption.

“I’m not ready for a dog, and I really don’t think—”

She stood there, hands on hips. “I’ve already made the appointment!”

Sometimes it’s easier to give in than argue. She assured me there was no obligation to buy.

“We’ll take a look at the puppies, then go to lunch,” she said.

Lunch sounded good.

When we arrived at the breeder’s house, a little girl opened the door.

“Are you the lady for the puppy?” she asked.

My sister nodded.

The girl led us to the kitchen and pointed to a large cardboard box. Inside were six squeaking, squirming balls of white fluff. As they scrambled around for attention the pups stepped on top of one another, but it seemed to be an acceptable behavior. The girl’s mom joined us.

“There’s five males, one female,” she explained.

Snatching the opportunity to eliminate 5 dogs in one fell swoop, I said, “I’m not interested in a male dog.”

The girl scooped one bundle of fur from the lot and handed her to me.

“This is Betsy,” she said.

“Betsy?”

I suspected the dog having a name so similar to my own was a sneaky tactic arranged by my well-intended sister.

The mother laughed. “The puppies were born on July 4th, so Sara named all of them after American patriots. The female’s name is Betsy Ross.”

Betsy burrowed deeper into my arms. I felt this dog’s love and a smile taking hold of my face as this one-pound puppy covered me in kisses.

The thing is, puppies are a lot like little kids; once they come at you with all that unabashed love and you feel the dog’s love, they are impossible to resist.

My sister and I never did get to lunch that day; instead we stopped at the pet store and loaded up on supplies. Betsy was renamed Brandi, and we settled into a life of togetherness.

Instead of falling into bed after work, I took my furry friend for long walks. We met new friends and neighbors. Everywhere I went, she went. She rode in the car, tagged along on a leash or got carried in a tote. I pampered her, spoiled her and loved her to pieces.

Brandi was with me for almost 18 years. During that time, I met and married my second husband. We moved from my tiny town house to a three-acre ranch in the Watchung Mountains; then we moved again and again.

Brandi was fourteen when we moved to Florida and I began writing novels. Her hips were arthritic, so morning bike rides replaced the walks. She sat in the basket as I pedaled through the streets of our neighborhood. In the afternoon, she napped beneath my desk as I wrote, both of us happy with our lot in life.

Then came that awful day—the day I lost her.

She was almost 18 years old and I knew it was inevitable, but I still wasn’t ready. The loss was devastating. I cried for days on end, couldn’t work, didn’t want to eat and was inconsolable.

After a month of gut-wrenching heartache, my know-it-all sister said, “You need to get another dog.”

“Absolutely not,” I answered.

Replace Brandi? I thought. Unthinkable! Brandi wasn’t just a dog; she was a life partner who had been with me for 18 years.

“Get a rescue,” my sister said. “The shelters are overcrowded. A lot of those dogs will be put to sleep if they don’t find homes.”

While the thought of any puppy being put to sleep weighed heavily on my heart, I still wasn’t ready to love another dog.

Replacing Brandi was something I couldn’t even consider. And I didn’t. But after I thought enough about the homeless puppies, I came to the decision that even though I could never love another dog the way I’d loved Brandi, I could give a needy dog a home.

I began to search rescue sites like Small Paws, and before long I was looking at an 8-month-old Bichon who was underweight and as scraggly-looking as they come. The rescue farm was a three-hour drive from our house; we picked Katie up that weekend.

For months afterward I compared her to Brandi, never favorably. I went through all the motions of being a good dog mama, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Whether or not I loved her didn’t seem to matter to Katie; she was determined to love me. Everywhere I went she followed right at my heels. If I made it into the bathroom before she got there, she’d wait outside the door. When I sat down at the computer to write, she jumped up in my lap.

Although it took a few months, I came to love this little rescue every bit as much as I had Brandi.

Dogs seem to know something we humans are slow to learn: love begets love. It may take a long time but love someone unconditionally, and sooner or later they’ll love you back.

caring for someone with dementia

Designing for Dementia: 5 Tips for Moving Your Loved One In

As we settle into this “wiser” chapter of life, there’s much to celebrate–like stronger sense of self, more freedom and flexibility with our time to do the things we enjoy, and greater financial security to name a few. On the other hand, this is also the time that we may start to notice cognitive changes in our aging parents that make us realize it’s not a good idea for them to be living independently anymore. For many people, the best solution seems to be having their family member move in with them. Comments like, “My house is big enough,” or “I’ll be able to keep a closer eye on them this way,” or “They’ll be much happier around family than in some facility,” are frequently heard, and although these statements may be true, many people don’t consider if their home is ready to actually handle the scenarios and challenges that occur with memory-related illnesses.

One thing I have personally learned about this type of illness is that no two cases are exactly alike, so following the recommendations of your loved one’s health care team is important when caring for someone with dementia. In addition, here are a few suggestions that may help when thinking about how to prepare your home:

1. Make it familiar

Generally speaking, if your home has a completely different feel than what they are used to, it can be more confusing and difficult for them to adapt to their new environment. When caring for someone with dementia, it helps the adjustment go more smoothly if at least some of the spaces and adjacencies are similar. Incorporating some of their favorite furnishings or possessions can also ease anxiety. Provide eye level storage in their closet so they can locate their belongings more easily, since they may have a harder time looking up or down. How’s your lighting? Minimize the use of reflective surfaces and light fixtures that produce glare, as that tends to increase agitation. Aim for even levels of light throughout the house.

2. Make it connected

Provide easy access to areas or activities they enjoy–e.g. backyard garden, family room, etc., so they can move independently as long as possible and still be involved in “normal” family life rather than being socially isolated. Studies have shown that remaining active and engaged can even improve brain function.

3. Make it safe

When caring for someone with dementia, think of it as if you now have a very tall toddler in the house. As their condition changes, create higher level and/or secure storage and move sharp utensils, cleaning supplies, medicines, tools and other potentially dangerous objects out of reach. Pay extra attention to areas like garage, basement, work rooms, and outdoor spaces. You may need to relocate or hide switches to appliances like the garbage disposal, microwave and stove, as well as any connections to the outdoor gas grill.

4. Make it secure

Position exterior dead bolts higher or lower than normal height so they are less likely to wander out the door, and position locks on fence gates higher or lower than normal height so they are less likely to wander out of the yard. (Again, this is because it can be difficult for those with cognitive illnesses to look up or down.) Equally important, remove locks from any interior doors so they can’t accidentally lock themselves in.

5. Make it supportive

Consider what would be helpful for caregivers and family members living in the home. Is there a bathroom with a walk-in shower, wide enough for a caregiver and possible medical equipment to fit? The Invisia line of bathroom accessories is wonderful–it blends style and safety to “invisibly” provide necessary support without making your home look like a hospital.

If your home doesn’t have a separate bedroom close to theirs for a future in-home or overnight caregiver, is there an office or other space that could be converted if the need arises? Is there a bedroom farther away so other family members have fewer sleep disruptions when the caregiver gets up during the night? Disorientation, general confusion, hallucinations and bathroom issues are common as cognitive illnesses progress. Research local options for adult day care programs or the various types of in-home assistance. These can come in handy when caring for someone with dementia, even if just needed occasionally.

Regardless of the configuration of your home, by communicating regularly with other family members, your medical team, and local support groups, you will be able to closely monitor the situation and determine specific ways to adapt your environment to best address the needs that arise while you are caring for a loved one with dementia.