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Archive for March, 2011

Life After 50: Afraid of Aging? 5 Ways to Fight the Fear

As I will turn the BIG 5-0 this year, I have followed Ms. Grufferman’s articles on aging. Like the, spanx and bra lifters I now need for my physique, lord knows I need all the confidence boosters I can get!

 2011-MAR 21
 by Barbara Hannah Grufferman originally posted on Huffingtonpost.conm on March 20, 2011 

Welcome to the ongoing discussion about living your best life after 50. Each week, I post an article to ignite a discussion about the challenges and joys of midlife. Please read, share, comment and engage! The more people involved in the conversation, the more we’ll all connect and learn from each other. If there’s something specific you’d like to discuss, I’d love to hear from you.

Based on the input I got from readers, one of the biggest issues for a lot of us is fear, and specifically the fear of aging. Many people talked about the fear of being alone, of poor health and of being forgotten. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote in a previous article regarding aging:

The best advice I can give you is this: Be fearless after 50. Fear will stop you from pursuing your dreams, and could cause you to give up and give in, keeping you a prisoner in your comfort zone. This is the simple concept I learned from researching, writing and living the advice in my book. If you’re healthy, you feel good. If you feel good, you look good. If you feel good and look good and have a vision for your future, you feel even better. If you’ve got all that plus the knowledge how to stay that way, you feel amazing. And if you feel amazing, who cares about age?
Getting and staying healthy and fit is essential as we forge ahead, and I wrote a lot about how to do that in “The Best of Everything After 50.” In fact, I will never stop saying it, and try to work it into every article I write and every talk I give, because this much is true: if you feel good about how you look and how you feel, you’ll be much more open to new experiences, people and opportunities. We need to be as fit as we can be so we’ll be able to keep more of the illnesses and diseases that can plague us after 50 as far away as possible, for as long as possible. This is the most important thing we can do for ourselves.

But beyond that, the bigger questions are:

How can we be fearless after fifty?

How can we ignore the noise from the media about how “younger is better” and stay the course?

How can we leave our comfort zones and move ahead into (potentially) unknown waters?

How can we stop fearing (and fighting) the aging process, and learn to embrace it?

It isn’t always easy getting older, on many levels, especially when the media tells us that we’re invisible, and academic studies insist we’re glum. But this is not the time to simply give up, give in and hide away in fear. On the contrary, this is probably the most important time for you to rise up and stare those fears down.

Here are five key ways to help us fight the fear:

1. Visualize How Big We Really Are

Picture this: We are part of the largest demographic in the history of the world. If you’re feeling isolated or invisible (another big issue for many people over 50, especially women), keep this in mind. We are not alone, and there are enough of us to enable our voices to be heard. There is power in numbers, and we wield a considerable amount of power, especially economically.

2. Share How You Feel

A recent article I wrote talked about how women very often deal with the more difficult sides of aging a bit better than men because we’ve mastered the art of staying connected, relating and maintaining friendships, all of which help us to weather the aging storms. By simply sharing your thoughts — especially those that are most frightening — with other people who might be going through the same experience is very effective, and can ease your mind. Consider joining Facebook and getting involved with some of the sites that are specifically geared to those over 50 (I offered a list of some of the best in last week’s article). Based on recent research, staying connected to others should be a part of a healthy lifestyle. “Schmoozing With Your Girlfriends Is Great for Your Health!” says it all.

3. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

How will you ever know what you’re capable of doing if you don’t get out there and try? You can always find reasons why not to do something, so instead focus on all the reasons you should. It’s a mind shift. All of us need to be in a place of “productive discomfort,” as Daniel Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” calls it. He wrote, “If you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive. Like Goldilocks, we can’t be too hot or too cold.”

4. Create Your Own Board Of Directors Club

Starting a new business can be daunting and scary. It brings out every single insecurity you can imagine: Will they buy it? Can I get the financing? Is this crazy? Will I lose all my savings? It’s also frightening to consider leaving a marriage or starting a new one in midlife, or thinking about retiring. Any change can make us want to put the proverbial blanket over our heads and simply do nothing. I’m in the throes of thinking through a business idea right now, and so decided to start my own Board of Directors Club (which I also refer to as my “Kitchen Cabinet”). Here’s how it works: The four of us (but any number of people will do) get together every Tuesday morning, without fail, at the same diner. Each one of us gets 15 minutes to discuss everything and anything that needs to be discussed. Usually it pertains to our blossoming businesses — or, as in one member’s case, getting a new job — but not always. Sometimes we talk about exercise, or men, or kids, or whatever is most pressing. But the real goal of this club is to get input, to brainstorm and to create a level accountability that is often hard to do on your own. We leave the meeting each week with our own personal “To Do” lists, and the items must be checked off the list by the next meeting, or there’s a lot of explaining to do.

5. Embrace Your Age

Make this your personal mantra: “Don’t fight your age. Embrace it, whatever it is.” Again, this doesn’t mean giving up and giving in. It is a very powerful concept — letting go of your younger self, and embracing and loving your aging self. Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and take care of you — body, mind, and soul — as you would your children, your family and your friends.This is your time.

***

Barbara Hannah GruffermanAuthor, ‘The Best of Everything After 50′

If you would like more information about “The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More,” please visit Barbara Hannah Grufferman’s website: http://www.BestOfEverythingAfter50.com.

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In Praise of Single Mothers: Why I’m Glad I Was Raised by a Single Mom

2011-MAR 19 by Lisa John Rogers

While I was a kid growing up, my mother worked. I didn’t see her as much as I would have liked, but that built an early understanding of responsibility — surely a lesson I could not have learned had she stayed at home my entire childhood.

As a kid I remember thinking my mom was some kind of goddess: strong, confident, independent, intelligent, kind, funny — like magic she could accomplish anything, nothing could stand in her way, nothing would bring her down.

Have I mentioned yet that I was raised by a single mom? My mother has been single since she was four months pregnant with me. My father died in an accident, so he didn’t leave us by choice, but he still wasn’t there, and my mother never re-married.

In light of the recent statistics put out by the Pew Research Center — which reveal that one-third of Americans think single moms are “bad for society” — I am writing in defense of single mothers and their kids. All of us.

Let me start by saying this: Single mothers can raise kids just as well, if not better than, two parents. According to these statistics, people are more accepting of alternative families including same-sex couples and unmarried couples, but not single mothers. Not even single mothers are sure if they’re accepting of themselves! I am here to say that single mothers rock, and to explain why.

The biggest epiphany I’ve ever had in life was about my mother: I was 17 years old and had just gotten home from a party where my friend had been drinking too much. This friend of mine didn’t want to go home because she was afraid of what her parents might think of her, so she insisted on going to my house. When we got to my house, my mother tried talking to my friend about why she didn’t want to go home and told her she was going to have to call her parents to come pick her up. It was at that moment I realized I could trust my mother with anything. I could really rely on her at an age when most of my friends felt they couldn’t even rely on either of their parents.

Instead of studying the way my parents interacted with each other, I saw the way my mother interacted with the world. Single mothers have to be strong, they don’t have anyone else to go to for help or parenting advice, they have to be quick on their feet. In my opinion that kind of motherly sure-footedness goes hand-in-hand with tolerance and compassion.

Had I grown up with both my parents I would be a totally different person, definitely more naïve and sheltered. It’s hard not to be aware of how difficult adult life is when you have one parent pulling all the weight. My mother took on a mortgage that she and my father were supposed to pay off together. She worked her way up in her career so she could have that mortgage paid off by the time I was 11.

Single mothers don’t usually spoil their kids because, financially, they are on their own. I was always aware that if I wanted something nice my mother was going to save up for it. I cannot imagine having been one of those kids that would cry in the grocery store causing a scene for a toy — no meant no. The strong understanding I have of the word “no” has really helped me out in life. I know that I have to work for what I want, good things do not come to those who expect hand-outs, especially when it comes to money, people are more than likely to say no.

Also: You can’t get anything past a single mother. When you spend one-on-one time with someone for 19 years, you learn their patterns and moods. As a result of this, my mother and I are very close and know each other scarily well. At times it has been annoying how well she knows my every motive, mood, and means of denial, but, in the end, it has saved me a lot of heartache and trivial personal trouble. Our bond cannot be broken for anything. Even though I live hundreds of miles away from her today, I still feel her emotional security. I feel closer to her than I actually am.

Someone once told me that my mother and I have our own language. We goof around a lot and talk to each other in ridiculous voices. There are some days where we will just talk to each other in a high-pitched Julia Childs voice for absolutely no reason: “Oh hellewww to you!” “Oh hellewww to you my darlink!” Those small moments are when I feel like our little family is bigger than it looks. I get a glimpse of how my mother has been able to juggle … everything.

The way I feel toward my little family also explains why I like guys who respect their mothers. I actually prefer to date guys who were raised by a single mom. It’s not because they understand the relationship I have with my mother but because of the way, on the whole, they view women.

These guys tend to respect my need for independence and know how to be supportive and listen. They understand financial responsibility, knowing that you have to work hard for anything good, and that goes for a relationship, not just a career. They’re not jaded by failed marriages that are still perpetuating in fights. There is an understanding of how special a relationship is because successful ones don’t come around often.

My boyfriend and his twin were raised by their mother, and he says he’s glad his dad never stayed in his life. Having his mom was more than enough for him and his brother. When he tells me stories about his mom, his face lights up. He talks about her as if she’s a war hero and every time he tells a story about her he is awarding her a Purple Heart. The unconditional respect he has for her has reaffirmed my belief that single mothers can and do raise good kids.

Of course, it wasn’t always easy to have “just a mom.” As a kid, I felt left out, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing? In a lot of ways my feelings of being an outsider made me hyper-observant about other kinds of alienation by race, religion, gender, weight — kids can be brutal. With these observations I developed an understanding and acceptance of differences.

I can’t deny that as a kid, I wanted a dad. I wanted a dad who would coach my softball team and play catch with me in the backyard and teach my how to fix up the house. Looking back, my mom did all those things. While she couldn’t coach my team, she did make it to almost every game, we would play catch in the backyard, and my mom was always showing me how to fix up things in our house.

I think having two parents is mostly nice for the mother, so she doesn’t have to do it alone. I am writing this to say that, from a kid’s point of view, all that really matters is that there is someone who cares. For anyone out there who might doubt the power of a single mother, I want them to know the amount of energy that goes into their every day makes them a great parent, by default. The fact that they are showing up and doing their best is enough.

To all the single mothers out there who may doubt how well they are raising their kids, you should know, they will be fine. Money problems, the lack of a father figure, conflicting schedules, all of these things diminish with love. My mother has shown me so much love and support I wouldn’t trade her for five fathers or “normal” parents. She has taught me the importance of strength, confidence, independence, intelligence, kindness, humor and most of all, responsibility and I thank her for giving me the tools to live a life I love every day.

Lisa John Rogers attends Eugene Lang College at The New School and is an editorial intern at Whole Living Magazine

The Problem Men Have With an Independent Woman

2011-MAR 19 – Anthony C. Rucker
I’m independent . . . Independence means I don’t need anybody for anything. As said in a great movie, “Why don’t you wake up and smell what you’re shoveling?”
Bill Gates, rich man that he is, still needs Charmin to make toilet paper and Ma Bell for phone service. Independence for him means having the ability to pay for it himself, which is all this new found independence everybody is claiming means, I now have money and means. It doesn’t mean you don’t need others, or that they are only good for one thing. Participate in a quick experiment to prove my point. Get a $100 dollar bill, then ask it to keep you company, to talk to you about your problems, to share a special moment with you, to plant your vegetables, to sew your clothes, and to fix your car. You get the point. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, if there isn’t another person involved it’s totally useless. We need each other on so many levels. Even master card recognizes there are some things money can’t buy. . ., and the sooner you get that fact straight, the sooner you can have healthy relationships.
Words are power and what you speak from your mouth will most likely manifest in your life. If you say the opposite sex is only good for one thing then chances are that’s all you’ll receive from them, which will leave you emotionally unbalanced with an emptiness you can’t explain. So when you say, “They are only good for one thing,” or “They can’t do anything for you,” take time to remember that’s all you’ve expected and allowed them to be in your life.
Refusing help or courtesy doesn’t make you independent; in most cases it makes you a hypocrite. If there was a contest where you could win free food for life everybody would play it like the lottery (another game where everyone wants something for nothing).
Contest giveaways whether for movie tickets, money, or vacations are viewed as possibilities to get ahead, be blessed, or get lucky, but when a person offers the same services all of a sudden you’re an independent super human who doesn’t need or desire anything from anybody. Enough already! Put your misconceptions and bad attitudes back in the pretty boxes they came in, take them back to where you got them, and get a refund. Quit lying to yourself and everybody else. Besides, independence is something that is better seen than heard.

Brought to you by Anthony C. Rucker author of (The Relationship Cookbook)
http://dmvblacksingles.com/datingsite/wordpress/?p=177

How to ‘Talk Dirty to Me’ without awkwardness

2011-MAR 16
By Erica Andrist
I’m a rhetoric major. I like words. I especially like them in bed. But the rhetoric that goes best in the bedroom isn’t along the lines of Derrida — I’m talking about dirty talk.

Trouble is, dirty talk can be kind of hard. It’s awkward to just blurt out, “Baby, your sweet ass makes me so hard I could cum right now,” mid-makeout session. But it can be equally awkward to ask, “Hey, would you like it if I said, ‘Baby, your sweet ass makes me so hard I could cum right now,’ mid-makeout session?” over, like, pizza or something. So what’s a would-be dirty talker to do?

Question 1: How do I get started?

Even though “dirty talk” has the word “talk” in it, communicating with a partner about it can be difficult. There are two good options for initiating dirty talk: outside the bedroom or inside. First, outside the bedroom is a lower-pressure situation. Broach the topic in a direct, but broad manner: “I think the sex we have is totally awesome, but I’ve been thinking I’d really like to try some dirty talk.” Since “some dirty talk” could encompass any number of things, if your partner has any interest whatsoever, he or she will probably ask you to elaborate — thereby giving you a perfect window to explain what you had in mind. If your partner is not interested, he or she might say, “I probably wouldn’t like that,” but since you weren’t in the bedroom, no mood was killed and no potential fuck was ruined.

However, it also works to introduce dirty talk inside the bedroom. If you’re having a one-night stand, this is pretty much your only shot. Additionally, you and your partner are probably already turned on, and turned-on people tend to be more receptive to new things. One method to try is asking your partner, “What do you want me to do to you?” Not only is this a great way to make sure what you’re doing is consensual, but your partner’s answer can also be a good gauge of how he or she will respond to dirty talk. If he or she says, “I’d like you to straddle me and fuck me ‘till I can’t see straight, please,” then it’s probably OK to just go ahead and say whatever you want. But even if your partner’s response isn’t quite so forward, pay attention to the words he or she uses. If she uses the word “penis,” then incorporate the word “penis” into whatever you say — not “cock,” not “dick,” and please, not “wiener.” If he says “ass,” then use “ass” — not “asshole,” not “anus,” and not “butt.”

Start slow. If you’re talking dirty to a partner you’ve never dirty-talked to before, don’t pull out the big guns right away. Throw in one word: “wet.” If your partner seems to respond well, throw in another: “hot and wet.” Pay attention — does your partner eagerly respond? Moan? Smile? Throw in another: “I want you to put your face between my legs and taste how hot and wet you made my sweet-spot power-slot.”

This, of course, is an ideal scenario. But maybe after you say, “Taste how hot and wet you made my sweet-spot power-slot,” your partner rears back, wide-eyed, but close-mouthed. This brings us to question No. 2…

Question 2: What if my partner thinks I’m a freak?

Sometimes, even if we’re perfectly polite about our sexual desires, our partners don’t respond well. Rejection hurts. On the one hand, we’ve got to recognize that not everybody will be into every sex activity, and that’s fine. Respecting our partners’ boundaries (and making sure our partners respect our own) is an important part of healthy sex. But if your cute new partner stares at you slack-jawed and says, “I didn’t think you were into stuff like that,” things can get santorum-sticky awfully fast.

Two options. No. 1 is to continue to negotiate. There are a whole lot of words and phrases that can be incorporated into dirty talk, and odds are really, really good that you can find something that works for everyone. If she’s not okay with “tits,” perhaps she’ll like “breasts.” Perhaps he’ll be comfortable so long as there aren’t any commands involved. As with many sexual activities, exploration (and sometimes straight-up trial and error) can teach us things about ourselves that we never would have expected.

No. 2: If you are interested in talking dirty and your partner absolutely refuses to negotiate, think about finding another partner. Our partners have no obligation to engage in sexual activities they don’t want to try for the sole purpose of making us happy — but we also have no obligation to remain with a partner who isn’t interested in the same things we’re interested in.

Question 3: What the fuck am I gonna say?

If the initiation of dirty talk goes well, then the next issue that comes up is, well, what to say. There are a number of useful methods for making your dirty talk sound sexy. The first is to practice. I am not joking. A really good way to practice is while masturbating. Start by just thinking about things you might say. After you find some words or phrases that really turn you on, say them out loud. One of the biggest secrets of successful dirty talk is that half of doing it well isn’t what you say — it’s how you say it. Smooth and self-assured sounds better than hesitant and nervous, no matter what is coming out of your mouth.

Related to this is to choose words that you think are hot and feel comfortable saying. If you don’t like “pussy,” then it’s going to be difficult to make yourself sound sexy saying it. Again, there are a whole lot of words and phrases out there, and some of them are bound to turn you on. Finding those words can be really, really fun — watch porn. Read erotica. Ask your partner what words turn her or him on, and see if any of them tickle your fancy.

Finally, remember that sex is at its core a hilarious activity — naked bodies thrusting together with all sorts of various fluids and sounds and awkward facial expressions. Sometimes, even the most experienced dirty talkers mess up. Once, a person who may or may not have been me (it was me) attempted to say, “Let me suck your cock,” but then decided to say “dick” at the last second, thereby busting out with, “Let me sick your duck.”

Yeah. What can a rhetoric degree do for you?

Erica Andrist is a senior facilitator with Sex Out Loud. If you’d like to see your question answered in a future Hump Day column if only because it would make Erica happy, e-mail humpday@badgerherald.com.

WHY MEN DATE WOMEN WITH NO INTENTIONS OF A RELATIONSHIP

Why Men Date Women With No Intentions Of A Relationship
By Dr. J

2011-MAR 15 – I’m convinced that the tragedy for women and relationships is not that they can’t find a date. Instead, the problem is the pseudo relationships they participate in sometimes years at a time. Nod your head in agreement if you have a friend who has been in a pseudo relationship with a man for a few years and there’s no sight of a title coming her way. She has an on-again, off-again relationship with a guy, and everyone but her knows he’s never going to wife her down. There might even be a few of you reading this article right now.
I could give you a list of reasons why men don’t commit, and you’d probably say I was lying or just telling you what you wanted to hear. But why not just tell you why I did it? Let me be clear, I’m not a jerk, but I’m a man who has the right to date a woman and choose not to be in a relationship with her.

I was previously in an unhealthy relationship that left me bitter for a while; so I wasn’t looking for anything serious. After a while, my friends told me, “We don’t even think you really like women anymore.”

I can’t have that! So I started dating again…

She was okay, I didn’t like her as much as she liked me. I probably wouldn’t be dating her if other situations in my life had worked out. That’s sign number one; I wouldn’t call her my first choice. But she would do for the time being. While I dated her, I got what men like to call a sense of security. Men will date a chick and consider her home base. In my mind, I had someone I was dating so I was able to take more risks to meet and date women who might have been out of my league. But, if all else fails, I had her to fall back on.

She was a nice girl, but something about her told me that I wouldn’t want her to be my girlfriend. She just didn’t have “it,” which is sign number two. No man can really define “it,” but they know it when they see it. She was good looking, she was well-mannered, she wasn’t crazy, she was a lot of fun, but at the end of the day she didn’t have it. I think my definition of “it” is, the power to make me stop looking for other options. I was convinced that I could do better.

The funny thing was, I was meeting and going out with other women, but none of them were making the time or putting in the effort like this girl. It was odd that I decided to chase a couple other women around, when I had a girl who wasn’t trying to give me the run around. But it made perfect sense to me.

1) She put absolutely no pressure on me to wife her down.

2) She asked me very few questions about things I did in our time apart.
3) She was very pleasant and always down to have a good time.
4) She was freaking reliable and dependable.
And here’s why it made perfect sense; she did all this because she didn’t want me to think she was crazy or possessive. Her goal was to get a man to be with her. She allowed herself to be in this situation because it was better than nothing at all. The worst part of it is I knew that. One of her friends probably told her, “If you start pressuring him or being annoying, he’s never going to wife you down.” They most likely told her that as soon as she started trying to hold me accountable for things like last minute cancellations or disappearing acts, I would likely stop calling.

Eventually, I told her I thought we should stop seeing each other because, although I liked her, I just didn’t think she would ever be my girl. I thought that she was looking for a relationship, and she was also too good of a girl to be chasing after me. She respected that and we remain friends now. Only reason I wrote this is because somebody needs to hear it from a man. Every day and every week I’m hearing another story about some woman trying to analyze the actions of the man she’s dating, who won’t take things to the next level. Most times, it’s because he has no intentions of taking it to the next level. He’s not different, scorned, or scared; he’s just not trying to do it, and you’re not requiring that he does.

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