Thursday, July 30, 2009

Off to Ireland and on to London - Cheerio!

I'm off to Ireland with my husband and kids - we go every other year to visit Liam's parents and siblings in Cork. We're making a quick stop in London on the way back home. I'm sure I'll have lots of interesting experiences along the way, but I won't be blogging about them until I return home. Enjoy the summer!

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to be a Good Sports Parent - Cheer More, Forget the Score

Here's a link to an article I wrote for about parenting young athletes. The three coaches I interviewed - Pete Caragher of the Flying Fish Swim Team, Rob Etheridge of Euro Soccer Club, and Michelle Casati, tennis pro and former #18 singles player - give some great advice.

We want our kids to do well in sports, but sometimes we aren't aware how our own behavior affects them. Basically, we parents need to -

1. Pay attention to the process of learning a sport, not just the results.
2. Let the sport belong to the child.
3. Encourage our kids, not coach or critique them.

To read the full article, click here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wanted: Mature Women in the Movies

I've been continually surprised to find that life after 40 is so exciting. I've done things that I only dreamed of in my 20s and 30s - got in shape, completed a degree, started a new career, sung in a band, kayaked with Orca, took some chances. At 46, I feel more confident, alive, and "me" than ever before, and when I look around at other women my age, it's clear they feel the same.

It's a great time of life, yet I never looked forward to it when I was younger. I figured I'd be sidelined by forty - irrelevant, unattractive, uncool. Why was I so misinformed?

Partly because there aren't enough movies made about older women.

Think about it. How many movies have you seen with older women (and by this I mean over 40) as leads? Or any women at all who aren't desperate for a man, victims of horrible crimes, or knocked up? Where are all the brave, funny, intelligent women who are running businesses, leading communities, creating art? Not in Hollywood films, that's for sure. And the absence of mature female role models is damaging to women of all ages.

According to Debbie Zipp, founder of In the Trenches Productions, an organization dedicated to promoting women over 40 in film,
"Art is a reflection of life. Limiting the roles mature women play in films is not an honest or true depiction of real life. We are many things besides somebody’s mother or grandmother; today’s women over 40, 50, 60 and beyond are also sexy and powerful. If this is the only way our children see women on television and in film, we subliminally tell them that women should take a back seat after they hit 40."

Amen, Debbie! In our youth-obsessed culture, women need to know that the second half of their lives can be every bit as meaningful and thrilling as their first. Let's demand more movies that depict women's lives after 40 the way they really are. And if the male Hollywood establishment won't comply, we mature chicks should make 'em ourselves.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Whoopi Inspires Eyebrowless Trend

A hot trend popping up in NYC clubs and fashion magazines is the absence of eyebrows, reports the New York Times. Fashionistas are erasing their eyebrows, either by bleaching them or removing them altogether. Apparently, one of the inspirations for this style is Whoopi Goldberg.

Wow, I've never noticed that Whoopi has no eyebrows! Perhaps their lack does contribute to her open, friendly, and somewhat androgynous image. Another unlikely influence cited by the eyebrowless is Buddhist monks.

What's your opinion about this look? For me, I'm thinking this is one trend I'll brow out of.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Procrastinators be Proud: We're good at getting stuff done as long as it's not important.

You know why I'm writing this? Because I don't have to. I updated my blog just two days ago. What I should be working on is the feature article I promised the local Tribune. It was due like, yesterday. But I'm a procrastinator, so instead of working on that project, I'm spending time here. Last week, when I really needed to work on Forty Fabulous, I was too busy redecorating my daughter's room.

It's a myth that we procrastinators aren't productive. We're actually very good at completing non-essential tasks. It's the big ones we avoid. Jobs that are critical and time-sensitive (like paying the bills, for example) stress us out so much we get busy with a lot of little things that don't really matter. We empty the dishwasher, take the dog for a walk, clean out the junk drawer. Now, if those tasks were on the top of our lists, we'd probably pay the bills to avoid doing them!

I learned all this in a wonderful essay called Structured Procrastination by John Perry, a Stanford professor and cohost of NPR's Philosophy Talk. According to Perry, there's a way to harness the power of procrastination. All we have to do is put some bogus tasks at the top of our to-do lists, then trick ourselves into thinking that the stuff we really need to do is completely optional.

Perry acknowledges that this practice requires a certain amount of self-deception, but doesn't see it as a problem.

"Virtually all procrastinators have excellent self-deceptive skills," he says, "And what could be more noble than using one characer flaw to offset the bad effects of another?"

Okay, I'm up for trying this technique. I'm going to put "File Financial Statements" on the top of my list (ensuring it absolutely will not get done) and move "Write Trib Article" down toward the bottom. That way, maybe I'll come at least close to hitting my deadline.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dating Younger Men - How low can you go before it gets icky?

My experience dating younger men has been limited to my husband, who is a measly 5 months younger than me. But I've taken a vicarious delight in the the current Cougar trend. Why shouldn't a woman date a man 10 or 15 years younger than she is? I think it's empowering for women - a leveling of the playing field, so to speak. The idea of being in a relationship with a buff, open-minded, uncomplicated young guy is appealing. But after seeing the movie Cheri starring Michelle Pfieffer, I think I've found my limit.

In the film, Michelle Pfeiffer (51) plays Lea, a turn of the century French courtesean who takes a colleague's 19-year-old son under her wing and quickly, into her bed. Her bad boy lover, Cheri, (played by Rupert Friend, actually 27) is a vapid, self-absorbed dolt. But Lea manages to overlook his moral and intellectual failings and their six year romance blossoms - almost entirely between the sheets.

Michelle Pfeiffer is gorgeous, but the 30 year age difference between the characters made me queasy. And while the plot and characters in Cheri are fictitious, there are recent real-life relationships with age disparities that clearly cross into "ick" territory, such as:

Linda Hogan (49) and boyfriend Charlie Hill (19)
After splitting with hubby Hulk Hogan, Linda quickly found new romance with one of her daughter Brooke's high school classmates. Apparently Brooke isn't too happy about it. Okay, let's agree on this. If the dude is younger than your kids, just stay away.

Madonna (50) and model Jesus Luz (22)
Madonna has made a career out of being provocative, so at first her new young stud didn't surprise me. Then I thought back to Madonna's marriage to Sean Penn in 1985. Gals, let's also abide by this rule - don't date anyone who wasn't alive at the time of your first wedding, it's tacky.

To be fair, there are plenty of older men/younger women relationships that are even more repellent, such as Billy Joel (60) and soon to be ex-wife Katie Lee Joel (27.) The worst is probably Woody Allen (73) and his wife Soon Yi Previn (38), since Soon Yi is the adopted daughter of Woody's former lover, Mia Farrow. But we women should aspire to higher standards than those guys. It's one thing to have a relationship with a younger man, but perhaps after 40, we need to leave the boys alone.