Tuesday, June 29, 2010

VOTE for ME to become the Next Oprah

I've been visualizing this since November. Now Oprah is running a contest to discover the next big talk show talent. Please take a look at my audition video (similar to the one I made pitching myself back in the fall.) Then VOTE FOR ME by following this link to Oprah's OWN website.

I promise you front row tickets to my show!

I sure hope this comes off as funny.

Monday, June 14, 2010

3 Things I Learned at a Pole Dancing Class

Saturday night, seven of my girlfriends (who prefer to remain anonymous) and I headed to the S-Factor in Chicago to try a new type of workout, pole dancing. None of us had ever danced with a pole before (well, I once wound streamers around a May pole in 2nd grade, but that doesn't count) and we were a bit nervous.

The common view of pole dancing is that it's slutty and sleazy and only performed for the pleasure of lecherous, drooling, dollar bill wielding men. We were a group of middle-aged, married moms with jobs and responsibilities; not exactly the exotic dancer type.

But still, we were curious. It sounded kind of naughty. And fun.

My 16 year-old son, Nick, learned about my plan and was appalled. He texted his buddy.

"Do you know our moms are going pole dancing?"

His friend texted back immediately.

"That makes me very uncomfortable."

We moms were uncomfortable too, especially at the idea of trying to look sultry and sensual in front of one another. Our husbands, however, were surprisingly accommodating. They happily volunteered to run carpools, make dinner, take the cat to the vet. "I got it covered, hon, you go on and have fun at that dance class."

I'm writing about the experience for Make it Better Magazine, so I'll have to wait to give you the full scoop until after the article is published. But as a preview, here are three things I learned  from my first pole dancing class.

1. It's not about how you look, it's how you feel
The studio was dimly lit, and get this, had NO mirrors. Imagine our relief! Julie, our instructor, told us that we shouldn't be concerned with how we looked or doing any movement "correctly." We should consider the room a safe place to just let go and have fun and feel good about ourselves.

2. Curves are captivating
In other fitness classes I've taken, I felt that fleshiness was shameful - a problem that needed fixing. But at S-Factor, the goal is for women to appreciate and enjoy their bodies as they are, not change them. Julie was gorgeous and sexy, but not skinny. She had boobs and a butt and man, could she flaunt 'em. When demonstrating the "cat pounce" she  arched her back while pointing her tush at the ceiling. As I tried to follow along, for the first time in my life, I wished for a bigger ass.

3. Get in touch with yourself
Throughout the class Julie urged us to "put your hands on your curves." Apparently, for a woman to be truly sexy she must know and own her body; to do that, she needs to be in contact with it. Touching ourselves - whether running a hand through our hair or massaging a knee - became part of the movements.

I felt awkward at first; it was certainly different than the pumping or punching arm moves that we're asked to do in aerobic or weight lifting classes. But as you can see from the pic above, I was feeling pretty comfortable in my own skin by the time class was over.

I'll write more about this later this summer. But if you don't feel like waiting, try a pole dancing class for yourself. It'll make you think about yourself in a whole new way.

And just for laughs, watch actress Sheila Kelley, the founder of the S-Factor, teach Conan O'Brien some seductive moves by clicking here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The M Word

Over the winter I had dinner with an old college friend, Nancy. I hadn't seen her in years and we couldn't talk fast enough, trying to catch up.  Amid all the news of kids, jobs, and husbands, Nancy matter-of-factly dropped this bomb.

"Oh, and I'm completely post-menopausal," she said. "I haven't had a period in two years."

Really? I was shocked. Nancy is 47, my age. Isn't all the menopause stuff supposed to happen when we're much older, like in our 50s?

Apparently  not. Because for the last month I've been having hot flashes. Constantly. When I'm driving the car, playing tennis, typing at my computer, making dinner, talking on the phone, walking my dog. All the freaking time.

It's the strangest sensation. Without warning, a wave of heat will well up and build in intensity before it bursts out of me, leaving me flushed and damp with perspiration. It's unsettling, especially at night, when it morphs into the "night sweats" and wakes me up. I lie there, anxious and clammy, enviously listening to my husband's deep breathing.

After a couple weeks of this, I made an appointment to see my gynecologist.

"Do you think I have a thyroid problem?" I asked her, hopefully, after describing my symptoms.

"It's possible but .... female, late 40s, irregular periods," she shrugged. "Most times, when you hear hoofbeats, you have to assume it's a horse."

I tried not to whine.

"I'm not ready for this. I can't sleep, I'm cranky, and I have this deep feeling of unease."

My doctor nodded sympathetically. "Yep, that's it, all right. It's awful, but you'll get through it."

This was not what I expected. I was hoping she'd reveal to me the secret power of menopause - how it leads to enlightenment, freedom, and the development of my true womanly-ness. Sitting on that examination table, huddled in my paper gown, I did not feel one bit forty fabulous. Shit.

My doctor said my symptoms could go away or continue for several years. The average age of menopause, officially defined when a woman hasn't had her period for a year, is 51. She discussed how taking hormones or even anti-depressants could cure me of hot flashes, but I'm not ready to go there.

Instead, I've put myself on a course of herbal remedies and positive visualization. Here are a couple thoughts that are helping me cope.

I'm a hot flash hottie!
Menopause means the end of reproductivity, not sexuality. Many women find greater satisfaction and closeness with their partner after all that child-bearing stuff is out of the way. I'm looking at each hot flash as a reminder that I am one smoking hot babe. Wait, here comes one now. Excuse me while I wipe the drops of sweat off my keyboard.

Let the creative juices flow!
There's a lot of ancient lore and modern day evidence that going through the "change of life" really amps up a woman's creativity. According to the experts at gynob.com,
Many women feel more creative as they enter menopause. They report having flashes of deep creativity and insight. They begin to look at the world in a different way and to see their relationship to it differently. They also feel more independent and more grounded in the present. 
When I turned 40 I felt like I was entering the the most creative, confident, exciting time of my life and I  feel the same way today. Women over 40 may be grown-ups, but that doesn't mean we've stop growing - and if that means suffering a few hot flashes along the way, bring it on!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What your man really wants for Father's Day

I originally wrote this article for the June issue of MakeItBetter.net.  Check in with your guy to see if he agrees..

Want to know what your guy craves for Father’s Day?
Hint: it’s not a wireless grill thermometer. I’ve asked men all over the North Shore what they want and their answers might surprise you.
Oh, I got my share of flip responses. “Cubs tickets,” jokes David of Wilmette.
“Not to get bitched at,” moans his buddy Paul.
Guys don’t feel comfortable voicing what they’re missing because neediness is seen as weak and unmanly. David Klow, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Northwestern’s Family Institute, sees this in his men’s groups.
“Men are rarely asked what they want and have a hard time expressing it,” he says. “They’re taught to subvert their needs.”
Yet, I’ve managed to pry some tidbits of truth from these closed-mouthed clams. Here are three gifts that are sure to make your man happy at any time of year.
Men want to be acknowledged for what they contribute, including what they do at work. The office isn’t a place for self-actualization for many men; it’s a means to support their family. And given that life on the North Shore is expensive and the economy is tough, “The professional pressure is unfathomable,” says Ted from Lake Forest.
Klow often sees men with high-powered careers command respect and admiration at the office but come home to feel marginalized and even ridiculed. He calls it “King of the Boardroom, Jester of the Bedroom” syndrome.
Men long for recognition from their spouses. So take a look at all the things your man does, whether it’s making toaster pastries for the kids or hopping an early flight to Omaha—and tell him how much you value him.
Let Him Be the Man
Look, he’s a dude. He may not be as sensitive as your best friend or as nurturing as your mother, but he digs the macho part of himself and—admit it—you do, too. Living with someone just like you would be boring. And certainly not hot.
Klow likens a strong relationship to a car’s battery; you need a balance between positive and negative poles to maintain an electric charge. So when your man starts exerting his caveman side, don’t be too quick to quash it. It’s the differences between you that keep things interesting.
More Sex, Different Sex, Sex Initiated by YOU
You knew this one was coming, right? Yep, men hanker after more sex—the consensus is they’d like to have it every other day. But what they really desire is for you to want more sex.
Your man thinks you’re delectable. He doesn’t care about your jiggly thighs or crow’s feet; what turns him on most is your attitude.
Jeff, a pilot, says, “We want a hot lover—someone who enjoys receiving as much as giving pleasure. Being attractive is nice, but being fun and confident is much more exciting!”
Your husband would be thrilled if you’d take the initiative sexually or introduce something new. A little creativity could be something you’d both enjoy. After all, as Klow says, “familiarity can be the enemy of eroticism.”