Thursday, December 20, 2012

My End of the World To Do List

Tomorrow is 12-21-12, which some people say, according to the ancient Mayan calendar, is the day the world will end. I'm pretty confident that the sun will rise tomorrow morning and Friday the 21st will turn out to be a pretty regular day. But just in case I'm wrong, I've put together my End of the World To-Do list.

Here's how I want to spend my last day on earth.

1. Play music, sing loudly and dance my ass off! Here's a good tune for today. Play it while you read through my list.



2. Take my Westie Kelly for a long walk. I know it's yucky out there, but it's her last day too and she loves nothing more than a good romp. I get such vicarious pleasure out of her full bodied, eager alertness.

3. Go to the beach and look out at Lake Michigan and be awed and grateful for this amazing life where most of the time, things go absolutely right.

4. Dress fancy. Wear my good underwear and my good jewelry. Douse myself with perfume. Curl my eyelashes.

5. Get a massage and have a leisurely lunch with a dear friend. Lucky me, this is already on my calendar! See you at noon at Asha Spa in Evanston, Steph.

6. Hug and kiss my kids and give them my loving, warm attention all day  - with no nagging! (Oops, I've already  violated this one - sorry Emma, but you should have got out of bed the first time I woke you up.)

7. Call my parents.

8. Lie on my back under the Christmas tree and look up through the branches. Shake all the presents addressed to me and guess what's in them.

9. Eat whatever damn thing I want. And that definitely includes french fries.

10. In the evening, take a long hot bubble bath with a glass of wine and Mary Oliver's beautiful volume of poetry, A Thousand Mornings. Slather myself with all the lotions and potions I've been saving for some other day.

11. Slip into bed all fragrant and clean and warm. Snuggle up to my hubby. Expect something nice to happen.

12. Pop half an Ambien and sleep like a baby. I usually reserve Ambien for transcontinental flights, but hey, it's important to be well-rested for the end of the world.

Okay, I'm heading out for that walk with Kelly. But I'd love to hear  - what will you do today?
#2 & #3 Check



#8 Done!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dating Today: High-Tech Hook-Ups and More

If you're interested in what the dating world is like these days, read my latest column for MakeitBetter.net - Modern Dating, Finding Love in a High-Tech Hook-Up World, based on my interview with relationship expert  Emily Morse, from the Bravo TV show Miss Advised.

One benefit of modern technology: no more waiting around for the phone to ring. One downside: very few actual dates.


My friend Laura read it and said "I'm so glad I'm married!" But Deborah from Evanston has negotiated the dating sites and fix-ups with grace and found true love. Read all about it here:

http://makeitbetter.net/better-you/sex-and-the-suburbs/4815-modern-dating-finding-love-in-a-high-tech-hook-up-world

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Parisian Perspective

Today I'm going to write about something that has nothing to do with sex. Which will be a relief to my mother. And my kids. And probably to many of you as well. Today I'm writing about what I learned in Paris.


Ah, Paris in December. It's gray and moody and chilly and lonely and absolutely beautiful. I've decided the Parisians can live completely fulfilled lives in their teensy apartments with only a few choice belongings because at any point they can step outside and experience them most staggering opulence  in the world. In the architecture, in the art, in the food, in the language. Who needs to own stuff, when luxury is ingrained into the fiber of the everyday?

You can see that I liked it there.

I told everyone I was going to Paris to take a writing course - a perfectly constructed weeklong seminar called Paris Cafe Writing taught by a former professor of mine, the inspiring Patricia Tennyson. The course is a perfect blend of writing and soaking up French culture, with plenty of free time to do whatever you want. You would love it.

But writing was not the real reason for my trip.The real reason I went to Paris was to do a gut check. Because, friends, I have a big birthday coming in March and I can no longer deny the fact that facing into 50 is a big deal.


It's not just an age thing, it's a stage thing. I've got one kid who's in college, and another getting her driver's license. As my week away clearly demonstrated, my mothering skills are not in high demand anymore. I didn't get any frantic texts or phone calls from my husband or my daughter. My dog wasn't neglected, the house didn't burn down, no one even needed my opinion. I was out of the country for eight days and everyone and everything at home were perfectly fine.



The role of "mother" is transitioning for me. It's becoming more of a title, less of a verb. And that's creating space in my life that needs filling.


The last time I visited Paris I was in my mid-20s, breezing through Europe with my friend Mary and a Eurorail pass. This trip I found Paris much the same; what was weird was how different I felt. Back then I was young and excited and on the precipice of some very big changes. Now I'm a middled-aged married woman who needs reading glasses to decipher the metro map. Can exciting big changes be on my horizon too?

I say YES.

One of the benefits of travel is that feeling foreign and apart from the surrounding culture gives you a clearer picture of  who you are and what you've got. This Paris trip reinforced my central belief that the best, most exciting time of life is not in the past, it's now. It's ahead. Which for me, means in my fifties, damn it. So bring 'em on.

I didn't go to Paris and come back transformed with some major epiphany about how to reinvent myself. But all those things I've been putting off for someday - writing the book, taking the trip, getting in shape, spending the time with people that matter - that day is  here.

Lucky soon-to-be fifty year-old me.







Friday, November 30, 2012

One Big Sex Tip for the Holidays

Last night concluded the "Sex & the Suburbs - Live" three-part series at the Wilmette Theatre, and I am still riding the high. The turnout in the theatre was fabulous, and there was a great balance between men and women, which was perfect, given the subject was: Bridging the Male/Female Divide - How to get what you Really Want for the Holidays.

Wow did we cover a lot of ground, and I'd like to summarize it for you here, but I don't have time, because I'm off to Paris tomorrow for a weeklong writing seminar. Bucket list! Anyway, here's one tidbit from last night's show to keep in mind to get what you want from your man when it comes to sex.

Have you told your him what you desire? Have you given him the opportunity to give it to you? 

Men actually are not selfish pigs. They don't mind getting off, but they enjoy sex most when they satisfy their woman. It makes them feel manly! But, unfortunately, they don't always know how to go about it. So why not clue them in?

This season, to get what you really long for, ask for it! I know I'm going to.

And, hey. Here's an article about me and the show from the Wilmette Patch.  I'm used to doing the interviewing, so it's weird to be on the other side. But I think Teme Rings did a wonderful job. And she came to last night's show with her husband too!

http://wilmette.patch.com/blog_posts/bridge-the-male-female-divide-for-holidays-happy-and-hot-talking-with-marjie-killeen

Au revoir mes amies! I'll report back when I get home from France. And I'll talk about something other than sex for a change, promise.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thanks Bedhead Photography!

For my column for Make it Better I write about a lot of aspects of relationships and sexuality, some of which I am professionally obligated to try out for myself - in the name of research, of course. This can be a very fun job.

I've written about boudoir photography before, but I never tried it until a few weeks ago, when Angela Keefe of Bedhead Boudoir Photography invited me to experience a mini-shoot. I was very nervous about baring my bod for the camera and thought I'd feel foolish trying to act sexy, but Angela made the experience feel very comfortable and natural. Her beautiful home in Winnetka serves as her studio and she has many lovely rooms to use as settings. I have to give a big shout out to Paula Heckenast and her team from City Lights Makeup  for doing such a gorgeous job on my hair and makeup, which is a huge part of the experience and the results.

I'm sharing a couple of the tamer photos with you here, because, hey, this is the internet after all. But I can tell you my husband is very excited to be in possession of a couple of the more revealing shots.


Boudoir photography makes a nice gift for the man in your life, but I think its greatest value is how it makes you feel about yourself. How often do we stand in front of the mirror criticizing our appearance? Seeing ourselves as beautiful and sensual - especially as we get older - can be a revelation. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Emily Harrell, the sex therapist who was so insightful and open as part of my last "Sex & the Suburbs" panel, often recommends boudoir photography to her female clients, to help them appreciate themselves and gain confidence with their sexuality. 

I didn't have a lot of time to prepare for this shoot, and I discovered I have a embarrassingly limited selection of lingerie, especially for a sex columnist. I've got to remedy that situation! If you're interested in this experience, I recommend a long, leisurely trip to a lingerie store to select some fun outfits in varying degrees of skimpiness. (I've officially moved on from Victoria's Secret to the more mature Soma, but if you want to treat yourself, try La Perla.)

I promise, you will end up feeling more comfortable in your skin than you think! But hey, with the right hair, make up, and lighting (and a little strategic photo-shopping), the gals at Bedhead can make even a white tailored shirt look hot.

To see my prior posts about the experience of Boudoir Photography, follow the links below.
http://www.fortyfabulous.com/2010/08/picture-this-hot-model-in-glossy-photo.html
http://www.fortyfabulous.com/2010/08/francescas-photos-oh-my-god-thats-me.html

Monday, October 15, 2012

Highlights from Premiere of Sex & the Suburbs

Check out these highlights from the premiere show of Sex & the Suburbs - Live, based on my column for MakeitBetter.net. The second show - Monogamy Monotony, how to heat up a long-term relationship - is this Thursday at 7:30pm at the Wilmette Theatre. Join us for an insightful and fun discussion, and a few sexy surprises! For tickets, click here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

3 Reasons Men Should Come to Sex & the Suburbs Show

My column for Make it Better is targeted to women, but live version of Sex & the Suburbs is for both sexes. Here's why men should attend the next show on October 18th. Tickets available at wilmettetheatre.com.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Totally Unbiased Review of First Sex & the Suburbs Show

Now that a week has passed since the premiere of Sex & the Suburbs - Live at The Wilmette Theatre, I've calmed down enough to give you a completely objective review.

IT  WAS  AWESOME!

The thing that was most awesome was the audience. The people who attended were so ready to engage in an intelligent, energizing discussion of a topic that is often not addressed in our society in private, much less in a suburban theater. The majority of the crowd was women, but the men who came out were enthusiastic participants. We'd love to see more guys in the future.

The whole thing couldn't have happened without my outstanding expert panelists who brought wisdom, compassion, honesty and humor to the conversation and expanded our concept of what good sex actually is.  If you'd like to know more about these talented professionals, here's a brief description of their backgrounds, viewpoints and links to their websites.

Carol Moss of Wilmette is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Life Coach and, when she has time, performs as a cabaret singer.  I personally have benefitted from her coaching. She is co-author of the book A Woman's Search for Inner Peace. Carol believes "good sex is part of the life force that we all have and it's part of why we're here on earth. It's expressed in things beyond sex - it's the way we play the piano, cook a meal, or write an article. Our life force validates who we are, and good sex is part of that." Visit her website for information about her inspiring work.

Antoinette Saunders of Wilmette is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who has been working with children and adults for 35 years in her private practice and has a distinguished writing and teaching career. With Carol Moss, she co-authored A Woman's Search for Inner Peace. Toni believes "good sex is about connection. In our middle and later life we have to focus on the energy and importance of connection. And that means affection and respect and intimacy and touching each other. When we think of sex we tend to think of intercourse, and I'd like to suggest that sex is a lot more than that." You can reach Toni through her website.

David Klow of Evanston is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and trained Intuitive Healer and guide. He works intuitively and deeply with individuals, couples, and families and runs multiple therapy groups. David feels "good sex is mindful sex, and it's mysterious. It's hard to be present to that mystery when we are pulled by so many things in our lives. Part of good sex is that it's a bodily thing. We're really in our heads. The shift for good sex is to move from our heads into our hearts. It's a journey, and we have to take responsibility for ourselves and work with our partners." David owns David Klow & Associates in Skokie.

Andrea Gaines is a certified Life and Wellness Coach based in Evanston. She's committed to helping women be more intuitive, sensual and radiant. Her 16 year marriage to her husband George stays hot and sexy because of their commitment to yogic sexuality practices. "I think good sex is about creating polarity, about bringing energy to the relationship, to making vulnerability okay, and turn-on, meaning men being responsible for managing their turn-on and women knowing their turn-on." Want to know more about what Andrea's talking about? Visit her Higher Ground Coaching website.

A number of other people contributed to the evening:  Val Haller of Valslist who created a slow dancing sexy playlist you can own for yourself, Andee Harris of  Bedroom Chemist who donated a super sensual "Chemist Kit" for the raffle and will be part of our next panel, and Angela Keefe of Bedhead Photography in Winnetka who gave a very generous boudoir photography package guaranteed to make the lucky raffle winner see herself in a whole new way.

And finally, a special shout out to Karen and Dan, our Typical Married Couple, for being so open and willing to share your impressions and experiences with the audience. You must come back next time! And my deepest appreciation to Make it Better for their consistent support.

Don't miss our second show on October 18th as we move from the conceptual into specifics as we take on "Monogamy Monotony - How to Heat Up a Long Term Relationship." Tickets at wilmettetheatre.com!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Some Seriously Sexy Tunes

Tomorrow is the premiere of Sex and the Suburbs Live and I have so many wonderful people that are bringing it to life, I want to share them with you.

For starters, check out the creator of our music for the evening, Val Haller of Valslist.com. The playlist she cooked up for us, called Steamy 50 Shades, is smokin'! Two hours of sultry tunes that are perfect to slow dance to, or whatever comes up.

Go to Val's website, or get the playlist direct on itunes.

Here's a little sample of the tunes. Yowza!









Friday, September 21, 2012

Press for Sex & the Suburbs

Thanks to Bruce Ingram of the Pioneer Press for writing this nice story about my upcoming series of shows at the Wilmette Theatre. I'm usually the one asking the questions, so I was a bit nervous about how I came off in the interview. I have sudden empathy for our presidential candidates! Anyway, I was very happy with the way Sex & the Suburbs is portrayed here. It's not just about what's going on between the sheets - it's about what's going on in our heads.

Anyway, here's an excerpt - if you're in the area, would love to see you Thursday night! Tickets are $20 available at wilmettetheatre.com.

Suburban sex columnist spices up Wilmette Theatre

It’s the eternal dilemma: Sex vs. sleep.
Read the full article here. 
Marjie Killeen, of Wilmette, who writes the award-winning “Sex and the Suburbs” column recognizes that slumberland has a strong attraction for sleep-deprived North Shore types. Yet, as might be expected, Killeen has lots to say in favor of other bedtime activities. 
“Sex is a vital part of life that makes you feel better in all the other areas of your life,” she said. “It makes you a better parent, a better partner, and it makes you excited and tuned in and turned on about living.”  
You can learn more (and weigh in with your own opinion on the subject) when Killeen leads a panel of experts in discussion of “Why is Good Sex Important? (Especially Compared to a Good Night’s Sleep),” Sept. 27, at the Wilmette Theatre. Channel 7’s Linda Yu will host the first in a series of three monthly “Sex and the Suburbs” panel discussions. Panelists include Killeen, life coach Andrea Gaines, marriage and family therapist David Klow, clinical social worker Carol Solberg Moss and clinical psychologist Dr. Antoinette Saunders. A cocktail reception with prizes precedes the first show.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shopping in Workout Clothes, Sometimes You Gotta

Whoa. Two weeks ago, when I urged women to make more of an effort with their appearance when hitting the grocery store, I struck a nerve, and my friends been letting me have it.

As long as she doesn't smell,
she's good to go for an hour.
The thing they resent most about my hoity-toity, french inspired, "let's not be slobs" blog post is that it inhibits them from running errands on their way to or from working out. Changing clothes is too much of a pain.

"It isn't necessary!" they tell me. "It isn't efficient! It isn't comfortable!" And, they practically hiss at me, it's hard enough to get their butts to the gym as it is, thank you, and who am I to mess with their overburdened schedules by issuing some bogus dress code edict?

You know what? I think my pals have a point.

Since I wrote that post, I've realized how difficult it is to look put together all the time. I've actually avoided going places, afraid I'd run into a friend who would raise an eyebrow at me for looking sloppy. Why'd I write that damn post anyway?

Look, I'm not the fashion police, I'm just trying to urge busy women to take a little more time for themselves. The way we present ourselves to the world matters. And, to borrow a cliche from L'Oreal - we're worth it!

But, as Americans, we're also a sporty bunch and exercise is a good thing, so sometimes we gotta wear our workout clothes out and about. I like to hit Target after tennis as much as the next girl. I've thought long and hard about some guidelines, and here's what I came up with.

Nicole Ritchie accessorizes to create an outfits
It's Okay to Shop in Your Sweats When....
  1. Your fitness clothes look cute on you.  Wear what you like to the gym, but if you're taking your exercise clothes to the street, consider them as an outfit. The fitted hoodie/yoga pants look, like Reese Witherspoon, above, is always a good bet, or follow Nicole Richie's lead and layer leggings and tanks with scarves and comfy sweaters, right.
  2. You aren't sticky, sweaty or stinky. Perspiration is a by-product of a great workout, but if others can see it or smell it on you, it's time to hit the shower, not the strip mall.
  3. You're not letting it all hang out. At the supermarket, baring too much skin makes other shoppers feel uncomfortable. And when it comes to places of business, a sports bra is underwear, not a top.
  4. You have exercised or will exercise soon.  Many women pull on workout gear in the morning with the vague intention of taking a run or making it to the gym, but never get there - and end up hanging in their sweatpants until bedtime. If you aren't heading somewhere specifically to work out,  it's just as easy to slip into some cute jeans and boots. 
Too sweaty to shop, but at least she actually exercised.



So what do you think? Are these expectations unrealistic? I'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hey Goldilocks, Get into the Woods

Feeling frazzled, unfocused, pent-up with frustration? For once, my recommendation has nothing to do with sex. Get into the woods, woman.

I've lived on the North Shore for 15 years, and until recently never ventured into the nearby Glenview Woods. But these days, when it's time to walk Kelly I'm more likely to throw my pooch into the car so we can have some unleashed quality time in a place that's restorative and fun for both of us. These pics are from our outing on Saturday.
Wildflowers along the path
After just a few minutes on the trail I can breathe better; after a half hour in I'm immersed in the beauty of the the trees, the sound of the river, and the unexpected combinations of wildflowers clustered along the path. Plus, hiking the rolling terrain is good exercise.
Sunlight streaming through the trees.
Kelly bounds through the underbrush chasing chipmunks, and seeing her emerge - quivering with excitement and covered in burrs - is ridiculously gratifying. What had I been fretting about an hour ago? Who cares? In the forest I feel like I'm 11 years old. 

video
During these last gorgeous days of summer and early fall, find a woodland spot that you can escape to. You know what you might discover? Yourself.

For recommendations of nature spots of the North Shore, see my article and video for Make it Better.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Say Non-Non to Sloppy Dressing in Public

Now that a new school year is in session, I propose we make a fashion resolution - no more going to the grocery store looking like slobs!

I know everybody is busy and trying to multi-task, but I say it's worth making an effort to look cute even when running everyday errands. I'm tired of going to the Jewel among people who appear to have just rolled out of bed or come from a sweaty workout. First of all, it's unappetizing; I'm buying stuff to eat here. Secondly, I find the female frumpiness depressing, especially for women our age. Come on, we are at the height of our powers! We middle aged chicks owe it to ourselves and the women around us to take more pride in our appearance. I'm always inspired by well dressed women.

Ines de la Fressange Hats
Ines de la Fressange,
Image via Stylebistro.com
French women (whose effortless sense of style I am obsessed with right now) would never be caught dead wearing a dumpy outfit or gym clothes in public.  Even when undertaking the most mundane chores, they leave the house looking put together. It's not that they have an extensive wardrobe or spend tons of time on getting dressed, either. It's just that style and self-image are higher priorities than comfort and convenience. They invest in basics, accessorize with flair, and wear the heck out of their clothes. Older women are expected to look as chic as their younger counterparts.

"Age is no excuse for giving up and letting go. It's the opposite, in fact. As you get older, you need to be more vigilant about your sense of style, make more effort and not just let it all slide."  French style icon, Ines de la Fressange, 55

But many American women don't see the point.

"I don't care what I look like at the grocery store," says my friend Hilary, while wearing a  pretty, perfectly accessorized outfit for our casual lunch date. "I'm running errands, not trying to impress anyone."

"But you look great right now!"I point out.  

"That's because I'm meeting you," she says, exasperated. "I care about you." 

Ah-ha! So dressing up is a sign of respect to others, right?

I say we should extend that honor to all the people we interact with. And hey, the grocery store is a very public place! I run into more people I know at Jewel or Target or Costco than I do when I'm out on the town. I'm done with cowering in the pet food aisle, trying to avoid greeting an acquaintance because I look like dog poop.


Look, I'm not saying we should put on stilletos and a pencil skirt to pick up the dry cleaning. And I say everyone gets a free pass on what they wear in the car. But look how practical Ines de la Fressange's chic ensemble is, above. Her basic outfit is jeans, jacket, tailored shirt and flats. That's an achievable look for anyone. And since it's almost noon, I am going to get out of my pjs and try it out.

Love to hear your thoughts on this one. Au revoir mes amis!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Introducing Sex & the Suburbs Live!


Yippie, my "Sex & the Suburbs" column for Make it Better is going to be a series of live shows! If you live in the Chicago area, please join me on September 27th, October 18th, and November 29th at the Wilmette Theatre for a lively, spicy discussion about sexing it up after you've settled down. I've got some brilliant guest experts joining me.

Bring your girlfriends, bring your man, bring your mother for god's sake! (Just leave the kids at home.) We'll share some wine, laughs and inspiring advice for feeling hotter and more excited about not just sex, but life. Check out my vid and cool poster, below.





For tickets and information, visit wilmettetheatre.com.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Two Awesome Ads for Women

Okay, the agencies that created these Nike and Sauza Tequila commercials really get us women. The first ad inspires me, and the second, um, holds my attention. Watch and enjoy. I think you'll agree.

Way to celebrate women athletes and Title IX, Wieden & Kennedy!



And my deepest appreciation, Euro RSCG Chicago. Hot firemen with adorable kittens and cocktails are definitely a way to a woman's heart.






Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Advice to College Freshmen (and Their Moms Too)

My son, Nick, is heading off to The University of Michigan in a month and I couldn't be prouder. I have lots of advice for him, but I think this may be the point in our relationship when he stops listening for a while. So in honor of my firstborn leaving the nest, here's a video packed with great advice for incoming college freshmen from the people that know best - current college students. Thanks to all the students who helped me out on this project for Make It Better. Your poise, humor, and smarts are very reassuring to this mom.



P.S. - Nick will be swimming for the world class Michigan Men's Swimming & Diving team and  I'm a Michigan grad myself - BBA '84 - so Go Blue!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Frustration

Yeah, I read 50 Shades of Grey, yeah, I found some of the sex scenes kinda hot - but frankly, the book left me longing for more. Like erotica that would appeal to a real mom, not some 21 year-old, unkissed virgin. Here's my review of and foray into the genre, over at Makeitbetter.net. My mommy porn starts like this....

Victoria woke, stretching luxuriously. What a delicious night’s sleep she’d had! She snuggled back into her plump feather pillows, running her palms slowly down her flat stomach. All the hard work had been worth it. She’d lost 20 pounds and hadn’t felt this great about her body since 1991.

The house seemed unusually quiet, and then Victoria remembered—the kids were away at summer camp and her husband was still off pursuing his lifelong dream of backpacking across Alaska. She was alone.  
Read the full column here. 




Monday, June 25, 2012

Sexy, Skinny Summer Secrets

My capacity for critical thinking seems to be on vacation this month, but I do have a couple summertime discoveries to share.

1. Last week I bought a pair of Gap "Sexy Boyfriend" jeans and I love the loose but not baggy fit so much I've worn them every day for the last five days without washing. No one has seemed to notice. Okay, I don't get out much.

2. I have developed a whole new form of meditation that centers on lying on a hammock and gazing up through the tree branches while eating a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich very, very slowly. I believe I have found enlightenment. Especially when I do the Skinny Cow meditation while wearing the Sexy Boyfriend jeans.

Bye, now.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why You Should Talk Sex with Your Daughter

Where else will your daughter
get her information?
I write about sex for a magazine that is distributed throughout my community, which you'd think would make me top candidate for world's most embarrassing mom. I admit, when my column was first published in Make it Better magazine, I did cringe at the thought of my two teens reading some of my more risque pieces - especially the ones about sex toys and pole dancing. But then I figured, hey - my column is fun, respectful and well researched. I say it's as good a place to learn about sex as any  - and much, much better than stupid, sleazy, "reality" shows on channels like MTV or "learn these tricks to please your man" articles in Cosmopolitan.

But now I've discovered another reason to feel good about what I do. Opening a dialogue about sex is good for my daughter. According to Joyce McFadden, author of "Your Daughter's Bedroom: Insights for Raising Confident Women," our kids, and especially our daughters, need for us to talk about sexuality, because what we communicate by avoiding it is damaging.
If we don't teach our daughters about sexuality from the time they're little or if we only give them a crumb of information here and there, we inadvertently communicate that female sexuality is too shameful to discuss in polite company. We unintentionally teach them that their sexuality -- and ours -- is bad. Our girls then absorb this shame and badness and take it into their general sense of themselves -- into how they see who they are.
Joyce McFadden, Huffington Post
As mothers, we are the role models for sexuality to our daughters. If we're too hung up to talk openly about sex, we pass our hang-ups on to them. I'm not saying the pieces I write for "Sex & the Suburbs," which are geared to mostly to middle-aged moms in long-term relationships, are appropriate topics for my high school sophomore. But I'm not embarrassed that she knows I write about sex, am interested in sex, and yes, enjoy having it.

image via amazon

According to the author, our daughters want our guidance about sex - not just because they need information, but because they recognize it as "an act of maternal love."


Don't we all want our daughters to become women who understand and value their bodies, have confidence and pride, and enjoy a fulfilling sex life? I know I do! And most of all, I want a close relationship with my daughter throughout her life.



Friday, June 1, 2012

Plant some Pots!

I don't have a green thumb, but with the help of my gardening guru friend Mary Shearson, now even I can create beautiful outdoor planters and flower pots. And so can you! This short video was created for my other favorite site, Make it Better.




Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Big O Sex Column


My latest "Sex & the Suburbs" column is all about orgasms. Relax, Mom, not MY orgasms - women's orgasms in general. And, no surprise, we're wired very differently from men. Here's a little teaser, below, but please read the complete article over at Make It Better - 5 Things to Know About the Female Big O.

image from makeitbetter.net
2. Straight-up sex rarely rings the bell

Fewer than 25% of women climax through intercourse alone. A woman’s hot button is her clitoris, which, since it’s external, is tricky to engage during intercourse. As Dr. Lissa Rankin writes in her book, “What’s Up Down There.” “The truth is that the majority of sexual positions that involve vaginal penetration fail to stimulate the clitoris at all. Most women need something more.”

Men often forget this fact, so to help them relate, ask your guy to imagine having sex without his penis being involved. Not that much fun, right?
 Click here for full article.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Outdoor Entertaining - A Nifty Nautical Theme Party

When it comes to throwing a party, no one does it better than my talented friend, event stylist Suzanne Armstrong. In my latest video for Make it Better, Suzanne shows how to celebrate with this season's trendy, preppy nautical theme. It's the perfect way to launch a high school or college graduate, but the ship-shape ideas can be adapted to any summer party and the cheerful theme is perfect for outdoor entertaining.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brava Giada and Giuliana - from your newest fan

This week I've been surprisingly impressed with two Italian-born cable TV stars:  Food Network chef Giada de Laurentiis and E! host and reality star, Giuliana Rancic. Why? I'll start with Giada.

Giada de Laurentiis, image via giadadelaureniis.com
I'm not a foodie, but I have seen a few minutes of Giada de Laurentiis's show, Giada at Home.  At the time, I was struck more by what a babe she is than the dish she was preparing. The seductive way she leans over her chopping board and peers up at the camera is a talent on it's own. But two weeks ago, browsing the book section at Costco, I picked up her new cookbook,  Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner for the bargain price of $18.99. My weeknight cooking has been dismally uninspired, so I figured I'd give it try.

Since then, I've made four of Giada's recipes - more new recipes than I usually try in a year.  I made Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino, Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups, Sweet and Spicy Greek Meatballs, and just last night, Toasted Ciabatta with Shrimp, Tarragon, and Arugula. These dishes are inventive and flavorful and not all that difficult to put together (if I concentrate.) My kids and husband are amazed.

Even though making dinner now requires me to shop at different stores for the higher quality ingredients (Jewel doesn't carry lemon grass or Thai fish sauce) and chop a lot of scallions and fresh herbs, I am enjoying my culinary adventure. I don't think I can go back to turkey burgers and bagged caesar salad. So on behalf of the whole Killeen family, thanks for cranking up my cooking engines, Giada.

Giuliana Rancic, image via eonline.com
Now, onto my next inspiring signorina.

Two nights ago, my daughter Emma was watching an E! True Hollywood Story episode about Giuliana Rancic that completely sucked me in. Her story is fascinating. She has achieved success through hard work and determination, yes, but also by being a fun, genuine, caring chick. Despite her rail-thin frame and designer duds, Giuliana is no diva.

I was aware that she and her husband, "Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic, have been struggling with fertility and the fallout from Giuliana's shocking  breast cancer diagnosis. But I didn't know that she was such a cool, brave, honest, positive person. And her Italian family is amazing. Every single one of them had tears running down their faces, expressing how much she means to them. You should have seen her papa try to keep it together. The show was so touching, I shed a tear or two myself.

Now, the Rancics have disclosed they are expecting a baby through a gestational carrier, empregnated with the couple's embryo, fertilized before Giuliana underwent cancer treatment. I wish them much joy.

What a happy ending. And what is going on here? I'm cooking and crying and gushing over a pair of women I'd barely noticed two weeks ago. Maybe I'm part Italian!  I look kind of Mediterranean, right? And it would certainly explain my love of the vino.

Ciao bellas!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In 5 words, how do you want to feel? I'll go first.

image via amazon.com
In Danielle LaPorte's inspiring book, The Fire Starter Sessions, she talks about the importance of knowing how you want to feel each day, and pursuing those feelings rather than setting goals or conforming to societal expectations or using money or belongings to measure your success. This concept is based on the belief that our emotions are the true guideposts to operating in our sweet spot, our bliss, our flow, our life's purpose, our true vocation.

It's a highly individual experience - what lights me up may leave you cold - but we all know it when we feel it. Unfortunately, most of  us don't feel it often enough.

I've spent some hours considering this, and here are the words (the book's exercise suggests choosing 3-5) that best describe what I'd love to experience.

 I want to feel:

Connected
Meaningful
Delighted
Turned on 
Committed

These words are rich in meaning for me. For example, when I say "Connected," I don't mean being able to get Blackhawks playoff tickets - I mean I want be part of something bigger than me, including my family, inspiring friends and mentors, my community, my audience, and this place and time. And "Turned-on" goes way beyond it's sexual connotation; it's about feeling so excited and attracted to ideas and situations and people that I wanna jump their figurative bones.

The point of identifying these desirable feelings, says LaPorte, is then you figure out what you can do to feel that way. And it's not selfish - feeling good puts us in our highest, most authentic, most productive place. If I want more meaning in my life, today I can make sure I'm thoughtful and thorough in my work, have real conversations with my kids, and read an inspiring book.

Phew, this whole concept comes as such a relief. If I can prioritize what makes me feel good, and so can you, we are all going to be so damn happy! How delightful!

What's one way you'd like to feel each day?

When I did this a few years ago, it was definitely a turn on

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fashion, Art, Food, Fashion - One Fabulous Day in Chicago

Here's why I love Chicago. On any given day there are so many cool, creative, cultural events to savor. In this town, food, fashion and art often go hand in hand and Wednesday and Thursday, I had a feast of the senses.

 On Wednesday, my friend Cheryl and I were guests of artist Gary Weidner at a hip reception at the new Wicker Park eatery, Storefront Company. Gary's mixed media mural from his "Flowers" series (see below) dominates the restaurant's dining room and infuses it with a moody, beautiful vibe.

Gary Weidner's mural at the Storefront Company restaurant in Wicker Park.

Our evening actually began around the corner at the Cynthia Rowley boutique on Damen. Cynthia, a Barrington native, is a good friend of Gary's and was hosting her own soiree to celebrate her 2012 Legend of Fashion award from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC.)

I wish I had snapped some pics of the elegant designer, but I was too busy eyeing the clothes at her shop.  One of her gorgeous jackets certainly caught Gary's eye, and he wore it for the rest of the evening.

Artist Gary Weidner, wearing Cynthia Rowley jacket, with friends.

Here's one of her dresses I coveted:
image from CynthiaRowley.com
As for the Storefront Company, the Blood Orange martinis and hors d'ouevres (perfectly bite-sized, what a relief) were so yummy, I would definitely go back for dinner.

Blood Orange Martini.
Yum.

Thursday, the fun continued as a fellow mom friend and I took our budding fashionista daughters to see the SAIC student Fashion Show at Millenium Park (where Cynthia Rowley would be honored later that night.) I've never been to New York's fashion week, but this SAIC show was such an amped up, high dose of innovative design, it had to rival what goes down in Bryant Grant. Here's just a tiny snippit from the incredibly entertaining show.


video


Last night, overstimulated and exhausted, I spent the evening as I more typically do - wearing yoga pants and glasses on the couch, catching a few minutes of John Stewart before heading to bed. But what a great 24 hours it had been, and how wonderful that my daughter and her friends can soak up this city's talent and energy.

Future Fashionistas
PS - If you'd like an affordable piece of Gary's work, it will be for sale at ExhibitionA.com soon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring 2012 Style - Start with Your Closet

Some of the hottest trends of the season - color blocking, mixed patterns - might be hiding right in your closet. In this short video I made for MakeitBetter.net, fashion editor Kat Achenbach shows a reader, Mia, how to work with clothes she already owns to create fresh and fashionable outfits without spending a dime. Let it inspire you to play around in your own closet.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Suburban Myth? Swingers on the North Shore

image via - makeitbetter.net
Sometimes my work as a columnist for MakeitBetter.net leads me into murky waters, and investigating my latest column about married couples who swing (switch partners) is an example.

In my relatively conservative community, Chicago's North Shore, there have been longstanding rumors about the existence of swinging, but, even though I'd asked around, I couldn't confirm any real evidence of the pursuit.

Then, through a friend, I found a forthcoming source who told me everything I could ever want to know about the swinging lifestyle (and more.) Unlike the boozy, free love key parties of the 70's, todays swinging scene is highly organized - with permanent facilities, websites, rules of etiquette and more.

This is as naughty as my
swinging gets.
To get an in-depth look at the "Lifestyle" read my full column - "Swingers on the North Shore - More Than Myth" - then let me know what you think. I do believe in a couple's right to define their relationship as they wish. But as for me, the only swinging I'll be doing is at a playground or at the Mexican beachfront bar at right.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Swimsuit Shopping doesn't have to Suck

In a couple weeks I'm going to Mexico with 45 people. Our group is comprised of a dozen high school senior boys along with parents and a few younger siblings. The boys are tight, but the rest of us don't know each other as well. Being in a bathing suit in front of so many people (including some super-fit moms) is stressing me out. I want to look my best, or at least feel comfortable.

So Friday, feeling unexpectedly brave, I went swimsuit shopping. I came home with a great suit, but it wasn't easy. Since I'm fresh from the dressing room, I thought I'd share some tips on how to make the whole potentially traumatic experience more pleasant for you.

Before you leave home:
  • Be single-minded. Finding a good bathing suit is a big deal. Give yourself plenty of time for this mission and don't convolute it with other errands or shopping needs. 
  • Set goals for your suit. My priorities were coverage, comfort and cuteness. I also wanted to play up my boobs while distracting from my wide hips.  I was leaning toward  a tankini, because the bikini bottom makes it easier to pee in public restrooms, while the longer top covers the tummy, but can be rolled up for tanning. You'll have your own criteria. 
  • If you have no idea what styles look best for your figure, do some online research.
  • Wear appropriate attire. I recommend you wear tiny undies - stuffing my boyshort briefs into bikini bottoms was not fun - big jewelry, and beachy shoes with a heel (shove 'em in your purse if it's not sandal weather.)
My pick: La Blanca Tankini
Image via Lord and Taylor
At the Mall:
  • Find a store with a pleasing environment and a BIG selection of swimsuits. You need lots of options! I had found some suits I liked on Bloomingdale's website, but their in-store selection was disappointingly thin. Macy's had a huge assortment, but the department was messy, loud and chaotic - and seemed geared to 13 year-olds. I ended up at Lord &Taylor, which had a nice selection of chic styles and large, clean dressing rooms.
  • Plan to try on many, many suits. Grab anything that you think might meet your criteria in a size at least one size bigger than your dress size. If you are normally an 8, start with a 10 and go from there. If you're trying on separates, you may need to mix and match. My bottom is a size bigger than my top!
In the Dressing Room
  • Trust me on this - do not look in the mirror until the suit is fully on! Watching yourself squirm into a suit in bad lighting is not good for your self image. 
  • Go easy on yourself. You are bound to try some suits that look simply terrible. I tried on a Miraclesuit that sucked in my waist like a corset, but squished my boobs as well. The last time I saw my breasts that flat, I was getting a mammogram. Remember - if you look awful, it's the suit's fault, not yours. 
  • As you try everything on, be honest about what styles really flatter you, and readjust. For example, I thought I wanted a strapless bandeau or halter top, but those suits didn't give the lift my bust requires  to look perky. Well... perky-ish.
  • When you find a suit that looks good, hang it on the "yes" hook and finish trying the others. If it's still one of your favorites, try it on a final time and examine yourself from every angle. Get really critical. Is it the best color for you? Can you swim in it? Is it gaping or pulling? Are you sure you don't need a different size? Then, If you still like the suit, buy it immediately and don't look back.
My Suit!
  • I found I liked tops with sewn-in cups (without those little cup liners that are always sliding around) and wide, uplifting straps. I also developed a passion for ruching, because the gathered material covers a lot of lumps and bumps.
  • In the end, I bought the red shirred La Blanca Tankini pictured above. The top cost $97 (ouch) and the bottoms $39 for a total of $136 plus tax.  It's not the sexiest, flashiest suit, but it's cute, it fits well, and I think I'll feel comfortable wearing it poolside with my 45 new best friends. After a couple stong margaritas, that is.
Are you going doing some swimsuit shopping this Spring? I'd love to hear about your experience and the suit you score!

April Update: here's a picture of me in Mexico wearing the suit. I was very happy with it - felt very comfortable whether sunning, snorkling, swimming or jet skiing. That forgiving pleating became even more important over the course of week as my intake of margaritas, guacamole and tacos went unchecked. Ole!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And now, Sh!t Middle Aged Women Say

Oh, yes we did. Piggybacking on the internet trend of the moment, my Succulent Wife pals and I bring you this silly video. Grab your readers and some Activia and enjoy!


Friday, February 3, 2012

3 Reasons I'm Excited for Superbowl Sunday

I'm not a big football fan, but I'm looking forward to the Superbowl as much as anybody, and here's why.

Yum, Velveeta & Ro-tel Dip!
Image via Ro-tel
1.  Ro-tel Queso Dip
Ordinarily, I do not eat Velveeta cheese. Any dairy product that can sit on a supermarket shelf for six months can't be good for you. But on Superbowl Sunday, nothing is yummier than a cut up brick of Velveeta mixed with a can of Rotel and melted in the microwave to form a warm, spicy bowl of luscious goop. It's a perfect dip for Fritos or Tostitos or spooned directly into the mouth. I could roll in it like a dog.


2. Tom Brady is hot!
I'm sorry, Eli Manning, I'm sure you have a much better personality, but Patriots QB Tom Brady possesses a superhuman gorgeousness that can't be denied. And he's 34, old enough to be within my Cougar range without getting icky, so I can crush on him guilt-free (see calculation below.)
Tom Brady, image via Wikipedia

Cougar rule of thumb: divide your age in half and add seven years. 
For me, that's: 48/2 = 24, + 7= 31. 

According to this rule, any man over 31 is fair game. I'm not looking for a relationship, just a way too amuse myself over the course of a long game when I don't care who wins. Hey wait, the Giants Manning is exactly 31; I can check him out too. Score!


3. Madonna's Half Time Show
My girl Madonna
 image via Wikipedia
Of course I'm excited Madonna is performing at half time - she and I have so much in common. We're both women over 40, we both grew up in Michigan, we both went to the University of Michigan. I do community theatre, she's one of the most influential pop stars on the planet. We're practically twins. I can't wait to see her rock out in front of one of the biggest TV audiences in the world. Whether you love her or hate her, Madonna is a great example of how women can be fierce and fascinating at any age.

Here's what's rumored to be her set list:  Gimmie All Your Luvin (new), Ray of Light, Vogue, Music and Holiday.


What are you looking forward to this Sunday? Please share here!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A chat with a famed Sexpert - Dr. Laura Berman

Dr. Laura Berman
image via MakeitBetter.net
How can women boost their own desire so they feel like having sex more often? Is it okay for your kids to know you and your mate are having some time alone? What's something you can do to make Valentine's Day more sexy?

Famous sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman answers these questions and more  in  my interview for Make it Better.  Here's an excerpt, but follow the link for the full piece, which includes a video of our conversation.

Part of the problem for parents is that it’s hard to escape their kids. Do you think it’s bad for kids to know their parents are having “private time”?
Absolutely not. I think the opposite. You’re the model of what a loving, intimate relationship looks like. Obviously children do not need to know the details of your sex life or see you having sex—that’s why you always put a lock on the door. But for them to know that you guys have special private time—you can even set a timer or say “after this cartoon Mommy and Daddy will be right back” —I think that’s a really important message to give your kids about what to expect in their own loving relationships. 


Full interview at my colomn, Sex & The Suburbs, MakeitBetter.net

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Do It

When you work from home you've got to be self motivated. The picture at left is of my office door. I've been trying to transform this room into a more productive, inspiring space - an incubator of creativity and productivity and organization. Thus the new vibrant green paint job and the big message to myself on the wall.

I'm a person with a lot of ideas and plans and lists, but I often have trouble getting started. I can prepare to begin something for hours.

 But, as Amelia Earhart so wisely said,
"The most effect way to do it, is to do it." 

Starting a new project or effort is like plunging into a cold pool - you know it's gonna hurt at first. But to get into the swim of things, you've got to get wet. So enough of this dipping my toe in the water.  It's time to BEGIN my day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Nonlinear look at Friendships

There was an insightful article about navigating changing friendships in this weekend's New York Times by Alex Williams titled, It's Not Me, It's You.  One of the concepts he discusses is linear versus nonlinear friendships.

Linear friendships are based on a deep lasting connection. Nonlinear friendships are based on a shared experience, like a job or a certain stage of life, and aren't as likely to endure when those circumstances change.

It made me realize how my friendships have changed over the years. When my kids were small I had a wide circle of friends who also had small children. Being a stay at home mom was a lonely job and hanging out with other women in the same situation was a lifeline. Outings like apple picking or heading to the park were a lot more fun when there was another mom around to chat with, haul strollers, and watch the kids while you ran to the bathroom. Back then I orchestrated my children's social lives around the moms I liked to hang out with.

When my kids were in grade school, I socialized with women I volunteered with, or carpooled with, or whose kids played on my kids' sports teams.

Women's friendships go through changes
Image via ABC, Desperate Housewives
But now that Nick and Emma are in high school, I've lost the day-to-day contact with many of those pals. As my kids' world has expanded and my involvement in their school and social life has diminished, my circle of friendships has pared down too.

I still like these women! But we're just not in each other's lives as much anymore, unless we make an effort to get together. And that takes, well, effort. I guess that means we're nonlinear friends.

The plus side is that, while my immediate circle may be smaller, my friendships are more fulfilling now, because I spend time with the people that really mean something to me (i.e. my linear friends) and my new non-linear friendships are based on my activities - writing, theater, tennis, etc - instead of my kids' activities.

But maybe I've let a few linear friendships slip into nonlinear mode without meaning to. Friendships do evolve over time, it's only natural, but they also take time and energy to maintain.

So what does this all mean?

I don't know if this is the complete answer but  - I feel a girls night coming on!