Friday, May 31, 2013

Style Inspiration - My Daughter Emma

I'm crazy about my kids but I rarely blog about them because they're teenagers and I respect their privacy. But my 16 year-old daughter Emma looked so fresh and adorable in this outfit I had to snap this pic and - with her permission - post it. Plus, the girl kidnapped my treasured jean jacket, so she owes me.

This isn't a look I'd wear myself (that skirt is way too short) but I admire Emma's easy mix of hard and soft, so maybe I could find a way to integrate a little of that into my more mature wardrobe this summer. A long linen skirt with big brown leather belt maybe?

As a mom, what I really love about this pic is how happy and natural Emma looks. But for the record, here's what she's wearing:

  • Gap jean jacket - mine, bought at least ten years ago
  • Black t-shirt 
  • Aritzia cream high waisted lace skirt
  • Frye "Veronica" Short Boots - Don't scorn me, fellow teen moms. I know they're expensive. She bought them with her own babysitting money, okay?

Thanks for allowing me to let off a little proud "look at my baby" steam. Hope you and your family enjoy your weekend in grand style!

PS - I'm on the hunt for more real-life style inspiration, so don't be surprised if I ask to take your picture next.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reiki Rocks Part 2 - I'm Attuned to Energy

You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I'm a certified level 1 Reiki energy healer. Yep, after a two-day course with the luminescent Laurie Goldstein, who I first wrote about two years ago, I can direct the flow of  life force energy through my palms into my body, your body, my dog, even my food. Seriously!

And I'm not the only one. Reiki is spreading like wildfire on the North Shore. Due to Laurie and other teachers in the area, there are a growing number of energy healers in my 'hood. There were five of us in my class, including a doctor who took the course because over her long career as an internist she has realized that when it comes to healing, medicine alone can only go so far.

Look, I'm not religious or even particularly spiritual, but I'm at the point in my life when I find it more interesting to be openminded than closed. It only makes sense that human beings are made of energy and that an intelligent energy surrounds and supports us. To some it's God, to others it's nature, but for sure, life is energy. If this whole idea is too far out there for you, I totally get it. This is new to me too. But according to Laurie, it doesn't matter what you believe for Reiki to work. It just does.

In class we learned that Reiki energy is a force that promotes health and well being, but it's not a miracle cure or a medicine. It boosts the body's ability to heal itself by clearing negative energy in the body, mind, emotions and spirit - all of which can contribute to illness or pain. Reiki practitioners direct the flow of universal energy through their palms into the chakras (energy centers) of their clients, either by laying their hands on the body or just over the body. There's no rubbing or massage involved and everybody stays clothed.

It's only been a few weeks since my Reiki Level 1 certification course, and I still know very little about it. I've tried it on my husband and kids a few times to help with their sports injuries. They humor me as I position my hands over different points of their body. I'm not sure what effect it has had yet, but I think they like the attention. I've tried to infuse my dog with Reiki, but she's too restless to sit still for it. Or maybe I'm the restless one. Giving Reiki requires patience.

The biggest success I've had so far is giving myself Reiki, especially when I wake up in the middle of the night. Nothing is worse than waking up at 2 a.m. tossing and turning, worried that you'll never get  back to sleep. I don't have that problem any more. Now I just breathe deeply and place my Reiki attuned palms over my eyes, my head, my throat, my heart, my stomach  - and within minutes I'm blissfully asleep again. This alone makes the two-day class totally worth it.

Given my other area of interest I couldn't resist asking Laurie about integrating Reiki into lovemaking, but in her extensive study and coursework, that issue has never come up. Hmm, sounds like an opportunity to me.

If you'd like to know more, visit Laurie's Reiki Rising Facebook page, or check out You can read my original post about my first Reiki experience right here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sizzling Couples Preview

Our next Sex & the Suburbs Live! - the show based on my column for Make it Better, will be at the Wilmette Theatre on Thursday, June 13th. This one is for both women and men who want to put some sizzle in their relationship. Here's a sneak preview with the help of my go-to guy for insightful relationship advice, David Klow. My other exciting guests include Tantranova founders Elsbeth Meuth and Freddy Zental Weaver as well as George and Andrea Gaines a couple that has completely transformed their relationship. Talk about hot! For tickets, visit the Wilmette Theatre's website.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Style Inspiration - Lovely Rita

I play tennis with Rita Lashmet almost every week, and yes, she's tall and blond and gorgeous, but I had no idea how glam the woman was until yesterday when she joined an informal tennis gathering looking like this!

I immediately demanded she tell me where she had been (obviously not the tennis court) and all the details about her chic outfit, which my iPhone camera does not fully capture.

Anyway, Rita good naturedly agreed to give me the scoop and so now I can share it with you. She's an interior designer and owner of RL Designs, so she  knows where to get the good stuff but not pay top dollar.

Where she'd been:
Board Meeting for the Lincoln Park Zoo Ball and
the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, on behalf of design clients.

What she's wearing:
  • Vintage camel coat from Winnetka consignment shop (think it's closed now)
  • Yigal Azrouel dress from Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th (their discount outlet)
  • Jimmy Choo nude pumps
Thanks Rita! It makes me happy to have friends that look this good.

I'm on the lookout for more real-life style inspiration, so watch out friends - I may be asking to photograph you next!

PS - A "seen on the street" fashion blog that makes me feel good about life is photographer Scott Schuman's website The Sartorialist. Fresh and beautiful images from around the globe.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Not all Underage Drinking is Illegal

Hey parents - especially those of you with college students home for the summer - here's a piece of information you should know. Depending on where you live, not all underage drinking is against the law.
  • In 29 states, including Illinois, the consumption of alcohol is allowed on private, non-alcohol selling premises with parental consent.
  • In eight other states, it's allowable on private, non-alcohol selling premises without parental consent.
  • Eleven states, such as Wisconsin and Ohio, allow underage consumption of alcohol on alcohol selling premises with parental approval. 
  • Other states allow alcohol consumption for religious, medical and work purposes.
  • Nine states make no exceptions. 
If you want to check out the laws in your state, visit this drinking age website.  In Illinois, the Liquor Control Act of 1934 contains the provision below, which clearly states that if an underage child is in a private home and under parental supervision, they can have a drink. In fact, you can even give your friend's underage child a drink if you have their permission to "stand in loco parentis" for you.
The possession and dispensing, or consumption by a person under 21 years of age of alcoholic liquor in the performance of a religious service or ceremony, or the consumption by a person under 21 years of age under the direct supervision and approval of the parents or parent or those persons standing in loco parentis of such person under 21 years of age in the privacy of a home, is not prohibited by this Act.
When I learned this exception to the 21 year-old drinking age I was surprised, because no one ever talks about this! But it makes sense that parents should be able to introduce their children to alcohol in moderation and under supervision, because where else will that happen? Not at the frat pledge formal, that's for sure.

Summer can be a stressful time for parents of returning college students. It isn't easy to enforce limits on young adults who are used to making their own decisions and have almost certainly been exposed to partying at college. It's nice to know that if you give your college sophomore a Bud Light on the patio or a glass of wine at dinner, neither one of you is committing a crime. 

But before you host a kegger for a pack of parent approved 20 year-olds or pour your 15 year-old a margarita, listen to this. The law doesn't specifically prohibit these things, but you can still get in trouble. My trusted lawyer pal and noted defense attorney Barry Spector shared some serious watch-outs with me.

If kids leave your house with alcohol in their system, they can still be charged.
Spector says, "The practical problem is what happens when the kid leaves the privacy of his house after they've had a drink inside with the parents approval and supervision. The kid could still get charged and the defense would have to be raised in court."

Young people should not drive after having even a tiny amount of alcohol - adults can legally drive with a blood alcohol percentage of .08 but there is a zero tolerance for drivers under age 21. And there is still a risk to you as well. "Remember," cautions Spector, " if something went wrong, civil liability could always be a huge problem."

For minors, DCFS (Department of Children & Family Services) could get involved. 
The law doesn't state a lower age limit, but in the case of minors, "parents could be opening themselves up to DCFS investigation if the police/prosecutor thought the parents were putting a kid at risk for allowing consumption," says Spector. "The DCFS "threat" is extreme, but if someone called it into the DCFS hotline, there would have to be an investigation. The older the kid and the smaller amount of alcohol, the less likely there would be an "indicated finding" (DCFS lingo). It may not go anywhere, but who'd want to deal with that?" 

Even if the law permits underage drinking, other organizations may not.
You or your child may have signed a school, club or athletic conduct code that prohibits any form of underage drinking. So, even if giving your kid a drink isn't illegal in your state, it may result in unwanted penalties and sanctions from those organizations.

The bottom line is this: understanding the law enables both parents and young people to make better decisions. For more information on this subject, check out these stories I wrote (with Barry Spector's help) for Make it Better. Here's to a happy, safe summer for all of us!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Less Mothering, More Gardening

When we said good-bye to Nick in Ann Arbor last August, my husband cried but not me. I was so excited for my son to start school at  Michigan, my alma mater (BBA '84, baby!) We'd just moved him into South Quad - my old dorm - and I felt like I was bringing him someplace familiar and wonderful, not sending him away. Besides, he'd be back for vacations and the whole summer.

Or so I thought. Because Nick hasn't been home much at all this year, and this summer he's staying at school.

Nick's swims for the #1 ranked Michigan Men's Swimming & Diving team, and I couldn't be prouder. But swimmers train year-round, and most of Michigan's swimmers stay in Ann Arbor to practice and compete as part of their club team over the summer.

When I realized this was going down in January, the tears came full force. "I didn't know I was sending him off for good!" I wailed to Liam. "I did," he said quietly. Then followed a long, cold, quiet winter punctuated by my daughter Emma turning 16 and getting her driver's license. As I handed over the car keys, I had to face facts - nobody in my house needed much mothering anymore. I felt adrift.

Last fall we'd given our unused trampoline away, and the sad patch of dirt out by our garage was just another reminder of my impending empty nest. But as spring slowly crept into the North Shore, an idea began to sprout. I would fill that barren, forlorn space with life!  I would plant a vegetable garden!

I proudly shared my idea with my husband and kids.

"I don't really see you as the gardening type," said Nick, skeptically, over the phone.

"Well I'm going to be," I huffed. "You aren't coming home; Emma barely needs me. I need something to take care of around here!"

"Good idea, that will keep you busy" chirped Emma, then skipped off to her room to pursue her own personal hobby of throwing clothes on the floor.

Liam merely raised a dark Irish eyebrow at me and went back to polishing his bike.

It's true, I'm not really the gardening type. We have a beautiful yard, but it's all due to our dear friend and landscape architect, Jim O'Brien (check out his website, you will drool over his work.) There was no way I was getting into this gardening thing without his help. So O'Brien & Co did all the heavy lifting by transforming the trampoline patch into a beautiful plot of raised gardening beds. All I had to do was plant them!

After consulting with Jim and Liam, we decided that I would actually plant just two of the beds and O'Brien would plant the ones closest to the house. That way, there'd be a beautiful, flourishing display facing the yard, disguising the beds that I would experiment with.

Last week I eagerly tackled my beds. I decided to devote one to herbs and the other to vegetables. I bought herb plants - basil, thyme, tarragon, mint, rosemary and oregano, and planted rows of chives and parsley seeds. In the other bed I planted only seeds - carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce, and beans. I was amazed to discover that planting seeds takes about two seconds. Seriously, it's the easiest thing in the world - go stick some seeds in the ground right now! (Yes, I do realize that having professionally prepared beds teeming with richly fertilized and irrigated soil does ease the process a bit.)

It's only been a week and nothing has sprouted yet, but already my garden is deeply satisfying. As Emma squeals off in my car to the mall or soccer practice, I serenely wave to her from my garden as I spray a gentle mist of water lovingly over my beds. Those seeds need me! I just hope I can tell the difference between my emerging crop and the weeds.

Here are some pictures of the transformation. With any luck I'll be bringing you tomatoes in  a month or two.

The unused trampoline. No little kids here anymore.

The beginning of the transformation.

O'Brien's crew does all the heavy lifting.
My two beds face the alley ( in case they don't turn out so good.)

The finished project and my new baby.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sports Make Girls and Women Winners

Tomorrow my North Shore Racquet Club tennis team will play in the finals of our 4.5 Green league, and the excitement and pressure of the upcoming match has me thinking of how much I love competitive sports, which I only discovered in my forties. This post was originally published on my blog for True/Slant, but it remains as fresh and true for me as it did three years ago. Wish me luck!

Sports benefit girls of all ages

CARSON, CA - AUGUST 09:  Agnieszka Radwanska o...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife
I’d have a lot more time to write if I didn’t play so much tennis. I  play 3 times a week and I’d play more if I could. I love it!  If you think that means I’m some vapid, country club housewife you can kiss my racquet.
Oops, that was kind of aggressive of me.
The reason I have the confidence to state my opinion so definitively is that I’m fresh off the court and my partner and I blew away our opponents, helping our team move into 1st place. Man, am I pumped for the playoffs!
Competitiveness is something I discovered late in life. My high school athletic career consisted of cheerleading and a few step-kicks in the chorus of Mame. I didn’t experience the fun and fulfillment of being on a sports team until I turned 40 and took up tennis.
Now I see how much I missed. As the Women’s Sports Foundation reports, participating in sports delivers lifelong benefits to girls and women. Here are just a few:
  • Girls who play sports get better grades and are less likely to get pregnant than girls that don’t.
  • Girls and women who play sports are more confident, have higher self esteem ,and are less likely to suffer from depression.
  • Females of all ages who play sports have a more positive body image than women who don’t. (They value their bodies for what they can do, not only how they look.)
  • Sports and exercise reduce the risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis and other diseases.
Not only does playing sports keep girls and women healthier and happier, it prepares them to understand the dynamics of the workplace, which are often based on sports team models. Young women need to understand the unwritten rules of how to handle pressure, not take things personally, support the overall goal, and project confidence. They also need to accept that promotions and responsibilities will be awarded based on people’s strengths and competencies; girls often judge one another on who is nicest or most likable.
So you see, my tennis is not just some frivolous pastime – it’s a good career move. Kudos to Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama administration for announcing changes in policies to strengthen Title IX earlier this week. Since the law, which requires gender equity in federally funded educational programs, passed in 1972, the number of women participating in college sports has grown from 32,000 to 150,000.
In just one generation, Title IX’s impact has been huge. Girls today grow up playing all kinds of sports that didn’t exist when I was in school – soccer, hockey, water polo, lacrosse.  Girls expect to be on the playing field, not cheering for the boys from the sidelines. In fact, there isn’t even a cheerleading squad at our local high school, New Trier. There’s just not enough interest.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cool Find! Drinking is a Ball with These Ice Molds

Hey, look what I found at the new Sur la Table store that opened up at my local mall - these groovy spherical ice molds that make gigantic round ice cubes. How fun are these for summer cocktails?

You simply fill the plastic molds up with water and add any garnish you think would be tasty or pretty. I tried lime and blueberries, because that's what I had in the house. But think mint for mojitos, olives for martinis, or lemons for lemonade.

Then you gently place the rubber top on the mold and place it in your freezer for  four hours. The water level looks too low at first, but never fear - water expands as it freezes. You end up with a big round festive ball of ice that will keep your drink cool on the  most sizzling of days and looks lovely too.

At just $10.95 for a set of two, I think these Tovolo sphere ice molds are super fun and kind of crafty as well. Bring on summer and bring on the cocktails!

I was not compensated in any way to endorse this product. I just stumbled upon it and had to share! If you invite me over, you may get these as your hostess gift.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Is Staying Hip and Young on Social Media Worth it?

I read an interesting article in the New York Observer by Peter Hyman, a 45 year-old Gen-Xer, who mourns the lack of differentiation between generations these days. He writes,
"The old generational identities that once defined us have broken down, and the net result is a messy temporal mashup in which 40-somethings act like skateboarders, 20-somethings dress like the grandfather from My Three Sons, tweens attend rock concerts with their parents and toddlers are exposed to the ethos of hardcore punk."
The internet has made the hippest, most rad trends accessible to anyone with a computer or smart phone - regardless of age - who's willing to do the work to keep up. But doing that work, says Hyman, is exhausting. I totally agree.

Last weekend I attended then ASJA  (American Society of Journalists and Authors) conference in New York City, and the message was clear: you must have a significant online presence and use social media strategically and consistently to be taken seriously as a writer.

In addition to maintaining and promoting your blog, website and youtube channel, you have to have a killer Linkedin profile, a thousand Facebook friends, tweet generously with style and substance,  collect pictures and videos on your phone for instantly uploadable original content, show your creative point of view on Pinterest, and express your your sense of humor on Vine and Instagram.

You need to stay on top of all these sites and more to stay current in fashion, gaming, music, politics, parenting, health and national security. You also need to prove you have a "platform" (i.e. built in audience) to show you are serious and respected in your field so you can get work. Anyone who is anybody is doing this - even Michelle Obama (@FLOTUS) tweets! Of course, she's younger than me.

This week I've made a special effort to embrace social media. I've blogged and tweeted and Facebooked, but that's about all I've got in me. I'm not creating the clever little Vine videos my 19 year-old son Nick is so adept at. My daughter Emma, 16,  begged me not to get an Instagram account and I think she's right. I'm gonna leave those outlets of expression to my kids for now. There's got to be some generational differentiation in my home.

Besides, at some point all this time on the internet is not furthering my interests. It's just a lot of trivial communication and too much time sitting around on my aging ass. It's a gorgeous day! I've got a dog to walk and a garden to plant. Is staying hip and young on social media worth it? I know there is some value, so I'll keep at it. But for now, enough is enough. I'm signing off and getting out there to the real world to enjoy my day!
My computer screen can't compare to this today!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Feel Better About Your Body in 5 Minutes

Stand up straight, gorgeous!
We talked a lot about body image at my last Sex & the Suburbs show at the Wilmette Theatre. Often women allow feeling badly about their bodies - too jiggly, too old, too flawed - to prevent them from enjoying sex and all kinds of physical pleasure. Well, screw that! Here are three things you can do in the next five minutes to feel better about your body, just the way it is.

1. Move to Music.
One of the most fun things to do with your body is to dance it! It's a physical celebration of being alive and there's no way you can feel bad when you're grooving. Put on your favorite song and shake, shimmy, stretch and bend for three minutes. I'm loving this Bruno Mars tune. Hit play and get your dance on.

Bruno Mars - Locked Out Of Heaven -

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2. Stand up Straight
Stop slumping over your keyboard or smart phone (caught you, didn't I?). Throw back your shoulders, suck in your tummy, and lift your chin. Not only does this move immediately make you feel stronger and more confident, it makes you look five pounds thinner, as my personal trainer friend Sharon Davis demonstrates in seconds, below. It's quite a transformation.

3. Talk Yourself Up
Put a halt to the undermining negative self-talk with this one-minute exercise. With your new perfect posture, saunter over to the mirror, look your reflection in the eye, and give yourself an extravagant compliment. Make it something you'd love to hear about your appearance. Something like this:
  • You're the most gorgeous, luscious babe on the face of the earth.
  • You are strong, you are beautiful, you are freaking awesome!
  • Damn, you are one sexy, hot, ripe-peach mama!
  • You are looking perfectly, radiantly, deliciously you.

Say it three times to yourself, loud and proud. Feels good right? Words have power and using positive affirmations like these creates a forcefield against all the negativity we are bombarded with each day. 

Okay, the five minutes are up! Now go forth and conquer with your brilliant brain, your bodacious bod, and your courageous heart. The world needs women who feel good about themselves and are willing to play big.

Want more feel-good suggestions? Read my column  - How to Feel Your Most Sexy Self.