Feel Love, Be Free, Live Life, And Other Things To Do Before You Die

Treva & Candy Chang

Me and artist Candy Chang

What do you want to do before you die? Who do you want to be? How do you want to live?

Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang’s urban art installation project “Before I Die” is not about death. It’s not a bucket list of things to do and see before you die. Rather, it’s a thought-provoking way of looking at how you’re living right now.

Are you realizing your potential in life? Have you achieved your goals? Are you honoring your highest good? Are you getting the love you deserve? What are you grateful for? What’s still missing in your life?

Life’s greatest questions now have answers, and they can be found on a chalkboard near you.

In September, I moderated a panel discussion at a conference sponsored by the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF) called Deal With It: A Women’s Conference, held at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Part of the program included a breakfast keynote address by Chang. In her show-and-tell presentation, she introduced the audience to her piece “Before I Die,” a powerful, soul-searching exploration of the human condition.

I was blown away by what I saw and what I learned.

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A Before I Die wall in New Orleans

PAIN AND SUFFERING ARE UNIVERSAL, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Candy Chang created “Before I Die” as an interactive global art project that invites ordinary people to share their personal aspirations, desires, hopes and dreams in the unlikeliest of spaces: on public walls, on abandoned buildings, on city streets. Not exactly typical places for self-examination and confession,  but that’s what makes it so striking – the combination of its logistics AND the collective emotions it stirs up.

before-i-die-writingsBONDING + CATHARSIS = ART

After losing someone she loved and falling into a depression, Chang initially created this experiment on an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood as an anonymous place to help heal and share intimately with her neighbors. The project gained global attention, thanks mainly to the curiosity and passion of its participants. Since its inception, over 1000 Before I Die walls have been created in over 35 languages, in over 70 countries, including Kazakhstan, Iraq, Haiti, China, Ukraine, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Argentina, and South Africa.

Before-I-Die-05-writingWE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

The walls are “an honest mess” of the longing, pain, joy, insecurity, gratitude, fear, and wonder that you would usually hear only in the confines of a therapist’s office or church confessional. Publically, the project brings communities together by fostering honesty, trust, support, and understanding. Privately, it allows people to let it rip.

And boy, do they let it rip. With a simple piece of chalk, people bare their souls and unload their consciences. Responses on Before I Die walls range from hilarious to heartbreaking, from gutsy to gut-wrenching. You laugh, you tear-up, but most of all, you THINK. And that’s the purpose of the project: to be contemplative and comforting all at the same time.

BEFORE I DIE I WANT TO….

“I want to live 100%”

“I want to abandon all insecurities”

“I want to be fearless”

“I want to get my wife back”

“I want to do a cartwheel”

“I want to figure out how to let go”

Before I DieIt goes on and on, because life’s to-do list goes on and on. It never ends, and nor should it. We’re all imperfect creatures, works-in-progress that keep seeking and evolving. Everybody’s got some chalkboard goal they would like to achieve this lifetime. The question is: are you willing to make it happen, or are you willing to make peace if it never happens at all? I think you have to be prepared to do both. Whatever you do, don’t wait. Life’s too short.

During her presentation, Candy Chang handed out Post-It notes to the conference attendees to scribble down their deepest, most innermost Before I Die thoughts. Afterwards, they were assembled on poster boards outside the hotel banquet room. Like the responses on walls around the world, these were just as poignant, moving, and excruciatingly honest. You could feel the grief and hope in every word.

My response is included somewhere in these Post-It notes. I can’t tell you where, but I can tell you this: I could’ve written any number of them.

It’s good to know I’m not alone.

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The Clooney Effect And Why It’s Good For Smart Chicks

George & AmalTo all my girlfriends lamenting the lack of men wanting intelligent, independent, self-reliant women, I say phooey! There are plenty of good men out there looking for good, substantive women. Don’t believe me? Just ask George Clooney.

If you didn’t notice last Sunday, George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin quietly celebrated their one-year anniversary, and I for one, couldn’t be happier – happy mostly because he married Amal in the first place.

Confirmed bachelor George had his pick of all kinds of Hollywood babes: from actresses to models, to a dancer with the stars. But Amal, the accomplished international human rights lawyer, eventually won out.

Score one for the smart chick – and score one for George too – who married someone probably smarter than him.

Call it substance over style, but Amal had a little something her competitors didn’t have: world-class brains. It doesn’t hurt that she’s also f-ing gorgeous, but clearly it was her f-ing gorgeous intelligence above all else that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. If this isn’t a thumbs-up for female brainiacs everywhere, I don’t know what is.

Thanks to George and others of his ilk who want women with some smarts, we have the Clooney Effect.

The “Clooney Effect” is a phenomenon coined by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher. In her fifth annual study on American singles for Match.com reported by The Atlantic, she surveyed 5,600 singletons across the country to see what they desired in a partner.

Her findings refute the age-old economic mating theory that men are afraid of “over-educated” women. They’re not, she concluded, and I happen to agree. Men really do want to meet/date/marry women who are smart and successful – and if they happen to be smarter than they are, so what? If they’re more successful, who cares? Substance is the new sexy.

But it gets better. According to Fisher, men aren’t just looking for their equals, but for their superiors. The vast majority – 87% – said they would date a woman who makes more money, is more intellectual, and is better educated than they are.

What the Match.com study shows us is that guys nowadays are attracted to women with lives and careers just as much, if not more than, stay-at-home wife types. There will always be domestic goddesses and homemakers and the men who love them, but the new trophy wife is someone who’s kicking ass everywhere, not just in the kitchen.

There are some people though, that think the Clooney Effect is full of shit.

In the cynical, but excellent article “Ladies, The Smarter You Are, The More Likely You Are To Be Single,” writer Lauren Martin presents a harsh counterview.

“Unfortunately, for women, intelligence many times hinders our travels and keeps us from the promise land. Because, for all you bright and educated women out there, what you feel is real…intelligent women are more likely to be single.”

Her article speaks to “the broad spectrum of woes women feel as they sit alone Friday nights with no one to discuss Nietzsche or read lines from Proust with.” Now, I don’t know too many guys who want to sit around discussing Nietzsche on a Friday night, but I get what she’s trying to say: men don’t want women with whom they can converse and who challenge them.

So what do men really want? Not smart chicks, according to this article.

What men want, Martin believes, is a woman who “isn’t ever going to let her career come before making dinner and pleasing them first.”

“Deciding what kind of woman you are is like choosing between a rock and a hard place. If you’re stupid, you’re not taken seriously, but if you’re smart, you’re taken too seriously. Women everywhere are flailing under this double-edged sword. A beautiful, attractive female isn’t desirable for her mind, and those with strong characters are seen as threatening, masculine and undesirable.”

TheWire.com financial reporter John Carney agrees in “Why Do Smart Men Date Less Intelligent Women?” that “successful men date less successful women not because they want ‘women to be dumb’ but rather because they want ‘someone who prioritizes their life in a way that’s compatible with how you prioritize yours.'”

Like I said earlier, there will always be men – especially high-powered, alpha types – who prefer to take the old-fashioned view on dating dynamics. They don’t want to be challenged, tested, or upstaged; they don’t want to have to think; they don’t want to compete. In other words, they don’t want their balls busted.

Sorry, but the last time I checked, having brains was right up there with having a nice rack. Guys dig it (just ask my husband).

Ladies, the truth is, the smarter you are, the more likely you are to make good choices, the more likely you are to have good self-worth, and you’ll set your bar higher – not just with men, but in life.

So be proud, smart chicks of the world. You’re the new trophy.

 

 

Photo credit: Eastfjord Productions / Shutterstock.com

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The Beauty Of F*cking Up

Thinking Man v2The coming of Yom Kippur has me thinking about regret and guilt – you know, the usual suspects when it comes to feeling shitty about yourself.

On Yom Kippur, we’re given a day to atone for our sins, to clean the slate, to clear our conscience, and make things right, while we fast for 24 hours as punishment for the past year’s misdeeds.

And when it’s all over, we go back to our flawed selves, burying our shame and committing wrongdoings, until we bring them out again next year for reflection and redemption.

I say atone it AND own it. Not just for one day, but for LIFE. That way you can be truly free.

 

Wrong Choices, Right PlacesLooking back, maybe you did some things that you’re not proud of. Maybe you made some poor choices or unwise decisions; maybe you did some dumb shit that sabotaged you or hurt others; maybe you acted impulsively, or didn’t act at all when you should have.

In other words, you fucked up. That’s life. Join the club, we’re all members.

But rather than beat yourself up for it, is it possible to accept your fuck-ups with a sense of respect instead of regret? Is it possible to see your mistakes not as liabilities, but as assets that gave you more character, depth, and soul?

You may have fucked up, but you’re not shit out of luck: the wrong choices you made yesterday could very well be taking you to the right places today.

Beautiful Imperfections

Instead of letting your screw-ups get the best of you, why not make the best of them? Embrace your imperfections and make peace with your flaws because chances are, they made you who you are today: someone smarter, wiser, stronger, and more resilient.

This is why fucking up can be beautiful. It gives you incredible gifts of insight and clarity, as well as opportunities to put your guilt and remorse to good use– like making positive changes and staying on the path of right action.

Fucking up will test you, tease you, torment you, and ultimately teach you things about yourself you never knew. The key is learning the lessons. You never want to waste a perfectly good fuck-up by not learning from it (nor would you want to ruin one by repeating it).

I’ve had some doozy fuck-ups in my day: I squandered time and opportunities; I missed the boat, took my eye off the ball, and made unforced errors. I wish I could go back in time and do it over, but I can’t. I can only be thankful for the lessons I learned and the wisdom it gave me.

I fuck up, therefore I am.

Everyday we have a chance to make things right; to make amends and move forward. And of course, everyday we have a chance to practice FORGIVENESS– fucking up’s best friend.

Just remember, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” To actually be able to do that, awesome.

My friend therapist Dr. Margaret Rutherford says it perfectly in her blog “How To Step Away From Paralyzing Shame:”

“You can call it forgiving yourself. You can use use faith in a higher Being to help you let it go. You can acknowledge you are human. You can see yourself with compassion. Tell yourself what you would tell your best friend. Realize you were learning something vital. You can do things to try to atone, things that will help you move past it. It takes work, but it can happen. It must happen for you to move on.”

Past MistakesI’m fairly certain that fucking up makes one a better person. We’re all a work in progress, and the process never stops. Trial and error, live and learn, you know the drill. The challenge is to remove judgment and condemnation from your path so you can turn self-loathing into self-loving.

Atone it and own it. Just don’t fuck it up.

Yoga Teachers: Be One Or Date One, It’s All The Rage

Yoga teacher w/ studentA funny thing is happening in the yoga world according to the Wall Street Journal and the Hollywood Reporter.

Not exactly your go-to fitness resources, but there they were – stories about how yoga is changing the landscape of people’s careers and social lives. It seems that yoga enthusiasts are so enthusiastic about their practice, they’re taking it to the next level:

They’re either becoming yoga instructors themselves, or they’re marrying their yoga instructors.

According to the WSJ’s “Why Everyone’s A Yoga Teacher,” the rate of new teacher training is outpacing the growth of new students. The Yoga Alliance, the nation’s largest yoga-teacher registry, reports that more than 14,700 new teachers have registered. The number of newly registered yoga teachers in the U.S. has rose an average of 18% a year from 2008 to 2014 – that’s three times as fast as the 6% growth rate for yoga participation overall.

Yoga is many things to many people: exercise, discipline, relaxation and restoration. But it’s the higher, more spiritual calling and deeper connection of yoga that people are seeking. For this reason, they’re getting their teaching credentials.

Some will teach as a second career, but most won’t even teach at all. Instead, they’ll use their teacher training purely as continuing education to further their knowledge of yoga, deepen their practice, and get closer to Nirvana by way of the proper down dog.

It seems everyone’s getting into the act. My friend David Bender, a managing director at StockCross Financial Services, still has his day job in the bond and equity markets, but teaches a few classes a week. Even my own cousin, a former high-power talent agent, is in the process of opening up his own yoga studio.

There is definitely a deepening love affair with yoga, and by all accounts, the love is deepening with its instructors too.

In the Hollywood Reporter article “Hollywood’s Moguls’ Arm Candy Du Jour: Goodbye Asians, Hello Yoga Instructors,” it appears the newest trophy girlfriend (at least for the male power elite of the entertainment industry) is no longer found at nightclubs, or on yachts, or at Hef’s pad, but rather, at a yoga studio near you.

Just look at the Crown Prince of Sweden, or actors Alec Baldwin and John C. McGinley – they all married their yoga instructors. Two of my female yoga colleagues at Equinox met and married their yoga students from class.

This has me thinking: Is it possible that had I become a yoga instructor instead of a personal trainer, I might’ve gotten married years ago? All those hours of studying exercise physiology when I should’ve been learning Sanskrit. @#*!

The truth is, guys dig chicks that are natural, spiritual, and of course, flexible as Gumby. Women dig male yoga instructors because, well, they’re all sex gods, aren’t they?

You’re hot and sweaty, assuming near pornographic poses and positions, getting touched and adjusted…the whole thing reeks of sex – or maybe it’s just the stinky yoga mats, who knows.

I’ve always told my single friends that yoga classes are a gold mine of dating potential. For the most part, yoga devotees are fit, attractive, and fairly evolved (that is, until you have to fight your way into a crowded yoga class and “evolved” goes right out the window).

This hot-for-yoga-teacher trend also makes sense to relationship experts who see a lot of traditional male/female dynamics being played out.

Alpha men hooking up with yoga teachers chimes with Eastern philosophy, offers Dr. Pat Allen, an L.A. relationship guru. “In old Chinese quantum physics, men had yang bodies: They build, they create. Women receive. Alpha men have a very tough time committing to alpha women. They’ll have an alpha mistress, but not an Alpha wife. Alpha men do better with beta women: sensitive, empathetic and kind. Who epitomizes beta better than a yoga teacher.”

That is, unless the yoga teacher is an ass-kicking, ball buster like a few I know around town. They’re hot, they’re sexy, but I’m pretty sure they’d chew you up and spit you out in the sack.

On the appeal of yoginis to Hollywood, relationship therapist Dr. Shannon Chavez notes: “In my practice, the busiest men and women are looking for deeper meaning. They’re bored in their marriages, sexually dissatisfied, seeking communication beyond the grind. People are looking for partners now that make them feel whole and less judged and insecure.”

TRANSLATION: Men want women who won’t give them shit, who won’t talk back, and who can put their legs behind their ears.

This is why I never became a yoga teacher. I can hardly touch my toes.

But according to David Bender my yoga teacher friend, dating yoga instructors isn’t the magical, transcendent experience it’s believed to be.”Yes, teachers are in touch with their spirituality, but they don’t walk on water. They’re actually more fucked-up than you think.”

Whew! Am I glad I’m a personal trainer!

Whether you’re doing yoga for the love, for the money, to answer your higher calling, or to find your next wife, you’ve got my blessings. You’re doing Buddha’s work, and for that, you deserve a great, big namaste.

 

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Surviving Single Life: 10 Tips

Single LifeOnly child, divorced parents, single forever, yep, you could say I know a thing or two about being alone and on my own.

Been there, done that, lived it, and survived.

So can you. Whether you’re just entering singledom for the first time, or been there forever, single life is a journey– a beautiful, amazing, tough motherfucker of a slog.

Being single was the best of times and the worst of times. I loved it, I hated it, and I always learned from it. As Winston Churchill once said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And I did. Whether it was navigating the world alone as an only child or constructing it as a single woman, I kept going.

Going solo isn’t always easy, but it does show you what you’re made of.

The following isn’t dating advice; it’s practical wisdom and survival tips that kept me sane when I was single, and continue to come in handy even as a married person. The wisdom might sound familiar, but it never gets old.

Hopefully as you navigate your own journey through single life (or just life in general), these tips will come in handy for you too.

KNOW YOUR WORTH

Having a sense of your own value is what self-worth is all about. It’s the sum total of your principles, character, attributes, and personal power. Knowing your worth protects you from being exploited, becoming a victim, compromising yourself, or selling out.

RAISE YOUR BAR

Once you know your worth, you can start aiming higher – personally, professionally, and romantically. If you know you deserve better, then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Demand it. Especially when it comes to love. Don’t settle for less. Raise your bar and watch the quality of your life improve.

HEAL YOUR WOUNDS

In order to move forward, you’ve got to take a few steps back. I would ask, who hurt you? What’s the source of your pain? What past action or event gave you emotional scar tissue? Don’t take old wounds, grief or anger into your future. Do whatever it takes to heal them now and be free.

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

No one’s perfect, we all make mistakes – I’ve made plenty. The key is to apply your newfound wisdom to becoming a better person, parent, partner, whatever. Fucking up isn’t the worst thing in the world – repeating your fuck-ups is.

SET YOUR BOUNDARIES

Boundaries are a lifesaver. I’m talking about saying no, standing up, speaking up, and refusing to take on people’s pain and suffering. When you set clear boundaries, you become your own advocate for self-respect.

FIND YOUR PASSION

The quickest way to take the edge off being single is to get busy. Ask yourself what you love, then pursue it with a passion. Stay social, surround yourself with good friends, volunteer, engage with your world. You’ll create new interests, new relationships, and find new purpose in life.

BE ALONE WITH YOURSELF

While it’s important to stay busy, it’s also important to know how to be alone without freaking out. Get comfortable in your skin; enjoy your own company; and carve out quality alone time. Learn to savor the stillness and you’ll never be lonely again.

TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Having goals is great, but having unrealistic expectations can set you up for disaster. Deepak Chopra describes this as “detaching from the outcome.” Remember, there is power in letting go and surrendering control. You can have aspirations, but beware of having expectations.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

It’s the hardest thing to do when you’re feeling bad, but taking stock of what you have, instead of what’s missing, speeds up the healing process. Dig deep and find some gratitude every day (“I’m grateful for my family, friends, clients, job, health,” etc.) You’ll feel a shift and a lift.

KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR

If anything will keep you from losing your shit, it’s keeping your sense of humor. Whether it’s a bad date, a bad breakup, or some other bad news, let it go. It’s just not worth it. Remember to keep your wits (and wit) about you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the single club or a lifelong member. What matters is that you find what works to keep you sane and empowered.

Like I said, being single isn’t always easy, but should you find yourself going through hell, just remember to keep going. It’s a worthy slog.

Required reading and suggestions for singles and non-singles alike

 

Graduation Day: A Celebration And Sad Reminder

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Beverly Hills High School, Graduation Day 2015

If you’re someone like me who tried to have kids and couldn’t, there are times in life that can be sad reminders. For most child-free women, it’s probably Mother’s Day: an emotionally tough day for those of us who will never have children of our own to celebrate us.

I can get through Mother’s Day because I still have my mom to celebrate. The brunches and lunches, activities and outings, keep my mind off anything remotely self-pitying. Since I’m her only child, I make sure the day is filled with love and distractions galore.

No, the day that absolutely kills me is Graduation Day. That’s the day I really feel my childlessness.

For several years, I’ve lived within walking distance to my high school, which means for several years I’ve also been within earshot of graduation rehearsal and ceremonies. Every June the entire neighborhood is treated to the sounds of a booming P.A. system, soaring music, lofty commencement speeches, and the long reading of student graduate names.

It’s lovely and joyful, and depressing as hell. So much so that I have to hide out at the local Starbucks until it’s over.

You see, every time I hear the strains of Pomp and Circumstance coming from the front lawn of my high school, my heartstrings pull, and I’m painfully reminded of the kids I forgot to have. Well, maybe not “forgot,” more like waited too long to have. Those opening notes aren’t music to my ears; they’re tones of regret and shame for not taking my biological clock more seriously.

I spoke about this several months ago in a blog post entitled “Oh My God, I Forgot To Have A Baby!” If you missed it, here’s a recap of what I went through to get pregnant:

Six IUIs with donor sperm, three rounds of IVF, two embryo transfers using donor eggs, and lots of timed intercourse with a boyfriend who tried, but couldn’t knock me up. I got started at 43, and ended my quest four years later with no money, eggs, or time left on the clock. Game over.

But once the post game pity party was over, I started healing. Onwards! I said to myself. Even though I was single, I still had other worthy pursuits to keep my life full: a busy career, an active social life, and good friends and family. Then, three years after saying goodbye to motherhood, I said hello to marriage. Getting married for the first time at 50 not only gave my life unexpected dimension and purpose, it helped me ease the pain.

I continue to work hard to make peace with my past, and bring closure to that chapter of my life. It’s not easy sometimes, but I do my best to take the long view; to gracefully accept what was, and appreciate what is now.

It’s true what they say about one door closing and another one opening: you find opportunity. It may not look like what you planned or wanted, but hey, it’s an open door, so why not walk through it?

Not long after the baby door closed, the volunteering door swung wide open. I walked through it, and guess what? I found opportunity – to give of myself and be of service to others.

Last year, I joined my husband Robby as a Special Olympics coach (he’s been coaching for 30 years); and after a several year hiatus, I rejoined the Fulfillment Fund mentoring organization to become a mentor to a 14-year-old girl named Melissa.

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Global Education Academy, Graduation Day 2015

Already, my mentee Melissa and I have established a unique relationship. We talk, we bond, we teach each other things and learn about the world together. I like to think we both have a bright future ahead of us.

You want unexpected dimension and purpose to your life? Try volunteering. It’s THE greatest thing you can do, especially if you don’t have kids of your own.

Last week, I attended Melissa’s eighth grade graduation from Global Education Academy, a bilingual school located in South Central Los Angeles. It had everything you’d expect in a graduation: a booming P.A. system, soaring music, lofty commencement speeches, and a long reading of student graduates.

Come to think of it, it was just like a Beverly High graduation, but much better.

Because when I heard the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, and saw the processional of young students in their cap and gowns, it pulled at my heartstrings in a lovely and joyful way that didn’t have me running to the nearest Starbucks.

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Melissa the graduate with her proud mentor.

Graduation Day is no longer a sad reminder of my past, but a celebration of everything yet to come.

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My Life As A New Wife: The Year In Review

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Farewell newlyweds, hello old married couple.

Celebrating my first wedding anniversary made me feel kind of like Miss America coming to the end of her reign: triumphant, honored, and just a little bit sad to give back the tiara and say goodbye to my title of newlywed.

But I must, because now at end of Year One, I am officially a wife – with a new title and new duties. If longtime pageant MC Bert Parks was still alive, he’d be singing me a new tune.

What a difference a year makes.

No longer a swingin’ single, no longer subsisting on Trader Joe’s frozen entrees, and no longer letting my laundry pile up until I run out of underwear, life looks a lot different now that I’m Mrs. Scharf than it did when I was Miss Brandon.

For starters, I now shop at Gelson’s, I do a load of laundry every few days, and I have more food in my pantry than I know what to do with. The year has had much personal growth, changes both big and small, and lots of groceries to put away.

Yep, I’m a real housewife of Beverly Hills, alright.

Year One has been nothing short of a mind-blowing, eye-opening, waist-expanding experience and here’s why:

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Robby Scharf, a most fascinating creature.

I NOW HAVE THIS FASCINATING CREATURE CALLED A HUSBAND

I don’t know about all husbands, but mine is so interesting, I find myself observing him like an exotic animal. He’s sophisticated and elegant, but he loves to burp and fart like a 10-year-old; he’s strong and stoic, but tears up when watching CBS Sunday Morning; he’s an alpha dog, but he loves funny cat videos; he’s a manly man, but he loves to shop; he’s never been married, but he’s got some serious game as a husband.

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Say hello to my mac & cheese.

I LEARNED TO COOK

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I was raised by a working mom who excelled more in the office than she did in the kitchen. Not that Sonjia Brandon couldn’t cook; she just preferred to make deals rather than make dinner. So when I got married, I donned my apron (a bridal shower gift) and got down to business.

It’s been a year of “firsts” in the kitchen for me. I made my first short ribs, my first macaroni & cheese, and my crowning achievement as a wife (drum roll please) MY FIRST BRISKET. I can’t emphasize the importance of this major milestone for this Jewish girl.

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Good news! Nina and Nancy didn’t throw up from my lasagne.

I can’t take all the credit though. I have to thank my friends Nina, Nancy, and my many Facebook friends for their recipes and culinary guidance.

It truly takes a village to make a meatloaf.

Yeah, I made that too.

 

 

 

I WATCH A LOT MORE SPORTS

I’ve always been a sports nut, but I definitely met my match when I married Robby. The guy is a total sports junkie, particularly when it comes to televised sports. It’s not unusual for him to have a few TVs going and a couple of iPads tuned in, especially during playoff season.

He may be the bigger sports fan, but I’m the sports bettor in the family. I say who needs to watch the game when all you need to know is the spread?

THERE’S ALWAYS MUSIC IN OUR HOUSE

This is the benefit of marrying a guy who plays the bass, attended Berklee College of Music, and has been performing with The Cowsills for over 25 years. It’s almost daily that I’m in earshot of a rehearsal or treated to an impromptu jam. And when I want some peace and quiet, I put on a pair of incredible Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones (shameless plug – Robby works for the company).

But what really makes a Robby a rock star? He does the dishes.

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NEWS FLASH! OOPS I MEAN HOT FLASH!

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Year One…and they said it wouldn’t last.

Poor Robby. Two seconds after we get married, I hit menopause (or rather menopause hit me). Great timing Mother Nature thanks a lot! Nothing like having to navigate your new married life with night sweats and mood swings. Plus, between the hormonal brain fog and the occasional senior moment, I can’t remember shit.

Has it really been a year already?

It’s true what they say: Time flies when you’re having fun, watching sports, eating a lot, and making beautiful music together.

Now if you don’t mind, I must attend to my next wifely duty: making my first turkey.

The Agony And The Ecstasy: Memories Of Online Dating

shutterstock_242614333Before I got married, I had a love/hate relationship with online dating.

JDate and I had a torrid romance, an on-again, off-again love affair, filled with highs and lows, starts and stops, and plenty of hits and misses. There was never a dull moment for me and JDate; we broke up a million times, but somehow managed to always kiss and make up until I finally kissed it off for good.

Whether you’re on JDate, Match, OkCupid, Bumble, etc., most of you already know internet dating can be fantastic place to meet new people, make new friends, find true love, lift your spirits, boost your ego, or get laid.

Or, it can be living hell if you let it.

Dating online is a lot like a real relationship: when it works out, it’s great, but when it doesn’t, you hate its guts.

So how do you stay in love with internet dating? First, keep reasonable expectations so that you’re never disappointed. Second, don’t take it too seriously. If you don’t roll with the punches, you’ll go from dater to hater faster than a left-swipe on a Tinder dating app.

Looking back, JDate and I had some great times together. We had lots of conversation, coffees, and cocktails, but nothing that involved a real meal since that was too much of a commitment.

Most of my dates were “one and done.” Some lasted longer; some became good friends; and some I think back on and laugh (which is what you need to do with internet dating).

Like the E.R. doctor-turned-actor (always a red flag), who actually lasted for three months – practically a lifetime in the world of online dating. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, it wasn’t so funny.

After weeks of dating and courtship, and spending Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine, he dumped me on New Year’s Eve. Just like that, with no heads-up, no warning, nothing. His reason? He said I was the “marrying type.” He felt bad dating me since he wanted to have fun and I was holding him back.

His timing may have sucked, but at least he wasn’t lying. I saw him back on JDate trolling for more “non-marrying” types the very next day.

There is a fair degree of lying online, I’m sorry to say. Typically, the online dater is 10 years older, 20lbs. heavier, or a few inches shorter than what’s on their profile.

I realized this early on in my online dating foray when I arranged to meet someone for drinks at a popular bar on the ground floor of an office building. It was crowded with after-work business types. Going on my date’s profile picture, I scanned the place but couldn’t see him.

Minutes later, a much older fellow who had been practically right in front of me the whole time, introduced himself. It was my date, but he looked nothing like his profile picture. In fact, he kind of looked like my grandpa.

Not that older men aren’t attractive, they are. So are bald men, short men and chubby men. The problem is that some men (and a lot of women too) feel the need to misrepresent themselves online and don’t have to.

You know what’s attractive? HONESTY.

Sometimes though, they’re not older or heavier or shorter, they’re just jerks – like the aforementioned doctor-turned-actor, and others of his ilk who think internet dating excuses them from bad etiquette.

I remember my very first online date showed up 40 minutes late, without an apology, wearing a bad toupee, and carrying no money on him. The actual “date” last 20 minutes. And when the check came, he laughed glibly and said he “forgot his wallet.” So I paid for my wine (which I was going to do anyway) and beat a gracious, yet hasty retreat.

Then there are the guys online whom you suspect are still married or juggling multiple women. How do you know? Because they text too much. They text all the time, at all hours, and will not pick up the phone to save their life. In lieu of texting, they often times show up on social media to say hi or compliment your new profile pic. Guys like that also use their kids, their jobs, or travel schedule to get out of having to actually speak.

NOTE TO THE LADIES: If you meet a guy online and he prefers to TEXT AND NOT TALK, do yourself a favor and RUN DON’T WALK.

After being on-again, off-again too many times with online dating, I finally called it quits. We broke up for good and went our separate ways. There’d be no more winks, flirts, chemistry tests, or e-cards of any kind. Instead, I threw in the towel, and gave it up to the universe to find the man of my dreams.

And when I wasn’t looking and least expected it, he appeared on Facebook of all places–quite possibly the greatest online dating site of them all.

Midlife Dating: Men, What Say You?

shutterstock_268928468I gave the guys a little dating tough love in my last blog post, so it’s only fair to give the guys some equal time to speak on the state of the midlife singles scene as they see it.

I wanted to know how men feel about dating fellow boomers, so I gathered up a few of my middle-aged guy friends, bought them a few beers, and picked their brains about their dating life: the good, bad, and ugly. They were buzzed just enough to let it rip.

Their feedback was insightful, honest, and very real. It was also cringe-worthy, because as a long-time single girl once myself (up until very recently) I made a lot of dating mistakes, and at times I felt they were describing me.

Now I know what you girls are thinking: By the time you’re post 50, everyone is bitter, jaded, or hardened – especially about dating – so why should I listen? These guys are probably all a bunch of sorry-ass losers who’ve struck out at love and know nothing.

Yeah, some have struck out, but who hasn’t? If you’re single and 50+ years old, you’ve probably seen it all, done it all, dated it all, and chances are, have a bad attitude about it all. Join the club! Everyone in the 50-something dating pool has had their fare share of hook ups, breakups, and fuck ups, and that’s a good thing. It makes you human.

The truth is, dating in your 50s can blow sometimes, but it doesn’t have to suck.

In fact, midlife can be a great time to be single, and my man friends here agree. These are nice guys, not shallow, not players, they’re looking for LOVE, not games, not one-nighters, younger chicks, or the bigger, better deal. They’re looking for smart, substantial, age-appropriate women who know who the Beatles are.

In other words, they want women like YOU. So ladies, if you’re listening, take note.

Note to the men: This stuff works both ways, so listen up.

THE GOOD

“I actually prefer dating women my own age because we have a common base of things to relate to, talk about, laugh at, or commiserate over. Women my age ‘get it.’ Very little gets lost in translation. Put it this way, if a woman isn’t familiar with Woody Allen’s early work, then it couldn’t possibly work.”

“Women in their 50s generally have more time and freedom. They’re more relaxed, especially if they’re empty nesters. We’ve been both been through the hell of raising young kids and now we can hang out.”

“Women over 50 are the sexiest humans in the world. They’re in command of their bodies, and in charge of what they want and need. They don’t care about stretch marks or a few extra pounds – and neither do I. Besides, I’ve got a big gut, so who am I to talk?”

THE BAD

“Women in their 50s can be a little too anxious to get involved. Right after the first date, they want you to meet their kids, their parents, their pets, whatever, without any regard to your comfort level. It feels rushed.”

“I’ve dated some divorced women in their 50s who are so bitter and angry toward their exes they can’t see straight. It’s hard to get close when she’s still fuming.”

“You can feel the desperation with some women in their 50s, especially if they’ve been single a long time or if they’re newly divorced.”

THE UGLY

“If a woman tells me what to do with my kids, or gives me unsolicited advice, or criticizes my parenting skills, I run for the hills.”

“Women who obviously judge you based on how much money you make, or in my case, don’t make, is a deal killer.”

“I’ve met some women in their 50s who believe having sex as quickly as possible is a way to get a man and it’s not.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Men who seek out and date women in their 50s do so because they WANT TO. Because they dig chicks who have a little more maturity and experience; because they enjoy the mutual compatibility and sympatico you get with someone your own age; because there’s more freedom and fun; because women in their 50s are hot as hell, and I’m not talking about menopause.

Ladies, I’m not telling you what to do here, but this is what I’ve gleaned: If you stay open to the possibilities, TRY to have a good attitude, make peace with yourself, let go of anger and grief, and don’t jump into the sack too soon, you’ll see that midlife dating doesn’t have to blow or suck at all.

Unless you want it to of course.

 

Guys and gals, what say you? What’s the state of your singles scene?

Fast & Furious: Dating Men In Their 50s

shutterstock_153137504Fellas, if you’re in your 50s, single and dating (and feeling like you’re not getting anywhere), consider this a little friendly feedback from the ladies.

Maybe you’ve heard it all before, maybe it doesn’t apply to you, maybe you already know it all. It doesn’t matter, because when it comes to dating women, I say you can never know enough.

And women, lest you think you’re off the hook here, you’re not. Even though I’m talking to the men, many of these points may apply to you too. Dating in midlife isn’t always easy, but at least you’re all in it together.

So men, before you break out into a cold sweat, know that all this is well intended and researched. I’ve gathered input from three of my most trusted single girlfriends whose ages range from 40s to mid-50s. They’re smart, sane, successful, and they’re here to help.

And so am I. I’ll be chiming in with my own advice since I’ve dated more than a few 50-something men in my day and can speak from experience.

We love you and want the best for you guys, so listen up.

TOO FAST

Maybe you’re divorced, newly separated, or single forever. Maybe you’re lonely, horny, you want a girlfriend, need some company, or just need to get laid. Who can blame you? We ALL want love, but some guys blow it by rushing.

GF #1:

“There seems to be some kind of ‘trying on of a girlfriend.’ On the first date, I’ve had a guy take my hand and rub my shoulders, without any words of seduction or romance, to me, that’s a turn-off.”

GF #2:

“Some men don’t want to invest the time it takes getting to know you. If you don’t sleep with them fast enough, they get frustrated and lose interest. They want to rush things, have sex first, and if they like it, then they’ll get involved.”

GF #3:

“Online daters, especially the older ones, are like kids in a candy store, not ever giving anyone a chance because there’s always someone else.”

My Advice:

Slow down. Don’t get too flirty too fast, don’t text, and definitely don’t sext. Even if you’re fresh out of a miserable marriage and new to the singles scene, take a breath.

You can be romantic and take the lead, but exercise patience. Guys that are too fast getting in are probably going to be too fast getting out.

Chivalry and romance aren’t dead – in fact, they’re alive and well and much appreciated. So take your time getting to know your date. Ask questions, be curious. And when you’ve accrued a decent amount of courtship hours, then you can bang away.

TOO FURIOUS

Ok, so you’re livid at your ex, or fuming about the divorce, or bitter you’re still on Match.com after all these years. In other words, you’re furious. We get that your circumstances might suck, but don’t let them consume you. Make sure your anger is in check, and doesn’t turn into emotional baggage you carry around everywhere you go.

GF #1:

“The biggest turn-off for me is when a divorced man compares you to their ex-wife. You can prepare a lovely Italian meal for a guy, and all of a sudden he brings up the fact his ex made the best lasagna of all time.”

GF #2:

“Men in their fifties can be cynical, especially if they were in a bad marriage. They talk about how awful their ex-wives are, and how much money they had to give them.”

GF #3:

“Getting involved with a guy who’s still reeling from his divorce can sometimes feel like he’s having an affair, except that the ‘other woman’ isn’t a woman, it’s his anger.”

My Advice:

Dump the baggage, dude. Stop talking about your ex, your kids, your money, etc. If you’re still that angry and wounded, get help. A little therapy, some meditation, or a little alone time wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Neither would some medical marijuana. The point is, don’t date until you’re fully healed.

SO WHAT DO WOMEN WANT?

GF #1:

“Nothing is a bigger turn-on to a woman in her 50s than a man that makes her feel like she’s the best thing that ever happened to him.”

GF #2:

“Be honest with her and don’t lead her on. Listening and wanting to know everything about her earns you major points.”

GF #3:

“Keep an open mind and heart. Let go of your fear and allow yourself to love again.”

Here’s the good news: my girlfriends really dig you fellas in your 50s. Despite the occasional dating disasters and mating missteps, there’s a lot to love. You’re older and wiser, smarter and sexier than you were in your younger days. You’re more sophisticated and polished, and your life experiences give you more depth and better perspective. I say it’s time to use it to your advantage.

We’re rooting for you guys, so go get ‘em (just don’t go too fast).