Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Health: Walnuts Contain High Amount of Antioxidants

When it comes to antioxidants, you can go nuts. Walnuts, specifically.

A study revealed at the Natioanal Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society showed that walnuts are better for you in the antioxidant department than any other nut. Part of the reason is because they are usually eaten raw before roasting can erode the health benefits, unlike most other nuts.

We're not supposed to worry about the fat, either, because it's the good kind. Apparently you can do with about seven walnuts a day for the health benefits. A story in Science Daily remarks: "As for the calories, eating nuts does not appear to cause weight gain and even makes people feel full and less likely to overeat. In a 2009 U. S. study, nut consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of weight gain and obesity."

And I know you're going to ask, so I'm just going to say it: Of course you can wrap chocolate chip cookies around your walnuts to help them go down a little easier.

You can read the full Science Daily story here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Work: How to Be Your Own Best Publicist and Get the Job You Want

"Today, 80 percent of senior jobs are acquired through personal relationships and, as a 40licious woman, you likely have a large group of friends and family that you can tap to unearth professional opportunities. Your network is your net worth, so start reaching out to people even before you want or need something." - Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, "Be Your Own Best Publicist"

Today we have a Q & A with co-authors and veteran publicists Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, the authors of "Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired, and Rewarded at Work." Whether you're looking for a job or just want to do better in the one you have, it's a book well worth the quick read.

1. Some women in their 40s are just now getting serious about working now that their kids are old enough. What personal PR advice do you have for someone who may not have as stellar a resume as her peers?

First, do your research. What kind of job are you looking for and what are the skills that you need to get your foot in the door? Find profiles for people in positions that you’re interested in and see how they talk about their experience. What in your background parallels theirs? If you need to fill the gap, consider taking an internship or even signing up for classes at a local college. It’s about playing up your strengths and highlighting what you have accomplished. If you don’t have ton of office or professional experience, take a look at skills you may have cultivated in college, in your volunteer work or even in your day-to-day life.

2. By the time we are 40licious, many of us may have more experience than our bosses. How do we maintain our dignity when we know the manager is way off base?

Keep it in perspective. There’s clearly a reason why he or she is in that position of power. Think of it as an opportunity to learn to manage up. Listen to direction and feedback; you may need to defer to the manager if he or she isn’t open to dialogue. Share your opinions but don’t be too pushy; gauge if the manager is open to feedback and give it in a constructive way that invites a two-way conversation. Resist the urge to complain with co-workers or air your dirty laundry on social media sites. Instead, do the best job you can in whatever you do and document your successes as you go along. Ultimately, you’re responsible for being your own best publicist in the workplace. Do that by being supportive of your boss and teammates, adding value, and making sure you stay focused on your strengths.

3. Even though the economy is improving, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of folks vying for the same job. How can a 40licious woman stand out among people who may have lower salary requirements -- or people who have 15 years' more experience?

There’s never been a more important time to stand out in a good way. Do that by doing your research before walking into an interview or meeting and being clear about the unique strengths and perspective you bring to the table. Today, 80 percent of senior jobs are acquired through personal relationships and, as a 40licious woman, you likely have a large group of friends and family that you can tap to unearth professional opportunities. Your network is your net worth, so start reaching out to people even before you want or need something. And, finally – in this day and age where the art of the thank you card has gone out the window, a tried and true way to stand out is to send a hand-written note after any meeting or interview. In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we share a story about a woman who takes it one step further, using vintage Wonder Woman cards to follow up on meetings. Not only do these stand out from an aesthetic standpoint, but they also demonstrate her humor and send the subliminal message that she herself is a “wonder woman.” Consider the small touches that could speak volumes about who you are and what you want to do.

4. Let's talk for a minute about appearance. Are there any rules that 40licious women need to keep in mind while dressing for a job. We want to be taken seriously, but don't make us frumpy!

As you see in movies from “My Fair Lady” to “Mean Girls,” how one looks is as much of a calling card as the one in your wallet. In Be Your Own Best Publicist, Stylist Sarah Shirley says, “A good haircut and shoes are the bookends to any outfit. Everything else you can improvise.” First and foremost, you want to dress for the occasion. We like to say: Don’t wear a ball gown to a ballgame. When in doubt, select classic pieces to which you can add your own signature touches – like a cool pair of classes or a distinctive vintage broach. Make sure your clothing is tailored appropriately and that you feel comfortable in it. We share more tips from other top stylists in the book.

5. I loved the anecdotes in the book about people who started blogs or targeted Google searches toward to specific employers. What other advice can you share for your online presence? And is it a bad thing if a woman in her 40s has zero online presence?

Social media can be a great tool in promoting oneself and making connections that will help you in your career. If you’re seeking a new job, you really should try to cultivate a social media savvyness. Start by creating a Facebook and Twitter presence and putting your resume on LinkedIn. But know that while it’s important to have a strong digital presence, it can also be a double-edged sword since everything you put online becomes part of your public record. According to a poll by social media site, over 45 percent of employers now proactively screen social media profiles. The lesson? Be careful what you post: What you put into the digital ether creates your online resume—often the first impression that people have of you. For example, think of your status as an expensive billboard in Times Square. Don’t just throw any old thing up there. Even something as innocuous as vacation photos can have ramifications—what if you called in sick the day the image was time-stamped for and your boss happens to catch your mistake? Instead, consider each and every piece of information you put out there. Knowledge is power, and you want to be the one holding the cards.

6. Anything else you'd like to tell us about Be Your Own Best Publicist?

Most everyday people can’t afford to hire their own publicist to help them build a personal platform or image that makes an impact. The goal of this book is to teach people how to apply, to their own careers, the practices and skills PR professionals have used during the past century to influence public opin­ion. In today’s world, where jobs are at a premium, image is paramount and your digital footprint is set in cement, it is even more crucial to know how to promote yourself to stand out in a positive way in the workplace, whether you’re looking to get hired, move up in the ranks at your current job or hoping to land that new client.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Love: How to Help Japan One Sake Sip at a Time

A year ago, I was traipsing around Japan with seven other food writers and our beautiful hosts from JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organization, who wanted to introduce us to the unique food and beverages of their land.

We ate things we'd never imagined, drank new liquors we had no idea existed. We were awed by the Japanese art of living and being. Most remarkable, however, was that we met people who produced the food. A farmer of free-range chickens in the now-decimated Fukushima region that went to bed each night thinking about ways to make his chickens happier. He collected abandoned dogs as sentries, and they all lived in blissful contentment together.

The sweet and spunky septuagenarian woman uncrippled by a terrible cancer who opened her own restaurant in the middle of nowhere, filled with high art and low trinkets. She made the most vile milky sake but some ethereal pickled plums.

A couple who harvest bamboo shoots and roasted them fresh for us. The guy who landed in a small town and decided to learn to make sake. And so, so many others.

All of us from the tour felt so helpless after the devastation in Japan, writing back and forth, trying to find out what happened to the friends we'd made. Then one guy had an idea. W. Blake Gray, a wine writer who had lived in Japan, thought of a small concept that can have huge effect if enough people do it.

Drink Sake Tonight.

If you drink sake tonight, Friday, March 25, you'll be helping sake makers and importers. You'll be helping Japanese establishments in the US who can, in turn, send money back home.

One small sip for mankind.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Money: Shoe Shopping and You - Where Do You Rank?

A new poll in the April 2011 edition of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, found that:
  • Women own an average of 17 pairs of shoes (down from 19 four years ago) yet only typically wear three of those pairs on a regular basis. 
  • Over half of women (51 percent) own more than 10 pairs and 13 percent have more than 30 pairs (not including athletic shoes). 
  • Women typically purchase three pairs a year and, on average, spend $49 on a pair of shoes, while nearly one-third (31 percent) have ever spent over $100 on a single pair.

“Shoes never make your butt look big, you don’t have to worry about squeezing into them if you’ve put on a couple of pounds, and they can instantly make you feel sexier. Maybe that’s why, despite the economy, we’re still buying shoes,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “So we’ve compiled a guide to share the hottest trends, the most addictive shoe-shopping websites, how to pick a pair that won’t kill your feet, and an investigation into the difference between a $30 and $575 pair of shoes.”

Online ‘Sole’ Searching
  • Almost a third (29 percent) of American women are buying shoes online, a significant increase from four years ago when only 14 percent were buying shoes online.
  • More than one third (39 percent) of those who have purchased shoes online have made a return.
  • Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) have gone shoe shopping to cheer themselves up.
  • Although the majority of women (86 percent) are up front with their spouse or significant other about their shoe purchase, 14% admit to hiding at least one purchase.
  • Over one quarter (28 percent) feel shoes are an important part of their outfit indicating that they put a lot of thought into selecting them each day. Plus over half of women (51percent) typically notice shoes other people are wearing.
  • For everyday footwear, women prefer flats as 39 percent of women indicate that it is the preferred heel height. Only 8 percent of women wear heels over 2 ½" on a regular basis.
  • Despite a preference for flats, one quarter have worn heels 4” or higher on at least one occasion.
  • Forty-six percent of women have bought an ugly pair for comfort, but more women are willing to tolerate pain for fashion—60 percent vs. 49 percent—than they were in 2007.
  • Women take precautions for the pain as 61 percent have carried a second pair of shoes to a party or event to change into.
  • The Taming of the Shoe
  • Forty-eight percent have had a shoe-related injury (blister, break, sprain, etc.).
  • Thirty-five percent of women had an evening ruined by an uncomfortable pair of shoes.
  • Twenty-four percent have fallen because of their shoes.

ShopSmart’s Tips on Finding a Great Fit and Avoid Shoes That Look and Feel Cheap
HEEL CUP This is the curved back of the shoe that contains and supports your heel. It should fit snugly enough to provide support and prevent slipping while walking, yet not be so tight or stiff that it causes discomfort, which can lead to blisters.
STRAPS A strappy sandal or pump provides extra breathability. Straps and laces also let you adjust shoes to fit your foot. Just make sure they don’t rub. Elastic is better than rigid straps, as long as it doesn’t cut into your foot. T-straps support the front of the foot.
PADDING AND ARCH SUPPORT Press down with your fingers inside the shoe: The more springiness, the better they’ll feel. Some brands incorporate extra cushioning at key pressure points (Cole Haan with Nike Air technology, Hush Puppies, Kenneth Cole’s Gentle Souls line). A shoe’s arch should match the location of your own.
THE HEEL If you like a heel, aim for one that’s between a half-inch and 2½ or 3 inches max. Anything higher can cause foot and back pain. The wider the heel, the more stable the shoe: A platform or stacked heel trumps a stiletto. The heel should be positioned under the center of your own heel, not set too far back. And of course, a closed heel adds stability to a shoe or sandal.
DEGREE OF INCLINE A gradual ascent puts less pressure on the ball of the foot.
THE SOLE You want some firmness and note that a softsoled ballet flat is no better than a slipper. Rubber or leather beats flimsy plastic.
ORNAMENTATION If the shoe has buckles or other decorative trimmings, make sure they’re not attached where your foot bends, like across your toes, or they might be killers.
TOP STITCHING Shoes with tiny chain stitches around the top can’t be stretched, and the leather is less pliable. Exposed stitches inside shoes can rub and irritate toes. So can linings that peel back, so look for a full lining, top and bottom, heel to toe. Calfskin is more breathable than cheaper pigskin (which can be identified by small, visible pores).
THE UPPER Go natural. Suede is the softest, foot-friendliest material, followed by breathable leather. Fabrics are fine if they’re not stiff. Patent and mirrored leathers have coatings that make them less pliable, and synthetics are the least forgiving.
I just bought these Danksos from Zappos and can't say enough good things about them.
THE TOE BOX Round or almond shape toe boxes mirror the foot’s shape and have room for toes to spread out. There should be enough room for your toes to move as you walk, yet not so much that your foot slides around in the toe box. Pointy shoes aren’t necessarily bad; make sure the exaggerated tip starts half an inch after the base of your toes.

COMMENT: What's your favorite place to buy shoes?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Health: Telomeres Affect Aging (and Exactly What Is a Telomere Anyway?)

Telomeres and Aging
By Wendy Hanlan
This post originally appeared on

Okay, what is all the buzz about telomeres? I’m hearing that the research they’re doing on telomeres is going to completely change the anti-aging industry and the products that will be available to us. Am I interested? A resounding YES! I’ve decided to do some research on the subject of telomeres and aging and this is what I found out.

The scientific definition of telomeres: they are non-coding sequences of repetitive DNA at the end of chromosomes that are linked to human lifespan. The research that is being done right now, is all about seeking natural compounds that will turn on expression of telomerase, an enzyme that restores the length of telomeres.

Keeping telomeres long by reversing age-related shortening can potentially slow the onset of poor health and increase human lifespan. Watch the following video for a more in depth look at telomeres.

However, as we await the latest developments in anti aging strategies such as inducing telomerase activity, there are a few lifestyle changes we can make to slow down telomere shortening as much as possible.

Dr. Andrews, a molecular biologist who has studied aging at a molecular level for more than 15 years, shared seven of the best known ways science knows of now to slow down telomere shortening to live longer:

1. Don’t ever smoke. Smoking is not only hazardous to your lungs and cardiovascular health, but is also found to increase rate of telomere shortening, which can lead to dysfunction and instability of chromosomes.
2. De-stress your life. The more stress you have in your life, the greater risk of increasing the rate of telomere shortening and aging more quickly. How to slow it down? As simple as it might sound, the key is to always have a positive outlook on life. Plus, enjoy a vacation once in a while, enjoy friends and social activities, receive plenty of sleep every night, and try meditation.
3. Exercise regularly. By increasing amounts of physical activity, especially intense physical activity, research shows you could keep your telomeres long and healthy, even buffering the effects of chronic stress.
4. Get your antioxidants daily. When high amounts of free radicals attack cells (causing oxidative stress), they leave no stone unturned making chromosomes and their telomeres vulnerable to shortening. You can best protect yourself by getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet from eating fruits and vegetables daily and supplements.
5. Never go without fish oil. Fish oil contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are well-known for being healthy to the heart, but recent evidence has shown that increasing amounts in the diet is associated also with slowing telomere shortening over time. You can get enough by eating fish a couple of times per week and by supplementing with long-chain omega-3s daily.
6. Get enough of the “sunshine vitamin.” Several discoveries have made vitamin D the most popular nutrient of the decade because of its many benefits including an association with longer telomere length. You can make sure you’re getting enough by practicing safe sun exposure and supplementing with vitamin D daily.
7. Practice safe weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to keep telomeres long.

What have you heard about telomeres and aging? Post your comments!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sex: Sex Gets Better with Age for Women in Their 40s

We're lucky to have Dr. Yvonne Fulbright, a sexologist from Iceland, help us with today's  Q & A on one of our favorite subjects -- you guessed it  -- sex! And being that she's the ambassador for a personal lubrication product, we are also giving away Astroglide to the five people who provide the best 40licious sex tips in the comments section.

Dr. Fulbright is  the author of several books, including Sultry Sex Talk to Seduce Any Lover, Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots and The Better Sex Guide to Extraordinary Lovemaking, as well as co-author of Your Orgasmic Pregnancy: Little Sex Secrets Every Hot Mama Should Know.

Dr. Yvonne Albright. Wouldn't you just love telling people you're a sexologist when they ask what you do for a living?
1. How does sex generally change for women in their 40s?
Research on women ages 35-49 has revealed that the majority are interested in maintaining a healthy sex life, with over half having sex at least once per week. About half are also initiating sex with their partners and enjoying sexual activity. From the “Sex in America” report to Shere Hite’s research to Gina Ogden’s “Heart & Soul of Sex” research, we’re constantly being reminded that women are often very sexually piqued. They want sex; they love sex; they desire sexual intimacy. Many want sex more than their partner does. Approaching 40 or entering the fifth decade of her life does not slow her down sexually, as is widely believed.

One of the reasons for this is that sex, for many, gets better with age. Her ideas about sex have evolved. Sex isn’t just about having sex – going all the way – it’s an experience that’s about her mind-body-soul connection, whether she and her lover get carnal or spiritual. It’s about the energy exchange, a celebration of the union and the pursuit of every pleasure the moment can offer.

Between popular press articles, personal experience, shows like “Sex & the City” and sex books, she’s also more informed and feeling more empowered in the sack as such. She’s comfortable being sexually creative, and feeling much more sexually mature than younger women. With more open discussions about sexual exploration, she’s more willing to role-play, share fantasies, try sex toys, vamp up her look, attempt erotic talk, seduce her partner… She recognizes the importance of maintaining passion and keeping things hot and fresh in and out of the bedroom – and she’s making the effort to realize such.
2. Are there any hormonal shifts we should be aware of? How do they manifest?

About four to eight years before the onset of menopause, about 90 percent of women experience a change in their menstrual cycle, e.g., lighter or heavier bleeding. Other symptoms of hormone shifts may include hot flashes, sleep disturbances, headaches, dry-eye syndrome, and unwanted hair. As a consequence, some may find themselves avoiding sexual activity.

3. What makes the difference between regular sex and swinging-from-the-chandelier sex?
There are a couple of major things going on. First, she’s connected to herself and her partner. She feels good about her partnership, which is one of the reasons she’s still sexually piquing at this time. She has fewer insecurities, and is feeling more confident in being more accepting of her body and the woman she has become, especially if she has had a child. She’s more sure of her sensuality and able to tap her sensual core. She has a better understanding of sexual intimacy and meeting her needs.

Second, changes are going on at midlife that invite more sexual opportunities. Many women are reconnecting with their partners as their children grow into ages where they’re more independent and there are more opportunities for a mom and her lover to be sexually active.

Some are re-entering the dating pool, and with that embracing their sexuality in a whole new way. Between new beginnings, being in a healthier place, and embracing new opportunities, these women are tuning into their sexuality in a whole new way.

4. Anything else you'd like to share about 40licious sex?

Pre-menopausal women still need to worry about birth control, since women over 35 are second behind teenagers in the U.S. when it comes to the most unplanned pregnancies. A major reason for this is that they’re having more sex than what we give them credit for. So for those not wanting to get pregnant, it’s important for them to talk to their doctors about their contraceptive options. Since the availability of the birth control pill, research has consistently found that women who don’t have to worry about pregnancy report better, less inhibited sex.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Health: Detoxing Your Home Can Make You Worried Sick

Today's post comes courtesy of Women's Health Magazine

Do You Have a Detoxifying Obsession?

By Linda Formichelli

It all started, innocently enough, with the dryer sheets a few months ago.

While they might make your laundry smell like a summer day, I had just read that the flimsy leaflets actually coat your clothes with a thin layer of toxic chemicals. As a health writer, I regularly come across a fair number of startling facts about contaminants, but this time was different: I had an infant in the next room. I threw our box of dryer sheets in the trash that day.

Problem solved. Until I read about dust.

A little online searching revealed that not only is common house dust loaded with noxious particles and allergenic dead bug bits like dust mites (eww), but the cleaning solution used to wipe it up could cause just about every ailment known to mankind (breast cancer, diabetes, memory impairment…oh my!). And then there were our bedsheets and towels, all crawling with germs that could be killed only by bleach—the same bleach that could lead to respiratory problems. What's more, wearing your sneakers indoors tracks dangerous pesticides (and other nasties you pick up outside) through the house.

So I banned chemical-laden cleaning products, made guests remove their shoes at the door, and launched an all-out assault on dust and dirt. Soon what little free time I had was spent vacuuming toxins off the lampshades. All worth it, I figured, to keep my family safe from crippling illnesses and premature death.

Of course, feeding them was another challenge entirely. I began paying double for organic, pesticide-free produce and hormone-free milk. Free-range chicken at the co-op set me back $9 for three small halves. But even as these changes lightened my wallet, they did nothing to ease my mind, because the threats were piling up faster than the laundry. One week it was the electromagnetic-frequency-emitting cell phone I used as an alarm clock; the next, the baby monitor. After I'd banished both, I still found myself lying awake at night, plagued by worry.

Unhealthy Extremes
It was money that finally brought me to my senses. Not the small fortune I was shelling out for elite food and eco-cleaners, but the actual greenbacks themselves. A new study trumpeted that bills are tainted with bisphenol-A (BPA), which, according to the National Toxicology Program, can have negative effects on "the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and children."

With that news, I was done. It made no difference how many hours I spent researching dangers, naturally disinfecting surfaces, arguing with my laidback husband (who insisted I was driving myself crazy over nothing), and fighting the world's worst case of static cling. I couldn't quit cash.

Surprisingly, instead of feeling defeated, I felt free. I realized I couldn't be expected to purify every aspect of my family's life. News headlines emphasize life's dangers and then tantalizingly offer solutions for ridding your home, your food, and your body of contaminants. I'm not the first to be sucked in by those claims—or hopelessly confused by them. Just to be sure, though, I called a few experts for a second opinion.

"'Detoxing' can become a coping skill that's used to gain a sense of control when life feels overwhelming," says psychotherapist Julie Hanks, M.S.W. In other words, you may not be able to control stock-market crashes or terrorism, but you can nix pesticides from your kitchen.

But this control tactic can backfire: When you spend all of your time worrying about everything that could possibly harm you, and spend a hunk of your money trying to delete those dangers from your life, the intense stress it causes can have a bigger impact on your lifestyle than BPA or any other scary-sounding acronym.

"Detoxing is about taking a break and renewing and rejuvenating ourselves," says Gerard E. Mullin, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. "But if you take it to extremes, you may do yourself more harm by living in a state of anxiety."

Balance is the only approach that works for me. Some changes are so easy that it doesn't make sense not to make them—toting a stainless-steel water bottle in lieu of a BPA-containing plastic one to the gym, for example. I'm still not ecstatic about the static in my clothes, but because it's easier and cheaper—as well as healthier—not to use dryer sheets, I'm willing to put up with a little shock therapy. But I gave up the $8 organic shampoo and went back to my $3 suds. I still buy my toddler organic, hormone-free milk, but my husband and I stick with the regular stuff.

And something amazing has happened: I've stopped lying awake at night, worrying that our toilet-bowl cleaner will give me cancer or that the carpeting in the nursery might off-gas and melt my son's brain. Even though I've let my guard down, my family and I are way happier than we were when I was spending my precious spare time hunting down pesticides, synthetic chemicals, and stray electromagnetic waves. I can now actually enjoy our home—and start letting good things in instead of keeping bad things out.

Here are a few of the chemicals you can live with and the ones you definitely shouldn’t:

  • Dishwasher Detergent: One sniff will tell you how toxic the fumes from a bleach-containing detergent can be, so be sure to use one that is bleach-free.
  • The “Dirty Dozen:” Buy organic versions of the 12 most pesticide-laden produce (you can download the list at and you can reduce your pesticide exposure by up to 80 percent.
  • Nix the Air Fresheners: Hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates were found in 12 out of 14 commercial fresheners, according to a 2007 Natural Resources Defense Council study.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Profile: Sondra Wright, Author of "40+ and Fabulous"

Today's Q & A is with Sondra Wright. She's the author of 40+ and Fabulous: Moving Forward Fierce, Focused and Full of Life!, which is a truly inspiring book about women who have created positive change in the world, and insight from men on women who are over 40.

This is author Sondra Wright. Fabulous indeed!
1. What inspired you to write 40+ and Fabulous?

I have a young niece who is just the apple of my eye. Having no children of my own, laying eyes on her after she was born was the very first time I had experienced loving something simply because it existed. I want to do everything I can to leave the world better than I found it for her. The fact that women would suffer anxiety, sadness or depression at the idea of aging and especially crossing that threshold of forty and fifty, is hurtful for me. The numbers of women who are filled with dreams, goals and aspirations but see age as a barrier to accomplishing those things, are unacceptable. I’ve always been a champion of the underdog. Society has had a good laugh at our expense, bombarding us with negative, stereotypical images of the aging woman, for far too long. I decided to establish some new ground rules for women and aging that I hope will permeate our culture and become the new standard for aging. There’s not a single reason for women not to be as excited about our 40th, 50th and 60th birthdays, as we were about that 21st birthday.

2. What surprised you the most during your research?

The men!! Hands down it would have to be hearing from the men. You see, one of the most common and most painful stereotyped images of the 40+ woman, is her mate leaving her for a younger woman. And while it does happen, I was getting feedback from men who would not trade a 40+ woman for a twenty-something if she was handed to him Saran™ wrapped in a Ferrari. That’s the other reality that we never hear about, but we should. I was always told telling part of the story was the same as telling a lie. And we’ve been lied to long enough. So, I added a men-tell-all section to the book that I call Straight Talk and Men’s Thoughts on 40+ and Fabulous Women and let me tell you…it is one liberating shot of ego boost to say the least.

3. What were the most important things you learned that you didn't know going into the project?

While I’ve been a business owner and a speaker for some time, 40+ and Fabulous is my debut book and so all the lessons that come with being a first time author were mine to be learned. The most important things though, had to do with me; the real strength I have in the face of adversity; overcoming obstacles, wanting to give up and being at that place where I felt as though I just had nothing left to give and then, reaching waaaaaay down deep in myself and discovering what I didn’t think was there. I learned that I’m stronger, more resilient, more gifted, and more talented than I ever thought I was or could be.

4. How did you pick your subjects? What was the criteria? After all, there are so many fabulous people in the world!

So true! There are many, many fabulous people in the world and I’m so grateful to know my share of them. For 40+ and Fabulous I wanted to share a sampling of stories of women from all backgrounds and all walks of life; women who were willing to be transparent and not just scratch the surface, and women that women could relate to.

Of the women in the book, I personally knew maybe 4 of them. For the others, I held sort of an internet casting call and selected from those who seemed most passionate about these stages of life. The women range in age from 40 to mid 70’s so there’s really something here for everyone.

5. Anything else you'd like to share about being 40+ and fabulous?

I always like to stress that being 40+ and Fabulous has nothing to do with the clothes you wear, the car you drive or the zip code you live in. 40+ and Fabulous is a state of mind. It’s how you look the world in the eye, shoulders back, head tall appreciating where you’ve been, treasuring where you are and looking forward to, with great anticipation, all you are yet to become. Move forward boldly and enjoy the journey, girls. Welcome to 40+ and Fabulous!

Follow Sondra on Twitter.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Money: Keep Track of Your Finances, Even If You're Not in Charge of Them

I don't care how in love you are. Or just recently married. Or rock-sure about your relationship.

I don't know why we keep needing to learn this lesson generation after generation, but we do.

Ladies, learn everything about your financial situation, down to the last penny. Where is your money? How is it coming in and going out?

Not convinced? Read this cautionary tale from San Diego journalist Eilene Zimmerman in Salon. And then go balance your books.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fun: Wilhelmina Model Search Seeks Foxy Women Over 40

Feelin' foxy?

The Wilhelmina modeling agency is holding a modeling contest for women over 40. In a way it's a little sad that there actually has to be this classification -- after all, why can't they just all be models? And I'm pretty sure the model they have there isn't over 40, but whatever.

Here you go, if you're up for it! But remember what we said earlier this week about making strategic career decisions.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fun: March Madness for Women over 40 Who Play Basketball, Don't Keep Score

Heather Stevens-Kittner looks to pass off the ball during a women's basketball league game at the Jewish Community Center in Fairfax. (For The Washington Post)

I loved this story from the Washington Post, about  a basketball league for women in their 40s through 60s that began in 1991.

"It's the game in its purest form. We love this game," Heather Stevens-Kittner of Arlington said as she sat in a chair waiting to get back on the court. "We love playing this game. We don't care who wins. We don't care who scores. When someone on the other team makes a nice play, we cheer."

Stay in the sweet spot, ladies. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Work: Strategize Before You Change Industries

Manny Avramidis has great career advice for those of us with and without jobs. He looks pretty pulled together in this picture. I'd trust him.
By the time you are 40licious, you’ve probably gotten really good at whatever it is that you do. Even if it’s not your life dream work – say you kind of “fell into” a field and stayed there – you can probably command a pretty good price for your services. This is also the time when we should be taking steps to make our dreams reality. So let’s say you’ve always wanted to have a catering company, but somehow you ended up with a career in PR. If you really want to be slinging canap├ęs, you need to make steps toward that right this instant. Perhaps it’s taking a class or doing some side gigs on the weekends.

Manny Avramidis, the senior vice president of Global HR and Talent Management for the American Management Association, tells us it is OK to dream – but be strategic about it. In our 40s, he says, “it’s more difficult to change careers and you have to consider the pay … If you’re changing industries, can you take a paycut and go to the bottom and start again? The older you get, the more serious your decisions are.”

Avramidis offers this advice: “If you’re in the job market and you haven’t had a break in your career, the key is to stay ahead of the curve and understand what you need to have to stay employed.” So maybe that’s learning about social media, updating your software skills, and adding digital to your analog competencies. For those who took time off to raise a family or because of the recession, he says the key things to know are what you want, and to focus on your unique skills. “What do you bring to the table?”

There’s good news, however, for the 40licious job seeker. “When the baby boomers retire, there will be a lot of work and a lot of choices. That will leave a lot of jobs vacant.” Avramidis says. “It’s a very exciting time.”

Avramidis suggests this reading to help in your professional development:
Work Your Strengths: A Scientific Process to Identify Your Skills and Match Them to the Best Career for You by Chuck Martin, Richard Guare, and Peg Dawson

Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success, Second Edition, by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon
The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want by Lizandra Vega

The Girls’ Guide to Power and Success by Susan Wilson Solovic

Career Match: Connecting Who You Are with What You’ll Love to Do by Shoya Zichy and Ann Bidou

Acing the Interview: How to Ask and Answer the Questions That Will Get You the Job by Tony Beshara

Monday, March 7, 2011

Health: My Coochie Is Just Fine, Thank You

I recently got a pitch from a very nice and cheerful PR woman for a new tampon that "corrects" the pH balance of the menstrual fluid. She even sent me some samples, and disappointingly, they are wrapped in plastic and come with a plastic applicator. Her pitch, with the original emphasis:  "[The Tampons] are the boldest new innovation in women’s health technology since tampons were first invented in 1929. For the first time, tampons just got smarter. While traditional tampons were designed for leak protection, comfort and convenience they have done nothing to balance pH. Until now.  In healthy women, vaginal pH is typically 3.5 to 4.5.  The pH of blood is 7.4, so during the menstrual cycle, vaginal pH becomes elevated by menstrual fluids."

Really? The boldest new innovation in women's health technology? Bolder than life-saving cancer screening and drugs? Bolder than advances prenatal health? Bolder than the HPV vaccine? I'm sorry, there is no journalist in the world, except maybe someone from a content farm, who would work that angle.

I am sure that if there was something very wrong with my vaginal pH, I would have noticed. And every gyno since I was 12 would have said something. And certainly a kindly visitor to that place would have remarked.

If you are from a Pharmaceutical Company, the Health & Beauty Aid Industrial Complex, or have anything to do with Selling Products to Women, I hope you will read this and then take it back to your leaders:

Stop telling us we smell bad and look ugly, and the only way we can remedy this is by buying your product.
Stop telling us that your improved formula is a miracle so we have to go out and buy a new one.
Stop making us feel too fat, or too less-than by using impossibly thin models.
Stop trying to take our power and our money and our planet with your disposable everything.
Stop telling us that our natural hair or body isn't OK and that we need to change to what you think we should be.

When you've gotten all that (and yes, I realize you are also responsible for Tamoxifen and other life-saving drugs), please work on things that are practical and make us feel terrific. Like this, which I got from a different PR pitch.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Beauty: Chelsea Lowe: Are You Trying Too Hard or Not Hard Enough?

"You can easily look ten years younger. Twenty-five? Less realistic. I believe we should take a lesson from the French and try to look as good as we can—not as young as we can."

Author Chelsea Lowe takes steps to show that beauty begins within.
This is the second part of our series with beauty expert Chelsea Lowe. She's got a new beauty-related app coming soon for iPhones and iPads; we'll let you know when that's available.

1. We pay much more attention to our skin in our 40s. Why is it so different than what we had?
After about age 30, women’s facial skin begins to lose elasticity, radiance and moisture. At about 40, we start seeing those dreaded fine lines: crow’s feet, nasolabials (nose-to-mouth indentations) and so on. Women have more delicate facial skin than men, which is why we notice aging about a decade earlier.

Facial skin becomes less forgiving. Chances are that, in your thirties, you could eat whatever you wanted, get by on too little rest, and still look good. If you can do this after 40, you’re a lucky gal!

2. Let's talk about trying too hard when it comes to beauty.

Well, some women go a bit far: multiple “procedures,” or clothes, makeup, hairstyles or colors that are too young, or just no longer working. Unnaturally white teeth … Or do you mean holding ourselves to unrealistic standards? Every woman I know has been guilty, at some point, of coveting. We know this. Both kinds of “trying too hard” come from not being happy with ourselves. It’s well established that, almost from infancy, girls are given impossible models to look up to. I won’t even go into the heartbreaking ethnic implications for generations of women.

So, whether by nature (remember that evolution designed us to care about desirability) or culture, the result is that few women are happy as they are: the flat-chested gal wants to be Barbie; those with curly hair want straight. Few are content with their weight.

The best thing to do is to embrace what you can’t change, live with what you’re willing to live with--then disguise the rest!

Trying too hard can also mean not accepting things like gravity. I’m very into not going gently—but you also want to feel good about yourself even if you’re a few pounds over your ideal, or developing a little flab. You can still look and feel beautiful!

You can easily look ten years younger. Twenty-five? Less realistic. I believe we should take a lesson from the French and try to look as good as we can—not as young as we can.

Believe it or not, what I see more of is women who don’t try hard enough! So many of us are so busy—especially at this time of life. Many are parents or grandparents or caregivers, in peak productivity years. For a lot of women, this means skipping makeup, exercise, proper nutrition and rest. And, of course, good-quality sleep can prove elusive as we get into our forties and beyond, as insomnia can be a byproduct of menopause. Family tension is not conducive to restful sleep, either. Plus, you have all these TV experts berating women, when they should be encouraging any effort. I think that intimidates some gals out of trying.

A tip: Do at least one thing to care for yourself as soon as you get up for the day: exercise, food prep, makeup. I’ll have to get back to you about how to get a good night’s sleep!

3. If you had to pack only three beauty items for an extended trip, what would they be and why?
May I count my makeup kit as one item?

I’m more about practice than product, but:
  • My number-one would be Vaseline. It’s cheap and makes the skin soft, supple and moist. Great for eyelids, too (but use sparingly, if at all, under makeup). I'm also hearing encouraging things about shea butter and other vegetable-based oils.
  • After that, if it were a long trip, I’d want Renova (a Retin-A derivative). 
  • And good-quality tweezers, but maybe that’s just me. 
  • Sunscreen would be a good idea.
For a shorter trip, I’d skip the Renova and take along a makeup item, probably lip gloss. (Makeup lady tip: after 40 or so, taper off of reds and look toward pink and nude shades. Plum, for some complexions. Oh, and if you color your hair, think about returning to your original shade.)

4. Please discuss the mind-body connection. More or less important in one's 40s, or the same?
Oh, yeah. Big connection. Beauty is about attitude. If you feel unattractive—and what woman doesn’t at some point?—Just Say No! Say to yourself out loud, “I am beautiful!” or something similar. (OK, maybe not out loud. But, when you pass a mirror, make a point of noticing your best features. It’s just as easy as focusing on those you like less.) Notice when your efforts pay off. And remember, chances are some woman longs for what you’ve got!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spirit: Angela Kantarellis on How to Organize Your Life

"It’s clarity about what’s important to us and how we want to live our lives. It’s about letting go of what no longer serves us, identifying what’s great in our lives and figuring out what else we want to bring in to the mix to support us in our personal and professional goals."

Today we're glad to meet New York-based professional organizer Angela Kantarellis. She's been a complete blessing to me as I undertake Project: Desk over at the Herman Miller Lifework blog. Hopefully you'll find her as smart and savvy as I do.

I would totally trust organizer Angela Kantarellis, wouldn't you?
1. How did you become a professional organizer?
It’s really a 40licious kind of story … when I was 38 I decided to go back to grad school. I needed something to support myself while I was in school, something that came very naturally to me and that drew on the skills I had developed in my previous career in real estate. I’ve always loved the organizing process – the way making changes to our physical environment can have a profound impact on our inner world. I put the word out to my friends and within two weeks I had 14 clients! That’s how AKorganizing was born.

I joined NAPO – The National Association of Professional Organizers and the New York Chapter, NAPO-NY and I knew I had found my tribe. I graduated with my Masters in Psychology in 2008. I was 40. AKorganizing had taken on a life of its own by that time and the industry in general was rapidly expanding. The rest is history as they say.

2. By the time we are in our 40s, we have a lot of history racked up. How do we organize pictures, mementos, knickknacks and things our mother gave us that we can't throw out because we feel guilty?
First things first…no more guilt! I always encourage clients to “re-gift without guilt.” Don’t love it, can’t use it? Pass it along to a friend who would delight in it – yes even if your mother gave it to you! Donate the rest or gasp, toss it.

I’m a big fan of having memorabilia boxes. Beautiful boxes to store cards, mementos and knickknacks. There is something really powerful about all those memories and personal history stored in one place. It’s great to go through it every so often, and rediscover forgotten treasures.

A wall of photos is always a fun and creative way to display photos, especially at the entrance to your apartment or home, great feng shui! For photos that don’t get displayed, you want to store them in archival grade photo boxes or in lignin free scrapbook albums.

2. Can we talk about shoes for a minute? There seems to never be enough space to organize the shoes logically. Help!
I like to keep shoes in their original boxes so when I open the box it’s like seeing them for the first time.

I keep the shoe boxes stacked in a closet devoted exclusively to coats, shoes and bags. They are in chronological order – oldest, rarely worn but beloved on the bottom; more recent, often worn towards the top.

For everyday shoes, lined up at the bottom of the closet is a simple way to go, especially boots.

3. What's the best way to organize emails? We are bombarded by work and personal ones. Which should we tackle first?
Folders are key for managing email. I just revamped my email folders to reflect my current priorities for AKorganizing. I numbered the folders so they appear at the top of my folders list. It helps me stay on track and focused on my current business goals.
  1. Clients
  2. Press
  3. Speaking
  4. Writing
  5. Follow up
  6. Read
  7. Great Ideas/Reference

Clutter, whether it is physical clutter or e-clutter results from delayed decision making. A great way to stay on top of email it to respond to simple items right away and schedule uninterrupted time to handle more emails that require more thought. To keep clutter at bay unsubscribe from unsolicited newsletters and delete suspicious email immediately.

4. What are the essential tools people need for organizing?
Surprisingly it’s not more gadgets or fancy boxes. It’s clarity about what’s important to us and how we want to live our lives. It’s about letting go of what no longer serves us, identifying what’s great in our lives and figuring out what else we want to bring in to the mix to support us in our personal and professional goals. A good professional organizer is an indispensable resource in this process.

5. Anything else people should know?
William Morris said it best “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”