Friday, April 29, 2011

Health: More Magazine Founder Speaks on Surviving Cancer, and Her 40s

I found a lovely blog, Breast Cancer Sisterhood, in which the author interviews a founding editor of More Magazine, Lois Joy Johnson. The piece is a nicely crafted perspective on health and beauty and what it all means after a cancer diagnosis.

"Cancer really rearranges your priorities. It makes you grateful for good health and encourages you to take care of yourself so that you’re healthy going forward. It’s great to look beautiful. We all want to be forever sexy and attractive. We’re the first generation of women in our 50s and 60s who look this way," Johnson says in the interview.

Johnson is 50licious, but she's got some great advice for those of us in our 40s. If we want to evolve in better shape, with more grace, fewer wrinkles and a touch more wisdom, we'll listen to her.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fun: Adelaide Gives Back the Mink, etc.

Instead of working on a proper blog post for today I spent the time watching the Frank Sinatra/Marlon Brando version of Guys and Dolls. Interesting meditation on good/bad, marriage/single, faith/luck, religion/spirit. Do you think the messages hold up from 1938?

Vivian Blaine, whom I suspect was verging on 40licious as Adelaide, stole it all away.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Health: Do Something Physical Every Day

Back in the day, when I was more concerned about how we look than how we feel. (Photo: Seattle P-I)
When I was in my 30s, I made a career out of defending women's "real" bodies. You know, the ones we see in the mirror but never on TV or in a perfume ad or a magazine. I wasn't as concerned as how we looked or felt as what the American perceived version of beauty was. The most effective weight loss I knew was to have a massive, painful breakup with a guy who ended up moving right next door. Every time I looked out my kitchen window into him, I felt ill. I dropped two sizes.

Now at 40licious, I'm more highly attuned to what goes in -- and stays on. I cut out alcohol and have all but nixed sugar (except for my slavish devotion to Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt). I know exactly how I will feel if I go ahead and have the Eggs Benedict. It has taken me a lifetime to learn to do something physical every day. For me, it's either yoga, an hour in the gym, or a power walk with two dogs (benefit! Tired dogs are good dogs). When I don't stick to this, I get wonky. I find faults with how my husband Steve (and pretty much everyone else) is conducting his affairs. My desk is messy. I'm more distracted at work.

When I do commit to doing something every day, life gets a little more manageable. I'm a nicer person and more efficient. And I look a tiny bit foxier in my jeans.

Feeling like you don't know where to begin? Lance Armstrong's Live Strong Foundation has some recommendations for 40lcious people like us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Relationships: Women in China Waiting Until Their 40s to Get Married

My mother took this picture of the happiest bride ever dancing. That would be me.
As a person who came very late to my first marriage, this story in the China Daily caught my eye. Apparently a growing percentage of women in China are rocking it so hard at work, that they are delaying marriage until well into their 40s.

I can't say I had that amazing a career and that's why it took me so long. The men I didn't want to marry were throwing sparkly rings at me. The men I would have thrown myself in front of a train for a teeny weeny "I do" had no such similar ideas.

Or maybe, it took me until I was 40licious to be able to offer all the good things about myself to another person, and hopefully, leave the bad behind.

COMMENT: If you are 40licious and single, is it by choice? If not, what's been the issue, do you think?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Money: Credit Card Abusers Are Magical Thinkers

"Some people tend to ascribe almost magical properties to goods -- that buying things will make them happier, cause them to have more fun, improve their relationships -- in short, transform their lives."

My first credit-card offer appeared in the NYU bookstore. I was a freshman, browsing what I'd need for the first semester, and American Express had set up a table with some friendly folks who were just determined to get some customers. There was a new card -- Optima, they called it -- and on the application, I could check off how much I credit I wanted. $2,000? $5,000? $10,000?

$10,000 sounded good. So I took it.

I was set financially in my 20s, thanks to wads of cash from excellent waitressing and bartending gigs, plus a well-paid internship, combined with criminally low New York rent. I was flush until the early '90s. It was then I  followed my handsome, funny Yalie to New Mexico, where I happily paid $800 for a 1986 Ford F-150 dual-gas tank truck and landed my first real journalism jobs in radio and a newspaper. At about $4.50 an hour.

Quickly my cash disappeared and I started loving on that $10,000 Optima card. And maybe another card or two. I had no concept of credit, how much it was costing me, and how hard it would be to make it back. I just knew I was in love, and dirt poor, and that extra trip to the Giant Truck Stop for cowboy boots would probably help tide over my lonliness and despair that came from a complicated relationship imploding in slow motion.

It took me years to start looking at credit cards as the scam they are - unless you use them the right way: for emergencies or to earn airline miles or cash while paying off the full balance each month. And now a researcher at the University of Missouri researcher has put her finger on the differences between the type of person who abuses credit and the rest of the world.

According to the Science Daily story on the study: "There is nothing wrong with wanting to buy products," said Marsha Richins, Myron Watkins Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Trulaske College of Business, "It becomes a problem when people expect unreasonable degrees of change in their lives from their purchases. Some people tend to ascribe almost magical properties to goods -- that buying things will make them happier, cause them to have more fun, improve their relationships -- in short, transform their lives. These beliefs are fallacious for the most part, but nonetheless can be powerful motivators for people to spend."

Spending money you don't have will not make life more fun. It won't make you prettier or more desirable. It won't open up a great new world. You will not have better friends and your kids won't like you more. All it will do is cause a little black hole inside you that grows bigger and bigger and blacker and blacker until you get a handle on whatever the real issue is. You might have to bottom out first. Because it's never about what it's about.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Health: Kathy Smith on How to Lose Weight and Get Fit over 40

"The one thing you don't want to do is set yourself up for failure with an immediate 'go for broke' attitude right out of the gate. Remember: slow and steady wins the race."-- Kathy Smith

So a recent survey that has gotten a lot of attention in the UK and Indian press showed that women in their 40s have mirror angst. The majority don't like what they see. Maybe we're too hard on ourselves. Or maybe we just can't accept that "the same person can't step in the same river twice -- she changes, and the river changes." Whatever the case, we know that even if exercise isn't suddenly transforming us into the impossible, it makes us feel better, and it makes us healthier.

Today's wise words come from 60licious fitness icon (and "Babe" fragrance spokesmodel) Kathy Smith. She's got a new video out called "Ageless with Kathy Smith" and some good ideas about how to get back in the game if you've been out a while.

1. What's different about exercising when you're over 40 than when you're in your 20s and 30s?
Starting around the age of 30, we begin to lose muscle mass - a process I call "The Great Decline" - and that leads to a whole host of issues, from arthritis to back pain to (you guessed it) weight gain. The key to slowing - or even reversing - the "great decline" is strength training. So regardless of our age, we always need a balance of cardio, strength, and flexibility training - but after we hit 40, the need for strength training becomes greater than ever.

2. What's the best way to start a regimen if you've been sedentary and out of shape?

photo credit: Acacia Lifestyle
The one thing you don't want to do is set yourself up for failure with an immediate "go for broke" attitude right out of the gate. Remember: slow and steady wins the race. Start with a 15-minute walk, and then add 5 minutes to your walk every week. The same goes for strength training: Start off using your own body weight and lighter weights, and build up. The key is to find something you enjoy that fits your personality: Dance classes, swimming, hiking. And there's always strength in numbers - find a friend to serve as your gym partner or walking buddy. You'll keep each other motivated and accountable.

3. Is it possible to be a hardbody over 40?

At my age, people in their 40s seem like youngsters! But yes, you can have a hard body (Demi Moore and Madonna are certainly evidence that it's still possible!). It's more challenging as we age, but still doable. It takes a certain level of discipline, and of course some luck in the genetics department. But I try to help people focus not on how "hard-bodied" they can be, but how healthy they can be.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Style: Sylvie Levine on How to Wear Jewelry, Day or Night, Work or Play

"I feel that a woman in her 40’s is more secure and centered in her personal style. I think she is less affected by trends and desires pieces that are more meaningful and lasting."

Jewelry designer Sylvie Levine knows a thing or two about how to rock your rocks: She was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium in the center of the world’s diamond trade. The third generation of her family to be in the diamond business, Sylvie developed a passion for both all of the business at a young age. Today, her collection, Sylvie, is gaining traction in the fine jewelry industry. She works along side her husband designing diamond engagement rings, wedding bands and bridal jewelry, and is dedicated to helping every bride find the perfect ring for them.

Sylvie Levine is so gorgeous she doesn't even NEED jewelry to shine.
1. How does our relationship to jewelry change when we're in our 40s?
I feel that a woman in her 40’s is more secure and centered in her personal style. I think she is less affected by trends and desires pieces that are more meaningful and lasting. I hope that most women are in a place where they are comfortable with who they are—and that confidence allows us to be more in control of our fashion and jewelry wardrobes. At this point in our lives we can say what we want and what we deserve… And, then, we can even purchase it for ourselves! In our business we see customers having more of a disposable income and willing to make a self purchase.

2. What does a woman's jewelry say about her?
A woman’s jewelry is highly personal and makes a statement of about her style, individuality, creativity and/or personal values (ie: religious symbols, etc).
A woman in her 40’s knows what she wants to wear because she is more certain of what makes her look and feel good. She is also able to communicate that better and seek it out more than she might have in her earlier years.
Some women may choose really bold items, which would tell you about her bold personality and comfort to show it off. Others prefer classics or sentimental items, which can show their feminine or romantic side.

3. Are there do's and don'ts for day/night and office/play, or does anything go?
Maybe it is because of my European upbringing, but I’m inclined to say that in 2011 anything goes! We live in a culture that is no longer restricted—so business environments are leaning towards casual attire and women are no longer forced to wear pantyhose and full makeup to work. If you love diamonds, why be limited to when you can wear them? Being a designer that primarily works in diamonds, I tend to keep my larger more showy pieces for evening and wear my more wearable diamond pieces during the day. I like to guide my customers to pick jewelry that can be worn with jeans, casual outfit, as well as with a dressy outfit. The beauty of fashion today is the mix of casual and dressy—and high and low-end designers. I think a great pair of diamond studs can be easily worn with jeans, a pair of flipflops or Louboutins.

4. What advice would you offer someone who wants to go into the jewelry business?
My first advice would be that you have to be very passionate about this industry. Secondly if you are going into fine jewelry it does take a large amount of financial commitment. The advantage I’ve had is that I have been able to work from a young age in different areas of the industry which all culminated into what I do now. It helped tremendously to understand all the different aspects of the business. The personal and emotional side of it is very rewarding and challenging as a designer and the face of a growing brand.

5. Anything else you'd like to share about being 40licious?
I’m living the best decade of my life right now!! I have learned to stick to my own values and not worry about what others think or how others live their lives. One of my favorite quotes applies to that “To Be Yourself in a World That is Constantly Trying To Make You Someone Else, Is The Greatest Accomplishment of All,” Ralph Waldo Emerson. I would not trade my 40’s for my 30’s – I say it to all my younger friends who worry getting there. We are so much wiser and therefore more confident and clear about our paths.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Health: Does Your Money Go to Botox, Designer Shoes or a Mammogram?

Barbara Bellman
Today's post is from Barbara Bellman, an author, lecturer, consultant and marketing coach who has made it her business over 30 years to take the pulse of women. Her work in that arena has resulted in two leading reference books on gender-specific marketing: Reaching Women: The Way to Go in Marketing Health Services and Hitting the Right Nerve. She is also the author of Flirting After Fifty: Lessons for Grown-up Women on How to Find Love Again.

Today, she hosts informal focus groups of women across the U.S. to gather their candid assessments of lifestyle, medical, sexual, caregiving/senior, financial, existential and career issues. This work is sponsored by Pace Advertising, a wholly owned subsidiary of the worldwide WPP Group.

I’ve become a professional eavesdropper – crisscrossing the country to listen in on conversations among women. Why? Because there’s so much to be learned about how they think and feel from their candid conversations with other women. I admit to enticing them to join their peers in conversation with champagne and chocolates and a congenial setting. But, in truth, they don’t need much provocation to take on a host of burning issues for women, from healthcare and finances to romance and care-giving.

Most recently, I hosted a group of women in their forties in Southern California, where we discussed the subject of healthcare and specifically, mammograms. These were college-educated, middle-class women. 15 percent were unmarried; 85 percent were married with children. They were healthy and surprisingly nonchalant about the risks of breast cancer, regardless of whether other female members of their family had been afflicted or even died of the disease.

Even more surprising, most were willing to forego getting mammograms and other screenings if it meant sacrificing the purchase of something that made them look and feel good now. Why get a mammogram (both potentially an unpleasant expense and experience) when you can buy a pair of Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos that add five inches to your height and show off your calves? Why submit to a sonogram with no immediately visible benefits when a Botox treatment can erase those creases in your forehead? This brings into play the age-old issue of want versus need, and desire versus fear. The women want to look better, younger and more attractive, rather than know if there is a medcial problem.

It’s hard to understand that any woman could be cavalier about her health. Perhaps the medical community and advocacy groups have done too good a job of assuring us that breast cancer is a “treatable disease.” They’ve successfully allayed the fears of the women in my group. Or perhaps this is simply a day and age (thanks to the Great Recession and the rapid succession of natural and man-made disasters around the world) when life feels precarious enough without the threat of medical problems. The quest for relief, it seems, is paramount – the kind best satisfied by a little retail and cosmetic therapy.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Work: How to Start Over Again and Switch Careers

"Something happened while I was doing that three month gig. I fell in love with my new job, my new company, and the weekly paycheck that came with it. Gone were the days of the real estate roller coaster. I could eat!"

Today's guest post comes to us from Lisa Affi, who is so capable and beautiful and talented she could probably start over 15 more times and do just fine, thank you.

By the time you’re 40, you think you’re career life is settled and you are geared to stay on your path until retirement. For more than 15 years, I worked in the real estate profession. For many of those years, I worked as both a real estate agent and as an office manager/trainer/property manager. At age 37, I finally decided to take the proverbial dive into the shark-infested waters of full-time real estate sales.

The real estate market was going at a fast clip with property values rising almost on a daily basis. I had been in the business long enough to know the warning signs that it was all going to come crumbling down. Just like that. It did. Escrows were falling out. Buyers were panicking. Real estate as we knew it was coming to an end. My life was about to change in ways I had no idea.

I had made quite a bit of money in my own real estate investments. I had taken my equity and purchased a beautiful home in a lovely hillside community in San Bernardino County.

Still in denial about the long term effects of the real estate crash, I found myself taking the odd part-time job to get by; a hotel concierge (two weeks), a chip runner at an Indian casino (one month). The latest was a three month gig at a Fortune 500 company in the communications department. “No problem,” I thought. "In three months, I'll get back on my feet and back into the game."

I never went back to real estate.

Something happened while I was doing that three month gig. I fell in love with my new job, my new company, and the weekly paycheck that came with it. Gone were the days of the real estate roller coaster. I could eat! At the end of my three months, they hired me full time.

They say that for every humbling life experience, you gain a life lesson that will take you to a new understanding. That’s IF you learn the lesson. 2007 was the year, I learned that nothing is forever and hard decisions make you stronger. I lost everything. But I didn’t lose my spirit.

I am on a whole new path. A path I never even noticed was there. I have never felt more at home than I do in my new career. I discovered more things about myself that year and since than I ever imagined. I found out that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

I never shared my story with anyone. I never felt the need to complain about where my life took me. But as you go through these experiences, at some point you want to share that new found knowledge in the hopes that someone else could benefit from what you went through. But if you could take just one something from it, remember that old saying is true: When one door closes, a window really does open. Be open to it. Let yourself learn from the experiences that life gives you. Take the gift. Open it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Work: Play Hard to Get, Even When You've Got the Job

"Once you have a job offer, it’s not a done deal until you accept it. Until that happens, keep networking and looking for jobs. It may give you valuable market-worth data about the position you’ve been offered."

As women, we're generally raised to be pleasers. It's well documented we don't do as well negotiating salary, and are trained to say "yes" and "thank you." We have to un-train ourselves to be assertive around money issues. And as we rise through the shambles of this economy, some of us are so happy to have ANYTHING that we just take what we're offered.

But according to one expert, in work as in love, if you're too eager, you're not as desirable. Let your new employer woo you.

“As people who have been looking for work a long time start to get back into the workforce, many of them are so happy just to get a job that they sometimes accept a lower salary than they have to,” said Bill Humbert, author of RecruiterGuy’s Guide to Finding a Job. “Some employers feel that they can probably get away with a lowball offer, and many job hunters will grab it just so they can have a job. The truth is there are ways to get the job and still get what you want.”

He gives us these tips:
  • Don’t Offer Salary Requirements: When you are asked to include salary requirements with your resume, that is typically a company’s first screen, and it can be used against you. I’ve seen people agonize over what to reveal, because they are afraid of pricing themselves out of a good job. My advice is to simply put “Open” in that spot. If your qualifications are on target, they’ll call you. If in the interview you’re asked what you made at your last job, reply by asking about the range for the one you are applying. You’d be surprised how managers or human resource representatives will tell you.
  • Don’t Give Away Too Much: In many job applications, an employer will ask for your salary history. It is perfectly acceptable to write “Willing to discuss at appropriate time during interview process” and leave those numbers blank. Writing down those numbers pigeonholes you, and reduces your negotiation power.
  • Don’t Negotiate Salary: That’s right. Don’t negotiate salary in the interviews. Instead, negotiate when you’ll give them your salary requirements. When they ask you for that figure, tell them you don’t know what you’d require until you have a clear picture of the job requirements and potential for advancement over the next five years. After you have that information, and you’re asked again for that number, respond by asking to go through what I call your “impacts” – areas of your job that directly impact the company’s bottom line. This discussion will allow you to demonstrate what you bring to the table. At the end of that discussion, simply tell them that you are very interested in the position, and that you’d seriously consider any offer they’d like to make.
  • Keep Networking: Once you have a job offer, it’s not a done deal until you accept it. Until that happens, keep networking and looking for jobs. It may give you valuable market-worth data about the position you’ve been offered. It may also be a safety net in case something goes awry between the time you receive an offer and the time you accept it.
  • Accepting the Offer: Once an offer is given, you have the right to ask for a clarification on it. Asking “Is there any flexibility in this offer?” may help to open a discussion of increasing the offer. If it does, don’t expect a large boost in base pay, but rather, an extra week of paid vacation, a signing bonus or other such perks.

“Keep in mind that salary negotiation is more art than science, so these tips may not always apply,” Humbert added. “Many hourly workers don’t have as much flexibility on pay, and some companies have policies that would require you to adjust the script a little to fit those situations. The key thing to remember is that you don’t have to give them a salary range that would jeopardize your earning potential, and that you don’t have to accept their first offer most of the time.

Remember that they are interviewing you because they need to fill that position. It’s important to the company to have someone in that job, and while they are considering you, they aren’t doing you a favor. They need what you have to offer, so you should get the best offer out of them that is possible.”

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Work: Sexual Harassment Still Common in the Workplace

"In some ways this suggests that sexual harassment is such a widespread problem that women have figured out ways to deal with it so it doesn't interfere with their psychological well-being."

We came of age in the '80s, when we suited up with shoulder pads and looked to movies such as 9 to 5 and Working Girl as our plucky career-gal paradigms. Innuendo in the workplace became a tale of a bygone age, thanks to our mothers and grandmothers who fought ugly battles for the corner office, to wear pants to work and to be free from slaps on the ass and tit-for-tat promotions, so to speak. It was no longer acceptable for men to sexually harass women at work. There were rules about this sort of thing.

On paper.

Jump forward to now and I think most of us can count on one or two or more hands about times we've been at work and had to make a split second decision about an off remark, a lingering lascivious look, perhaps even an "accidental" touching of the blouse. Do we say something and make a scene and get HR involved? Or do we suck it up and let it pass?

According to a new study, probably the latter.

"When women view sexual harassment as bothersome, it doesn't seem to be associated with distress," said Isis Settles, associate professor of psychology in a Science Daily article. "In some ways this suggests that sexual harassment is such a widespread problem that women have figured out ways to deal with it so it doesn't interfere with their psychological well-being."

I don't know what the answer is. Logically, I know we need to call people to the carpet, to kill the remark and its intent immediately and I know there are probably effective and graceful ways to do that. But in reality, the last time an executive made a sexually suggestive joke at my expense, I went along and laughed with everyone else, and died a little inside.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Money: Odds of Winning the Lottery Are Worse Than Finding New Manolos at a Yard Sale

“If you really want to strike it rich, don’t play the lottery. Do something boring with your money.”
J.D. Roth, founder of He's no fool.
By the time we're 40licious, we've learned a lot about how the world works, how relationships are, and, hopefully, about money. But some of us are still prone to rescue fantasies, as Barbara Stanny so eloquently describes in "Prince Charming Isn't Coming." I know a lot of women who think that finding the right guy -- or any guy -- will make everything OK in their lives spiritually, physically and financially. My personal standby rescue fantasy is that somehow the right power players will hear about my blog and book ideas and unwritten scripts and offer me a fat deal so I can quit my day job, move to a home by the sea, and spend dreamy days watching the ocean as I write with my chihuahua curled up on my lap.

Today our April Fool's reality check comes from founder and editor J.D. Roth, who has published a post called “The Lottery: An ’Investment’ for Fools” with a bonus lottery simulator. (In my scenario, I played $1,040 worth of tickets over a two-year period and won only $89. That's a 91% loss.)

Roth explains why playing the lottery with an expectation of a positive payoff is foolish – and that nearly any common investment would do far better. The accompanying lottery simulator gives people a chance to try their luck at hitting a lottery jackpot to learn firsthand how the odds are stacked against them without the investment risk. He says that even at a time when interest rates are at historic lows, traditional investments are a far better bet than the lottery when it comes to building wealth or getting out of debt. Roth explains why individuals who spend time and money trying to win the lottery are better off spending that time looking for a way to slowly grow their bottom line in a high interest savings account.

The average loss is around 90 percent for regular lottery players. If a consumer invested a $100,000 lump sum in one of five common investments for a period of 30 years, a realistic inflation-adjusted return would be:
  • Gold, real estate or savings account: $135,000 
  • Bonds: $200,000
  • Stocks: $750,000
Though Roth notes that playing the lottery for entertainment can be just fine, he makes the case that counting on the Mega Millions as a moneymaking strategy is a fool’s errand.  “If you really want to strike it rich, don’t play the lottery. Do something boring with your money,” writes Roth. “Take advantage of the extraordinary power of compound interest to get rich slowly. If you don’t have a Roth IRA, start one. Use it to buy indexed mutual funds. If that sounds too complicated for you, then open a savings account.”

“An online savings account that yields a mere 1 percent is a better bet than a sure losing streak with the lottery,” he says.