Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spirit: Naomi Wolf Busts the "Aging Myth"

"I know — finally — what I like to wear and am comfortable not bothering with what I don’t. I love not being in physical competition with other women. I love being able to appreciate the beauty of other women and feeling appreciated myself — and appreciating myself."-- Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf is the embodiment of 40licious, and sums it up in her Washington Post story. Photo: Washington Post

I can't recall being any great beauty, any time in my life. Except maybe a window at about 3 years old when my mother dressed me up and got some charming headshots taken of me in a dress and a hat with elephants painted on it. I was a little blonde with an updo.

Then a tomboy and after that an awkward teen with the absolutely wrong curly hair for the coveted Farrah Fawcett feathering. I spent my college years tromping around in a tiny skirt and Betsey Johnson lycra tank top with red roses all over it, bartending and waitressing. I don't think I'd call that beautiful. But in my 20s Naomi Wolf brought us "The Beauty Myth," a tome on the skewed perception and creation of American beauty. She validated my simultaneous rejection and craving for ideal beauty, and informed the rest of my life. I scoffed at women who were too "done" as I lived out part of my 30s in a cabin in the woods, in a uniform of jeans and Timberlands and a huge green wooly sweater stolen from an Irish boyfriend, and then would go to the salon and spend half my meager earnings on getting my hair done.

Now at 40licious, I'm not feeling the pull to start with the Botox shots. Yes, I'm slightly aghast when I see a picture that shows crinkle lines around my eyes, or the indomintable poof around my waist. (I think I've trained myself to not see these things in the mirror, holding my face a certain way, or positioning my body just so.)

And here's Naomi Wolf again, this time in the Washington Post, summing up the 40licious credo: We've learned and earned our way to the sweet spot in our life, and we're still hot. In her piece, she talks about how we were all so worried about becoming invisible, marginalized, pushed aside by newer younger blonder versions of ourselves. But it didn't happen. It didn't happen because we take care of ourselves. Because we went out and did interesting things and blazed our own paths. Which made us more attractive than any series of Botox injections could. And instead of being in competition with the 20somethings, we'll help move them along to become amazing 40licious women like us.

Naomi, I hereby induct you into the 40licious Hall o' Fame for how well you put into words what we're thinking. Thank you for all you've done, all you do, and all you will do.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Relationships: Women Marrying Later and Divorcing Less

It was worth waiting for the best guy in the world.

I've always felt more outsider than insider: professionally I freelanced for about 20 years before I ever took the corporate job. My clothes are from thrift stores and funky boutiques; I'm not really a Macy's girl. My family is about as far from normal as you can get. And when it comes to marriage, I waited until 42 to sign my name on a paper and pledge to be the best girlfriend ever -- forever. 

I was the only one I knew who took this long to get that ring on (I was dead last in my class to get married, which caused endless hilarity at our 20-year reunion), it appears this could be a trend. According to a post in Strollerderby, more women and marrying later and divorcing less.  

Maybe it's because we skipped the starter marriage, or maybe it's because we're better tuned in to what we want in a partner and how to compromise in a relationship. In any event, it's nice to know we're keeping it together, 40licious style.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Work: Hilary Clinton and Getting What You Want

It's old but a good reminder that sometimes it's OK to get what you want and not be super nice about it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Work: How to Design Your Own Career

Today's advice comes from Susanne Goldstein, an Ivy League-educated engineer-filmmaker-consultant-web designer-business strategist-career coach who has spent the past 25 years successfully inventing and reinventing herself. She has helped clients of every color and stripe be whatever they’ve wanted to be. Her book, "Carry a Paintbrush," is about creating your own idea work situation.

"Carry a Paintbrush" author Susanne Goldstein
It seems like it's becoming the wild West in terms of employment these days. What do you advise for women in their 40s who need to work but don't seem to be getting anywhere by answering ads?
I’m not surprised to hear that women aren’t getting anywhere by answering ads, and unfortunately they’re not the only one suffering from this. Hiring managers today are inundated with online applications and getting noticed amongst hundreds of resumes is a real challenge. As well, more and more employers are using search-based tools to separate weed out applicants that are pre-determined to not qualify for the position. The criteria for this electronic weeding are known only to the employer and makes getting selected from the criteria-based instead of personal.

Additionally, a typical job search is framed around finding lists of job openings, identifying matches and applying. In this model, job seekers are always trying to squeeze their skills, wants, hopes and vision of their career into the mold of the job description.

Because of these two limiting factors, you need to turn this model of job searching on its head. I encourage you to ignore job listings and instead use sites like, and others, as a resource to read organization profiles and identify places where you’d be a good fit, the kinds of products and service you want to work on, and the types of people you want to work with.
From there you can find “in” people who can help you nurture the development of your career network and build lasting relationships with the people who are already doing the kind of work you want to be doing.

I call this process "Reverse Engineering the Job Market," and it is extremely effective because a large percentage of hiring today happens when someone is directly introduced into the organization.

2. How does a person who has had a corporate job in a conservative place make a new job for herself?
Making a career change can be a daunting prospect for many. But with a strong conviction and a bit of creative framing, creating a new job for yourself can be a fun and exhilarating process.

Metaphorically speaking, I like to think that I always carry with me a Bucket of Paint and a Paintbrush. When I see something interesting that I want to learn about, experience, or engage with, I take out my Paintbrush, Paint a Door, open it, and walk through. By using a Paintbrush, you will begin to believe that creating anything you want is possible.

But before you can paint a new door, you need to Know Who You Are, and What You Want to Be. Through brainstorming and self-reflection, you can discover The Sweet Spot where your Passions, Interests and Skills intersect, and then begin pursing career opportunities at that Sweet Spot. By following this process, you will end up pursuing opportunities where your passion and energy will be infectious. People will want to get on board with your vision, and from there anything is possible.

3. What advice can you offer someone who wants to go into a completely new field? Can she even hope to make as much money as she was?
The short answer is, “yes!” The medium answer is “yes, and it might take some time.” This is the longer answer:

People often want to change fields because there is some sort of dissatisfaction in their current situation. Understanding the root of this discord is essential before moving on to something new. If you are in a field where you make a ton of money, but the hours are impossible and you feel like you’re not able to live the life you really crave, then you need to evaluate which is more important to you, time or money. If you are in a high-paying job where you aren’t passionate about the product being offered, you have to evaluate which is more important to you: money or doing something you believe in.

As you evaluate why you want to move onto something new, consider creating a “decision-making framework” that can help you better understand what is important to you, and help you determine what trade-offs you’re willing to make.

Once you’ve done that evaluation, you’re ready to make a move. The good news is that in today’s employment market, especially at the mid-high levels of management, companies are more and more open to lateral moves across industries and across corporate departments. Employers are looking for candidates that have well-rounded experience and can help the company to move to the next level. You may very well be that candidate.

Wherever you decide to jump next, make sure that you are moving into a position where you will be inspired to do your job every day. Without that internal passion and motivation, you might find yourself back where you started.

4. What are the other most important things a woman in her 40s should be thinking about when it comes to her career?
Each one of us has different needs as we enter our mid-career years. For some it is balancing motherhood and career. For others it might be a need to contribute. Each one of us is different, and there is no formula for what will make us feel whole. The trick is to know what makes YOU feel whole. Two important things to consider when thinking about your career are: 1) what kind of contributor do you want to be, and 2) what size of stage do you want to play on.

As your working life has developed, it is often the case that you find yourself pigeon-holed into a style of working that just doesn’t fit. Women in their mid-career years have enough life and work experience to know what makes them most happy, productive and successful, and it is time to apply that thinking to what kind of work you want to be doing for the second half of your career. Consider whether you are happiest and most productive when you work on your own as an individual contributor, with others as a team player, organizing others as a manager, guiding others as a leader or building something new as an entrepreneur or solo practitioner. These are a few of the many styles in which you can contribute to any organization or project and figuring out which one fits you best will help guide you as you consider your options moving forward.

It’s also important to consider the size of state that you want to play on—in other words, what size of influence or impact do you want to have? Some people are at their best when they are helping individual or small groups, where others can’t rest until their impact is felt on a national or global scale. Take a moment to think about the kind of impact you want to be having and look for positions that will allow you to do that kind of work.

As a woman in your 40s, know that you have an awful lot to give to any company or organization that you join. The experience and confidence you gained as you left your 30s behind are invaluable assets in your sure-footed 40s.

Friday, May 13, 2011


This post is not about all the things 40licious is. It is not inspiring or informative. It is just that I wanted to write about how hard it is to be in the waiting phase of an adoption.

I keep wondering if we had better pictures that make us look more, I don't know, suburban or Malibu, if that would make a difference. Without looking for them I keep seeing stories about how a mom drives her van with the kids into it in the river, or how the boyfriend kept the kids in a tiny cage until CPS freed everybody. And I can't believe the unfairness of it all.

They mean well, the people who say, "Enjoy this time and take an amazing trip! Because your life will change once you have kids!" You know what? I have been to France, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Yugolavia when it was called that, Israel, Ireland, England, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, and probably some other places that I forgot. I think I'm OK to have a kid. And maybe take her with us to the next place for a vacation.

The ones who say, "How's the adoption going?" also mean well because they are really interested. Like my Mom. Who keeps sending me sweet little things for this baby we don't know yet. But if I had something interesting or good to say I would say it. I don't think she wants to know that I crumbled into a wet gooshy pile the other day when another "maybe but not quite" situation came up, a baby girl abandoned in a hospital where my friend works in another state. Too many systems to navigate. Too much paper to cross.

And the worst part is the people who hate adoption. The ones who had terrible childhoods with abusive adoptive parents, who have made it their mission to share their angst with people like us. We just want a family, and their truth is not our truth. I've been called "baby grabber" and "too white" and some really nasty other stuff by people who came across our adoption website. Which is why I'm about to unload the bulk of my savings on a different agency that specializes in marketing people to birthmothers considering adoption.

It is like planting a seed and watching, not knowing when it will come up, what it will be, or if it will even ever appear. And it is hard to believe after a while that anything will ever sprout. But you just wait. And there are infinite temperatures and flavors of waiting. And tonight is one of them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Relationships: More Women in Their 40s Don't Have Children

The New York Times relayed a telling Census figure: 19 percent of women in their 40s are without children, up from 10 percent in 1976.

According to the Times, an eduction and career come first for many women. What the story doesn't talk about is how many of us kept putting off having a family without realizing that the urge to bear children might twilight, or maybe biology would become a powerful master.

If you didn't have children, why not?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spirit: Alexander McQueen and why we need to move on our life's work

I am in New York this week. This is the city that made me think and feel and act as I do. It made me love certain things and loathe others. When I am anywhere else, including my Los Angeles home, the world is in smudgy pastels. In New York, it is wild crisp color.

I have the great delight of showing my husband this city, so we are taking tours and seeing iconic places. We went to the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met and I stood there, tears brimming with the creative beauty and talent of a man gone from our lifetime. And I was never more clear on the message that if we are to create something of beauty, our great work, the piece that will allow us to die happy and fulfilled, we need to get on it now. No excuses. We are 40licious and it is time to take everything we have learned and use it.

What will you start or finish today? If you are on it, how is it going?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Profile: Sue Chipperton's Trained the Taco Bell Dog and Other Famous Four Legged Friends

"I have two sea lion bites, I have been thrown across a barn with enormous velocity by a ram (who knew?), and hit in the face by dolphins."

Sue Chipperton is a Hollywood star maker, but not in the way you'd expect. The 40licious animal trainer has made a career by helping her four-legged (and sometimes two-finned) friends steal the small and silver screens, most notably Gidget, the Taco Bell chihuahua. Chipperton's new book, A Famous Dog's Life: The Story of Gidget, America's Most Beloved Chihuahua, with co-author Rennie Dyball, is fresh from the press. I had a few questions about what appears to be the most fun job ever.

1. If you love animals, it seems like being a trainer is a dream job. How did you get into that line of work?
I started as a marine mammal trainer. I had moved to Florida from England when I was 19. I managed to get a job as an assistant trainer at a small park in Fort Lauderdale called Ocean World. This is where I learned the basics of training.

However, after doing this wonderful job for quite a few years I felt it was time to move on. I moved to California with the hopes of getting a job training studio animals. After a few false starts I started working as an intern at Studio Animal Services in Los Angeles in 1994. It was here I learned the ropes of being on set, training animals for television, breaking down scripts and storyboards with animal action and developing my own style of training all kinds of animals to do all kinds of crazy things!!

2. Why are pets important?
Well, I strongly believe that pets are important as long as you have the means and the financial capability to take care of them, in sickness and in health!! I don't think its everyone's right to have a dog or a cat, or a rabbit or a goldfish. The same way as I think some people should not have children. People may disagree with me on that. But if you get a dog and then abandon it to your back yard or worse - there is really no reason for you to have a dog. A dog should be a part of the family. It should have everything that you or I would expect, love, food, shelter and medical care when needed. Responsible spaying or neutering your pet is another factor. Having a litter of puppies just so your children can experience the wonder of the "joy of birth" is ridiculous and irresponsible. Rent a National Geographic DVD for that. So, pets ARE an important part of our lives when you have the means to take care of a pet. In return you will get unconditional love and companionship beyond your wildest dreams. You will have a snuggler to cuddle up with to watch a movie on a cold and rainy night. An athlete to keep up with you on your hikes in the canyons and woods. A buddy to take on the road with you for work or travels. A protector when you are feeling insecure or unsafe. A swimmer for all those boat trips and beach days - the list is endless. Matching your pet to your personality is vital for a happy union!!

3. Was there ever a time you wanted to quit, or thought you'd want to do something else?
Yes. Being a studio animal trainer is a diverse and hugely rewarding job. However it is a job. And you still have days when you are standing on set with a director yelling at you and you have no idea why you are there, and why you could not be happy working in a bank!!

Also, as I get older I am looking to branch out and do other things. My job is very physical and sadly when I look at trainers older than I, the majority of them have broken bodies. I do not want to do this until I retire. My body has already taken a beating over the years. I have a torn labrum in my shoulder (basically shredded cartilage). Spondylosis, while not a result of my work, it sure does hinder me in some ways. And numerous scars, from cats to dogs, I have two sea lion bites, I have been thrown across a barn with enormous velocity by a ram (who knew?), hit in the face by dolphins. Falling, missteps while jogging backwards on set to get out of the shot while working...The list goes on.

4. What business advice would you give someone in her 40s who wants to work with animals?

Ha ha. See above!! There are plenty of studio animal trainers working that are over 40. However, when you look at how and when they started, I would say universally they all started young. Our job requires a long internship. You have a lot to learn in this job. You do not start making a decent living until years down the road and even then you do not have a guarantee of a paycheck each week. In fact in today's economy there are a lot of starving studio animal trainers out there. Trainers who would normally be making a very good living. People who come and intern for us are usually fresh out of school, maybe they still live with their parents, or as many younger people do - they live in a home with 3 or 4 room mates. Not something someone over forty is usually willing to do. However, there are plenty of jobs out there working with animals that are rewarding and not structured like a studio animal trainer. I always said that when I retire (or become independently wealthy and no longer have to work!) I would train one or two dogs (my pets) for search and rescue - which is all volunteer work.

5. Anything else you'd like to tell us about your life or your work?

I have a blog that I started just over a year ago. It is a mishmash of things from my life as animal trainer, to my search for the perfect cup cake (so far, Bristol Farms "Black Forest" cupcake) with a few rants and raves thrown in for good measure.

My life has been a very rewarding one. I have never lasted in a job that I did not enjoy. Before I was an animal trainer I was a children's nanny for three kids and traveled the world, I worked as crew on a luxury motor yacht for over a year, I was a make up/beauty consultant for Ultima II before I moved to the States and years later went to school to learn special effects for film makeup. There was a three to four year stint as a production coordinator/talent scout for Chippendales (Yes! THAT Chippendales) where I basically looked for men to hire and was assistant to the owner. I've worked in vet offices and retail and have never looked back, always forward. Today I have many thoughts for the future. Photography is a huge passion. I have some inventions that I would like to see take off, and who knows, maybe another book!