Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spirit: A Look at 40 around the World

Aimee Cebulski
This is a guest post from writer and photographer Aimee Cebulski, who has recently released a new book called The Finding 40 Project. In it, she interviews and photographs more than 30 women in 10 different countries, all just turned or about to turn 40. 

An additional goal for The Finding 40 Project is to support women's charities in the regions visited during the project. A portion of proceeds from book sales will be used to fund microloans and women's programs administered through charitable partner PCI Global (

Rosa Elena has never been further than the village 10 miles away from her home in Ecuador where she lives with her seven children and one grandchild.

The book profiles a diverse set of professional women, stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs and even those living in tiny villages far from major cities. Several became mothers later in life; one even marries at 40 and is expecting her first child just after turning 41.

No matter what their situation, many are seeking ways to live their best life and be happy and content at 40. What can we learn from the women she interviewed in this two-year process?

  • Roll with the punches: For many of them, they never thought they would be mothers and oftentimes motherhood came by accident -- However, everyone universally said that it was a great addition to their lives and they felt blessed that their life took this path.
  • Be grateful for your health: Women interviewed in poorer countries or those struggling to make ends meet constantly stressed the value in being able to function physically and where possible have control over your own reproductive destiny.
  • Be true to yourself: Some women, who have chosen not to have children yet or are thinking about not having any at all, struggle with societal pressure, especially in heavily Catholic countries, and urge others to follow their own heart when it comes to what they really want.
  • Think about the big picture when it comes to money: Economic pressures are a key factor for many women who might already have one child or more, and at 40 are thinking about becoming pregnant again -- the effect of more children after 40 can have a higher impact on things like retirement planning or resource allocation in developing countries than it might for younger mothers. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Style: The Most Flattering Hairstyles for Women in Their 40s

Photo: Allure

Allure magazine is calling out the most flattering haircuts for women in their 40s. They're all pretty classic styles: What I'm not seeing is choppy bangs, pixie cuts or anything too poofy. This is a good reminder to keep it real: If you're trying too hard or not trying at all, you'll just look old and sad.

And who else is in love with Michelle Obama's bangs? I think they deserve their own office.

Photo: Allure

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spirit: Bookshelf Porn

This woman who turned an East Harlem brownstone into a lofty, light-filled home for her family?
I hate her precisely because I want to be her. 
I will admit to being a junkie for a few things. House of Cards and other serial TV shows. Greek yogurt with honey. And bookshelves. Not real bookshelves, mind you, but the ones in decorating magazines. I hungrily lap up each new issue of Elle Decor and then immediately start coming down on my own organizational abilities. I feel a constant tug between wanting to get rid of all my stuff, and doing some uber-organizing on the stuff I have.

It might be easier if it were just me. I live with a husband and our nearly-2-year-old daughter, they tend to get upset when their things disappear. I am not an extremely slobby person. I occasionally leave a wake of wrong clothes in the bedroom during the morning rush, or the occasional "floor salad," as I like to call it, when I'm cooking. It's a space-time paradox: After working 40+ hours a week at my job, being a mom, and writing a book, there are only a few slivers of time to do anything else, such as major organizing projects.

My current fantasy goes like this: I am on paid vacation and home for 10 days, while Grace and Steve are out of the house for the daylight hours. Some of that time is spent doing yoga with a private instructor who comes to my house, napping, and reading the books piled on my nightstand. But the rest of the time I am with a drill-sergeant professional organizer/decorator, who knows intuitively which things we do not need, whisks them into a box labeled "donate" and proceeds to rearrange the few items we have left, and stack the books by color to make my home look like it belongs in a design magazine. And then Elle Decor comes to my house and takes a bunch of pictures, in which we are casually splayed out on our couch drinking lavender-herb lemonade and Grace is playing with a handmade organic Elmo.

Is all this bookshelf porn doing me more harm than good? It makes more 49 percent inspired and 51 percent inadequate. How about we start seeing Jennifer Anniston's closet BEFORE the photo stylists had at it? Or Jackie Collins' pantry with the spilled honey on the shelves and the cans of beans so old the expiration dates have faded? It's almost as if I were bombarded by images of skinny sexy 20-somethings in every ad, movie and TV show I saw, and know I will never be those things.

 You can't be too rich or too thin. Or too organized. How do you do it? How does anyone?