Could You Fall For A Man 25 Years Younger?

If you’ve been following international news, you undoubtedly know that the president-elect of France is 39 and his wife is 64.

Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron met when he was 15, and she was his literature and drama teacher at a private school. Emmanuel’s parents, a physician and a professor of neurology, were not happy as their son’s relationship intensified, and so they sent him to another school for his senior year, hoping the ‘friendship’ would dissipate. It obviously did not. Brigitte and Emmanuel married in 2007.

“He often refers to his wife as his intellectual soul mate and confidante,” related an article in The Telegraph, a UK newspaper. “Mr. Macron says he will govern more effectively if he is happy — and that means having Brigitte at his side.” Apparently, Brigitte “mentored, coached and advised him during the campaign,” the article explained.


“I’ll Have What She’s Having!”

When Evelyn Taylor stooped down to pick up the newspaper in front of her Manhattan apartment one morning last year, she suddenly fell to the ground and couldn’t get up. Luckily, a friend who was visiting called for an ambulance.  The next day, Evelyn had extensive surgery on a broken bone near her femur, followed by an arduous stint at a rehabilitation facility.  

This normally wouldn’t be an especially intriguing lead for a story, but when you consider that Evelyn celebrated her 95th birthday this past weekend, her fall and surgery–at 94–take on new meaning.

“Most people your age wouldn’t survive a situation like this, let alone walk again,” Evelyn remembers her doctor saying. Evelyn didn’t only survive; she fully returned to her engaged life, looking as beautiful as ever, and acting every bit as charming.

I was thrilled to be invited to Evelyn’s 95th birthday party because Douglas, my good friend (and ex husband), leads weekly current event discussion sessions that Evelyn rarely fails to attend. (more…)

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My Daughter-In-Law Said “You’ll Go To Heaven For This”

When someone is struggling to accomplish something that’s important to him or her, but doesn’t have all the resources to get there, I’ve sometimes stepped in to help. Here are two examples:

EXAMPLE #1: Rouddy owns a taxi in Turks & Caicos, an island in the Caribbean where I’ve vacationed a number of times. David and I became friendly with him on one trip many years ago, when he transported us from place to place.  On the way to the airport at the end of the vacation, Rouddy’s  van was intensely hot because the air conditioner was on the fritz. He explained that he was negotiating  to get a new van but didn’t have the entire down payment. When I asked him how much he needed, he said $1,500.  I wrote him a check, explaining it was a gift, not a loan!

On our next few visits to T&C, Rouddy chauffeured us, gratis, in his cool new van (literally and figuratively).  We also met his wife and little son.  I haven’t been to the island in years, but Rouddy makes sure to stay in touch, wishing us happy holidays, and asking how David and I are doing.

EXAMPLE #2: When Laura was released from prison after 16 years, around 2004,  I interviewed her for a magazine article about her transition into society,  and took an immediate liking to her.  We developed a friendship, and I subsequently bought Laura a new wardrobe, helped her get a rent-subsidized apartment, and guided her as she searched for a job.  After you’ve spent almost two decades in prison, it’s a struggle to be accepted by, and live in, the “outside world.”

Laura and I also have been in touch over the years. I was invited to the ceremony when she married her long-time boyfriend about two years ago, and I’ve recently helped her launch her own cleaning service.  She continues to work hard to make something of herself, although it hasn’t been a cake walk.

I am not rich, but I’ve worked hard all my adult life and earned a decent living, and I’ve  never laid awake at night wishing I had a mansion,  a swimming pool, gigantic diamonds or handbags named after Grace Kelly.  Although I do wish I could have bought Rouddy  the van outright, I’m lucky I’ve been able to help people like him and Laura, even modestly.

But doing kind things for others doesn’t always require cold hard cash. (more…)

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Recovering And Rediscovering After Loss

When Janis Clark Johnston was 52, her husband “dropped dead of a sudden heart attack” while he was mowing their front yard. He was 54. Their son had recently graduated college and their daughter had left for her freshman year of college.

“It was shattering,” remembers Janis, now 70, who earned a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Boston University, and has spent her entire career as a therapist for children, adolescents, and adults, in schools, mental health centers, businesses, and in her own practice. Her first book, It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development, was published in 2013.

Janis’s new book, Midlife Maze, A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery After Loss, explores the “geography of loss in midlife, the way it can affect us, and what we can do to get back on track or redirect ourselves.” (more…)

Thoroughly Modern Marge

The moment Marge walked into the birthday celebration for my former husband, Douglas, she got my attention.

Petite and slender, she wore red slacks that perfectly matched her bright lipstick, which looked smart with her lacy-sleeved white shirt, triple-strand pearl choker, pearl earrings, and nicely coiffed short, silvery gray hair. It’s easy to tell that Marge is meticulous about the way she looks.


The Magnificent Dinner Party Where No One Showed Up

I went to a magnificent dinner party at the Brooklyn Museum, but none of the invited guests attended, and not a single morsel of food or drop of drink was served.

That’s because this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill dinner party; it was Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, completed in 1979 and regarded as “the most significant icon of 1970s American feminist art,” according to the description. It took five years for the artist, author, feminist, and educator, along with hundreds of collaborators, to create the large-scale work, which celebrates the achievements of 1,038 real and mythical female figures to Western civilization over the millennia. Most of these women had been neglected by history until they were recognized by feminist scholars. (more…)

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Georgia On My Mind

I’ve never been a devotee of Georgia O’Keeffe’s art. I like the colors in her classic flower paintings, and her realistic representation of Southwest animal bones, but I’d rather see fresh flowers on my dining table, and the only animal bones that fascinate me are those of dinosaurs. But, after spending a couple of hours at the recently mounted Georgia O’Keeffe Living Modern exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum, and learning how the artist carefully constructed her identity outside of her studio, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for her aesthetic, if not in all of her art, certainly for how she dressed and lived.

Born on a Wisconsin farm in 1887, O’Keeffe rejected the staid Victorian world into which she was born, and “absorbed the progressive principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which promoted the idea that everything a person made or chose to live with–art, clothing, home decor–should reflect a unified and visually pleasing aesthetic,” the essay continues. “Even the smallest acts of daily life, she like to say, should be done beautifully.”

Her clothing, like her art, showed her preference for simple lines, fluid silhouettes and hardly any ornamentation. She was obsessed with easy wrap dresses, for example, and had them in a virtual rainbow of colors, beautifully displayed in the exhibition. An accomplished seamstress, O’Keeffe made her clothes early in her life, with fine details and quality workmanship. Her homes also were spare, from her austere New York City apartment to her two houses in New Mexico.  

When she was an art teacher in Texas, O’Keeffe ignored the textbooks that instructed artists to copy nature, and asked them to let the beauty of pattern and design become an influence.   

Magnificent photographic portraits of O’Keeffe abound in the exhibition, and reveal how meticulously she dressed and posed for her photographers, including her husband, renowned photographer Alfred Stieglitz.  She leveraged  photography to help shape and promote her public persona as a woman with “quintessential American toughness, plainness, and individualism, tempered by age into a state of grace,”  and it has played a pivotal role in establishing her as an “icon of feminism and fashion.”

The popular O’Keeffe exhibition is housed at The Brooklyn Museum until July 23.  If you can’t make it there, following are some of my favorite pieces of O’Keeffe clothing, photography and art. I even included one of her paintings of animal bones and another of flowers (above).

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Well, Are You IN Or Are You OUT?

I know a married couple  (she’s 68 and he’s 70) who go out practically every evening of the week. Non-stop dinners with friends and family; parties; events of all kinds, from art openings to Broadway opening nights. They’ve been going out at a frenetic pace for decades, with no signs of letting up.  I’m not talking about going on “date nights” once or even a few times a week, where just the two of them enjoy romantic dinners or take in a movie. This couple surrounds themselves with groups of people almost everywhere they go, mostly all the time.

I don’t see this couple any more, but if I were to ask them why they go out so much, they’d most likely tell me they love doing it. I don’t doubt that they enjoy the company, but why is it constant? Don’t they like being in the company of each other, with no one else around? Do they need others to make them feel “alive?”    


How She Survived Auschwitz

I am inspired by vibrant and impassioned octogenarian women. It’s wonderful to see them lead meaningful lives, and they give me hope that I can stay active, even in my eighth decade (if I’m blessed to be alert and alive).

Some people let challenges stop them cold in their thirties; others wouldn’t dream of being thwarted by the challenges associated with aging. Grandma Moses developed arthritis in her seventies, making it hard for her to continue embroidering, which was her passion. Her sister, Celestia, thought that painting would be easier for her, so Grandma Moses began painting in her late seventies.

Renee Feller, now 85, was ordained as a rabbi when she was almost 70, but this woman’s life has been anything but conventional for as long as she can remember, and not always by choice.


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A Cool Course To Help Inspire The Course Of Your Life

Once many of us enter our mid-40s and 50s, we’re finally–and hopefully–starting to feel more secure about ourselves and our abilities than we did when we were in our 20s and 30s.