8 Ways To Help Your Lonely Friend

1. Take an impromptu trip together


13 Sweet Treats We Miss


from →  ,

The only tops I ever want to wear!

I’m wearing Pauline’s open collar shirt, in a rich violet shade.

When Pauline Durban emailed to ask us to help promote the tops she designed, especially for FOFs, I looked at the selection on her site and thought their easy looks would appeal to lots of women. After turning FOF seven years ago, Pauline was frustrated trying to find tops that were suitable for her changing body, so she finally decided to make them herself. She calls her line Covered Perfectly.

Supporting women entrepreneurs whenever I can, I ordered a couple of tops (a woman can never have too many tops, anyway.) When Pauline noticed my orders, she sent a third top as a gift, since she wanted me to take advantage of her buy two/get one free promotion.

That was about three weeks ago and I’ve been living in my tops (I even slept in one of them since I was too lazy to take it off.) They glide over my body, rather than hugging it, and minimize my midriff bulge and tummy, which was Pauline’s design mission in the first place. The three-quarter length sleeves flatter my arms. Made of a fabric called Micromodal, the pieces are wonderfully soft and comfortable, but still look smart, not sloppy.

I’ve read some FOF comments on Facebook, since we started promoting the tops, which question why Pauline’s models don’t look like they have much to hide. I can promise you that I do have much to hide and the tops really do hide it. Unlike oversized tops with no shape, that actually make us look larger than we are, Covered Perfectly tops have a shape and look feminine. Pauline also is introducing plus sizes in a couple of weeks in response to many requests she’s received.

My tops go with just about everything, from jeans to leggings, and they can be dressed up or down. Their clean-lined styles make them perfect attire for sitting at the computer all day, but they look great for a dinner out. Pauline has chosen a fairly neutral palette, assuring that her tops fit into most everyone’s wardrobe, and she’s introducing some hot colors in her fall line, including an orange red, my personal favorite.

I’ve washed all three of my tops and they’ve maintained their shape and softness. Pauline’s prices are reasonable, even more so since she’s offering my FOFriends 20 percent off your first order OR the option to buy two tops and get one for free. Either way, you’ll pay substantially less than it costs to buy tops elsewhere (and those don’t even fit!)


For the 20 percent discount, enter code FOF at checkout.


P.S. BTW, if you need to return your top, for any reason, it’s free to ship it back to Pauline!

–Geri Brin

{FOF style} Enough with the same old gift ideas


Want $50 towards a Mother’s Day gift?

We know. We know. Less than a week before the big day and you haven’t bought mom a gift. Chances are, your kids haven’t bought you one, either. And a gift card or e-card don’t exactly say, “I care,” now do they?

We’ve discovered a genius solution: A free mobile app, called Jifiti, lets you choose from thousands of wonderful gifts—from all kinds of wonderful stores—and immediately “teleports” your selection to mom’s phone. When redeeming the gift in-store or online she can change the color, the size—or even the gift—if it doesn’t tickle her fancy.

You can download the free Jifiti app, scan your gift in the store or choose it online; you can chip in for a gift, and, you can tell everyone the gifts you want.

To celebrate Mother’s Day, Jifiti is giving $50 towards the purchase of one gift to three lucky winners. Enter now. Even if you’ve already bought your gift for mom, Jifiti will serve you well for all the other gifts you buy throughout the year, for every occasion.

Saves time, saves being sorry that you bought the wrong size or color, and saves you face.

How cool is that?



Girls, We Are Golden!

by Wendie Pecharsky
Home-sharing a la ‘The Golden Girls’ may soon be the new norm for baby boomer women.


Two years ago, FOF Marianne Kilkenny of Asheville, North Carolina stumbled upon a whole new model for affordable living…literally. “It was Christmas Day, I was living alone and I fell down the stairs,” she says. “It was a while before somebody found me.”

Luckily, Marianne, who is divorced and has no children, was not too seriously injured, but took her fall as a sign. In 2007, Marianne had founded the Women for Living in Community Network, an organization which provides information on alternative living models for FOFs. After her fall, she decided, “I needed to walk my talk.” She and two other divorced women she knew took the plunge and rented a four-bedroom house together.

US Census data shows that more and more, single FOFs (almost half a million of them, according to a 2010 analysis by AARP) are choosing to live with other women of the same age, similar to the situation that was played out on the ’80s sitcom The Golden Girls.

“It isn’t easy to throw people in their 60s, 70s and 80s together,” Marianne admits. “We’re all bringing with us our families of origin, with all their dysfunction.” But, Marianne says that home-sharing has given her a sense of connectedness that she wouldn’t have found living alone. “There’s someone to leave the porch light on for me when I come home late. It’s heartwarming.” Plus, Marianne says, without home-sharing, she could never have afforded to live where she does.

Marianne was fortunate to know her housemates before they all moved in together, but many FOFs have had to rely on their own resourcefulness to find others like themselves.

Bonnie Moore, 67, of Bowie, Maryland, is one of those women. “I had invested a lot of money in my house, and didn’t want to lose it,” says Bonnie, of her five-bedroom manse. But after her divorce, she needed help paying the mortgage. She scoured Craigslist to find four housemates, and after a few mismatches, she finally hit upon the right mix. Now, the five women operate like one big happy family. “Women need companions, and when I walk in the door in the evening, there’s someone there to ask me, ‘How was your day?’”

In fact, Bonnie is so pleased with how her living arrangement came together that she has decided to make a profession out of matching FOF home providers with home seekers. In March of this year, she created the website GoldenGirlsNetwork.org, which she hopes will one day evolve into a nationwide network of shared-housing opportunities.

Like the fictional “Golden Girls,” Linda Williams, 65, fled the icy Philadelphia winters to live with her friend, Marsha, in a Sarasota, Florida, over-55 community. But unlike her TV counterparts, Linda, who is divorced, only shares the condo from January to April, when her housemate comes to stay. The rest of the year, she has the place all to herself. But, Linda couldn’t have made the move without the financial support of her friend. “To stay for the season is expensive,” says Linda “My friend suggested we pool our money.” It all worked out for the best: “It’s nice to have the company when she’s down here,” Linda says. “We have fun together, and I am living in a beautiful place that I couldn’t have swung on my own.”

However, Linda stresses the fact that just because two people are friends doesn’t mean they can live together. “You really need to talk and find out each other’s preferences down to the last detail,” says Linda. “Before you move in, take a trip or spend some time working on a project together, and see how it goes. And most important, remain flexible,” she says. “If you can’t be conscious, caring and direct, there’s going to be a problem.”

Marianne agrees: “You can’t go into this kind of living arrangement blind,” she says. “You have to figure out why you are doing it and what you want to get out of it. Is it strictly for financial reasons or do you want to have a family connection? For me, it was about forming relationships and personal growth. If you don’t want that, I don’t recommend shared housing.”

Other issues to consider, according to Bonnie, include privacy and personal preferences, such as smoking or pet preferences. “It’s vital to have extensive discussions about these issues.” Linda and her housemate, who’s also divorced, even hammered out a protocol with regard to dating. “We don’t bring men back to the apartment,” she says with a laugh. “We go to a hotel,” she adds, “It’s just as simple as that.”

Though at times it can seem daunting to reinvent oneself, FOFs have proven they are up to the task. “This continues to be my time and I want to live it my way,” says Marianne. Amen to that.

{FOF Friends} These women say, when you’re FOF, you’ve got to have friends.

FOFs Leslie Saunders, Marquita Olive and Cynthia Anzaldua are longtime friends with a passion for helping children. This year they launched KitchenKids!, an “edu-tainment” resource for children ages 5-12, that promotes knowledge, self-esteem, healthy eating and relationship building. The women all credit their friendship for keeping them successful, strong and sane through the tumultuous FOF years. Here they describe how one great friendship can be an FOF’s greatest asset.

How did the three of you become friends?

Leslie: I guess I’m the central piece here. My career (management consulting) has afforded me the opportunity to move to several different communities. I met Cynthia in 1986, when I moved to Dallas. We became friends immediately. Two cities later, my career moved me to Memphis, where I met Marquita in 1996. We also became fast friends, and when I introduced the two of them, it was like the three amigas.

What draws the three of you together so tightly?

Cynthia: I think a love of young people has kept us young, and has been the driving force in our friendship. I’m a 31-year veteran art teacher. Leslie used to work for Girl Scouts of America. Marquita has a 12-year old daughter, Grace, who’s been growing up right in front of us as we work together. It’s a love for children, and helping children – that commitment.

You all enjoy mentoring young people.

Cynthia: Exactly.

Marquita: Leslie and Cynthia are the big sisters I never had. They have helped me to grow up, and to be a better mother. Leslie is my daughter’s godmother, and Cynthia is my daughter’s god-aunt, and we’re just one big happy family.

Leslie: I think one of the big pieces of glue that holds us all together is that we like to laugh. Whenever we are together, life becomes hilarious, even though we may be dealing with personal dramas. Over the years, we’ve had so many wonderful encounters together that when we get together, we spend half the time laughing about the crazy stuff that we’ve done in the past. Like Ethel and Lucy: ‘How did we get here again?  And aren’t we glad that we’re all here together?’

Can you each describe how your friendships has helped you in life, though the years?

Leslie: These friendships helped ground me as my professional life took me from community to community.   Sometimes it’s very difficult to get to know new people. As our friendships have matured, we’ve lost parents, and our lives have changed in many ways. But these are the same two sisters who hold my hand through it all.

Cynthia:  I lost my father not long ago, and he was my world, and they have been here for me through thick and thin, through my depression, through everything I had to go through and they’ve made me a stronger person. They’ve made me appreciate life and friends, and friendship more. I know there’s nothing that I can’t tell them. I know that they’re always there for me. We speak to each other one to three times a day. We might start the conversation crying, and then we end up laughing.

Marquita: I’m going to use a quote from A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson: ‘Every encounter is a holy encounter.’  And that’s how I feel about Leslie and Cynthia. When I met them both, we had a spiritual connection, that, as a wordsmith myself, I can’t find the words to describe!

What gets the friendship through trying times?

Leslie: We’re able to be very honest with each other. And we don’t expect perfection. We expect honesty and truth and we know that none of us intentionally does anything to hurt the others. Even if it takes months for someone to say, ‘You know, you hurt my feelings last year, when you said such and such,’ we are still quick to apologize and explain ‘that’s not what I meant, and I need you to understand, because you are more than my friend, you really are my sister.’

Marquita: The three of us love each other unconditionally. There’s no competition here. There are no egos here. There’s just genuine love.

Cynthia: We realize it’s sometimes necessary to say something to one another that might be hurtful. But we’d all rather it come from us than from the outside.

Do you think that level of trust is something you can build, or does it have to be there originally?

Leslie: It’s both. We liked each other, and we wanted to be friends, but friendship has to be tested, nurtured, and well managed.  Those are the things that you work on. Although the three of us have many things in common, we are three distinct individuals, with unique talents, interests and experiences, and we don’t try to outdo each other or compete. That keeps our friendship fresh. There are times when two of us will experience something, and we’ll say, ’Oh Lord, we better call so-and-so and get her take on this!  We know she’s gonna have something hilarious to say about this.’

Marquita: I follow Dr. Wayne Dyer on Twitter. And the other day, he said, ‘Your friends are God’s way of apologizing for your family.’  That’s how I look at these two ladies. They are my family. They are not relatives.

How to Find Childhood Friends on the Internet

You swapped clothes, stayed up all night sharing secrets, and she’s the only one who knew about your hunky high school crush… But now, your childhood best friend is nowhere to be found. Life sped forward, and she got left behind on Memory Lane. FOF Private Investigator Norma Tillman and FOF Online Investigation Specialist Darlene Adams share surefire secrets to tracking her down:

Your search should begin where the information about your friend ended. “If you are looking for a friend you graduated with in Hunstville, Alabama, begin your search in Huntsville, Alabama,” says Norma. “Most libraries have Suburban or City Directories–annual publications listing everyone who lives in a given town.” If you compare year to year, you can figure out when someone moved away. If you can’t get to that specific library…”often, a reference librarian can give you this information by phone or e-mail,” says Norma.

Search Facebook…but not how you think! “Social networks have made it easier to find people,” says Darlene, but that doesn’t mean you can plug in any name and find a match. If your searches have come up empty, Norma recommends trying this: “Let’s say you knew the friend from camp but can’t find her on Facebook. Find other friends from camp and search their friends. Search a few friends removed.” Still no luck? “Send one a message to see if they have any idea about your friend’s whereabouts.”

It may sound morbid, but obituaries can bring new life to your search. “An obituary from someone in your friend’s family may provide you with clues to locate her,” says Darlene. “Ancestry.com has a good collection of obituaries, as well as birth, marriage and military records,” says Norma.

Search free websites and online directories. “There are a lot of websites that will give you some information, hoping you will pay for more,” says Darlene. “You should never pay for these sites, most information can be pieced together for free.” Darlene’s favorite free sites for people searching: Peoplefinder.com, MemoryLane.com (previously Classmates.com), WhitePages.com, Pipl.com, ZabaSearch.com

Contact school alumni associations. “If you went to school with this friend or know where she went to school, alumni associations can be very helpful,” says Norma. “See if you can get contact information for the alumni coordinator who may have more information about her.”

Federal and State Public Records – “There are all sorts of public records available at the city, state and federal levels,” says Norma.”But public records can be tough. Especially if you are looking for a record from a state where you are not a resident,” warns Darlene, who recommends brbpub.com, an online aggregator of public records. Norma recommends putting the pressure on federal agencies with FOIA (The Freedom of Information Act).

About the Experts

FOF Norma Tillman is a 72-year-old private investigator from Nashville, TN. She has found more than 1,000 missing persons in her career. She’s also the author of Private Investigation 101, How To Find Almost Anyone, Anywhere, The Man With the Turquoise Eyes and other True Stories of a Private Eye’s Search for Missing Persons, and The Adoption Searcher’s Handbook. She has been called on to locate missing people by Oprah, Nancy Grace, producers at The View, CNN, NBC and hundreds of other national and local television hosts, shows and stations.

FOF Darlene Adams is a 53-year-old specialist in online investigations and founder of E-infoseek, a research company dedicated to supporting private investigators and the legal community. She is a co-author of Romantic Deception: The Six Signs He’s Lying and a member of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA), Infra-Gard, and Female Legal & Investigative Professionals (FLIP).