The Dinner Party That Turned Into A Rescue Party

                                         Geri & Ana

I invited my new pal Ana to dinner last night. She’s come from her home in Athens, Greece, to visit her son and his family, who are my lovely next door neighbors. I met her only last week, but we hit it off instantaneously.  When I answered the door, Ana looked frantic. Out walking, she heard meowing and tracked the sound to a trash bag, where she discovered a kitten that couldn’t be more than a couple of weeks old. She took the kitty to her son’s house, cleaned it up and fed it milk through a syringe. But, Ana wondered why there was only one kitten in the trash bag. Was there something wrong with it that prompted a cruel person to throw it out? Returning to the trash bag down the street, she heard more meowing but came to my house first. Out we ran to rescue the second kitten.

The garbage bag was filled with leaves, branches and dead sunflowers. Ana rooted around with her hand and found the second kitty, but we heard more meowing coming from the bag. Emptying the contents on the sidewalk, we met the third sibling! Back at my house, Ana cleaned up our guests, while I found a box for them and lined it with a towel. Ana dashed to her son’s house to retrieve the syringe so she could feed them.  

Ana is returning to Greece on Monday. And tempted as I was to keep one of the kittens, I knew I couldn’t properly take care of it since it would need to be cared for like an infant. That would mean frequently feeding it special milk (our homogenized milk wouldn’t provide the proper nutrition), burping it after each meal (yes, burping it), helping it go to the bathroom, and regulating its body temperature!  BTW, I’m not a kitten expert. Ana and Google filled me in. In the interest of transparency, I could surely tend to the kitten if I had to. I didn’t want to. 


While Ana and I had dinner we decided the best thing to do was to take the kittens to the 24-hour animal hospital that took care of my dog and my son’s cat when they were sick. Ana’s daughter-in-law, who was caring for the third kitten, wanted us to take it to the hospital, too. She and Ana’s son have a 19-year-old cat and a two-year-old, so it wouldn’t have been practical for her to keep the kitchen either. 

At first, the nighttime employee at the animal hospital didn’t want to take our rescued kittens, but she changed her mind when she opened the box and saw them. She filed a police report since it’s illegal to dump a living animal into a trash bin. I’m not quite sure what that was going to accomplish since it would be pretty difficult to find out who did the dirty deed.  

We left the three babies with one of the vets. We knew they were in good hands.

It’s My Body And I’ll Show It Off If I Want To

              From Ireland Baldwin’s Instagram

I don’t know if this is just a New York thing, but I’m seeing more and more young women–say 16 to 26–“letting it all hang out,” literally and figuratively. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines the phrase as “behaving freely without being shy or feeling worried about what other people will think of you,” and that’s precisely what these women seem to be doing. Obese girls are wearing clothes so tight or short their bodies look like dough that’s risen out of a bowl. Slender girls are parading around with their breasts spilling out of their low-cut shirts, their buttocks popping out of their skimpy shorts. Hair looks unkempt, not like Meg Ryan’s back in the day, but like it hasn’t seen shampoo or a comb in months. 

And don’t get me started on the pregnancy look one website called “Bump Proud” back in 2012. It just won’t go away. Growing bellies bulging out of slinky dresses and pants. Women in bikinis in their third trimesters. We dressed our pregnant stomachs 30 years ago with “maternity clothes” that weren’t winning fashion awards, but I think the big belly brigade looks gruesome, especially the women who had big bellies before they became pregnant. Pregnancy may be a beautiful thing on one level, but silhouettes meant for size 8 ladies with flat stomachs should stay on size 8  ladies with flat stomachs.

“If you’re proud of your body even if you’re pregnant, show it off,” commented one woman. I say: Get a mirror first and take a few courses in style.  Subtlety and modesty are actually the classiest ways to “show it off.” 

Now to the women who have nothing to hide but often do. Women with mastectomy scars who won’t put on bathing suits or dresses with low necklines. Women with significant birthmarks on exposed parts of their bodies who go to all lengths to hide them, even if it means wearing long sleeves every day of the year.  Older women with jiggly underarms who won’t wear sleeveless tops (that’s me!) Women with crooked teeth who avoid smiling.

Gillette introduces us to a few of these women in a 30-second TV commercial for its Venus women’s razor.  “There’s no me without my skin,” says Marika, whose congenital birthmarks are scattered all over her body and face. “In a world obsessed with skin perfection, Venus wants every woman to feel comfortable in her skin just as it is—scars, marks, flaws and all,” the company said. I applaud Gillette,  just as I cheered Dove when it first used real women in its 2004 Real Beauty promotion. Fifteen years later, Dove still uses only real women in its campaign to emphasize its commitment to redefining beauty and educating young women throughout the world on body confidence and self-esteem.

Gillette and Dove may be two big beauty brands, but it’s going to take many more brands to affect real change.  L’Oreal’s website and ad campaigns look like they have for decades. Real women don’t exist in L’Oreal’s world. The company even airbrushed Julia Roberts’ photos in 20011 ads, but was forced to pull them because they didn’t represent the results women could achieve with their products. If Julia Roberts isn’t beautiful enough for L’Oreal, I don’t imagine it’s going to cast “real women” any time soon.

What’s the safest place to sit on a plane?

I don’t like to sit in back of a plane because it seems like a much bumpier ride.  You actually do get a smoother ride when you sit in the middle of the plane, over the wing, because it’s close to the plane’s center of lift and gravity.

But next time I’m on a plane I may brave the bumps and sit in the back, where it’s somewhat safer, according to a 2015 Time magazine study of aircraft accidents during the 35 years before that.

Reviewing the Federal Aviation Administration’s Cabin Safety Research Technical Group Aircraft Accident Database (that’s a mouthful), Time found seating charts for 17 accidents with both fatalities and survivors. The accidents occurred between 1985 and 2000.

The analysis showed seats in the back third of the aircraft had a 32 percent fatality rate, compared with 39 percent in the middle third and 38 percent in the front third of the plane. Middle seats in the rear of the aircraft had the best outcomes with a 28 percent fatality rate.  The worst seats for safety were on the aisle in the middle third of the cabin, which had a 44 percent fatality rate.

Moral:  Don’t complain next time you get the middle seat in the last row of a full plane, between a crying kid and a crochety old guy, and three feet from the restroom. There’s a good chance you’ll live to see another day.

Reduce Chronic Pain Without Drugs

I’m in pain on the left side of my face from the jaw right up to my temple. The temporary cap covering what’s left of a back tooth fell off, and I didn’t have the time this week to return to the dentist for another one. He told me the discomfort is normal without the temporary cap, but no harm will be done  if I hold out until I get the permanent cap in a few more days. Advil has helped tremendously, but I don’t like taking more than two capsules a day so I’m putting up with the pain.

As I look forward to being pain free, I think how horrible it must be to live with chronic pain, with little or no hope that it will ever go away. I recall the hours of excruciating back pain I endured during labor with my first child in 1979. I wanted to be thrown out the window. It was THAT bad. It felt like someone was crushing my lower spine every time I had a contraction. Rather than focusing on the fact that the labor would end, my mind was convinced it never would. I wanted a solution for it. Ending my life came to mind. 

The Lamaze controlled breathing techniques I learned during my pregnancy were supposed to help me cope with the labor. That seemed like a cruel promise. Or maybe it wasn’t. Medical advances now show that techniques like meditation and breathing can help us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings and body sensations so that we can manage them, instead of letting them overwhelm us like mine overwhelmed me! 

This approach is the foundation of a treatment for chronic pain and illness called “mindfulness meditation,” that has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent, or as much as over 90 percent if you become an expert in the practice, reported Dr. Danny Penman in a 2015 article on about the effect of mindful meditation on reducing pain and suffering. 

“Imaging studies show that mindfulness soothes the brain patterns underlying pain and, over time, these changes take root and alter the structure of the brain itself, so that patients no longer feel pain with the same intensity. Many say that they barely notice it at all,” Dr. Penman wrote. Many hospital pain clinics now prescribe mindfulness meditation to help patients cope with the suffering arising from a wide range of diseases such as cancer (and the side effects of chemotherapy), heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, back problems, and migraines.

Meditation involves focusing on different parts of your body and  observing with the mind’s eye what you find . You’re “watching” your mind and body in action, observing your pain instead of struggling with it. “When you do this, something remarkable happens: your suffering begins to melt away of its own accord,” Dr. Penman explained. 

The Body Scan Mindfulness Exercise 

In HEALTHbeat, a newsletter from Harvard Medical School, stress reduction expert Jon Kabat-Zinn recommended practicing this “body scan mindfulness exercise” for 45 minutes every day as the best form of mindfulness meditation for pain conditions. “Whether you find the body scan to be very relaxing and interesting or difficult and uncomfortable or exasperating is irrelevant to whether it will serve you well. The goal of the body scan is not to relieve the pain completely, but to get to know it and learn from it so you can manage it,” he said.  

  • Lie on your back or in a comfortable, outstretched position.
  • Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and feel your belly expanding gently as you inhale and receding as you exhale.
  • Focus on your left foot and feel any and all sensations, including pain. Try to recede a little more into the floor every time you exhale.
  • When your mind wanders, observe where it has gone and gently return your focus to the foot without judging yourself.
  • If you notice pain, acknowledge it and any thoughts or emotions that accompany it, and gently breathe through it. See if by carefully observing the discomfort, you can help your body to relax. Don’t expect the pain to abate; just watch it with a mindful but non-judging mind.
  • Let go of the focus on your left foot gradually and completely—even if pain there hasn’t gone away or has intensified—and repeat the process on your  left ankle.. Slowly and patiently, proceed this way throughout the body.

I tried the exercise for my tooth pain.  I actually fell asleep on the floor as I was going through it. I have no idea if the time I spent on the exercise worked, but I did wake up without pain!

Bring Back Your Glow With A Powerful Skincare System

When my diamond stud earrings and wood living room floor look dull I know precisely how to give them back their happy shine. But when my complexion seemed to go from blooming to blah overnight, I was at a loss what to do! Dark circles under my eyes, age spots, a smattering of facial veins and uneven texture gave me an overall lackluster look that, frankly, I found distressing. Even blush couldn’t help me recapture the glow I saw in my old photos.

“My passion for making women feel beautiful and confident started at an early age.” – Dr. Adrienne Denese

We can get dull or blotchy looking skin at any age. But, as our skin matures and loses collagen and elastin, cell turnover can take as long as 90 days, when it used to take just two weeks! Instead of looking rosy and radiant from fresh cells in the top layer of our skin, our complexion becomes gray and dull from dead skin cells that haven’t left town! What’s more, the natural exfoliation of our skin slows down even more if we spend too much time in the sun, don’t drink enough water, eat poorly and smoke.

I’ve read about rejuvenating hydrafacials, chemical peels and microdermabrasion. But these treatments can be costly and would need to be repeated frequently to keep my skin looking good. I was thinking of splurging on one of them anyway, but held off when I was invited to try the new Essential Radiance Collection from the Dr. Denese SkinScience brand.  A trailblazer in anti-aging medicine, Dr. Adrienne Denese launched her skincare line in 2002; its continuing success is testimony to how well it works. Millions of women don’t buy the same beauty brand year in and year out unless they see results!

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If there was a Who’s Who of Anti-Aging Ingredients in skincare products, those in the Essential Radiance Collection would surely make the cut. All scientifically proven to produce effective results, they include powerful and penetrating glycolic acid to treat fine lines and dullness; retinol, the industry’s gold standard ingredient, to speed skin renewal and create smoother, more evenly toned skin, and peptides for visible firmness and radiance.  

“With Dr. Denese, I trust her products. She just knows what she’s doing.” – Carol Alt

But even the best apparently isn’t enough for Dr. Denese, who also holds a PhD in science. Thanks to innovative technology and her keen mind, Dr. Denese consistently infuses her products with exceptional substances discovered in nature. The seeds of Amaranth flowering plants, for example, provide the precious oil that helps give her Essential Radiance products their power to help revitalize our skin.

Valued by the ancient Aztecs as a restorative medicine and nutritious food, Amaranth is a flower that never fades or wilts and has come to symbolize immortality.  Its oil can help renew the look of our skin and return the radiance it had when we were younger. Amaranth is rich in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and squalene, a super-effective moisturizer and natural antioxidant.  It also helps the skin protect itself from damage, dirt and impurities.

The Essential Radiance trio provides a simple, yet effective daily regimen:


I have religiously cleansed my face for decades with dozens of creams, gels and lotions, and this velvety cleanser ranks among the best. A triple threat morning and evening, it gently and easily removes all dirt and makeup without over drying my skin… moisturizes with luxurious Amaranth seed oil….and softly removes the dull, dry surface layers of skin to give me a softer, smoother and more radiant complexion. Glycolic acid helps encourage cell turnover.

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Powered by 9 percent glycolic acid plus fruit acids, this advanced treatment encourages surface cellular turnover, nourishes the skin with botanical extracts, and richly moisturizes it with amazing Amaranth seed oil. The first week I applied only a thin layer once a day, then I started using it before bedtime, too. After two weeks, my skin looked brighter and pink was starting to make its way back into my complexion.  



As I massage this light but ultra-rich hydrating formula over my face, the front and back of my neck, and my decolletage, I can see and feel my skin instantly drinking it up. The cream glides on nicely without leaving an oily or greasy residue. It’s amazing how a small amount can provide so much hydration. I like its mild, fresh scent. Its powerhouse of ingredients includes retinol, peptides, the antioxidant resveratrol, and, of course, the revitalizing oil extracted from the seeds of the never-fading, never-wilting Amaranth plant. Wait till you see what it does for your skin!

100% experienced* visibly improved texture
100% experienced* brighter, more luminous skin
100% experienced* more hydrated skin

*Individual results may vary.

Dr. Denese is so confident that you’ll love Essential Radiance, she invites you to use the products for 60 days, and, if you’re not satisfied, you’ll get a full refund, less s&h! Her offer assures me even more that this is a trio of quality beauty products. Plus, the line is incredibly reasonable in the first place!  

What’s more, Dr. Denese will send you her Essential Radiance Pure-20 Lipid Infusion and Pro-Peptide Restoring Eye Cream as free thank you gifts.

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Down 16 Pounds, 14 More To Go

Three months ago, I was heavier than ever. After Norfolk Terrier Rigby died last August, I’ve walked less. I cancelled my once-a-week exercise with a professional trainer because it was a waste of money to work out so infrequently (how’s that for logic?) I joined the Y in my neighborhood, but hate getting on the treadmill.

So, what did I do? I worked 10 hours most days, ate little during the daylight hours, then would devour ice cream, chocolate covered graham crackers, pretzels, nuts, almond croissants, cheese and goodness knows what else at night while I stressed out over everything that’s happening in the world.

When I went to Dr. Smith to talk about the results of my blood work (everything was surprisingly good), I sheepishly asked him if he’d write me a prescription for phentermine to help me lose weight. He didn’t hesitate. And out I walked, excited to make a beeline to Duane Reade to pick up my miracle pills.

Now I’m 16 pounds lighter and half way way towards my goal weight. I’d surely have lost at least a few pounds more if I had exercised, but I vowed that I would  start walking rigorously once I reached this point. I have no idea why I wanted to wait , by the way. My mind works in funny ways sometimes.

I walked at a steady pace for 90 minutes this morning with a new friend in the neighborhood and came back drenched. It was about 80 degrees out. I was pleased that I didn’t have a heart attack. 

OK, what’s phentermine?

As simply put as possible, phentermine is  a form of amphetamine (stimulant) that does something in the brain to suppress the appetite. And it works. It really works. Phentermine doesn’t kill your appetite, so you still eat, including some no-no foods, but I’ll literally eat maybe a tablespoon of ice cream once or twice a week. I haven’t had a single graham, pretzel or almond croissant in a month. Or a pat of butter, and oh do I love any kind of warm bread and butter!

“Phentermine increases your metabolic rate and takes away your perseverating thoughts (constant thoughts) about food, which makes it much easier to adhere to a diet. You still must pick a dietary strategy that will work well with your personality and your lifestyle and stick to it. And you still have to exercise. Phentermine will help you succeed, but you can’t eat like you did in the first place,” said Dr. Kathleen Hallinan, an internist in Corning, NY, who has a keen interest in weight loss.

The warnings on the sheet that comes with the phentermine are no different than those that come with every drug and are written to try and protect the pharma companies from being buried by mountains of lawsuits. I did feel a bit jittery the first couple of days and my mouth gets dry for a few hours a day, but otherwise I feel the same as I did pre-phentermine.

Despite the benefits, some doctors are wary!

“You may have a hard time finding a physician who is willing or interested in treating with phentermine because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) puts it in the same category as amphetamines, which makes some doctors wary,” Dr Hallinan explained. “But the benefits outweigh the real risks of diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease to people who are trying to manage their weight,” she added. Dr. Hallinan recommends finding a doctor who is well versed in the medical treatment of obesity and related disorders, such as a bariatric physician.  “Phentermine is very safe, very effective and more subtle than ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but patients should have their blood pressure and heart rate consistently monitored after they start taking the drug,” she emphasized.

Dr. Kathleen Hallinan talks about phentermine, one of the weight loss medications she recommends

If the name phentermine sounds familiar, you may be thinking of a drug that combined phentermine with fenfluramine, another drug that was subsequently found to affect heart valves and was taken off the market.

Don’t buy phentermine off the internet, Dr. Hallinan advised. “Get it the proper way from a doctor who will give you the right dose, make sure to monitor you for potential side effects, and for your success.”

I’ve taken phentermine two or three other times in my life to kickstart weight loss, and it worked those times, too. I lost at least 20 pounds each time. I well know that I shouldn’t have let my weight yo-yo like it has over the last 15 years, and I’m going to try not to let that happen again. But I’ve been struggling with weight issues for as long as I can remember and food always seems to win the match!

Why You Should Stop Showering Everyday

I showered every day for decades, but I stopped that routine when I started working from home about 11 years ago. Then I’d shower if I had appointments out of the “office,” perhaps three or four times a week. Now that so much business is done by email, I may shower only twice during the week. I haven’t noticed anyone keeping their distance from me! 

About 65 percent of Americans shower daily, reported Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, faculty editor at Harvard Health Publishing, but do we do it out of habit, because we think it’s healthier, or because we want to smell fresh as a daisy?  When I showered every day, it was because I HAD to wash my hair or it would look yucky. It was easier to do that in the shower than in the sink.   

Would it surprise you to know there are no compelling health reasons to shower every day? In fact, washing and scrubbing normal skin,  especially with hot water, removes its beneficial layer of oil and balance of “good” bacteria and other microorganisms. This layer actually acts as a protective barrier against bacteria and allergens that can lead to skin infections and allergic reactions. Without it, your skin may become cracked and dry, which could give the bacteria easy access. 

My skin is no longer dry now that I take fewer showers, especially on my feet and elbows (also thanks to Crepe Erase, which I use religiously when I do shower!) 

“Our immune systems need a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures to create protective antibodies and immune memory,” Dr. Shmerling said. That’s why some pediatricians and dermatologists advise against daily baths for kids, except of course when they’ve been rolling on the ground and at the beach on hot summer days. Frequent baths or showers throughout a lifetime may hinder the ability of the immune system to do its job.  What’s more, if you use antibacterial soaps know they can actually destroy normal bacteria. This could open the door for less friendly organisms to hang around, which are more resistant to antibiotics.  

Unless you become dirty and sweaty every day, or have other compelling reasons to shower frequently, showering a few times a week should be just fine.  If you can’t bear staying away, however, consider taking five-minute showers and concentrate on washing your armpits and groin.

He’ll Never Stick His Neck Out Again

Yes, we know, “accidents happen,” but when we intentionally put ourselves in harm’s way and something bad happens to us, is that still an accident? I say it’s not.  Read this really short story and then answer three simple multiple choice questions.

His wife and daughter didn’t want him to participate in the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, but Jaime Alvarez, a 46-year-old public defender in San Francisco, ignored their  wishes. He wasn’t terribly interested in obeying the rules of the event, either, which included taking photos without authorization. When Jaime stopped to film a video of himself during the final stages of the run, a bull charged at him and plunged its horn into the right side of his neck. After hours of surgery, he was doing well.

Does This Duchess Have “Princess Syndrome”?

Like it or not, you’ve got to “take the good with the bad,’ as the old adage goes. So, when a whole lot of good is happening in your life, don’t get your “nose out of joint” if you’re confronted with something you don’t like. Read my letter to Duchess Meghan and then answer three simple multiple choice questions.

Dear Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex,

By most anyone’s standards, you have a pretty cool life. You’re smart, beautiful, successful, look great in clothes,  recently gave birth to a healthy baby, live on a gigantic estate, and married into a high profile family, etc. All that makes you intriguing.  People want to see you. Take your photo. Blow you kisses. You’re in the UK, dear. That’s how people react to the royal family. Problem is, you don’t get to decide when you’ll have their adoration. If you don’t like regular people fawning over you, stop going to public places where regular people go.  Like tennis matches. Stay home and watch them on your big TV set. Or go to a friend’s house. 

If you do venture out in public, let the regular people take your photo, just like you let the media take your photo for their magazines, newspapers, and TV shows.  Don’t instruct your security guards that you have a “no photo policy,” like you reportedly did at Wimbledon this week, when you were watching your pal Serena Williams play a tennis match. Even if you didn’t come up with the policy (I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt), you should have told your security guy to back off when you saw him telling “fans” to stop taking photos. Besides, that only attracts more attention to you.  He said you were attending “in a private capacity.” Come on, now. When a very public person goes into the public–at a global event, no less–that’s not private. No one was harassing you. They just wanted a picture of your beautiful face. 

Who do you think you are, anyway?  Royalty? 




Win A John Wayne Summer Grill Kit and Barbecue In Style

This post is in partnership with the INSP Network. 

After spending hours at the grill on a hot summer weekend, he needs to grab a burger and beer, settle into his favorite chair in your comfy cool great room, and treat himself to some Western action with “The Duke.”  John Wayne’s in town every weekend all through July, when INSP brings his fan-favorite films to you in The Duke Days of Summer.

Big Jake, the 1971 classic, kicks off the action this Friday, July 5 at 9 pm ET.  Other spectacular Wayne films in this special lineup include 3 Godfathers, Angel and the Badman, Rio Lobo, Rooster Cogburn, The Shootist, and Cahill, United States Marshall. See the complete lineup here. 

INSP is available across the country to over 78M households VIA Dish Network (channel 259), DirecTV (channel 364), Verizon FiOS (channel 286), AT&T U-verse (channel 564), and over 2,800 cable systems. Find INSP on your TV. 

And enter to win a Duke Days of Summer Grill Kit, including the John Wayne Way To Grill Cookbook, featuring great stories and manly meals shared by Duke’s family; 2-Piece Grilling Topper Set for veggies, shrimp and other delicate grill items, and a 3-Piece BBQ Tool Set, with sturdy stainless steel spatula, tongs and fork. The kit is valued at $86.