Meet The Unknown FDR


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FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2020


Join history and entertainment raconteur Doug Brin when he shares an inside look at Franklin D. Roosevelt and his unique outlook on life. Doug will explore FDR’s life before and after he contracted polio and how he turned his challenge into an opportunity.

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Thou Don’t Protest Too Much

                             1968 DNC protests

Fifty-two years ago, young people protesting the war in Vietnam at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago were assaulted by the police at the orders of Mayor Richard Daly. Daly’s only provocation was the mere existence of the protesters. 

“As the Democrats gathered in Chicago that summer, their party and the nation were in turmoil. President Lyndon B. Johnson had announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection, and an obvious alternative hadn’t yet emerged to lead his party. The country was reeling from the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in April and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy on the June night he won the California presidential primary. Major cities were rocked by riots, college campuses were gripped by peace protests, and the Vietnam War was raging toward its peak,” according to a 2016 article in The Washington Post recounting the horrific events. 

Prior to the start of the convention, thousands of antiwar protesters flocked to Chicago, where city police, Army soldiers, National Guardsmen and Secret Service  were armed and waiting. As the protesters marched toward the convention site, they were struck with clubs and hit with tear gas. Even innocent bystanders — including reporters covering the scene and doctors trying to help — were brutally beaten. 

As a recent college graduate, employed as an assistant editor, and about to be married (yicks, at 21 years old!), I was horrified to see the news each night during the convention.  I distinctly remember crying while I watched the police brutality attacking my peers from the TV in my parents’ bedroom.  I remember shouting at them through the  TV. 

Los Angeles, Memorial Day, May 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Now I am witnessing events in the United States that remind me of those that unfolded in Chicago over half a century ago. Granted, the police aren’t beating today’s protesters until they bleed, but they are sending them on the run with tear gas and rubber bullets. Without a single provocation, except their existence. 

I am not talking about the ‘protesters’ who are looting stores and setting fires. They are indefensible, no matter how much they may despise the way George Floyd and other black men died at the hands (and feet) of the police. Fighting violence with violence may be how soldiers operate on the battlefield; it has no place off it. These people should be arrested, however, every last one of them. 

I mean the protesters who are gathering peaceably in cities across the country, just like the young people did in Chicago in 1968. They may be angry and shouting, but they aren’t hurting a single person or piece of property. And, their right to protest is clearly and concisely stated in the first Amendment of the United States Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The police today aren’t acting arbitrarily in regards to the protesters; they are taking their orders from others. And, the majority of police in our country are dedicated to protecting us. As in every single profession, there are bad cops – sometimes really bad cops. But, the fact that any of this happening in our country today speaks to problems that go far deeper, from centuries-old prejudice and inequality to a broken criminal justice system. 

So much needs to be fixed in the US, and for most of us, it wouldn’t be easy to know where to begin. But we have the resources, talent, passion and brains to figure that out. Now is the time to start. 

I am in the final innings of my life and  I want to feel hopeful about the world in which my children and 7-year-old grandson (plus other potential grandchildren) will live.

Survey: 10 Quick Questions on Facing Your Fifties and Beyond

If you’re at least 45 years old, this survey is for you. It’s anonymous!

Taking ‘Bragging Rights’ to a New High!

“Who knows himself a braggart, let him fear this, for it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass.”  – William Shakespeare


We all enjoy sharing our successes with those we love, and sometimes with those we may not even like (come on, be honest, you do!) But, I’m always astounded when people blatantly – and prolongedly – brag about themselves and their families. What’s their goal? Surely, their close friends know what’s up in their lives. And why do they have a need to impress their acquaintances? Are they actually insecure about themselves, so sharing their accomplishments makes them feel more confident? 

A man I know has been a braggadocio from the day we met, many moons ago. He recently went so far as to compose a lengthy email that included the following information:

He is now living in a “14-room apartment, but with one less maid’s room” than in the apartment where he used to live. (ed note: Why do two people need a 14-room apartment, especially with one less maid’s room?)

One son lives in this man’s old apartment, and also owns the penthouse above it, so it’s “a beautiful xxx* Avenue Duplex Penthouse with wonderful, huge terraces” (ed note: notice that Duplex Penthouse was capitalized in case the reader didn’t grasp the significance of the property.) 

This son also has a “very impressive, full professor, gorgeous, blonde spouse and two very smart (as though they stepped out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement) sons.”(ed note: notice the wife is smart AND blonde).

And if all that doesn’t impress you, the son is head of what is “considered the most prestigious (and probably profitable), largest, independent xxxxx broker in the xxx xxxx metropolitan area.”  

His younger son is also “a continuing success” in the “extraordinarily difficult entertainment field,” lest the reader think that kid takes a back seat to son #1. 

Both sons “work very, very hard, participate in good charitable endeavors, and are nice, good, gentle people.” Son #2 “hosts many fundraisers and donates his time and talent to very worthy causes.” (ed note:  he then repeats that son #2 is a “very nice person,” in case the reader couldn’t remember what they read 50 words before.)

The man ends his family’s resume by telling the reader he “feels fulfilled and challenged.”   


*PS, I’ve omitted  facts that would reveal the identity of this man and his sons. Not that you’d want to know him after reading this!

I Can’t Listen to Another Word!

Do you know a woman (or four) who talks incessantly about herself? You could be on a call with her, put down the phone and walk away for five minutes, and she wouldn’t know you were gone!

One woman I’ve known for years could go on for hours about her boyfriend (he’s still married); her boyfriend’s problematic grown child; her frail relationship with one of her own grown children; her former boss; her friends. Blah! Blah! Blah! I haven’t met most of them, and while I wish them all well, my interest in their lives is someone near zero! 

When it comes to my grown children, this woman doesn’t ask a single question. If I manage to inject a sentence or two about them into the conversation, she’ll respond for maybe 15 seconds and then promptly flip the conversation back to herself.

She doesn’t ask about how FabOverFifty is doing. She doesn’t ask about my seven-year old grandson. She doesn’t ask a thing.

Contrast this with calls I have with another friend. Our chats flow back and forth between us and cover our kids, siblings,  partners, work, politics,  trips, and more. They’re stimulating, never enervating. 

We all need to unwind at times, but the first woman seems to be in a perpetual  state of  self-directed high intensity. I was empathetic to her situation when she finally left her long-time, emotionally abusive husband and was on her own after decades of being a wife and mother.  I’d listen – and listen – and offer my advice. 

But, after years of listening, her stories started to become tiresome. She’s been telling me all this time that her boyfriend is FINALLY selling his house and getting a divorce.  And he keeps shoving his adult child’s problems under the proverbial carpet, while she doesn’t stop trying to help. I finally told her during our last call that perhaps she should stop putting in her two cents.  Her boyfriend clearly isn’t listening to her counsel. 

I was equally tiresome in my forties, constantly bemoaning my unhealthy relationship with a man who took over so much real estate in my brain, it’s a wonder any other thoughts could move in. Maybe this woman needs more time to learn what I eventually learned: Relationships built on delusions are destined to collapse. (Think about Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.) 

In the meantime, I have stopped listening to her.

Is Your World Really on Fire?

                 My father Sam

As a dentist, my dad became a captain in the US Army during World War II, stationed at a major supply depot in a small town in England. Thankfully, he didn’t see combat.  He treated soldiers’ teeth, also essential! 

The base had been the estate of a wealthy family, which turned it over to the government for military use during the war. That was common because many upper class families couldn’t keep up their property at the time.  The sprawling grounds had  courts  where my dad learned to play tennis.  He played until he became ill in mid-1987.  

I don’t know much more than that about my dad’s experiences during the war, which makes me sad.  I’m a major league question asker, but I guess I was too wrapped up in myself as a young woman to learn more about what it was like during that period in history.  

Not only  didn’t I learn much from my father;  I learned nothing in school because history back in the day was taught as a compilation of a trillion dates, places and people – which we had to memorize so we could pass midterms, finals and Regents exams (state-wide New York standardized tests.)  Most lessons were as dry as the Mojave Desert.  My preoccupation with doing well on tests far exceeded my appetite for understanding the context of historical events.

Now I’m far more interested in the history of WWII, especially  Germany’s plan to conquer all of Europe. The War, a seven-part series directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, was one of my favorite documentaries. It tells the story through the personal narratives of a handful of ordinary men and women from four quintessentially  American towns.  

                     Scene from World on Fire

Last night I discovered a PBS British drama series – World On Fire –  that gripped me from the opening scene. Taking place from the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland to the 1940  fall of Paris – it follows the intertwining fates of ordinary people in Britain, Poland, France, Germany and the US  as their everyday lives are thrown upside down.

While I don’t want to  minimize the horrible reverberations of the 2020 pandemic on our lives, it’s worth reflecting on the experiences of Europeans at the start of the war.  Jews weren’t the only ones tortured or gunned down in cold blood on the streets in Warsaw when the Nazis attacked. Young Catholic women were beaten and raped.  Talking back to an enemy soldier was enough to provoke your death. Homes were razed to the ground. Shops were looted.  

Some of us feel we’re being “stripped of our rights”  because we’re asked to wear protective masks,  can’t go to baseball games or to have a latte at Starbucks. Think of how we’d feel if we were herded like sheep – at gunpoint – into a stadium because of our religious or political affiliation, stripped of everything we owned, then transported to a detention camp.  

The only war on which we should all be concentrating now is one with a virus.  We may not all see eye to eye on how to interact with this “enemy,” but make no mistake.  Anything that kills 90K people without provocation is indeed an enemy.  Giving it further provocation isn’t wise. 

I strongly recommend World on Fire. Anything that puts life into perspective is worthwhile.

An Extremely Short Story: A Social Butterfly Returns to the Cocoon

I couldn’t help but think recently about the people I know whose lives revolve around social activities – out of their homes. Every day they share a new Facebook post – or five – from cocktail parties, gallery openings, gala dinners with friends, shows, concerts, charity and awards dinners.

And their trips! They crisscross the globe at a dizzying pace, as if staying home would make them disappear. Forgotten forever. 

They must have intense withdrawal symptoms during quarantine.

I emailed one friend like this – a man in his late ‘70s –  who had been on a non-stop social whirl since I met him about five decades ago. 

“I hope you’re doing ok at home. I know how much you enjoy going out,” I wrote.

“BC (not her real name) and I are still  in love (notice the word “still”), so I don’t mind the quarantine at all,” he responded. 

BC, BTW, is also in her 70s. A long-time friend before becoming his partner four years ago – she was the woman this man’s dying wife hoped would fill the void in his life.

And, she has. What a lucky couple.


Finding The Support Of Seven Women

        Rinat Kass

One of my best experiences during quarantine involved meeting on Zoom last week with seven fabulous women from the faboverfifty community – and an exceptional therapist – to discuss how to  manage our emotions during this bleak time. We came from across the country, including Carol in Massachusetts, Barbara in Washington, DC, Hope in Arizona and Sheila in Dallas. One of us is grieving over the recent loss of her sister. Another is alone, with health issues.  A third woman misses the constant stimulation she had at work interacting with others. We’re all worried what the future will bring. Calming and reassuring therapist Rinat Kass lives in Northern California.  She’s a member of Advekit, an online network of highly credentialed therapists across the country. 

Rinat seamlessly guided the free-flowing conversation so we never talked over one another. And, she interjected her expert advice throughout the hour-long session. This was created to be an online support group for women who wished to share their challenges and experiences during the pandemic with other women in similar situations.  We felt comfortable with one another. We liked one another and we wanted to share our emails. Feedback was gratifyingly positive. 


“Thanks for organizing today’s conversation with Rinat and the other women. Although brief, it was very meaningful and cathartic for me. Rinat did a great job facilitating the discussion,” Carol wrote. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the session this afternoon and appreciated the opportunity to engage with such thoughtful-minded women. It was especially supportive to hear of others who also find these times later in life to be challenging,” Barbara said.  


Rinat thoughtfully followed up by sending each of us two documents filled with important advice that any woman would appreciate. I’ve made some minor edits and share her important tips here. 



We have fewer emotional responses during a stressful time and tend to me more sensitive, have less patience and are less flexible. It’s important to recognize all this, remind yourself that everyone is under tremendous stress, and to be kind to yourself and those around you.


Each of us reacts differently to stressful events and has a different way of managing our feelings. If you feel you aren’t getting the emotional support you need, share it with your loved ones in an emotional and vulnerable way rather than with anger and resentment.


This isn’t about getting away from each other, but rather taking time every day to invest in yourself. Have some quiet time, go for a walk, listen to music or any other activity that puts you in a positive mental space.


Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity! Healthy diet, exercise, quieting your mind, and a good night’s sleep are crucial for mental health. When you give to yourself you have more to give others.


Invest in your relationship as well as in yourself. Dress up nicely every now and then and have a date night. A candlelight dinner, a game night, look through photo albums and being nostalgic can all help nourish your relationship.


This will end at some point. It may not always be easy, but try to look at all the gifts you’re getting from this uninterrupted time with your loved ones. 



Routines and rituals are vital in times of uncertainty because they create reassurance. Maybe start a journal where you can express your emotions. Or take an evening walk for some fresh air to clear your mind.


The support of others is a major component of maintaining solid mental health, especially during  a crisis. 


Create healthy boundaries and limitations around information and news intake. Consider the least stressful time of day to listen to the news and decide how long to spend.


Laughing and comedy are vitally important during times of despair. Find it and give it! 


Many online apps and YouTube videos offer a variety of meditation techniques. Try them out to find one that suits you. 


You don’t need a gym to stay active. Follow exercise videos, participate in live online classes, walk outside (wearing a mask).  Experiment with new exercises and new recipes every day. 


COVID-19 has fostered countless inspiring acts. Notice what happens when you hear and see members of a symphony orchestra, for example, performing “together” over Zoom. 

And faith, an instrumental part of many of our lives, cannot be overemphasized for helping us move through crisis. 

Lastly, creating a list of the things for which you’re grateful inherently changes the moment. 


Thinking outside of oneself is a great pick-me-up tool. 


Other than the rewarding task of cleaning your bedroom closet, think of something you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t have the time, whether it’s writing or painting, baking or gardening.


Slowing down and reflecting can teach us something about this shocking experience. This may be a luxury for people struggling with more immediate concerns, but it’s a potential opportunity of immense value. Try to find meaning in our changing lives that are being challenged in new ways.

Natalie Wood: Splendor In the Past

Besides dancing, pseudo kissing during Spin the Bottle games was the only physical contact I had experienced with boys when I was a 14-year old high school sophomore (I graduated at 17). But watching pretty Natalie Wood and handsome Warren Beatty heavily “petting” (aka “making out”)  in the 1961 movie Splendor In The Grass gave me goosebumps. That was strong stuff back in the day.

Lots of teenage girls yearned to BE like Wilma Dean Loomis, the role 23-year-old Natalie played in that movie. Maybe we wanted to be adored as much as Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty’s part) adored Wilma Dean.  Or perhaps the young woman’s sexual repression stirred newfound feelings in us.  

At 14, I didn’t think about the quality of an actor’s performances. As the years moved forward, I recognized Natalie Wood’s talent in films including Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story, Gypsy,  Love With The Proper Stranger, The Searchers, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. 

        Natalie and Robert Wagner

When Natalie Wood died in a mysterious boating accident in 1981 – at 43 – she took on the role of a tragic figure. But when I recently watched Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind, a new HBO documentary about her, I also learned what a complex woman she was. More than a passionate actress who dug deeply into the roles she played, Natalie Wood was a devoted mother, wife (she was twice married to actor Robert Wagner), daughter, friend, and mentor (she gave Robert Redford his first breaks in the movies and the two became dear friends.)  She was even an impassioned hostess, throwing frequent dinner parties attended by celebrities including Laurence Olivier, Fred Astaire, Mia Farrow, George Hamilton, and Frank Sinatra. 

Natalie Wood grew up at a time when most women were hardly independent thinkers, but she defied convention – and succeeded on her own terms. Although she died prematurely,  she managed to live a scintillating life.

I strongly recommend the HBO documentary.

Turning The Quarantine Into A Quest For Learning

Hi FOFriends,  

I thought you’d be interested in attending two gratis online events, courtesy of Inspir, an innovative, luxury residence for the boomer generation and beyond that’s near completion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. 



Life Storytelling Webinar 



Jay Newton-Small

Join Inspir and Jay Newton-Small from MemoryWell, to learn how life storytelling can build empathy, lessen depression and improve the quality of life. It can effectively bring together multiple generations of families, as well as friends and neighbors. 

This webinar will examine simple ways you can begin the process of recording your story, including an introduction to the electronic platforms that can help. 

CONTACT to register. 






Join historical and entertainment raconteur Doug Brin as he uncovers the troubled life of the talented legend, Marilyn Monroe. He will share the shocking truth about her unique and tortured life, and discuss the extraordinary body of work she left behind.


or contact for more information.