I was surprised when my daughter Simone emailed me, my son and my ex (with whom I have a wonderful relationship) to report that she’d made a lunch reservation for all of us on Mother’s Day. Primo, her six- year-old son (aka my grandson), would of course be part of the festivities. Simone typically doesn’t care about officially celebrating her own birthday, no less Mother’s Day; hence, my surprise, and delight. I don’t often see both of my grown children at the same time, so it’s nice when I do!
Giving birth may make a woman a “mother,” but we all know that a world of adjectives can modify the noun: Selfless and selfish; controlling and liberating; protective and negligent, and on and on. No doubt, most every mother has been described in more than one way by her children, depending on the moment in time and the mommy meters in their brains. I surely have. But as long as the attributes on the plus side outweigh those on the downside, I guess a mother comes out on the winning side.
Of course, many women who don’t give birth also become “mothers,” such as stepmothers, foster mothers and adoptive mothers. A big sister can become a “mother” to her younger siblings if their biological mother dies; a maiden aunt can become a “mother” to a nephew if his biological mother relinquishes her role. A childless woman can become a mother to her best friend’s child (think of the 1988 movie Beaches with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.)
On this Mother’s Day, I think especially of…
Grieving motherswho have lost children to sickness, violence, drugs, and accidents.
Selfless motherswho make tremendous sacrifices to provide their children with proper medical care, safe homes, and good educations.
Young widowed motherswho suddenly must raise their children alone.
Abused motherswho are desperate to grab their children and flee from their husbands, but don’t know where to turn.
Terminally ill motherswho won’t see their children grow up.
Mothers we miss.
And I think of the women who can’t become pregnant, and I hope they can find other ways to become mothers. Because it’s one thing to conceive something, including a baby. It’s another to nurture it. That’s where motherhood really begins.
We hope you enjoyed my interview with Sheree Clark on It’s YOUR Time and will tune in to hear all of the sound, smart, even spiritual advice on Turning the Midlife Crisis into Your Midlife Awakeningfrom her other guests.
I launched FabOverFifty nine years ago to help guide us during a vital time of our lives, when everything seems to be changing all at once, from our faces and our bodies to our relationships and careers. We provide sound advice on health and beauty issues; news of innovative products and services that will help us look and feel our best, and stories about women’s lives that can help each of us live our own life to its fullest. We also have a lively Facebook page where you can respond to our unique questions, and learn what other women in the community are thinking about some pretty interesting–and sometime silly–subjects.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter and we’ll send you the links to the streaming presentations at our exclusive One-Day Medical School by five esteemed doctors from Yale University School of Medicine. An essential education for women 45+ , ODMS will teach you what happens to your heart, breasts, bladder, bones and hormones as you age. There’s nothing like it on the internet, I assure you.
I have often thought that the most important thing in life is one’s physical and mental health because how can you enjoy anything else without those? Today I realized that the most important things in life–at least in my life–are my two grown children, because if anything happened to them I’m pretty certain I could never enjoy anything again. I came to this realization after hearing about Anne and Anders Holch Povlsen, who lost three of their four children in the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks on Easter Day.
Although I’ve never wanted to trade places with a single person I’ve known in my life, Anne and Anders’ lives would have looked pretty sweet before Sunday, April 21, 2019. He’s a Danish billionaire in the retail business. She reportedly sits on the board of one of her husband’s apparel companies. They had four beautiful kids, the youngest reportedly about four years old. They’re two of Scotland’s biggest landowners and planned to restore the country’s native woodlands, peatlands, wetlands and rivers, while also helping to protect native Scottish wildlife that’s threatened, including golden eagles, wildcats and red squirrels. That makes the couple not only uber rich, but incredibly passionate about giving back to a place they love. Anders fell in love with Scotland from the times he first visited the country as a teenager, I read.
In minutes, Anne and Anders lives have been devastated. They’re reportedly a discreet couple and now they have been catapulted into the public eye all over the world. Not only will they be grieving over the loss of their three children; they will be comforting the single child who survived. It’s horrific. It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard to comprehend their anguish.
I hope Anne and Anders have strong faith to help them through this unfathomable time in their young lives, and after. I’ve personally seen unbending faith comfort a number of people I know who have lost children to tragic accidents, sickness and drugs. Those with deep faith are blessed.
Even if we all don’t have perpetually dreamy relationships with our children, this oft-repeated quote has never been more meaningful to me: “No parent should have to bury a child.”
This is a “sponsored post.” Willow compensated FOF with an advertising sponsorship to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we believe will be helpful for our readers. All insights and expressed opinions are our own. —Geri Brin
“Oh my God, I’ve got to get to a bathroom,” I thought as I attempted to dash across New York’s Fifth Avenue years ago, desperate to pee. My mom used to call me a “camel” because I could go for hours without hitting the toilet. Those days apparently were behind me! Since that spring afternoon I’ve learned that bladder leakage is a fact of life for millions of women—-and men—particularly as we age. About 25 million people over 50 have the problem, as a matter of fact. Nearly 70 percent of menopausal women experience urinary incontinence at least once a month, according to a 2015 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology. I’ve also learned that leaks I can’t control absolutely don’t have to control me, thanks to products like the awesome (yes, awesome) undies I recently discovered that keep me comfy and dry.
How Willow Works Wonders on Wee-Wee!
After trying everything from the uncomfortable and unsightly disposable drugstore brands with thick and bulky padding to overpriced microfiber styles with padding that’s too thin and barely absorbs a thimbleful of pee, I’ve finally found the perfect panty for leaks.
My lovely discovery, called Willow, not only gives me outstanding protection; this disposable panty fits really, really well on my anything-but-svelte body and is welcomingly stylish!
Made from a marriage of natural and synthetic fibers, Willow is ultra-thinand lightweight, super soft, and wonderfully stretchable all over so it moves with me but doesn’t make a pee-p! No wonder it’s called Willow. You won’t be bothered by constricting waist and leg bands that dig into your skin, or annoying panty lines, and the panty looks totally seamless. Featuring a modern rise, Willow actually feels invisible when I slip it on andcomes in beautiful charcoal, sand and light gray. The Willow pad has a fast-drying inner layer that can absorb and lock in up to four cups of liquid, which is phenomenal, while the outer layer wicks away moisture so I stay secure and dry. Even when I’ve leaked a little more than usual, I don’t smell a thing. Neither will anyone else. Many people are so mortified by their problem, they actually stop socializing. Willow gives you the confidence to lead an active life. “Sit back, stand up, or jump and dance around because you now have one less thing to worry about,” says the card in the pretty package.
There’s more to love: Besides the ease and convenience of buying Willow online, I’ll automatically receive shipments throughout the year to ensure that I’m never caught short. I generally wear one pair each day, so I get my new Willows every 60 days, but if you need to change more frequently, Willow will customize your subscription to your needs. I’m wearing size L/XL, but happily Willow is being made in larger sizes, like XXL, too!
The folded undies are so compact, you can tuck one into your handbag to have on hand if you’re planning to stay out late. And, they cost about 40 percent less than undies that are even remotely comparable. Since Willow eliminates the middlemen and exclusively sells online, it’s passing the savings onto us. Willow also is available for the men in your life who are experiencing bladder issues.
Right now, Willow is offering a free trial. You’ll receive 20 pairs of undies and pay only $4.99 for S&H. I was hooked after I wore my first trial pair for a single day. I think you’ll be hooked, too. You can pause or cancel your subscription at any time.
Most of us require nutritional supplements as we age, but it became exasperating trying to learn which ones were right for me. The personable 30-something pharmacist who fills my prescriptions had no idea. Nor did my internist. And even though the salesman in the specialty vitamin chain in my neighborhood tried to help, it was obvious he hadn’t a clue what supplements a FabOverFifty woman really needs.
As the editor of a website, I’m often invited to try out products and services for everything from foams to relieve leg cramps to seminars for my financial security. When an online supplement service called Persona contacted me, I was intrigued by its promise that I could get “personalized, doctor-approved vitamin recommendations” simply by taking a five-minute assessment, so I wanted to learn more. Even before the end of my interview with Tamara Bernadot, one of the Persona founders, I knew this wasn’t just hype. When I told her I was taking statins to improve my cholesterol levels, she recommended I also take Ubiquinol to replace a critical enzyme that the statins were depleting. My doctor never mentioned that!
Sure enough, after completing the Persona five-minute assessment covering my health and lifestyle, as well as my prescription medications, my supplement recommendations included Ubiquinol. I ordered it, as well as the other Persona suggestions, right away. The supplements arrived in convenient daily packets with instructions when to take each one. Brilliant!
Whether you’re currently taking supplements or haven’t started because you’re confused by the constantly changing reports about what’s beneficial for you, and what’s not, I urge you to read on to learn why Persona will be a game-changer for your health.
FABOVERFIFTY What motivated you and your two co-founders to launch a company offering customized recommendations for nutritional supplements?
TAMARA BERNADOT“We’ve worked together for over 20 years in the nutrition industry, creating personalized nutrition programs for Dr. Andrew Weil, for the doctors at the Pritikin Longevity Center, and for Dr. Barry Sears, who created the Zone Diet. When ‘personalized nutrition’ was becoming the talk of the industry about two and a half years ago, we decided it was the right time to jump in with our own concept. We first spent six months researching, gathering data, and putting together a medical advisory board and a team of nutritionists.”
FOFHow does your online assessment questionnaire help you arrive at the precise supplement recommendations for each person?
TB“Our technology lets us create a highly personalized questionnaire, so our algorithm can lead you down one of about eight paths, depending on your age, your gender and your health goals. Your answers, combined with our ongoing research and the expertise of our doctors and nutritionists, inform our supplement recommendations.
“We also ask what medications you’re taking as part of our robust questionnaire and we clinically test over 850 meds for interactions with the more than 90 supplements we offer. Persona wants to make certain that the supplements it recommends won’t react negatively with your pharma prescriptions. And, if you’re taking a drug that’s depleting an essential vitamin or mineral, we’ll recommend a supplement to make up for the depletion. Our competition doesn’t do this.”
FOF What is the background of the doctors on your medical advisory board and the Persona nutritionists, and how do they work together?
TB“Our Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Michael Roizen, who is the Chief Wellness Officer of The Cleveland Clinic and a New York Times best-selling author. He’s a walking encyclopedia of research and data. He and the other doctors on the board are up on the latest scientific supplement research and have been recommending supplements in their practices for years. They are keenly interested in what nutrition, diet and exercise–not just drugs–can do for their patients.
“Our team of nutritionists (one also is a registered dietician) helps to do the research and construct the questionnaires, then they send it all to the medical advisory board for final approval. We recruited them from Bastyr University, one of the best natural health schools in the country, which fortunately is located near our headquarters outside Seattle. They were taught how vitamin supplements and herbs react in the body and have better cutting-edge training than what medical doctors learn about nutritional supplements in medical school.”
Did your mom ever mention in passing that sex might become painful after menopause? Of course she didn’t. But it did, and now even the thought of intercourse sends shivers down your spine, but not in a good way. Who would have ever imagined such a thing!!!!!!!!!
Friend, you’re not alone. Up to 75 percent of postmenopausal women report they have painful sex, said Dr. James A. Simon, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at George Washington University. You can blame your ovaries, which are no longer delivering the level of estrogen you once needed to get periods and have babies (even if being a mother didn’t interest you). Before menopause, estrogen also helps maintain the thickness, elasticity and lubrication of vaginal tissues.
It’s bad enough that reduced estrogen can bring on hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, bone loss, mood swings and sleep disturbances. But when sex becomes painful that’s the last straw. It’s called dyspareunia (pronounced dis-pa-roon-ia), which is most often a symptom of Vulvovaginal Atrophy (VVA) due to menopause. Besides painful intercourse, VVA can cause vulvar or vaginal irritation, itching, burning, dryness and light bleeding.
But you don’t have to live with dyspareunia or vaginal dryness. You certainly don’t. You can try treating it with over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers, suppositories, estrogen therapy or SERMS, which are “non-hormonal, synthetic molecules that bind to estrogen receptors in the body and mimic the effects of estrogen, without being estrogen,” explained Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, Clinical Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale Medical School.
“SERMs are used to treat a variety of medical conditions, but the one used to treat moderate to severe painful sex due to menopause is called ospemifene and is sold under the brand name Osphena, which is an oral pill. Ospemifene helps counteract the changes in your vaginal tissues that resulted from low estrogen levels. By improving the condition of your vaginal tissues, ospemifene makes sex less painful, providing the relief you need without hormones,” Dr. Minkin said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has approved Osphena for the treatment of moderate to severe vaginal dryness. “The FDA’s approval affirms Osphena is safe and effective for treating this symptom of VVA, broadening its benefits to a larger number of menopausal women,” Dr. Simon added.
Please don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to your doctor if you’re suffering from dyspareunia and/or vaginal dryness. Too many women are, needlessly subjecting themselves to pain and stress. While your hot flashes and night sweats might abate, the symptoms of VVA won’t. They might even get worse.
Get ready for the season of joyous alfresco dining with bright, beautiful and practical tableware and seating. Disposable paper and plastic do nothing for the mood, not to mention the environment. Besides, the selection of outdoor goodies we’ve put together from Overstock and Pier I Imports is so reasonably priced, why waste money on things you’re just going to toss in the trash!
SEATS OF POWER
Your supremely comfy, hand-woven chairs can be compactly stacked and stored at summer’s end. Or use them to add a splash of color to a bedroom or great room the rest of the year. Solidly constructed of wrought iron, polyethylene and polypropylene, they’re a cinch to clean with a soft, damp cloth. $399.96 for four chairs.
A CLEAR CHOICE
Keep your warm or cold beverages at the perfect temperature in 16-ounce acrylic tumblers with double-wall insulation. Condensation and sweating are eliminated so you won’t need coasters! We love the clear set, which will show off everything from colorful smoothies to homemade lemonade, but it comes in colors, too. Only $12.49 for a set of four tumblers.
SINGING A BLUE NOTE
Named after a town in France where this style of cutlery originated in the 1820s, Laguiole stainless steel flatware with French Blue curved handles will be a standout at picnics or elegant dinners. Each five-piece settling includes a dinner knife and fork, soup spoon, salad fork and dessert spoon. $79 for four place settings.
SHOW YOUR COLORS
It’s hard to choose just one of these beautiful, bright colors, so why not buy all four and set the happiest-looking table in the neighborhood, inside or out. Pretty and practical, the textured plates are made of shatter-resistant Melamine, and can be cleaned on the top rack of the dishwasher. Four dinner and four salad plates are under $35 and will serve you in style for many seasons to come.
GOING TO THE MAT
Set your colorful Melamine plates atop the snazziest placemats we’ve ever seen. Each mat is 15 inches in diameter and can be spot cleaned. But even if your four-year-old grandson tips over the mustard or ketchup bottle when he’s reaching for the bowl of potato chips, the whirlwind of colors will pretty much hide the aftermath. Just $1.98 a mat.
I believe rich people fall into two distinct categories: Those who never flaunt their money or act like they’re better than the rest of us, and those who think their wealth really does separate them from us, and act accordingly. They figure they’re smarter, more attractive, and more “entitled,” as in automatically deserving of privileges and special treatment. They can slip a $100 bill to the maitre d at a fancy restaurant to get a table when the restaurant is booked. They throw around their titles to get in to see hard-to-see doctors. They call their other rich and well-connected friends to get favors they may not be able to get themselves. They expect to be treated royally by everyone from salespeople to hair stylists and waiters.
A rich woman most of us know took her wealth to new extremes. Playing one of the Desperate Housewives on TV she actually became one in real life. Well, maybe not quite a desperate housewife, but a desperate mother so intent on having her older daughter admitted to a top-notch university that she resorted to fraud to make it happen. By now, you probably know that actress Felicity Huffman was one of 50 people charged in a sweeping national scandal involving admissions to some of the nation’s most elite colleges and universities. I’m talking about schools including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and USC. Coaches took bribes to get students accepted who didn’t even participate in the sports they coached. SAT proctors took bribes to change incorrect answers to the right answers.
Sadly, money does often talk pretty loudly, and legally. Donate oodles to build a cardiac wing at a major hospital and you’ll be taken first at their ER, even if someone is dying of a heart attack who got there first. Hire a high-priced lawyer to get your 17-year-old out of a DUI charge, and it likely will be dismissed, even if another less-privileged teen in the courtroom is being led to a holding cell for the same charge.
I get it. I may not always like it, but I get it! That’s the way “the system” often works. But my tolerance stops at rich people who resort to lying, cheating and manipulating the system, in addition to throwing around their money to get what they want. That’s clearly the case with the college scandal that just broke. If your child isn’t qualified enough to get into one of the country’s leading universities, and you bribe someone to doctor her SAT scores, what will you do when she’s about to flunk out of the school that accepted her? Besides robbing a deserving kid of a place at the university, your bribe actually hurts your daughter’s chance of success. Why didn’t Felicity instead give a handsome donation to a second-tier college, where her daughter may have had a better shot at being admitted, and succeeding? Come to think of it, that’s a form of “bribe” too. But at least it doesn’t put you behind bars.
What’s more, your money likely won’t benefit the person who accepted it. My son loves this quote from The Jungle, which says it best: “They must not give up what was right for a little money—if they did, the money would never do them any good.”
Lori Loughlin, the other actress caught up in this mess, did a video with her daughter in 2017 where she claimed she never wanted to push her “beyond her limits” and always told her to do the best she could. “We said ‘give it your all, that’s all you can do.’ We put so much stress on kids and a lot of it is unnecessary. I never overscheduled my kids. I gave them time to sit in their playroom and use their imagination,” Lori stressed. When you think about it, Lori wasn’t lying. Why put stress on your children to succeed when you can bribe someone to make them look good?
A man in a high government position often brags about the distinguished schools he attended half a century ago and how smart he is, but he reportedly had letters sent to his high school and college forbidding them from releasing his transcripts. Curious that he wouldn’t want anyone to see grades that affirm how brilliant he is. Perhaps his wealthy dad donated a hefty sum to the university he attended because sonny isn’t as smart as he now claims. Which leads to a whole other truism: You don’t have to be smart to succeed.
I sincerely believe that every one of us deserves to earn as much money as we can for our talents, hard work and smart ideas. Good for you if you live in a mansion, travel the oceans in your own yacht and wear Chanel from head to toe. But money should not qualify anyone to get the best education, health care or legal advice. A smart, driven person from a poor family, a sick person with no insurance, and an uneducated person falsely accused of a crime deserve the same opportunities, protections and advantages as you and I.
Of course, that’s not the reality in which we live. We’re not on a level playing field. Our society gives people like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin huge advantages. The fact that they’d try to game the system on top of those advantages is just rotten. Shame on them.
My long-time, 60-something, married friend (I’m calling her M, not her real name) met a new man about six years ago. Within two years, she left her emotionally abusive husband (she’d been married 37 years), found a full-time job (she hadn’t worked during most of her marriage, while she raised four children), and moved into a one-bedroom apartment (after living in a big, beautiful house for decades).
M was happy in her new life. She loved her boyfriend, her work and her new home. But, unexpectedly, she lost her job about seven weeks ago at the struggling company. Still unemployed, she feels like she’s losing the footing she’s worked hard to establish during the last few years.
M was inspired by a New York Times article she recently read about author Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity in 1992, which has sold over 4 million copies. One of the seminal “self-help” books, The Artist’s Way proposes that absolutely everyone is creative and gives us the tools to release our “inner artist” in 12 weeks. That’s how long “it takes for people to cook,” Julia told The New York Times.
An avid reader, M couldn’t wait to read the book and start following Julia’s central advice to write three pages, by hand, the first thing every morning about absolutely anything that pops into your mind. The exercise is called “Morning Pages,” and I asked M to share some of hers with me. She generously agreed.
I admire M’s determination to put her intimate thoughts on paper, especially during this stressful period in her life. Too many of us are so busy running around we don’t take the time to think about what we’re really about.
M’s Morning Pages: Dreamy Sex at 60 Something
By the time you can have unprotected, carefree sex, you’re in a stale and unhappy marriage. All the baggage you’ve been lugging around becomes so heavy, you don’t care about sex. Your menopausal body doesn’t want it. You go through the motions to please a spouse you can’t stand. And, eventually the marriage becomes a quiet life of desperation. With no sex. A convenience rather than a life. Stay married, financially secure, have a partner for those events that pop up and inwardly be miserable, unfulfilled and numb. This, I wrote on the train yesterday because I had to write it as soon as I thought it. I was thinking about the exuberant sex I have with C. We go at it like teenagers, with mutual abandon and love. We have fun, laugh, and try new ways of pleasing each other. It’s not an obligation or requirement.
We’re not trying to become pregnant or to avoid it. It’s sex, purely to satisfy each other. Most women know sex goes hand in hand with emotions and mental state of mind. If those two components aren’t in sync, the body doesn’t respond. Sex is dry and can be painful. But husbands want sex. They need it. The guilt is heaped upon a wife for not being a willing partner. I’m not saying this is true for all married couples – most women won’t share their sexual lives with their friends. My husband wanted sex all the time, even after not speaking to me for weeks. No apology, just move forward like nothing happened. I was a complacent wife and went along with his agenda to keep the peace.
The first time I had sex with C, my head was screaming, What are you doing? And my vagina was singing. This wasn’t young sex with a boyfriend who you wanted to please and hoped to marry, a one-night stand or, as the kids today say, “a hookup.” The young people I worked with have “hookups.” They meet guys online or in bars, go home and have sex, never to meet again. The girls tell me they’re horny and need to get laid. When I was in my twenties, I didn’t feel so horny that I’d have sex with anyone that came along. I had to have a connection and attraction. There had to be a relationship.
I love having sex with C more than I’ve ever enjoyed sex in my life. I’m the one who wants it all the time. Just being near him gets me aroused. I’m on a bioidentical hormone pellet, which is implanted every four to six months. C calls the pellet a stick of dynamite! I just turned 65. He’s 61. Men have physical sexual issues as much as women do. We have found ways, without drugs, to have great sex. When there is no pressure to perform and an understanding of each other’s needs, beautiful lovemaking is the result. Frequently, I wonder where I would be if we hadn’t met. I felt 100 percent sure I’d be stuck in my “mansion,” unhappy and waiting for the day I would be happy.
Laser machines are all the rage today when it comes to tightening sagging skin, reducing lines and wrinkles, treating sun damage, and even removing hair on our legs, underarms and elsewhere. But they’re also working miracles on severe scars, from dramatically improving their appearance to restoring tissue, so patients can return to normal everyday activities that the rest of us take for granted. Scars caused by burns, injury or other trauma, such as surgery, often can prevent victims from doing something as simple as holding a fork.
I have the privilege of working with Lumenis, the company that in 2009 discovered and developed the premier laser for treating scars. The Lumenis UltraPulse laser with SCAAR FX technology, considered the most powerful CO2 laser in aesthetic medicine, greatly improves severe scars and is minimally invasive. Patients undergoing treatment are comfortable and heal more quickly. The laser works on smaller scars, too!
The United States military has placed the Lumenis UltraPulse device in key military hospitals all over the world to help their wounded warriors, in veteran affairs hospitals, and in leading burn centers and private offices to help civilian burn survivors, including Kim Phuc, a survivor of the Vietnam War bombing, and “The Girl in the Picture”; survivors of domestic violence involving acid burns; survivors of injuries suffered from natural disasters like earthquakes, as well as survivors of other domestic fire accidents.
Interestingly, Prince Harry visited the Scar Free Foundation unit at the QEII Hospital in Birmingham, England today and spoke to a doctor about the important work he’s performing in the treatment of scars using the Lumenis UltraPulse. “The center is a ground-breaking national facility that aims to minimize the psychological and physical impact of scarring among armed forces personnel,” Kensington Palace said.
While many of us have tiny scars from minor accidents or bigger scars from operations, we don’t often think about the life-changing scars that affect millions of people all over the world. It’s exciting to learn how laser technology can give their lives more normalcy. If you’d like to learn more, please visit hopeforscars.com.