Category Archives: women

Every Moment


often in this life we need to slow down and remind ourselves that the moment we are currently in needs to be consciously attended to, savored, absorbed. easier said than done certainly, but if you make up your mind, you can find yourself in the middle of a moment that will bring you lasting joy every time you replay it in your mind.

i was able to have a second one of those moments a couple of weeks ago with one of our daughters. okay, granted it was kind of an easy moment for the taking – being with her as she chose her wedding dress – still, i think we’ve all seen and heard this experience turning disastrous.

when our oldest daughter shopped for her wedding dress, she asked her future mother-in-law and me to accompany her. she preferred to choose a dress herself and without the pressure of an attendant or an entourage and ended up buying the first dress she tried on. not to say she grabbed something and ran, but to say that she knew herself well enough to know what her choice would be. i worried about her buying the first dress she tried on and encouraged her to try on other dresses, but when she put the first one back on, it was clear that was the dress. it’s so odd to say, but if you keep your mind open as an observer, you really can know exactly when your daughter has chosen the perfect image of herself.

i was afraid at the time that my lasting memory of her choosing a dress would be overshadowed by the worry that was hanging over every bit of my thinking, which was that she was planning a wedding mere months after her diagnosis of cm leukemia. it was so tough to push away the thought that were her future outcome to be not good, this dress might become a symbol of stabbing sadness instead of overwhelming joy. it took every bit of my years of acting training to hide what i was thinking at the time.

fast forward to now. our second daughter is planning her wedding and scheduled a wedding dress shopping day. like her sister, she had a vision of a dress she wanted and a vision of how she wanted her day to go. she asked for a champagne breakfast with a couple of friends, her sister and me (daddy was nice enough to come along as designated driver in exchange for breakfast since he was verboten from seeing the dress).

at the salon, she tried on the very dress she came to that salon to see. it looked spectacular on her! i thought how funny it was that again, one of our daughters picked the first dress she tried on. but since there were still 45 minutes left on the appointment time, the attendant brought her other dresses to try. every one of them looked beautiful on her, but none rivaled the first one. then the attendant suggested something completely out of the box, which was a skirt and bodice combo that is modern but still somewhat traditional, interesting and edgy. her sister was the first to notice how e’s demeanor changed and saw right away that this would be the choice. i was unconvinced about the dress but tried to project neutrality since i firmly believe that my role was as an observer, not an influencer. the attendant encouraged e to go out into the bigger room and look at herself in the huge mirror. i was the last one into the large room and saw her just as she turned around and saw herself in the floor to ceiling mirror and was struck by the sight. trust me, out of nowhere and without a thought of becoming emotional at all, i teared up.

in that moment i didn’t see a dress, or a bride even – what i saw was our grown daughter looking like her happiest self as a young woman dressed to greet the partner she has chosen to share her life with.

i also realized that this was the last time i would ever have that moment in my life and made a mental note to just savor it.
making it all even better was the fact that i was standing next to our oldest daughter who is still happily married, cancer free and about to celebrate the five year anniversary of her bone marrow transplant.
moments that are worth savoring.

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Filed under advice, family, image, Love, marriage, Parent, tradition, wedding, women

Freedom and Simple Pleasures


i did something this weekend that i haven’t done since i was a kid: i walked around in a bathing suit when i wasn’t on the beach. okay so it was just to a little deli to get lunch takeout and walk back to the motel pool to sit and eat, but it was kind of huge for me.

some of you probably think, “what’s the big deal?” and others are thinking about how much you want people without beach bodies to cover up already. let me clarify that my bathing suit is a tankini with a skirted bottom so i’m not talking about a tiny bathing suit here. even though i’ve worked hard to wear a size or two smaller than the “average” american woman, i’m still a big person. and i’ve always been self-conscious, especially about my heavy arms (my mother used to say that we are descended from good, peasant stock).

but i had a revelation.

near us on the beach was a muslim family enjoying the perfect beach day and i found myself staring at them, or trying hard not to stare at them. the father wore knee length bathing trunks and no shirt, but the two women with him where wearing long pants, a long tunic and black head covers. they were happily walking on the shoreline with their children while the water soaked the bottoms of their long pants and i thought how uncomfortable that wet fabric must feel against their skin. later, the women were swimming and playing in the ocean, up to their necks in the water, still completely covered. they could only feel the cool ocean water directly on the uncovered skin of their faces, hands and feet.

a few things occurred to me: 1. how glad i was that they were not restricted from enjoying the ocean and 2. how sad i felt that they would never feel the cool water or the ocean breeze or even the hot sun directly on their skin and 3. here i was with the freedom to enjoy all of those sensations and had spent years choosing not to.

whatever self-consciousness those women may have felt at being on the beach and in the water fully clothed did not seem to matter to them. they frolicked, tossed around a football, giggled with their children and generally enjoyed a refreshing and fun day at the beach.

last year i decided that too many years had passed since my self-consciousness deprived me of a swim in the ocean and waded in. okay, so i was slammed into the sand moments later because i have no wave skills, still i headed out toward c and the two of us had a nice time. this year, i was prepared to enjoy the ocean again but made sure i had a cover-up for when we walked to and from the motel.

seeing those women made me think.

i can tell you that it’s a lot cooler to be out in the hot sun in a wet bathing suit and no cover up, but i can also tell you that i got very sunburned. i can also tell you that later that evening as c and i were leaving for dinner, we took a selfie in which i was wearing a strapless dress without my usual cover-up and someone posted a snotty and hurtful remark – a person who often complains about other’s insensitivity.

my first instinct was to change my dress after that remark. my second instinct was to put on the cover-up even though it was a little too warm to wear it.

in the end, i didn’t change my dress. i took the wrap with me and i only put it on because i was cold.

freedom sometimes takes a bit of time.

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Filed under courage, summer, women

Journey of Genetic Defiance Part II

oddly enough, at the age of 57 and the same height i’ve been since the age of 16 but weighing more, i’m wearing the same size i wore 35 years ago.

something ain’t right.

when i was a kid, stores that carried downscale women’s clothing only went up as high as a size 12 or 14. upscale women’s clothing stopped at size 10 or even smaller. clothing from paris was made to fit adult women who were the size and shape of 10 year old boys. clothing today is made to be put on models who look as much like hangers as they can. someone should invent robotic runway models so no one has to be pressured to eat tissues to become one.

i don’t know what size the kids clothes stopped at when i was a kid because i never got to shop in those regular stores. my only shopping option as a young teenager was lane bryant where they carried only half-sizes. while is sound like a size accommodation – “oh, i’m between a 10 and a 12… i’m a 10 ½”, that’s not what half sizing meant. it meant that you wore fat sizes. kind of like husky in the boys’ department or what “women’s” sizing is now. (for you men out there, women’s clothing refers to all clothing for women, but women’s sizing refers to clothing sizes that are much bigger than regular women’s sizes. regular sized women’s clothing is carried in the “missy” department or the department sometimes labeled as “women”. got it?)

much as i would like to believe that i am the same size i was when i was 22, i know that it’s not true.

it’s called vanity sizing and the stores where you shop are all doing it. over the past 40 years, the actual measurements of women’s clothing have increased by an average of 4 inches, which means that most women’s clothing sizes are a size or two bigger than they used to be. funny, kind of snarky take on this here.

while the clothing measurements are keeping up with us as we get bigger, the labels are scaling down to make us feel better. and to keep us buying. maybe that explains the wall mart photos we all see on line.

there is no standardization in sizing in women’s clothing and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. on the surface it seems to make sense that a size 10 should be a size 10 should be a size 10, but labels sell their customer on an identity and a macy’s size 10 customer is simply not a j. crew size 10 customer.

now, in all fairness, this increase in size is not just about being overweight or obesity, since women are taller too and their bone structure is bigger. some of this larger sizing is due to better nutrition, less smoking, less restrictive corseting and breast implants. yep, implants. i’m guessing a lot of people are not complaining about that one.

you’ve probably all heard the recent flap over abercrombie and fitch’s ceo mike jeffries, who spouted off that a&f only wants to sell to “cool, good looking people”, which begs the question: “why are they selling to mike jeffries?” people expanded jeffries’ cool remark into protesting that a&f doesn’t carry larger sizes for girls (not so sure a lot of grown women shop in a&f). well, they do carry larger sizes, they just vanity label them more aggressively than most other stores and you can tell that because they carry xsmall and xxsmall and double zero. my guess is you can pick up a lot of that tiny a&f merchandise in places like tjmaxx and marshall’s, ‘cuz not a lot of girls are buying it. By the way, if you are seeing a lot of only small sizes on the racks when you go into a store, it’s because the larger sizes are all sold out. And the department buyer is stupid.

you will be witnessing the end of a&f because they are business idiots. when 67% of the apparel purchasing population falls into what’s being called the plus size category, cutting them out of your business model (not to mention insulting them along the way) is just plain stupid. you gotta sell a lot of $150 ripped jeans and $50 t-shirts to make up for those pr mistakes.

every women will tell you that she’s got at least three, maybe four sizes in her closet and if she doesn’t she’s either got a lot of money for custom clothes or she’s lying. and by the way, any woman who insists on sharing her size with you is a jerk.

i have to admit to being hesitant to support the “let’s all be fine with huge sizes” thing, just because we all know that it’s not healthy. it’s just not and you can’t vanity your way out of it. conversely, thin or skinny people are no better humans than anyone else. let’s just get rid of that nonsense too.

you know that you should be fit and healthy and take care of your body. you also know when you feel good physically and have the best idea of what shape your body is. no amount of fashion dictation is going to change that you got your mother’s thighs or your father’s paunch and no amount of reading nonsense in fashion magazines should influence what you know to be the best for yourself.

buy what looks and feels good on you or make your own clothes or get them tailored to fit you properly, cut out the size tags when you get home and forget the rest. look and feel fabulous.

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Filed under Fitness, Food, health, weight loss, women

Journey of Genetic Defiance Part I

back in january c and i embarked on a weight loss journey together.  ooops, sorry.  i’m supposed to say a journey toward getting healthy so i don’t make anyone feel badly about themselves or discriminated against.  but here’s the thing: to successfully lose weight you have to tell yourself the truth and the truth was that c and i needed to lose weight.  i could tell you that both c and i have a genetic history of obesity and that it makes it hard to lose weight and keep it off.  i could tell you that, and i could also admit that it’s an excuse.  yes, genetics play a role in weight, but just like inheriting crooked teeth or lousy vision, there are ways to fix things. staying within your ideal weight range is no different. some of us have to pay more attention to fixing weight things than others.

for the past five months c and i worked at losing weight together and so far the two of us combined have lost the equivalent of a runway model.  not a vogue model mind you, but a regular runway model that weights in the three-digit numbers.

i like to lose weight in the winter and i’m always more successful at it if i start during the winter months.  by the time summer rolls around, i’m too lazy to think that much and intentionally sweating in the heat feels icky.  but it’s easy to keep weight off in the summer because it’s too hot to eat and i drink a lot of liquids that fill me up.

c’s transformation is so dramatic that people who haven’t seen him in awhile stop him and ask how he did it.  he tells them the truth and they don’t like the answer.  everyone wants a quick fix and trust me, i do too, but after spending an entire lifetime gaining and losing weight, i know that getting weight off is concentrated work.  the upside is that the longer you follow the plan, the easier it gets and absolutely the more fun exercise becomes.

the last time i lost weight, i hired a personal trainer to teach me how to work out and to some extent how to eat.  and i kept the weight off for a couple of years until our daughter needed a bone marrow transplant and i kept my worry in check with wine.  i thought about medication and maybe that would have been a better option, but i went with the wine and along with it came the weight.  of course, that was my excuse for one year, but then another year went by, our daughter recovered beautifully and i kept enjoying my wine, not to mention discovering a liking for botanical gin and small batch whiskies.

(lest you think i settled into being an alcoholic, know that along with the lovely alcoholic beverages came wonderful charcuterie spreads with crusty bread, all of which combined led to a larger version of me.)

by the time january of 2013 rolled around i was in such pain in my knees from the extra weight and lazy lifestyle that i thought i might need knee replacement surgery.  instead, c and i started walking.  it hurt, i’m not going to sugar coat it, walking hurt my already hurting knees.  but then a funny thing happened: my knees felt better the day after walking.  and the more i walked, the better they felt.

at the same time, i discovered an app called lose it! which is basically a calorie counting app for your phone.  you dial in your weight, your goal and the number of pounds a week you want to lose (up to 2) and it returns the number of calories you should be eating a day to achieve that goal.  you can enter in your exercise type and time and it adds those calories back into your available calories.  as you lose weight, you enter your weight loss and it subtract calories from your available count to help you keep going.

simple.

well, only if you tell the truth and if you’re diligent about entering your food every day.  results don’t lie.  and what i quickly learned was that i had to earn more calories or more weight loss by exercising.  so i added zumba class.  and elliptical.  and weight training.

all of it worked.  what worked the best was (is) having c as a partner.

experts have always said that it’s easier to lose weight with a buddy and c and i found out how true that is.  but it has to be a specific kind of buddy – one you can trust, one who doesn’t sabotage you and one who doesn’t compete with you.  basically, a buddy who acts as your cheerleader and who is just as willing as you are to coax their buddy into a workout or convince your buddy out of a bad decision.

 
next time: journey of genetic defiance part II

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Filed under Fitness, Food, health, weight loss, women

Not so fast, partner

quick, what century is it? you sure about that? in the same week that marriage equality was a hot topic of conversation, a story bubbled up in the philadelphia inquirer about a different kind of marriage equality. the topic: denise scott brown.

don’t know who she is? i didn’t either until this article appeared. she’s an architect who, along with her husband and business partner, designed projects together, wrote several “paradigm-shifting books” together and taught classes together. but when it came time to be honored for their work with the most coveted prize in architecture, a pritzker award, it went only to robert venturi, the man of the partnership. venturi accepted the honor but, to venturi’s credit, when only he was offered an award from the american institute of architects (aia), he turned it down because it didn’t include his partner.

okay, so that happened in 1991, surely things have changed since then. not so fast. this year the pritzker was awarded to wang shu, without mention of his partner and collaborator, lu wenyu. lu wenyu happens to be wang shu’s wife. this is 22 years after denise scott brown got ignored.

it’s interesting this use of the word “partner” here. these couples really embraced the meaning of partnership in every respect and yet the world around them saw only a narrow view of that partnership for only the women involved. consider how that could not happen today with same sex couples if only because same sex marriage is not recognized. but if it were, ponder whether the idea of partnership would be different. maybe it would be different only for females in same sex partnerships? why are there some things that still stubbornly refuse to be changed?

so sure, there have probably been countless women who entered the architecture field because of brown and half of all architecture students are female, and i’m sure she’s pleased and proud of being inspirational. but, like every other professional, she wants to be recognized for her professional achievements and continues to be “very sad” about this slight.

surely now that we are 13 year into the 21st century it’s time to be finished with the 19th.

you have chance to weigh in on this by signing the petition titled, “the pritzker architecture prize committee: recognize denise scott brown for her work in robert venturi’s 1991 prize”.

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Filed under Business, women

my friend, ted

I’m still hard at work on my book Counterfeit Cure, which should have a publish date of March 1, 2013. Look for more information soon!

most probably you’ve already heard about ted university. if you haven’t, certainly your kids have. here’s the official word:

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader.”

it’s like free university on universal topics of interest. if you haven’t checked out the ted website http://www.ted.com/, you should. there’s a lot of interesting, entertaining and just plain thoughtful stuff. and we could all use a bit more thinking.

here’s a lecture that our daughter, l posted recently that’s well worth watching.

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Filed under image, women

Never enough funny ladies

Anyone watch the Golden Globes? I admit I’ve never watched them before, but I did this year mainly because of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Individually they crack me up. Together they are just hilarious.

As far as I’m concerned, more and more women in comedy makes for funnier and funnier comedy, though that flies in the face of the long held belief that women aren’t funny.

Say, what?!

In 2008, Alessandra Stanley wrote a fantastic piece for Vanity Fair, titled “Who Says Women Aren’t Funny?” in which Fey has the final words on the false belief (mostly by male comics) that women aren’t funny.

“You still hear it,” says Fey. “It’s just a lot easier to ignore.”

While I’m working on readying my novel, Counterfeit Cure, for publishing I’ll be posting links to some of the best articles I’ve come across. Stay tuned for more on Counterfeit Cure.

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Filed under women, work