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Lois Joy Johnson
Best hairstyles for fine hair or thin hair: Stay ahead of hair loss with strategic cuts, styling tricks and color
Fashion & Beauty
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Before we get specific about the best cuts and color solutions for fine, thinning hair, you need to know that hair loss doctors do not expect you to stop coloring your hair (if you do) or resist using heat to style it. What they do suggest is being strategic about chemical processing and styling:

  • You might consider downsizing your color routine from double process with highlights to just highlights or going closer to your natural color.
  • You may want to give up a few inches (do you really need stringy hair hanging down your back?) to get extra fullness and volume.
  • But ditch the tight ponytails and cornrows — that kind of traction is non-negotiable.
  • Hair loss specialist Dr. Catherine A. Orentreich of the Orentreich Medical Group in New York City adds, “If you get a salon straightening treatment, opt for the Brazilian keratin one, not the Japanese method, which is more destructive to the hair shaft.”

Hair basics
Let’s get a few basics straight about hair. Hair is dead — the part that is alive is under your scalp in the follicle. The hair that we style and color — the hair shaft — is made up of a protein called keratin. The outer layer of the hair shaft is called the cuticle and when that is smooth, resilient and strong, your hair looks healthy. The cuticle covers the inner cortex and medulla of the hair and is composed of layers that overlap like a tiered skirt.

When you blow-dry your hair in a certain way and add a styling product, the layers of the cuticle get fluffed up instead of being smooth — and your hair appears fuller. There’s one pro I’ve worked with for years who knows this topic cold: celebrity hair (and makeup) artist Jim Crawford, who specializes in women over 50. His clients include Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Isabella Rossellini, Valerie Bertinelli, Shirley MacLaine and Christine Baranski – all known for their trademark hair. Jim insists that most celebs do not have great hair. “You always see them after pros have worked to transform their thin, fragile, chemically fried hair.

Most bring hairpieces matched to their hair to the set or ask me to bring them along. Thinning hair, bald spots and receding hairlines can be camouflaged – trust me, I do it all the time.” Crawford relies on one of these four basic cuts to create the illusion of more hair and hide sparse areas. At least one will work for you.

The four best cuts to flatter thin hair

  • A short, classic bob
    This blunt, chic, chin-length cut is a foolproof disguise for hair that has all-over thinning and/or skimpy areas at the crown or back or the head. You can add full side-swept bangs to camouflage a skimpy hairline. It’s low-maintenance and can get blown up easily for a fuller look with a blow-out and styling lotion. It’s versatile and can be worn on or off the face. Inspirations: Jackie O, Cybill Shepherd, Kim Cattrall, Christine Baranski, Anna Wintour, Ellen Barkin.
  • A short, choppy bob
    Add irregular length layers and pieces for a fuller look. The tousled, shaggy look can give the effect of more hair and texture. It’s especially valuable for women wanting to camouflage thinning at the crown or back of the head. Inspirations: Meg Ryan, Diane Sawyer, Glenn Close, Helen Mirren.
  • A mid-length, shoulder-grazing cut angled in long layers around the face
    This length is as long as a woman with thin hair should go, but it has the feel of longer hair. Have your hairdresser remove all weight from the ends so the hair moves. Inspirations: Susan Sarandon, Sharon Stone, Iman, Jaclyn Smith, Suzanne Somers.
  • A short, layered crop with bangs
    This look is gamine in spirit but sophisticated and still sexy. If you have a great neck, fairly crisp jaw-line and your thinning is most obvious along the front hairline this cut can be an ally. Inspirations: Annette Bening, Judy Dench, Shirley MacLaine.


Once you have the right cut for you, there are two more secrets to building in fullness:

  • Using the right blow-dry technique
  • Choosing the right texture styling product.

Professional styling secrets for thin hair
Here are Jim Crawford’s behind-the scenes styling tricks:

  • Quickly rough dry your hair with your blow-dryer on a high heat setting using your hands and fingers to lift and move the hair. You want to be fast as possible and not use any brushes.
  • Your goal is to eliminate 80 % of the water in your hair before applying styling product. The reason? If you leave water in your hair when you apply volumizers, the result is diluted.
  • Don’t worry at this point about frizz or perfection, just get it nearly dry.
  • Then spray on a styling lotion or a mousse to build in body. These formulas are light, non-greasy and provide just enough lift and texture. You must avoid all waxes, gels, pastes, polishers, styling creams, shine boosting mists and silicone serums. They will weigh your hair down, make it oily and revealing sparse areas. Even if the label on one of these seven products says volumizing or for fine thin hair or body-boosting, ignore them — they are not for you.
  • Finish the look by continuing to rough dry once the styling spray or mousse is in you hair. Then just polish the ends with a round or flat brush as a final step in your blow-out.
  • An alternative finish is to continue to blow dry using your hands to direct the hair in the direction you want it to go. When your hair is totally dry, very lightly and quickly run a flat iron or a barrel iron from mid-hair shaft to ends only. Don’t run the iron over and over through the hair or linger over a spot.

Hair color tricks for thin hair
“Women feel more comfortable now discussing thinning hair issues with their colorist and hair stylist,” says New York City color guru Beth Minardi of Minardi Salon. “You need to take charge of the problem from a medical and cosmetic standpoint to really get an effective result. Think of each strand of hair as a fiber. At twenty it was like a stand of yarn, by 50 it’s more like thread.”

  • Use permanent color to thicken hair.
    Thinning hair can be improved by using a permanent hair color which penetrates the outer cuticle of the hair and swells the hair shaft. Minardi urges women to “Take advantage of the thickening benefits of permanent color. It fattens each individual hair so cumulatively your hair feels thicker.”
  • Variations in tone create depth.
    Some women experiencing thinning hair decide this is the moment to go blonde or if they are already blonde to go lighter. A big mistake, according to Minardi: “If you go too blonde when your hair is thinning, your hair will look transparent and sparseness at the scalp actually will become more visible. Instead, go for variations in blonde tones with a dark blonde or even light brown base and lighter brighter shades on top to create depth and the illusion of more hair. Brunettes should do their variation aiming for a tone on tone multi-color effect too, keeping the darkest color at the scalp as your base. A solid allover color will reveal any thinning or sparse areas while a multi-color look adds camouflage and creates the illusion of thicker hair.”
  • Color-camouflage a thin hairline.
    How about the sparse or thinning hairline area where color seems to grab more quickly? As Minardi explains, ” Brunettes with thin hairlines usually notice their color going darker-nearly black in that area and here’s why: color grabs more easily where your hair is thinnest. Highlighting around the hairline in brown on brown shades to vary the color helps in this instance. If you’re a brunette who colors her hair at home, go a shade lighter than you think.”
Barbara Younger
Hormones and Superheros: A Menopause Novel
Other Topics
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Going Through the Change

(Cover art by Polina Sapershteyn)

Here’s a post by a writer friend of mine, Samantha Bryant. She’s written a novel about menopause and superheros!

Menopause can be a pretty scary word. In a world that values youth and physical perfection above experience and knowledge, especially for women, getting older is fraught with psychic landmines. The process can make you doubt your own self worth.

Besides what the world thinks, there’s that feeling that your body is betraying you, changing physical shape around you and surprising you with new changes in function. You can start to feel like you can’t trust your own senses. Is it hot in here? No? Guess it’s just me, then.

As a writer, when something scares me, it comes out on the page. In the stories and characters I create, I can deal with the things that worry or upset me. I always tell my husband that it’s cheaper than therapy.  That’s exactly what happened with Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. The novel follows five women as their journey through the change of life takes some unexpected turns: superheroic turns.

While the subject matter is definitely the stuff of comic books–human flight, wielding fire, and transformations are unlikely to be a problem for any of us here in the real world–the book also explores the heart’s truths of this time of life. One of my characters, Helen Braeburn, is taking it especially hard.

“Sometimes, Helen felt like she had spent her whole life waiting to be ‘old enough’ and then had crossed over into ‘too old’ without finding out what it was she had been waiting for.”


“It was a truth of life that as a woman aged, Helen thought, people tended to treat her more and more like a child. Salesclerks called older women honey, just like they might a child. Senior food and movie tickets were sold at a reduced price, just like a child’s. Discounts and nicknames weren’t so bad in the scheme of things, but the assumption of incompetence was hard to take.”

Even in her lighter moments, Helen still struggles with aging.

“Getting old sucked. Of course, so did being beaten up by a giant lizard with red hair, and strangled by a cheerleader.”

Writing this book definitely has helped me deal with all my anxieties about aging and menopause. I hope my readers will find connections with the experiences of these characters, too.

Here’s the Amazon link to the book.

Introducing the stars of the show, the menopausal superheroes! These wonderful drawings were done by artist Charles C. Dowd.

Helen, who brings new meaning to “one hot mama.”


Jessica, who finally lightens up, literally.


Linda, whose inner strength becomes her outer strength, and it comes with a surprise!Linda

Dr. Liu, who doesn’t see a problem with the means she uses to get to her ends.


Patricia, who always had a thick skin, but now is bulletproof!


Samantha Bryant is a writer, mother, and middle school Spanish teacher, so she knows a thing or two about being a superhero. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. She lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with her family and dog.

Check out Samantha’s Facebook author page:
Here she is on Twitter:
And Google+:
To read her blog, click here:



Marguerite Orane
DONE is better than perfect
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I have procrastinated about doing video blogs (vlogs) for a long, long time. Here’s my first one. Lessons learned?

  1. It takes a lot more time to put something off than to do it.
  2. It’s easier to do something than we think it will be.
  3. Perfection adds nothing if it’s not done

What are you procrastinating about today? Just do it, imperfections and all.

Done is better than perfect vlog

Now this is a strong woman!
Family & Relationships
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I so admire the writer of this piece:

Your body is too wrinkly,” he said without a pause. “I have spoiled myself over the years with young women. I just can’t get excited with you. I love your energy and your laughter. I like your head and your heart. But, I just can’t deal with your body.”

I was stunned… We talked for some time more, my head reeling at the content of the conversation. He spoke of special stockings and clothing that would “hide” my years. He blithely told me he loved “little black dresses” and strappy shoes. He said my hair was not long and flowing as he preferred, but that was okay because it was “cool looking.” I felt like a Barbie Doll on acid as I listened to this man. He was totally oblivious to the viciousness of his words. He had turned me into an object to be dressed and positioned to provide satisfaction for his ideas of what female sexual perfection should be.

He explained that now that I knew what was required, we could have a great time in the bedroom. I told him no. I would not hide from my own body. I would not wear outfits to make my body more “tolerable.” I would not undress in the dark or shower with the bathroom door closed. I would not diminish myself for him — or for anyone. My body is beautiful and it goes along with my mind and my heart.

Read the full piece here:

Ellen Dolgen
Menopause Mondays: National Nude Day: Bare it All and Love It
Healthy Living
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Nudity and Menopause

Menopause usually translates into covering up rather than taking it off, but if you’re good with an itsy bitsy teeny-weeny bikini, then that’s good, too! Many women breathe a deep sigh of relief at this stage of the game and learn to ignore that airbrushed perfection on magazine covers touting the most perfect person in the world. We’ve got bigger and better things to think about!

So, next time you’re standing in line at the store gazing at those perfect 10’s on the cover, think about what a trusted friend your body has been to carry you this far. Appreciate it! Live in the present and get ready to spend your time…exactly as you please! Feel better, already?!

Let it RAIN!

Rather than focusing on what’s not perfect in your life, while missing the things that are worth a second look, why not try mindfulness, which is just paying attention to what’s going on right in front of you. Simply put, live in the moment and enjoy your life as it unfolds, rather than continually ticking off your ‘to do’ list in your head!

Studies show that this one psychological shift impacts almost every part of the body, affecting your hormones, immune system and even the psychological behaviors behind over-eating and substance abuse! What’s not to like? Mindfulness is also associated with stress reduction or MBSR, which stands for mindfulness based stress reduction.

Even long-time depression manifesting in anxiety and mood disorder moved in a positive direction through mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is so powerful that it impacts your DNA and can change the gray matter in your brain, say researchers. Long story short: mindfulness even affects your DNA and the aging process.

Here are some ways to become mindful:

  • Practice meditation (mind-body)
  • Take up yoga (physical component)
  • RAIN: Recognize strong emotions, Acknowledge it, Investigate it, Non-identify with what is there

The New Transparency

As we all move into the ‘empty nester’ category, discover the new transparency it offers by celebrating a renewed relationship with your significant other through open communication. Scientists suggest this time of life is ideal to become a couple again after years of identifying as just a parent. Men can suffer from empty nest syndrome, too, so it’s a good time to partner up for grownup things—with the door open!

Privacy rocks! Plop down on the sofa, nude if you like, and learn how to have a conversation with your husband again about something other than, ‘the kids.’

Love Your Body

Finally, menopause is a time to relax your self-imposed rules about having to look perfect all the time, especially in the nude. Consider your body a trusted friend who served you well through the years and treat it accordingly. Pert, taut and flat might not be the first words that come to mind, but there’s nothing wrong with curviness, soft skin and ‘my husband/boyfriend likes what he’s looking at,’ to replace them?

Loving yourself is the first step to accepting others. Acceptance is the first step to awareness and guess what with awareness, we’re right back to mindfulness. So, give your DNA a rest from constant stress and anxiety, which leads to early aging. It’s time to enjoy this new chapter of your life and release those self-doubts about…well everything! Live free and love it.

Suffering in Silence is Out! Reaching Out is In!

Top 9 Budget Fashion Tips
Fashion & Beauty
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Fashion is such a jigsaw puzzle for some of us. What’s in, what isn’t, what works well with which item? Deciphering answers to such questions can seem more difficult than solving an algebraic equation.

Then there are fashion magazines that add to our never-ending confusion with a new list of “fashion must-haves” each season. I mean, how are we supposed to stock up on a new set of fashion items every season? They cost a bomb, and it’s not like we’ve got money growing on trees!

So how is a style diva supposed to look fashionable all year round with a limited budget? I do realize that I’m not the first one to have wondered about this. If you’ve got such queries on your mind too, the good news is that I might have some answers.

Truth be told, you don’t need to sacrifice on looking good to save money. You can achieve both these goals with a few simple suggestions, which are listed below.

1. Like It? Love it, Own It

Make it point to buy only what you love. Don’t settle for anything that you just “like.” In fact, make this your mantra to shop smart and look your best. If you’re going to spend money on an item that you can actually do without, then you’re wasting it. Might as well look at it as an investment and go for something that really does make you feel good and stand out.

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2. Watch Out for Sale Season

There’s no season like sale season. The outfits and/or individual pieces that you wanted, but couldn’t have (because one look at the price tag sent shivers down your spine), suddenly become affordable and don’t seem out of your reach anymore. Make sure you hit the store soon after the onset of the sale, otherwise you’ll be choosing from among the leftovers.

Apart from sales, keep your eyes open for freebies, discounts, vouchers, and other store/online offers that help you make the most of every dollar spent. Try purchasing clothes off-season. Buy your winter jackets and cardigans during the summer sale as the prices on them will dip. Similarly, get your beachwear during the winter sale. This will save you a ton of money.

Also, try shopping during weekdays as the selection is wider and better. Because stores don’t get enough time to restock on weekends, chances are you’ll have to make do with whatever is available on the clothes racks.

3. Invest in a Few Classic Pieces

Designers would have you believe that you need to buy complete outfits to make the overall look work for you, but that’s not true. For those on a budget, it is a good idea to invest in a few timeless individual pieces at regular intervals. This shopping technique lets you have what you want, plus leaves you with enough money to pay your bills. Or you can check out a few other sales and use the remaining money there.

It is often much easier to put a few different pieces together tastefully and create a complete outfit. This ‘mix-n-match’ method lets you use your creativity to design your own look.

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4. Accessorize to Make a Statement

Invest in a few brilliant accessories that amp up your look. Whether it is a scarf, a belt, a hat, jewelry, or those oh-so-cool sunglasses, you can be quite versatile with them. Thinking of wearing that same white top again? Team it up with a colorful scarf this time and brighten up your look. Add a belt around your waist to jazz up your plain LBD and make it look new!

5. Don’t Follow Trends Blindly

This is a big fashion no-no that many girls fall prey to. Don’t just buy what you’re told is fabulous. Just because something looks good on an airbrushed model, does not mean it will suit you too. There are other factors involved, like your budget and your body type. Make sure you consider these aspects before wasting your money on something that might not make you look your best.

6. Find a Great Tailor

So you loved this one-of-a-kind dress and picked it up on an impulse and now it doesn’t fit you as well as it should have? If you know a good tailor who can alter it for you to perfection, then you have no reason to worry. A good tailor is one who can make adjustments to your badly fitted outfits and make them seem like nobody but you could have carried them off with so much panache. So make sure you find yourself such a gem!

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7. Recycle and Reuse

So you’ve stopped wearing a pretty pair of shoes just because you don’t like the heels on them? That’s no reason to discard a perfectly good looking and quality pair of kicks. Find yourself a good cobbler today and ask him to make the desired changes, and you’ve got yourself comfy, flat sandals. Needless to say, you also saved a lot of money on buying an entirely new footwear.

8. Refer to Fashion Articles

For a better idea of the season’s latest looks, trends and amazing deals, you can refer to the helpful suggestions and tips that are available online and in magazines. These blogs/articles can work well in guiding you about stuff that you might not have considered or forecasted.

9. Sell/Swap Unwanted Stuff

If you’re looking to empty your wardrobe or want to get rid of a few items, you could consider selling them or bartering them and receiving something else in return. This is a great way to add new things to your collection without having to loosen your purse strings.

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Fashion is affordable. Do remember that when it comes to buying classic and elegant things, the focus should primarily be on the quality of the pieces, rather than the quantity. Other than that, a little bit of practice, common sense, experience, and the above tips should give you a sense of what being a frugal fashionista is all about. 

Lisa Copeland, The Dating Coach Who Makes Finding Love After 50 Fun and Easy!
5 Reasons Over 50’s Dating Might Not Be Working For You
Love & Sex
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A couple in love walk outside on a sunny day, with hearts floating up from between them.You Believe There Is Only One Soul Mate Or Twin Flame For You

Hollywood has done a number on your psyche when it comes to romance and finding love.

Falling in love is easy. It’s based on hormonal highs that make you feel like this special man in your life is magical and perfect for you.

Think of Jennifer Lopez and all the men she “fell in love with.”  Once the high wore off, she moved on.

It’s more important to fall in LIKE with a man because once the magic wears off after 6 to 18 months, you’ll decide whether you want to build a life together.  And chemistry is only a small part of that.


You Must Have Immediate Chemistry

Chemistry is nice, but let’s face it…hot attraction is based on the need to mate and make babies.

Our DNA is engrained with the need to find the most handsome and strongest man out there so our babies had best chance of surviving in the caveman days.

Sex is very much alive after 50. It just doesn’t happen as often as it did when you were younger.

Both sexes can have sexual issues and even when attraction is there, the type of performance you did when you were younger is rarely sustainable at this age.

More important than chemistry will be the companionship and the emotional support the two of you will give each other that will far outlast the initial chemistry as you age.


He Completes Me

Hollywood fooled you again in the movie Jerry McGuire when Tom Cruise told the women he loved these three simple words…”You complete me!”

From that point on, men and women used this barometer as the measure for finding love.

The love of your life should compliment you, not complete you.  If they have to complete you, you’re missing something in your own life that you’re looking to have fulfilled by someone else.

After a while, this makes you appear needy because you must have the other person to make your life okay.

It’s better when you each come into a relationship with your own interests and passions. These create a glow that is so appealing to the opposite sex.

Of course, having common interests is important too for sustaining a relationship over time but it’s your individual passion that will keep the relationship alive.


Only Wanting To Date The “Beautiful” People

The media has taught us to think a person is only valuable if they are beautiful or handsome.  There’s a belief that having a handsome man on your arm raises your value to the world.

A relationship, especially after 50, is about far more than a handsome man.  Plus as you age, your looks will come from the inner glow of wisdom and feeling good about who you are today.

Handsome men make great eye candy but most of us need more depth than this to create a deeper sustainable relationship.  Don’t you agree?

Look at all the beautiful famous people you read about who are constantly breaking up or divorcing.  Could it be the outer glow has worn off creating a desire to have something deeper?


Looking For Perfection

The casualty of divorce is you really don’t want to fail again.  So you start looking for the perfect person.

On a coffee date, instead of getting to know a new and interesting man, you end up interviewing him for the position of your next serious relationship.

If he has one thing missing from the imaginary list you find yourself mentally checking off, you end the date and move on, never seeing him again.

When you were in your teens and 20’s, you found relationships with men by hanging out.  You didn’t go on a first date trying to figure out if this man was your next spouse.  No, you spent time hanging out just enjoying each other’s company.  That’s how you fell in love.

At this stage of the game, everyone comes with a ton of baggage that no one really wants to deal with.  What’s so wonderful about this time in your life is you can have all types of relationships with men.  Consider ending the traditional idea of having to marry as your goal.

Get out there and meet men who would be fun to have as a companion to hang out with.  Most people over 50 are lonely and could use a new friend in their life.

You never know, the person you passed up as your next spouse on the coffee date could over time turn out to be the greatest relationship of your over 50’s life.  All you have to do is give it a chance.

For more on how to fix what’s not working in your love life, I would like to suggest you check out my book, The Winning Dating Formula For Women Over 50.

I would love to hear what you think in the comments.

Until next time~

Much love and joy to you, Lisa


The Gift of the Ordinary Moment
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The greatest joys are in the small ordinary moments of our lives. It’s watching someone we love sleep, a cup of tea on a cold day, a thick mat when you step out of the shower. I’m finding that it takes courage to live in the fullness of these moments these days. Not because they don’t exist, but because we are bombarded with fear mongering messages that tell us who we are and what we have is not enough. We are told in a hundred different ways that we don’t measure up, that the world is not safe, and something bad is just around the corner. It’s fear at its most insidious best. And I get it. I get that we’re afraid, and I understand why. I’m not living under a rock.

When I did my 90 Day No Negativity Challenge I learned one thing for sure, it’s either fear or love, baby. Fear is a soul sucking joy stealer that brings out the worst in people. We destroy our bodies and relationships, get into debt up to our eyeballs, and we test our poor children to death. We finger point and blame because if someone else is bad it makes us a little more okay. We take care of ourselves like King Rat and turn a blind eye to anyone other than ourselves. We demand perfection in an imperfect world, just ask the 12 year old girl with an eating disorder how that’s working. That’s fear for you.

Then there’s love. People tell me that I can’t change the world. I wonder though if we can’t change the world by how we respond to it. I’m beginning to think we can. So, I am choosing to enjoy the small ordinary moments in my life. I’m going to suck up all the little bits of daily happiness like marrow out of a bone. Yes, I know that I’m a little too fat, I like my music a little too loud, I drive a ratty truck that I inexplicably love. All of that is just fine with me. That’s what love is, unconditional acceptance for your self, flaws and all. I am deeply blessed and profoundly grateful for the life I have just as it is. And I dare you to make me believe I’m not. It’s either fear or love, baby. I’m choosing love.

In Praise of Vibrant Stage in LIfe
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the most wonderful thing about being in the vibrant stage in life is; it is that time in your life where you get the chance to evaluate your life. The perfect timing to look at what you’ve done so far and to seriously consider what your next step would be. this is not the younger stage in your life where you have a lot of questions about what to do, where to go, and if it is the right thing to do. that was the stage of tremendous uncertainty, doubts and second guessing, and very prone to errors and regrets. vibrant stage is bliss! we are now confident about what we want; and more sure about who we are and everything else will come
naturally easy from now on. we’ve been there. we’ve done that so we have honed our insticnts to perfection and good to go on an auto-pilot and be confident that everything is just going to be right. we have done our share of carrying our “baggages” and realized, heck they not worth having around so vibrant stage is also that time in your life to let go of these “baggages” and resolve to travel light from now on in the rest of our journey in life.

Flower Bear
Call Me Irresponsible
Family & Relationships
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If you were to ask any five people who have known me for a while what some of my best qualities are, I would bet that every one of them would have “responsible” somewhere on their list. I am the person who shows up early to church to make the coffee and set out the treats for coffee hour. I’m the person who volunteers to set up and tear down for meetings, programs, and parties. I am the first to volunteer for whatever the group is doing. In short, I see a need and I fill it.

This is certainly not anything to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it is commendable to be responsible in an age where so many people and institutions refuse to do so anymore,  if in fact they ever did. It is also a wonderful example to set for the younger generation … except …

…except when you let it take over your life. Somewhere along the line my sense of responsibility began to become obsessive. I started taking responsibility for everything without allowing anyone else to step up and do their share. My mothers words, “if you want something done right, do it yourself,” became my mantra. And as everyone knows, the more you become Fallback Position #1, the more people will just assume that you’ll keep being the one to do it all, and that not only keeps them from taking responsibility themselves but eventually wears yourself pretty thin.

The other day I had had enough. I totally refused to be responsible for anything. I stayed in my bathrobe all day. I left a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I let the laundry go for another day (I live alone and figure as long as I have enough undies and outfits for four days of work and church on Sunday, I’m good). I put on Christmas music and dragged out the Christmas decorations. When people called me to see if I was available for this or that, I politely refused and told them that I was taking a Mental Health Day. I also advised them that I was confident in their talent and ability to do it on their own. I drank spiced tea and ate shortbread cookies and hugged a teddy bear. It was the best day ever.

Today I came across this post on my Facebook page. It was written by author and Angel Therapy guide Doreen Virtue:

1. Release the belief that you’re responsible for everyone and everything.

2. Let go of perfection.

3. Ask for help and accept help from others.

4. Focus on what’s important, and the rest of the day will take care of itself.

That sounds like a pretty good recipe for life to me. How about you?

And so it is.

Charmaine Coimbra
Putting My Christmas Queen Crown to Rest
Home & Garden
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When I try to remember the best Christmas ever, it’s impossible.  It’s not that I never had a best Christmas ever.  But no single memory explodes into smiling snowflakes and flashing Christmas tree lights.

The same goes with the worst Christmas ever.  They exist somewhere in my memory like empty beer cans tossed under a sparsely decorated dead Christmas tree.

Selective memories fade in time and prove that each moment is temporary.  Some moments are like the whiff of a freshly peeled orange on Christmas morning.  Others are like a drunk’s sour breath next to me at Christmas dinner.

Joy. Sadness. Temporary.  The three bells of Christmas.

If there was anything I could change about this end of year celebration, I would change our media’s endless Norman Rockwell depiction of how Christmas and winter holidays should be because they are not always perfect.  Our desperate need to make them perfect is like too much salt in a Christmas pudding.

My childhood holiday memories are all of the above—but so out of focus that I can’t pinpoint an exact moment in time when I inhaled the fresh spurt of orange oil or drunkenness’s putrid breath.

In my frenzied attempt to create a Rockwellian Christmas for my children, I earned the Queen of Christmas crown.  My queenly duties all but killed me between hosting the best office or club parties, the epic shopping, cookie exchange parties, Secret Santa club lunches, the  Christmas Tree decorating  party after my daughters performed in the annual Nutcracker production, stringing lights on my two-story home, Christmas Eve festivities, and the preparation and hosting of a Christmas dinner extravaganzas for 20 or more.

One by one, my children left their wings near my heart, and they left the nest that I so carefully lined with tinsel, angel hair, and peppermint scented candles to light the way.

The never-planned-for day came.  Neither child (now adults) would be home for Christmas. My Kodachrome photo of a perfect Christmas ripped in half.  The queen stood dethroned.

That Christmas I remember most.  It turned the page of my family album.

Quiet MomentsInstead of family and friends gathered at my Christmas Eve decorated table, centered with a steaming pot of fondue, spouse and I sat with strangers in a bay side café.  We sipped red wine and ate fish tacos.  It was different.  Angst for perfection left the room.   Sunset over the Pacific Ocean was carnelian red, tinged with orange and deep teals.  I might have spotted the elusive green flash.   Spouse and I each opened the present we bought for each other.  The moments grew more special with the quiet and the vacancy of nothing to do.  Christmas day included hunting for jade along the beach and me preparing the fresh local lobster for a candlelight dinner for two.  The Pacific Ocean slapped waves on the rocks. This mermaid music soothed my soul.

I was not tired.  I was not exhausted.  Such a strange feeling.  Nearly alone and away from my children on Christmas day didn’t drag me into the ashes from last night’s hearth.

Christmas day was Christmas past the next morning.  To awaken fresh and energized stunned me.

I still can’t remember the best Christmas ever.  And like my Yuletide crown, I have put all the worst Christmas’s ever to rest.

The joys, the dread, the laughter and the tears were temporary.  Now I take each Christmas season as my time to play, to reflect, and to slowly peel a fresh picked orange and let its sweetness fill the air and my heart.

Charmaine Coimbra
The Thunderous Intruders At My Door
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lightningIt’s that time of year when uncompromising, mean-in-the-heart people are landing at my doorstep.  My therapist friend says that some people become this way because of grief.  I’d like to apply that, but the truth is, this latest batch and their current behavior was predictable and no surprise.

So I’ll erase grief as a reason for their unpleasant behavior.

It’s not that I can’t be stubborn and hot-headed.  I am far from human perfection.  In my defense, I’ve developed my enabling spirit into a negotiating spirit.  There are always two-sides to every whole.  The question remains, however, what if one of those sides is so badly injured and toxic that a cure is unlikely—at least in the present?

Do I walk away from the toxicity in an effort to avoid contamination?  Do I offer healing words as a poultice, knowing full well that the toxic one will take the poultice and try to smash it into my face?

Is their infection my challenge anyway?

Well, they are at my doorstep and for complicated reasons, can’t be removed.  So, in many ways, their infection becomes my challenge.

Today I posted a quiz on The Daily Prism—a blog I post everyday to highlight the good that exists.  The quiz came from a UC Berkeley website called  The Greater Good—The Science of a Meaningful Life.  The quiz helps one learn one’s connection to humanity.  It asks things like: Sometimes people think of those who are not a part of their immediate family as “family.” To what degree do you think of the following 3 groups of people as “family”…to community, to country, and  to humans everywhere.

My answers indicated that I am connected to humanity.  But I felt like a hypocrite after a disturbing personal discussion that led me to scream out loud, “That person is a complete idiot. “

There you go:  spiritual imperfection and showcasing a lack of empathy toward the person I labeled as a complete idiot.  The one person I referred to is mean-spirited and untrustworthy.  I could use more patience towards this kind of person.

Written in red felt pen across my chest is an F. It’s my patience score.  I’m working for at least a C grade.  It’s a personal challenge.  My present advantage is the aging process and a tad less energy than in those days of yore.  In other words, sometimes I’m forced to sit, take a deep breath and recite a prayer.

With a determination to achieve the highest aim
For the benefit of all sentient beings
Which surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem,
May I hold them dear at all times.

That’s a lovely prayer found on a website for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  I’m not a Buddhist simply because I’ve found truth in so many different belief-systems.  But the Dalai Lama can usually address my issues with some simple search terms.

And from observation, I agree with this 14th century statement from  Je Tsong Khapa, ”…the more the practitioner engages in activities and thoughts that are focused and directed toward the fulfillment of others’ well-being, the fulfillment or realization of his or her own aspiration will come as a by-product without having to make a separate effort.”

But I didn’t first read this statement from a spiritual manual. My first introduction was from a wise woman, poet, and head of the Church of Christian Precepts. She’s long gone from this earth now, but oh, for the influential words she shared.  Words that encouraged those who listened to be mindful of our actions, our thoughts, and our words because they are as real as the unseen air that we breathe, and affect us even more than the simple act of taking in oxygen.

She sent me this prior to her passing, knowing that I was wrestling with a serious personal issue:

A Bit of Philosophy

by Twyla Lake

What’s the use crying and sighing?
It won’t drive away the gloom.
Rather turn to something better –
Sing a song or write a letter.
Then for blues, there won’t be room.

One of the common faults of people
Is to feel they’ve been abused,
Hadn’t we better look to our brother
Whom by life, may too be bruised?

We all have our little troubles;
Few think life is but a jest.
But if we keep sunshine on the surface,
Don’t you think we’ve passed the test?

A while ago the tears were starting,
Thus the peacock of my clouds,
In writing others,
For my troubles, it forms a shroud.

These words bring tears.  They are truer than I can imagine.  But how do I apply this to the uninvited thunderous intrusions at my doorstep?  The second stanza is the path.  I know it’s true.

So, I’ve posted this poem and the above prayer near my computer and the telephone. And as I read or listen to the absurdies sent my way, I understand that these intrusions will pass, benefit will come forth for all (even if unrealized by all), and that I am blessed in all things that matter, as are they who roar at my door, and as are you.

Wearing My Big Girl Pants Post 50!
Fashion & Beauty
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As I’ve aged, I’ve discovered one thing to be perfectly true about myself. My mind has a tendency to wander. (Have you seen that new kitchen gadget that’s supposed to make your life that much easier? )

Umm…actually, wander is probably too gentle a description to describe how my self-deprecating, and still un-medicated brain cells work. Racing is probably the right word. Yep, that bitch races like she’s part of an AARP NASCAR event on steroids. No control, and most certainly…NO filters!

But I don’t worry too much about it.

First off, I’m too old to care what people think, and secondly, I know people now, and my new best friend just happens to be a bail bondsman, so I pretty much say or do whatever I feel like saying or doing now! If you’re menopausal, you will completely understand why you should have people like this on the same page as you.

Anyway, the other day I was busy plucking one of those stray eyebrows that seems to always pop up in several places on my chin, and on my other chin, when all of a sudden, out of the blue, my mind took a turn and raced backwards to that time in my life where this kind of grooming was unheard of.

I was remembering when I was that ‘skinny, perfect, glamo-rama’ girl. Holy crap! That was the greatest time of my life!

Back then, in my almost famous era, I never, ever considered leaving the house unless I was camera ready, just in case the paparazzi got wind that I was out and about! Those days were spectacular!

I was in my twenties then. I had the world by the balls, and let me tell you…those balls were enormous. I could juggle them and never miss a beat. My boobs were perky and there was only one level to my chin and my butt. I wore crop tops, short shorts, mini skirts and, O.M.G.–fuck me high-high-heels! Of course, this last item may very well be the reason I can longer tippy-toe around today!

Back in that day…

…my thigh’s never rubbed together.

…my underarms never jiggled.

…my ass never undulated.

…my stomach was as flat as a washboard.

…my skin was taut and sprung back like a rubber band.

…and my neck, well, back in the day…it was flawless.

I had no skin crevices yet, no barnacles springing up, no wrinkles, no age spots, and no cellulite…nada! I was perfect in every way. (Of course, this is what I tell myself now as I look back on the journey to where I am today.)

I never once feared reflective surfaces during those early years. As a matter of fact, I was actually drawn to them, relentlessly, because back then, that was my job. You know, being beautiful, being on television, being photographed on a daily basis. I spent every waking moment working diligently towards keeping myself in my ‘perfection’ mode! How I looked back then was my moneymaker. I was a model/actress and eventually, after my daughter hit middle school, I had proudly moved into M.I.L.F mode! (If you don’t know what that is, I suggest you Google it!)

But here I am today. All of a sudden, thirty years have flown by. Lot’s of things have changed, relocated or…umm…nope, every thing has pretty much relocated. It’s then I realize that, when I see someone staring at me now, my inner ego springs to attention and I find my hand automatically going to my chin first (to check for gangly strays) and then to my upper lip because I may have left my humble domicile without shaving that small mustache that’s taken up residence between my nose and upper lip. And if that’s all okay, I then check to make sure that the girls are safe and sound in my bra because I’ve caught them trying to sneak out the side of it every so often because I’m so damned cheap now. I still try to wear my old bra’s that contain not one stinking thread of spandex in it, so I completely understand why the girls doth protest on occasion. It keeps life interesting, that’s for sure.

These days, working in and through the (fucking) fantastic menopause phase, everything has changed about me, including my demeanor. I can clear a room in less than five seconds if my hormone level has taken a dive. My (wrinkles) laugh lines have become deeper, and I can now actually, truthfully, answer that age-old question of ‘do your boob’s hang low, do they wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow’? And the answer to that my friends is…YES, YES, YES, YES…they do…and I can!

I have also discovered that my body had lost all of its moisture producing abilities, which sometimes proves embarrassing. The other day I had lunch with a friend. When I arrived at the table she reached out to touch my pants and asked me if they were corduroy. I had to admit to her that, NO, they were not, it’s just the sound my vagina makes now when I walk because I sometimes forget to use a vaginal moisturizer.

Bitch please!

She’s the same age as me. She should know better than to assume the noises my body makes now are not due to costume malfunctions.

As for the elasticity of my skin, well, that’s also gone to hell in a hand basket. Here’s a perfect example of how bad it is. Last week I got out of bed, walked down the hall to the bathroom and when I got there, I realized only one of the girls had come with me. I guess that my husband, at some point during the night, had rolled over on top of the other one, so yeah, the bitch was still snuggled up underneath him somewhere. I had to sit there on the toilet, bracing myself with both hands on the wall just in case he happened to roll over and free her before I peed and got back into bed.

Oh yeah! Menopause is grand. Wearing my big girl pants is mostly fun!

All in all, when my estrogen patch has been safely installed somewhere on my groin, life is pretty damned good. My kids are still alive (only because I discovered my hormone deficiency early on)! My husband still loves me warts and all, and my dog? Well, bless his heart. He still nose butt’s me in the ass after I’ve been gone all day, even though my gastro problems have grown exponentially during this sacred phase of my life!

Yep, I’m a big girl now. Attitude is everything, right?

VN Editors
Inflammation/gut health after 45: What every vibrant woman should know
Healthy Living
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Tens of millions of Americans suffer with digestive and intestinal pain on a daily basis, and they don’t have to. You can control the health of your gut, reduce inflammation and feel better. Learn what every vibrant woman should know about healthy digestion after 45.

Guts on Fire: Is Inflammation Affecting You?

Inflammation can cause a myriad of health problems, even affecting your thought processes and breast health. It’s also very commonly caused by the things we eat. VN member Women’s Health wrote about the dietary choices that lead to inflammation.

“Whether a food contributes to inflammation often has to do with the type of Omega fatty acids it contains,” Women’s Health explained. “The typical western diet tends to be high in Omega-6s and low in Omega-3s, promoting a significant imbalance.” You’ll find Omega-6 fatty acids in many processed foods, including refined corn and many cooking oils. An imbalance of these acids can lead to “a persistent inflammation state.”

Balance it out with more Omega-3s. You’ll find them in fruits like apples and blueberries, along with herbs like ginger and rosemary. “Inflammation has a lot of contributing factors. One we have the most control over is the type of foods we choose to eat,” says Women’s Health.

Inflammation affects many aspects of your overall health, including the prostate. Healthy dietary choices reduce inflammation and keep your body balanced, which creates fewer health problems.

Menopause and Your Gut Health

If you start getting a pain in the gut while going through menopause, you’re not alone. VN member and blog circle user Ellen Dolgen wrote about the correlation between gut health and menopause.

“Digestive issues are definitely part of menopause,” she says. “When digestive issues occur around the time of perimenopause, symptoms usually include bloating and excessive gas, which is completely linked to a hormonal imbalance.”

Sounds pretty scary, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. “Typically, [digestive issues] are fully controllable by you,” explains Dolgen. She advises vibrant women to think about the foods they’re eating. “Every bite of food…will have an effect on your gut.”

Limit sugar, because “sugar equals gas.” And that includes alcohol, which becomes sugar in your digestive system. Drink lots of water, and opt for non-processed foods whenever possible. Exercise to keep hormone levels stable. Regular exercise can reduce hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, including poor gut health.

Many women have found that cutting wheat out of their diet drastically improved gut health. VN member SusiS gave it up in October 2012. “The changes have been drastic,” she reports. She began to lose weight after the first month of eating wheat-free. “My brain fog cleared up and my energy returned. Most importantly, the gut pain that I worried about constantly…went away. I have found a whole new way to live.”

Your Gut, Your Body

The way the gut affects the body is a subject of great interest to many scientists and researchers. The Human Microbiome Project is looking at the connection between the gut and overall health to keep the human race healthier. Other studies show that a high-fat, high-sugar diet reduces the presence of healthy bacteria in the gut and increases inflammation. A plant-based diet, however, seems to create optimal levels of healthy gut bacteria.

Bacteria in the gut may have an even bigger impact on the body than exercise, suggests some studies. Lack of the right bacteria may even be responsible for obesity.

Healthier Eating, Healthier Body

Reduce the amount of white breads, fatty foods and sugar you eat, and you’ll feel better. It really is that simple – at least, it sounds pretty simple. The truth is, it’s very difficult to eat healthy in today’s fast-paced, fast food world. It’s difficult to cook, and the variety of ready-to-go meals out there makes it seem silly.

But steaming a bag of frozen vegetables can be just as quick as stopping to get that burger and fries. Stick them in the microwave in a plastic bowl with a little water, add pepper and you’re ready to eat. Serve it to yourself on a bed of brown rice (which can also be cooked in the microwave with water in a plastic bowl) and a grilled chicken breast cooked in a little bit of light butter with rosemary for seasoning. Or, throw a frozen fish filet in the oven with a little bit of pepper and lemon and bake it to flaky perfection.

You can turn to the frozen food aisle for more shortcut solutions to healthy eating. Try switching to vegetarian burgers, sausage and bacon instead of eating the real thing. The frozen substitutes are tasty and much healthier for you. Cook them in the oven, a frying pan or in the microwave to enjoy a healthy, tasty source of protein. Grab a yogurt, a piece of fruit or a sugar-free pudding when you want a snack. Instead of candy bars, try a granola bar with dark chocolate. It’s a low-calorie but tasty healthy option.

Switch out your regular diet with healthier choices, and you’ll notice a switch in your overall health. You’ll feel better and have more energy, experience less bloating and inflammation. It’s time to make a change before the problem gets worse.