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Has Anyone Joined a Wine Club
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Keep getting innudated with mail to join a wine club.  Never wanted to until I got what sounds like a real deal from the Wall Street Journal Wine Club.  Has anyone joined one, particularly WSJ, and what has been your experience?



Flower Bear
Do You See What I See?
Home & Garden, Spirituality
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I grew up in New York City. Even though Christmas in New York was as magical as a place can get, the rest of the year was so “real” it sometimes hurt. Magic was the last word I would have used to describe it. Once I was old enough to understand terms like “Wall Street,” and,  “Madison Avenue,” I turned in my I-Believe-In-Magic button and entered The Real World.
Fast forward about 30 years. I’m living in the country, in a small town where magic is everywhere, everyday, if we just look for it. I see it in the changing of the seasons up close and personal. I see it in the antics of squirrels, birds, rabbits, otters and other members of my extended family. I see it in the sap from the maple trees as it drips into the metal pail at the end of winter and the first pussy willows that burst forth to announce the coming of spring. I take my grandchildren for walks in the woods to look for fairies and go on adventures. I see magic everywhere.
This Christmas I celebrate the magic of my first great-grandson and the knowledge that his being here in my life is the result of thousands of ancestors who loved, and that is magical all by itself. As I look up at the stars on a frigid winter night they seem all the brighter for the cold, and the glow of the moon bathes me in peace. This, too, is magic.
I see magic everywhere I look. The key to seeing magic, I’ve found, is to actually look for it. Look for it in the first snowflake that touches you when you walk out the door, or the first chirp outside your window. Look for it in the first cloud of your breath as it meets the cold air, or in the gaze of your cat (or dog) when they look up at you with unconditional love.
So this is my gift to all of you this year … I’m giving you a key of your own to find the magic that is all around you as well. All you have to do is believe it will be there, and you will find it. If you need a little help at first, just pretend you’re 5 years old again.
Merry Christmas. And so it is.
Ellen Dolgen
Meet the Alloro Collection, the Fashion Brand that Fights Cancer
Healthy Living
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Menopause Mondays“When my surgeon told me two years ago that I had cancer in my left breast, I started to feel like I was on borrowed time,” says Laurel Kamen, now the co-founder of the Alloro Collection, a fashion brand for women who are suffering or have survived breast cancer.

Laurel had already fought (and won!) against two cancer diagnoses. On her third brush with the dreaded C word, however, she was devastated. But she was also brave. She resolved to take control over her future. “I opted to increase my odds and go for a double mastectomy, rather than the recommended single,” she says. She’s not alone in her decision. The rate for women choosing to remove both breasts when only one has cancer increased from 6.7 percent in 1997 to 24 percent in 2005, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Plus, while total mastectomy rates have increased 33 percent since 1998, immediate reconstruction rates have decreased 56 percent, according to research published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, Basically, that means every day there are more breast cancer survivors leading their lives without breasts–just like Laurel would be.

So on the night before her surgery, Laurel called her best friend–but not just for a sympathetic ear. Laurel had a business proposition for her. She wanted to launch a fashion collection of clothing and accessories for women dealing with breast cancer and treatment, be it surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. She knew her pending surgery would change how she looked and felt for some time–probably forever. As much as she hated going through her closet to find something to wear, she knew she would soon hate it even more–and she surely wasn’t the only woman out there with the conundrum. “So are you in?” Laurel asked.

“I’m in!” immediately responded her friend, Christine Irvin, an astute Wall Street veteran and artist. Christine later confessed that she would have replied with the same gusto had Laurel suggested opening a car wash (not Breaking Bad-style, of course!), but fortunately for the both of them, Laurel’s idea was one that would soon support thousands of breast cancer warriors–in style.

After undergoing a double mastectomy, Laurel learned that the surgery’s pain and discomfort were more intense–and widespread–than she had imagined. Researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo recently found that 19.5 percent of women who undergo mastectomies for breast cancer experience long-lasting neuropathic pain–many of them suffering for ten years or more. During a mastectomy, nerve damage can occur, leading to neuromas (abnormal nerve growths where scar tissue and nerves grow together) and hypersensitivity, so that normally painless (or even pleasant!) stimuli around the chest, sides, and torso is perceived as painful, according to Mayo Clinic. What’s more, according to, radiation is associated with increased sensitivity of the skin, while chemotherapy can lead to widespread nerve damage that can result in pain, burning sensations, and tingling throughout the entire body, according to the American Cancer Society.

For Laurel–like many women of the women who have underwent breast cancer treatment–along with the physical pain following treatment came the psychological one. Her clothes didn’t fit like they used to, and finding fashions that made her feel beautiful was a painful process. It’s so important for breast cancer survivors to know how beautiful they are–whether they have two breasts, one breast, or none at all, Laurel says. They are still the gorgeous, phenomenal women they have always been. But some styles and clothing lines can make them feel anything but.

As Dr. Marie Pennanen, Laurel’s surgeon, recently wrote, “Breast cancer patients actively engaging in efforts which made them feel good about their appearance have better social and psychological quality of life and lower levels of depression.” For that reason, she noted, “doctors and nurses should… encourage patients to implement behaviors to improve or maintain their sense of physical attractiveness. This isn’t being vain, it’s being healthy.”

That’s where the Alloro Collection comes in. It strives to serve these and all women who are battling–or have won against–breast cancer. The line’s 20 diverse design elements address the challenges women face after treatment, taking into account both the physical and emotional challenges that come with treatment. The styles are beautiful and show the world just how beautiful the women wearing them are. “Breast cancer–any cancer–drains the color out of women’s lives,” Laurel says. “We simply want to restore that color with beautiful fabrics and designs that make women feel beautiful again so they can move forward–in style.”

Plus, the Alloro Collection strives to be sensitive to the financial toll that treatment takes on the women who must endure it. “Our goal was never just to sell clothing, but rather to find a way to raise awareness and give back to the community,” says Laurel, who notes that 25 percent of the collection’s profits go to cancer research and prevention organizations. The Alloro Collection’s first beneficiary is the Prevent Cancer Foundation, which works to advance the prevention and early detection of cancer through research and education initiatives.

So, this Breast Cancer Month, let’s show all of the amazingly strong and inspirational breast cancer warriors out there just how beautiful they are! The Alloro Collection is sold at trunk shows, fundraisers, and at Plus, you can enter to win this beautiful shimmering silk scarf the brand has donated for one lucky reader. When your friends ask you where you got your new styles, tell them what the Alloro Collection is really all about!

Remember: Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!

Photo Courtesy of

VN Editors
What Julie Andrews can learn from Vibrant women
Family & Relationships, Fashion & Beauty, Work & Money
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Many vibrant women have learned life lessons from Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp, two characters made iconic by the one and only Julie Andrews. But even this famous Dame can stand to learn a few life lessons of her own. What can she learn from everyday vibrant women who aren’t famous?

Looking Back

If you’ve ever dwelt on a failed relationship or held on to that size 4 dress you won’t ever get into again, you know that looking back can be damaging. Spend too much time dwelling on what has been, and you won’t enjoy the here and now. It’s a lesson that many vibrant women have learned painfully.

It may be one that Julie Andrews needs to learn. She was forced to cut a Broadway run short in 1997, and suffered a botched vocal cord surgery that greatly reduced her famous soprano range and altered her singing voice. Andrews has not sounded quite the same since, though she did sing on-screen again in the 2004 Princess Diaries sequel.

Now, she is being treated by a doctor in an experimental procedure involving synthetic vocal cords. Andrews got involved in the organization through a charity she supports, and could be one of the first patients to benefit from new technology that synthesizes the vibration of a natural voice box.

The procedure could bring back her famous voice…or it may not. Sometimes, chasing the past isn’t such a good idea. Every vibrant woman has to decide for herself if an operation to bring back the past is worth the risk…even the famous vibrant women.

Little Princess

When you think of someone who is classy and beautiful and well-spoken and smart, it’s easy to think Julie Andrews. She’s famous for playing royal characters and for bringing a hint of royalty to everything she does. Her classic good looks, her rich voice and her perfect carriage seem to set her apart.

That makes it a little bit hard for other vibrant women to relate. Julie Andrews keeps her short hair perfectly cut and styled, she’s never without a pair of fantastic earrings and she’s always dressed for an elegant cup of tea in the finest of establishments. Where are her sweatpants, her stray hairs, her menopausal moments?

Celebs are pretty good at putting on a persona for the public, and it makes lots of vibrant woman feel like they can’t measure up. Julie Andrews could learn to loosen up a little and show her more natural side…and make it much easier for all vibrant women to do the same.

Moving Forward

Being vibrant means changing with the times and embracing your ever-changing self…but don’t forget to hang on to the parts that make you you. Julie Andrews recently came up in a VN discussion, where members talked about happy childhood memories. It’s likely that, in some way, Julie Andrews is part of yours.

VN member Bonnie McFarland says that “bad things happen…as we age.” She still uses a trick she learned a long time ago from The Sound of Music to chase the blues away.

“Remember Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp?” She asked. One of her favorite songs in the movie “conveys deep wisdom, wisdom to lift us out of our doldrums.”

“When you’re feeling bad, remembering your favorite things can lift your mood,” she says. “What are a few of your favorite things? Give yourself three minutes right now to think of, to make a list of, and to let yourself feel and focus on a few of your favorite things.”

VN member Jender remembers another song from a Julie Andrews movie that meant a lot to her during childhood and today: “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” The song wasn’t sung by Andrews on film, but it’s one of the high points of the movie that helped make her a household name.

NBC plans to remake The Sound of Music with another actress in the lead role. Andrews told the Wall Street Journal that she won’t be in the film, but she does support it. “It’s all part of the process of those wonderful properties going out and reaching another audience,” she said.

That’s the essence of what moving forward is all about. Things change. Even the past changes, in some ways. But vibrant women move forward, and that’s what keeps them so vibrant.

See also: What Vibrant women can learn from Julie Andrews

Bette Boomer
Get Out and Dance!
Healthy Living
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The weather has been anything but spring-like in most of the U.S. lately. We are beyond cabin fever now. So, it’s time to DANCE!

That’s right, get out there and dance. Nothing makes one feel so alive and vibrant as a great night out dancing. Check out your local dance classes, and clubs with bands. Dancing isn’t just for your parents or your college kids.

We boomers might seem stuck in the middle a bit – “sandwiched” is the buzzword. Our parents knew all sorts of great dances: fox trot, jitterbug and swing to name a few. Our kids are out there “grinding” and some are clever enough to know actual dances. Our latest favorite is – West Coast Swing – take a look at how the Canadian champions do it.

chateau chambord small2 Get Out and Dance!Dancing goes beyond providing exercise. It is an opportunity to connect romantically with your partner (or a partner) and participate in a communal activity that is centuries old. It appears that ballroom dancing is traced back to 16th-century French renaissance social dances. Dances in the ballrooms of Loire Valley estates are a far cry from the rage that swept the world last summer – “Gangnan style.” The Wall Street Journal does a fabulous job of explaining the popularity of this song and the related dance in How “Gangnam Style” Went Viral.

We don’t suggest you go out and get your Gangnam on, but we do propose a swing lesson, some two-stepping, or any steps that get you around the dance floor. Grab your partner and off you go and let’s bring spring in with a dosey-doe!

Vibrant Nation and I are quoted in the Wall Street Journal!
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VN Editors
Jodie Foster is 50! And…what else?
Books & Entertainment
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Last Sunday, as Jodie Foster accepted Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes, the famously private actor and director gave what the Huffington Post described as a “rambling, heartwarming, intimate and just a tiny bit crazy speech” – in which she may or may not have also come out as gay. (As the National Post said, “Did Jodie Foster come out? It depends on who you’re asking.”)

The NY Times characterized the moment as a coming out that was more elliptical than loud and proud” while the Wall Street Journal was more critical, saying, “It felt confrontational, defensive, disjointed” – and suggested it was a mistake to not make a more upfront statement.

But the NY Times suggested a sympathetic explanation for both the awkwardness and Jodie’s need to make the announcement now, after decades of reticence, to which many vibrant women can probably relate:

The answer to the puzzle of Jodie Foster’s rambling, raw, semi-confessional speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday may have been right there at the outset, when she skittishly quoted a lesser-known “Saturday Night Live” character and shouted: “I’m 50! I’m 50!”

Ms. Foster’s outpouring could well have been one of those defiantly uncharacteristic steps some people take when they hit the last milestone of midlife. Like a 50-year-old who ends a marriage, takes up flying lessons, grows a beard or moves to Umbria, Ms. Foster publicly acknowledged, kind of, that she is, as anyone who cared already assumed, gay.

But possibly more powerful and poignant even than her coming out statement were Jodie’s words at the close of her speech, on what it means to be 50:

“This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else – scary and exciting. And now what? Well I may never be up on the stage again, on any stage for that matter. Change – gotta love it. I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved – the greatest job in the world. It’s just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick. Maybe it won’t be a sparkly, maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens. Maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall. Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood, deeply, and to be not so very lonely. Thank you, all of you, for the company. Here’s to the next fifty years.”

What did you think of Jodie Foster’s speech at the Golden Globes? Can you relate to the desire to be defiantly yourself before the whole world, especially at midlife?

VN Editors
Boomerang kids: How to set boundaries when your adult kids live at home
Family & Relationships
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It’s always difficult to set boundaries with kids, but it becomes even harder to do it once they think they’re adults. Lots of mothers are dealing with boomerang kids who have returned home after being on their own, and many of them are completely stressed out because of it. Learn how to set boundaries when your adult kids live at home.

Boomerang kids

The Huffington Post reports that 29 percent of young adults move back home. Boomerang kids are very common right now, largely due to the sluggish economy. Young adults may have trouble establishing themselves in the workforce, while others may have suffered layouts and other setbacks. There are lots of reasons kids might come back home, but just one very common result: parental stress.

They think they’re adults and want to behave that way, but they’re living in your house. Boomerang kids may have trouble respecting your space and your rules, and that creates trouble for you. As a parent, you’ve got to set boundaries with your adult children. These boundaries are particularly necessary when adult children are living in your home.

Setting boundaries

Many VN members have weighed in on the topic of boomerang kids and boundaries, and they’ve got lots of good advice.

“You have to be tough, determined, able to be the disciplinarian, be consistent and determined to set the rules,” says VN member dynamomma.

If your adult kids need a little incentive to get out of your house, or maybe need a little more adjusting before they can live on their own, help them. Your boundaries are your guidance tools. “How about paying rent…How about you don’t do their laundry? How about separate shelves in the refrigerator (like having a roommate)? If they don’t have jobs, how about giving them jobs for room/board … paint the house, do repairs… stuff you might be paying for,” suggests VN member New-name.

“Write up a contract when they move in, write down expectations, charge them some kind of rent,” advises VN member rosesam.

“You can help but don’t enable,” reminds VN member Carol Orsborn. Let them do things for themselves. Don’t try to help them find a job or advance their education unless they ask for your help. She adds that “trust and respect are non-negotiable.” And by that, she means you both have to respect each other. Don’t forget that legally, your child is an adult. Treat them like an adult, and expect their respect in return.


Putting your agreement in ink isn’t at all a bad idea. A casual lease agreement between a parent and a child is easy enough to draft, and not at all legally binding, but it will create a record of your agreement and your kid’s responsibilities. If they don’t meet these responsibilities, find the reason why or tell them they are getting evicted from your home.

VN’s Deborah Huchison (A Sane Approach) advises doing exactly this with boomerang kids. “Have them sign an agreement before they move back in!” She wrote.

“If you find yourself in a situation where your adult child needs to move back into the home be understanding and welcoming,” she says. “Remember though first and foremost it’s your house! So you be adult and set guidelines.”

Don’t forget to include the house rules you expect them to follow. If they smoke or drink, for example, make it clear you won’t tolerate these behaviors in your home if they bother you. If you expect them to do some chores, like keep their room clean and see to their own laundry, include this in the agreement. You can even add a time limit to the deal – “in 6 months, you agree to have a bank account and a job. In 12 months, you agree to seek alternate living arrangements.”

And if they don’t follow through, make sure they have to face consequences. Do they have to pay a fine? Do extra chores? Get the heck out of the house? Include these clauses in your contract.

You Are Not Alone

If the stress of having your boomerang kid at home starts to get to you, remember this: you aren’t alone. Statistics and studies show us that many, many parents are experiencing the same situation.

VN member Sandwiched Boomers points out that “not since the Great Depression have so many fledgling adults moved into the empty nest with mom and dad.”

She adds, “the huge boom in boomerangs has generated its fair share of pop culture angst. This phenomenon really doesn’t reflect failure on the part of parents or the laziness of kids today. Transition to adulthood just seems to be more fragmented and complicated. And who wouldn’t take advantage of a warm, comfortable and familiar port in the storm?”

The Wall Street Journal says boomerang kids can be a positive influence in the home. They get to know their parents in a new way, which can be healthy for your relationship with them. In a survey conducted by Pew cited by WSJ, 72 percent of boomerang kids who were asked said the experience of living at home had a positive influence on their own financial situations.

Be there for your kids by providing them with a home when they need one. Be good to yourself by establishing clear boundaries, rules and guidelines. After all, it’s your home first and foremost.

living large after death
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Despite opposition from some members of his Republican party, and despite 87% of the American population being unable to pronounce his name correctly, John Boehner today won a second term as US Speaker of the House. In another joyous development, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have been deemed safe listening fare by the Pentagon, while anything considered LGBT is not.

Let’s now leave Boehner, Limbaugh, and Coulter to their private celebrations and talk about something a lot more pleasant: death.  If you are personally anticipating death at some point in your life, this post is for you.

First off, the funeral home. Frank E Campbell (the company, not Frank himself) has been burying the rich and famous for 115 years.  According to the website, “Service styles have varied from the most formal funeral mass to services featuring a single work of art or, once, an airplane tire.” A suggested list of services includes:  •A Bagpiper at the Funeral Service or at the place of final rest.  •A Bugler at the Interment Service.  •A Horse-drawn Hearse and Livery Coachman (distance and weather permitting). •A Memorial Release of Doves. •Cremation Ark

Now that the service is over, it’s time to decide where you want to be buried.  Remember that comfort in death is even more important as comfort in life. If the hotel room sucks, you can complain and get another room.  Once you are in the ground, it’s tough to get anyone to pay attention.

Donald Trump to the rescue. Trump announced this week that he is considering building a 1.5-acre cemetery next to his high-end golf course in Bedminster, NJ, where members pay a lifetime fee of as much as $300,000. If they want to stay beyond that, they most likely will pay a membership fee that includes burial. For a larger sum, your mausoleum will be wired for sound, and you will have the benefit of listening to Trump Talk, Trump’s new post-death talk show, piped in 24/7.  Along with Trumps daily musings on life, there will be daily updates on the birther situation.

If Trump isn’t your thing, you can choice from several other luxury cemeteries that will cost upwards of 3.5 million dollars for a historic private mausoleum.

It’s unlikely that anyone will come close to Ronald Reagan (If you don’t know who Ronald Reagan was, you are forbidden to ever read this blog again, unless you pay the blogger a huge sum of money).

Reagan spent his entire political life advocating for lower taxes, but when he died, his funeral cost US taxpayers $400 million. The funeral was “$56,800-per-hour” to operate, so it may have cost at least $1 million just to transport the body. The federal holiday and closing down of Wall Street that accompanied the funeral bumped the price tag up to around $400 million. It has also been suggested that factoring in the price of the funeral itself, security, media attendance, etc. would increase the price into the billions range.

This blogger, committed to cremation and subsequent scattering of the ashes, most likely won’t need the services of either Donald Trump or anyone else. But, just in case she changes her mind, she has stored an old car tire in the garage.

Liz DiMarcoWeinmann
Alpha Women – so many leaders!
Work & Money
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This year both Prevention magazine and Adweek (an ad industry trade publication), published articles on over-50 women referred to as “Alpha Women.” Alpha women over 50 are often discussed in our media, but not everyone is in agreement as to what defines an “Alpha” woman. In fact, Adweek received complaint letters saying that marketers only wish women over 50 were as hip and happening as the magazine reported.

Who ARE those complainants? Have they watched a TV show lately? Have they seen the powerful women over 50 who are leading the charge to rebuild in the face of one of the most devastating storms this country has ever witnessed? Do they read the Wall Street Journal and not notice how many women are not only running Fortune 500 corporations, but some of the most respected nonprofits in the world?

To me it’s simple: Alpha women over 50 are finally getting their due!  If you have any doubts about that, let me remind you that Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius and Kirsten Gillebrand have all demonstrated a powerful Alpha presence on television and elsewhere in the face of Hurricane Sandy, promising to help the New York/New Jersey areas survive and move on.

The term “Alpha women” is defined by as “the dominant female in a pack,” while The Urban states: “The Alpha woman is “Self-confident, assertive, a natural leader, a woman both Beta women AND men tend to follow. [i] In summary, the traits of leadership, low introversion, healthy self-esteem, and high emotional intelligence seem to be the common factors in the definition of the Alpha woman. And, who better than confident women over 40 or over 50 to personify that kind of conviction and commitment!

Women today have more positive role models than ever before, even if they never expect to become Secretary of State, a partner in a law firm, or CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation. In fact, the current TV season has at least a dozen Alpha women in leading roles that are all so realistic it renews my confidence in the medium. (Leave the melodramatic “Stand By Your Man” stereotypes to opera sopranos!)

Here is just a partial list of Alpha women over 40 to inspire you, from entertainment to corporate to politics.

  • Kerry Washington is only 35, but as crisis manager Olivia Pope on the hit ABC show,Scandal,she is surely the wisest “old” person on any show on TV right now. Admittedly, Olivia is in a far-fetched position as real-life executives go: can we really believe the Most Important Man on the Planet is so in love with her he risks matters of national security to be with her? Is it possible a crisis manager is not only able to provide intellectual firepower and command in highly charged situations, but that her passion and conviction make her so compelling a presence that powerful men fall all over themselves to listen to, look at and touch her? From what I’ve seen in many years of dealing with and working in Washington, D.C., the notion is not so far-fetched. Alpha indeed!
  • Ind ra Nouyi, CEO of Pepsi, who is standing firm even in the face of activist investors who assert she should focus on the beverage aspect of that company’s business. She has chosen instead to diversify (and some say, dilute) beyond beverages to health-oriented products.
  • Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, who bravely took the fall recently for the still-hotly debated and agonizing Libyan uprising that resulted in the death of several innocent Americans. Say what you will about her own aspirations to the most important job on the planet, she is the epitome of the “buck stops here” when it concerns a Democratic president whom she (and Big Bad Dog Bill Clinton) are working hard to get re-elected.

Thank the universe that Alpha women are well represented in our lives.

Check in soon for the next installment of this blog – there are just so many powerful Alpha women in politics, the corporate world, and in our entertainment media, that I could go on and on!


[i] The Urban “Alpha female”



Nancy Wurtzel
Caregiving: Not Just for Women Anymore
Family & Relationships
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When I conjure an image of a caregiver, I picture a woman.  I know I’m being sexist but I always think female.  Why?

First, I don’t personally know many male caregivers.  In fact, I can only think of one or two.  Also, in my family, the women did all the traditional “female roles” of running the home, raising the children and taking care of those who were sick or elderly.

Even if the women worked outside the home, the lines were clearly delineated and men in my family didn’t do “women’s work.”

Thankfully, that stereotype is changing — evidently faster than many of us realized.

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted this shift in an interesting article written by Kelly Greene, “Men at Work — As Caregivers,” citing a Pew Research Center report which reveals as many as 45% of our nation’s caregivers are now men.

Citing changing social norms, the study points out that the societal lines of men’s and women’s roles has become blurred.  It’s no longer unusual for a dad to stay home to care for the kids while his female partner is the main breadwinner.  Also, smaller families means there are fewer adult children to care for elderly parents and siblings are often scattered geographically.  Much like a game of tag, the kids who stuck close to home will be “it” when it comes to taking care of aging parents.

From my own experience, you can’t phone in caregiving duties.

So, gentlemen, welcome to the caregiving club.  You may not want to be a member, but you no longer have a choice.

Tag.  You’re it.

Sherri Snelling
9/11 Created Heroes and Caregivers
Healthy Living, News
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It’s been 11 years since the attacks on 9/11.  Many today, including myself, are reflecting on those lost and honoring those heroes who emerged out of the ashes of Ground Zero, the Pentagon and the fields in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  We also honor our men and women around the globe fighting terror.

But there is another group who deserves our praise and support today – a group who had no choice in their role and who were the unwitting recipients of the fall-out of the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks:  caregivers.

Since that unbelievably sunny day in New York City 11 years ago, the dark shadow of death has visited 1,000 families.  These were not the more than 3,000 victims trapped inside the burning, collapsing Towers – these are the post-9/11 deaths linked to environmental hazards from “the pile” at Ground Zero.  Many of the first responders – those firefighters, police officers, Port Authority officers and others – who worked endless hours amidst the dust and debris that became the gaping hole in New York’s Wall Street district have since been suffering from respiratory and pulmonary problems.

Yesterday, the National Institute of Safety recommended 50 types of cancer be covered for 9/11 responders – more than 70,000 surviving first responders who will get aid and health care support for their heroism.  According to John Howard, the administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program, they have announced the long-debated coverage for first responders diagnosed with  more than 50 types of cancer will be covered including lung, colorectal, breast, bladder, leukemia, melanoma and all childhood cancers.

According to ABC News report yesterday, “Those who worked at the WTC site seem to be at increased risk of cancer, especially thyroid cancer, melanoma and lymphoma. According to a study released of nearly 10,000 New York firefighters (half of whom worked at the WTC site), those from the site are 32 percent more likely to have cancer.”

More than 12 million Americans are battling some type of cancer today according to the American Cancer Society.  While many cancers are treatable and survivable if caught early, the impact of caring for a loved one through radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, etc. can also takes its toll on the family caregiver.

Since I view America’s family caregivers as the first responders in the health care and long-term care crisis in this country, here are my thoughts on how to prepare to care:

1. Never fail to communicate – One of the Monday morning quarterback elements of September 11th was the appalling breakdown of communication between the various agencies established to safeguard our citizens.  Communication breakdown can also occur when you face a family caregiving situation.

Sensitivities to having those uncomfortable conversations about long-term care with your loved one, denial our loved one is ailing or declining, lack of communication or agreement between family members involved can all lead to a lack of unpreparedness.  This puts us in a similar situation as the first responders for 9/11 – dealing with a crisis.  By having the conversation with your loved one and other family members prior to the crisis, you can then have a plan in place to take some of the stress out of the situation and make your caregiving journey Iess fraught with emotional fall-out.

2. Come together – what is so inspiring about the reaction to September 11th was the spirit of Americans to put aside their differences, their selfish needs and care for strangers during a time which connected all of us.

When it comes to caring for a loved one, many caregivers have told me they feel like they are “all alone.”  What 9/11 taught us is we are not alone – we are in this together.  Not only are you one of 65 million caregivers, but there are family, friends, neighbors, co-workers who can help you in your caregiving responsibilities.  By connecting with your social network on tasks they can help you with – it will take some of the burden off of your shoulders, help you avoid the typical caregiver “burn-out” and give you the resolve and stamina to continue to care for your loved one.  Two of the online communities that help connect circles of care for caregivers are Lotsa Helping Hands and CaringBridge.  Both sites provide a place for caregivers to receive help from volunteers and post information about their loved one.  Lotsa also has communities dedicated to veterans, Alzheimer’s and other types of caregivers working with more than 50 non-profit partners.

3. Messages of love – one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, opens with a wonderful story about how the terrorists of 9/11 sought to create hatred and divide us when in actuality they brought us together as one nation and one world.  All the messages on 9/11 to friends, family and even the heroes on the plane United Flight 93 to their loved ones before they took on their hijackers – were about love.  Love does have the power to conquer evil – we have seen it firsthand.

When it comes to caring for a loved one who is ill, aging or has a disability, there are many feelings:  concern, sadness, confusion, anger, frustration, guilt, helplessness, exhaustion.  What is amazing to me is in the face of all these complicated emotions, the one that stands out, the one that almost all the caregivers I have worked with express is, “I do this out of love.”  There is something rewarding about being a caregiver and the ability to show and give love is one of the most powerful and life-altering experiences we can go through.

So today, out of all the days in the year, take time to communicate your message of love and come together with those you care about.  And if you know a family caregiver – give them a hug or a call and just say, “thanks.”

Kitty O'Keefe
The End is Near
News, Work & Money
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A very bright woman I know asked me to review an article titled “Economist Caution:  Prepare for Wealth Destruction.”  Most of the time, my friends’ questions are more interesting than mine.  Let’s see what this article says, and whether the purveyors of doom are correct in their assessment.

First of all, I get most of my information from the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and academic papers from the University of Chicago and Wharton.  Each of these sources has been reliable, unbiased (mostly) and seem to attract the best economic minds.  I know that Rupert Murdoch owns the WSJ and Barron’s, but I also have followed and been in contact with high level contributors who have said that they have received no pressure to do anything other than outstanding reporting.  I’ve read these papers long before Murdoch bought them and agree that the reporting has been consistent over time.

It goes without saying that economic publications tend to take a conservative bent, if not politically, then definitely economically.  Newsmax, Inc., the publisher of the article that my friend ask be reviewed, actually characterizes itself as a “conservative publication.”  Right off the bat, that takes the article from fact-based, to potentially biased.  Economic reporting should not be “conservative” or “liberal.”

It should be accurate.

Next, I look at which economists are warning the rich that they’re about to lose half their wealth.

The first is Marc Faber. I am very familiar with him through CNBC and his participation on various “round table” financial discussions.  His nickname is “Doctor Doom.”

As a writer of weekly financial articles, I find myself characterized as a “capitalist pig” about half the time.  The other half, I’m a “bleeding heart liberal.”  In reality, I go where the data lead me.  I don’t solve for a particular answer.  As long as this country is closely split politically and I make half my readers angry all the time, I feel that I’m doing my job.

Back to Marc Faber.  His nickname is “Doctor Doom” for a reason.  As a “contrarian” investor, or one who goes against the herd, some negative bias is understandable.  The market is up more than it’s down.  But, to predictably land in a negative outlook makes his reasoning suspect.

Peter Schiff, another economist that agrees with Faber, is a strategist for a mutual fund.  His economic training is from the “Austrian” school of economic thought.   The financial aspect of Ron Paul’s libertarian platform would be closest to describing this point of view.  We’ll leave it at that, to ensure you will stay awake.

Robert Wiedmer manages a fund for investors with $200 million or more in assets, and accurately predicted the 2006 economic downturn.  He disagrees with Bernanke’s handling of the economic crisis, and has been predicting a further, serious recession in his book “Aftershock.”

And, finally, Donald Trump chimes in.  Donald is not an economist.  I’m not sure what Donald is, but I find myself almost never agreeing with anything he says.  Over time, that has worked out well for me.

So, four gloomy guys think the sky is falling.

Let’s see if their reasoning holds up.

According to Faber, “somewhere down the line” we’ll have massive wealth destruction where “well to do” people will lose 50% of their wealth.  I guess if you think that no one is going to do anything about deficit spending growth, the economy does not recover, the European Union dissolves and rattles the global financial markets and China’s growth continues to fall precipitously, that is a reasonable assumption, but he places the odds at 100%.

I am not 100% sure the sun will come up in the east tomorrow.  I don’t take people seriously when they present their probabilities as absolute fact.

Peter Schiff, says the crash we just had was not the real crash.  The real crash is coming. He bases his conclusion on the same data as Marc Faber.  We’ll take absolutely no action on growing deficit spending, our economy is permanently stalled, and we won’t reform Social Security or Medicare.  If you agree with the fact that we will take no action, he’s probably right.

Robert Wiedmer, hawking his book “Aftershock,” says “The data is clear, 50 percent unemployment, a 90 percent stock market drop, and 100 percent annual inflation… starting in 2013.”

Okay.  First of all, the data “are” clear.  Data is plural, unless he’s only looking at one thing.

I look at 26 things.  From capacity utilization to durable goods orders to sentiment to valuation, I study the trends for a wide variety of economic indicators.  Nowhere do I see 50% unemployment, a 90% stock market drop and 100% annual inflation, much less next year.  I think this guy is trying to sell his book.

And the Donald.  Please don’t ask me to respond to the Donald.  He’s ridiculous.

So there you have it, Maggie.  Things aren’t great, but the sky is not falling.

I’m in the camp that says the US will take proper action – once we’ve done everything else.

Liz DiMarcoWeinmann
Mid-August and You’re Running on EMPTY? DRIVE and ADVANCE Something New – for YOU!
Books & Entertainment, Spirituality, Work & Money
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If you’re a mom over 40, it seems all the talk, blogs, TV shows, magazine articles, books, and other media output in mid-August are about back-to-school topics, and attention must be paid. While you’re still trying to get all the sand out of your Spanx-enhanced “maillot,” you’re being bombarded in every direction with must-see info about what schoolchildren will need or want in order to be in step, in style, in the loop or whatever “in” they’re in or want to be in!

Even if you’re not a mom about to send her boisterous brood back to campus, this time of year brings with it the shorter days that are the sure signs of fall and the wake-up call that vacation is definitely over. Maybe you’re thinking that this fall could be the start of something new – for YOU too.

If you’re a woman over 40 longing to DRIVE and ADVANCE something new for you this fall, but not sure where to start, you’re not alone. Starting something new over 40 can be anxiety-inducing. Believe me, I know! But there are scores of women over 40 who are crafting new dreams and desires, dealing from their strengths, and designing a plan to get there. Here are just a few of the books that have helped me and other women over 40 DRIVE and ADVANCE something new. Not a definitive list, but it’s a Start.

  • The Breaking Point: How Female Midlife Crisis is Transforming Today’s Women, by Sue Shellenbarger. The Wall Street Journal career columnist illuminates through anecdotes and excellent reporting, the many types of work, avocations and fun that women have started after they hit 40.
  • A Whole New Mind, by Daniel H. Pink. Â Full of ideas to think differently, explore all types of intelligence (artistic, physical, etc.) to innovate, pursue meaningful work, and stay relevant.
  • I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What It Was, by Barbara Sher. One of the best, most honest books on helping you visualize your “perfect life” – delivered in an empathic, amusing style.
  • Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Exercises to plumb your deepest needs and how to tap into your unconscious for ideas your editing mind won’t allow.
  • Jump Start Your Brain, by Doug Hall. Promises to make you 500% more creative – from a marketing guru who creates products and campaigns that convince us to try, buy and stay loyal to stuff we never even knew we needed let alone wanted.
  • AHA! 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas, by Jordan Ayan. Not just 10 ways, but thousands! Has unstuck even the most tenacious, stubborn, blank, fearful minds.
  • Write It Down, Make It Happen, by Henriette Ann Klauser. A free-association guide, with prompts, questions and lists to encourage you to think differently, identify goals and aspirations, and, yes, make them happen.
  • Second Acts, by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine, attorney and author/ collaborator. Guides you through what they call “sources of dissatisfaction” so you arrive at your personal hopes and dreams.
  • Six-Week Start Up, by Rhonda Abrams. An easy-to-complete workbook for launching a new venture, whether a business, nonprofit or other creative endeavor, especially if you don’t have the time or inclination to pour thousands of dollars into B-school, psychotherapy, or other forms of long-term torture.

So, fill up your brain, put it in DRIVE, develop your road map, and get an ADVANCE on your Fall! We DARE you!