Archive for June, 2008

Women Over 50—Big Time Brain Power

Posted on June 28, 2008. Filed under: Of Mind and Matter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In her book about women’s second adulthood, Inventing the Rest of Our Lives, Suzanne Braun Levine provides us with some exiting data concerning the aging brain. Dr. Francine Benes, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has discovered that there is a growth spurt that takes place in the human brain around the age of fifty. Myelin, which is the fatty layer that covers nerve fibers, actually grows about fifty percent during this time. This coating is responsible for aiding the brain to more effectively synthesize life experiences and to enhance the ability to make thoughtful judgments and prudent decisions.  

Even better, the location of this growth spurt is found within the area of the cerebral cortex that is identified with emotional learning. Perhaps, as Levine suggests, this myelin growth factor may likely play a part in creating the highly revered trait we call wisdom.

So, next time we search for our car keys, call our son by the dog’s name, or forget to tell our husband his boss phoned, we have to remember that somewhere in our noggin there’s a whole heap of wisdom going on!


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Pardon My Tags

Posted on June 26, 2008. Filed under: Of Mind and Matter | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Okay, I have to confess, as a woman over fifty, I no longer adapt so well to change—especially when the change is unwanted. I’ve had my love affair with WordPress for quite some time but, this past week, they did something that upset me. They started displaying my tags at the top of my posts. I write about a variety of topics so I have a lot of them and they look like wrinkly green ants marching across the top of each and every page.

How I wish I could call the blog exterminator and simply delete them. But WordPress deemed that consistency was more important than personal preference, and such tags are common on many blogs so, unfortunately, they’re here to stay. My readers used to be blissfully unaware of my tags—perhaps some idle minds may have wondered what secrets these might hold. (If you did, might I suggest that you expend your energies in more productive outlets?) However, now they’re displayed with a prominence any exhibitionist would envy.

So, I’m borrowing a sentiment that is etched onto the tombstone of the great wit, Dorothy Parker. Actually she wrote “Pardon My Dust,” referring to her resting place six feet under, but I’m not nearly so clever so can only copy her in the most elementary fashion. 

Yes, dear reader, please do pardon my tags. I’ll be judiciously slashing their numbers and only using ones that reflect the actual content of the post so that those annoying green words are kept to a minimum. Do your best to overlook them, as will I.

Thank you for sticking with me, ants and all, and please share any blog horror stories you wish to confess. For those of us in the over fifty set, blogging is a strange new and sometimes confusing world that can be both exciting and frustrating. But, I guess, that’s the charm of trying anything new and, at our age, that’s good for the soul. 

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Airline Rage in My Old Age

Posted on June 21, 2008. Filed under: Aging With Attitude | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yes, for women over fifty, or, for that matter, most anyone of any age, modern travel isn’t easy. I just returned from a week’s trip to the heartland visiting my relatives and, although I had a wonderful time, the going wasn’t easy.

To start, I awoke at 3:45 a.m. to give myself enough time to shower and finalize my packing so that I could make my 7:06 plane. There was an earlier flight I could have taken that would have given me more time to make my connection, but that one left at 5:45 a.m. As I opted to luxuriate in a couple of hours extra sleep (a 1 a.m. wake-up is a bit too much at my tender age), I was concerned I might miss it.

Not to worry! When I arrived at the airport the check-in line wound in tight snake-like twists and turns, and then headed halfway up the hallway to the gates. Someone behind me announced that the airlines had cancelled both the 5:45 and the 7:06 and the line was composed of two planeloads of people trying to rebook their reservations.

What fun! It only took two hours to finally get to a reservations agent. I shouldn’t complain, however, because there were people much older than I who were similarly inconvenienced. They even required wheelchairs because that doggone line was so long that they thought they might pass out or crumple to their knees on the hard linoleum floor.

By the time I reached an agent, her likely once obliging smile was frozen in a frustrated grimace… no doubt having been the recipient of numerous angry complaints. And, yes, I added my own to her list. Try as I may, battling both the recorded voice “customer service” computer and the polite but unintelligible folks in India, I was stuck. Lucky me—I only had another seven hours to wait for an outbound flight. Instead of my anticipated 5 p.m. arrival, I got to inconvenience my brother by landing at midnight.

I remember flying with my mother and brother in the 1950s and loving the experience. We’d get all dressed up and settle into our comfy seats waiting for the familiar hum of the propellers to start-up and wend us on our way. The stewardesses were nattily attired in their fashionable uniforms, smiling and ever so helpful. They’d warm my brother’s baby bottles, and then sit next to me to play several hands of Old Maid, keeping me happily occupied and giving my mother a chance to relax.

Ah… the good old days! Do I sound grumpy and judgmental? Am I showing my years with a cantankerous, crotchety attitude? Well, YES, and I stand by all my wrinkled rectitude! As far as the airlines are concerned, a return to yesteryear and the gracious ways of an earlier era wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it would surely prove a boon to the flying public and make one old grumpy gal very, very pleased.




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Women Over 50—My Cyberspace Friends

Posted on June 13, 2008. Filed under: The Joys of Friendship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yes, I admit it. I used to scoff at the young and technically savvy who went on about the “friends” they met over the Internet. “Friends?” I asked. “How can you call someone a friend when you’ve never even met?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that I have totally reversed my opinion on that one. In the past several months, since I’ve started blogging, I have become acquainted with some absolutely amazing women. Although we haven’t yet met face-to-face, or even spoken on the phone, I consider these ladies my friends. Some have left wonderful, uplifting comments on Feisty Side of Fifty. Some have linked to various posts I’ve written, and some have gone so far as to award me the honor of being a guest blogger on their sites.

However, there is a very special group I’d like to mention. The Baby Boomer Divas, a.k.a. Boomer Diva Nation, is an incredible pool of powerful and accomplished women—most of whom have already celebrated their half-century birthdays. Although they are all in midlife, the group is rich in diversity. The ladies hail from differing backgrounds, careers, and geographical areas, and from different races, ethnicities, and religions. The common theme is one that their leader, Beverly Mahone, stresses: women on the move and making a difference.

Mahone, who is a veteran journalist, author, media coach and motivational speaker, has written her own book on the many facets of aging. Whatever! A Baby Boomer’s Journey Into Middle Age takes a candid look at issues such as weight gain, menopause, and dating after forty, among others. After twenty-five years in radio and television, Mahone chose to become a work-at-home-mom. She now acts as a media consultant and counsels individuals as to how to best market themselves to radio, TV, and newspaper professionals. She’s a recognized expert on all things Boomer and has a radio show targeted to boomer women.

It is with great pleasure that I claim this talented and accomplished woman as my friend. She gifted me with an invitation to join the Boomer Diva Nation several months ago and, since that time, my life has changed… and all for the better! Through these ladies, I’ve been given wonderful and exciting opportunities to stretch myself personally and grow my career in new directions.

Beverly’s most recent gift to me was an opportunity to appear on her radio show, Whatever Live! I enjoyed the experience immensely—actually it was a blast. Beverly’s combination of professionalism, wonderful energy, and engaging personality make her the consummate radio host. I’d love to have you take a listen.

Yes, cyberspace or face-to-face, nothing beats a warm and caring friend. 

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Women Over 50—Hollywood Anyone?

Posted on June 7, 2008. Filed under: Aging With Attitude | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When was the last time you turned on the TV to find a face looking back at you that resembled your own? Yes, there are a few, but the names of these actresses no longer appear at the top of the credits. Even if they are series regulars, they usually play supporting roles: mothers, grandmothers, or recurring guest stars. It seems that, just like Elvis, the Golden Girls have left the building—or, more accurately, the soundstage.

Movies aren’t much better. If it weren’t for Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep, you could barely find a woman of a certain age gracing the big screen.

Well, that’s all about to change and, once again, social norms are reacting to the boomers and our numerical clout. Our famous bulge (and I’m talking population—not waistline) has served us well over the years, ensuring that our wishes and demands were heard. And, as older women in menopause, we’re not getting any less outspoken or assertive.  We want our due!

I came across an article in the Detroit Free Press that addressed how our generation is impacting Hollywood and the entertainment industry. They cite two current box office smashes: “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” with Harrison Ford, and the movie, “Sex in the City.”  At 65, Ford is a bit older than the leading edge boomers and, other than Kim Cattrall, the “City” stars are in their early forties, a bit younger than our years. So, the stars of these movies straddle both ends of our generation—and, of course, men are allowed to be the older ones. Still, this is progress!

I’m waiting for more films starring actresses in their fifties and sixties that have story-lines showcasing the lives of women in their post-menopausal years. These will feature real-life tales of love, passion, challenge, and triumph, and will reflect, with some creative license, what it’s like to grow older as a woman in our culture.

We’ve waited a long time for this, yet hope springs eternal. So, show me a wrinkle or two, let me hear the heroine grunt when she rises from a sitting position, let’s see her forget where she left her bifocals. I’m waiting to see myself, in all my wrinkled glory, reflected on the silver screen and so are 76 million of my peer group. Wake up Hollywood and smell the Geritol! 

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