Saturday Night Widows

9780307590435_p0_v1_s260x420Recently, some friends and I attended an author talk by Becky Aikman about her debut book, Saturday Night Widows. Her husband had died after losing a protracted battle with cancer, leaving her a widow in her late forties. Aikman, formerly a journalist with Newsday, shared that she had been “kicked out” of her bereavement group for suggesting going on positive outings and rejecting Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘s five stages of grief which shaped the meetings.

So the self-described “unsentimental journalist” sought out younger, more adventuresome widows unknown to one another to form her group of six. Next came a year-long quest for comprehension of the grief into which each had been catapulted. Monthly Saturday night meetings expanded into a spa weekend, lingerie shopping and a trip to Morocco. Aikman described their gatherings as incendiary; her later tape transcriptions were difficult due to everyone having spoken at once.

One meeting included a group of widowers. When asked what they thought of the definition of “widower,” they replied that they saw highly eligible men who had been successful in marriage. As to what “widow” meant to them, however, they responded “old … and used.” I imagine that the book will dispute this.

Another perspective was shared at the author talk by Tara, whose husband died of alcoholism. The book chronicles how good friends, as they became, may uplift and inspire creative solutions to the tragedy of spousal loss. I look forward to reading it and discovering each of their journeys out of darkness.

Keep Doing These Five Things …

headshotAfter laughing out loud at My Face Is Up To (I Mean, Down To), No Good, Susan McCorkindale’s hysterical treatise on facial aging, I decided to check out her other writings.

In her New Year‘s blog in The Huffington Post, she describes her response to a request for guidance on dealing with death after losing her husband to pancreatic cancer. McCorkindale made up a list of 5 “dos” to live by which she recommits to yearly. She shares these and a do-over “because really, everyone deserves at least one do-over!), now, at the start of 2013, only with the hope of giving hope and helping someone else find the courage and strength to believe that, while life as they know it is over, the road they’re embarking on can be beautiful, hopeful and happy. Life can still be filled with sunny days, love and yes, laughter.”

I can really relate to her love of laughter and the need to find beauty, meaning, purpose and loads of friendship going foward after the death of my spouse, my best friend, Marc. This is for all of us in the same boat; for those who are alone due to divorce as well. Reinventing ourselves is hard work. I have been blessed to reconnect with three best friends from high school and others from different times in my life. As well, I’ve found very supportive, new friends in my Spousal Bereavement Support Group.

The laughter part has always been big for me, but not so terribly much in the last 2 1/2 years. It is returning as friendships blossom and movie dates keep appearing. Going out for coffee or dinner to discuss a film is one of my greatest pleasures lately. Also, making big blocks of time to have a heart-to-heart chat with a real friend is hugely salubrious for me.

So, enjoy the positive, wonderful 5 “do’s” here after this sample:

Listen. The little voice telling you to buy the shoes and the bag, get the Goth black manicure and learn to ride a horse? That’s the one to listen to. You can always take the shoes and the bag back, the polish will last ten days, tops, and as long as the little voice isn’t suggesting your ride bareback ….”

Baby Boomers’ Bucket Lists

Judy_Muller1-350x262Judy Muller, long-time network reporter and  professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, is going to surfing camp with her daughter. She muses here about other boomers’ travel plans.

“My peers, being baby boomers, seem to be competing for the most notches on their bucket-list belt. There they are on Facebook and holiday cards, posing with penguins in Antarctica, grinning — or perhaps grimacing — from the heights of Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro. It all feels a bit manic.

This is one of her commentaries for American Public Media’s “Marketplace.”…+it%27s+your+place%29

How To Exercise Your Problem Areas Away: Best Arm Workouts For Over 50


Celebrity trainer Joel Harper works with 50+ clients on their most requested areas for improvement: arms, stomachs, thighs, derrieres and hips.

The good news is “You don’t have to workout for a long amount of time,” Harper told Huff/Post50. “You can get a good workout in 10 minutes. But the most important thing is to be consistent about it.”

Manhattan’s Shrinking Middle Class

jump-8-articleInlineHave you ever dreamt about buying an apartment in Manhattan and attending every cultural event, art and restaurant opening, joining the morning free dog run in Central Park, shopping on Madison Avenue daily, taking classes at The Art Students’ League or Columbia …? I have.

But, it’s probably not going to happen. Actually, it won’t because I can’t afford it. This is why: Manhattan is being infiltrated with the wealthiest of the wealthy. And all of the attendant costs are going up. Let’s start with real estate.

“A lot of people are hanging on by the skin of their teeth,” said Cheryl King, an acting coach who lives and works in a combined apartment and performance space that she rents out for screenings, video shoots and workshops to help offset her own high rent.

“My niece just bought a home in Atlanta for $85,000,” she said. “I almost spend that on rent and utilities in a year. To them, making $250,000 a year is wealthy. To us, it’s maybe the upper edge of middle class.”

Then there is the price of food, doctors and dentists, medicines, gyms, haircuts, TAXICABS, doggy day care, theatre tickets, museum fees, etc. “And yet the middle class stubbornly hangs on, trading economic pain for the emotional gain of hot restaurants, the High Line and the feeling of being in the center of everything. The price tag for life’s basic necessities — everything from milk to haircuts to Lipitor to electricity, and especially housing — is more than twice the national average.”

So, if you can afford this, are you middle class? And, what exactly constitutes “middle class” in New York’s most stellar borough? How much you make, when did you arrive, do you have children, what are you willing to put up with/do to stay there? And how long will there be one? Amy O’Leary walks us through all of that and reminds us that “Reports of the middle class’s demise also appeared in 1978, 1998, 2006 and 2009, when The New York Observer chimed in with ‘City to Middle Class: Just Not That Into You.‘”

If you love Manhattan, as I do, read this article and be sad:

Feel Younger, Live Longer: The World’s Healthiest Places To Live Or Retire


, Editors at the Huffington Post, describe the reasons for retiring overseas. Most involve lowering both expenses and stress levels while optimizing one’s health. For example: “Most of us dream of retiring someplace warm. Snow and cold are things we gladly leave behind with our old 9-to-5 lives. And when the weather is warm and sunny, it’s easy to spend more time outside in the fresh air. Before you know it, you may ease into an active lifestyle with lots of exercise … and health experts agree that’s key to keeping us looking and feeling young.”

With sunny, mild weather comes a desire to be outdoors, socialize and live a more physically active life. As well, long growing seasons result in bountiful fruits and vegetables year round.

Haskins and Prescher’s list of healthiest retirement places starts with New Zealand and ends with Argentina. Enjoy beautiful photos along with the descriptions: