Lifestyle & Culture

Late Dates #5: Why Date After 50?

Universal Pictures

By Grace Cooper

IN MY LAST post I touched upon the potential bad and ugly aspects to online dating after age 50. Honestly, friends, we did not grow up using this newfangled method of introductions to future romantic partners, so the learning curve can be steep. There are unforeseen dangers inherent to online dating—that much is irrefutable.  It always pays before you leap into any new adventure to do a bit of recon and homework ahead of time.

Yet here you are, reading a column on late-life romance, even though chances are the first few dating rodeos from your younger years didn’t go so well. Now, decades older, we endure cringeworthy commercials for male-enhancement drugs, and ads for blue-hair specials at Denny’s. The mainstream media rarely portrays mature people looking for a romantic restart in a glamorous way. Furthermore, our society tends to treat the thought of elder romance in a somewhat patronizing and condescending manner. “How sweet” we smile, whenever we pass a gray-haired couple walking hand in hand. Few of us allow ourselves to imagine these adorable duos sans clothes, doing the dirty between satin sheets.

There are a few delightful rom-coms, such as Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated, in which romance between the heroine and hero are portrayed in a more empathetic and laudable way, but it’s still Hollywood’s version of reality depicted in upscale lifestyles. I mean Diane Keaton’s kitchen in Something’s Gotta Give is still swoon worthy. And who wouldn’t fall for Meryl Streep’s character—a woman who smokes dope with Alec Baldwin on their first date and then when the munchies kick in, bakes him the perfect pain de chocolat at 2am. Hardly relatable to how I live my life.

So, why not just throw in the towel and adopt a cat? After all, by now you’ve probably found a few fun girlfriends to hang with, and there is always the joy of babysitting grandchildren every weekend so their harried parents can experience a weekly “date night,” hopefully to rediscover why they ever took the leap into marriage, mortgages and the mayhem that comes with raising kids.

Most of us don’t live like movie stars in rom-coms, granted, but why not dream a little dream of your own?  We Boomers aren’t obligated to play dead yet, and as unimaginable as this may seem to our youth and wealth-obsessed society, who is braver than an older woman who picks herself up, dusts herself off and enters another romantic rodeo?

We deserve to be happy at any age, especially those for whom most of life is in the rearview mirror. Research shows that the one thing that reliably makes us happier and healthier in our golden years is meaningful C.O.N.N.E.C.T.I.O.N. Not to be too geeky about it, but humans have evolved to be neurobiologically hard wired for connection to other human beings. We are pack animals, unlikely to function well on our own. Yet much of the way we live our lives in our society devolves eventually into this—far too many of us live as singles, often lonely and depressed, disconnected from all that brings them a sense of connectedness.

We’ve known for decades that prolonged solitary confinement is considered a cruel form of punishment in prisons, banned in most international tribunals, labeled a form of torture for the severe and often irreparable psychological and physical consequences of social exclusion. In the older population, as in prisoners, social isolation can lead to severe anxiety, depression, stress, cognitive impairment and even suicide. Metanalysis of more than 200 studies demonstrates significant health impacts of social isolation, including a 30% increase in the risk of premature death, as well as an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

So, we know isolation in any form is unhealthy in the worst possible way. Yet, human beings also possess brains that are “prediction machines.” We learn from past experiences to avoid those dangerous situations that cause us harm or pain. These predictive triggers are stored in our subconscious brains, for a large part, where they control most of our reflexive behaviors. That’s why we in the USA automatically stop at every street corner and look left before stepping into the street. You do not even have to think about it consciously. Fear of being mowed down by a moving vehicle has been stored in your subconscious mind since you learned to cross a street as a child. Travelers unaccustomed to negotiating streets in Great Britain, though, must consciously think to look right to avoid stepping into oncoming traffic.

Likewise, you’d expect that social situations that led to bad outcomes during our lives we would have learned to avoid. Yet, it’s much more complicated than that. In childhood we learn patterns for how we form attachments to other human beings. In another post I will write about attachment theory and how it presents the key to how well we form meaningful connections in our most intimate relationships.

Here is one simple example of disordered attachment coupled with repetition compulsion and what some might experience in online dating:

You’ve been attracted since the seventh grade to the excitement of dating bad boys with blonde hair and blue eyes who ultimately break your heart every time. Deep in your subconscious mind, every blonde man with blue eyes is going to trigger excitement intermingled with fear. You may be simultaneously drawn to the BBB types and yet repelled. (If dad was a BBB, this one will be a slam-dunk for your therapist.)

What causes this? At a hormonal level, the thrill of chasing BBB’s releases feel-good neurotransmitters that stimulate the pleasure centers of your brain. Subconsciously, your brain begins to crave the predicted reward that comes from the thrill of the chase, yet deep in your subconscious, you are simultaneously afraid. If you had slept with a few BBB’s and experienced the big “O,” another set of bonding neurotransmitters secreted during good sex makes it especially hard to leave these no-good guys. You are now addicted in a neurochemically induced manner.

I know no one is likely to make a rom-com about how difficult it is to break neurochemical bonds, although the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which Kate Winslet’s character undergoes a risky medical procedure to erase painful memories of her boyfriend, comes close.

So, if you hope to have an easier, less painful and more rewarding time of dating in the future, it pays to park the romantic to the side for a while and instead closely examine what you may discover in online dating. It is indeed possible to have lots of fun, a bit of excitement, some good conversation, companionship and even a few squirts of feel-good neurotransmitters as you date. But IMHO, it’s also a great way to untangle the mysteries of whom you attract, what attracts you, what triggers the unpleasant emotions of fear, anger and shame as you make your way along this new and unexamined path.

Whether our preferences or aversions were formed in childhood, or in later life, our partner preferences are based on our unique personal experiences, with cues that predict sexual rewards, love and happiness. And just as fingerprints are unique, each one of us has exclusive partner traits directly based on our own life experiences. But unlike fingerprints, with self-awareness and conscious intention, these patterns can be reworked, unlearned and replaced with new and healthier conscious decisions to guide our dating behaviors.

Yes, girlfriend, it is indeed possible tt is indeed possible to teach an old bitch how to become a new and different B.I.T.C.H. (Babe in Total Control of Herself).

Recommended reading that’s witty, wise, and laugh-out-loud funny:

Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl—A Woman’s Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship.

Recommended listening: Strings That Tie to You by Jon Brion from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (soundtrack version) 

Namaste,

G.

—Grace Cooper (a nom de plume) left her long marriage a decade ago, and with it went all sense of her identity—but not for long. Now 67, she has begun chronicling her tales of looking for love in all the wrong places, and unexpectedly finding herself.

Not-So-Basic Basics for Fall

Ease into fall with snazzy sweater vests from Sea New York (left) and Cos (right) and mini cowboy boots (center) from Reformation.

By Janet Kelly

TRANSITIONS, transitions! The calendar says autumn, but the Fahrenheit is still reading in the mid-70s and 80s.

So, don’t put away that summer shirtdress quite yet. Use it as a base for a playful sweater vest (it has recently roared back into fashion) from the likes of Cos or Sea NY. Another comeback kid on our radar is corduroy, a transition-from-summer-to-fall staple. But this season cords (jackets and pants) break from traditional colors like black and dark green to bright blues and pinks and can be worn as suits. Loafers are, er, a shoe-in for fall. Instead of reliable cordovan, go for a pair in plum suede from Doc Martens to ground that denim skirt or try short black cowboy boots with white piping from Reformation.

For more basics that are not so basic, see below:

 

 

 

 

Remember football hunks from high school and college strutting around campus, thinking they’re so cool in their letter sweaters and jackets? Well, here’s one for us—in raspberry no less. This varsity jacket ($595) from Alice + Olivia couldn’t be cuter or a cheerier way to head into fall.

 

Bright color is everywhere for fall. Wear this orange-and-hot pink jacquard sweater vest sleeveless for now; on cooler days, layer it on top of a creamy long-sleeve blouse. It’s $98 at Anthropologie.

 

Did I mention I love corduroy? And for the past few years, I haven’t seen it around much, so I’m celebrating its return. Banana Republic has got this blush pink Rivoli corduroy blazer ($250) and matching pants either in a wide leg or a pleated style. Alex Mill is also into corduroy (its three-piece (pants, jacket and vest) suit is available in olive, blush or navy). Cos makes three with its bright blue double-breasted corduroy blazer and matching pants.

 

Cos, the H&M-owned Swedish fashion label, made its runway debut at New York Fashion Week last Monday, showing a see-now, buy-now collection for the autumn/winter season. Several vests were included, such as this one, a mohair-merino wool blend in an abstract animal print in an unexpected color combo of brown and purple. It sells for $135.

 

Charmingly retro, Frances Valentine’s wool Finley Blazer ($498) is nipped in at the waist for a flattering fit, and I just love that plaid.

 

‘Tis the season for slipping on a fringe suede jacket and stepping into a cowboy boot. These Otto ankle boots distinguish themselves with authentic Western piping and padding near the toes for extra comfort. We prefer wearing them with a denim skirt, but a prairie dress would pass muster as well. They sell for $398.

 

Sea NY’s knit sleeveless vest  ($495) in a merino wool-and-linen blend is knit with oversize geometric shapes that creates a kind of 3D effect. The roomy fit (generous armholes and side splits) is an invitation to layer.  Slip it on and feel ever-so stylish.

 

For Doc Martens fans, a different look. The suede on this Snaffle Loafer ($160) is made in England, and the soles are heat-sealed for durability. Best of all, the plum color.

 

The Frankie Shop has also climbed on the suit bandwagon with its oversize Felola Blazer ($199) and matching pants ($115) in a gorgeous sapphire navy. The midweight fabric (polyester, rayon and spandex) makes it a candidate for buy-and-wear now, but the generous fit also allows layering it over, say, a crochet sweater.

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com.

ICYMI: Dr. T Shops CVS

By Anne Kisslinger

DR. TINA ALSTER is a whirlwind, running her dermatology practice, raising money for charity and, as we’ve mentioned before, showing us how to spend our skincare money well and even how to pack sensibly for a weekend trip.

But she wanted to share with us, and all her fans, the way to shop sensibly for skincare items in a regular drugstore. So MyLittleBird arranged with CVS headquarters to allow Dr. T full run of the makeup and skincare aisles of the Georgetown branch to show us how to shop.

Here’s the video she and her staff produced to help us find our way.

It’s Eye-Opening

Tarte Fake Awake Eye Highlighter

By Janet Kelly

WHEN IT comes to makeup, I focus on my eyes. For a full fringe, I apply Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara  (before mascara, I use Shiseido’s Eyelash Curler) and Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ‘N’ Kohl Eyeliner Pencil in midnight for definition. ( Most don’t agree with me but I don’t put eyeliner along the lower because think putting dark eye pencil on lower lids as well as uppers closes up the eye). Instead, I use my favorite new discovery, Tarte’s Fake Awake Eye Highlighter, a twist-open gel eyeliner that glides on and brightens the inner rim with a nude-colored pigment. I also use it on the inner corners of the eyes and and brow bone. A smudger on the other end helps with blending. Finally, to get rid of redness, I put in a couple of Lumify Eye Drops.

 

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com.

Late Dates #4: Looking for a Few Good Men

iStock

By Grace Cooper

“He was a dark-eyed man and I knew right away
It was gonna take a turn for the worst
So I said ‘hey, heart, if you’re gonna go crazy
Give a little warning first’

Idiot heart
I shoulda left you at home
You gimme nothin but hard love, bad luck
when you gonna leave me me alone?

Ooh, you’re an idiot
A lunatic a nitwit
And you make a fool outta me
Oh, you’re a sad sack
Subtle as a heart attack
Hey heart, when you gonna let me be?”

—”Idiot Heart

(Song by Carsie Blanton)

ASSUMING you’ve stabilized emotionally post-divorce—that is, found a therapist, a support group, or adjusted your meds—you might now be ready to take the plunge into the virtual reality of online dating pools. But before you leap, there’s much to learn in terms of maximizing safety and preserving sanity, for instance.

Do you have any idea what you want to find in a new relationship? Yes? Great! That makes it much easier to navigate this journey. No idea? Neither did I, but in another post, I will detail how I used 150-plus first and last dates to discover the good and the not-so-good aspects of me for the first time as well as what I’m looking for in a partner.

Ever since online dating began to catch on, various researchers and authors have explored the math and the science of dating sites, with the goal of cracking the code to maximizing your chances of meeting a good match. Largely, it’s a numbers game—the more dates you go on, the greater your chance of finding “the one.” But it’s more complex still. The dating sites themselves collect algorithms based on what they learn about you as you browse profiles and as you send “likes, or winks,” or email correspondence. Tinder launched in 2012 on the back of the explosion in smartphone use. Just two years later it was registering more than a billion “swipes” a day. The more you participate on the sites, the more the sites reward you with suitors who meet your algorithmic criteria—or so they claim. It’s no exact science, though—at least not any that works for the subscribers. Despite the limits I placed on a geographic radius, I used to shake my head at all the matches sent my way from far-flung towns 3,000 miles away, and Canadians who were unable to cross borders for two years during the pandemic. Tinder is one of several brands that falls under the Match Group umbrella.

Let’s start by choosing a site because there are dozens of them, although you might be interested to know almost all the services operate under multibillion-dollar international corporate conglomerations. Yet, they all have their somewhat unique process for matching you to potential suitors. Here is a decent description of the more popular sites with the over 50 crowd: “Top 9 Dating Sites For Seniors 50 And Over Looking For Love.”

I’ve only experienced Match and for a few years during the pre-vaccine Covid pandemic, I was a member of the Elite Singles crowd, so to comment on the other sites is outside my range of expertise. Basically, dating sites vary widely in price, in member subscribership, and ease with which you can customize such things as geographical distance, physical attributes, age range, personal interests, educational level and athleticism. Most of the sites will allow you to browse their membership somewhat, or even offer a free introductory period. Know that they all claim success in matching one single to another, and some even claim credit for many marriages. Yet my suspicion is that these claims refer mostly to the varying number of candidates that get dumped in your profile inbox daily. Sorting and culling the herd of potential dates is up to you alone. You must be realistic and proceed with caution, armed with solid information, and a sense of adventure.

Before you enlist, I recommend you dream up a fake name and create a Gmail account with that pseudonym. I am not suggesting you borrow the name Julia Roberts, or Christie Brinkley, but now is your chance to get creative. This will be your name for all email communication—on or off the dating sites. It will also be your name when you have your first date, and on the second date, if you still have any lingering spidey sense (ability to sense and react to danger before it happens).

How to present yourself in the best possible light? There is information aplenty on this topic, from dating coaches to psychologists, so Google away. Most all of them certainly emphasize the importance of choosing flattering photographs to post in your profile. We’ve all heard that men are visual creatures, and because first impressions are the bait you cast on these sites, success comes down to how well you show off the unique allure of wonderful you. Here’s a fun link to self-proclaimed “dating experts”—“a visionary, a soulmate specialist, a numbers cruncher and a miracle worker,” who are all in the business of guiding mostly men to successful internet dating: 16 Tricks to a More Attractive Profile Pic [Backed by Science!]

I preferred to steer clear of businesses such as these, but I did find their advice to “squinch” for the camera too funny not to share this article with you.

So you’ve signed up, checked all the boxes the sites suggest on hobbies, pets, kids, education, drinking and exercise habits; some sites ask for everything but your social security number. Alternatively, on Tinder one swipes left to reject a profile offering or right to offer to engage—ugh! Talk about reducing this whole thing to the most superficial aspect of a relationship—appearance. Tinder, owned by the Match corporation, grew out of the hookup culture. If that’s the type of relationship you seek, no judgment. Just know that personal safety is a real consideration. Everything from assault via an undisclosed STD-which are rampant, BTW to the possibility of physical assault should be enough to give pause to meeting men in this manner.

Please put safety first. I cannot tell you how many times I met a man online who seemed reasonable enough, but in person made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I’ve been stalked and hacked and harassed more than once. Use your head, but always trust your instincts before you get your idiot heart in the game. ***Don’t feel obligated to reveal any more than you are comfortable revealing to any stranger you meet on the street. Be smart, and you’ll be safe while having some fun.

Now it’s time to compose the dreaded essay in which you must sum up what makes you, uniquely you, in just a few paragraphs. I like to write, so I had fun with this part, but most men and women struggle to capture their essence. I phoned a fellow writer I’d met online to ask for his opinion about what makes an appealing personal expository essay. His advice: Women tend to be very body conscious, but so are men, so don’t ever apologize for a few extra pounds. Pour yourself a glass of wine, relax, then write with abandon about yourself—just open up about what makes you laugh, cry, inspires you—no emotional filters allowed. Then, in the morning, edit it, but not the parts that show your fun and alluring side. He also suggested that posting a photo of yourself smiling your happiest smile is more attractive than a carefully curated glamor shot. And lastly, he advised against posting pics with your gal pals, children—and for goodness sake, envy shots from all your fabulous vacation photos are as obnoxious on Match as they are on Facebook. Be real!

Then you wait for the invitations to roll in. Or don’t wait. If you see someone interesting, send him a nudge. Email him with a clever question or comment on something interesting in his profile. Chances are, unless he is a misogynistic, narcissistic prig, he will be flattered and respond in kind. He may respond with a polite brush off, too, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Don’t linger in the back-and-forth email phase for too long though. Few men aren’t looking for a bit of spicey conversation —especially the married subscribers posing as singles —but in-person dating reveals so much more of what you’ll need to know eventually. I used to answer all email inquiries, even if I had no interest in them, based on their profiles. I learned though, that to encourage them in this way is considered by many men to be crueler than to be ignored. On the flip side, some men, once encouraged are incredibly hard to shake loose. Best not to even start down that path.

However, here is a tip I learned the hard way. Always ask a few uncomfortably provocative questions before giving out any personal info or even agreeing to exchange phone numbers prior to a date. It’s best to see how a man responds when challenged BEFORE meeting in person. I’ve had one nutball threaten me with bodily harm for daring to suggest that he might not be healed enough to date after just losing his wife of 30 years a month prior.

And finally—the date! If you like him, whether for coffee or a SINGLE glass of wine, meet in a very public place. Do not accept an invitation for dinner on the first meet and greet. There is nothing more painful than deciding five minutes into a conversation that you’d prefer to be home washing your hair. Simultaneously smiling and chewing your way through a meal with a crashing bore is painful but easily avoidable. I’ve been tempted to hike up my skirt and climb out the ladies’ room window on more than one occasion when I’ve not followed that rule.

Introduce yourself by your pseudonym. By the end of the first date, or even the third if you aren’t sure about him until then, you can laugh as you reveal your real name. He will look confused, perhaps a bit scared, but that’s okay. Explain that you are no dummy, not desperate, have high standards, and respect yourself enough to use common sense. That’s a good headspace in which to begin any relationship with a stranger. If he’s legitimately interested in you—and not simply in what he can take from you—he will be flattered to know he made the cut. If he’s looking only for a nurse with a purse, for example, and knows you are not an easy mark, he will disappear faster than you can say, “Phew, Gracie! You dodged another bullet!”

Namaste.

 

—Grace Cooper (a nom de plume) left her long marriage a decade ago, and with it went all sense of her identity—but not for long. Now 67, she has begun chronicling her tales of looking for love in all the wrong places, and unexpectedly finding herself.

Super Women: Monique Mead, Music Missionary

MyLittleBird recently spoke with Monique Mead, a violinist and director of musical entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

MLB: You juggle many balls at once—you’re not only a solo violinist, you also teach music students at CMU how to have successful careers. You organize a concert series for families with autism and hold a yearly workshop in Olympic National Park to promote young musical talent. During February you’re the head honcho for Rancho La Puerta’s chamber music week, and in your spare time, you lead sound healing classes. Did I forget something? Oh yes, your involvement with the Lullaby Project, which pairs new and expecting parents and caregivers with professional artists to write and sing personal lullabies for their babies.

Phew! What drives you?

MM: I focus on being a violinist. But my intent is to use music to uplift humanity. And my performances always have a pedagogical bent.

MLB: What were your early influences?

MM: I remember having chicken pox at seven and wanting to tear my skin up. My mother, being a “natural” type of person, gave me no medication to soothe the itching or fever. The only thing that helped was when she put on a recording of The “Trout” Quintet by Schubert. The itching went away.

MLB: You grew up in a Mormon household. Talk a little about what that was like.

MM: My parents believed in education, structure and discipline. My mother was a convert to the church. My father worked for Franklin Day Planner, a system that manages time down to the minute. There was a predictable rhythm to life. You don’t drink coffee, you don’t drink, you go to church. You were also required to give speeches in church that had to be memorized. The discipline and the memorizing were wonderful training for music, but at the same time it made me feel tremendously boxed in and limited about what I could express.

MLB: You refer to Leonard Bernstein as your mentor. How did you meet him? How did he change your life?

MM: At age 19, I was invited to perform at the Schleswig-Holstein Summer Music Festival and tour with Bernstein, who was the guest conductor. I worked with him for several weeks preparing. What struck me most: People never spoke from the stage to the audience—it was not part of the tradition of classical music. But Bernstein did; he spoke to audiences to give them a window into music. He always traveled with a thick book of Shakespeare. When we were performing Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, he read to us about the Queen Fairy, giving us an image of who Queen Mab was and why her sounds would be spidery and light. He didn’t have to teach us how to play violin. He went directly to our minds to inspire us. “That’s what I want to do,” I told myself.

MLB:How did your career change as a result of your time with Bernstein?

MM: After receiving my Master’s, I was playing as a substitute in the Indianapolis Symphony and directing the Indianapolis String Academy. That’s when I saw the disconnect between the rigorous training of young string players and the decline in classical music audiences. This made me broaden my view on what it means to be a classical musician, and I set out to create a performance career around audience engagement. In other words, I wanted to inspire people to love music and support musicians (rather than training more young musicians with uncertain futures.) Bernstein did this, and I believed I could do my own unique version. I developed a three-part model (teacher training, school workshops and interactive concerts) that  turned out to be very successful in Germany where I began creating classical music shows with major orchestras. In the style of Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, I engaged audiences with theme-oriented concerts. When I noticed German kids loved soccer, I put on a show around music and soccer. I brought a retired baker on the stage to make a seven-layer cake to illustrate the structure of music. (I love cakes, and the Germans make the best ones.) Mormonism came in handy here—you were supposed to convert people. I was a missionary for music.

MLB: Sounds like you had as good a time as the teenagers. When did you leave Germany and move to Pittsburgh?

MM: I got married to the concert master of the Pittsburgh Symphony in 2003 and then had two children. I was continuing my work in audience development when CMU hired me to build an entrepreneurship program for musicians that would teach business skills and marketing, as well as how to  to deal with performance anxiety, write thank you notes, answer the phone, manage time and schmooze. You don’t have to be the best oboe player, but you have to get along with people. I train students to talk to audiences, not with a bunch of jargon like what key the music is in or when the composer was born or died. But, for example, what was the context of that piece—did Mozart write this because his mother just died? It’s possible to say something with just notes on a page, but that’s only 30 percent of it. As Mozart said, music is between the notes.

MLB: Another big influence on your life and career was Yo-Yo Ma. How did you meet him and what impact did he have on you?

MM: Through my relationship with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conductor, Manfred Honeck, I had two post-concert dinners with YoYo Ma in recent years. He was the most humble musician I’ve ever met, and I was struck by his deep awareness of the human condition, his empathy for others and belief that music can have a profound impact on humanity if it is about creating connection rather than the glorification of the artist on the stage. In the past I might have thought of audience engagement as a means of bringing people into the concert hall; he thought of it as a means unto itself: using music to connect with people with whom we may have little in common, to listen and learn and to shine a light on our joint humanity.

MLB: When you turned 50, your life met a big curve ball. How did you face that challenge?

MM: The year I turned 50, I got knocked off my own stage. I was getting divorced and helping my kids through the trauma of the breakup. At the same time, I was asked to perform one of music’s most difficult and sacred pieces, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, at the Edgewood Symphony. I had never done it before, but what inspired me to take it on was that Beethoven was deaf when he wrote it, and besides being deaf, was also anxious and depressed. If he could overcome such adversity to write such beauty, I could learn to play it. It was my own therapy. In February, 2020, I announced that I would perform the concerto 50 times in 250 days for people struggling. I called the project “Beethoven in the Face of Adversity.” At the time, Pittsburgh was reeling from the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, and I got a number of performance requests from families. I also played for someone with ALS,  a chronic pain group and many more. I didn’t solicit, it was all by request, and I got referrals through my music network. For my 50th concert, I threw a party for Beethoven’s 250th birthday in Carnegie Hall. In the lobby, I featured photos of people I played for to pass on their stories about what gives you the strength to get up every morning.

MLB: Since then, how would you describe the trajectory of your career?

MM: The irony was just after Beethoven’s birthday, everything went silent and deaf. That summer, I launched “Porch Concerts.” I gave classical music performances on my front porch, along with my kids, who play the piano and harp, and guest musicians who had very few, if any other, gigs. I invited mostly neighborhood folks who would sit outside on the lawn—masked up—and listen.  [The successful series just ended this summer.] Starting with “Beethoven in the Face of Adversity” and continuing with Porch Concerts, Azure Family Concerts (music for families with autism) and now the Lullaby Project, my career has gone from being a music missionary to taking the path of Citizen Artist, inspired by Yo-Yo Ma. Instead of bringing people into the hall, I’m going out to the community.

 

Happy Labor Day

iStock

By MyLittleBird Staff

Have a doggone good holiday!

 

Think Pink—Hot Pink

By Janet Kelly

THAT ROSY, comforting millennial pink of yesterday has morphed into a provocative pink in 2022. Shy and retiring it’s not.

For his fall/winter 2022 runway, Pierpaolo Piccioli dressed his models (and set design) in one color—hot pink, a custom shade developed in collaboration with Pantone. Only a few black pieces wandered away from his candy-colored palette. Another explanation for fuchsia frenzy is the forthcoming (2023) Barbie movie, directed by Greta Gerwig. Stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling both wear costumes in the shade of the moment.

Rather than going full bore on the trend, think discreet flashes of color. Pair a jacket from Anthropologie with a white tank top, or a Cos or Gucci sweater with black pants or light-wash denim. Tiptoe into the trend with a hot pink wicker bag from Frances Valentine, or pucker up with Nars lipstick Sciap, named for Elsa Schiaparelli, the doyenne of shocking pink.

Some call the color an in-your-face reaction to the tenor of the times—a way for women to declare their presence in an era when longstanding decisions, such as Roe v. Wade, have been overturned, vastly diminishing the rights of half the population of this country.

No matter how you see it, though, here are 10 ways to work the season’s color trend into your wardrobe.

Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino showed 40 head-to-toe silhouettes in fuchsia in his 2022 fall ready-to-wear collection.

 

Margot Robbie as Barbie. /Photo Warner Bros. Pictures via IMDb

Pierpaolo Piccioli mixed his high-octane pinks with black for his fall 2022 collection. We think it looks just as smashing with white, as seen here on Anthropologie’s Maeve double-breasted blazer. It sells for $170.

 

Made from merino wool, Cos’s crew-neck top ($69) in fuchsia, is cut for a slim fit. Balance that trim look with high-waisted twill pants, tailored with front pleats, slip pockets and back darts for shape.

Give your workout a jolt of color with Gap’s seamless ribbed 7/8 leggings. They’re 95 percent nylon and 5 percent Spandex for an easy-on-the-wallet $23.

Along with the traditional natural color, Frances Valentine’s Elyce Arons offers her paint-the-town-pink for this Hen Wicker Basket. The contrasting color of the lucite chain and the bright floral cotton twill lining add to the allure of this perfectly adorable bag. Oh, and it has metal feet for protection. It sells for $298.

Nars pays homage to fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli’s passion for hot pink by naming one of its lipstick shades “Schiap,” a matte vivid pink. It’s in a new formula that blends moringa and passion fruit seed oils for vibrant color and a moist, lightweight feel. It’s $26.

Urban Outfitters interprets the season’s cargo pants trend with a baggy parachute-like style with drawcords at the waist and hem. On the tech-lite side, these Balloon Cargo Pants sell for $75.

I’m tempted to try a pair of Rothy’s shoes. I’m all in with a sleek, pointed-toe flat that promises comfort and is machine washable to boot. Chime in if you have owned this brand of shoes. We’d love to know what you think. It looks as if they’ve gotten more expensive since being introduced several years ago. A pair will set you back $145.

The master of tweaking the traditional, Gucci designer Alessandro Michele embroiders the back of this brushed-wool cardigan with a playful patch of interlocking G’s, while GG enamel buttons adorn the front. It sells for a hot $1,400.

Will pink-framed sunglasses give you a rosier outlook on life? Pop on this oversize style from Quay Chain Reaction and give it a go. They sell for $65 at Anthropologie.

Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, who died August 5, was known for his technology-driven clothing, such as his Pleats Please collection, made with a unique technique where the materials are developed from a single thread and pleats are added after sewing the clothes into shape. Talk about functionality. This long-sleeve top, from Farfetch, is light and wrinkle-proof, doesn’t need to be dry-cleaned and can be folded to a compact size. It sells for $254.

 

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com

What We Want to Wear Now: 08.23.2022

Keep it light: from left to right, Frances Valentine’s cashmere-and-cotton cardigan, sandstone cords from Everlane and a terrific-looking chore jacket from Madewell.

By Janet Kelly

I KNOW, I know—fall is coming. My email is overflowing with suggestions of what to wear for the “new season.” Wait –it’s still August. I’m not looking forward to Labor Day when even though the weather stays warm through September (even warmer because of climate change), the curtain suddenly descends on wearing white. I like white—it brightens and flatters faces. Why everyone wants to rush into autumn with their wardrobe, I don’t know. If it’s cooler than expected, pull on a jacket or a sweater. I’m set on making summer last, and here are some choices I’ve made to do just that.

 

Not everyone’s so enthusiastic about the maxis that have been so popular all season. I do like the collar and the length of the sleeve on this nylon-and-viscose Polo Dress ($229, Farfetch). It looks best for now with a strappy sandal, and when the temperature cools, it will look chic with cowboy boots from Mango.

 

Alex Mill’s chunky, cotton-knit pullover (with buttons on the back) reads preppy-nautical. Wear it by itself with beige or white pants; later on, turn it around to wear as a cardigan and layer a tank top, T-shirt or turtleneck underneath it. It’s $135.

 

Don’t ignore the butt-boosting advantages of the high waist and wide legs on these fine-wale corduroy pants from Everlane. Softer than your average cords, they’re available in this sandstone hue (which I’d wear all year long), as well as in black, tan and navy. They sell for $88.

 

Australian designer Elinor Joslin’s Lydia midi dress ($360, Net a Porter) is a style for many seasons. Curve-hugging but with give, thanks to the side slits, it’s knit from a blend of organic cotton and cashmere. Wear it with slides (or even flip-flops) now and with boots come fall.

 

Cariuma sneakers give you a lot of bang for the buck—they’re comfortable, support wobbly ankles on long walks and are darn cute. A similar-looking style—for men—by On+Roger Federer is $140 on Zappos. This off-white gum canvas sneaker is $79.

 

 

Made from a tencel-linen blend, Cos’s v-neck sleeveless top with wide armholes and a loose fit is one of those pieces that spans the seasons. Pair it with a skirt or pleated pants in the same hue. Or slip a jacket over it or a T-shirt or turtleneck under it, depending on the season.  It’s $89.

 

For warm weather, Frances Valentine updates its vintage-inspired, wool fisherman sweater in a cotton-cashmere blend cardigan ($398), appointed with leather buttons. Let shades of red give it a pop of color.

 

I forgot how much I liked white denim jackets until I admired how terrific my friend looked in one last week. Madewell’s cropped canvas Chore jacket with slouchy sleeves and contrast stitching is $109.99.

 

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com

Late Dates #3: Gray Divorce

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By Grace Cooper

“As I walk this land with broken dreams

I have visions of many things

But happiness is just an illusion

Filled with sadness and confusion

What becomes of the broken-hearted

Who had love that’s now departed?

I know I’ve got to find

Some kind of peace of mind

Maybe . . . ”

—”What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”

(Song by Jimmy Ruffin)

TEN YEARS ago, my attorney was the first person to use the phrase “‘gray divorce” during my initial divorce consultation. He casually noted that Boomers abandoning long marriages were rapidly making up the bulk of his practice. Considering he charged $400 per hour, I was not surprised. I mean, who else could afford an 18-month legal slugfest at those rates than older individuals with sizable investment portfolios? Don’t even get me started about the absurdity of dealing with the trauma of divorce by driving down the marital off-ramp onto route Highway Robbery.

Anyhoo, that phrase inspired a bit of research. According to a Bowling Green University sociology study, “in contrast to the seeming stabilization of divorce rates for the general population over the past two decades, the gray divorce rate has doubled: Married individuals aged 50 and older, including the college-educated, are twice as likely to experience a divorce today as they were in 1990. For married individuals aged 65 and older, the risk of divorce has more than doubled since 1990.”

A friend just told me about one of her financial services clients who on his 82nd birthday decided he wanted a divorce after 50 years of marriage. “Why now?,” she asked him. He replied that he wants to live his final years in peace. Modern marriage expectations in the last half-century are that one marries one’s best friend and confidante, building happy, fulfilled lives together. However, after the reality of a lifetime of the stress that comes with juggling parallel careers while raising children, how many successfully run that ball over the goal line?

Essentially, Boomers have grown up with higher expectations and more wealth. We live longer; many women work and have come to expect parity and satisfaction, in the workplace and at home. I know countless women who, after successfully raising children, are tired of facilitating the aspirations of everyone in the family unit but their own. No longer content to play their socially sanctioned supportive roles, these gals are looking to rewrite their own scripts for fulfillment.

Divorce has also lost the stigma of previous generations, although those in first marriages are much less likely to bail than those “echo divorcées” who’ve divorced more than once. Interestingly enough, though, advanced education has no protective effect when it comes to divorce rates.

Moreover, today, opportunities to find intimate fulfillment outside our marriages abound. Married men and women working side by side as partners in the workplace has led to common monikers such as “office wife” or “work husband.” Social media outlets such as Facebook make finding old flames easy. Temptation in the form of more discreet internet sites—including online dating sites—often creates the fantasy that the grass grows so much greener on the other side of marriage.

And so, for better or worse, we Boomers are putting asunder what no longer works for us.

With the urging of a professional counselor, I was ready to make the leap into singlehood—or so I thought. Unanticipated anxiety and depression sent me into a tailspin that lasted several months. I lost 20 pounds and started to drink too much. I knew for certain I didn’t want to be married any longer, but I never anticipated how everything about my life was about to change as well, and how painful that transition would be.

Whether you are the spouse who was left, or did the leaving, big relationship upheavals are the norm. Friends suddenly became frenemies, gossiping about you when your back is turned. My children, even though they knew we were unhappily mismatched, felt caught in the crossfire between their angry parents. Their dad took them on expensive vacations and bought them expensive gifts, while I struggled to find firm financial footing, terrified I might lose a roof over my head, unsure I’d have enough money to finance a comfortable modest lifestyle in my golden years.

I became acutely aware of how my decision to radically change my own life was dissected privately and publicly, and judged harshly. Many times I wondered if I even had any right to seek my own shot at happiness. I’d imagined living a romantic, albeit older version of Eat, Pray, Love, not a raucous episode of The Jerry Springer Show, as it sometimes resembled in those early days.

Then I stumbled upon a wonderful book that described my situation and accompanying roller-coaster emotions perfectly—Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life by Abigail Trafford.

First published in 1982, it is a timeless tale of divorce and its aftermath, and is currently in its third revised edition. In the prologue Trafford writes, “The Chinese word for crisis combines the characters for danger and opportunity. In our culture, that’s the definition of divorce.”

In a blame-free manner, she details common causes of the irreparable rifts in marriages, the trauma that accompanies the dissolution of a marriage and what to anticipate in the healing journey. Lastly, Trafford reiterated that divorce, although clearly an ending, also marks a new beginning. And with any new beginning, there’s a learning curve to mastering the art of survival, then the art of thriving.

Divorce represents the death of a marriage and all the hopes and dreams that went into it. And the death of a marriage, like any death, requires a grieving process for healing. During divorce, an emotionally astute person will pass through a grieving process resembling Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grieving death (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). When experienced temporarily as part of the process of grieving, each step has benefit. But, in almost every divorce filled with unending rage, conflict, and injury, at least one spouse, if not two, resists this process and becomes stuck. This is where psychotherapy—or at least some good written roadmaps to how to move on—are invaluable to successfully negotiating the middle passage of life, now further complicated by the trauma of divorce.

However, once the healing process is in the rear-view mirror, what lies ahead is up to you. Reinventing a life can be complicated and even derailed by all the psychological impulses still buried in one’s subconscious, that led you to marry that shitty ex in the first place. Yet, there are many methods one can learn to release those terrifying flying monkeys of your mind. More about those methods later. Note that on average it takes two years post-divorce to get your land legs back on terra firma.

Or, like me, you could take the road littered with landmines as a route to a new life—a/k/a online dating—long before you know how to negotiate the dangers. I do not recommend this strategy, but thanks to my wonderful therapist, who held my hand through all those—ahem—”opportunities for growth,” what does not kill you makes you stronger and wiser, and provides you with enough material to entertain your friends for years to come. In all my 151 first and last dates, I shed a few tears, made a few good friends, laughed a lot, loved a bit, and uncovered a more joyful and resilient Grace. Namaste.

 

Next up: Grace will discuss how to create an online dating profile to attract the right man for you, while avoiding the crazy types.

In the meantime, questions or comments? Send them on to us in the Comments box below. 

 

—Grace Cooper (a nom de plume) left her long marriage a decade ago, and with it went all sense of her identity—but not for long. Now 67, she has begun chronicling her tales of looking for love in all the wrong places, and unexpectedly finding herself.

And Just for Fun . . .

HERE’S A video of dance clips from way back when:

Packing Anxiety

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iStock

HANDS UP if you’re traveling during the next few weeks. It’s been a while since many of us have gone anywhere that required  packing a suitcase.

If even before Covid, you panicked over packing, we get it. The variables, well, they always vary: you’re driving to Maine for a two-week vacation at a house you rented with your family or you’re taking a fancy train trip through Canada in August or like me, you’re flying to Athens to spend a couple of days before you board a cruise ship that sails along the Croatian coast before ending up in Venice and then going to Milan for a few days.

Before we pass out the smelling salts, note that packing methods haven’t changed much nor has the process of deciding what to pack. But if you’d appreciate a refresh on our earlier post, here’s an update:

The Method

  1. Roll knits and layer pants and shirts, separating them with either large plastic bags or tissue paper. Shoes should go in separate bags.
  2. Save space by tucking socks, underwear and jewelry pouches into shoes, which I vow to limit to three pairs. Laundry service on vacation can be expensive, but if you’re on a long trip, it may be worthwhile to shell out the extra bucks.
  3. Consider packing cubes.  I see the merits of keeping what you will need for, say a two-day trip within a trip in a separate compartment to avoid fishing around in your whole suitcase. Eagle Creek’s expandable packing cube’s  front mesh panel lets you see the contents on the off-chance you don’t remember.
  4. Corral toiletry items into plastic or cosmetic bags—one for liquids (cleanser, makeup remover, moisturizer or CC cream and sunscreen) one for dry items (dental floss, mascara, eyeliner, blush) and another one for meds.
  5. I’ve used Downy Wrinkle Releaser at home for years, but I didn’t know there was a travel size. Spray it on your shirt/dress/etc.,then use your hands to smooth out the creases. Save on the amount of laundry you were planning to send out.
  6. My MZ Wallace backpack (12.2 inches long-by-6.9 inches wide-by 1.5 inches high) is a savior. I put my laptop and my Kindle in it, as well as a small purse or clutch where I like to stash a travel-size moisturizer, hand sanitizer and lipstick. Very generous interior pockets accommodate a cell phone, plugs, earphones, you name it. Plus the detachable, large envelope-size zippered compartment is convenient for any larger-size toiletries I want to pack in my suitcase. A large exterior pocket  keeps docs such as boarding passes easily accessible.

 

What to Pack

If I think I need it, I take it. That’s been my usual modus operandi, which results in a bulging, heavy suitcase with a lot of things I never wear. So, for this upcoming trip, I consulted travel expert Leslie Wilmott’s site, Smart Women on the Go for pro tips and to follow her mantra of “pack smart, pack light.”

  1. Hang up every item you’re thinking of taking on a collapsible clothes rack (I lay out everything on my bed); shoes go on the floor below matching up with the selected clothes. (Wilmott then plans what she could wear each day of her trip and makes notes on her calendar, saying this helps her edit her wardrobe.)
  2. Try everything on, creating outfits and adding accessories that will be the most versatile. Each top should go with each bottom (take more tops than bottoms). Stick to a limited color palette (beige, white and black, say) and plan to wear each item multiple times.
  3. Collect samples of your favorite skin care products and save them for trips; transfer others to travel-size (3.4 ounces or less), leak-proof containers. To keep luggage light, Wilmott follows the TSA rules whether she checks her bags or not. (Most hotels have shampoo, conditioner and body lotions.)
  4. Plan what to pack based on the weather and likely activities.
  5. Finally, if you need something when you arrive at your destination, shop for it; it’s part of the fun of traveling.

 

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com

 

My Glow-Getter

By Janet Kelly

YOU KNOW how back in the day —without the help of makeup–your face always had a sort of natural glow? Instead of bemoaning that former youthful radiance, though, I now fake it with Westman Atelier’s Lit Up Highlight Stick in the appropriately named shade Lit. (It also comes in golden peach and bronze gold.)

My usual routine had been to apply it over my tinted moisturizer or Chanel CC Cream to add sheen, but a tip on makeup artist Gucci Westman’s site suggested dabbing it on under foundation. I’ve been using this translucent gel for a while, but this tweak produced a better result—a subtle gloss —no stickiness—on my cheekbones. When I need to dash out in the morning, I skip the foundation and dot the highlighter on my cheeks, nose bridge, lips and eyelids to achieve something approaching that lit-from-within look.

The Lit Up Highlight Stick is also available in a mini-size (.09 ounces as opposed to .17 for the full size).

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com

Splash-Worthy Swimsuits

In the swim of it. From left to right: Gottex Profile’s navy and white maillot, Form and Fold’s two piece with support for bigger busts and Good American’s one-size-fits-all tie-dye knit bathing suit.

By Janet Kelly

FEAR OF public speaking, heights, death? Ha! Often cited as three of our greatest phobias by I don’t know who, they don’t hold a candle to the terror of trying on a bathing suit under fluorescent lights in front of a full-length mirror. Feeling so exposed, there’s no better opportunity for self-critiquing, a process women excel at, as LittleBird Nancy eloquently explains.

Guilty as charged. When the one bathing suit I would dare put on started to wear around the neckline and I eventually had to toss it, my lame excuse for not going swimming became that I had no swimsuit, not that I dreaded going to a store to try one on. I’m not alone. My good-looking daughter-in-law avoids the public pool at the private club to which she belongs.

All joking (kind of) aside, there’s some good news in a sea of new bathing suits. Itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie polka dot bikinis don’t flatter anyone except rail-thin, skinny-legged pre-pubescent eleven-year-old girls, but there are plenty of other choices as brands like Good American, Hunza G and Summersalt have woken up to size inclusivity with tech-smart fabrics. Form and Fold caters to women with bigger busts, while Gottex’s Profile line, Miraclesuit and Paula Beachwear aim to emphasize waists and smooth out tummies. And many of these brands keep the environment in their sights by using recycled materials.

Yes, we’re still a long way from self-acceptance, but knowing there are options to stoke our self-confidence, well, that’s something.

Below, swimsuits for every figure. It’s not too late in the season to buy one, especially because some are already on sale.

 

YouSwim’s ribbed, seamless Aplomb High-Waist Two Piece ($139) accommodates seven sizes from U.S. 2 to 14, as well as fits busts from cups A to G. The suit will stretch in all directions to compliment big busts, no butts and the in-betweens. In addition to adapting to your curves, the Aplomb, which sells for $139, is available in 14 colors, including this bright yellow.

Summersalt gets good marks this season for its best-selling Sidestroke that flatters a variety of figures with bust support (without padding), full butt coverage and fabric that compresses those wiggly body parts into place. Its one-shoulder style comes in several stripe combos as well as in solid black, white, olive and navy. It’s $95.

High-quality basics are Everlane’s wheelhouse. With a built-in bra, removable pads and wide straps, the v-neck one piece is an easy-fitting suit. Moreover, it’s fully lined with Italian fabric, dries quickly and is fade-resistant. Everlane says this style was “fit-tested on 112 different women to ensure it feels comfortable, looks flattering, and stays put—no matter how you move.” Did we mention it’s on sale for $35?

Dissatisfied with the limited selection of D+ swimwear, Melbourne, Australia-based Form and Fold ‘s two founders decided to design their own supportive and comfortable suits. A limited-edition design by British artist John Taylor is printed onto recycled sculpting fabric for this J. Taylor Top ($140) with adjustable straps and back band and underwire for D to G cups. The Staple J. Taylor Bottom is $64. For more coverage, opt for the high-waisted bottom ($81) with the same shape-sculpting material.

As more brands recognize the need for sun protection, we’ve noticed more bathing suits with rash guards (long sleeves) like this colorblock one from Boden. Although there’s no UPF in the material, it’s still forms a shield against the sun’s harmful rays. And it’s ultra-flattering, to boot, with an elongating torso and waist-whittling blue stripe. It sells for $120.

Good American is applying its size-inclusive fit for denim to swimsuits. Similar to Swim and Hunza G suits, the brand’s Always Fits one-piece ($95) is made from a crinkly, stretchy fabric that fits sizes from extra small to 5XL.

 

Heads-up, gingham lovers. How cute is this Lilly Pulitzer preppy piece? In addition to the cheery pattern, soft, molded cups lift busts, shirred details at the waist contribute to a flattering fit and removable straps give the option to go strapless. It’s $158 at Zappos.

This svelte swimsuit with Totême’s monogram pattern is made from a four-way stretch, recycled polyamide fabric. A classic silhouette with a deep U-back and high-cut legs, it sells for $190 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

With its seamless crinkle fabric, Hunza G’s Nadine Bikini stretches to fit most sizes. It’s $225 at Shopbop.

I always admire how good my pal Diana looks in what I’m sure is a Miraclesuit. The aptly named Illusionists Palma Swimsuit virtually whittles the middle and hips with its shirred, wrapped waistline. Mesh detailing just above the bust and at the waist lighten the look and add a sexy peek-a-boo effect. A combination of lycra and Spandex make the material long lasting and the look exceptionally slimming. It’s $176 at Bloomingdale’s.

I’ve had luck with Gottex suits before, so when I saw this navy and white high-neck style online, I ordered it, encouraged that it was from the brand’s Profile collection, geared to “women who want to leave a little to the imagination.”  At least I could be humiliated in my own home when I tried it on. But wonder of wonders, my fashion consultant— aka my husband— approved with more than his usual nonchalance. It’s $128 at Neiman Marcus.

 

Terry cloth makes sense for toweling off after a shower but for bathing suits? Anyway, the material is making waves across the high-end fashion spectrum. Lisa Marie Fernandez’s Amber Terry halter maillot‘s deep scoop neckline with adjustable straps lets you decide how much cleavage you want to reveal. It sells for a pricey $460.

 

This was the bathing suit—mine was in black and white—that I kept long past its due date. Ample rear-end coverage, a bra lining and wide shoulder straps for support, plus a stretchy lycra fabric for tummy, etc. control won my thumbs-up. From Stockholm-based Paula Beachwear, this swordfish” style comes in 15 other colors. It’s $195.

 

When she’s is not poring through artifacts from an archaeological dig, my Italian friend Paola G. spends a lot of time swimming in the Mediterranean, a short stroll from her apartment in Santa Margherita. That’s her justification for her collection of spendy Eres bathing suits, such as this Asia Tank swimsuit, which sells for $430 at Farfetch.

 

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com

Late Dates #2: Rinse, and Repeat

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By Grace Cooper

IN 1914, Sigmund Freud first described a common, though counterintuitive phenomenon, in which a person re-enacts throughout a lifetime, subconscious, repressed, traumatic memories. If you’ve ever found yourself trapped in a series of toxic relationships, know you are not alone. Repetition compulsion is often the reason why we tend to date “our familiar type,” even when those bad boys drive us crazy or break our hearts.

So, when my beloved daughter encouraged me to find another man, I restarted my Find-a-Prince Project. Many Match.com dates later, after kissing an army of frogs, I at last met a potential winner. His single profile photo was of a fit, handsome, unsmiling man, casually posed sitting on a low railing with the Sierra Leone mountains of west Africa in the background. He’d written few words about himself, but already I could sense a swagger in his step. I can’t remember if I’d contacted him first, but knowing me then, I probably was too effusive, too quickly. We agreed to talk on the phone. I learned he was an ER physician who hailed from Alabama, recently transplanted to western Pennsylvania when his “crazy ex”—as he described her—relocated the family to accept a job as a minister of a Methodist church.

He suggested I Google him to learn more. Bored with his real job, he volunteered for an organization that flew him into dangerous international disaster situations as a first responder. Recently he’d flown into Haiti to single-handedly set up a tent city, where he (and many other medical heroes) performed life-saving surgery on those wounded in the devastating earthquake of 2010. Eagerly, I researched everything I could find about him, including one article that mentioned the equally brave nurse who also accompanied him that day. He’d forgotten that interesting detail about this heroic nurse, but I was dazzled, nonetheless.

He suggested we meet at a busy restaurant near my home. I primped for our first date. He arrived in a foul mood, complaining about everything from traffic on the drive over to difficulty parking his car, to the ambient noise in the restaurant. I suggested we go somewhere quieter. He didn’t like that menu. He was tired from work. He gave every indication that he was not enjoying my company at all. Defeated, I suggested we mercifully call it a night. At least he offered to walk me to my car—and then he laid a kiss on me and asked when he could see me again. WTF? Was he giving me a second chance? I was intrigued by the challenge.

Though minimally encouraged by this man, and after several more equally contradictory dates, I set about making myself helpful to him as he wrestled with the challenges of managing his own life. He was working long hours in a busy ER, renovating an old house, managing shared custody of his teenage children and dating women like me in the Western World—way too much pressure for a Haiti hero!

So once or twice every week he dropped in to let me feed him homemade meals, package the leftovers and make out with him on my sofa. In the interim, if a plumbing or electrical emergency upset him, I was on it, managing his every need. In return, he frequently canceled those dates I initiated, in which we were supposed to dress up and head out to a restaurant, a play, a movie—somewhere he might be expected to plan or pay. But back then, heck, I’d have settled for cheese and crackers to just sit and watch a nice sunset with him. On and on we went for months. I chased. He ran. I chased some more.

One day, as I lunched with my BFF of many years, I complained about my hero for the umpteenth time. In between bites of salad, BFF looked me in the eye and said the words that ring in my ears to this day, “You know, as you describe his antics, it occurs to me he’s a perfect clone of your ex. Do you think it’s going to be any different this time??”

Whoa! That remark stopped me in my tracks.

She was right. A physician from the South. Unhappy thrill-seeker. Zero self-introspection. Passive aggressive and dismissive of anything I tried to do for him.

Why indeed was I attracted to what I’d just divorced? Was the interesting, yet elusive, bordering-on-abusive man my type?

And with that, I began to consider that my “type” might be a problem for me going forward in life. But it was many more similar dates, and two years into therapy with a Jungian analyst, before I recognized the problem might lie with me. I remember the day I listened to myself recount yet another sad story of some man who used, abused, then discarded me cruelly. Suddenly, I had a thought . . .

“Betsy, it occurs to me I know plenty of people in good relationships with great men. But not me. In every one of these relationship disasters, I am the common denominator. Is it possibly something in me?”

The look on her face was priceless as she jumped up, clapped her hands in glee and shouted, “Thank God! NOW we are really going to make some progress in your therapy sessions!”

That was certainly unexpected but rather encouraging.

As for the Haiti hero, he canceled our date for my birthday. Already anticipating the end with him, I had made plans to fly to Seattle to stay with a cousin for a few weeks. Another interesting Match suitor was scheduled to be in Seattle the same week—writing his fifth book in a second home he owned there. I agreed to meet him for a Sleepless in Seattle type date. On my way there, I checked my phone messages during a layover in Houston. There were dozens of frantic messages from Haiti Hero, demanding I call him ASAP.

“What’s wrong??” I asked when he answered.

“A tree fell on my house last night! I could have died! I need you to get a contractor here immediately!” He demanded.

“I am on my way to Seattle I started to explain…”

“Why are you going there?” he indignantly inquired.

“I have a date,” I said as casually as I could manage through the widest smile.

Next up: Neil, the (lovable) narcissist

 

—Grace Cooper (a nom de plume) left her long marriage a decade ago, and with it went all sense of her identity—but not for long. Now 67, she has begun chronicling her tales of looking for love in all the wrong places, and unexpectedly finding herself.

The Lipstick Files

Color me Nars Dolce Vita, Estee Lauder Starlit Pink, Nars Cruella or . . .

By Janet Kelly

WE COULDN’T let National Lipstick Day (Friday, July 29) go by without acknowledging the joy a purchase of a new or an old favorite lipstick brings us. Deprived of its colorful benefits by two years of mask wearing, we’re painting our pouts once again. It seemed to there was no better time to ask our staff and readers about the brands and colors they love—and sometimes miss.

Kathy Legg: Rarely do I ever buy a specific lipstick. Most of the lipsticks I have came with those “free” gift with purchase offers handed out when I buy some other cosmetic. However, there is one (not technically a lipstick, but it goes on your lips) brand I actually shell out money for. It’s Trish McEvoy’s Lip Perfector Conditioning Balm. It doesn’t feel greasy or heavy on your lips and it adds just a nice little touch of pink. Plus it seems to last (at least on me) much longer than normal lipsticks, which seem to disappear before I can even get out the door.

Nancy McKeon: I wear lipstick when I want to be sure people know I’m actually a living being. Otherwise my face is . . . pallid is a nice way to put it. Recently I’ve been using a Sephora lip pencil to give my mouth some semblance of shape, but I’ve just decided that softer (even blurrier) is better. My fave lipstick is Groupie from Lancôme because it has a bit of shimmer and a bit of translucence. Nothing worse on an aging face than scary, prominent makeup.

Grace Cooper: When I had a skin cancer removed from my lip, the dermatologist told me to keep my lips covered with lipstick at all times. Impossible! I eat lipstick as soon as it’s applied. So he told me to buy the drugstore stuff that stays on for 24 hours until you either sand it off or remove with an oil-based makeup remover. My fave for daytime is L’Oreal Paris Infallible in Lilac.

 

Stephanie Cavanaugh: With a cabinet full of lipsticks—such a cheap thrill—I have three that are worn down to nubs: Revlon’s Cherry Blossom ( a neutral pink), Lancome’s Designer Bloom (a neutral pinkish brown) and Revlon’s Apple Polish (a reddish/orangish/pinkish shade). The first two are cream with sheen—not shine. Apple Polish is a bit more shiny and glam. The latter two are discontinued.

Mostly, though, I wear Blistex Lip Vibrance, which comes in a single shade of sheer red. Just perks me up enough and easy to apply without a mirror. Unfortunately, it has this candy taste and smell that’s pretty disgusting, although it fades in a couple of minutes. (Not the sort of thing you want to apply after eating something delicious).

Irina Peris: I just ordered a new lipstick. But during two years of Covid and masks I used only two—Rouge Cassaque (left) and Rose Indien (right) by Hermès. I liked the second one better; it’s a really nice rich color.

Linda Kastan: During Covid one of the fun things I did was order Chanel products because they came in beautiful boxes. Although I’m still wearing a mask in several situations, lately I’ve been using Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria, which I think looks better and more modern than a gloss.

Nancy Gold: My mom always wore red lipstick. Nothing else, just red lipstick.  Not sure where that came from, since my grandmother only wore “rouge.”

My all-time favorite is Nars’ Dolce Vita (a great pink/rose color), followed very closely by Nars’ Cruella lip pencil (a true red). The texture is creamy, the colors rich and they both stay on pretty well as long as you do the anti-feathering tricks we should all know by now.

And you’re absolutely right—we all look brighter with color on our faces. Although I’m still masked in most public situations, it’s nice to wear lipstick, or any type of color cosmetic, again.

A lipstick loyalist, Nancy keeps this note in her makeup case to remind her: “In case of an emergency, apply lipstick first before assisting others.”

Judith Robinson: One of my favorites is Estee Lauder’s  Starlit Pink.

ICYMI, though, a fitting ending to this post is poet Robinson’s ode:”Why I Love My Lipstick,” below.

Because, in Clearly Crimson, I can sing a siren’s song.

Because, in Crystal Coral, I am never alone too long.

I can name the stars for Martin, wearing Starlit Pink.

Or speak my mind to Phillip, tell him what I think.

Because, in Lilac Rose, I do not hide in bed;

I can out-dazzle anybody, wearing All Star Red.

Because, in Silvery Mauve, I lay claim to copper skies;

Because in Copperglaze Brown, I never apologize.

At night, by Naked Bronze Glow, I hear my lover sing

Inside his purple kisses, I drink Wine With Everything.

In the August of my life I still savor Cherries In The Snow

And treasure the girlish heart that compels me to do so.

I am Boldness, Beauty, Devil & Charmer

In a beeswax, coal tar & fragrance armor.

 

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com

What We Want to Wear Now: 07.20.2022

From left to right, summery linen pants from Perserico, ATM and Vince.

By Janet Kelly

DID I hear someone say what she wanted most right now was linen pants? Yep, in fact, I heard that from more than one grown-up girl. Including me, that makes at least three of us. Anyone else? Hope so, because we’ve rounded up the best-looking linen trousers out there.

 

Australian label Posse's Ducky pants

Australian label Posse cuts its Ducky” pants with a trendy high paper-bag waist and relaxed leg from medium-weight linen. Go for a casual look with a T-shirt and sneakers. Also available in beige and black, the pants sell for $220.

Monrow track trouser in faded coral

Coral goes in and out of fashion, but it’s sooo quintessentially summer. Monrow’s track trouser (stickler alert: it’s a linen blend) has side pockets, an elastic waistband and an adjustable drawstring. The matching top is sold out, but these pants will look cool and crisp, paired with a white T-shirt. They sell for $175.

 

Poetry tapered-leg trousers

We like the look of the double-button high waist and the slightly cropped, tapered leg on these trousers in a light textured check. They’re all linen and machine washable—from Poetry for $159.

 

ATM linen pants in seagrass

What’s makes us smile about ATM’s cropped pants (all linen) is the color, which the label calls seagrass. Whatever you want to call it, though, it says sunny. And if you don’t like the ubiquitous drawstring waist, there is none here. Better love it, though, because the sale price of $158 is final.

 

Athleta wide-leg pants

Wide-leg pants are not for everyone, I can attest, having bought a few. I do have a pair from Athleta, which, like the one above, is an easy, pull-on style with a drawstring waist. And who couldn’t use some lightweight black pants? They’re $79.

 

Joe's Jeans' summer melon linen pants

Put these Joe’s Jeans pleated linen trousers ($228, Neiman Marcus) on your wish list for the times when you want to zhuzh it up. With Joe’s tank top or puff-sleeve blouse, go for a chic monochromatic look.

Joie's high-waist linen pants

The style of Joie’s linen pant ($178)—high waist, ankle length and a self-tie belt—has become popular in the past six months or so. Try it out for a relaxed, yet flattering, fit.

 

Mango's linen pants from its Committed Collection

These drawstring, mid-waist, cropped pants are part of Mango’s Committed Collection. In addition to this light gray, they’re available in pink, khaki green, clementine and yellow. They sell for $45.99 each.

 

Perserico linen trousers on sale

I have a soft spot for Perserico, which from its 1962 beginnings in the province of Vicenza, has specialized in high-quality pants for women. I’m not as enamored with it prices, which is why this pair of linen trousers  got my attention. It’s reduced from $385 to $154—in limited sizes.

J. Crew’s linen-blend pants are sold out in this pretty pink, but they’re still available in white and beige for $89.50 and in a few sizes in black, navy and a grassy green for $80.99 on final sale. If you’re fixated on pink, we found a beige-y pink linen in a couple of sizes at L.L. Bean on sale for $54.99.

 

Attention, Eileen Fisher devotees. These Lantern Pants ($175, Nordstrom), gently curved and slightly tapered at the ankle, are made from Fisher’s signature medium-weight linen.

Emerson Fry excels at comfortable clothing for summer. Although this charcoal-and-ivory striped linen Paris—$218—pant is not inexpensive, it would be perfection with a breezy, cropped top and flip-flops for beach days or with one of Fry’s feminine blouses for a soiree on the patio. Check out those heart-shaped pockets.

 

I learned a lesson at a high-end retailer’s summer sale. Of all the designer clothing that was marked down about 40-50%, my shopping buddy, Mary, focused on the small percentage of items that could transition to fall.  The Reset’s lightweight linen pants in uniform green ($168) are not on sale, but they remind me of what a good idea it is to shop strategically.

 

Alex Mill’s 100% linen Boy Pant ($135) can be paired with matching jacket and/or vest for, say, work, or any time you want to look “put together.” The waist is more mid than high, and the leg looks best cuffed at the hem.

You can’t go wrong with stripes in summer—or with the on-sale price ($54) of these straight-leg, all-linen pants from Garnet Hill.

 

Most linen pants don’t have rear-defining back patch pockets. The redeeming detail on spendy Vince tie-front pull-on pants ($295, Shopbop) is that they do, creating the illusion of a smaller, curvier behind.

 

 

MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale, whether through a retailer, an online store or Amazon.com

 

A Relaxing Day at the Audi Dealership

iStock

By Andrea Rouda

FOUR DAYS ago a UPS delivery guy alerted us to a flat tire on my car parked in our driveway. I was glad it hadn’t happened while I was driving, but I wasn’t glad it had happened. Being an old-fashioned female (afraid of bugs, can’t change a flat tire), I relied on my husband to fix it. But he was powerless since my 2022 Audi A4 came equipped with a spare “donut” tire, but no tools with which to change it.

We called AAA and an hour later the technician arrived. This being 2022, she was a female! Or at least she looked like one, who knows, I did not inspect her or ask her pronouns. She worked hard for an hour or more and finally put the silly temporary tire on, warning me not to drive over 50 MPH or over 50 miles until it was replaced with a real tire.

Today I drove, with trepidation, to the Audi dealership to have a replacement tire put on. The job took about an hour. I sat in the service area waiting room reading a book and eating some Planter’s peanuts from the complimentary snack basket. It was pleasant enough, with floor to ceiling glass windows all around, comfortable leather furniture and a fridge full of bottled water, but still after about 45 minutes I was anxious to get the heck out of there already!

A middle-aged woman sitting across from me who was there when I arrived seemed quite content. She sipped a cup of coffee, munched on some cookies and read a book or scrolled through her cell phone. Finally, hearing me sigh audibly while I checked my watch, she caught my eye and said, “I love it here! I’ve been here since 8:30 this morning.” (It was then about 3pm.)

“You love being here? Why is that?”

“Because none of my kids are pestering me and my husband has to stay at home while they put on a new roof instead of me. It’s like I died and went to Heaven.”

I’m not even sure if she had a car in the repair shop.

—Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid