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3 Short Jaunts Worth A Visit

I am a “woman of a certain age” with more time and means to travel than ever before. You may be in this category as well, but my husband is not only still working full time, but owns his own business. For this reason, getting him to leave town for more than 48 hours is a huge challenge. But I persist and we recently took 3 short jaunts that are not far from my home in New Jersey and are definitely worth a visit.

The Berkshires

Lennox, Mass

The Berkshires is in the western mountains of Massachusetts and is made up of small charming towns like Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Pittsfield, and my personal favorite Lennox. It is best known for outdoor activities and the arts.

The summer is prime time if you are going to enjoy artistic pleasures like The Shakespeare theater, Tanglewood – where the Bost Symphony is in residence, and Jacob’s Pillow – a dance program by big-name choreographers.

Off-season there is still plenty to do visiting museums like the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Mount – once Edith Wharton’s home, art galleries, shop for all types of clothing, shoes, and boots, etc and have a meal at any one of the great farm-to-table restaurants.

Staying in the Berkshires

The Berkshires is full of grand mansions built at the turn of the century for the uber-rich. Most of these have been sold off to become spas, hotels, golf clubs, etc. The prices to stay at these resorts are very high (The Whealeigh, Canyon Ranch, Blantyre and the brand new Miraval) Basically, you are not going to spend less than $1,00 per night at these choice spots.

Thank God there are plenty of Inns, B&B’s, and motels as well, enabling the more frugal traveler a wide selection of places to stay. On my last two trips, I stayed at The Seven Hills Inn conveniently located just outside the downtown of Lennox. It was a manor home built in 1851 and it was thoughtfully restored using a combination of old and modern furniture and accessories. It is very reasonably priced. You can also view their Instagram feed @sevenhillsinn.

We were there for New Year’s Eve and had dinner at Frankie’s – an old-world Italian restaurant frequented by locals.

After dinner, we made a fire in the fireplace in the parlor, drank wine, and curled up with a good book. A perfect way for me to spend New Year’s Eve.

Our New Year’s Fire

On New Year’s day, we enjoyed some retail therapy in Lennox which has great boutiques with high-quality, unique merchandise. It was so refreshing to find unique things to wear, accessorize my home etc. The Stores we enjoyed the most are:

Naples, Florida

The second short jaunt worth a visit is Naples, Florida. I know what you are thinking – “I’ve been to Florida a million times.” I have been to Florida more times than I can count, so why would I want to go again when my options are so wide? Two reasons: I am looking for a spot to spend part of the winter in the coming years and second because I heard from so many people it was worth a trip.

While I have enjoyed many east coast spots like Miami, Coconut Grove, Boca Raton and Del Ray Beach, I had never been to the west coast.

So I booked a great house through VRBO and took the family for the Thanksgiving holiday. And I must agree the west coast of Florida has a completely different vibe than the east coast.

Overall it is a slower pace, less frenetic, and more open. The beaches are far more spectacular with the finest sand I have ever felt. There are a wide variety of beaches to choose from, depending on how far you want to drive and what best suits your needs. You can read a review of the Top 10 Beaches in Naples here.

The most popular beach is Vanderbilt Beach and it gets crowded, but offers watersports and restaurants on the beach. Do not miss lunch or a cocktail at the famed Ritz Carlton Hotel overlooking the Gulf.

Another beach worth your time is The Beach at Naples Pier. The pier is historic and used to be where ships would unload their goods. One of the best things about the Pier is that you can walk right into Old Town Naples.

Old Town is a fun, vibrant, place composed of historic buildings in bright colors that house restaurants, bars, and shops. There is also another separate downtown location called Fifth Avenue. As its name personifies, this is where you will find super luxury stores, restaurants, hotels, and residences.

We are a beach-loving family so we loved exploring the diverse beaches in Naples. You could go to a different one every day and they each have their own personality. Not many places offer that. The fine white powdery sand (which doesn’t get hot in the sun), the magical blue crystal clear water, and the two downtown areas make Naples a great jaunt.


West Hampton, NY

Though we live in New Jersey we don’t really patronize New Jersey beaches for more than day trips. We find the majestic beauty of the Hamptons to be much more to our liking. Over the years we have stayed in Amagansett, Montauk, East Hampton, and South Hampton. And we love each and every one of them and their distinct personalities. However, the traffic has become so bad since there’s only one road into and out of these towns, it is no longer a great option for a summer beach vacation for us.

Downtown West Hampton, NY

So, two summers ago. we decided to investigate West Hampton Beach on our way back from South Hampton. It is an hour closer to our home and doesn’t require going on Route 27 (it’s the closest Hampton to NYC). It used to be THE spot in the late 1980’s, but everything pushed further East since then.

When we explored the town we were pleasantly surprised. It’s so unpopular, it’s kind of edgy in its own way. The walkable downtown is vibrant with stores, restaurants, bars, and even a Ben & Jerry’s. And the beaches are every bit as beautiful as the towns further out east.

Staying in West Hampton

As in all the Hamptons, there are few choice places to stay. Through a bit of research, I found a group of cozy cottages located right on Dune Road at the website Stay Marquis. The cottages are between a studio and a one-bedroom in size with all the amenities necessary to make for a fun stay. There’s a king-sized bed, little kitchenette, table with 2 chairs, a sitting room, deck with gas grill, picnic table and an outdoor shower.

It came with plenty of beach towels, chairs, bikes, and snacks. And the best part? All we had to do is cross the road and walk down a path to the beach. No car necessary. That alone makes it a worthy jaunt.

Overall, I hope you enjoyed my rrecommendations of 3 short jaunts worth a visit. If you have comments or would like to share, please feel free.

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Parenting Adopted Infants Is Not As Easy As You Might Think
Even infants adopted at birth can experience severe psychological and physiological issues …
My Great Finds on Etsy
I love shopping on Etsy where you can find unique objects from …
My Mental Health Journey
My story is one of triumph over a deplorable childhood
Eating Disorders Kill More People Than Any Other Mental Health Disorder Besides Opiods
Eating disorders are more deadly than any other type of mental illness.
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Parenting Adopted Infants Is Not As Easy As You Might Think

I am extremely fortunate to have two adult children I adopted at birth. Getting an infant in the adoption world is like hitting pay dirt. We thought it would make the adjustment less troublesome. But, it’s not as easy as you might think.

According to the Adoption Network, “only 4% of women with unwanted pregnancies place their children through adoption. One out of every 25 families has adopted a child which equals one out of every fifty children and of those 15% were infants.” With over 135,000 adoptions per year in the US, the majority (i.e.59%) get adopted out of the foster care system. Most available adoptive kids – are just that- kids older than several months and sometimes even several years old. We thought parenting an adopted infant would prevent many of the long-term emotional and psychological issues older adopted children struggle with.

The dominant emotions described by many adoptees about their own adoption are issues with separation, rejection, guilt, and shame. But since we adopted ours 2 days after their birth, we thought we had headed off these possible issues. But, we were wrong.

In our case, our children could not be more diametrically opposed when it comes to the issues surrounding their adoptions.

My 32-year-old daughter is a well-adjusted, high achiever and has no curiosity about her birth parents. She feels that getting involved in tracking them down would just cause unnecessary complications in her life.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, my youngest is a son and he exhibits many mental health and emotional issues and has tracked down both of his birth parents. He is in contact separately with both of them (they broke up 8 months after his birth).

As I have learned from doing much research, adopted kids can go either way – accepting they are adopted and happy with their family or they can feel like they don’t belong or that something is missing that they hope to find by learning more about their biology.

For one it is a simple fact of life and for the other, it is the source of much anguish. How can it possibly be so opposite when they come from the same adoptive family?

My daughter is a perfect blend of both my husband’s and my personality traits. She is extremely capable, loving, gets anxious about money (thanks to my husband), and coincidentally looks quite similar to me. On the other hand, my son looks nothing like anyone in the family, has many traits from his biological parents including ADHD, and an addictive personality.

His struggles are our struggles. Watching your child experience emotional pain and repeatedly doing self-harm is a living nightmare. When he is straight he is a kind loving person. But once he uses drugs he turns into an angry unreasonable man.

Amy with her infant daughter
My 2 adopted children as infants

What You Need to Know About Parenting Adopted Infants – It’s Not As Easy As You Might Think

What we didn’t know when we adopted our kids (26 and 32 years ago respectively) is what the newest research shows about infant adoptions. It completely contradicts our thinking it would be easier. Research now identifies “that as early as the second trimester of pregnancy, the human fetus is capable of auditory processing. In fact, the fetus is capable of processing rejection in utero. In addition to the rejection and abandonment felt by the newborn adoptees, it must be recognized that the far greater trauma often occurs in ways in which the mind and body of the newborn are incapable of processing. Childhood trauma impacts an infant’s physical and emotional growth. It colors how an infant views the world and others in it. “Source: The Center for Youth and Family Solutions.

According to Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D., your baby learned to be comforted by the voice and heartbeat of his mother well before birth[1] – a voice that was not yours. In the case of adoption, this connective disruption has an impact on the brain and body.

According to Paula Thompson – a writer for Birth Psychology, “these early experiences set our ongoing physiological and psychological regulatory baselines.”

It is not the adoption that causes the trauma, it is the relinquishment and the loss of the familiar that is traumatizing. Unfortunately, research has shown my son’s issues surrounding his adoption are more common than not.

According to The Center for the Treatment of Anxiety and Other Mood Disorders “When a child is not with their original mother, the newborn becomes frequently anxious and confused causing the baby to release stress hormones. Even newborns that are placed with their adoptive parents within days of their birth can often feel traumatized. Newborns know their mother is missing and they are being cared for by strangers.”

According to this source, further research shows, “that a child could inherit a predisposition for sadness or anxiety if their first mother was anxious or depressed while pregnant. And what mother who is about to give up their baby isn’t both anxious and depressed?

The Psychological Effects of Adoption on Adoptees

According to The Center for the Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders: the psychological effects of adoption on adoptees can include some or all of the following:

Loss – …”as the child matures and finds out they were adopted, that sense of loss becomes a theme running through their subconscious. As such, adopted children typically feel succeeding losses much more deeply than their non-adopted counterparts.”

Rejection – …”is part of the initial loss the adoptee experiences. In order to be adopted, they had to be rejected by their birth parents. “

Guilt/shame  – …”comes from the adoptee’s feelings of rejection. As we know, children tend to blame themselves when something bad happens, therefore an adopted child naturally questions what they must have done wrong (or what was wrong or “bad” about them) that made their birth parent give them away. Even if the adoptee knows the reason they were placed for adoption, they often still secretly harbor the idea that they were somehow “broken” or could have been a “better” baby, which is why their birth parents rejected them.”

Grief – …”is part of adoption because the child lost their birth parents. We see adoption as a joyous occasion for the parents who are adopting the child, therefore the thought is that adopted kids should feel thankful to have a new family. Grieving for what they lost doesn’t usually have a place in the child’s life – it is considered a rejection of the adoptive parents if the child grieves.

Additionally, children sometimes don’t feel the effects of their deep-seated loss until they reach adolescence or adulthood and have developed a high enough cognitive level to understand what the loss means to their life. In many cases, this leads to substance abuse, depression, or aggression “

Identity – “…is another loss the adopted adult must face. While they have been given a new name and identity by their adoptive parents, is it who they truly are? Or are they really the person they were before the adoption?

Intimacy “…is frequently difficult for the adopted adult because they have such deeply rooted feelings of rejection, guilt or shame, and don’t truly have an identity. Often people who have gone through these negative emotions subconsciously push others away to avoid experiencing another loss.

The Silverstein and Kaplan study notes that, “Many adoptees as teen[s] state that they truly have never felt close to anyone. Some youngsters declare a lifetime emptiness related to a longing for the birth mother they may have never seen.”

Mastery/Control -Lastly, adoptees often feel little control over their lives because they had no say in the matter of their adoption. Whether placed with their adoptive family at birth or as an older child, they were not given an option. As they mature, this can result in power struggles with authority figures and a reduced sense of responsibility.”

My son exhibits all of these issues. And now I feel like a bad parent for not knowing infants absorb the rejection, loss, and abandonment before they are even born. I thought we had circumvented all of these issues by adopting him when he was only 2 days old.

There are many resources to help adoptees overcome the issues surrounding their adoptions (see below). Now that I know the truth, I need to help my son (as much as he will let me since he is already an adult). It’s a little late for me, but I hope providing this information will help other adoptee parents to look for behaviors associated with trauma and provide the right resources to avert the possible devastating effects of their infant’s adoption.

Resources:

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My Great Finds on Etsy

If you haven’t shopped on Etsy.com, you are truly missing out. They define themselves as “the global marketplace for unique and creative goods. It’s home to a universe of special, extraordinary items, from unique handcrafted pieces to vintage treasures.” They have over 45 million items to choose from and they run the gamut from new to vintage in almost every category you can imagine. And that’s why I end up with great finds on Etsy.

It’s like hunting for treasures in a market in any country in the world where every vendor makes their own merchandise. They feature makers, independent designers, and creative entrepreneurs from around the world. In addition to the wide array of products, I like supporting the site because it is made up of individuals who are creating the products, and each has its own storefront. There are also editor’s picks that highlight new trends curated by folks at Etsy.

Alternatively, you can shop by category from pillows to jewelry (2 of my personal favorites). Just enter what you are hunting for in the search bar and you will get the results. Each vendor has its own inventory and the products are typically made by hand. I love knowing my purchases support artisans from all over the world. You can find the site here. You can also follow them on Instagram at #etsy or shop their Instagram store here.

Here Are Some of My Great Finds on Etsy:

Kilim Pillows – Last year I was re-designing our family room and wanted to add some tribal accents to give it a more global feel. After much research, I settled on kilim pillows to put on my sectional couch which is a beige neutral palette.

Wikipedia defines kilim as “… a flat tapestry-woven carpet or rug traditionally produced in countries of the former Persian Empire, including Iran, the Balkans, and the Turkic countries.” They are typically vintage carpets re-worked to be pillow covers. Each one is unique since they are vintage and they have thick, nubby fabric.

Covers are sold separately from inserts. But they have every size and fabrication of inserts to choose from. These pillows range from $15 – $20 per pillow cover and the inserts cost about the same. You can find them here.

For my living room which is more formal, I have a charcoal gray velvet couch that required a pillow scape. So I searched for velvet pillow covers and came across this vendor that has every color velvet imaginable in every size and she handmakes each one. You can find them here.

Sometimes I like to mix in vintage accessories with my modern furnishings for a more eclectic look. I decided I wanted an old French match sticker. Match strikers are match holders made of hard surfaces that you can light strike-anywhere matches on. They come in various sizes and styles and double as beautiful pieces of home decor. My mother collected them and I was lucky enough to find one I loved because they don’t have too many to choose from. I bought it from a vendor named Me1851, but they don’t have any in stock right now. Instead, you can go to this page which has a big inventory of match strikers from various vendors.

One of my passions is hunting for vintage-style jewelry. I comb antique stores, markets, and even garage sales. I love Victorian-style pieces the most. Right now I am totally obsessed with the look of layering vintage style chains with unique charms. I have found no better place to scratch this itch than on Etsy. For years I’ve wanted a vintage watch fob to wear around my neck. I have been to many antique stores, but the ones I find are either too short to fit around my neck or way too expensive. So, I searched Etsy and found a reproduction I love by a designer Linda Mikk and her store is here.

I also found quite a few other vintage charms, connectors, and chains:

This is a reproduction of a vintage pocket magnifying glass pendant chatelaine. Before we had reading glasses, people used them to read small print. The vendor is madcrafter and you can find them here.

Madcrafter also has antique-looking chains at various lengths for layering my charms. I hope you get inspired by They have lanyard curb chains that look extremely authentic.

To complete the look I needed connectors so I could attach my pendants. For just a few dollars I found multiple options. This one vendor has a big selection and the connectors come in different shapes and sizes. You can find them here.

One of the charms I had been searching for, for quite some time was available and the price was amazing. I wanted a blue enameled star charm (like a compass) and I grabbed it for $4.60. You can find it here.

All in all, Etsy is a unique resource since it features hundreds of designers’ and artisans’ products from around the world. I hope you find it as great a resource as I do and that you will be inspired by great finds on Etsy.

Any questions or comments let me know.

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My Mental Health Journey

With the stigma of mental health slowly eroding, and all kinds of people coming out with their own stories, I finally feel comfortable revealing my mental health journey.

This is my personal story about how a red-headed, freckle-faced young girl filled with wonder and optimism lived in a house filled with chaos and violence and how she overcame the resulting mental health issues she endured. Luckily, mine is a feel-good mental health journey and I hope it inspires others who may be suffering.

The Roots of My Mental Health Issues

By nature, I am a jovial and optimistic person. If I weren’t I don’t think I would have been able to overcome the trauma I endured repeatedly in my childhood. That said, physiologically, repetitive trauma affects the circuitry in your brain and stunts your emotional development. So there was much to overcome physiologically, mentally, and emotionally.

For the first 13 years of my life, I lived in a home filled with chaos and fear. Sometimes those feelings get set off today in very benign situations. I live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

However, neither of these mental health issues have limited my ability to live a fulfilling life, remain jovial, have good relationships, and have a rewarding career. Most people are quite shocked when I divulge the painful drama I endured in my youth and my ability to seem so normal now.

In my formative years, I lived with two older brothers who could be quite combative, my mother who suffered from bipolar disorder, and my father – an insanely creative ad exec who was physically abusive. The ideal dysfunctional family.

My parents fought like cats and dogs and sometimes my father would hit my mother. He once slammed her head into a wall cracking open her forehead, necessitating an emergency room visit and stitches.

My coping mechanism amongst the chaos was to try and be invisible. I never wanted to suffer my father’s wrath so I was a model child — never getting into trouble. Unfortunately, my eldest brother didn’t get the memo and my father picked on him mercilessly. I remember one time he got so angry at him he pulled the wires from the television set out and whipped him up and down his body. The purple-colored scars prevented him from attending school for a whole week because my mother didn’t want someone to notice and say something. She was more concerned with what others thought than my poor, battered 11-year-old brother’s emotional and physical well-being. How crazy is that?

Overall, my parents were so self-absorbed and the three of us kids were completely neglected. My parents frequently traveled to Europe, lavishly entertained my father’s clients, and were basically never home. No one ever checked my homework, went to back to school night, or basically noticed me at all. And I was truly grateful for that. My strategy worked and I never got beaten even one time.

My other coping mechanism was to get to bed as early as possible because my father often worked late and I could avoid seeing him for days at a time.

When I was 9 my parents got separated, and my mom moved us from Long Island to Florida for a year. I loved it there. But, sadly she reconciled with my father and together they moved the family to Forest Hills Queens. I attended three different grammar schools in 12 months. After only 1 year of living together in Forest Hills, my parents divorced (when I was 13) and I was so excited. I thought that things in my home life would drastically improve without my father’s combustible anger hanging over our heads. But, I was left with a single mother without any job skills (yet college-educated) who suffered terrible bouts of depression. It was no picnic.

Once my father left, I pretty much never saw him again. He wasn’t all that interested in me and I was afraid of him – so it was pretty mutual. Many years later when I attended his funeral, I met his circle of friends, and his wife and I was shocked to think he went on to live a seemingly normal life. It was like a bad tv movie because none of them knew he even had a daughter. I guess being invisible really worked

In my middle and high school years, all I could dream about was leaving home. I hated living with my mother and brothers. I never felt like I fit in or appreciated their sick sense of humor. My ticket was to try and get the best grades possible and get into a great college. So I worked my but off, smoked a lot of pot, and had good support from several close friends. I made the dean’s list and dreamed of attending the University of Virginia at Richmond.

Age 15 at Sleep Away Camp

Though my parents bought designer clothes and drove luxury cars they neglected to set aside any funds to send me to college. With my dreams dashed I learned about the state school system and attended the State University of New York at Albany on a full scholarship.

Leaving home lived up to everything I dreamed about and then some. I think I may have had the best college freshman experience of anyone I know. I quickly made a great circle of friends and fell head over heels in love with the cutest guy from Long Island who looked just like Tom Cruise.

After only two years away my mother made me come home so I could attend her alma mater NYU. She was embarrassed that I attended public college and wanted me in a private institution. It meant I had to take out students loans to pay tuition and would have to live at home and commute over an hour by subway to class. I was miserable for those two years and never forgave her for forcing me to put aside my dreams.

Healing My Mental Health

Shortly after I graduated, I met the most honest, committed man I ever knew and we married when I was only 25 years old. It’s 36 years later and I can say that I still feel like it was the best decision I ever made. Shortly thereafter, I started therapy (at his suggestion). I went twice a week for 10 years working through the fears and anxieties I felt on a daily basis. I had night terrors and panic episodes and eventually went on medication.

And it all worked. Today I can say I am very happy with my life choices; married to my very best friend in the world, a mother to two adult children who are independently making their way in the world, achieved great success in my profession (and had the best time doing it) and have a small inner circle of friends.

The downside to all of this is that my nuclear family was shattered beyond repair and we all went our separate ways. None of us have any dialogue with each other and my kids don’t know their aunts, uncles, and 6 first cousins. So we are a small nuclear family with small numbers of people at our holiday dinners and no drama.

When my kids were small I tried like hell to bridge the divide with both of my brothers, but there was no foundation to work from. We each suffered separately and survived in the best ways we knew how. Unfortunately, both of them have repeated a lot of the drama we grew up with by getting divorced and losing touch with their kids. I can’t imagine losing touch with my kids no matter what egregious thing they did. It makes me so sad to think about it.

So that’s the story. of my mental health; it downs and ups. Now, I am looking favorably to the next several chapters of my life and the continued happiness that lies ahead.

My Own Little Family

If you are struggling with mental issues you may want to contact the following resources:

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  • 3 Short Jaunts Worth A Visit

  • Parenting Adopted Infants Is Not As Easy As You Might Think

  • My Great Finds on Etsy

  • My Mental Health Journey

  • Eating Disorders Cause More Death Than Any Other Type of Mental Illness

    Eating Disorders Kill More People Than Any Other Mental Health Disorder Besides Opiods

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Eating Disorders Kill More People Than Any Other Mental Health Disorder Besides Opiods

For women, being thin is still society’s archetype for defining beauty. And well if you can be skinny it’s even better than being just thin. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines skinny “as lacking sufficient flesh very thin EMACIATED.” Why should being emaciated be something women need to strive for? No wonder eating disorders kill more people than any other mental health disorder (besides Opioids).

Yes, we are beginning to see some advertised brands include models with more diverse body types, (like Dove) but it doesn’t compare to the constant barrage of the hyper skinny models and influencers young women see all around them while their bodies are still forming. The worst contributor to this growing problem is social media which is devoured by young women across all cultures.

In my opinion, Instagram is the most egregious platform of all. For instance, there is a widely distributed food brand constantly promoted on Instagram by the owner herself; Bethenny Frankel (@bethennyfrankel). She was once a reality star and leveraged her fame to start the Skinny Girl line of products. She has become a leading Instagram influencer with 2.3 Million followers and her brand page titled Skinny Girl (@skinnygirlbrand) has another 190,000 followers. She does all the promotion for her products herself and is so thin – it looks to me like she might have an eating disorder. She is 50 years old with bones jutting out from her neck and malnourished-looking arms. Is this what we want our daughters to strive for?

These media messages affect adolescent girls in profound and dangerous ways. Here are some sobering facts from Anad.org – a leading non-profit offering free peer-to-peer support services to people with eating disorders:

  • 9% of the US population will have an eating disorder in their lifetime
  • That translates to 28.8 million people
  • Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose
  • 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder—that’s one death every 52 minutes.2
  • The economic cost of eating disorders is $64.7 billion every year.
  • Black teenagers are 50% more likely than white teenagers to exhibit bulimic behavior, such as binge-eating and purging.3
  • Hispanic people are significantly more likely to suffer from bulimia nervosa than their non-Hispanic peers.3

As women with a great deal at stake, we need to more aggressively advocate for overcoming the media’s relentless “skinny” messaging.

A Deeply Personal Journey of a Relative’s Eating Disorder

This week our family lost a female cousin at the tender age of 34 years young who had been struggling with the disease since her early teens. In and out of hospitals from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Florida and Minneapolis, she never found a reprieve from her illness.

And the disease starts much younger than you think:

  • 2% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
  • 81% of 10 year old children are afraid of being fat.
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
  • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.19
  • In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting.20

In our cousin’s case, we think the disorder was caused by Post Traumatic Stree Disorder. When she was just 8 years old (1995), her mother enrolled her in one of New Jersey’s top private schools. She flourished and her parents couldn’t be happier.

But soon her disposition changed and she became combative, anxious and depressed. It was not until years later she disclosed to her parents that a teacher in the elite private school had sexually assaulted her.

This traumatic event is what precipitated a life of emotional pain, anorexia, bulimia, cutting, and self-loathing. Of course, her parents were horrified that their daughter kept this a secret for so many years. But predators often swear their victims to secrecy threatening them if they tell.

Because our cousin got so sick from anorexia (sometimes weighing as little as 80 pounds) many times she was hospitalized with a feeding tube to ensure she get proper nutrients and supplements. But unfortunately, the treatments didn’t seem to help.

Her parents decided to file a civil lawsuit against the teacher and the private school to ensure this predator be stopped before harming other young girls. They found out during the course of the trial that the teacher had been fired from other private schools before coming to this one for similar reasons, but it was never put on his record. This was before the term predator was used and awareness of predatory behavior remained silent.

They won the case and were awarded a large sum of money which they used to provide additional treatments in the hopes of saving their daughter. With a plethora of residential treatment programs, outpatient treatment programs, psychiatrists, multiple medications, therapy, and the like she could never overcome the trauma of the sexual abuse. Consequently, on Thursday, November 11th, 2021 she was found unconscious in her apartment. She never regained consciousness having suffered both liver and kidney failure.

This is my effort to increase awareness for how deadly eating disorders are and the media’s role in perpetuating the problem. It is also an effort to educate parents about this challenging mental illness that results in more deaths than any other mental health disorder (besides opioids). Parents please talk to your kids about body image and make sure to listen to signs from your child who may be suffering in silence. Some things to listen for from your sons’ (yes boys get it too) and daughters’ conversations are, “I’m too fat,” “I need to eat less,” “I’m going on a diet, “I don’t like my thighs.” These can all be tell-tale signs.

For more information on the disease, treatments, and support go to:

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3 Brands I Bought On Instagram That I Regret

I have written two posts about products I happily found on Instagram that are ideal for women of a certain age, and well worth the price (see them here and here). Unfortunately, today I am highlighting 3 brands I bought through Instagram that I regret. Some resources have fine print I didn’t catch when making a purchase and either they have no return policies or ended up costing me more than I thought.

3 Brands I Bought on Instagram That I Regret:

I decided to try an all-natural sleep aid that popped up in my feed and I had also seen on Goop called Remrise. Having trouble falling asleep is my issue and this seemed like a great alternative to habit-forming sleep medications.

I did not see it was $90 per month and by making the purchase I was signing up for a monthly subscription. What a load of crap. Who would buy a new product and sign up to receive it monthly before ever trying it? Especially when it comes to something as personal as a sleep aid? It took multiple emails and calls to get the subscription turned off. Not cool at all.

An additional regretful purchase I recently made is pajamas from a site that’s company stage line is “Comfort With A Purpose. The site is titled Ettitude. I liked the fact that the items are made from sustainable Clean Bamboo and the fact they plant a tree for each purchase made. The designs are great and the company’s business philosophy aligns with mine.

Pajamas by Ettitude

Sounds perfect – right? When the pajamas arrived I soon learned that I needed a size up. I went online to make a return, but wasn’t able to. After much back and forth with their customer service department, I was told you can’t return or exchange your purchases. I scoured the site and I still don’t see anything about that, nor did I get a warning when the item was in my cart.

After using my most charming voice and further pleading, they said they would make a one-time exception. How can an online shopping site not take returns? If a company sells in the online space they must accept returns or who would chance buying anything they offer?

So call me crazy, but I bought 2 sets of pajamas from another site I discovered on Instagram (I need pajamas for an upcoming vacation). These came from a site titled Bonsoir of London. I loved their patterns and fabrics so I indulged.

Bon Soir of London Pajamas

I didn’t see anywhere on their site about the fact that items shipped outside of the UK are subject to a VAT tax. VAT stands for Value Added Tax which is in addition to the cost of shipping, thereby driving up the price of the order. A VAT tax is put on luxury goods to reduce the personal income tax of high-wage earners. Who knew that pajamas were considered a luxury. The tax and the shipping came out to a total of$34.00 – and the pajamas were priced at $89.00. That’s 38% of the price of the item – which is completely ridiculous. So much for transparency.

Note to self and those who read this blog – make sure to read the fine print before ordering anything online. It is well worth the extra time because it can save you money and loads of aggravation.

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5 New Instagram Purchases for Women of a Certain Age

Note: This is the second in a post series about online shopping for women of a certain age. If you haven’t already, read the first post, you can do so here.

I recently made 5 new Instagram purchases and I am a woman of a certain age who finds using Instagram a key resource. My goals differ drastically from the Gen X Influencers who are posting all day long. I am not trying to impress anyone, build an audience or monetize it. I just love finding alternative resources and lifestyle information that is otherwise unavailable to me. You could say it’s my own version of QVC.

So if you are always looking for fresh new style, health and wellness information or home services resources take a look at these 5 and I am sure you will find at least one you will want to get yourself.

Recent Purchases

Style

For instance, I love following Kate Middleton (@kate.middleton.official) and Meghan Markle (@sussexroyal_hm) on Instagram to get style inspiration. All the articles about them detail their apparel and accessories in the fine print. Beyond the crown jewels and fascinators, they sport some affordable earrings, footwear, pants, and sneakers.

I noticed more than once they wore accessories from a British store called Mark & Graham @markandgraham OR ww.markandgraham.com — a store that sells everything from home furnishings and accessories to jewelry, gifts, and my favorite…handbags

After scouring many sites for a new tote for the fall season, made of quality leather, with the right type of handle, and reasonably priced, I discovered the Elisabetta Slouch bag on Marck and Graham for $398, plus $12.50 for monogramming. It comes in many colors, but I love how a brown bag weathers over time. You can shop for it here.

I was also motivated to purchase a new wallet to go with my new bag – I mean what’s the use of pulling out an old, beat-up wallet from a gorgeous new bag? So, also from Mark and Graham, I purchased their Leather Zipper wallet in the large size for $34.99. You can shop for it here.

Next on my list for my fall transition was changing up my accessories. Earrings are probably one of the easiest, most convenient, and cost-effective ways to update my style (besides a new lip color). Add a pair of super big hoops and believe me your overall look will be years younger.

Pearls are all the rage right now from Baroque to Cultured. Don’t picture Barbara Bush in her 3 strand choker. Instead, now it is all about mixing and maxing with gold and gem stones big and small. To capitalize on this trend I made 2 purchases from Instagram vendors that I am really happy with.

Nura Small Pearl Pendant Charm from Monica Vinader@monicavinander #monicavinander http://www.monicavinander.com. Price $95.

Crystal Ball Drop Earrings at Hot Tomato in Aqua Marine (but come in a bunch of colors). @hugetomato #hugeomato http://www.hugetomato.com. On sale now for $46.00

Me in my new jewels. I feel like I don’t look trendy, just updated and fresh.

HOME FURNISHINGS

I am a complete devotee of all things Serena & Lilly – especially when it comes to my bedroom. Up until pretty recently, they were an online / catalog-only brand resource. Now they have a few stores.

They design and manufacture fabrics that cannot be matched by typical store brands. Warning: Their prices are high, but they run good sales. I tend to re-do my bedding style seasonally. In the winter I use the Alpine Flannel Bedding – which is on sale for 20% off here. You can follow them @serenandlilly #serenaandlilly.

As shown in the catalog

In my bedroom

Lola finds the fabric very cuddly

HOME SERVICES

Do you have bags and bags of old family videos piled in plastic bags? I have dragged them every time I move, not knowing what s to become of them. With fthe VCR becoming obsolete and the ehorbitant prices for digitizing them, I was ready to throw them out.

Surprisingly, I found an IG account for something called #IMemoriesofficial where, for an extremely affordable price, they can digitize your videos so you can play them on your laptop, TV, phone etc.

To get started, fill out the form on their site at htttps://www.imemories.com. They send you a box with packaging to send in your tapes, they digitize them and send back the originals. The videos are stored online so you can download them to your device to play over and over. We have been laughing a lot around here watching them.

Then

Now

Health & Wellness

If you like natural healing methods for treating chronic health issues like bloating, stomach aches, headaches, and more – I recommend following Anthony William – known as the Medical Medium or@medicalmedium on Instagram. He is not a physician, dietician, or formally educated health professional. Instead, he was ” born with the unique ability to converse with the Spirit of Compassion, who provides him with extraordinarily accurate health information that’s far ahead of its time. ”

Some mediums converse with the deceased – he gets inspiration to heal people. Doctors consult with him, patients swear by him and he has several best-selling books. Personally, I gave his celery juice protocol a try because I had seen celebrities talk about it and was having some acid indigestion. The protocol is simple – drink 16 oz per day on an empty stomach without any other additives (like lime, other vegetables etc). In order for its healing properties to be effective, they can not be mixed with anything else.

I have been drinking it about 3 times per week for several weeks and notice an improvement in my gut issues. He is a big believer in cleansing our bodies with natural foods and juices and breaks down their properties and how they fight disease. You can follow him @medicalmedium, #medicalmedium or on his website at https://www.medicalmedium.com/

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Sex and Marriage Over the Long Haul

What’s one of the most highly charged personal issues we are facing in our lives that we’re uncomfortable discussing? Sex and marriage over the long haul. We are all curious to know how it compares with other couples’ sex lives but it just doesn’t make great cocktail party talk.

Being married for 36 years myself, I have my own experience to draw from but have also spoken to other couples and done my own research as well. So let’s dig in.

One thing we all agree on is that the initial infatuation and discovery phase at the beginning of a relationship naturally wains over time. Instead of feeling like a failure trying to regain it, it is better to understand the next phase, how it affects our bodies, and offer remedies. so you can continue to enjoy satisfying sex. You may find the next phase provides greater pleasure and more satisfying intimacies t. To understand these let’s first look at the biology of sex.

The Facts About Your Brain on Sex

Biologically, humans want and need to have sex. It’s not in your head – the brain is very involved in the various stages of it. Here are the three main stages your brain goes through.

Having Maintenance Sex is Healthy

After years of having sex with the same partner (i.e. the long haul), sometimes you have sex just to please them. We’ve all been there and it is officially called Maintenance Sex. According to Dr. Brian Jory – a relationship psychologist, maintenance sex essentially is being “not really in the mood but let’s do it anyway,” sex. All good relationships require compromise and usually, this one ends up satisfying both people. He says it’s a good thing because maintenance sex is essential to the success of a long-term relationship for three reasons;

  • The biggest problem for most couples is getting in the mood to have sex. However, couples say that although they were reluctant at first, once they made the plunge to have sex it was a positive experience. No one regrets having done it and likely enjoy the outcome.
  • Most couples are not synced in their sex drive. So long as both parties are wholly on board, indulging one partner in a romp when one isn’t initially in the mood can be beneficial.
  • Better communication about sex to ensure each partner is aware of how the other feels, their preferences and dislikes improves satisfaction. In other words, tell your partner what feels good.

Biological Changes Affect Sex As You Age

So now we know sex and marriage over the long haul changes. The initial volume of sex decreases, it’s not in your head and you need to be open to having it even when you’re not in the mood.

Another challenge to spontaneous and passionate sex comes with life stage changes such as having kids, increased job stress and physical changes in the body. For women, the onset of Menopause is a tough curveball that comes with all sorts of side effects.

Because women’s estrogen levels drop at this stage it causes vaginal dryness and can make penetration quite painful. There are various methods to get around this condition including natural supplements, hormone replacement therapy, lubricants, and the insertable”Estring.” Read about the benefits of Estring here. Figuring out which one is best for you and your partner takes some time and experimentation.

Simultaneously, men’s testosterone levels decrease with age and their sex drive as a result. The penis doesn’t get hard as often and men have a harder time maintaining an erection. Viagra has helped this problem immeasurably. But again, men need to take it at least a half-hour before having sex – also killing spontaneity.

Sex and Marriage Over the Long Haul Can Be Extremely Satisfying

A sexless marriage is defined as having sex less than once per month. It’s an easy pattern to fall into because of the above-described biological challenges.

Getting a bit creative with the type of sex one has, helps to overcome these challenges. Sex doesn’t only include intercourse.

As a couple, open communication to redefine what your sex life looks like will help you overcome the above-described challenges. For example, oral sex and mutual masturbation can be extremely sexy and satisfying. Using objects like vibrators and butt plugs can be quite stimulating as well. Hi-tech vibrators for men and women use heat and motion to increase blood flow to the sexual organs heightening stimulation and orgasm. There is a wide variety of them and you can see some featured here.

It can’t be emphasized enough that couples (though somewhat embarrassing) need to openly discuss their options, fantasies, likes, and dislikes in order to keep sex apriority in a marriage over the long haul.

Most relationship experts agree and my own experience is that if you are in a loving (marriage/partnership) for many years, while the volume of sex decreases over time, love, trust, intimacy, and companionship increase. These bonds are profoundly satisfying to the human psyche, reduce stress, and improve health. And, with a little creativity and effort, you can also enjoy a healthy, extremely satisfying sex life that you may experience as equally arousing as when you first met.

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My Top 5 Online Shopping Resources for Women of A Certain Age

Listen Up Ladies of a Certain Age – online shopping is not just for Millenials. I have spent lots of time researching and testing various sites, and honed down those that have great products, free shipping (when possible) and good return policies. So now I buy everything I need online. From books, household products, apparel, cosmetics and jewelry to furniture and accessories.

Why the change from in-store to online? It saves me time, is cost effective and opens up new resources and brands that don’t necessarily have retail outlets. The change was inspired by my change in preferred social media platforms.

I was a devout Facebook user until I got tired of my feed updating me about people’s personal lives who I was barely acquainted with. I was simultaneously playing around with Instagram and made the switch when I saw how much more relevant I could make the content.

While I still see status updates from real friends, I follow topics of interest like style, design, jewelry, news outlets and very targeted celebrities. The result is a daily feed that is inspiring incorporating loads of ideas and brands I wasn’t aware of. I like to support those products and services that have good corporate principles including paying a fair wage to their workers, prioritize sustainability, are owned by women and philanthropic. These benchmarks really drive my purchases. As a woman of a certain age, I like to spend my hard earned money where I believe it’s making a difference and on companies with policies aligned with my own values.

If you find online shopping overwhelming you are in for a real treat as I showcase some of the e-tailers I order from over and over (I am not receiving any compensation, discounts or gifts from any brands listed). This is just me sharing my list of my top 5 favorites – but if you follow me on Instagram @amysandelmanharris you can discover more as I reveal my latest purchases. Keep in mind I have very specific tastes in fashion and interior design that can be best described as “classics with a modern edge.”

My Top 5 Online Shopping Resources

  • Thrive Causemetics – not only are their products vegan and cruelty free, but every time a product is purchased the company makes a donation to an organization that helps women thrive. They have raised a lot of money and support over 200 organizations. Most importantly their products are great and not available in-store. I love their Eye Brighteners (I have them in 4 colors), their Buildable CC Cream with SPF 35, and eye shadows. #thrivecausemetics, @thrivecausmetics

Website https://thrivecausemetics.com/ Instagram – @thrivecausemetics Hashtag – #thrivecausemetics

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My Collection of Thrive Cosmetics

Top 3 Apparel Sites for Quality Basics

  • Everlane – offers great quality and extremely well-priced apparel and accessories. They now have a few stores, but are mostly an online e-tailer. They have limited products that sell out quickly and run great sales. I just bought the shorts below in 2 colors. They have an elastic waist, a flat front with pockets and long enough to cover the high thigh area (if you know what I mean).

Website https://www.everlane.com Instagram – @everlane Hashtag – #everlane

I Bought Them in Two Colors

  • AYR – stands for All Year Round. It is a favorite pick by Oprah and is more expensive than Everlane, but offers higher quality fabrics. I bought the two long sleeve T shirts pictured below and unlike most, they are long enough to tuck in or wear over pants or shorts. Also, finishing details are excellent like the neckline which is perfect.

Websiteayr.com Instagram – @ayr Hashtag – #ayr

Modeling My Two New Shirts from AYR

  • Levis – yes they make styles to suit our age group. Like most of us, I grew up wearing Levis and still do since they offer so many variations of styles, fabrics and colors. The best part is they have customizable options for length, waist and leg opening (straight, skinny, wide) so you are sure to find the perfect fit. Also – its the best value around. Prices vary between $59 – $100 – less than half the price of designer jeans.

Website – levis.com Instagram – @levis Hashtag – #levis

My Collection of Levis

  • Furniture – Interior Define – they also have some stores but are mostly an online e-tailer. I bought a couch during the pandemic when no stores were open. I was able to customize the width, length, configuration (chaise on the left versus on the right), legs (shape and material) and fabric. Because each piece is custom made to fit customer’s individual needs it takes 10 -12 weeks for the order to arrive – but well worth it.

Websiteinteriordefine.com Instagram – @interiordefine Hashtag – #interiordefine

My Interior Define Sectional

I hope you find these resources as valuable as I do. If you have questions or need help let me know. Stay tuned for new additions to my list of E-Tail Besties for Women of a Certain Age.

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