May 1, 2016

Bringing the word "penis" out of the shadows, but in the pants

Laura poses penis questions to Dr. Dudley Danoff, author of Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health. We also have a visit from Alberta Knish talking about ancient Chinese erotica

April 3, 2016

Hot flashes and angry bees: Episode 12 online NOW

Where can you learn about hot flashes, angry bees, and the world's strongest hoo-ha? Our Better Half podcast's episode 12, natch!

February 28, 2016

Laura asks 60+ adult film actor, Bea Cummins, about her shoes, and the term "Granny Porn"

Among the things I hadn't ever imagined I would do, but welcomed the chance at, was to talk to someone who has worked in the "adult" film industry, also called "porn." Bea Cummins, a 60+ grandmother who has appeared in over a dozen films and runs her own sexy website with her husband, was kind enough to grant an interview, and I enjoyed learning about the industry and her observations on aging.

Episode 8 also includes an interview with Liz Seidel from ACRIA about a March conference in New York City on HIV and aging, and we hear from our new Sexy Science Correspondent, Dr. Rosalind Baculum.

Listen in now:




February 21, 2016

Episode 7, in which Laura does her first interview and meets someone in the romance business

I used to think of "marital aids" as kind of sad, and sex "toys" as a bit shocking.

Well, the world has changed and this old prude approves. Learn why in Episode 7 of Our Better Half, where I interview my first sex toy seller and give some thought to the words "play" and "toy" and reexamine my prejudices.

Meet Mia Grabner, a retired romance industry professional, talking about the business of empowering and educating women about sex.

February 10, 2016

I may as well have just responded with my usual 'I'm fine thank you'

Let us consider just how cruel and misguided it is to base mental health treatment priorities on dire medical state.
"I have just thought about losing weight so that the service is accessible, but I know that it would then be much harder because my head would be more screwed, it'd take longer for any treatment and therefore cost more except they'd probably think a week is enough to make it all okay, but the thing I know most of all is that I'd likely die before I reached the point they'd fund a place at a unit. I just, I know it sounds totally stupid, but I just wish someone could wrap me up and take care of me, tell me what to do, when to do it and make me do it. 
... I've told them how things are, but I may as well have just responded with my usual 'I'm fine thank you', because whatever I say feels like it's written off.”
What those who fund treatment and decide on insurance and treat eating disorders need to know is that this person, like many of my other friends with eating disorders, talk a lot about feeling the only way out is death or getting more ill. THEY WANT HELP. They cannot say this every day to every one, they cannot beg and fundraise and advocate for themselves. THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE TO.

We know how to fix this. We could treat any degree of eating disorder thinking and behavior as just as deadly and urgent and TREATABLE as a small tumor. We do not wait for a tumor to grow nor do we only take out part of it and hope the person wills the rest away.

We need to fund and supply mental health care at ALL levels, at will, with clinical care that understands that people with eating disorders are not able to and should not have to guide and provide their own care. Basing MENTAL HEALTH care on weight status and not mental status is cruel and ineffective and goes against everything we know about eating disorders.

In other words, the system is "crazy." The system is "disordered." And it is NOT the patient's responsibility or fault or job: it is ours. And we are failing.

"I just wish someone could wrap me up and take care of me, tell me what to do, when to do it and make me do it"

Thank you to my friend who gave me the gift of letting me share their words. I know how many others feel the same way and I'm ashamed we have not fixed the system yet. Treatment shouldn't be based on weight status.

February 7, 2016

Put your Geritol in a sippy cup and listen: Episode 5 up today!

Please picture me this week on my fainting couch
 Pondering the word "STILL"
Thinking differently about linen closets after my conversation with Pepper Schwartz

Trying to imagine what Geritol really tastes like... in a sippy cup

Considering my AARP card
Thinking about cancer and sex.
And contemplating fat and sex.

And fantasizing about having Amy Schumer as a guest on the podcast as soon as she turns 50...

Join me for Episode 5 of OUR BETTER HALF PODCAST, available NOW.




January 31, 2016

Chastity belts: still a thing? Or were they ever?

Among the delights of being a podcaster on the topic of sex: talking to fascinating people.

Interviewed the standup comic, Steve Ochs recently, and got his take on how sex is like improv. 

Breathed and squeezed through my Kegel exercises with a vulva ventriloquist, Laura-Doe. 

Found the key to chastity belts.



 And Grandma Lisa called out unicorns with Carrie.



And that's all just in Episode 4, published today. Listen now!


January 17, 2016

What my first social security statement taught me about Hollywood

I spoke on today's podcast episode of OUR BETTER HALF about my first paid gig. Me and my family were extras in a movie starring Lloyd Bridges and Shirley Jones. I realized then, at the age of eight, that I'd rather write than act!

Listen to the episode to hear what movies friends nominated on social media for my list of stories featuring lovers over 50 years old.

Also, find out about a real ants in the pants issue, hear interviews with a website magazine founder and a sex toy creator -- entrepreneurs with observations on sex in that "second half" of life.

Enjoy!

EPISODE 2: Boy toys, Viva Fifty, whaler's wives, and ants!

January 10, 2016

Why you shouldn't listen to me about sex, but probably will anyway


If you needed a reason to wonder what on earth I am doing hosting a podcast about sex, this infographic should be a clue. 
  • I misspelled "benis."
  • The girl is shooting sperm back at the dude.
  • The sperm are the size of hamburgers.
  • It's sexist: why is "Boy" capitalized and not "girl?
  • You couldn't even catch the flu from this distance.
  • The girl has six limbs. Or two tails. 
I was probably seven years old at the time, but still. Some people have midlife crises: others start podcasts. Against all odds and good sense the first episode of Our Better Half is now available.


You can subscribe on iTunes
You can listen on the SoundCloud site
You can use the Stitcher app



December 22, 2015

Mistletoe, mischief, and coming OUT

This hasn't been a secret nor have I tried to keep quiet on it but for some reason saying it here on my blog makes it real: I'm working on an "easily amused" podcast series about SEX.

SEX after 50, which seems to shock people far more than just SEX. Why is it that the topic of sex over 50 makes people giggle and then confess?

Are we more shy about sex than younger people or are we more shy about seeming older?

Well, I'm over it. I feel like I closed my Our Bodies Our Selves in 1977 and then forgot to update myself since then. As an old married broad with children I've spent way more years making my kids roll their eyes than my parents.

But no, I'm not planning to start oversharing my own (quite happy*) sex life, except in passing. I'm interested in learning what I missed while I've been busy travelling the world and having kids and, as of this week, launching those kids into legal adulthood. There are vocabulary words I don't recognize, places on the Internet I didn't know about, even technologies that expand our sense of what sexuality is. There's a growing problem with sexually transmitted illnesses (they even changed the name!) among older folk, and ageism in healthcare is a problem. Many boomers are caring for even older parents and dealing with issues like sexual rights in nursing home care!

I have always considered myself positive, if prudish, about sex. I expected to remain a sexual being until I was dead. No one told me I was supposed to stop in the second half of life, so it came as a shock and annoyance when the giggles turned to snickering. Nope: not having it. There are sexual health and happiness issues attendant to getting older but the right to the pursuit of sexual happiness is not reserved for the young: what a waste!

So, tally ho. (sorry. everything sounds like a double entendre now...) Go see the site, go subscribe to the podcast which will be available on iTunes and Stitcher and all the usual podcast sites, as well as available to listen online or download from SoundCloud. Learn with me; laugh with me!

OUR BETTER HALF, the podcast: first episode early January 2016!

** Deliriously, gloriously, delightfully happy, for the record, and to make sure my husband reads my blog.

December 3, 2015

vote now for YOUR favorite film featuring lovers who are over 50 years old

Yes, Dorothy, there are films featuring lovers over 50. Not having 50 lovers, though that MAY be true.

Rankings will be announced in January on Our Better Half podcast.

Vote or add your own!

November 19, 2015

Transcript for AED F.E.A.S.T. Twitterchat last night now available!

If you missed it, and regrettably I did, you can read the transcript for last night's Twitterchat with the Academy For Eating Disorders on the topic of

The Road to Recovery: Caregivers as Partners in Treatment #AEDchat

with guests from F.E.A.S.T.

What a fantastic chat: inspiring and including some of the most important things parents and clinicians need to know when it comes to caregivers!

November 11, 2015

Getting naked for a good cause

No, I'm not stripping down! But I see a lot of it going on: supposedly empowering commercials featuring non-standard sizes of women in their underwear, for example. Activists stripping down in public and trusting strangers to hug or write on them. Daring to go bare.

I get the symbolism: stripping down to one's common, um, denominator is being metaphorically naked and real to the public.

But, really? Why is the standard for body confidence half-naked? Why is it appearance-based at all? Why, indeed, is it about others? For many, just standing in one's skin of a normal day is an act of boldness, alone in their room., fully dressed. It doesn't need to be in public, or shivering in the gaze of strangers.

This brings to mind an era when we were told we were "uptight" if we didn't want to embrace "free love."

I don't know that stripping down to one's skin is necessarily casting off one's self-consciousness. For some it is, and that is be applauded, but it shouldn't be the new standard of being real. I'm real in my clothes. I can be confident in my underwear without displaying my underthings. Confidence in one's body image need not be proved through how many layers we are ready to strip off. In fact, body confidence isn't about how we LOOK, anyway. It is not necessarily lack of self-confidence that keeps our drawers on, it is also social propriety and comfort and privacy.




November 10, 2015

Fragility as power: I need a fainting couch!

I am noticing all around me -- in politics and social issues and local groups and advocacy and support circles -- the power of fragility to become something very much like aggression.

Who knew fragility was so powerful!

Anywhere good people are trying to do good things the power of fragility is not just in getting personal sympathy: it's a darn good way to stop uncomfortable conversation. Polite, decent people do not force people to talk when they don't want to. Nice people don't respond to tears without sympathy. While we all stop to fan someone with the vapors progress is put on hold.

But fragility is not always from weakness. It can be wielded as a form of power as well.

The power of being offended, feeling unsafe, and having one's motives questioned only works when the other people are caring, decent people. And who, I ask you, are the ones out there trying to do good but the decent and the caring?

It is an uneven playing field when some in the mix use fragility as a weapon. Aggression is easier to spot. Meanness is easy to spot. But the power to withdraw isn't always an act of conscience. Again, like the Dreaded Drama Triangle mentioned recently, fragility can seem like merit and deservedness when it is really more a way to stop criticism and control the field of discussion.

Mutual respect means treating others not with delicacy but with an assumption of necessary confidence. Those feeling fragile need support and a seat to the side to rest: honored and cared for but not in charge of the conversation. If we are discussing tough topics we need to be in a strong space.

In other words, fragility can't be an excuse to stop the conversation toward progress. It does get exhausting and feels awful at times to be an advocate but, like aging, is not for sissies OR bullies.

November 9, 2015

Doing it right doesn't mean it will work

There's a particular brand of magical thinking out there among parents. We think that if we do it RIGHT then the results will be what we desire. As if we deserve the best when we try the hardest and, by corollary, if we do not get the best outcome we did not do it "right." This is at best laughable but also tragically cruel if you think about it. Just because you did it right doesn't mean the outcome is going to be glorious. That's as illogical as thinking that wearing a seat belt prevents accidents.

For parents facing really difficult caregiving I get it: we CARE A LOT about doing the right thing and we should. We need every ounce of hope and energy and the decisions we make do matter. But those decisions are not magic.

It saddens me to see parents for whom things have not been successful feeling as if they have failed. It's even worse to see parents feel criticized by other parents. Sure, parents do fail, but the outcome for our kids isn't the measure of our efforts or decisions. In the case of mental illness things do not always come out well. In fact this is why it is urgent that we get more research and do a better job applying what we do know -- because the bad outcomes are horrendous and we have to do what we CAN to increase the chance of success.We stumble along as best we can, all of us, making mistakes and doing our best -- all of us.

But when the illness or circumstances keep our loved ones from wellness too often all that hope and magical thinking can sound like criticism. This should not be. The outcome does not tell us anything about the family or the treatment providers or the health system and NOTHING about the patient's "wanting." We can all do everything perfectly: the patient and the family and the professionals and society AND IT CAN STILL GO WRONG. We can also make mistakes (we all do!) and still come out all right.

Let's not add to the pain and grief of families with judgement and second-guessing. Let's encourage fellow parents to do what they CAN and stop when they must. Let's accept no one does this perfectly anyway. Our job as a community of people who get it is to be supportive of one another and empower one another. That means honoring the choices of others. It means offering our own stories and the information that helped us but not requiring others to come to the same magic formula. Let's not judge effort by outcome, or do anything but hold up our fellow families. And, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that our successes make us better people or more than one anecdotal story.

Families whose loved ones remain ill or have permanently disengaged or have died need the support of the community as much as those just entering it. Their wisdom and experience are necessary and valuable, and their grief is not to be turned away from or made unwelcome. The reason that happens is fear, I believe, fear by association and fear of rejection. We, as a community, are stronger than that!

November 6, 2015

are you in the drama triangle?


The other day I had a EUREKA moment when I connected what I see in support environments with what happens in advocacy environments -- and in our little eating disorder parent advocacy world the two are often the same -- with the models represented in this diagram.

You can read about Karman's Drama Triangle and The Empowerment Dynamic here, and I hope you do. What I want to say to my fellow advocates is that progress in the field is best done outside the Drama Triangle, which is really an emotional trap. It's ego and being right and wanting to be a rescuer but it invariably ends up making us into persecutors or being seen as persecutors, and I think it creates more and more victims and it doesn't WORK.

The point of advocacy is progress for the field.

The Empowerment Dynamic represents the best of advocacy AND creating supportive peer environments for caregivers. It embodies the way, ideally, parents can make it about outcomes and to KEEP OUR PASSION. I see too many advocates and mentors burn out or become embittered, and only a few stay in the "Passion-Based Outcome-Focused" range. I see too many of us succumb to personal attacks or feeling unappreciated or disliked. These dynamics only serve to keep us divided and off track.

In fact, I think the Drama Triangle may have been invented by ED! And that makes sense, too, *duh* ,because it is anxiety-based. I'm seeing that the future of parent advocacy and of shared ED advocacy is in the top triangle, where the best parenting and the best peer support is to be found!

Thoughts?

October 15, 2015

Just because: Leonardo Sandoval, tap musician

Saw this young man perform in Richmond over the weekend and then attended his workshop: Leonardo Sandoval. So musical, so charming: he soars.

I have a new favorite tapper.

 

Two of my friends told me of grave medical problems today. I needed this.

F.E.A.S.T. event in DC coming up!

Have you registered yet?

Join other F.E.A.S.T. families at an event in Washington DC on October 27, right before the MOM March at the Capitol:

Caregiver Lunch & Learn Event
Speaker: Mark Warren






September 23, 2015

Why monitoring a child's weight and height DO matter

I applaud this article!

How Monitoring Your Child's Pediatric Growth Could Help Prevent An Eating Disorder by Dr. Lauren Muhlheim.

This is thorny: parents need to know that they can't tell by looking at someone whether they have an eating disorder. But you DO need to know your child's normal growth pattern.

It isn't that weight is the only symptom, but parents you do need to know your child's growth trajectory. You can not tell by looking if your child is failing to gain height or weight due to subtle restriction. That restriction could be from a number of reasons, as the article states, but it is not normal and may be an early sign of mental illness.

The best time to intervene is as soon as possible. For those predisposed to these deadly mental illnesses you may be able to intervene early enough to stop it in its tracks.

Believe me, you do not want to wait until you can see it. And this is not just anorexia nervosa, this is all eating disorders: restriction is the beginning of bulimic and binge eating patterns as well.

Monitoring growth isn't everything, but it is REALLY important!