Monthly Archives: October 2013

Ben Franklin’s Romantic Advice

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body ~

Ben Franklin

No one would confuse Ben Franklin’s legacy with that of Byron, Emerson, or Keats.  Yet this single quote proves his innate understanding of romance and passion.  While a person’s appearance, mannerisms, or accomplishments may provide the basis of an initial attraction, those superficial qualities alone cannot sustain intimacy.  The touch or kiss of a sexy man may send shivers up your spine, but neither compares to the heat forged by two truly engaged minds.18160753_s

This fact is evident in fiction as well.  My favorite romance novels aren’t those featuring the most handsome alpha hero and most outrageous sex scenes.  No.  The most memorable books are those in which the non-sexual interaction between the couple sparkles and leaps off the page.  And I’m not talking about the seductive or flirtatious banter, either (although that is fun).  Even in books, we recognize great love through dialogue and actions that gradually reveal and unite two souls whose union ultimately enables them to find their true strength and test their own limits.

And yet, Mr. Franklin’s quote doesn’t rule out the idea that a single, unattached person can also lead a romantic life provided he or she is actively pursuing hobbies, learning new subjects, and seeking adventure.

Thus, I think a key to making life more romantic is to remember to tend to one’s own intellectual and emotional stimulation at least as often as work deadlines, laundry, and one’s kids’ academic success.  That, and healthy debate (at least for me), keeps the juices flowing and fires burning.

I know I became quite restless with my life when I stopped working and stayed at home with my babies.  During those early years, I often felt isolated and intellectually uninspired.  At times I wanted to blame my husband for my lack of fulfillment.  Then a couple of years ago, I decided to pursue an old passion.  Within a year, I’d met new people, taken new classes, and written my first (if not great) manuscript.  I laugh about how much time and thought I now dedicate to imaginary worlds and relationships.  But while I’ve not changed the real world (like Mr. Franklin) or published a book yet, I feel reawakened and excited, and I’m a happier wife and mother.  Who can argue with those results?

When you are feeling bored at home or with your partner, what do you do to reignite a spark?

xo-Jamie

photo credit:  Fabio Berti, 123rf.com

Dry Skin Cure-Alls From Katherine’s Beauty Crush Stash

It’s Katherine again, eager to share my two winter beauty crushes before the cold season sweeps in and transforms your skin to elephant hide.  Thanks to the Avon Lady (a.k.a local mom who helps me carpool to hockey, and just happens to work for Avon), I’m armed and ready to defy the skin-destroying mix of freezing, wet outdoor weather and dry, furnace-blasted indoor air.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember when I highly recommended Vaseline’s Spray & Go lotions in the spring/summer.  Typically I’d continue using that easy, convenient product without giving thought to the more pressing demands of my extremities during the winter months.  But this year I’ve been persuaded to keep my hands and feet softer and smoother even before the big chill begins thanks to my carpool buddy.IMG_2741

Foot Works Healthy Feet lotion will enable you to survive the cold and show off your fall nail polish (when you travel to warmer climates) with softer, smoother feet.  I gave this little gem a go back in August and have already seen the benefit.  No cracked heels – only baby smooth skin.  No need to wear socks at night or get your sheets greasy.  This lotion goes on smoothly and dries quickly.  A winner in my book!

And let’s not forget our hands.  Moisture Therapy Intensive healing and repair hand lotion is a fragrance-free way to moisturize extremely dry skin.  I work with children at a local elementary school, so I’m washing my hands all day long.  Since I started using this lotion a few weeks ago, my hands softer and my cuticles look great—bonus!

These are two products I will definitely keep on the bedside table this winter.

What are your favorite winter beauty crushes?

xo-Katherine

Miley Cyrus, Sex, and Life After Forty

I read a recent article by sex and couples therapist, Stephen Snyder, M.D., entitled Sex in the Second Half of Life.  In it, the author explores whether or not Miss Cyrus’s statement – that sex basically ends after forty – is myth or fact.19672626_s

Those of us in the forty-plus demographic probably have varying opinions on the topic, but I was curious about the experts’ opinions.  I’ll admit this is something I think about often.  Yes, my friends and I joke about the differences we notice in our sex lives now versus twenty years ago (before we had children).  But the real reason I consider it with any frequency is because of my endeavors to write romance novels.

Most contemporary romance heroes and heroines are between twenty-five and thirty-five years old.  In the past eighteen months, a new subgenre dubbed “New Adult,” which lowers those ages to a range of eighteen to twenty-five, has emerged.  New Adult books are flying off the shelves faster than most other romance subgenres despite the fact the average romance reader tends to be a middle-aged woman.  If you look at popular television and movie romances, you’ll see a similar emphasis on younger couples (unless Jack Nicholson or Alec Baldwin is involved, apparently).  All this anecdotal evidence suggests consumers prefer reading or fantasizing about intense sexual relationships involving people well under forty.  Does this mean Miley is right?  Say it isn’t so…please!

Thankfully, Dr. Snyder offers a counterpoint.  Although acknowledging a change in sexual activity as we age and have children, he claims it stems from a subtle shift between needing sex and wanting it.  Apparently, we still want sex after forty, but we demand good sex with a rich emotional component.  Absent quality, we might prefer the other precious commodity of life – a good night’s sleep.

Dr. Snyder also suggests there is a relationship between your desire for sex later in life and the quality of your early sex life.  Obviously, the better your early sexual experiences, the more desire you’ll have later (and the better those encounters will be, too).

It’s heartening to confirm Miss Cyrus doesn’t know any more about sex than she seems to know about other important aspects of life.  However, for those younger readers out there wrestling with hormones, make sure you’re building a healthy relationship with sex (and with your partner) if you hope to enjoy it well beyond the ripe old age of – gasp – forty!

xo-Jamie

photo credit: Jon Paul Careless, 123RF.com

Cyber-Safety: Skillfully Parenting the Digital Generation

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a parenting article, but this topic is something none of us can ignore.14663622_s  Thank to my work with New Canaan CARES, I’ve been fortunate to attend meetings and lectures concerning the risks associated with technology, and what we parents can do to minimize the risks while allowing our kids to enjoy the benefits of technology.  And now I’m sharing it with you!  To read the admittedly lengthy article, just click on this article link.

It would be great if you could share one or two of your parenting tricks or tips with others by leaving a reply.  Also, help spread the word to your friends by sharing the link via email, Twitter or Facebook (see icons below)!

Keeping Love Alive

I read an interesting article about relationships in Psychology Today entitled Don’t Set The Bar Too Low, by Linda and Charlie Bloom.  Mr. Bloom’s explanation of how and why he entered his marriage with low expectations, and how his thoughts and actions nearly cost him the relationship, are painfully candid.  At one point he states, “I believed that to hope for more would be naïve and unrealistic since it seemed that no one has that kind of marriage anyway, except in the movies. These beliefs were all basically rationalizations for avoiding the risk of genuine emotional intimacy.”

He then addresses the disconnect between his thoughts and the demands of his heart (which needed more passion), as well as the conflict with his wife’s need for intimacy.  Initially he handled these problems by avoiding them, stating, “My way of dealing with the situation took the form of minimizing the amount of time that we spent together and maximizing the amount of time that I spent on other “more important” things. Namely work. In so doing, I reasoned that there would be minimal danger of conflict and we could maintain an adequate degree of connection.”  19385155_s

Naturally, his plan backfired and, instead, created a self-fulfilling prophecy that nearly cost him his marriage.  It wasn’t until his wife nearly walked out the door that he decided to get in the game.  Fortunately, twenty-five years later, they are happily married and enjoying a relationship far exceeding either one’s wildest dreams.

Isn’t that what we all want?  But how do we create it for ourselves?

As a middle-aged woman with many married (and a few divorced) friends, I’ve discussed the topic of what makes a relationship last ad nauseam.  It seems a lot of people give up and “settle” for the status quo rather than risk rejection or undertake the effort of really putting themselves on the line emotionally.

It’s hard to do, especially if you’ve let that connection slip.  It’s awkward to try to recapture something buried beneath the responsibilities of work, parenthood, and all the other grown-up issues in life.  But I think, if you find yourself drifting toward the outer reaches of relationship satisfaction, you owe it to yourself and your partner to work on getting it back, no matter how difficult it may be to create real intimacy.

According to Preston Ni, there are four cornerstones to intimacy: physical, emotional, intellectual, and shared activies.  He often authors articles aimed at helping couples enhance closeness, including How To Enhance Closeness in Your Relationship and 7 Keys To Long-Term Relationship Success.  But essentially, it all boils down to old-fashioned common sense.

Small physical contact (non-sexual hugs, hand-holding, etc.,) increases intimacy and reassures your partner of a level of closeness that differs from all other relationships.  Emotional intimacy requires more than checking the box with a two-minute discussion of “How was your day, honey?”  You need to reaffirm your partner’s importance to you through words and actions, and validate your partner’s feelings.  Intellectual intimacy can be increased with lively discussions about work, a good book or movie, or current events.  Stimulating the brain can increase sexual desire, too.  Finally, shared activities help forge stronger bonds.  Cook together, exercise, travel or share a hobby.  Any and all of these activities create a so-called “positive memory bank” that helps keep a bond in place.

So, if you find yourself feeling restless and unfulfilled in your current relationship, try working on some of these techniques before giving up and walking away, or worse, living in a perpetual state of discontent.

What do you do to keep the love alive in your marriage?

xo-jamie

photo credit:  Warren Goldswain/123RF