A path in the woods

The Best Time of Our Lives

The summer my son Kyle graduated high school he asked me what age I thought was the best time of a person’s life. I sat still, staring over his shoulder, thinking. The question stumped me a bit. We ate in silence as I considered.

I had to answer, “I don’t know, but for sure it isn’t before the age of 40.”

“Really?” His head shot up and he looked directly at me, “Why?”

I smiled. I wondered if he was surprised because I didn’t pick a youthful age or because I picked an age that didn’t coincide with his birth.

“Life is better after 40. A lot of the angst you feel right now finally goes away.” I set down my chopsticks, pushed my bowl away, and leaned forward, “that background anxiety to life, ‘What type of person am I going to be? Am I good enough? Will I be successful?’ It’s exhausting.”

Kyle stopped eating.

I continued “Around forty I had enough experience to know that most events in life are not catastrophic. When those anxieties started to fade, I felt relieved of a burden. I accepted myself to a greater degree. It’s not that I can’t still grow, in fact, I think I’m better at change now. I know what I’m good at and what I’m not.”

I picked up my chopsticks and started playing with the food in my bowl, “I carried an outdated vision of my perfect future self as a tall, blond, seventeen-year-old girl with long nails who read French novels.” Counting off each point with my fingers, I said “It took me a long time to realize 1) I haven’t been seventeen in years, 2) I’m a brunette, 3) My nails always break, and 4) I have dyslexia and can’t read French even after taking it for two years in college.” We both burst out laughing.

“It sounds ridiculous, but figuring out whatever stupid standard you put on yourself, getting rid of it, and accepting who you are is a gift. But, it takes a while to receive it.”

Ferragamo red and black leather belt

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

You can buy us pretty much anything for Valentine’s Day and we’ll be delighted. We’ve lived through the joys of Macaroni Necklaces and clay handprints. If you want to know what women like us really want this list will come in handy.

For your nightstand: Upstream: Selected Essays

Currently on my bed-side table is a book of essays written by Mary Oliver, one of America’s premier poets. “Upstream follows Oliver as she contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she has inherited from Shelley, Wordsworth, Emerson, Poe, and Frost the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully and intelligently, and to observe with passion.”

Upstream: Selected Essays available in hardcover or digital download for instant gifting $12.95 to $15.95

Upstream: A book of Essays by Mary Oliver

 

Shinola: The Cass Watch

Stefanie fell in love with Shinola because they have a wonderful story. She went to their pop up store at The Grove in Los Angeles and learned about how they repurposed workspace in Downtown Detroit and reemployed past auto workers in an effort to create a better product and to rejuvenate a city.

Jessica fell in love with Shinola because she likes pretty things.

This watch is called The Cass and if it reminds you an Hermès Kelly watch you are not alone. At $950 it’s a generous gift that’s not a ring.

The Cass watch from Shinola is the perfect Valentine's Day Gift

The BloomsyBox delivers cut flowers every month.

Who wouldn’t love to get a bouquet of flowers every month? BloomsyBox’s subscription service delivers beautiful cut flowers to your door every month. They have partnered with farms that are committed to protecting the environment and treating their workers with care. $40-$50 a month.

BloomsyBox sends a bouquet of flowers every month

Chocolate. Did someone say, “Chocolate”?

Chocolate and Valentines? But of course! Lady Chocolatt is a chocolate boutique and coffee shop in West Los Angeles. It’s no secret that Stefanie has a bit of a coffee addiction so adding some sweets to her favorite type of shop is always a big win. If you’re local visit the store on Wilshire Blvd near Literati Cafe on Bundy or you can order on-line here. Our favorite is the Ballontins Box beginning at just $27.50.

Chocolate for Valentine's Day

http://rstyle.me/~9xBYM

A red leather belt from Ferragamo

Everyone loves reversible belts. In addition to respecting your closet clutter we all have a perfect notch for our favorite belts and when you can get two colors on one leather strap everyone wins.

For Valentine’s Day we are coveting this black and red belt with a gold buckle closure $395 at ShopBop

Ferragamo red and black leather belt

iPad is still a relevant and useful tool

Confessions of an iPad Devotee

One of my favorite Christmas gifts of 2016 was my new iPad. It’s almost embarassing how much I gush about it. I didn’t need a new iPad, my old one wasn’t broken but it wasn’t the new style (and it was Christmas). As soon as I got a look at the split screen and the stylus it was easy to say, “Yes, I want that.” And I pointed my grateful husband in the general direction of the Apple Store.

This is my third iPad, and I appreciate that each has been an improvement from the generation prior.

I am not computer savvy. As I’ve said before, when Jessica approached me about starting This Is Midlife, I made sure she knew that I was not technologically gifted. So I can’t really tell you how many gigs of RAM there are, how many pixels, how much memory there is (I do say I want all the memory there is to the Apple sales person), or all those things Jessica seems to care about. I’ve never had an iPad break, or have I needed to go to the Genius Bar. I hate the Genius Bar. My iPads just do what they’re supposed to do and they do it without breaking.

Before my youngest child started to drive I spent a lot of time in the car waiting. At tutoring. At soccer. At piano lessons. The portability of my iPads have been invaluable. I don’t need wifi and I can do a a hundred different things on them at a time. I’ve used my iPads to read books, catch up on my TV viewing, answer emails, work on our Instagram account, sort photos, and more. Not only do I get to use the thousands of apps out there, but if an app doesn’t please me I still have the option of using my data plan and surfing the net.

My newest iPad is huge, bigger than the size of a sheet of paper. Which has inspired me to draw on it! I primarily work from my iPad (which baffles Jessica), but I still need my computer for some things. Traveling with an iPad is easy peasy since it uses the same charging device as my phone.

While I love to support my local independent bookstore, sometimes when my Book Club has chosen a book that isn’t something I love and I don’t want it cluttering up my bookshelves, it’s just easier to download the book on my iPad. (Sorry Skylight). I am pretty sure that I’ll never convince Jessica that an iPad is a useful tool, but I love that it is an easy trusted companion when I am on the go, making me always feel prepared and always providing me with something to do when I want it.

I Joined a Contact Team Sport After 40

I understand the value of team sports. I loved them growing up and as an adult play doubles tennis for very different reasons than I’d play singles. In my 30’s I went out to play soccer as I’d done in my teens and decided that contact sports just aren’t destined to be part of my life any longer. I didn’t want to get bashed around.

When we asked our friends if they’d taken up a sport at any age over 40 we found that team sports were still appealing and that crashing into other athletes is good at any age.

What made our friends take up a team sport after 40?

Tanis Miller has two kids in University and one who will always live at home. Her husband travels a good deal for work, she’s been a runner for most of her life, and when a friend convinced her to try out for a ball hockey team she said yes without thinking too much about it. Tanis was surprised to find out how much she loves it.

Having known Tanis a good long time I had to ask what in the world she was thinking playing any sort of hockey with a back injury. She said:

I do have major back issues, including neuropathy in my feet and chronic back pain, all residual due to the nerve damage I sustained in a bad fall. Protecting my back and continuing to strengthen it is my number one health priority. I’ve learned over time the very best pain management I can find is to move and to keep moving. Since my son is only going to grow bigger and heavier, and he is always going to be a quadriplegic, I need to learn how to live with my back injury while still being able to parent and safely lift him.

I am very selective and protective on the activities I will engage in, so as to not hurt myself while I strengthen and maintain my fitness. No ice or snow sports other than snowshoeing (which I love). However, that said, life is short, yoga gets boring and I can’t live in a bubble. Joy is out there, waiting to be found. Who knew, for me, it would involve running around a concrete rink, wearing hockey gear, holding a stick and chasing a hard rubber ball? And yet here I am. 7 years ago, after my accident, I would never have thought it possible. One step at a time. I don’t take it for granted at all.

Contact Sports Midlife

Jennifer Taggart: Attorney at Brawl – Why Jennifer joined the Roller Derby at 40

Jennifer roller skated her days away as a child and loved every minute of it. At 40 she really wanted to do something that would help her get and stay in shape while being on a team with other women. She happened upon roller derby which sounded and was fabulous. Surrounded by women of all ages who loved to skate she found a home with strong and powerful athletes. But with an edge.

Attorney by day, Derby by night, this is Attorney at Brawl.
Attorney by day, Derby by night, this is Attorney at Brawl.

I’m going to go ahead and live vicariously through our contact sport friends. Hockey in all its forms and Roller Derby are exhilarating to watch, so just call us the cheering section.

A Love Note To Good Skincare

You may have noticed Sarah Maizes’ fabulous ring on Instagram but what you might not know is that her skin is flawless. We had to find out more about her skincare routine. Here’s a picture of her at age 48 with neither foundation nor photoshopping.

no makeup great skin & great skincare

I had to ask her about her skin so here goes:

At what age did you decide to stay out of the sun?

I don’t come from a family of sun worshippers so staying out the sun is the norm to me. My mom never laid out in the sun and I always felt like I was going to melt if I stayed out too long.

Did your mother or someone else teach you to care for your skin?

My mom taught me to wash my face twice a day and to wear moisturizer (and a hat) but that was about it. My obsession with skin care came in my teenage years when I woke up every day with a new zit (or at least it felt like I did). As I got older, I realized I really enjoyed the calming ritual of cleaning my skin. It became sort of a mission to make the ritual effective. I’ve tried everything, from plain on Cetaphil to Clinique to the crazy priced stuff. I remember in college I was using Clarins and washed, toned and moisturized every night – it was the only thing that didn’t make me break out. ALL of my roommates thought I was insane. They still joke about it.

What is your current daily routine?

I’m about to reveal my crazy to you, so you might want to sit down. I wash my face every morning and every night. In the morning I use La Prairie foam cleanser and their radiance moisturizer with 30 SPF. It is honestly the ONLY sun screen I’ve ever used that doesn’t feel greasy, leave a residue or make me break out (wow…I sound like an ad. I swear they don’t pay me!). By the way, Natura Bisse also makes amazing facial sunscreen.

Night time is where my routine gets a little ridiculous, but when you have three kids and work all day, the ritual is just so soothing: For about 30 years I mostly just washed, toned and moisturized, and every week I used a mask of some sort to balance out whatever skin problem I felt needed to be addressed. Once I turned 48 I realized I had to take it up a notch. Now, every night I wash my face, then use La Prairie’s toner, then I tap a little bit of their Caviar extract all over my face and neck – it’s supposedly helps your skin absorb the products better. THEN…I use a tiny drop of anti aging booster and their Caviar Luxe cream. Once a week I wash with an exfoliating scrub before I wash with the foam cleanser. Did I mention you can also do all of this while you sit in a hot tub? Does that make me sound less crazy? No? Oh well…

Oh, and I NEVER sleep with make up on. It’s SO bad for your pores and stretches them out.

How long has it been your routine?

I’ve been following a regular routine since college, but I have only changed the skin care systems 4 times (once I’m sold on a product, I’m pretty loyal). My first facial cleansing system was Clinique but it was so ineffective for the money. Then I used Clarins. I started using Mario Badescu in the early 80’s. They were so small they didn’t sell it in LA so when I moved here I had to have it shipped. Now it’s everywhere and it’s still good, but I feel like it’s better for younger skin. About 5 years ago I started using La Prairie. It was totally by accident too – I had NO intention of spending the money on it. One day I stopped by the make-up counter and put a little of their anti-puff gel around my eyes. A couple hours later I forgot I even put it on until I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window. I looked 5 years younger! I was sold. I’ve been following my latest routine for about three years now.

Will a $335 eye cream change your life? Is premium skincare worth it?

Do you expect that it will change soon?

I think I have a few more years before I need to kick it up a notch again, but at some point I’m sure it will all stop working, and then I’ll just let the chips (and my cheeks) fall where they may. After all, I don’t think Medicare will cover La Prairie. HA!

What do you preach to  your daughters? Is it different than what you tell your son?

ALL of my kids use sunblock and none of us are sun worshippers, so that makes it easier. We’re deep into the teenage years in my house, so good, clear skin is an uphill battle every day. But I do tell all of my kids the same thing – take care of your skin every day and you’ll be rewarded.

Sarah Maizes is a Los Angeles based writer, producer, comedian, and the author of several award winning children’s books including On My Way to the Bath and On My Way to Bed.
is skinny a compliment

You’re So Skinny! Compliment or Critique?

Recently a friend called me skinny and it could not mistaken as a compliment. First I noted that my weight is unchanged and I was told that it shows on my face. Then I reflected on the inappropriateness of the discussion. These are not necessarily kind words. Even when they are offered up in gentle spirits.

From a young age we are trained to never tell our friends they look fat or chubby or thick. Perhaps there should be some training for talking to fit and trim girls? 

Note: it’s absurd that I’m the woman defending the “skinny girls” it’s not how I self-identify but it’s a group that every mother of a teenager recognizes as being an undeserving punching bag. 

Sometimes when women are overly critical or snarky I remind myself to be compassionate as I’m likely witnessing their own insecurities bleeding into conversation. However, I find the older I get the less tolerant I am of bad behavior in adults. This recent encounter left me wanting to scream, “We’ve lived half our lives already. Don’t you know better than to be a mean girl?” Instead I defended my weight.

Sometimes being ladylike is freeing, this event made it feel like a burden. 

I’ve worked hard to make myself into the friend that offers a safe place. We are what we do, what we say, how we live, how we give, love and care for the world, and the people around us.

At age 49 I exercise a lot, seven days a week. Exercise reduces my anxiety and stress levels. One of the added benefits of daily exercise is that it helps me keep my weight where it ought to be, and that’s according to my doctor, not a fashion magazine editor. 

In April I’ll be turning 50. 50 is a big milestone for me and though I embrace it I have to admit to not being entirely thrilled by it. My father died at 70 and my mother at 74. This makes me thoughtful about the last third of my life. I work to maintain my health, and like many people there is a fair amount of damage from my 20’s to make amends for. 

As we hit midlife our bodies go through a lot of changes. We acquire some smile lines, grey hair, are more vulnerable to injuries, weight gain, and illnesses. Many of my friends use Botox and fillers and though I think they look fantastic without, it makes them feel good. I tried them and let’s just say that the results were not flattering. I want to use injectables, I just don’t get the desired results. We get a new body every decade or so and have to find out how best we want to feed it, clothe it and care for it. 

Ultimately I know that we have to accept ourselves for who we are and how we look. Our moods and how we live and maneuver though the world should not be contingent upon what the scale says or how many wrinkles we do or don’t have. I certainly want my daughter to know that. I seldom, if ever, discuss dieting or my own weight in front of my daughter. I want to gift her the ability to focus on being the best possible version of herself. That version includes being caring, loving, strong, smart, giving, diligent, hardworking, and resilient.

I don’t see a scenario where my daughter’s best version of herself is measured in her hip size, so why would I punish myself or my girlfriends with such an absurd tool for assessment? 

We don’t celebrate women of every size and age in America, and perhaps even less so in Los Angeles. I understand frustration with being a little overweight and many women over 35 knows what it’s like to have to work doubly hard for a flat stomach. But those skinny girls? Who hasn’t heard (or muttered) the phrase “Skinny Bitch”? 

If you want to avoid being a midlife mean girl let me give you some options. Instead of, “You’re so skinny!” try something like, “You look so fit.” And if it’s a real friend you’d say something more meaningful like, “I’m so happy to see you. How are you?” It’s best to leave the discussions of anyone’s weight to their doctors and dietitians. “You’re so skinny!” is not a compliment, it’s a cut down.

 

Concierge Diamonds Thanks Midlife Readers & Rewards Us

Concerige DiamondsConcierge Diamonds generously awarded a pair of heart shaped diamond earrings to one of our readers. We want to congratulate Michelle LeBlanc on her winning entry and encourage you to follow her on Instagram.

diamond earrings winner

 

Concierge Diamonds will offer you a free jewelry appraisal.

We have been emailing with Dan Moran as the response to this giveaway has been nothing short of enthusiastic and he’s generously offered all of our readers free appraisals as well as 10% off of any purchase from Concierge Diamonds. As we roll into the New Year and resolve to get more organized those appraisals will be helpful. Concierge Diamonds is located in Downtown Los Angeles and easily reached by email, phone or contact form.

Now for the strangest disclosure ever written: In return for hosting this giveaway we received a thank you hug. That’s it. We really did just love these earrings and want to share them with you.

 

 

What is CrossFit

Why Do Women Over 40 Love CrossFit?

There was a moment in time where everyone we knew was at CrossFit (not us). Gyms were popping up on every corner and manicured hands were dragging tires across warehouse floors and then climbing ropes like something out of a 1950’s gym class. The only thing missing was a fat coach in knee socks with a cigar in the corner of his mouth.

Recently we asked our friends if any of them had taken up a sport or athletic endeavor after 40. The results were fun, uplifting even. We know a few runners, some women in team sports, a few other solo sports, but there was one activity that kept popping up and it is CrossFit.

We weren’t even sure what CrossFit is other than what you see in the CrossFit Games

We decided to ask some devotees about their experiences.

Julianne Freakley would describe herself as having been fairly active for most of her life. At 42 she stumbled upon a private gym in Richmond, VA called Pure Phit.

The thing I like best about exercising is the feeling that I’ve done something healthy for my body. I love the changes I see when I consistently exercise, and it’s my chance to do something for me! I do something different every day, but as part of a structured class and set of exercises at my gym. Some days we’re focused on squats or dead lifts, other days it’s arms, shoulders and chest.

We have to be careful all of the time of injuries, and that is a major piece of our training, but our trainer is correcting form to prevent injuries.

Friends consistently state that the quality of the trainer makes all the difference the world.

Betsy Bailey spent a lifetime with an aversion to sports and exercise. After one of her teenagers fell ill a few years ago Betsy found that her child’s recovery had become the centerpiece of her life. Aside from being an isolating experience, eventually her physical health started to slide, and she had a couple of injuries that served as a wake-up call. She needed to start taking better care of herself or she couldn’t be helpful to her family.

At age 47 after enrolling in a six week class at CrossFit Obsession Betsy took a shine to CrossFit and soon thereafter her husband joined her. She says:

One thing that always appealed to me about CrossFit is that the overall corporate culture is one of inclusivity, support and community. Of course, individual gyms have their own cultures, but most have a free one week trial so you can get a feel for it before committing. My gym is very family friendly, with quality childcare on site, so it appeals to average people like me who may never be elite athletes, but want to have fun getting fit in a safe, welcoming and nurturing environment.
Also, selecting a gym with coaches who prioritize form and safety went a long way towards easing my worries. Everything can be scaled to accommodate ability level and vulnerabilities.
crossfit rope climb

CrossFit punishes the specialist

Carrie Sandoval took up CrossFit shortly after earning her black belt in Hapkido at age 42. A lifetime athlete Carrie dabbled in many activities including ice skating, snow boarding, wake boarding, gymnastics, cross country running, step aerobics, and traditional weight lifting. While she admits to being above average at all of these activities, she never pursued them competitively or to a very high level.
You can (and should) follow Carrie on Instagram

 

This year at age 45 Carrie placed 7th in her age division at the CrossFit Games. She says:

CrossFit seemed to bundle up all the activities I love into one package. This is fabulous since CrossFit punishes the specialist! Also, because there are so many elements to CrossFit (olympic and power lifting, gymnastics, running and jumping), I never get bored and there is always something to improve.

Carried Sandoval
Stay with us because soon we’ll tell you about all the runners we know.

Concierge Diamonds Earring Giveaway

We started our @ThisIsMidlife to fill a known void and along the way found out that there are an awful lot of American women who are excited to look and feel their best at every age. We, in turn, got excited when our inboxes started filling up with notes about how you’d bought and enjoyed the items we were featuring.

Jewelry is a strange thing though. Some women are perfectly happy to buy it for themselves, others feel like it should be gifted.

So…. we’re gifting.

Just in time for the Holidays we are partnering with Concierge Diamonds to give one of our readers a pair of diamond earrings.

This beautiful pair of heart shaped diamond dangling earrings are made with 14k white gold and carry round brilliant cut diamonds with a total carat weight of 0.35 and are valued at $1,100.

diamond earrings heart shaped
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jessica’s Holiday Gift Ideas

I have to confess that I get more pleasure from gift giving than receiving. As a rule I’ve generally bought myself all of what I need and most of what I want. I’m not frugal by any stretch but I’ve got limited interest in objects that won’t stand the test of time.

With that in mind here are gifts that would delight me (or someone like me):

Watercoloring Books! 

Remember the coloring book craze of 2016? Well, 2017 is gonna be a stressful year so add water to that. Here’s a link to purchase my favorite (under $20).

watercolor book for adults

LoveKnitz 

I’m a scarf person. I forget to wear necklaces and I’m always cold. That scarves are attractive accessories is icing on the ombre cake. You never have to ask a lady’s size when you bring her a scarf and this purple ombre scarf from LoveKnitz is 50/50 wool and cashmere. Cost $195

xmas cashemere ombre scarf

M Cushion (A massage pillow)

Everyone loves a shiatsu massage but life gets in the way of having one each day. The M Cushion has a built in deep kneading shiatsu massage. I’m recommending this one blind, I’ve not seen it, touched it or experienced it but I’m likely ordering it so we’ll all decide together if it was a good idea.

Buy the M Cushion here for $160

M Cushion: A throw pillow with a built in shaitsu massage

A Tea Subscription

I love tea. I recently picked up Lord Bergamont from Smith Teas and enjoyed it so much that I’ll likely subscribe myself. You know that colleague who is always wandering around the office with a cup of tea? Try Smith Tea, they’ll be grateful. If you’re feeling generous get them a year’s subscription if it’s not in budget scroll around the site and find a couple of tins for gifting.

If you follow SmithTeamakers on twitter they often share discount codes.

12 month tea subscription $179 

smith teamakers subscription

Diamond Studs. Obviously. 

Dan Moran from Concierge Diamonds has taken the diamond stud and elevated it with a unique halo design. This makes them appear larger and brighter. Yes, we’re perfectly capable of buying our own diamonds, we’re adult women after all. But there’s something special about getting diamonds as a gift.

[If I can be candid, this is really just a hint to my husband.]

Prices upon request 

Diamond Stud Earrings