The Dating Game – Revisited (a true story)

Dating image While there may be plenty of fish in the sea, the rules of engagement have changed. What would the 1950’s advisor Miss Manners say about today’s sexual etiquette, a sleep-over buddy, sex with your ex and sexting? An important Internet survey reported that 52% of those who tried online dating had a positive experience. Patti was determined she would be one of them.

Patti’s Story:  Patti (59) had not gone online before but prodded by friends she took the plunge. After all, she thought it beats trying to meet guys at bars and saves time because there are plenty of men looking for a match too. Patti believed the time was right because she was feeling good about herself: she had joined the YMCA, recently lost ten pounds and the drama of her divorce was well behind her.  To be on the safe side, she set up a new email address that didn’t include her full name.

Ready, Set, Go Fish:   Patti chose a popular site that required a nominal monthly fee, then invited her friend over and with the help of a bottle of wine they created her profile. The site prompted Patti to answer two questions” What is important to you? My 2 awesome children, my wonderfully, big supportive family, my close circle of friends and can’t forget my red wine! What are you looking for? A special man, who is passionate about life, wants to take a risk and is ready for a committed relationship—one of trust, friendship, respect, and eventually love. Patti reported her geographic area and selected the age-range of men between 55 and 65.

The One That Almost Got Away      As soon as Patti posted her profile, she received numerous emails and started communicating with three men—Doug, Luke and Darryl. By the 4th week, Patti had exchanged cell phone numbers and was ready to meet all three gentlemen.                                                                                                                          Darryl (64) was first up and although a meeting was scheduled he became ill and had to cancel. She was SO disappointed because she felt a strong connection with him. This happened a second time and she thought for sure he was seeing someone else or was married. Meanwhile Patti met Luke at a music festival and Doug at a coffee shop and both meetings were less than satisfactory. Although Darryl continued to text her, she remained quiet as she was still suspicious. Patti remembered Darryl’s sense of humour and cute texts that warmed her heart, So although hesitant, she agreed to another meeting.

Thirteen months later Patti and Darryl are still going strong. They’ve agreed to take the relationship slow, providing each other time to deliberately build their bond of trust and respect. Time will tell what the future holds for them but they have had a positive experience and feel enriched for knowing the other.

While on line dating may have not met with the social mores of Miss Manners’ time, it is now the new way of fishing…. Don’t be afraid to put your line in the water.

As published in the CARP Connector, Chapter 58, Edition #2. 2016

June Blessings and the 5 F’s

Eagle

This year, June is creating lots of opportunities for me to feel grateful. Here are five ‘F’ words describing what is categorically important in my life: (in no particular order)

Friends: About a dozen of my nursing classmates from St. Michael’s Hospital gathered for the retirement party of Ella Ferris, Executive V.P. of SMH – do you believe that she started in the kitchen at 14 years of age and ended an outstanding career 51 years later as one of the most esteemed Nursing and Administrative leaders in Ontario. We assembled not just to honor Ella, but to collectively celebrate our roots at SMH and the privilege of caring for others as Registered Nurses.

Fun: Another get-together occurred near the former site of St. Joseph’s High School, Islington. Thirty former graduates from the same school assembled to revel in our 65th birthday year and rejoice, re-connect and reminisce. What a great bunch of hot babes!

Faith: On June 18th friends, family and cottagers gathered at St. Paul’s church in Gravenhurst for the Funeral Mass and Celebration of Life of Susan Clark (67)—Paul’s sister who died much too young from the scourge of breast cancer. The packed church was a testament to Sue’s life—it felt like a great big communal hug. Father Joe delivered an uplifting sermon which gave us all hope for the next great adventure still to come.

Family: During this sad time it is family and dear friends who are the wind beneath your wings. They know you the best: your past, your relationships, struggles, aspirations and triumphs. And so this past weekend our wonderful big extended family gathered on the shores of Morrison Lake to support us in missing Sue.

Future: Looking ahead to this autumn, Still Sexy After 60 presents the first annual Women’s Wellness Conference at the Gravenhurst Opera House (October 14-15, 2016). I am grateful to have the support of my talented executive who makes this an amazing journey. We’re creating a leading-edge event that disrupts aging and celebrates women in all our glory! Please join us in making history in Muskoka.

Thank you, thank you, thank God for you,

the wind beneath my wings.

Gravenhurst supports leading-edge Women’s Wellness Conference

Sue Kelly and Bev Heibein graciously accept a community grant from Mayor Paisley Donaldson and District Councillor Sandy Cairns.

The first-ever Still Sexy After 60 – Women’s Wellness Conference will host 100 women at the Gravenhurst Opera House, October 14-15, 2016. It will bring together health and research experts providing an energizing and empowering agenda sure to motivate women for the rest of their lives. Stay tuned to this site for registration information.

The day and half conference will also include a theatre event and an evening reception providing an opportunity for attendees to talk 1:1 with all the guest speakers.  All meals will be provided by local caterers. A group of rooms have been allocated at the Marriot Residence Inn.

Still Sexy After Sixty Women’s Wellness Conference was awarded a grant from the Terence Haight Financial Assistance Program, which supports non-profit community organizations, enhancing the quality of life of Gravenhurst residents. 

Terence Haight was born in Peterborough, Ontario, November 5, 1920. His father, a newspaper pressman, moved the young family to Bracebridge for the beauty of the area and clean air. In his lifetime, Terence owned and operated a bakery and a hardware store.

Why did Terence Haight choose Gravenhurst? We know he had a great appreciation for the Town of Gravenhurst during the time he ran his bakery, but more importantly his wife Audrey McDonald grew up in the Town,

What his friends and neighbours did not know was that Terence had invested in mining stocks and quietly amassed a small fortune. To everyone’s surprise he bequeathed over $ 1 million dollars to the Town of Gravenhurst.

 

Sex Education: 101

Letters of birds and the bees

There’s been a flurry of controversy in print, radio and social media about the newly revised Ontario Sex Education Curriculum, due to start in Ontario’s elementary schools this fall.

It’s complicated. Talking about the birds and the bees is probably one of the toughest topics for parents to tackle with their children. When we were kids we didn’t have the World Wide Web, cell phones and Facebook. Sexting (sending explicit sexual images or messages electronically), date rape drugs, reality TV and online social networks were non-existent. There is no question that the primary ‘teacher’ of sexual and social values should be parents—but what is their level of competence and comfort?

I recall my Mom sitting down with my sister Carol and me for our talk about menstruation and how babies are made – Mom was equipped with the handy Kotex booklet and a sanitary belt. She did a great job. Later that evening my Dad asked Carol and I to come into the living room for a chat—“Did we have any questions we’d like to ask?”  Are you kidding???  I know this sounds like a page from Leave It To Beaver, but this open and frank discussion set the stage for ongoing communication. But let’s face it—it’s tough to raise children in today’s society which is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-gendered, multi-networked and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, questioning). Accurate and reliable information is more vital than ever if children are ‘to become informed, productive, caring, responsible, healthy and active citizens in their communities’. (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8 – preface).

Many parents believe that this program is pushing the curriculum too fast. That it is taking away the innocence of childhood and does not support family values. As a Registered Nurse I believe that health is a whole person experience—it is holistic in nature and addresses the physical, emotional, cognitive, social, religious and sexual needs of a person. These essentials help to develop a person’s self-esteem which is the foundation for healthy growth and development. A positive self-esteem helps a child:

  • to feel good about who they are,
  • to understand and solve problems,
  • to say NO or YES as appropriate,
  • to trust they are a person of worth,
  • to not be a follower,
  • to not succumb to peer pressure, and
  • to be free to develop their personal beliefs and values.

The sex education curriculum provides timely information that most students would have already gleaned from the internet or TV, but at least all students will receive the same accurate information, at the same time, by caring and knowledgeable teachers. Kids are then able to go home and discuss the material with their parents. Some schools offer workshops for parents so they have an understanding of the content and teacher prompts which help to bring the lessons to life. Parents do have the right to have their children opt out of any class.

Summary of the sex education topics by grade level:

Grade Topics
One ·         Names of body parts
Two ·         Stages of growth and development
Three ·         Healthy family relationships – i.e. children raised by a single parent, grandparents, guardian, 2 mothers, 2 fathers or in a traditional family setting·         Showing respect for individuals
Four ·         Safe use of technology·         Bullying and abuse

·         Puberty

Five ·         Bullying and violence·         Menstruation and spermatogenesis – emotional and interpersonal changes
Six ·         Development of self-concept·         Sexual orientation

·         Homophobia

·         Masturbation

·         Racism and discrimination

Seven ·         Dangers of technology – i.e. sexting·         Delaying sexual activity

·         Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

·         Pregnancy prevention – contraception

·         Consent

·         Moral and ethical considerations

Eight ·         Sexual assault and dating violence·         Decisions about sexual activity

·         Gender identity and sexual orientation

·         Self-concept

·         Consent at every stage

·         Setting personal limits

 

Check out the new curriculum and Parent’s Guide at: www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng

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I apologize if you signed up to receive my blogs and didn’t get them. The function has now been repaired and it would be great if you could take the time to do it once again. Thanks – Sue

Three Faces of Widowhood – Part ll: Working Through

eye of grief

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss Psychiatrist identified in 1969, the five stages of Loss and Grief (similar to the 5 stages of dying): denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It describes the emotional stages that survivors experience after the death of a loved one (or the loss of a pet, friend, limb, breast etc.) Grief does not have a schedule—there are no deadlines for the resolution of grief. Of course these stages can occur in any order and can be re-visited over time as one moves to peaceful acceptance.

Another way of looking at the grieving process is through three broad and overlapping phases:

  1. Retreating – the experience of disbelief, shock, confusion and disorientation
  2. Working Through – the experience of feeling the full impact of the death – the expression of feelings and responses
  3. Resolving – the integration of the loss into one’s life

Jayne, Sandi and Monica are transitioning through their wall of grief and are now in the Working Through phase. It is a deeply personal and singular journey; therefore the following experiences do not necessarily describe any one person, but is the collective culmination of courage, choices and clarity on their journeys of recovery.

The first year is tough as they re-live the ABCD’s of the post-death period—anniversary, birthday, Christmas and death. Sandi is almost through her first year after the death of Trent. She describes the task of transitioning to a single person as lonely: from we to me, from ours to mine, and from us to my—the aloneness enveloped her in a state of acute vulnerability that was hard to shake. But through the process of re-discovering herself she realized that she liked being a couple and set about to explore online dating. Actually her daughter set her profile up and Sandi has now been on a few dates. She had to learn to trust again and not look at relationships through rose-coloured glasses – instead she looks at life with eyes wide open.

Jayne’s journey through the thicket of grief required her to sort through her shards of emotional shrapnel—she was always the one to resolve problems, keep peace in the family, and go the extra mile to meet work obligations. She said ‘yes’ to everyone but herself. She has learned to be kind to herself and not be afraid of the boogie man—she has stopped the tape running incessantly in her head, about all the ‘what-ifs’ that might be just around the corner. Instead she enjoys just watching the flames of a fire or going for long walks to distract her from the intensity of life. Jayne is starting to get comfortable in her own skin.

Monica has discovered that by focusing on her own health and well-being, she can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Grief shakes one’s foundations and one of the pillars is self-esteem. Being in a new city was like double jeopardy but she joined a yoga group, met new people, attended a learn-to-knit class and found satisfaction in creating wooly gifts for her grandchildren and friends.

Mourning time is really convalescent time for the body, mind and spirit. My three widowed friends are slowly regaining their equilibrium as they look inward to relax their bodies, re-focus attention on themselves and inspire their spirits to a new transformation.

Three Faces of Widowhood

     the-grieving-process-can-lead-to-personal-growth

This past year, three dear friends became members of the secret order of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood called WIDOWHOOD.  They didn’t take a blood oath or swear undying loyalty—their husbands died prematurely and left them to pick up the pieces.

None of us know when the Grim Reaper will select our lottery ticket. For Jayne (63) and Bob (59) it occurred after a 13 year battle with a rare form of cancer, in a palliative care bed in St. Albert, Saskatchewan. Jayne tenderly performed his final bed bath and savored each stroke as she lotioned his body for the last time. In the end Jayne made the final call to ‘pull the plug.’ If you knew all the facts, that decision was easier than the discordant disruption of life she was living now.

Sandi (64) and Trent (64) had just pulled into the parking lot of Starbucks in Calgary, Alberta. Sandi could smell the strong aroma of the heady coffee, as Trent’s head suddenly took a dive into the steering wheel. Sandi thinks that he succumbed to the perfect storm of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight and worry—as he supported Sandi through her colon cancer treatments. Sandi didn’t get to say good-bye and it continues to trouble her as she journeys on the road to recovery.

Having just moved from Waterloo, Ontario to Moncton, New Brunswick to be closer to their grandchildren, Monica (66) and Don (69) spent their first night in their new townhome. Suddenly at 2:00 A.M Don shot up in bed with excruciating chest pain. Four hours later in an unknown hospital, in an unknown city Monica was quietly told that Don had surrendered to the cardiac assault. Monica could not accept that she would never hold Don again and tentatively went to his bedside, asked that all tubes be removed and slipped under the covers to hold him, smell him and touch him one last time. Three hours later she reluctantly agreed to let him be.

It has now been between 6 and 11 months since Jayne, Sandi and Monica were anointed with their new status as widows. Grief invaded their worlds and left them feeling numb, fearful, helpless and hopeless. Through the process of grieving, they now feel less like road kill and more like being on a road trip, with no destination in sight. Tune in next week to glimpse into their unique and singular journeys of loss, recovery and re-birth.

Are you a member of this esteemed society of sisters?

Intimacy and Family Caregiving

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I had a great time as the guest of Doctor Gordon Atherley, on Voice America (internet radio show) – Family Caregiver’s Unite!

For the full radio show plug this address into your browser: http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/79749/intimacy-and-family-caregivers

It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re a family caregiver. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself—when one’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met, you will be able to better care for a loved one.

What is intimacy?   Generally intimacy is a close, affectionate and emotional connection. It can refer to sexual intimacy as part of a personal relationship with a spouse or partner; it can also be the loving heartfelt caring of a loved one; and it can also mean the unflinchingly honest look at oneself.

Intimacy is a very personal subject and intimacy means different things to different people. Everyone is somewhere on the continuum of sexual health, love and intimacy. There is no right or wrong place to be:  to some couples it is anything from holding hands, cuddling on the couch or reading in bed together; for other couples it’s going on a date night or planning future trips together; and to others it is enjoying sexual intercourse or other sexual activities that fulfills your sense of desire and satisfaction. I’ve also found that honest communication plays a huge role in maintaining intimacy and often fosters an even deeper level of love and appreciation.

When you’re a family caregiver it’s normal that exhaustion, lack of sleep and multi-tasking takes a toll on a relationship – sometimes just trying to get enough sleep is the most important priority. We can usually cope with a change in our routines for short periods of time but when these responsibilities become a burden and there is no hope in sight that it can cause immense stress in a relationship.

To stay strong and healthy think about what I call the 3 R’S of Caregiving – respect, realistic expectations and respite.

RESPECT– is closely linked to admiration, esteem and reverence – these are words used to describe YOU. You deserve to be held in high opinion of yourself. When you respect yourself, you ensure that your body, mind and spirit remain whole so that you can carry on the tasks of being a family caregiver.

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS – this is a tough one – and when one is new to caregiving you often try to do it all – and ignore your own personal needs. Sometimes you just need to say NO when expectations are unrealistic. Don’t forget to accept offers of help – it can really help with time management and planning ahead.

RESPITE – means taking a break or finding a breathing space on a regular basis. Sometimes it is silence – how often do we have the luxury of being alone and embracing the silence – time to reflect on you, time to make sense of it all or consider your spirituality. It means rest – easing your mind, body, spirit and finding peace within.

Good Sex and Good Health

black-love-template-hi

Did you know that good health contributes to good sex and that sex contributes to good health? According to The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada the following are some of the benefits of being sexually active as you get older:

  • Sex burns fat and boosts your immune system
  • Sex causes the brain to release endorphins – the body’s natural pain relievers
  • Sex relieves stress and makes you feel good
  • Sexually active people have higher levels of naturally produced sex hormones – in other words use it or lose it!
  • If you keep sexually active throughout your life, the physical changes that come with aging may be less pronounced and sexuality is usually less affected
  • There is more to sex than penetration. There are many ways to be physically intimate, and they all contribute to your health and well-being
  • Having sex takes up about as much energy as walking up two flights of stairs so sex is rarely dangerous. But if you have any health-related concerns, consult your physician or healthcare professional
  • Being active contributes to physical and emotional health. But remember, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) know no age boundary; so if you are sexually active always practice safe sex.

Sex is an antidote to aging – so here are some additional reasons to get your mojo going:

  • Minimizes risk of incontinence
  • Helps you sleep by easing the body and lulling the mind and spirit
  • Lowers the risk of prostate cancer
  • Decreases blood pressure by opening and relaxation of the blood vessels
  • Releases human growth hormone which along with the discharge of some estrogen and testosterone are key factors in keeping your skin elastic, reducing wrinkles, firming muscles, shines up the skin and makes your hair softer
  • Diminishes atrophy or shrinkage of the prostate and vagina and other muscles and ligaments in the nether region

What about emotional and spiritual well-being? Sex floods our brain with endorphins and oxytocin which improves mood and attitude and helps us to feel younger.  I think the above, provides enough evidence that we better use it or we’ll lose. So get down and dirty and get your sexy on!

What’s a Sweet Spot?

sweet-spot-venn

It’s interesting what different people think when you mention the phrase ‘sweet spot’. For some it immediately conjures up something sexy. (You’ll have to wait for my post on The A, B, C’s of the G-Spot.) But that’s only one aspect of finding your sweet spot in life.

A sweet spot refers to a place where a combination of factors, when in balance produces the best results. It can refer to many dimensions of everyday life. For example, when I asked my former business development director what the sweet spot in marketing is, Jamie said that it’s when the product, the perceived value, price and promotion are in sync with the target market. I thought that makes sense because then they were in tune with the hearts and minds of their customers. Have you heard of a sweet spot on a golf club? That’s when the right place on the club meets with the right angle and force to produce the perfect shot. You might recall people saying they found their sweet spot in fitness, in managing their money, with their career, in retirement or in lovemaking. But in life there can be many sweet spots which make up the total you. Still Sexy at 60+ describes seven sweet spots which, when congruent, result in harmony and balance. When you have found your sweet spots you have found your bliss. The secret to finding these 7 sweet spots is up to you—you hold the secret. Still Sexy at 60+ will guide you on a path to uncover your naked truth.  Even if you have to fake it ‘till you make it, this book will expose the secrets to getting there. Here are five other understandings about sweet spots that might be meaningful for you:

•             Living an authentic life—being true to yourself;

•             The 5 R’s—knowing that you are in the right place, doing the right things, for the right reasons, with the right people and at the right time;

•             Using your talents and gifts as they were intended;

•             Solving the puzzle of who you are and discovering your own personal Fountain of Life;

•             Feeling really happy—finding the awesome.

What sweet spots have you found? What had to be in balance before you reached that optimal place?

The Sexual Revolution ……. Why it Still Matters

     Georgge and Peace Sign

Born in the 50s and coming of age in the 60s and 70s, shaped the lives of millions of boomers like no generation before. The seductive landscape of unprecedented social and moral liberation transformed society forever. I actually hadn’t given that era much thought until I started to research it. It’s jaw-dropping just how significant those times and events were. From the 1960s to the 1970s our norms of behavior changed dramatically and what once was forbidden and sanctimonious was swiftly emancipated. Sex before marriage and living common-law became the norm; behind closed doors–masturbation, erotic fantasies and sex toys created a stir; and the closet door on homosexuality started to squeak open. The Feminist Movement freed the bowels of society acknowledging women’s equality and redefining sexuality. Fuelled by lingering shreds of Victorian prudings – these good and not so good vibrations laid everything bare, leaving us to make sense of it all. The advent of The Pill, improved antibiotics and reliable condoms permitted the x-rated excitation of the mind, heart and loins of our youth.  Along with it came the mainstreaming of pornography, progressive permissiveness, flurry of drugs and the free love generation. Who knew, we were living in the Sexual Revolution? The 60s also marked the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, racial unrest, the Viet Nam War, riots (Selma, Kent State, Stonewall) and sit-ins. Our generation fought fearlessly for civil rights, quality, justice and care of our planet. My Teenage Years Looking back on my teenage years at an all-girls Catholic high school, I was cocooned from many of the movements occurring in society. My very strict religious upbringing and defined expectations of how I was to live my life, limited my exposure to some of these realities. Despite these parameters my psyche was trying to deal with hormones, sexual awakenings, querying how far would I ‘go’ and was an orgasm really that electric. Today, my four sisters and I often remark that we are surprised we turned out sexually balanced, given the norms of our parents’ generation. I recall my high school years at St. Joseph’s Convent School as being very hopeful. The nuns instilled a strong belief in us; we could aspire to be anything, do anything and make a difference in the world. They encouraged us to take our rightful place in society as strong and capable women. I also recall learning the meaning of 69, the difference between a good girl and a nice girl, a dildo, S&M and a BJ. Pornography I know that every generation before us dealt with teenage sexual thoughts and feelings – but they didn’t grow up with the carnal knowledge that danced on the movie screen before our hungry eyes – nudity, anal sex, LSD trips and images of forbidden lovers as portrayed in the following films: •          Blow-up (1966, Vanessa Redgrave) •          Mondo Topless (1966, Babette Bardot) •          Barbarella (1968, Jane Fonda) •          Deep Throat (1972, John Holmes, known for his exceptionally large penis) •          Last Tango in Paris (1972, Marlon Brando) •          Debbie Does Dallas (1978, Bambi Woods) Rock’n Roll Paralleling the thrust of the silver screen was the explosive beat of rock’n roll that bolted onto our TV screens, captured our living rooms and pulsated through every bone and muscle of our young bodies In 2014, the PBS Network chronicled the music of the 60s in Ed Sullivan’s Rock ‘n Roll Classics. My family would never miss The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night. I can just see Ed introducing the Beatles “Here on our stage, for all the youngsters in Canada and the US, straight from Manchester, England – The Beatles!” My parents were appalled by their long hair and suggestive music—so much so that I wasn’t even allowed to do the twist. I think they were afraid that we would become hippies and become embroiled in the bohemian sub-culture of Yorkville, Toronto. Today, as I listen to the music of the 60s and 70s, it makes me feel brand new again. It vibrates within my very soul of hope, energy and idealism and takes me back to a time when I thought I could do and be whatever I desired. Music is like going on a magic carpet through the canyons of my mind. It evokes place, time, emotion and people—it unites all of us. I fondly recall the excitement of a young’s girl’s heart—going to a Michael Power Street dance and carelessly swinging to the Staccatos, The Association and Mandela. Did you meet some sweet pimpled guy, on a starry starry night at The Kee-to-Bala, The Pav in Orillia or Hidden Valley, Huntsville and flirtatiously move to the beat of The Turtles or Lighthouse? Tell me about it. What an iconic time eh! The beat goes on… the beat goes on and the spirit of the Sexual Revolution beats inside of our hearts and minds today. We were once hard rockers but we’re not in the rocking chair yet! Please take a moment to share your memories of those crazy, hazy days—your first kiss, first love, first heartbreak etc. Why does the Sexual Revolution still matter to you?