Review of “A Woman’s Guide to Great Sex after 50: Getting Your Mind, Body, and Relationship Ready for Pleasure” – BY: PEPPER SCHWARTZ, PHD A Vibrant Nation Health Gui

I am delighted to report that I found this report fascinating and encouraging.  Dr. Schwartz has covered all of the angles in creating and maintaining a healthy sex life for women (and men) past their 50th birthday.  I was curious when I began to see if she would be all inclusive to the many options which women have, and was excited to see that she did exactly that, covering masturbation, later in life gender choice changes, toys, diet, and exercise.

Having had many conversations with my close friends about the way sex changes as we get older, I was gratified to learn that for many, it does get better.  Dr. Schwartz doesn’t dodge the issues of body image or health problems.  There is some glossing of the “average” woman in her 50’s and how good “she” feels about her life, but I took this to mean that the things which Dr. Schwartz writes indicates how possible it is for women to be satisfied their sex lives.  She goes on to delve into the prospect of lowered libido for so many reasons, each reason well presented and researched, and how to approach that “problem” to enhance one’s sexual experiences.

I like the idea that there is one report which I can read that will detail the many separate articles for which I would have to search – in magazines, academic journals, online articles. This is an easy read that gives me the information I can seek on my own, and wonder about the validity of it.  Dr. Schwartz’s background removes that concern.

I particularly agree with the exercising component.  If you don’t love your body then it does become hard for someone else to do so.  The endorphins I get from exercise do more for my mind and sexual health than anything I have ever tried.  I have been on Paxil for too many years to recall, and I believe I will be weaning in the next few months just to see if that makes a difference.

I also have girlfriends who have opted out of long time marriages, seeking their own personal fulfillment or simply getting out of a bad situation, who I hope will find the part about dating after 50 a great encouragement.  One particular friend has chosen to throw her lot in with an emotionally unavailable man because dating is so difficult.  Remembering and reinforcing that it takes work to accomplish any goals which are worthwhile is an important part of Dr. Schwartz’s study.

Kudos to you, Pepper Schwartz, for boiling it down into an easily digestible guide which will hold appeal for so many women over 50.  I learned from it.  Have sent it to my husband, and will suggest it for many (male and female) friends.  Well done.  Dr. Schwartz is a wonderful writer, and an authority on this important subject.  I don’t plan to give up sex as long as I’m breathing, and I will embrace many of her ideas for getting the romance back.

FYI – for those of you interested (and all of you should be) here is the link to purchase the guide as well as a free report on vaginal dryness.

A Woman’s Guide to Great Sex After 50: Getting Your Mind, Body and Relationship Ready for Pleasure
Product Link:
http://www.vibrantnation.com/store/great-sex-after-50-a-womans-guide-to-getting-her-mind-body-and-relationship-ready-for-pleasure-php/

Associated Free Report: Top 5 Treatments for Vaginal Dryness and Dyspareunia (Sexual Intercourse Pain)
Free Report Link: http://www.vibrantnation.com/freemiums/top-5-treatments-for-vaginal-dryness-and-dyspareunia-sexual-intercourse-pain/

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End of the year 2010 meanderings

Here we are.  I’ve gotten through each day just planning on getting through each day.  My most recent challenge which I have accepted is to work The Artists’ Way.  What a great experience this is.  The first requirement is to write 3 morning pages each day.  Just streaming of consciousness writing.  Don’t plan, just write.  What has emerged is truly wonderful.  I am having thoughts – and accepting them – about changes which I have fought vigorously.  I am healing in areas of my life (if not my feet) that have not previously occurred.  I am accepting myself and my drive with this writing, learning about myself, and wondering what will be the next chapter.

I know I’m struggling with aging.  Beauty and attractiveness have always been part of my mode of operation.  Even when I didn’t believe it was completely true, I knew that I could dress up and clean up and make it work.  I have gotten to the age where the 2nd looks are not happening, I’m arriving at the age of the “invisible woman” (unless I get loud) and the visual nods of approval are not coming my way often (except from loved ones and friends). I’m adjusting to the last year having taken its toll on me.  But I’m getting better with it.  If only friends and family tell you that you are lovely, isn’t that the most loving and important people to care?  Truly it must be.

Back to The Artist’s Way.  IF you desire to have your creativity unlocked, please pursue this book.  You notice I did not say read it.  Pursue it.  Internalize it.  Make it part of your daily habit to know YOU better than you know anyone else.  The changes which come to you in life – be it in physical, mental, emotional, intellectual form – can be embraced and accepted.  I am practicing loving me, and in association, loving my family and dealing with my problems in a more directed and self considering manner than ever before.

Additionally, for the new year, I am hiring a personal coach.  A woman I have known for years who I am aware is extremely talented at what she does.  I am investing in me.  This will not be an inexpensive expense.  I will have to budget my money and monitor what I spend.  I will have to be financially frugal and fiscally responsible.  I will have to say no to the random, addicted purchase, and use what I have.  I believe that this will be worth the investment.  I have goals to accomplish, I’m 56 years old, and I want this next chapter to move forward with purpose and dynamic action.  I want to live hard until I die.  And this is my plan on how to accomplish it.

Today’s writing is almost a “stream of consciousness” writing, much like my morning pages.  But it feels good to do this, and I hope it feels good to you to read it.  Invest in you for the new year.  If that means one yoga class a week, or a new pair of walking shoes, or a makover, or going back to school.  Live hard.  Love hard. Do it for you for 2011.

Happy Birthday to me, and other great books

Today I am 56 years old.  I feel it, yet I don’t.  I feel older, yet I don’t.  I feel younger, ummmmm, no I don’t.  I do feel that I’ve been here this long, sometimes longer, and I’m not terribly unhappy with where I am and who I am.  Sometimes the comments of others stand out so loudly from the crowd.  A few which I received (via Facebook) were eye-opening and rather delightful.  Those may be from people who don’t know me very well.

I have found THE book.  Yes, I do mean THE book.  So often, many tell us they have THE book.  Oprah tells us that on a regular basis.  My problem with Oprah’s books is that the are often too froo-froo for my taste.  Yes, I like to know that I can think positive thoughts and change my reality, but sometimes I want feet-on-the-floor advice.  Look-in-the-mirror-see-life suggestions.  I can meditate, and should do it more often, but on occasion I want the great understanding from writers who can help me.  I have found it in this book.

If you do not yet have it, RUN don’t walk to your nearest book store, Amazon connection, Kindle download.  The book is The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D.  This book has offered me a birdseye view of me.  I walked into the Local B&N store on Saturday afternoon, after dropping off the last of our Thanksgiving visitors at the airport.  It was time for some serious “me” time, so browsing through the books and having a cup of tea sounded perfect.  I, of course, cannot browse through books without becoming enamored with several.  Also, one of my gifts to myself this year is a trip to the beach for three nights alone to do some thinking, walking, and re-energizing.  I need books to help with that.  Again, RUN don’t walk.

I opened the book, which lay on a table of buy-2-get-1-free books, and begin to glance at the pages.  Reading the contents page, I quickly flipped to “The Mature Brain” (not to be confused with grownup.  Mature=50+).  The first paragraph was one of those strange “she must have interviewed me” reporting that made me know immediately I had found what I had come to find.

I know I’m preaching to the choir now, but this book will open your eyes on your whole life’s brain in a way that you never considered possible.  According to Brizendine, research on women’s brains did not begin until 1990.  Prior to that, we were considered to have the brain of small men.  Because our brains are actually smaller.  Denser with as many neurons as a man’s, but physically smaller.

Content titles run from “What Makes Us Women”, to “Love and Trust”, and “The Future of the Female Brain”.  Because of the differing hormonal styles of women’s bodies and brains, there are such tremendous differences between how a man reacts, responds, chooses, and lives.  Interestingly, as I read portions to my husband, he kept asking about what this meant for men.  I stated calmly, then firmly, then with some agitation that this was a book about women.


Dr. Brizendine begins the book with her hormonal cast of characters, in which she defines the important hormones in both women and men.  She includes a chart which explains what is happening hormonally to women at each stage of life, from fetal to postmenopause.  The book reads easily, with personal stories to explain and compare the many stages and their characteristics.  If you have children, both boys and girls, this will allow you insight into them that you could have used many years earlier.  This is not an  anti-feminist book.  She states, that “females perform all the cognitive functions males perform — they just do so by using different brain circuits” (5).

Treat yourself for your birthday – whether it is today, or sometime in the next 364 days.  You will be so glad that you did.

Gratitude List

Many years ago during a tough emotional time and depression, a friend suggested that I do a gratitude list.  At that moment, it seemed such a trivial thing and frankly, a lousy answer to my problem.  After a few days, I decided to give it a try.  I found out that it wasn’t so trivial, and the suggestion helped.  Actually, it did more than help.  I caused me to change my perspective, and assisted in leading me out of a difficult depression.  I think its time again.

1)  I am grateful for a spouse who supports me and is there for me.

2) I am grateful for 2 incredible sons whose lives are going quite well, and who are working on making positive and rewarding decisions in their lives.

3) I have a three wonderful friends who I can call on at anytime, and an incredible sister who offers the same.

4) I have plenty of food each day, a warm house, and a job.

5) My immediate family is healthy, as well as my family of origin.

6) My mom is still living and her mind is strong.

7) I can drive a car anywhere I want to provided I have enough time.

8) I have plenty of money, and with better management, it supports me well.

9) I can read.  And write.  And create.

10) I live in a country that allows me to vote, to disagree with the government without censor (or worse), provides roads and schools and electricity and water for my use and consumption.

I could go on and on.  And on.  When the tough times come, my tendency is to focus too much on the tough things.  Just to pause and to remember that the good outweighs the bad so greatly is an needed adjustment in my perspective and attitude.

Compassion Fatigue

Here’s a new one for me.  Compassion fatigue.  I didn’t think up the label, but when I read the blog entry, I immediately understood.  How do we deal with compassion fatigue?  For healthcare workers, it likely is an issue for their own health.  For mothers and caregivers, same.  For caring women who do too much for everyone else but themselves, absolutely. 

My problem is that I tend to get angry when I’ve given and given, and little is given in return.  I’m not talking about taking care of sick people who don’t jump up immediately and take care of you.  I of course do not expect nor want that.  However, if down the road, I need some help because someone at my house is ill, I do expect that.  And if I reach out to you in depression, I do expect some modicum of response on your good days.  I am not Mother Theresa.  I don’t wish to be.  I’m not that good of a person.  But I am a mother and close friend of many, and will be the first to show up for my friends who need help. 

I want to improve here.  I want to give, and not expect anything back.  I want to offer everything as a grant and not a loan.  But neither do I want to be a rug.  It is such a fine balance for me.  I am attempting to begin a daily meditating exercise in support of my own center.  I’ll be glad to report later on how that is working. 

If any of you have suggestions for how you do it, I’d love to hear it.

Creating moments

I read an article in the UUWorld magazine yesterday (which I am unable to access on the net) about creating moments.  The article was written by Mary Pipher (Reviving Ophelia) about how to be present in our own lives.  Pipher expressed that we all have the opportunity to have those moments – which are often bound up with our children, our pets, and nature.  She discussed having happiness contests with a close friend, in which they challenge each other to find happiness moments during their day.  Cooking a delicious soup, planting and truly feeling the dirt, watching the snow fall with a crackling fire beside you.  I have thought much about this since reading the article.

This morning, while walking and doing a minimal amount of running at Furman University (gorgeous campus), I made myself remember that to have those moments, I must be present in my own life.  I looked into the trees, some of which are getting a tiny touch of fall, and paid attention to the colors.  I watched a black swan in the lake dip his head into the water, and bathe himself in the early morning light.  I examined the faces of several students as they passed by, deep in thought about something in their lives.  I watched a squirrel carrying a hunk of bread to the bushes, and squat over to munch his find. 

How present are you in your life?  Do you see the hummingbirds at the window?  Do you admire or study the pink sky as the sun slides into the west?  This a great challenge to me because I have SO MANY things to do.  But I want to be present in my life.

I am attempting to un-learn multi-tasking.  If I’m talking to someone, I truly force myself to be there with that person.  If I’m in the grocery, I try to look at the redness of the tomato and notice the thickness of its skin.  I try.  I will have to keep trying because remembering to have those moments and to be present does not come easy to me.  I’m a busy busy person, and the thoughts careen most days.  But I’m trying, and I will keep on.  I want to be present today.

A Mindful Year

Every so often, I make the attempt to get more organized.  I recognize that when I am organized (or moreso), I feel much more accomplished and I actually get things done.  If I plan my day before I find myself in the middle of one, I do much better.  Sometimes I find help in reading specific books that allow me to see myself better, and monitor those actions where I need help.

Last year, I picked up Jennifer Louden’s The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year.  Now I must confess that I have not read it completely, nor worked it thoroughly.  I have made pitiful attempts, and in doing so, I have become more aware of things I do to avoid doing.  I believe that 50% of success in life involves just showing up, which is not a specific problem for me.  But it is the other 50% that I struggle with.  Prolific writers make me nuts.  I want to be prolific, I know I can be prolific, if the details of life would just stop interrupting.  But this is about the avoidance dance.  (wow – dance is at the end of “avoidance”). 

What are my self-initiated distractions?  Where do I allow my attention to wander when I don’t want to do what I must to feel good about myself?  I have the game brick breaker on my Blackberry.  I’ve gotten very good at it.  There are some lessons there (the 10,000 hour thing – if you do anything 10,000 hours, you are going to by force become great at it.  Just saying.)  I can chat with people I will never meet on the internet.  I can find a movie that will fit into my history studies, and spend an afternoon watching.  I can let the lure of the dust call me from my furniture and get up to rid my home of that terrible blight – which didn’t bother me at all when I sat down to write.  I can fold clothes, fill the dishwasher, play with the dogs, answer the phone…my god, it really is endless.

Or – and this is the part that gets me – Or I can follow the plan, spend the time I allot for writing and then – and ONLY then – get to the time wasters.  That is what reading the very small portion of this book has done for me.  I have identified my own time wasters yet I know that when I stay focused and finish doing what I planned on doing NO MATTER WHAT, that I will feel much better about me at the end of the day.  So I will finish this book, and this will be the only book I allow myself during this next three months outside of the books I must read.  As I finish my thesis.

What are your time wasters?  What lures you away from the creativity you truly want in your life.  Google the above book, and see if you think it could help you.