Category Archives: Women

The Sounds Of The Silence Of My Blog

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Hi everybody! I’m still here…just busy, busy, busy! I’ve been helping the boys finish up this last couple of months of school (why do they schedule literally EVERY special activity and project in the last month???), and finishing up my own master’s program. I’m in week five now of ten of my very last college course ever! I’m done. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. I have been a part time or half time college student now since 1998. I’m not sure I know how to be anything else at this point in my life (more on my neurotic jitters of getting back out into the workforce in a later blog). When I started out, I simply wanted to correct what I considered to be one of my biggest mistakes in life–not finishing college right after high school. And now, here I am, well over a decade later, about to finish up my second master’s degree, wondering what I’m going to do after graduation.

Not unlike this guy…

Except, since I’m 46 and female instead of 22 and male, I also have her problems…mostly her tendency to say inappropriate, slightly shocking things to the wrong people…Well, okay, maybe not quite this bad…

However, being an optimistic type, I feel that good things are ahead for me (unlike poor, aimless Benjamin and sexy but borderline Mrs. Robinson)…Stick around to see what’s next! Maybe something in plastic, perhaps? ūüėČ I promise I’ll have some witty take on whatever happens, or doesn’t happen the way I planned and envisioned it.¬†

Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo…Until Next Time…

Valentine’s Day Inspiration; 10 Romantic On Screen Moments

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Well, tomorrow is the big day! This blog is really for you guys who are out there today–or worse, tomorrow–frantically schlepping around looking for the perfect card, box of candy, jewelry, or lingerie to let your girl know you care. Or, because there will be hell to pay if you show up empty handed.

Now, mind you, that is not a waste of your time by any stretch of the imagination. However, I cannot overstate the value of the following gestures acted out so brilliantly on silver screen and television. Because, guys, along with that overpriced ring and silly sappy poetry courtesy of Hallmark, this is what she really wants from you...

 

1) Rhett Sees Scarlett For The First Time

Look at her like she’s the only woman in the room…

2)¬†“See…He’s Her Lobster!” The Ross & Rachel Prom Tape Moment¬† (Click Photo Below To View)

Do amazingly sweet things for her benefit, not for the recognition you’ll get for doing them…

3) John Cusak & The Boombox Scene from “Say Anything”

Say it with music…

4) William Hurt Breaks The Glass In “Body Heat”

Don’t be afraid of the grand gesture… ***Note*** For inspirational purposes only! Actual duplication of this one can lead to restraining orders and cancellation of home owner’s insurance policies.¬†


5) The Ending Scene Of The Notebook…True Love

Say you’ll love her forever and no matter what–and really mean it… Hint: Actions speak louder than words.¬†


6) From Here To Eternity, The Beach Scene

Kiss her like nobody’s ever kissed her before…


7) Any Scene From Ghost–Take Your Pick¬†

Self explanatory…


8) Sheldon & Amy Negotiate Love on Big Bang Theory

Compromise and give in just to make her happy…


9) I’ll Always Love You–Titanic

Give up your spot on the life raft for her…even if it costs you big time!¬†


10) Harry Declares His Love For Sally 

Love her not despite her flaws, but because of them…and be her lifelong best friend…

 

Good luck, guys….And Happy Valentine’s Day!¬†

 

 

 

 

 

The Value Of Role Models; 5 Women To Admire

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I guess people have always been sort of a hobby of mine…not that I enjoy being around them all the time, because I’m really more of a loner in that regard. But, I love to learn about other people–the experiences they’ve had, the traits and quirks that make them unique, their perspectives, and finally, how they tend to respond to the circumstances of their lives. This goes double for famous women, who always interest me more than their male counterparts because I can relate my own life more closely, I suppose.¬†

I get the distinct impression that, when you get to be my age, you aren’t really encouraged to have role models. Women over 40…scratch that…women 30 and over are supposed to either BE role models, live to serve, or be invisible. But, since I also think that no matter how old we get, until we’re six feet under and it really is over, we should enthusiastically pursue our own growth and development–just like we did as children. People shouldn’t say, “I’d love to do/be/pursue __________________ , but I’m too old and/or set in my ways” nearly as much as I hear them say it. While I never would want to be exactly like someone else or emulate them in a creepy “Single White Female” way, I think its healthy for people of all ages to have role models.¬†

Each of the following women made my list because there is something about them that inspires me…something that strikes a chord. When I sat down to write this morning, as often happens, I’d planned for the tone of this blog to be different than how it has turned out. I intended to write a light sort of piece–slightly humorous, fun, etc. But, maybe that’s too much to ask of myself during the annual period of reflection, analysis, and New Year’s resolution lists…

So…here are a few female role models you may catch me clumsily trying to channel in 2012…¬†

BETTY WHITE

¬†This retro cool lady is making a lot of lists these days…for all the right reasons!¬†

Admirable Quality: ¬†I love her for all the same reasons everybody else does…she’s funny, she’s adorable, she’s sassy, etc. But, the trait that I admire about her most is her ability to seize an opportunity when it arises and make it work for her–not the other way around. I can’t think of anyone else who has had this sort of resurgence of popularity in virtually every era in which they’ve lived. Bravo, Betty!¬†

To watch Betty White in action on her hit sitcom, Hot In Cleveland, click here: Hot In Cleveland on TVLand

NIGELLA LAWSON

¬†It’s hard to not love a woman to eats real butter, probably every day, and is damn proud of it!¬†

Admirable Quality: Aside from her fabulous recipes which I’ve been copying now for a few years, this woman lives life with gusto–eats it up with a spoon! She has a real passion for life that shines through. She’s not afraid to try new things, loves learning about other cultures, and incorporating all of that into a career she loves–cooking. A few days ago, on her Facebook page, she was inquiring about Italian cuisine…that will have delicious results, I’m sure!¬†

For all the latest Nigella news and recipes, go here: Nigella’s Blog

CAROLINE GLICK

Whip smart…controversial…utterly fearless.

Admirable Quality: I’ve been getting her columns in my email for a few months now and they never fail to impress me. Caroline is a journalist, and probably the most serious, no nonsense woman on the list. What I love about her is that she is not afraid to tell it like she sees it, and always–ALWAYS does her homework to support the facts of what she writes in her pieces. The lesson for me? Think it, research it so you won’t look stupid, say it–no regrets.¬†

To read Caroline Glick’s column, click this link: Caroline Glick

DANA PERINO

Poise, grace, Christy Brinkley-esque good looks–hands down, the best Press Secretary a President could ask for…

Admirable Quality: This woman possesses truly astounding public speaking ability. No matter what she is asked, she responds articulately, comprehensively, and graciously. This holds true even when she is caught off guard. I’d love to develop this more in myself…I can write circles around most topics if I put my mind to it, but I really need to hone my public speaking skillset.¬†

Watch Dana hold her own on “The Five” here: Dana Perino

STEPHANIE NIELSON

Photo Credit: Stephanie Nielson, Nie Nie Dialogues

A blueprint of how to not only survive, but to make your life count in a big way…

Admirable Quality: This remarkable woman is probably also the least known famous person on the list, but I want everyone to know her name. After surviving a life altering plane crash, she demonstrated to all of us, myself included, what is really important in life, and how to keep your problems, handicaps, pain, and loss from crippling you. That is no easy feat for anyone, but Stephanie’s ongoing story is inspirational and humbling. She is the gold standard of role models for women in my book. Speaking of books, I read that her autobiography is coming this Spring–can’t wait! In the meantime, treat yourself and visit her blog here: NieNie Dialogues

Read more about Stephanie here: Mommy Blogger and Mother Warrior

5 Things You May Not Know About Juliette Gordon Low

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Recently I visited Savannah, Georgia for the very first time–a beautiful, interesting, and historically rich city I highly recommend! It is the birthplace of the Girl Scouts of America, and also the birthplace of its founder, Juliette Gordon Low. As a former…well, okay, very former member of both Brownies and Girl Scouts, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tour her home which is located right there in historic downtown Savannah. If you ever have the chance to get to that area, you’d be missing out if you didn’t see it. For information on the house and tours, click here: I’m Interested In Seeing The Home Of A Rockin’ Visionary And Authentic Womens’ Rights Advocate, Way Ahead Of Her Time!¬†

I’ll be honest, other than a paper I wrote a few months ago where I used Girl Scouts of the USA as my nonprofit topic, I have not thought much about my own experiences as a Girl Scout over the last few decades. And, as a mom of boys, it’s not come up in conversation either. I dropped out around 4th or 5th grade, as I recall, which is sadly pretty common. There were two young ladies in our tour group cohort who were still Girl Scouts and in high school, and they confirmed that it is unusual for girls to stick with it to the end. They are a rarity, and were there earning their pin for touring the house of the founder. They were extremely polite, gracious, intelligent, and enthusiastic young women–just the sort we want to transition into being our co-workers, friends, mothers, and leaders of our society in the years to come. Hmmmm….could there be a correlation? I think so! Maybe we all need to encourage the young women around us to stay in Girl Scouts for the long haul. They do sort of kick folks out at 18, and after 12th grade, so girls can’t stay in indefinitely, but “finishing” Girl Scouts is a trend I’d like to see, wouldn’t you?¬†


Anyway, back to the reason I started writing a blog this morning…On the tour I took, and thanks to some materials I browsed after taking the tour, I learned a few lesser known, but fascinating factoids about the founder of this truly amazing organization. And here they are…

1) She was an extremely accomplished painter/artist. I mean, we are talking professional artist quality here. Throughout the house are examples of her work, including a gorgeous, one of a kind set of hand painted plates on the dining table. 

2) As an adult, she was mostly deaf in one ear. This was due to a freak accident that happened on her wedding day when a grain of rice lodged in her ear. When the doctor took it out, her eardrum was damaged during the procedure. 

3) She made a poor choice of a spouse, and paid the price with a bad marriage. Of course, when a marriage is bad, no outsider really knows what happened, and as they say, it takes two. However, the impression I got was that her husband was not a very nice guy. In fact, he asked her for a divorce, she refused to grant it, and then he died shortly thereafter. Hence, Juliette Gordon Low remained Juliette Gordon Low–for always.¬†

4) This next one is copied and pasted right from the official Girl Scouts website–the section on Juliette’s life: “One of her special skills was standing on her head. She stood on her head every year on her birthday to prove she still could do it, and also celebrated nieces‚Äô and nephews‚Äô birthdays by standing on her head. Once, she even stood on her head in the board room at National Headquarters to show off the new Girl Scout shoes”.¬†

5) Juliette was BFF’s with Rudyard Kipling. They used to go fishing and camping together, and he taught her a lot about both. Just think, all those Girl Scout tendencies to go camping, hiking, and in general to appreciate and learn to navigate the great outdoors may have their origins in this friendship between two famous people!¬†

Just in case you didn’t know it, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA…it says so right there on my commemorative t-shirt….

To learn more about the Girl Scouts of the USA, and just how it supports the leadership development, skill building, and self esteem of girls who then grow into the women who will shape this world, please visit their very impressive official website here: Girl Scouts of the USA

Until next time…

From Slow Road To Burnout To Energized & Motivated; My Hour With Liz Murray

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You know, those of us who are doing okay in life…not fabulous, yet not worrying where our next meal is coming from, or how we’re going to keep a roof over our heads–literally, are at risk. We’re at risk for going through the motions…doing what we’re supposed to do…looking good on the outside. But so often we’re crying out inside. Not so much so that we would ask for help, or so as you’d notice, but just enough that we need someone, somewhere, to give us a reason to keep on moving forward, to keep reaching for a better life, to make something beautiful and meaningful in this world with so much sadness…so much ugliness. And today, I, Lisa Casas, aka, “WittyBizGal” got that reason.¬†

I work with a small nonprofit here in town. We work diligently to give women in our community a hand up. The hand up part is very important because, although we address their immediate needs, our overarching mission is to help them help themselves toward independence–financial and otherwise. About a month ago we held a planning meeting to discuss the upcoming graduation ceremony for our Independence Program. As of that date, there was no keynote speaker, and we were kicking around ideas. Since I’d been thinking about her since last year’s graduation, I suggested Liz Murray, best known for the Lifetime movie made about her life, “Homeless to Harvard”. The graduation committee liked the idea and ran with it, which led to today…

Liz Murray ate lunch with us, then rose to speak inspiring, motivational words to our graduates, first through sharing her harrowing tale of a childhood with drug addicted parents, not enough food to eat, and no external encouragement for her to end up any better off than her role models, who sadly eventually died of AIDS. Then came the truly important part–how she turned that little spark inside of her, that spark we all retain no matter how old we get or how jaded we become, into a flame which carried her through the Harvard intake interview and New York Times Scholarship interview on the same day, both of which she almost, almost blew off.¬†

And today, with my more or less ordinary life that nobody would ever consider making a movie about, ¬†and my little blog that I think only my friends, family, and probably a few frenemies I’ve collected over the years read, Liz’s words helped me find that spark in myself again. At just the point where I had begun to ask myself, “Why bother?”, I remember why…Among other reasons, the world needs people who believe in themselves, and believe in their own dreams. Because it’s catchy!¬†

First, believe in yourself, then go out there and motivate somebody else to do the same! 

If you’d like to see Liz Murray’s Lifetime movie, go here: Homeless To Harvard; The Liz Murray Story¬†

To purchase Liz’s autobiography, published in 2010, click here: Breaking Night¬†

To book Liz Murray to be a speaker at your next event, try this link: Liz Murray 

If you’d like to follow Liz on Twitter, this is her account: Follow Liz On Twitter¬†

I’m about 1/3 of the way through Breaking Night myself, so stay tuned for a book review on that!¬†

Until next time…

 

 

 

The Beginning Of The End Of The Cougar Trend?

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Cougar, Before Cougar Was Cool

A couple of years ago, I wrote a member contribution article for MORE Magazine: Multiculturalism And The Cougar¬†Please don’t be impressed–you shouldn’t be. Anyone who signs up with MORE online as a member can write and submit articles for their online site, so trust me, I’m nothing special there. In the article, I offer my own observations and theories about the so called “Cougar” trend, completely invalid scientifically, as always. I was taking a course in multiculturalism at the time and it occurred to me that while there seemed to be an uptick in middle aged women dating young men that was getting a lot of attention, this particular phenomenon always seemed to be characterized by said middle aged romantic partner looking/acting/being anything but what she really was–a 40+ female. This is a reality which is in direct opposition to the concept of multiculturalism, in which differences are embraced, even emphasized, and thought of as equally desirable to the former ideal. I do this a lot actually when I’m taking a class–when immersed in a lot of hard facts and academic research, I whimsically apply what I’ve learned to pop culture, probably to stave off boredom and narcolepsy during class. This was especially puzzling, albeit entertaining to my decidedly left brained Armenian astrophysicist professor when I took Astronomy during my undergrad adventures. Needless to say, I didn’t take a lot of hard science in school–only what I had to have to graduate.¬†

At any rate, I thought I was onto something then, and today, with the tabloid and social media rumor mill working overtime to cover a possible Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher split due to his alleged serial cheating with young college aged women, the buzzers are going off again. Now, first of all, who knows if there is truth to this story or not? Nobody, that’s who. None of us knows what really goes on in relationships outside our own, and that goes double for celebrity gossip that is often spun up by tabloid “journalists” on slow days, or even the stars’ own publicists when increased attention is needed to promote this or that new project. This could certainly be the case here, as both halves of this May/December couple have something new to promote right about now. But, that’s not the point. The point is that, given the nature of the Cougar trend, this is a very plausible outcome…

It’s my opinion that in the vast majority of relationships, the Cougar/Cub (god help me) thing is simply not built to last. Certainly, “women of a certain age” can be very attractive, even to much younger men. Why wouldn’t they be? Women who take care of their appearance can be beautiful at any age. And here I’ll insert a very Kelso-esque exclamation–DUH! But, it’s my feeling that a fleeting (and flattering) sexual attraction does not a lasting relationship make. Those natural, healthy differences between people with 15 or more years difference in their ages will always come back to bite them in that body part that you can bounce a quarter off of–in the case of Ashton’s 23 year old alleged girlfriends, that is. This is particularly true when the younger man, as in Kutcher’s case, doesn’t even act his own age (33), instead his public behaviors resemble that of his former television character, Michael Kelso, a high school student who was none too bright to boot. I’m just a couple of years shy of Demi Moore’s age. She’s 48 and I’m 46, and he strikes me as really immature, perpetually partying, punking people¬†sophomoric-ally….cheating or not, living with him and being his wife would get on my nerves pretty quick.

For the past several years, I’ve seen a lot of media that holds this twosome up as some sort of golden couple…a shining example of how and why the Cougar trend is here to stay, and something that middle aged women should aspire to. But, in reality, what I see is that it doesn’t really work as well as they’d like to believe it does. As I covered in my piece for More.com, the only way it works to begin with is if the older female half of the equation spends an indefinite amount of time and energy on convincing herself, and everyone else, that she’s something she’s not. Can a 40+ year old woman be attractive…”hot” even? That goes without saying. Can a 40+ year old woman be happy in a relationship with a man many years her junior, long term? The answer is maybe, but I rather doubt it. And it’s for those reasons I mentioned in the article–an atmosphere of multiculturalism is not yet present when it comes to middle aged women. Meaning those of us willing to admit that we are 40+ in every way, including all the inevitable changes in our looks, our personalities, child-bearing inclinations and capabilities, our entertainment and lifestyle preferences, etc.


Cartoon by Jeff Berry, http://berrystudio.blogspot.com/

The reality is that people do change as they age. A 23 year old woman isn’t really the same as a 43 year old woman, just like a 43 year old woman isn’t the same as a 63 year old woman. And despite what popular media would have us all believe, it really is a rare romantic relationship with a multi year age difference that will work long term without the older woman exhaustively working to be 40+, but look and behave only 18+. And that’s sad, for all concerned. Over the last couple of years especially, I’ve watched Demi Moore age, yet frantically diet and exercise to the point of being thinner than she ought to be, constantly tweet sexy photos of herself, and in general try to project an image that she naturally exuded as a 23 year old–when she was 23. And what it looks like to me is part of an overall futile, and I believe completely unnecessary campaign to hang on to that infamous Cougar/Cub relationship of hers. Not to say that these two don’t have a deep affection for one another, which they may genuinely share.¬†

This makes me sad because I think Demi Moore is better than this. We all are. I hope that she sees herself as she really is, and lets her middle age flag fly in all its glory. That would serve as a true inspiration to women our age, I think, rather than the phony, fleeting one that has been served up to all of us for the past few years, in order to keep up the Cougar image. What I’d like to see is all of us being who we really are, in that true spirit of multiculturalism I talked about. Then, if intergenerational love happens, it happens…and it’d be real for a change….maybe it would even last, who knows? But, my gut tells me that it would be the beginning of the end of the Cougar Trend…a trend that would probably fade away on its own for the most part, having run its course. With a few exceptions that fall into the “you don’t choose who you love” category, I think we’d see a better trend…one that is characterized by women coming into their own, no matter what age they are, and going out there and getting everything they truly deserve, romantically and otherwise, with men who are their equals and are mature enough to appreciate authenticity.¬†

Trading the Cougar Trend for an Authenticity Trend…hmmm….that’s a trend I could promote!¬†

 

10 Great Red Carpet Looks; The 2011 Emmys

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I always watch the award show red carpet arrivals with great interest…the actual shows, not so much. Who wants to hear and see a bunch of actors pontificate about the finer points of their “craft”, phony air kiss one another, and bash conservative politicians? Yawn…

So, without further ado, here are the ten overall looks, not just dresses, that made me say “Wow!”, along with a lot of difficult names that I had to look up proper spellings for…¬†

This may seem like an odd choice, as others have expressed strong dislike for Kaley Cuoco’s Emmy look…But, I thought she looked cute, unique, and age appropriate.¬†

I love just about everything about Kate Winslet–she’s one of my all time favorites…Last night, she looked flawless as usual, and although red was a really popular color for a lot of ladies last night, Kate did it best!¬†

Christine Baranski–classy, gorgeous, and age appropriately HOT!¬†

Jane Krakowski…I would have advised against the overdone spray tan, but other than that–she looked fantastic!¬†

Dianna Agron was a vision in violet…

Julia Stiles…great fitting, beautiful strapless gown–perfect!¬†

I thought Kate Flannery looked beautiful and elegant…and her gown is an exact match with her eyes–did you notice that?¬†

Padma Lakshmi…not sure what the heck that is on her arm, but she was a goddess last night…

Sofia Vergara–perfect! Someone should steer the redhead from Mad Men in this direction…you don’t always need to have everything spilling out of your top, we all know it’s ample and impressive already…

And finally, my absolute favorite look of the night…Cobie Smulders was perfect in every way! I loved the color of her gown, her flawless hair and makeup, and gorgeous accessories….WOW!¬†