WTF: Braces at My Age

Geriatric braces? Yes, that’s a thing. I know because I’m wearing them. In case you weren’t aware, geriatric means 50 or older, according to this medical thesis I edited.  I scheduled an appointment with an orthodontist to get a heavy-duty retainer to stop the damage I was doing. The pressure from grinding my teeth at night caused them to move forward. The gap between my two front teeth narrowed and one of the lower front teeth twisted to accommodate its brethren.

bracesThe orthodontist said my bite was off in four places and I’d developed temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, it makes my jaw pop when I open my mouth real wide. I hadn’t even noticed it until he pointed it out.  I guess you can get used to anything. So my orthodontist, who looks all of 14, said he can fix me with braces. He even said he would stop the grinding, which I’ve been doing for at least 12 years.

So here I sit with Invisalign® braces –  plastic in my mouth – 22 hours a day. I only take them out to eat. Last week they added rubber bands to the regimen. At least I don’t have to wear headgear.

I don’t recall adults having braces when I was growing up. However, I do remember a few people with false teeth. I guess if I have to choose between dentures and braces, I’m glad I ended up with braces.


Dating is not a Mandatory Activity

When we tell a friend, ” You need to find somebody,” under the guise of making them happier, perhaps we are projecting something we feel, but won’t admit to ourselves. Maybe there is a perfect mate for her, but if she isn’t looking, what makes you think you know better?

I found myself trying to convince a very successMysteryDateful, accomplished woman that she should be dating. She has great friends. She’s always doing something interesting and she is a lot of fun to be around. Yet, I had the audacity to prod her to work on her love life. She said she didn’t have the time or the inclination.

I had gotten it in my head that vintage women don’t date out of fear of rejection, because I know some women for whom that is true. It wasn’t true of this friend. Yet, I wanted her to date because I was worried she might start to believe she was undesirable.

Later I wondered if that was why I was dating – to prove that I could, rather than actually wanting to do it. Perhaps I was testing the waters, instead of searching for a partner.

I’ve been on a dating break while I figure out what I want, if anything. I didn’t seem to want anything from my dates, and that can and did lead to problems. Maybe I’m not cut out for partnership. To me going solo is an attractive option and I don’t want anyone telling me it isn’t.

Tweet this: Dating is not a mandatory activity or a requirement for happiness. #vintagewomanwisdom

Container: A Story of Failed Service?

Good service is like integrity, both can be demonstrated by doing what you say you’ll do, when you’re expected to do it.

The trash company I use was bought by a larger established firm. The advantage: A new recycle container that is as massive as my old trash can. The dilemma: What to do with the two small containers the previous company gave me. The presumed solution: Put the old containers on the curb on my normal recycle day.

I did. Nothing happened. I was wrong.

I called the company, explained the situation and officially scheduled a pick up. I again put the bins on the curb. Nothing happened.

When I called back to find out why, the nice representative said they had fallen behind, but if I put the containers outside on the next service day, they would retrieve them.

Today is that day. I put the bins out again. After the trash truck leaves, I go to collect the can and find two additional recycling containers. That makes four, which I’m sure is not the same as the zero I expected.trashcan

As I type this post, I’m on hold with the company – five plus minutes and counting…  They CAN’T send the truck back today, but, they’ll get all four containers next Monday. I’ll have to wait. What choice do I have? Is this indicative of their service?

I was about to hit publish on this post when a truck drives up. You know, the one they couldn’t send back today.  The driver gets out and walks toward my old bins. I run out to the street before he can get away.

“Can you take those too?” I say pointing to the bins with the new company’s logo on the side.

He looks exasperated. “That’s what you ordered.”

“No, I didn’t order anything.” He takes all four cans and drives away.

It only took three phone calls, 20 minutes on hold, four extra roundtrips to the curb and one annoyed driver before I could say, “Mission Accomplished.”

Maybe their service wasn’t so bad, but I want better.


Living the Dream


Not tropical, but still beautiful.

I’m trying to work up the nerve to move temporarily to the Caribbean, where I will feel my toes sink into white sandy beaches, as I walk almost naked into clear blue water.

I have always loved this idea, but actually living alone in a foreign locale feels like stepping out of the space shuttle without a tether.

My current home is “my spot.” It’s where I feel relaxed, safe, comfortable. I love Austin and all it has to offer, but I sometimes wonder if staying in a place you love is like being in a job too long. If you don’t look outside your home base once in a while, how will you know there isn’t a better fit somewhere else.


My beautiful big-ass house, which I can’t seem to give up.

Maybe I’ll rent out my house, use the proceeds to travel. Maybe I’ll live with a family in Columbia for six months while I learn Spanish. Maybe I’ll spend the winter on the beach in Virgin Gorda.

Anything is worth trying to get over my fears, explore my options, and get out of my comfort zone.

I could end up sipping a mango smoothie in Tortola, while some fantastically muscled paramour-of-the-month massages my back, or realize the paramour and I should live in Austin and go to SXSW every year.

Either case is fine with me, as long as I continue to feel like I’m living the dream.

Question of the day:  What are your dreams of living abroad?

Related links:    International Living

My Forehead as a Cautionary Tale

Women, we will not die from lines on our faces. Skin sagging doesn’t cause cancer. Our friends will not turn on us because we have a little belly fat. Don’t do harm to your mind or body by overemphasizing the superficial.

When I was 17, I worried about acne like some people worry about Ebola. To ward off this plague, I moved from one treatment to another in search of that clean, pore-free complexion I saw in the ads. The acne persisted and I dried my skin so badly that I developed a line across my forehead that I will carry for the rest of my life.

foreheadIt took almost 30 years before I stopped punishing my face, then the acne disappeared and my skin became healthy. It was wonderful – for a time.

My love affair with clear skin was threatened when I noticed fine lines around my eyes, as magnified in Oil of Olay® commercials and the mirror I use to tweeze my eyebrows.

I didn’t want a repeat of the same overly critical crap I pulled on myself when I was 17, fighting natural bodily reactions with chemicals I didn’t understand and couldn’t pronounce.

Some of my friends had lines on their faces. Lines didn’t make a difference. They were confident beautiful women. They used self-acceptance, self-love. I have that in many aspects of my life, why not extend the courtesy to my face.

The moment I stopped worrying about superficial lines and failures of elasticity, I became better looking. Sometimes I leave the house and expect people to tell me how gorgeous I am. Sometimes they do (thank you guy in the DC airport). I never felt like that at 17. I didn’t get that feeling from a cream or lotion. I earned it with age.


Three Things Every Entrepreneur Should Consider Before Starting a Business

Although the Great Love Debate (GLD) bills itself as the answer to your dating problems. I left this interactive event thinking GLDimageyou can turn almost anything into a money-making venture. All you need is a robust market, a problem that needs fixing, and a solution people will pay for. It’s the same formula as any other business, but some entrepreneurs don’t get all the parts right and miss out on lucrative opportunities because of it.

What follows is an incredibly high-level look at business. It takes more than these three components to create and grow an enterprise, but until you identify your market, problem and solution, you can’t determine whether or not your business idea is viable.

While you think about that, let’s take a closer look at the three components to see why the Great Love Debate makes money and how you might too.

Market: single people

I’d say this niche is too broad, except that its brilliant for their purposes. There are millions of single people, and the divorce courts make more everyday. This means GLD can tour regularly and still attract fresh audiences.

Host Kim Seltzer, funny, caring, insightful.

Host Kimberly Seltzer, funny, caring, insightful.

For most people I would suggest defining your market more narrowly. The more specific the niche, the more likely you are to hone in on a problem and a creative solution. For example: GLD could narrow their focus to divorced women between 28-45, then build the program around getting back into the dating pool after a long absence. Everyone else would still be welcome to buy a ticket.

Problem: people don’t know how to make dating work for them

No matter your age, you sometimes get stymied by dating. What are the rules? Where are all the single people? Why don’t I get second dates? It can be confusing. This particular problem, or set of problems, has lots of possible solutions.

Solution: the Great Love Debate tour 

A town hall style meeting where men and woman get to hear one anothers’ beliefs. To help keep things civil and offer advice, the debate has a moderator and a panel of dating experts, relationship coaches and matchmakers. These people have the knowledge to actually help singles in their quest for love.

GLD panel of experts.

The Great Love Debate’s panel of experts dispensing advice in Austin.

The coed crowd, moderator and panel of experts are not only the solution, they are also the unique selling proposition for GLD. There are probably thousands of dating sites, matchmakers and books to help you find love. GLD gives you a relatively low-cost sample of how experts might help you, and does so in a humorous way.  Moderator Kimberly Setlzer was hilarious on the tour’s recent stop in Austin. She had some of the best advice, worked the crowd like a pro, and displayed great comedic timing. Her humor helped diffuse discussions that sometime became heated, and made the show entertaining as well as educational. As an added bonus, being in the audience puts you in close proximity to possible matches.

None of what I observed guarantees the GLD will be successful in the long run, but at $40 per ticket ($20 if you had the promotion code) it’s a good start.

If you are thinking about starting a business, figure out your target market, identify a problem to solve, and come up with a solution that people will pay for. You can assess the viability of your idea before you make a big investment in product development by developing a simple low-cost prototype of your solution. Present it to people who are in your target market, get feedback and ask how much they might be willing to pay. Testing the prototype will save you time, money and frustration, it might even improve your idea.


What problem does your business idea solve?

Getting Organized Can Help You Find Your Path

When you reach your goal, you'll be this happy. If not, you picked the wrong goal. And that's okay. You can pick again!

When you reach your goal, you’ll be this happy. If not, you picked the wrong goal. And that’s okay. You can pick again!

Now is the time act on the fun, exciting, intriguing things you hope to do “one of these days.” These someday aspirations may hold the key to your fulfillment.

For months, I’ve been struggling with whether or not to turn my blog into a business, like the bloggers I admire did. Many of them generate six- or seven- figure revenues. They’ve quit their day jobs, hired employees, and now help other people do the same.

I hear their stories at conferences, and come home eager to follow in their footsteps. They provide guides, tools, even offer consulting services, yet I can’t sustain enthusiasm for the business side of things.

New ideas pop into my head all the time, but they aren’t about business or blogging. I am more intrigued by thoughts of writing a play, figuring out song lyrics, possibly becoming a speaker, or plotting a mystery. In spite of all that, I told myself that the blogging business was where I should focus my attention. It took getting organized to let me see why I couldn’t move forward with that notion.

513J9yWQAzL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve been using David Allen’s Getting Things Done as a methodology to get my many ideas and my life in order. One of the steps is to make a list of projects. I had about 70 on my list, so I separated them into categories. When I looked at the “business/blog” category, it just made me tired. When I looked at the “writing/theater” category, I got excited and scared.

That was enough to tell me where I need to focus my energy. For the first time in months, I feel like I have clarity. I know what I want to achieve and now I can build the path to make it happen.

When you get organized with a system as comprehensive as Getting Things Done, you transform the “stuff” from all parts of your life into lists, projects and next actions. You end up with a visual representation of what you have going on, what you think you want, and the steps to take. With this information, you can assess where you are and where you want to be.

You may find your life and your desires are perfectly aligned, or you may discover what makes you feel scared, excited, renewed. When you see the right path, take it.

Final Thought:  As long as you are on this side of the sod, it’s not too late to go after your true desire.

Question of the day: How do you know if you are on the right path?

Related Links:

Stop Saying “One Day ” and Just Do it Already

Stop Growing Regrets


Confession: I Eat Poorly When I Travel

What is it about traveling that makes you want to throw your nutrition plan out the window and indulge in rich, unhealthy foods? Is that only me?


Not on nutrition plan: cupcakes

I was on an Alaskan cruise last month. All the meals were included and there were multiple places to eat and  room service. There were no organic meal options, but I loaded up on raw and cooked vegetables, stayed away from fruit, pasta and desert. The only healthy fat available was butter, so I allowed myself a small portion of bread at each meal to get the butter down. This strategy worked pretty well for a few days.

On the cruise ship, temptation was abundant. A made-to-order Belgium waffle station, with three kinds of fruit topping, was one of the more aromatic morning offerings. There was an array of deserts, including real ice cream, only a few yards from the salad bar. Every meal included a large selection of breads from baguettes, to croissants to Wonder®.

When I’m at home, I understand that food is fuel, and to run like a high performance machine, I must ingest premium fuel – vegetables, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, etc. When I follow these guidelines, I don’t have cravings, I have energy, I feel good.

The first steaks I ever grilled.

On nutrition plan: grass-fed beef

Food laden with salt, sugar and unhealthy fats are like drugs to me, but as long as I don’t have them, I don’t want them. I know this about myself.

Yet, when I am traveling the black forest cake on the desert cart calls my name. If I’m driving around Texas, it only seems right that I stop for a patty melt. After all, Whataburger went to a lot of trouble to put their restaurants within spitting distance of the highway.

I have what seem like good reasons to yield to the junk food gods at the time. One little delectable morsel can’t hurt. It’s the best of a few bad options. I’ve got to eat something. All seemingly rational thoughts, even though I know once I start, it’s hard to stop. One  harsh night, I may find myself unable to sleep, dripping with sweat and frustrated as I try to lick the frosting from beneath my fingernails. It could happen.

On nutrition plan: spinach, mushroom omelet

On nutrition plan: spinach, mushroom omelet

I know what these non-nutritious foods do to me. I know that I don’t like their effect. What I don’t know is why I can’t remember that when I’m on the road.


How do you stick to your nutrition plan when you travel? (I’m looking for help).

Ellen Elmore: From Physician to Auteur

Elmore shooting the cooking class at Onion Creek Kitchen at Juniper Hills Farm

Elmore (right) shooting the cooking class at Onion Creek Kitchen at Juniper Hills Farm.

Ellen Elmore started making movies as a child in South Carolina. “I don’t know how I knew how to make the films,” she said, “except that my parents seemed to always have the Super 8 out, so I was used to cameras and watching home movies.”

Elmore was the type of child who made notations about camera angles and directing in the margins of her book as she read The Little Witch. She wrote titles and credits on notebook paper and captured them as part of her footage for each of her films. In a movie she called “Time Machine,” Elmore incorporated her Barbie Dream House and used quick cuts to heighten the tension.

All this dedication to craft could make one assume that Elmore intended to be a filmmaker, but that was not in her plans. Like many of us, Elmore wanted a reliable career and she wasn’t sure that was possible in the visual arts. Science was another of her interests, so she decided to go to medical school and became a family medicine physician.

The high demand for medical personnel allowed Elmore to indulge her love of travel and culture. She worked on cruise ships, Hawaii for a while and even practiced in Alaska, a place she still talks excitedly about. Elmore has visited all seven continents. She has also worked with Native American communities, like the Havasupai in the Grand Canyon.

Elmore making macaroons at a class in Paris, where she hopes to one day film an episode of her TV show.

Elmore making macaroons at a class in Paris, where she hopes to one day film an episode of her TV show.

Still, Elmore wanted to make movies. In 2003 she took time off from practicing medicine so she could attend film school in Australia, an option she chose because it was reasonably priced and gave her the opportunity to live abroad.

“Even then I didn’t think I could do it as a career, but I thought maybe I could make both careers work together.” Her idea was to create films that helped patients maneuver through the health care system, or inform people about health topics that needed more attention. She never did either of those things, but she said, “I have a 1,000 projects in my head.”

Last year Elmore launched one of those projects, Off the Menu TV, a television program about cooking vacations. “The idea is to show people how they can take a vacation centered around a cooking class, and then explore the area through its food and culture.”

Although she’s found her way back to her first love, Elmore has no plans to give up medicine. She’d like to find a way to be both a doctor and an auteur.

Elmore filmed her first episode of Off the Menu TV in Dripping Springs, a town just west of Austin, Texas. She would love to find sponsors to help finance the next few episodes. Her hope is that one day her show will be broadcast on PBS or The Travel Channel. With her perseverance, that’s probably what will happen. For now, you can watch it on YouTube or Vimeo.

Final Thought: Not everyone gets their dream career right off the bat, but as Elmore shows us, that’s no reason to give up on it.

Three Steps to Make Your Desire Greater Than Your Fear

3-top-tipsI longed to dive into the depths of the sea, kick my way to the surface, then be able to take a minute to enjoy the view, but I was afraid. The problem was I didn’t have the ability to ever frolic in deep water. I couldn’t even swim toward the deep end of the pool without panicking.

You can’t build confidence around something that scares you until you start to do it, but the lack of confidence prevents you from starting. It’s a catch-22 that holds true whether you aspire to a career as a speaker, or want to try scuba diving.

Yet everyday, millions of people do the things that we believe we aren’t prepared for, are too old to start, or fear will draw ridicule, because they made their desires  greater than their fears. Here are three ways to help you get to that point in your life.

1. Know your reasons

One of my reasons is pure pleasure, swimming looks like joy to me. The other two came out of my fears. I don’t want to drown and I don’t want to continue to prove the stereotype that black people can’t swim. I try to turn those apprehensions into positives. When I don’t feel like practicing my stroke, I imagine diving into the water free of a life jacket, and that’s enough to make me put on my suit, grab my gym bag and head for the pool.

Activity: To help you get clarity, sit down and write out all the reasons you want to take on this challenge or reach an objective. Try for 30. Go deep. Ask yourself why for some of your whys. The goals is to discover what motivates you.

2. Be clear about what you want

It’s hard to set out in a direction when you aren’t really sure about what you want. For swimming my vision is clear. I can almost feel the beads of water run down my face as I emerge from the sea. What does your future look like?

Steve, my director sent me this after convincing me to sing and dance in his play.

Steve, my director sent me this after convincing me to sing and dance in his play.

Activity: Find someone who is doing what you think you want to do. Ask friends colleagues or search LinkedIn. Schedule an informational interview. Ask to shadow them. See what their life  is really like. You might also try writing how the new skill, adventure, life change impacts you as though it has already happened.

3. Decide on a next step

That first step is usually the hardest, but after you take it, you’ll be in a better position to see the next step and the one after that. For me it was asking about the master’s swim program at my gym. There was a prerequisite that I be able to swim one lap without stopping. Building up the stamina to do that was my first challenge. The first step was getting into the pool by myself.

Activity: Brainstorm the steps it will take to achieve your reality. Set aside 10 minutes, write as fast as you can. Don’t edit. Figure out step one. Take it. Then figure out step two.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu.

FINAL NOTE: Sometimes you have to say, “What the hell,” and get on with it. It’s better to try and fail than live with regret.