Fierce Women Dish

an artist, a journalist, an activist, a psychologist, a student, and a diva place a cup of nourishment on the table.

Gray hairs, aging, and wisdom April 27, 2008

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Do I really need to start dying my hair to hide the grays? Why are the physical signs of aging so traumatic when the wisdom that comes with age is profound? What can we do about it?

 

Amy:  My hair started graying at the age of 18.  It was fairly traumatic since being 18 and as a freshman in college trying to make her way was in and of itself traumatic.   At that time, I started dying it.  I chose burgundy rather than a natural hair color.  I remember thinking, I hate this but “wow! Now I have an “excuse” to try something new and be daring.”  It’s funny that I wanted to express myself as different from my peers with my burgundy hair when my gray hair would have had the same effect.  Dying my hair became part of my self-care routine.  I looked forward to the salon as “me” time that I would not sacrifice even while in grad school with unwieldy academic obligations.  To now stop dying now seems like “letting go” of something that has been a conscious decision to splurge on myself. 

 

Donna:  I have dyed my hair for fun and variety for close to 20 years now because I like to change it up a lot. My father is prematurely gray, and I did find my first gray hair in my teens, but for me, the gray was certainly never the impetus for the hair color. However, I think the physical signs of aging are traumatic for several reasons– one of which is the sudden, very annoying realization of one’s own mortality!

 

Rosie:  I found my first gray hair in an airplane restroom at age 28.  There I was washing my hands in that dingy light when I noticed three grey hairs, each about an inch long, sticking up in my part.  Without even thinking, I yanked them out.  I’ve never dyed my hair.  It’s jet black, and I am worried about all the products it would take for a hair color to set.  I covet other hair colors, mainly for the variety and different effects they create— I am a creative and so I pine for that aspect of personal flair, but I am also practical.  So my approach to my gray is helped by the fact that I haven’t ever dyed my hair.  It’s easy for me to say, “Just let it be (unless one is sticking up in my part.  I still feel the urge to yank anything out that seems to be flipping the bird to my reflection in the mirror) because dying has never been in my repertoire.  Actually, I find gray hair really beautiful.  I had a teacher in middle school who went completely gray at 19.  She was tiny, four foot 10 inches, and weighed about 90 pounds, and she said that going gray was the best thing that ever happened to her as it made her students take her more seriously when she started teaching.  Aging is profound, and I like the idea of my gray hairs telling the world where I have been. 

 

Crystal:  You don’t have to hide your gray. What you do is personal choice. Of course, that’s easy to say…given the constant barrage of advertising and marketing that tries to tell us otherwise. I color my hair. Here’s my reason: Thanks to my DNA and avoiding sun burns, I look younger than my 43 years. I think the gray would make me look older and tired. I’m good with wrinkles, age spots and the effects of gravity, but I haven’t embraced my gray. Yet. What can we do? Make a personal choice and stick to it. No matter what the ads and magazines tell you.

 

AC:  Our consumer culture’s value on youth and the ability to purchase the products necessary to achieve it renders aging traumatic.  The answer is not for all of us to stop dying our hair to demonstrate we are comfortable with aging.  This is in my mind is a way that we can pressure each other to conform to an agenda of appearance and, to this end, I do not view it as a solution. 

 

Janine:  Once I turned 30-something, I found gray hair ‘down there’ and my first thought was “How weird? Is this normal?” Well, 10 years and dozens of gray strands later, I’m so over it. I like my gray hair ‘down there’. It’s part of being a grown up, mature. I used to fight getting older, trying to figure out how to keep that young, fresh face and tight ‘bod’, but have since concluded youthfulness is an attitude! And that I can still be young at 40. I don’t have to ‘nip and tuck’ my body to death for the sake of ‘looking hot’ to some twenty-five-year-old. I can just do the things that keep me feeling young like learning the latest dances with my 9-yr old niece, blasting my car radio every now and then, or chugging a beer. I think women should spend less time counting gray hairs and more time enjoying the view ‘down there.’

 

DS:  But there is a real cultural pressure to ‘fight aging all the way’ which, to many people, means to try to look as young as possible under any means necessary. It’s funny to me that you very rarely hear anyone saying ‘boy, I wish I was a teenager or in my twenties again!’;  instead what I hear people say is ‘I’d go back (in age) if I could go back knowing what I know NOW.’  As badly as it’s phrased in that context, it does speak to the point that the knowledge gained over time is important. So, for all birthday celebrations where aging is sure to be the favored topic at hand, I prefer to focus on the positive, non-physical aspects of the aging process.  I do not give over-the-hill gag gifts or attend those types of parties for people if I can avoid it– to me, even in jest, this sends the wrong message.  It makes so much more sense to me that these events should celebrate where you’ve been in your life for the past year, and who you’ve become, and share the lessons learned with each other.  Then you are truly respecting the journey and where it’s led you.

 

What do you think? 

 

This week’s topic: Cougars, dating and double standards April 21, 2008

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What’s the big deal with women dating men who are younger?  Is cougar a celebratory word or a patronizing one?  Is there a double standard about May-December romances?

Crystal: We all seem to agree on the first question…and the last. However, this pack divides on the second one.


Is a older woman dating a younger guy a big deal?

Donna: I just don’t think it’s a big deal—the older we all get, the less age difference matters.

Roise: I am with Donna.  I don’t think it is any big deal for a woman to date someone younger than she is (well, as long as it’s legal), but the term cougar just offends me.

Amy: I agree with Rosie and Donna. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Janine: My sentiment exactly–“What is the BIG deal about women dating younger men??” I mean they have names for men who date younger women–studs, gigolos. Excuse me, let me be a little more current–how about players or ‘playas’ or at least that’s the assumption. It’s just no big deal when men do it.

Crystal: I’ve only dated one man older than me so it’s no biggie.

Cougar: celebratory or patronizing?

Amy: I do think the term cougar is patronizing.  Do we have a comparable term for older men who dad younger women . . . would it be something like “sugar daddy”. . .this is still patronizing for the woman who is assumed to be looking for a rich father figure rather than a legitimate love interest.

Rosie: Why can’t a woman who is dating just be a woman who is dating? The labels are a way of qualifying and classifying someone as a type, and I think we should all have the freedom to not be put in a box of someone else’s understanding or creation.

Crystal: The term “cougar” actually makes me giggle. I use it about myself or when talking with or listening to Louise “Wheezy” Glover, my favorite cougar. I don’t take the label seriously. I think people use labels when they’re not comfortable with someone or a situation.

Janine: At the end of the day, isn’t it about being happy with whomever??  I think we clearly get too caught up in what other people think. Young, old–as long as you’re not breaking any laws, who cares if we’re cougars and they are the cubs.

Is there a double standard at play? Do May-December relationships work?
Janine: It IS a double standard. I used to date ‘younger men.’ And yes, it’s true–they’re exciting, unpredictable, a little more care-free, have plenty of stamina, too (if you know what I mean).  I didn’t have an issue with it at all–until he asked ME to buy the drinks (a little too young perhaps).

There are some pros and cons to dating younger or older. My boyfriend today would actually be called the ‘stud’ because I”m 10 years younger than he is (he’s 51, I”m 41). His life to his friends is the ‘best thing ever.’ They say to him, “Wow! She’s so young.” (yeah, right) And then they slap a ‘high five’. At that point, I’m not sure whether to be flattered because of the ‘so young’ compliment or be insulted because I now feel like a ‘trophy’ no one his age was ever supposed to get.

Rosie: I recently heard that if men want to date someone who is younger, then they should date someone who is half their age plus seven (that’s “the cutoff” was the implication).  So, a 50 year old shouldn’t date someone who is younger than 32, a 25 year old shouldn’t date someone younger than 19.  I have no clue where this formula came from but it seems that women should be given the same allowances—that dating younger shouldn’t just be the domain of men.

Donna: I do think it is a bit of a double standard—men have for years. I did read an article recently about men in their 20s that went out ‘cougar hunting’. They were specifically looking for groups of older women— older than their 20s — out together for casual hook ups. It was all very contrived, from what they wore — no flashy watches, for example, because ‘cougars don’t need your money, they have their own’ and the description of their stealthy planned approach of any group of women on a girl’s night out. Now that seemed predatory as well as somewhat offensive.

Crystal: It seems to be less of a double standard. Whether it works or not depends on the people in volved. Although I do think there’s a difference in a 54-year-old woman dating a 34-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman dating a 20-year-old guy. Here’s my question: is being a cougar a heterosexual phenom? Does it apply to older women who date women half their age?

Amy: I actually think it’s great that people are just out there dating other people and that some of our age norms are changing.  I’m certainly not living out the traditional female role of my mother and grandmother. I hope that with all the challenges of being a modern woman we also get some newfound freedoms in choosing our best partner.

What do you think: Big deal? Cougar: celebratory or patronizing? And is there a double standard?

 

Consumer Pledge April 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 10:03 am
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One of our readers shared this really cool Consumer Pledge that is being implemented this week at Brevard College.  It allows each person who is signing it to pledge to make strides towards being greener and lighter on the Earth (each person chooses the one thing they will do in different categories).  The pledge asks each person to commit to the effort from April 18th until May 18th.  Check it out, make the pledge yourself, and share with us what one of your efforts will entail! 

Consumer Pledge

 

To be a more socially and environmentally conscientious consumer I will pledge to do the

following from April 18-May 18:

 

1. What I buy – I will try to (pick at least one):

o Support businesses with a social/environmental ethic

o Buy local foods and other products

o Buy organic products

o Buy fair trade and other socially labeled products

o Buy products with recycled content

o Buy non-toxic cosmetics/toiletries that are not tested on animals

o Buy products with minimal packaging

o Buy products I can reuse

o Read papers and magazines on line instead of buying them

o Buy only items that I really need

o Other_________________________________________________

 

2. Shopping Bags- I will try to (pick at least one):

o Use a cloth shopping bag

o Reuse Plastic shopping bags

o Recycle my shopping bags

o Just carry things in my hand if I only get a couple of items

o Other________________________________________________

 

3. Buying/Using transportation – I will try to (pick at least one):

o Walk or bike instead of drive

o Share rides whenever possible

o Take a shared public transportation instead of a car or cab

o Take the steps instead of an elevator

o Take direct flights instead of multiple stops

o Stay on campus one weekend instead of travel

o Other________________________________________________

 

4. When I am eating – I will try to (pick at least one):

o eat more fresh food and less processed food

o eat less meat

o not take more than I know I can eat

o drink tap water in my own reusable water bottle

o Other________________________________________________

 

5. What I throw away- I will try to (pick at least one):

o recycle plastic, glass, aluminum, and paper whenever possible

o wash out and reuse containers when appropriate (i.e. zip-lock bags)

o use products that allow you to refill containers

o utilize products with minimal packaging

o prepare/order/take only the amount of food that I can eat

o compost food I don’t eat at my home

o find a new owner for usable items

o give usable items to Good Will, Humane Society, clothing closets, etc

o compost food I don’t eat

o Other_______________________________________________

 

6. When I buy/use energy – I will try to (pick at least one):

o only turn on lights and appliances I really need at any time

o turn off lights and appliances when I leave the room

o unplug my computer, appliances and chargers at night/when not recharging

o put Compact Fluorescent Bulbs in my fixtures and lamps

o Other________________________________________________

6. When I am at the office/at school – I will try to (pick at least one):

o Read emails and print only those absolutely necessary

o Proofread as many drafts as possible on screen before printing

o Save scrap paper in order to print draft copies

o Use scrap paper to print drafts

o Other________________________________________________

 

7. Education/Outreach – I will try to- (pick at least one):

o visiting the NC Office of Environmental Education website

http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/consumer.htm

o checking out the eco-smart consumer blog

http://eco-smartconsumer.blogspot.com/

o going to the “story of stuff” website

http://www.storyofstuff.com

o sharing the “story of stuff” with friends

http://www.storyofstuff.com

o discussing these issues with family and friends

o writing my local/state/national elected officials to express my opinion

o continuing the consumer pledge beyond the first month

o expanding upon the number of consumer pledge options I commit to

o Other_________________________________________________

 

Thank-you for your participation and effort!

Adapted from the Consumer Pledge distributed at the Association for Experiential

Education Southeast Regional Conference in March 2008.

 

 

Poem in My Pocket April 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 5:58 pm
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So, April 17th is Poem in Your Pocket Day.  The idea is that everyone puts a poem in their pocket to share with others sometime on the 17th.  Here’s a virtual share from a Mary Oliver poem called Daisies.  There are some great environmental writers and poets and Mary Oliver is one of my faves.  Feel free to share your favorites, too– we can all benefit from having a bunch of poems in our pockets.  -Rosie  

Access the rest of the poem here.   

it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly;
for example – I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch –
the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
daisies for the field.

 

Want less mail? Get less catalogs. April 14, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 9:19 pm
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So one of the things that I finally did this weekend was register on www.catalogchoice.com this weekend and checked off on what catalogs I no longer wanted to receive in the mail.  Before logging in, I figured that I probably received 10 catalogs in the mail.  As I went through their list of catalogs, I realized that I actually get about 25.  Now, in ten weeks, those 25 catalogs should dwindle down to about 3.  What a relief for just about 15 minutes of my time.  Here is why it’s important for us to let companies know that we don’t need to receive their catalogs:

19 billion catalogs are mailed in the US each year

Their production requires 53 million trees. 

Their production uses 38 trillion BTUs of energy.   1.2 million houses could be powered for a year with that amount of energy. 

Their production emits 5.2 million tons of Carbon Dioxide into our atmosphere.  This is the equivalent of having two million more cars on the road each year. 

They create 53 billion gallons of waster water discharge. 

All those numbers can’t be negated just by recycling those catalogs.  We need to ask for less of them to be produced.  The one surefire way to do that is through a service like Catalog Choice or www.greendimes.com

Do two things for sure today:  measure your carbon footprint and cease your catalog clutter.        

 

Going Meatless, Eating local.

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 7:32 pm

So, I am blogging over at Latina.com on some of the green habits I am trying to develop and one of those is going meatless and eating local.  You can read why meatless meals are earth-friendly and find out an easy way to eat local by reading today’s blog here.  

 

How can women promote environmental sustainability and sanity? April 13, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 9:08 pm
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Women are wonderfully practical and astute at solving problems.  One of the problems facing our world is global warming and the decline of our environment.  What habit do you as an individual need to change in order to tread more lightly on the Earth and what’s standing in your way?  How can you take on a small piece of that challenge this week in anticipation of Earth Day? 

Amy: Women across the ages have figured out how to “make something out of nothing”.  It is a part of the American journey, at least for poor and middle class families.  We women who now find ourselves in a land of plenty have to turn this old adage on its head and choose to “do less with more”.  We must be aware of our carbon footprint.  We must choose to live closer to work, live in smaller homes with lower energy costs, serve less and smaller portions of meat at meals, only wash full loads of clothes, and teach this way of living to future generations.  As the people most often managing our family lives, women are drivers of environmental sustainability.  Very few of us have the power to change the country’s or even one factory’s standards of emissions, but we can drastically cut down our household’s impact on the environment. If this becomes contagious in neighborhoods, what a drastic impact we could make. 

 

Rosie:  I measured my carbon footprint recently (Want to know what yours?), and was mortified by how large it was— if I continue with my current behaviors, my carbon footprint (the amount of carbon dioxide- a greenhouse gas- my actions release into the world) would be 12 tons.  The average American puts out 20.4 tons per person, and the worldwide average is 4 tons.  Big difference, huh?  Guess everything is bigger in America.  But here’s the thing, environmental experts believe that the worldwide average (including us big carbon-foot printed Americans) needs to be 2 tons in order to sufficiently combat climate change. So my big goal this year is to reduce my carbon footprint.   

 

Janine: I never thought the day would come when in my lifetime I’d really, seriously have to think about ‘conserving’ water, recycling cans, using energy efficient light bulbs all to save the EARTH!!!  It used to seem so abstract, but it’s finally here. I now must re-train myself to take the necessary steps to conserve. I now officially go green!!!

 

 

Donna: I have been on a real path personally to do the things that I can to be good to the environment. My husband and I made some decisions against certain types of cars. We recycle everything we can. My biggest challenge though is the water bottle thing. For regular water, I do use the same water bottle over and over, at the gym etc, but I drink fizzy flavored water and I cannot rebottle that! I typically drink at least 2 big bottles a day. I am also convinced that I use too many paper products. I probably could cut down on my shower time a little and not continue to let the water run while I am brushing my teeth. Ack! This is more “area to improve” than I thought. I pledge to cut off the water while brushing my teeth and try to use dishcloths whenever possible rather than paper towels.

 

 

Crystal: Besides buying Zena (yes, a Z instead of an X) the Road Warrior Princess (my Prius), I started using an electric kettle to boil water for tea and coffee (I use a cone filter) instead of a tea pot on a stove. It takes less energy and seems quicker. Also, I try to take my own bags to carry groceries. I do this 7 out of 10 times. I want to get it to 10 out of 10.  And I shame my friends, family and coworkers into recycling. I won’t stop doing this.

 

Donna: That’s another thing for me…bags at the grocery store. I have the reusable ones in my car, but I forget (yes, I know!!!) to bring them in with me and only remember when I am at the checkout wishing I could morph them out of the car.

 

Rosie:  I love my reusable bags.  I asked for them for my birthday and they are fashionable, comfortable, and hold a boatload of stuff.  Carrying them everywhere—not just the grocery store—has become a habit, but it took a few months.  I also bought a reusable water bottle that I just love to ditch my bottled water habit.  And the biggest thing I have learned to do is to buy carbon offsets for the behaviors that I can’t easily change—like flying for work.  Turns out that without flying, my projected carbon footprint would have been 4 tons.  My flying was responsible for 8 tons of carbon dioxide and carbon offsets seemed the perfect solution.  But, now, I need to push myself further—starting with walking to my meetings and meals that are within a mile of the house.  My problem is that I like to work up until the right possible minute and then I hop in the car and zoom to my date 2 minutes away. If I stopped 15 minutes earlier, I could just walk.  My big goal leading up to Earth Day is to walk or ride my bike around town.              

 

Janine:  From this point on, I will make a real effort to take shorter showers, not run the water the ENTIRE time I brush my teeth and actually get a recycle bin to start ‘recycling.’  I already have the light bulbs I’m supposed to use to conserve energy, so I guess that’s a good start. It’s time I really wrap my head around the idea that WE as in the earth may not be here forever. I think I’ll have my girls group  come up with creative ways to ‘GO GREEN’, too. I have to share this mindset now with others. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’m ready to try.

 

Amy: Environmental sanity – now that’s an interesting concept.  I truly feel that the people I see riding around in Hummers are insane . . . insanely self-centered.  There is a level of entitlement in that choice that screams morbid self-absorption.  I do not understand how anyone justifies that choice.  Now granted, we do have a truck and an SUV in my family.  My father drives the truck on his farm but uses a small all terrain vehicle for most things as this is more economical and the SUV sits in our driveway unless its cabin-size or trailer-pulling capacity is specifically required.  Even when it’s packed to the brim, I feel somewhat guilty driving it.  Then I realize I can make one trip in it or a few trips in my car . . . it’s a practical choice at that point.  Driving a Hummer around a city, that’s just asinine.  As a single female, I would never date a man who drives a Hummer.  How’s that for practical??

 

Donna: I despise hummers and large SUVs. They seem like such a blatant sign of disregard for the environment and everyone on it to me. Most people that own them don’t have a farm. 

 

Crystal: To paraphrase Robert F. Kennedy Jr.- Protecting the planet is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s completely nonpartisan.

 

Now, it’s your turn.  What’s the one thing that you can begin this week to reduce your impact on the Earth?  And how can women use their uniquely practical voices to promote environmental sustainability and sanity?

 

We’ll be back this week with posts on how to reduce the number of catalogs arriving in your mailbox, why recycling your water bottles isn’t enough, why you might want to consider going meatless at least once a week, how you can eat local easily, and other green insights we’ve dug up.  We’ll also let you know about our progress, and we hope that you’ll do the same!