Me, My Hair, And I by Anne Kreamer

Thrilled to be among this group.  For anyone who has wrestled with their hair (and who among us hasn't?) buy this book.

“Women show their roots in ‘Me, My Hair, and I.’” — Vanity Fair

“[T]hese twenty-seven essays are beautifully revelatory and deeply personal accounts of each woman's hair”— Bustle

“Benedict has a knack for zeroing in on subjects with far-reaching, often surprising implications and resonance. In her third invitational collection, she has definitely tapped a nerve . . . Women spend enormous amounts of money and time on their hair, agonizing over every decision. Variations on these themes are tackled with candor, wit, insight, and emotion by Benedict’s 27 eloquently entertaining contributors . . . [An] irresistible, pithy, and right-on anthology.” — Booklist

“[A] splendid collection . . . By turns wry, tender, pointed, and laugh-out-loud funny, the selections take us along on the contributors’ tangled, complicated, and thoroughly engaging journeys.”—Publishers Weekly

“This collection is not only unique for the subject matter it addresses. It also provides cultural commentary that is by turns insightful, humorous, and moving. . . Surprisingly engaging reading.” — Kirkus Reviews

“We wear our hair every day, and this collection demonstrates—with great clarity and insight—the complexities of what that means for women of all backgrounds. An important conversation and worthy of note” — Library Journal

“Elizabeth Benedict has gathered such wonderful writers to examine the allure, magic, curse, thrills, seductions, and sorrows of hair. Written with tender sensitivity and wild wit, these essays may start with the external, but they go deep into the lives of the writers, into what appearance means, and into how they see themselves and their place in the world.” — Luanne Rice, author of The Lemon Orchard

“Untangles the many truths about hair, and the lives we lead underneath it.” — Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing up Bébé

“This is the book I wish I’d had when I let my hair go gray and when my husband and I made the pact that if he stopped talking about hockey, I’d stop talking about my hair. Now with these wonderful, affirming and insightful essays, I understand that there’s merely a hair’s breadth between my hair and myself. This brilliant collection that takes us from Samson and Delilah to silver foxes is a terrific read for those of us who obsess about our hair. Or those who live with those of us who do. A collection that’s, dare I say, a cut above the rest.” — Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace

Where’s the TMI Line with Health Information? by Anne Kreamer

Dear Anne,

Nora Ephron wrote about how everything changes when you head into your sixties.  So a question that is on my mind is how does one deal with poor health, illness, and the bad diagnosis with grace?  There must be something between whiny self-absorption and lock-jawed denial, but sometimes it seems hard to identify.  Where and how does one locate the humor, wit, limited acceptance, a bit of self-pity but not too much, a sense of realism, courage, and whatever other qualities are in demand at such times?

In need of guidance,  Alison

Dear Alison:

Boy, have you lobbed a tough one.  I think this is one of the most difficult balancing acts we face.  I have a dear friend with whom I’ve vowed that I will not become one of those old people who does nothing but compare notes with her friends about what’s our new illness of the week.  I genuinely think that if we dwell on our deteriorating condition(s) we’ll end up focusing only on the grim and wind up chronically depressed.  But beyond that I’m also convinced that even family members find too much detail about one’s personal physical condition b-o-r-i-n-g. No one really cares about anyone else’s travails until one has walked in similar steps.  And even then there’s a healthy limit.

That being said, there are definitely times to reach out for help.  Good friends do want and need to know when we’re dealing with something big.  I’d suggest letting them know and then be specific about what you need or expect from them so that they don’t have to feel the burden of asking each time.  You can say, “I promise, I’ll let you know when I need you to do something for me.”

I also think that one of the best ways one can deal with the inevitable health challenges we’re all going to face is to try to find ways to nourish yourself.  If you’re able to, walk, dance, sing.  Go to afternoon matinees.  Get out of the house and surround yourself with people doing good things.  Volunteer.  We’ve all read the data about how helping other people is the best possible tool for lifting our spirits.

And hold your friends tight.


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Aging and How to Have it Both Ways by Anne Kreamer

Not long ago the front page of the Styles section in the New York Times ran the following two headlines side by side: "Listen Up, Everybody: I'm in Menopause," and, "'omg, my mom joined facebook!!'" After I stopped chuckling, I realized that the two stories perfectly captured the current emotional spectrum of my life.

Elizabeth Hayt was reporting on women who actually "flaunt their menopausal symptoms. If they are not erupting in the literal heat of the moment, they are flinging wisecracks, adopting a single-sex argot comprising wry, offhanded quips and punctuated by knowing winks and nudges."

Michelle Slatalla, on the other hand, a woman of a certain age herself, was describing her newfound commitment to avoid becoming an old-fogey Luddite. She had joined Facebook. And her teenaged daughter busted her with an IM saying, "wayyy creepy, why did you make one! You won't get away with this....everyone in the whole world thinks its super creepy when adults have facebooks."

Weird, my husband just joined Facebook and that's pretty much exactly what our youngest daughter said to him.

I get it: my generation came of age rejecting the trappings of the one that preceded ours, and being young (but not a child) was empowering and liberating and thrilling. And now that we are undeniably not young - the oldest of the 77 million boomers are now 61 - how do we deal?

On the one hand, legitimacy often comes from public acknowledgment. If we talk publicly and loudly about menopause, maybe it loses its cultural ick factor, and we validate our rite of passage.

But we also cannot bear to feel out of it. So we struggle to find our places in the lightning speed shifts within the techno-world.  And while these two impulses - shout out to the world that we're getting older, and also trying to stay with it - might seem contradictory, they both are healthy ways to approach aging.

Women bonding together to simply joke about their menopausal conditions generates solidarity and reassurance. And a sense of community is central to healthy aging.

A few years ago, the University of Chicago's Louise Hawkley and John Cacioppo published a paper, "Loneliness is a Unique Predictor of Age-Related Differences in Systolic Blood Pressure," in the journal Psychology and Aging, that tells you everything you need to know in its title.

And joining Facebook is a twofer. Community and novelty. I'm not sure figuring out how to post something on an acquaintance's wall or "poking" some friend of a friend will lower your brain age, as Nintendo promises with their Brain Game, but it has to keep us more mentally nimble and more connected to the world, and those are proven ways to help us age more contentedly.

Aging With Grace by Anne Kreamer

FIGURING OUT THE CHALLENGE of aging with grace is a tricky business. If you had to bet who was happier with their body, a 40-year-old woman or a 50-year-old woman, which would you guess? Most of us would immediately assume the 40-year-old. And we'd be wrong. How we handle aging with grace is different for each of us. But some information I picked up from a book called The 100 Simple Secrets of The Best Half of Life, What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It gave me new insight into how I could think about the aging process

What appealed to me about the book was the notion that I could use objective scientific data to help me improve the quality of my life and handle aging with grace.

One chapter in particular resonated with me. According to a 2000 study, People become about 1 percent more likely to hold a positive image of their bodies with each year of age after forty.

I know this is true. After years of highlighting my hair, when I turned 40 I was so uncomfortable about being old I dyed my hair jet black. God, what a disaster!

Aging with grace was the last thing on my mind. What I didn't have the perspective to know at 40 was that our fifth decade is unquestionably the toughest to get through with any sense of physical self-esteem. Everything begins to sag and lose its vibrancy

Our 40s are the official no-man's-land of age, neither old nor young. It's confusing: should we cling to trying to look like we're still in our 30s or should we give it up, join our elders and embrace the challenge of aging with grace

I think why we get comfortable with aging that we become happier with our body image as we get older. We discover that it's not all or nothing. At 50 we know we're actually more than half way through the game and that pretty much no matter what we do, we look our age (even if we're lucky and we look like a good 47)

Other stuff, like staying alive, begins to matter much more than whether our bodies are hot.

There's a middle way. Like most things, it's not a black and white choice. We can do the things that matter for our health, such as exercising more, stopping smoking, or reducing our caffeine intake, and manage the things we do for pure vanity.