This could be my next gig, you never know. Image via Wikipedia
I’ve learned a great deal at my time here on True/Slant – mostly that blogging is damn hard work and you’ve got to be passionate about your subject or it’s not worth it for either the reader or the writer. That said, I will continue to write about the topics I am most passionate about – living well after 40, sex, relationships, parenting, and promoting a healthy self-image for women of all ages – all served up with a dash of humor and pinch of spice.
Last Saturday night, seven of my girlfriends (who prefer to remain anonymous) and I headed to the S-Factor in Chicago to try a new type of workout, pole dancing. None of us had ever danced with a pole before (well, I once wound streamers around a May pole in 2nd grade, but that doesn’t count) and we were a bit nervous.
The common view of pole dancing is that it’s slutty and sleazy and only performed for the pleasure of lecherous, drooling, dollar bill wielding men. We were a group of forty-something, married moms with jobs and responsibilities; not exactly the exotic dancer type.
But still, we were curious. It sounded kind of naughty. And fun.
My 16 year-old son, Nick, learned about my plan and was appalled. He texted his buddy.
“Do you know our moms are going pole dancing?”
His friend texted back immediately.
“That makes me very uncomfortable.”
We moms were uncomfortable too, especially at the idea of trying to look sultry and sensual in front of one another. Our husbands, however, were surprisingly accommodating. They happily volunteered to run carpools, make dinner, take the cat to the vet. “I got it covered, hon, you go on and have fun at that dance class.”
Here are three things I learned from my first pole dancing class.
1. It’s not about how you look, it’s how you feel
The studio was dimly lit, and get this, had NO mirrors. Imagine our relief! Julie, our instructor, told us that we shouldnt be concerned with how we looked or doing any movement “correctly.” We should consider the room a safe place to just let go and have fun and feel good about ourselves.
2. Curves are captivating
In other fitness classes I’ve taken, I felt that fleshiness was shameful – a problem that needed fixing. But at S-Factor, the goal is for women to appreciate and enjoy their bodies as they are, not change them. Julie was gorgeous and sexy, but not skinny. She had boobs and a butt and man, could she flaunt ‘em. When demonstrating the “cat pounce” she arched her back while pointing her tush at the ceiling. As I tried to follow along, for the first time in my life, I wished for a bigger ass.
3. Get in touch with yourself
Throughout the class Julie urged us to “put your hands on your curves.” Apparently, for a woman to be truly sexy she must know and own her body; to do that, she needs to be in contact with it. Touching ourselves – whether running a hand through our hair or massaging a knee – became part of the movements.
I felt awkward at first; it was certainly different than the pumping or punching arm moves required in aerobic or weight lifting classes. But I was feeling pretty comfortable in my own skin by the time class was over.
Several of my friends are signing up for the full 8-week course, which includes lap dancing and strip tease lessons (no nudity is allowed at S-Factor.) If you’re a woman who is feeling a little lackluster, I highly recommend you try a class like this. It was a surprisingly empowering experience that had little to do with pleasing men, and will make you think of yourself in a whole new way.
If you’re not ready to tackle the class, watch actress Sheila Kelley, the founder of the S-Factor, teach Conan O’Brien some seductive moves in this hilarious video.
Hint: it doesn't have anything to do with grilling. Image by D'Arcy Norman via Flickr
I originally wrote this article for the June issue of Make It Better Magazine. Men, you’re welcome.
Want to know what your guy craves for Father’s Day?
Hint: it’s not a wireless grill thermometer. I’ve asked men all over the North Shore what they want and their answers might surprise you.
Oh, I got my share of flip responses. “Cubs tickets,” jokes David of Wilmette.
“Not to get bitched at,” moans his buddy Paul.
Guys don’t feel comfortable voicing what they’re missing because neediness is seen as weak and unmanly. David Klow, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Northwestern’s Family Institute, sees this in his men’s groups.
“Men are rarely asked what they want and have a hard time expressing it,” he says. “They’re taught to subvert their needs.”
Yet, I’ve managed to pry some tidbits of truth from these closed-mouthed clams. Here are three gifts that are sure to make your man happy at any time of year.
Men want to be acknowledged for what they contribute, including what they do at work. The office isn’t a place for self-actualization for many men; it’s a means to support their family. And given that life on the North Shore is expensive and the economy is tough, “The professional pressure is unfathomable,” says Ted from Lake Forest.
Klow often sees men with high-powered careers command respect and admiration at the office but come home to feel marginalized and even ridiculed. He calls it “King of the Boardroom, Jester of the Bedroom” syndrome.
Men long for recognition from their spouses. So take a look at all the things your man does, whether it’s making toaster pastries for the kids or hopping an early flight to Omaha—and tell him how much you value him.
Let Him Be the Man
Look, he’s a dude. He may not be as sensitive as your best friend or as nurturing as your mother, but he digs the macho part of himself and—admit it—you do, too. Living with someone just like you would be boring. And certainly not hot.
Klow likens a strong relationship to a car’s battery; you need a balance between positive and negative poles to maintain an electric charge. So when your man starts exerting his caveman side, don’t be too quick to quash it. It’s the differences between you that keep things interesting.
More Sex, Different Sex, Sex Initiated by YOU
You knew this one was coming, right? Yep, men hanker after more sex—the consensus is they’d like to have it every other day. But what they really desire is for you to want more sex.
Your man thinks you’re delectable. He doesn’t care about your jiggly thighs or crow’s feet; what turns him on most is your attitude.
Jeff, a pilot, says, “We want a hot lover—someone who enjoys receiving as much as giving pleasure. Being attractive is nice, but being fun and confident is much more exciting!”
Your husband would be thrilled if you’d take the initiative sexually or introduce something new. A little creativity could be something you’d both enjoy. After all, as Klow says, “familiarity can be the enemy of eroticism.”
I was so happy to see the calories listed on the Panera menu board I took a picture of it.
Yesterday I went to the Panera Bread in downtown Wilmette and was surprised to see the billboard menu now lists calorie content along with the price and description of each item.
The full disclosure was shocking.
Wait, I thought, now I can choose my lunch based not only on what sounds good, but how good an item is for me? What a radical idea!
Panera Bread is one of the first chain restaurants that voluntarily posts calorie counts in all their stores, but consumers are likely to see more restaurants follow suit as local governments – like New York City - pass laws that require the information. And Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity will likely bring increased focus to the need for Americans to make healthier food choices.
I’m no stranger to calorie counting. I went to Weight Watchers for years, I’ve got the Lose It! app on my iphone. I know I shouldn’t eat more than about 2000 calories a day or I’ll gain weight. Still, when I go to a restaurant I have no problem putting myself in a state of nutritional denial.
With calories listed on the menu I can’t do that. The information forces me to consider the trade-offs of taste and calories, which is actually very empowering.
Yesterday, I was in the mood for a veggie sandwich. After reviewing the Panera menu I chose the Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil Bread for 610 calories instead of the Tomato Mozzarella Panini for 770. Still, 610 calories is not exactly a light lunch, so I decided to take the side of chips (150 calories) home with me to eat another time.
Biting into my tasty sandwich, I felt positively virtuous. Having a choice when it comes to calories makes eating out extra satisfying.
Watch this video of little Jessica expressing how good she feels about her life – you can’t help but feel inspired. In fact, watching it made me do my own little dance in front of the mirror this morning.
“I like my hair! I like my haircuts! I like my whole house! I can do anything good! Yeah, yeah, yeah!”
All my mom’s friends were a bit worried about Jessica falling off the counter. We figured it was her dad doing the filming.
I'm a 40-something mother, wife and writer who took a long unexpected gig as a stay-at-home mom in the Chicago suburbs which, to my surprise, I liked. In addition to spending quality time with my two kids, staying home gave me time to hang out on the North Shore, act in community theatre, sing in a band, host a local-access cable TV show and go back to school. Now I'm relaunching my career as a writer. I have another blog about life after 40, and am a regular contributor to local magazines and newspapers. I look forward to bringing stories from my neighborhood to yours.
I’m doing a series on dating after divorce for my blog about life after 40 called Forty Fabulous. Whether you’re single for the second time or happily married, it will make you rethink your relationship (and there’s some good dirt too.)