Favorite Things: Winter 2017 Edition

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If we can’t have sunshine and warm weather, then let’s celebrate some other pleasures. Sit back with a bowl of shredded tofu and shiitake stir-fry for my new list of favorite things.

  1. Hidden Figures – Original Score

Have you seen this fabulous movie about pioneering African-American women mathematicians who provided critical help for NASA’s first successful space missions? Even if you haven’t watched the film yet, check out the original score by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch. I’ve been listening to it every day for a month and I’m not bored yet.

  1. A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

First published in 1983, this book by Roger von Oech explores the 10 mental locks that prevent people from being more creative and how those locks can be opened. If you think you’re creative but want some fresh ideas – and especially if you think you’re not creative – pick up this book to get a fun, out-of-the-box look at creative thinking. Von Oech takes his creative strategies online with creative whack pack apps for iPhone and iPad.

  1. The Intouchables

At first glance I thought this film about a wealthy French quadriplegic and his caregiver from the projects might be depressing. Instead, it was positive, uplifting, and funny. Based on a true story, the film is in French with subtitles.

  1. Lion

You can tell it’s winter by the number of films on my list! Nominated for 6 Academy Awards, you have probably heard about this film. It tells the true story of a 5-year-old Indian boy who is lost on the streets of Calcutta almost a thousand miles from home. Bring Kleenex for both happy and sad tears.

  1. Dear Sugar podcast

Looking for advice with “radical empathy?” Listen to the Dear Sugar podcast hosted by writers Cheryl Strayed (Wild) and Steve Almond. Both Strayed and Almond had a turn as Dear Sugar when it was a column in the online literary magazine Rumpus . A collection of Strayed’s columns was published in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.

The podcast version of the column, which began about 2 years ago, promises good news for the lost, lonely, and heartsick. It is available free from NPR, iTunes, and Stitcher radio on demand.

I sometimes listen to the show before I go to sleep. If you prefer to read rather than listen, transcripts are online.

  1. Root Touch-up for Hair

Ladies (and some gentlemen), if you color your hair you might be interested in this product. Available in different shades, Style Edit’s powder-like root touch-up does a great job of covering those gray roots in between hair appointments. It washes out with shampoo but doesn’t come off on your pillow. I don’t use it all the time but it has come in handy when I have had a date and my hair appointment is 2 weeks away. It’s available in salons and on Amazon.

  1. Mortified Podcast

Did you keep a diary as a child, adolescent, or teenager? Do you remember writing a love letter to your 14-year-old crush? How about creating a poem about your “evil” parents or nasty teacher? The Mortified Podcast brings you the recorded live performances of adults sharing their childhood writings.

The best stories are delivered with heartfelt intensity and a recreation of the performer’s younger voice. Check out the podcast or the live performance if you live in one of Mortified’s chapter cities.

  1. Flipbelt

The Flipbelt is a great accessory if you like to listen to music while you lift weights, run, walk, or do any exercise (other than swimming). The soft, stretchy belt holds your cell phone and/or mp3 player, keys, and other essentials. It’s sleeker than a fanny pack and there’s no uncomfortable weight on your arm. I use this in the gym and when walking around the neighborhood.

  1. Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro by Billy Childs

If you haven’t heard Billy Childs’ version of New York Tendaberry with Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma, you’re in for a treat. It’s my favorite song on this all around terrific jazz album. Other album guests include Rickie Lee Jones, Chris Botti, Dianne Reeves, and Alison Krauss.

  1. Babbel

¿Habla Español? Or Italian, Or French? If not, you might want to look into this language-learning app. I signed up for the Spanish version shortly before my trip to Spain. I wish I had found it 6 months before my vacation. According to its developers, Babbel employs cognitive research and communicative didactics to optimize how new vocabulary and grammar is received, saved and recalled.

“Whether you learn best by reading, writing, speaking, seeing or listening, Babbel addresses your individual learning type,” the website proclaims.

I liked the structure of the lessons and found it more reinforcing than other language apps.

Tell me if you try any of these favorite things!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Ten Favorite Things: Fall 2016 Edition

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In need of a little mood lift this week? Browse through my latest list of favorite things and enjoy, chill out, be inspired, or just escape from the persistent rain of depressing news.

This list should be read while munching on arugula salad with manchego, apples, and caramelized walnuts.

  1. Ten Most Relaxing Songs Ever

Feeling an overwhelming desire to relax? An article in Inc.com by Melanie Curtin describes neuroscience research on songs that produce the greatest state of relaxation. Weightless, one of the songs tested, reduced study participants’ overall anxiety by 65 percent. Curtin created a public playlist of the songs on Spotify.

  1. RockMyRun

On the other side of the music spectrum, there’s RockMyRun, a smartphone music app that is anything but relaxing – but in a good way. The app is DJ curated and tested with and by athletes to provide tunes that increases your exercise enjoyment and performance. There are thousands of music mixes to choose from. The ROCKSTAR Premium Membership is ad-free and allows you to save stations and personalize the music to your heart rate, steps, or personal preference.

This is my go-to music app at the gym.

  1. The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage, Cathi Hanauer (ed)

How did I not know about this book? This collection of essays describing the modern woman’s struggles with relationships, sex, marriage, parenting, and career is beautifully written, searingly honest, and intensely personal. I was struck by the incredible variety of experiences women have. As editor Cathi Hanauer says of the authors, “Their pieces reflect, in a chorus of different voices, the elations and disappointments of our lives as fervent and ambitious women today.”

  1. The Bitch is Back: Older, Wiser, and (Getting) Happier, Cathi Hanauer (ed)

I read the first Bitch book right after the sequel was published so I didn’t have to wait 10 years to find out what happened to nine of the original writers. These writers, plus 16 new contributors, offer their thoughts on love, sex, work, family, independence, aging, body image, and health. “It’s a book about choices – specifically the choices today’s bold, deep-thinking, impassioned women make as they approach and pass through midlife—and about what we might gain, and give up, with each choice, “ writes Hanauer.

  1. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis

If you’re a jazz fan, you may know this album inside out. Often described as a masterpiece, and one of the top jazz albums of all time, the music matches my mood lately.   If you’ve never heard it, you’re in for a treat. See: NPR’s Jazz Profiles.

  1. Meetup

I’ve been talking about Meetups since day one of this blog. This website and app geared to bringing people together over common interests continues to be a favorite of mine. Meetups are a great way to make friends, experience something new, or just have a good time. I have joined so many Meetups that on any given day when I don’t have specific plans, I can search on the site or app and usually find something to do. It’s not a small enterprise: 28.46 million members in 179 countries.

  1. Eventbrite

I first learned of Eventbrite years ago when I received a party invitation from a friend. She used the free event-planning site/app to send out invitations and manage RSVPS.

What I didn’t realize initially is that a number of organizations post their events on Eventbrite for publicity purposes (and in some cases ticket sales). The Eventbrite service is free to use if you are hosting or sponsoring a free event.

From a consumer’s perspective, Eventbrite is a great resource for things to do. You can search activities by category, location, date, and price. Diversions include concerts, festivals, seminars, sports events, wine tastings, and singles parties. In addition to events in the U.S., 16 countries are represented. If you’re travelling, check out what’s happening during your trip.

  1. Power Bank for your phone or tablet, EasyAcc

This portable power bank saved me on a recent trip to Europe. If you’re out sightseeing all day, you don’t want to stop the fun to charge your phone or tablet. It’s also useful when you’re out and about in your hometown – or just hiking in the woods for the day. This model is not the lightest power bank you can buy, but it packs a wallop of charge. Check it out!

  1. Being Erica

Being Erica is my new favorite binge-worthy show. Erica is a young woman who feels like her life is a failure due to poor choices she has made in the past. She starts seeing a therapist to deal with her regrets. The twist? The therapist has the ability to send her back in time to relive and, in some cases, change crucial events. This four season CBC series ended in 2011. However, it seems very timely – even edgy.

I recommend it – especially if you enjoy stories about time travel. Being Erica is available on Hulu.

  1. Watching, New York Times

Watching, a new TV and film website from the New York Times, provides recommendations on what to watch across streaming services.

It’s free to subscribers and to those who register with the Times (also free). Check off what you’re in the mood for and the site spits back some recommendations. I did this and found Being Erica (see #9).

If you enjoyed this post or any past ones, subscribe to get regular e-mail delivery. Follow me on social media too:

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Favorite Things to Brighten a Gloomy Spring

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It’s a grey, gloomy, and wet spring. In hopes of cheering us all up, I compiled my latest list of favorite things.

Let’s pretend we’re at the beach and the sun is actually shining. And as fantasy candy for all the single ladies, a gorgeous guy is walking toward us.

After you flirt with Mr. Gorgeous, chill out with some artichoke and asparagus lasagna and check out my list of favorites:

  1. The Moth story telling radio show and podcast. I never got over the habit of having a bedtime story. First as a child who liked to have a story read to me, then as an avid young reader, and after that as a parent who made story time a nightly ritual for my two children. Now, my bedtime story is often courtesy of The Moth.  The stories vary in quality and in delivery but a good one will bring you back to “the olden days” of radio.   Listen to the Moth’s Valentine’s Day show for a powerful love story with a twist as told by Aryana Rose.  The Moth is available on iTunes or via Stitcher (see below for details).
  2. Stitcher aggregates and organizes over 40,000 radio shows and podcasts for your listening pleasure on a phone, tablet, or computer. You can create or “stitch together” personal playlists or just browse for whatever you are in the mood for at any given time.
  3. Thomas Edwards, The Professional Wingman, is a dating and lifestyle coach who helps men and women develop their social skills so they can improve their ability to attract the opposite sex, date, and have relationships. If you can’t or don’t want to hire him or his company, you can get some tips by watching his video interviews and television appearances, or reading his blog and print interviews.
  4. Carolyn Hax, syndicated columnist and former Washington Post copy and news editor, dishes out on-target advice on a variety of topics. Not a trained therapist, she relies on common sense. Read a recent column on balancing “me” and “we” time in a relationship.
  5. The Vows column in The New York Times brings you the story of “how couples get from dating to I do.” A good number of the stories are about older, boomer age couples. Reading this column gives me hope, even though I’m not necessarily looking for marriage. Here’s a sample.
  6. The Mindy Project is an award-winning sit-com created by and starring Mindy Kaling. The storyline of the show, according to Hulu: “… a skilled OB/GYN navigating the tricky waters of both her personal and professional life, as she pursues her dreams of becoming the perfect woman, finding the perfect man and getting her perfect romantic comedy ending.” Mindy is a character and some of the dialogue and situations are outrageous but it’s great fun and a good escape from the often-difficult dating life.
  7. A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance. I missed this book when it was published in 2007. Of course at that time I had no idea I would be having my own later-life adventures in romance. I’m not as bold as author and English teacher divorcée Jane Juska who decided at age 66 to place a personals ad in the New York Review of Books: “Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.”  This memoir chronicles the author’s adventures with the men who answered her ad. I found it entertaining and revealing and often bittersweet.
  8. Humans of New York began as Brandon Stanton’s project “to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants.” He started interviewing his subjects and the project morphed into captivating profiles of thousands of New Yorkers. Many of the stories are about love.
  9. Google Voice is a free phone number you can use from your cell phone and a great option if you don’t want to give out your mobile number to a relative stranger or new match. As someone who had a phone app called Burner a while back, Google Voice is much better – and there’s no cost. You will need a G mail account. Once you set up the number, you’ll also be able to text, use voice mail, and even reply to text messages using your G-mail account (it will appear as if you texted the message).
  10. Melody Gardot, a singer-songwriter with jazz and blues influences, who grew a music career after a horrific car accident. Listen: Baby, I’m a Fool.

What are your favorite things? Write and tell me.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

My 10 Latest Favorite Things

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It’s time for another list of my favorite things. The themes today are dating and love (of course), travel, food, and music.

Let’s start with dating and love while enjoying a summer squash frittata with herbs from Bon Appetit. This frittata signifies the way I feel today: “I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer. “

  1. Single Dating Diva

If you are pursuing a dating life, there will be times when you will seek advice from an expert. If you are in a quandary, in addition to reading my posts (of course), check out Single Dating Diva. This award-winning blog, written by Suzie A., who also co-hosts the Sex Love Chat podcast, is a wealth of advice and plain old common sense when it comes to dating and relationships. Today I wanted some tips on body language to support my theory that a guy I went out with twice in 24 hours was in effect sending negative body language signals. Check! Suzie hit the nail on the head.

  1. The Washington Post’s Solo-ish column

With a slogan of “Unmarried, but far from alone,” editor Lisa Bonos and a cadre of freelancers write about the joys and frustrations of a solo life. I like the fact that the essays document the perspectives of people in all age groups. I may laugh or cry when I read Solo-ish. I’m never bored…because, hey, these are my people.

  1. Damn Love

I first learned of this free app and break-up game from The Washington Post’s Solo-ish column (see above). When your love life is not going swimmingly, it’s incredibly satisfying to play a game with a goal of breaking up couples that are madly in love. You have 7 rounds to break up a couple. During a round, you choose one of two actions that might cause “a problem” in a romance. After the last round, the player who caused the most problems wins. Each time you play, you are given a rank from Unpleasant to Revolting. You can choose your opponents and even chat with them.

Try it when you’re feeling disgusted by the state of your love life; enjoy the evil thrill of dissolution!

  1. Only Pack What You Can Carry: My Path to Inner Strength, Confidence, and True Self-Knowledge

It was hard to put down Janice Holly Booth’s inspiring book of memoirs and travel essays. She faced her fears and the challenges of some tough medical issues while developing a philosophy of life centered around solitude and introspection.

  1. Solo Traveler Blog

Read this blog and web site for solo travel ideas, tips, and inspiration.

  1. Barking up the Wrong Tree

I love this science-based blog by Eric Barker on “how to be awesome at life.” Recent topics include “imposter syndrome,” rituals that will make you happy, and the power of empathy. Chances are you have wondered or worried about most of the issues Barker tackles.

  1. Brainpickings

Maria Popova’s describes her website and newsletter as a collection of “interestingness.” Brainpickings weaves psychology, history, philosophy, art, science and other disciplines to painstakingly examine creativity, love, art, writing, happiness, and culture. Everything is sourced, linked, and illustrated. Read it when you have the time to click on the links and ponder the truths.

  1. Million Mile Secrets

If you want to learn how to earn and redeem airline miles and hotel points, read this blog by Daraius Dubash and Emily Jablon. It’s a great resource for beginning and experienced “miles and points” collectors.

  1. Jazz violinist Chelsey Green

If you haven’t heard Chelsey Green’s dynamic jazz violin playing, get yourself to iTunes and download a treat. I saw her perform at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club. The audience went wild and gave her a standing ovation.

  1. Bitches who Brunch

You’ve got to love the name of this blog. I found it by accident one day when searching for a new brunch place. Love the tone and the reviews. You can search for brunch by city (DC, New York, or Chicago) and now the website offers extras such as reviews of plays, recipes, and more.

What are your favorite things? Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Ten Favorite things to make you Laugh, Cry, Pause, Hope, and Learn

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In a frenzy of positivity, I discovered 10 things that I am enjoying – actually loving – and learning from. These include a TV show, several podcasts, a short animated film, and well-written prose with a purpose from both a sex educator and a relationship/sex therapist.

  1. Grace and Frankie

I binge-watched the first season of this new Netflix series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as Grace and Frankie, two women whose long-time husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) leave them for each other. Jane and Lily shine as the two polar-opposite women who go from barely tolerating each other to kinship and friendship.

I loved Jane’s initial foray into online dating (so relatable) and the honesty of Lily’s character, Frankie, as she purveys her homemade organic lube and gives Grace ongoing reality checks.

Everyone needs a friend like Frankie for an order of honest, hold-the-brutality advice. To my delight, the show was just picked up for a 2nd season. See: Grace and Frankie.

  1. Women of Uncertain Age

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Karen and Philippa, two single, divorced forty-something friends who chat about dating, friendship, relationships, marriage and divorce. The show’s signature line, “We’re talkin’ and you’re eavesdropping” captures the relaxed intimacy and humor the two hosts bring to the computer waves.

Karen and Philippa (I feel like I know them already) share their stories in a mellow conversational style and sometimes have guests who provide their perspectives and insights. I like to eavesdrop as an alternative to bedtime reading. See: Women of Uncertain Age.

  1. 2BoomerBabes

Kathy Bernard and Barbara Kline, hosts of the syndicated 2BoomerBabes show, tackle a broad range of topics of interest to the nearly 80 million baby boomers. The “babes’” guests are experts on everything from relationships to healthcare.

Recent shows covered caregiving, tinkering, transforming your sex life, modern divorce, and train travel. Listen in and you’ll likely learn something. See: 2BoomerBabes.

  1. Sex Love Chat podcast.

They would be great band names but Dirty in Public and Single Dating Diva are the “brands” and blogs of Marrie and Suzie who also collaborate on a weekly podcast called the Sex Love Chat. According to the show’s description, “Our podcast is a sexy little place in cyberspace where we romance listeners with topics sufficiently naughty, a little nice, and always pleasing to the ear.”

As an online date investigator, I enjoyed the recent podcast on searching men’s profiles on social media sites, a practice known as “creeping.” Guilty as charged.   See: Sex Love Chat podcast

  1. Huffington Post Love and Sex radio show

I first learned of the Huffington Post Love and Sex radio show when I saw a tweet about their podcast on What is Sex Like After 70? The show – and this episode – has an anthropological perspective so I found it interesting as well as hopeful.

With a disclaimer, “This episode contains explicit material, please proceed with caution,” who wouldn’t be curious? Each show answers a single question (unless it’s a grab-bag of reader’s questions). Past episodes have covered the future of sex, the power of the clitoris, and the reality behind Fifty Shades of Grey.

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/love-and-sex-podcast/

  1. Ian Kerner’s books

Described as a “hip sex therapist,” Ian Kerner, Ph.D. has taken on the charge of demystifying sex and educating both sexes. His books, She Comes First and Passionista, The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Pleasuring a Man (previously published as He Comes Next), combine scientific research, clinical experience, and interviews with non-patients. As he describes it, Kerner offers his readers a vision — a way of thinking about sex and being.

With wit and humor and an engaging writing style, Kerner’s books present a how to but also a why to understanding and obtaining sexual fulfillment.

Every man you’re in a relationship with should read She Comes First – after you read it of course.

See: About Ian Kerner

  1. Emily Nagoski’s book

I first heard of Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., when she was interviewed on the 2BoomerBabes show (see above) about her new book, Come as you are: the Surprising New Science that will Transform Your Sex Life.

Nagoski, who is director of Wellness Education at Smith College where she teaches Women’s Sexuality, is an esteemed sex educator. Her book, which I’m still reading, is fascinating and she describes the premise in the Introduction: “No matter where you are in your sexual journey right now, whether you have an awesome sex life and want to expand the awesomeness, or you’re struggling with and want to find solutions, you will learn something that will improve your sex life and transform the way you understand what it means to be a sexual being.”

The great thing about Nagoski and Kerner (see above) is the scientific core of their work, the accessibility of their writing, and similar philosophies that serve to enlighten, educate, and instill confidence in the average person.

See: Emily Nagoski’s website.

  1. New York Times Modern Love column

Essays written by readers cover the joy and pain that go hand in hand with love. Men and women, young and not so young, share their experiences and insights. It’s quite brave to write about such things under your own name. The writing is often beautiful and I find many of the pieces hopeful and inspiring.

One essay published in 2009 by Laura Munson, Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear, has great meaning for me. When I read it, a year after publication, I was newly separated and wondering if my then-husband who wanted to end the marriage was suffering from temporary insanity. I was comforted by Munson’s words: “This isn’t the divorce story you think it is. Neither is it a begging-him-to-stay story. It’s a story about hearing your husband say “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.“ I won’t give away any more because you should read it, but it gave me hope for a time, which I needed to put one foot in front of the other after the end of a very long marriage.

See: Modern Love

  1. Outlander

Outlander, the first of an 8-book series by Diana Gabaldon, combines historical fiction, time travel, and romance in a “can’t put down” read. The story begins in 1945 when Claire Randall, a former combat nurse on her honeymoon in the Scottish highlands, walks through a standing stone and into the war torn Scotland of 1743. She meets James Fraser, a young Scots warrior, and begins an epic romance.

The books are long (600 pages for volume 1) and immensely satisfying. A friend of mine called them “the bad Mommy books” because whenever she read one, she ignored her children. I have read all but the most recent one (waiting to savor it). The new TV show on Starz based on the Outlander series is one of those rare book-to-television adaptations with the look and feel of the books – just the way you imagined them. I recommend both the books and the TV show for good old- fashioned escapism.

See:

Outlander on Amazon

Outlander Starz TV series

Diana Gabaldon

  1. 5 Metres 80

Who cannot love high-diving giraffes? Enough said. Kudos to director Nicolas Deveaux of Cube Creative Productions. Reality was suspended for me the first time I watched 5 Metres 80.

See: 5 Metres 80

What are your favorite things? Tweet about it: #favoritethings. Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXXOOO

Nadia