Take Time to Be Tidy: A New Challenge

I like my home to be picked up, so its best qualities shine, and I like my house to be organized for efficiency.

But I often fall short on both neatness and organization.

So one of the habits I’ve been working is nicknamed “Take Time to Be Tidy.” I’m supposed to spend the extra minutes it takes to neaten up my cosmetic bag after a trip or keep my paint tubes sorted by color or fold my jeans instead of cramming them onto the closet shelf.

Case in point (pun somewhat intended) is sharpening pencils. It maybe takes three minutes to sharpen a few pencils. But the above pencils sat in my art box for weeks or maybe even months. I would pick up a broken pencil, put it back, pick up another broken pencil, put it back. I would keep this up until I finally found one that was sharp enough to use to sketch out a painting.

I might spend the same three minutes (many times over) online and never think twice. What’s so hard about sharpening some pencils?

I finally did sharpen my pencils. I’m so happy! Those pointy pencils stand ready to do their job.

I get procrastinating the harder stuff, but why do I put off easy tasks? I have no clue if this is a habit I can break, but I seem to be making some progress.

What easy tasks do you put off? Any tips for breaking the habit?

And right as I finished up this post, I learned that there’s such a thing as pencil tip sculptures. Who knew? If you google it, you’ll find a multitude of wonderful creations. Here’s just a taste:





The Transformation: A Book Review and Giveaway

I loved Jame S. Gordon’s The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing after Trauma. I see great hope in the techniques he’s developed to help those who have experienced horrific life events. And there’s plenty here to help you process and recover from some of the lesser sadness and confusion of life too.

Here’s what the publisher has to say:

The Transformation represents the culmination of Dr. Gordon’s fifty years as a mind-body medicine pioneer and an advocate of integrative approaches to overcoming psychological trauma and stress.

Based on the basic understanding that trauma will come to all of us sooner or later, Dr. Gordon teaches readers that each of us has the capacity to heal ourselves. Outlining a proven, step-by-step method, he demonstrates how to reverse the damage caused by trauma and to restore hope.

Offering inspirational stories, eye-opening research, and innovative prescriptive support, the book makes accessible for the first time the methods that Dr. Gordon—with the help of his faculty of 160, and 6,000 trained clinicians, educators, and community leaders—has developed and used to relieve the suffering of hundreds of thousands of adults and children around the world.

Giveaway: The publisher is giving away a copy of The Transformation to one lucky Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by December 15. U.S. only. Thanks!

Dr. James Gordon is a Harvard-educated psychiatrist and a clinical professor of psychiatry and family medicine at Georgetown Medical School. He has written for the New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Atlantic, as well as numerous professional journals, and has been featured on 60 MinutesThe Today ShowGood Morning America, and NPR.

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Fifty-three

More doors!

I love the door above at Havanas in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

I found this lively restroom sign at Vanish Farmwoods Brewery in Leesburg, Virginia. The actual door to the ladies room featured a flyer for an art workshop. Fun!

I took the next three photos at Independence Beer Garden in downtown Philadelphia.



And I snapped this unisex door at Kolbe Cafe in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

This is the arty door at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The museum displays work of three generations of the Wyeth Family.

Here’s the door to the ladies room, and then to the men’s room, at the Mellow Mushroom in Raleigh, North Carolina.


This is a sign for the public restrooms in Southport, North Carolina. The tree is a live oak, native to that region. I suspect the trees are called “live oaks” because they are evergreens.


This door comes from faraway Loch Ness, Scotland.  The photo was sent by a friend of my friend, Ann.

This often true sign comes from the Red Oak Brewery in Whitsett, North Carolina.

Here’s the shiny door to the actual ladies room at the brewery.

Finally, I loved reading  how this school decorated their bathroom stalls. A million cheers for creativity and positivity!  You can read the article about the doors and  see the video on the USA Today website.



The Vagina Museum! Oh My!


If you had told me twenty years ago that an old friend would be sending me an article about vaginas, I’d never have believed you. No way.

But life brings us surprises, and a few weeks ago, Claire sent me this article from CNN Travel about the new museum in London.

The Vagina Museum’s founder is Florence Schechter. Florence is also a comedian and a science communicator. Read more about her here.

Florence writes: “We have a vision of a world where no one is ashamed of their bodies, everyone has bodily autonomy, and all of humanity works together to build a society that is free and equal.”

Here are some of the museum’s goals listed in their mission statement on their website:

  • Spread knowledge and raise awareness of the gynecological anatomy and health
  • Give confidence to people to talk about issues surrounding the gynecological anatomy
  • Erase the stigma around the body and gynecological anatomy
  • Act as a forum for feminism, women’s rights, the LGBT+ community and the intersex community

Read this article in Elle Magazine to learn lots more about The Vagina Museum.

And check out the museum’s website. 

The Vagina Museum is in a temporary location in Camden Market and hopes to move to a permanent location in a few years.


Let’s take a Friend for the Ride visit to London. We’d have a blast: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, shopping and theater, the Tower of London, and The Vagina Museum!

What do y’all think? Would the museum be high on your list?


Musuem Art

(I lifted this art from the museum website.)


Clinical Trials and Older Adults

In 2014, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. A scary heath diagnosis can make you turn inward. You become focused on saving your own life.

A few days before my first appointment with my oncologist at UNC Hospital, I received a letter explaining that I would be invited to join clinical trials. The letter talked about the importance of clinical trials and the role UNC, a research hospital, plays in them.

My first reaction was annoyance. I didn’t need anything else to think about, and I didn’t want to participate in studies that might be time consuming and inconvenient. Wasn’t  it enough that I had cancer and was about to undergo major surgery?

At my hospital appointment, I was introduced to the clinical trials coordinator. He explained each trial to me clearly and told me exactly how I would participate. My attitude shifted, and I readily agreed to participate in four trials.

  • I agreed to have tissue from my tumor sent to a cancer tissue bank.
  • I allowed my surgeon to inject dye to detect further cancer in my lymph nodes. Five years ago, the dye was used in breast cancer surgery, but was undergoing study for its use in endometrial cancer surgery.
  •  I said yes to participating in a study that accessed my quality of life before and after surgery.
  • The last study measured my legs over a two-year period. I was in danger for lymphedema as a result of the lymph node removal. The measurements assessed leg swelling.

I’ve recently learned that older adults (especially those over 65) are under-represented in research studies. This is especially disconcerting since older adults have a large number of health challenges, and many medications are developed to help them in particular.

My friend Kristen Sawyer spent 25 years as as a clinical trials research coordinator.  I asked her why older adults are often excluded from studies. She writes: “By the time a person is old, they often have so many pre-existing conditions that they don’t meet the eligibility requirements to participate.” Older adults may be on medications that can affect a trial’s results as well.

Kristen reported that cognition and hearing difficulties can complicate a patient’s ability to understand the trial and give consent. And adult children sometimes come into the situation with their own biases and discourage their parent from participating.

Happily, health advocates are working to change the number of older adults in clinical trials. In an article in the New York Times, Paula Span writes that “Critics of age exclusion had reason to celebrate in December, when the National Institutes of Health issued new policy guidelines for the research it funds. Starting next January, grant applicants will have to explain how they intend to include people of all ages, providing acceptable justifications for any group they leave out.”

Clinical Trials in Older Adults is on online booklet published by the National Institute on Aging that gives excellent information on clinical trials. I especially like the set of questions on Page 9 that you can bring along to your health care provider. The questions will help you figure out if you should agree to a specific trial.

Participating in clinical trials was easy, interesting, and most of all, helped give deeper purpose to my cancer. As my friend Dr. Sean Bailey, a project leader in Duke University’s Department of Surgery, said to me, “Clinical trial participation can have an impact for generations to come.” And that thought makes this grandmother very happy!

Em and Maze

I just celebrated five years cancer-free. What a happy checkup that was. You can read my cancer story in a series of post I wrote for Friend for the Ride, archived above under “Endometrial Cancer.”

I received compensation from CureClick to write this post. CureClick is committed to supporting patients, caregivers, patient advocates and life science companies through education about health, science and clinical trials.


Aging, Shopping, Skin

Beautycounter: Anti-Aging Line + A Giveaway

A post by my youngest daughter Laura Allen:

I have been bugging my mom to start a skincare routine for years. She’s somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to beauty & skincare and wasn’t convinced anti-aging products would really make a difference in her skin.

Then my sister and I joined the Beautycounter movement in April, and my mom agreed to try it all!  She’s now using the resurfacing peel, anti-aging night cream, brightening oil, makeup line, and more, and her skin is brighter, more hydrated, smoother, and has less age spots in just a matter of months.


If you’re not familiar with Beautycounter, the skincare & beauty company is making headlines because they are committed to safer skincare products and have banned over 1500 harmful chemicals from their products (known as The Never List). They are also certified B Corp, and have a strong mission of advocacy, investing in research, and giving back.


But the icing on the cake is that the products are amazing! Especially the new anti-aging line, known as Countertime. This line contains two plant-based ingredients: bakuchiol, a derivative from the Asian babchi plant, and Swiss Alpine rose, a plant extract from the Swiss Alps. Bakuchiol has been shown to provide skin-care results that are comparable to retinol—without potentially harmful side effects—and Swiss Alpine rose boosts the skin’s antioxidant defense. Known as a ‘Retinatural Complex,’ these new ingredients have strong clinical data and rave reviews so far. The Countertime line includes:

Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil – This is a lightweight oil that removes makeup and dirt without stripping essential lipids from skin.

Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence This is similar to a toner in that it prepares the skin to absorb products, but it also hydrates and has a lightweight, milky consistency.

Tripeptide Radiance Serum – This is a rejuvenating treatment that helps with skin firmness and elasticity, while also reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Antioxidant Soft Cream (AM) – Provides hydration and protects the skin barrier; designed for use in the morning/under makeup.

Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream (PM) – This is a rich, hydrating night ream for elasticity and firming.

Ultra Renewal Eye Cream – This revitalizes the eye area and reduces the appearance of under-eye shadows and crow’s feet.


Giveaway: Curious to try Beautycounter?

I’m giving away Countertime samples to two Friend for the Ride readers. The sampler packs include the Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil, Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence, Tripeptide Radiance Serum, Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream (night cream). Just leave a comment by October 10 to enter the giveaway!

As a Beautycounter consultant, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about products & ingredients or make recommendations based on your goals/skin.


PS: Like to get your holiday shopping finished early? The Beautycounter holiday line will launch on the website October 7th, and includes gift sets, limited edition products, and travel-sized samplers that make excellent holiday or thank you gifts.


Calm Cuffs: A Kickstarter and a Giveaway

I received an email from Elizabeth Paulson with news of an innovative new product. Here’s the scoop, and thank you, Elizabeth!

Our mother is a saint.

Except when she gets too hot. It’s always been like this. This sweet woman would be lovingly sewing our Halloween costumes one day, and then the next, she’s hurling a spatula across the kitchen because the oven is on and the pasta is boiling and it’s too hot. Guess what menopause was like in our house? Yeah. Bad.

One day, instead of fleeing, we raced to the freezer and put a bag of frozen peas on our mom’s wrists. It was as if we’d switched the “off” button. She felt better instantly and was back to her old self in seconds. “Someone should invent ice packs for wrists,” she said.

So we did!

Calm Cuffs are perfect for quick relief from discomfort related to:

  • Hot flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Overheating

Based on the science of using temperature to change your emotional state and body chemistry, Calm Cuffs are cooling wrist bands to help you calm down and reach your zen place, even when life gets heated.

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This product may just help your family as much as it’s helped ours. Our mom is now one cool woman, we’ve been enjoying peace from life’s stressers, and we hope you’ll help make our dream of Calm Cuffs a reality by supporting us on Kickstarter. This is the link to our Kickstarter campaign:

Giveaway: We’re giving away a pair of Calm Cuffs to a Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by November 1. We’ll ship the Calm Cuffs once we go into production.

Family Photos:

Top: Elizabeth and her sister Jennifer and mom Shirley back in the day.

Bottom: The dynamic threesome now.