The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Eight


More doors! The leaping figure above graces the ladies room door at The Vendue Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. I love her exhuberance! Here’s the lobby door at the Church Street Inn. This Charleston lady is a bit more demure. Fancy Lady from Inn Fleet Landing in Charleston features a nautical porthole, with frosted glass, of course. Some elegant glass at the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse in Charleston. Photos were taken on a post-Christmas trip with my son-in-law’s parents. The kids abandoned us for Argentina. No worries! The parents had a great trip together. Finally, from that holiday adventure, the roped sign on The River Room in Georgetown, South Carolina. Let’s hear it for the South Carolina Coast. Ya’ll really know how to do ladies room doors! Daughter Laura sent the door below from a cafe in Buenos Aires called “Sans.” Thanks, Laura! I love the young lady’s confident yet casual pose in her striped sweater. And Laura found this cute guy and gal at Los Pizarros Bistro.   This door, from San Juanito, a tapas restaurant, could do with a touch of tidying up. Damas Blog reader Susan sent this crazy number from her holiday trip. She found it along the A1 Hwy between Montego Bay and Negril, Jamaica. Jamaica Back home again, I attended January classes taught by my friend Judy Brown of Judy’s Wellness Cafe. Below, a mandala, on the bathroom door at the wellness center. A mandala represents the universe. 20150105_105936 I’m grateful as I write this for the whimsy of the universe, including bathroom doors that add to the fun of a visit to the loo. Keep searching, wonderful blog readers, and send me the doors you discover in your travels.Thanks!

Moody Bitches: A Book Giveaway


Moody Bitch Button

I’ve been attempting to understand hormones my entire adult life. As one who suffered from mood swings with PMS, menopause, and after cancer surgery, I never quite got how estrogen and the other hormones affect our brain.

And then, a few weeks ago, I read Dr. Julie Holland’s  Moody Bitches: The Truth about the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy. The book is hot off the presses from Penguin Press. With confident and upbeat prose, Dr. Holland explains it all and then some.

Moody Bitches Book Jacket

Penguin Press sent this list of the book’s major points:

  • The stresses and expectations of the modern world interfere with our health and hormones in ways big and small, and the result is the crushing fatigue, low libidos, and anxiety that so many women are feeling.
  • Women’s brains have developed to encourage empathy, intuition, and emotionality. We are designed by nature to be sensitive and dynamic. Women’s moodiness is normal.  It is a sign of health, not disease—and it is our single biggest asset.
  • Our moods are our bodies’ smart feedback system. They provide invaluable information about how we are living and what we need. Not only can we manage our moods, we can use them to live healthier lives.
  • One in four women is taking a psychiatric medication, many for years on end. That trend is lowering the bar for all of us, creating a new normal in terms of invulnerable posturing and emotional blunting, and, importantly, it is changing the tipping point for when other women will seek chemical assistance.
  • In order to live our best lives (and get off unnecessary medication) we need to better understand our bodies, our naturally cycling hormones, and how modern medicines can affect our exquisitely calibrated machines.
  • Medication can have more far-reaching effects than most people realize including blunting some of the qualities that are women’s greatest strength including empathy, passion, and sensitivity.
  • Medication can also keep us from making a clear-eyed assessment of our lives. It can make a bad situation tolerable and mask the need for change.
  • Our lives are out of sync with nature and we’ve become out of tune with our bodies.  In our digital distraction we’ve lost a basic truth: fresh air, sunlight, and movement are crucial to feeling our best. Without these our sleep, relationships, not to mention our overall health, suffers.
  • Inflammation can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health and it has many triggers and partners. Stress and inflammation fuel each other as can obesity and inflammation.  Sleep deprivation exacerbates inflammation and obesity.  Even inflammation and depression are co-dependent.
  • Though PMS can make us sensitive, vulnerable, and bitchy, it can also reveal some important truths. The thoughts and feelings that come up during PMS are genuine. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or underappreciated, that you’re taking on more than your partner, or that things are out-of-balance, chances are, it’s true.
  • Perimenopause is a primetime for psychiatric complaints. The prevalence of depression is highest in women age forty to forty-nine and lowest in women older than sixty; hence the storm before the calm.
  • Women in their early forties often have higher testosterone (relative to other hormones) that can have us feeling flirtier and more sexual.
  • If you’re going to replace sex hormones in perimenopause or menopause, testosterone should probably be in the mix. Testosterone supplementation reduces osteoporosis and the risk of bone fractures. It also increases muscle mass. Testosterone may help reduce the risk of dementia and prevent vaginal atrophy as well.
  •  Even if you’ve never smoked a joint, your body has internal cannabis-like molecules that help to keep you resilient and tamp down inflammation. They are particularly important during menstruation, conception, and delivery.
  • Despite long-term studies showing safety and efficacy of testosterone in women, the FDA has not approved any testosterone products for them (compare this to the twenty-six testosterone products currently approved for men!)
  •  Our diet and lifestyle choices have a huge impact on mood, weight, and inflammation. Stress creates inflammation; stress triggers overeating; body fat creates inflammation; inflammation feeds obesity and depression; and they all imperil our health.
  • When estrogen levels fall, we start to slowly transition from self-sacrifice—putting our family’s needs ahead of our own—to a more assertive and less accommodating place. Menopause is meant to be a time where we weed out those who are “toxic,” prioritize, and further hone what is important to us.
  •  Women are more sensitive to sleep deprivation than men but they are also more prone to insomnia primarily due to hormonal fluctuations. Learning good sleep habits, paying attention to light exposure, and making eight hours of sleep a top priority will go a long way toward reducing moodiness and stabilizing eating habits.
  •  A healthy, active sex life is important for emotional balance and stress relief.
  •  Be your own best advocate. You downtime, and pleasure, and your needs matter.  Honor your hearty appetites for food, sex, and sleep.

Love this book! Thank you, Dr. Holland.

Giveaway! Penguin Press is offering a copy of Moody Bitches and a BUTTON to TWO Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by April 30 saying you’d like to own the book. U.S. only, thanks. Comment link is at the bottom of the post.

Julie Holland

Dr. Julie Holland has run her private psychiatric practice in Manhattan for nearly twenty years. Her nationally-best-selling memoir, Weekends at Bellevue, was based on her nine years running the psychiatric ER. Dr. Holland is an expert on drugs and the brain and she has appeared on the Today show numerous times. Moody Bitches is in development at HBO with Oprah Winfrey and Diablo Cody

Photo of Dr. Holland: The author’s photo was taken by Jessica Hills.

Button Photo: Taken by me in the snow with my polka dot phone. I love buttons and am delighted to add this one to my collection.

Moody Bitch Button

Board Games: A Trip Down Memory Lane



A post by blogger George Schalter:

As a father and an admirer of technology, I love the time I spend with my kids – putting a gadget together, racing cars (toys, of course), and playing online games (educational, of course). But these times, splendid though they are, take me back to my own boyhood and how our family bonded when we were younger. Rest assured, you wouldn’t have seen my father bellowing while swiping his finger madly around a rectangular piece of screen. No, sir. Those were the days when we sat at the kitchen table with steaming hot cocoa mulling over a game of Monopoly or Clue. Whoa! That makes me a living testament of changing times.

Of course, I was delighted when I discovered that they had digitized some of those old classic board games. While it is a rather addictive experience, it is not the same. It does not come as a surprise that some of these board games have acquired the status of a collector’s item.

This got my wife and me reminiscing about the board games we enjoyed as kids, and look what we pulled up! Many of these games have their roots in earlier centuries, though we’ve known them only from the 50’s. To play them we relied on brains, chance and strategy.

Candy Land – Candy Land gave us sweet treats such as Gramma Nutt and Peppermint Forest as we raced down the board till we reached the Candy Castle where King Kandy waited for us.


Monopoly – One of the most popular board games ever that still has many takers like Chess. The game was recently in the news. Guess what? Hasbro France is releasing the game and this time they have included some real money! A dream come true, wouldn’t you say?


Chinese Checkers – I think I still have a board somewhere, though not so sure about the marbles. This was the perfect game for those long winter nights and when we had cousins over.

Chinese Checkers


The Game of Life – We loved playing grown-ups, more so when we were young than we do now, and The Game of Life offered us just that as we studiously picked our career and what not.

Game of Life

Trivial Pursuit – Another household name, the trivia game Trivial Pursuit recently celebrated its 35th birthday, though I’ve heard the versions that were released later were not as challenging.

Trivial Pursuit

Clue – Clue wins hands-down as one of my favorites. Playing this murder-mystery game was as good as reading one of those whodunit page-turners. It was funny the kind of familiarity that one developed with the characters!


Scrabble – If any game made vocabulary interesting, it has to be Scrabble. We still have a board at home; the tiles are intact after all these years, not a single letter is missing. Despite an online version available, it warms the heart to see that the kids prefer the board.


Chutes & Ladders – This was always one of those games for the rainy day. I came across an article where a library or classroom got kids to play a life-size version of the game.

Chutes and Ladders

Sorry! – I had a strange fascination for the pawns we used in Sorry! Like many other games, this game grew from another game that was originally known as Parcheesi.


I must say that the 20th century gave us some of the best board games ever that are still being adapted to suit contemporary tastes, and while many were evolved versions of ancient games, let’s hope we are left with tangible proof of good times in this age of digitization.

George Schalter loves being a dad. He and his wife share the joys and responsibilities of bringing up their two children. As believers of good all- round education, they spend a lot of time playing with their children and spending time outdoors. George is the writer in the family, and he blogs at Educational Kids Games.

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Losing Mom: A Life in the Details


Nancy Kiehne Miniature Books

In recent years, I’ve wondered: Is life about the big picture or is life in the details?

The big picture is good. It keeps us from wasting time on things that don’t matter. It enables us to step back and analyze problems, trends, and accomplishments. The big picture lets us rise above pettiness.

But details are good too. Your fingers trace the geometric design on a throw pillow. Your eyes catch the wink of a favorite cousin. You hear the clack of the roller coaster the second your feet hit the boardwalk. Details help us mark our days with appreciation and whimsy.

My mother died on Friday after a short bout with cancer. I prayed she would go once the pain became intense.

And so the job, or perhaps I should say the honor, of mourning her begins.

Do I grieve the big things? The loss of a mother. The ending of an era. The last parent.

Or do I grieve the small things, the details? I unpack Easter rabbits she painted and recall how Mom loved holidays. My grandson flies his first kite, and I can’t phone her with the news. I take out a recipe card, and there’s my mother’s handwriting.

Mom was a collector. In the photo above, you see some of her miniatures: books, animal figurines, tiny houses, a doll, and doll house furniture.

And she was an artist. Here are those Easter rabbits.

For collectors and artists, it’s all about the details. And although this grief is new, I’m thinking that’s how it will go for me. Photo by photo, memento by memento, flashback by flashback, I’ll miss my mother. I’ll miss her in the details.

But I’m not complaining! For as the big picture tells me, who would want it any other way?

What about you? Have you lost your mom? Any words of wisdom for those of us fresh to the loss?

Photo Below: My mom, Nancy Kiehne, on her 90th birthday in December