~*~ What Would Beth Do? ~*~

Being a single girl is tough! Iíve had to skirt by now and then by the skin of my teeth! But for the last nearly-twelve years, Iíve learned a thing or two. I guess when one is married one lives in sort of a sheltered arrangement with two incomes, a little money, and a certain comfort level. Now that Iím well into my 40ís and living on my own I have discovered that I really like it and I just loved learning these new things all by myself! My background as a freelance magazine article writer taps me on the shoulder every now and then and makes me want to write stuff down. Fortunately, I own all of this server space so Iíve got an outlet. I have a couple of friends who like to philosophize with me about our lives as we know them in modern times. Iíve been asked, ďWell, what would Beth do?Ē After much encouragement to write it down, I have! Enjoy!

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Question One: I think my new boyfriend may be a player? What would you do to find out for sure?

Question Two: I want to look ten years younger. How would you accomplish this?

Question Three: What is your basic make-up regimen?

Question Four: What is your favorite face cream? I noticed you donít have that many wrinkles yet.

Question Five: How do you keep zits from popping up every four weeks?

Question Six: What is your opinion of nips, tucks, lifts, injections and other so-called beauty tricks?

Question Seven: Would you hire an electrician or a plumber to install ceiling fans, light fixtures or a faucet?

Question Eight: What do you think of tanning beds?

Question Nine: Can you give fashion tips?

Question Ten: Relationships Rules 101, Life Experiences Applied

Question Eleven: What would you do for PMS in the 40ís? Itís back! Why???

Question Twelve: Finances, Credit Card debt, what should a girl do?

Question Thirteen: Finances, What do you think of Same As Cash?

Question Fourteen: Are you doing anything to save gasoline expenses?

Answers:

1: No question at all in my mind. First opportunity I got when he puts his mobile phone down and heís not around, Iíd pick it, go into the bathroom, lock the door and scroll through the received phone calls, then the sent phone calls, and finally the text messages received and sent. If there is an unknown girlís name (or girlsí as the case may be), that isnít his mom, sister, auntie, boss, co-worker, or otherwise, then proceed with decided caution.

While you are sleuthing (some would say snooping but I beg to differ, cuz a girl MUST know the truth before committing her heart) note the times that these calls and/or texts transpired. Do you know where he was? There are so many mysteries that can be solved by simple reasoning. At least try to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Also note how often these calls/texts are coming and going. If it is a little too often, there may be a problem.

Now I am not saying that you should start stalking him. Thatís just weird and beneath your dignity. Iím saying protect your self girl! If heís a player, drop him now! You deserve better and you donít necessarily owe him any explanations.

2: No one believes me when I say Iím 49, so I must be doing something right. I read a book once by Charla Krupp that I can highly recommend. She was great at administering a dose of tough love for those of you who are in your fab forties and nifty fifties that insist on applying your makeup, dressing like and behaving like a young 20-something college student. But since you asked, Iíll synopsize what Ms. Krupp wrote in her book How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better. She covered the following topics but all-in-all, this will be Beth talking, not Charla.

Make-up Ė Look, slapping on layers of make-up will not make you look young. It will settle in your newly formed wrinkles and you might look like a clown. You may appear to be wearing a mask. Remember your great Aunt Penelope who was a die-hard Mary Kay devotee who had this perfectly smooth layer of tan paint on her face that was akin to pancake make-up worn by movie stars in early years of film making. The bright pink blops on her cheeks looked hideous. Granted, most modern women wouldnít dream of doing this to her pores. Just remember when you are tempted to apply a coat of house paint to your faceÖ.think Tammy Faye. When we move so gracefully and graciously into our forties, it is worth a trip to the high-end make-up counter to find what your basic colors are by asking the sales staff. They love to demonstrate them for you! Then take away this lesson: LESS is MORE and looks a lot better!

Lipstick/lip liner - Ms. Krupp was right on the money with this tip. STOP with the dark brown lip liner already. You know when you eat or speak, the main lip color wears off and then you sort of look like a Bratz doll with the dark lines drawn damn-slap in the middle of your beautiful face. Let me share another little tip with you. Men think this is hysterical looking! No kidding! In my 10 years of singlehood, I know two gentlemen who have mentioned that it looks strange. These were friends of mine and had no reservations about telling me so and thankfully, Iím not into lip liner or lipstick for that matter. So if you choose to do this, remember to keep a little mirror in your pocket and a lipstick case and check it hourly. You donít want to be so anal about your lip color? Okay, then donít line with dark brown for every color. Ms. Krupp recommends matching your lip liner to your lipstick. Period. No question about it. This way, it keeps your lipstick from feathering (another thing that makes you look OLD) and as you dine or sip your wine, or simply speak, as your lip color wears away, you wonít look, as my male friends put it, strange.

Pink lipstickÖ this is a must. Forget Vampire Red. Forget Deep Burgundy. There are very few times in our lives, social or otherwise, that these color-rich colors are truly appropriate. Invest in about 2 or 3 shades of pink with matching lip liners. Pink is guaranteed to peel ten years off of your face.

ChapstickÖ this product is all-time favorite of mine. It will leave a light gloss on your lips that looks nicely sweet and sexy. If you use Cherry Chapstick, you will have pale pinkish lips that are nicely glossy too. Itís a nice impromptu sunscreen as well. Perhaps your wonderful, loving significant other wants to surprise you with a one-bottle-of-wine-picnic near the lake? Yay! Arenít you a lucky girl! You can use that Chapstick on the tip of your little nose to keep if from burning since it has an SPF of 15. Just remember to wash it off well since the wax in it can clog your pores.

Sunscreen Ö since we are on the subject of sunscreen, please buy some. And make sure your make-up has some in it too. Itís the single best thing to protect you from wrinkles. And who needs those! Now about those tanning beds. Pop back up to the top to find what Beth would do about those.

Jeans Ė Oh myÖ Ms. Krupp and I could write a book about jeans and what they can and canít do for you. Oh wait, she did! Well, in a nutshell, donít skimp on jeans. If you want your butt to look smaller, choose a pair with nicely sized and placed pockets. Really!! This eye trick works wonders! Plan to take an afternoon and go to Old Navy. And go to The Gap. Maybe spend an afternoon at a deep discount store like Target or Wal-Mart. Make sure you wear a good pair of wundies that donít ride up and down since you will be trying on hundreds of pairs of jeans. DO NOT even think about taking the complaining kids or the old man. This is YOUR time.

Now, take as many pairs in the dressing room as you are allowed. Take a hand mirror with you in your bag. Donít be shy. Put on a pair and go look at your butt in the mirror. After all, the fitting room attendant doesnít know you and will never see you again anyway. So what the hey.

Look for these faux pas. By the way, that is French for ďfalse step.Ē You do NOT want a muffin top. How silly that looks! This is the bump of skin and flesh that meanders above your jeans waistband. If this faux pas forms it is because you have chosen a pair of jeans that are too low for you. Very few women can successfully wear low-riders. Okay, I blush when I say this, but do not even consider jeans that give you a ďcamel-toeĒ in your straddle area. This is another thing that men say looks hysterical. It says Way Out Loud that you are old and really trying to hang on to those jeans that youíve outgrown and insist on wearing. No, they do not look good. Men think that women that wear these jeans look ďho-ishĒ and who wants to look like that? Ugh! Ick! And really, is that even comfortable?? Donít think so.

Okay, now that youíve found a pair that are truly your size (donít fool yourself thinking youíre an 8 when you are a 10 Ė get the size 10 cuz youíll look better and younger), now buy several pairs of the same size and brand. Look at this as an investment. Dump the load of denim you have that you canít wear or that donít look like they belong in our era (i.e. The 1980ís pleated, high-waisted jeans that we wore) and invest in a simple, boot cut leg jean that fits well that has perfectly placed, butt diminishing pockets. Get all washes/fades too. Maybe a faded pair, a high-color blue pair, a pair of black jeans, and a couple of just simply broken in jeans. Now youíre done with your mission. Congrats on your great looking, denim-covered tushy!!

Hair Color Ė The bottom line is, the older you get, the lighter your hair should get. If you could carry off a deep blue-black in your thirties, you canít in your forties. You will look like Vampira. Try some shades of brunette until you find something that flatters your skin tone. If you have always been a brunette, the time may have come for you to start putting dark blonde highlights in your hair or simply bringing your brunette up to a lighter shade. Were you a natural blonde through the years? The key word here is natural, not a bottle blonde. Are you starting to grow some gray strands? Then itís time, to find your blonde again. Donít go overboard. White blonde is not flattering on anyone except Marilyn Monroe or Gwen Stefani. Besides trashing your strands by over-processing them, it just looks wrong on so many counts. Choose a real looking blonde. A trip to a colorist may be in order to find your best shade. You are a worthy investment. Go for it! You will end up looking ten years younger.

Brassieres Ė Oh dear, this is painful. But there are those that wear the worst possible brassiere ever. There is not too much I can say here. Your girls need to be held up in their old age. That is for sure. Theyíve been through a lot, what with gravity and breastfeeding and etc. I will never advocate surgery for the girls. Guess what? My same guy friends have told me some things about surgically enhanced ladies. They arenít all that. Okay, sure, they look good walking down the street, but apparently, the perkier they are, the less natural they are in ďpersonĒ and really donít have the desired effect when it counts. Surprised? To tell you the truth, I was surprised to hear this too! But Iíve heard it way too many times so perhaps it is truly true! So now, I just opt for under dressings that do their job and be happy with it.

That said, cheap department store under things probably arenít what youíre looking for unless you are pretty petite in that department and wear say, an A or B. Give your girls a treat. Just like you shopped for jeans, shop for your support. After you find THE bra, get it in all shades, colors and fabric finishes, as well as a strapless and/or sport version. Get some cotton bras, and some slinky finishes too. If you are buying name brand, each fit and style comes in a plethora of fabrics and colors. Create your collection and donít forget to throw away the bras that wear out. Another hint: After you wash them, hang them up to dry. They will last twice as long.

Bangs Ė No we arenít done discussing hair. Browse through a Hollywood based rag magazine and take note of the stars that are in our age bracket. Do you see what I see? They all have some sort of bangs! Some are long and swept to the side, some shorter. But their hairdressers are probably responsible for cutting those bangs in place and the truth is, if a hairdresser is pulling $500-1000 per hour, chances are, they are the experts in making these stars look like a million bucks. So, take a cue from these experts and go get a professional opinion about what kind of bangs you should have! You will look ten years younger too!

3: Make-up isnít a big mystery to me. One thing I know as a fact, is that when I get up in the morning, I do not look my best. I do not look at all like ďThreeís CompanyĒ showís Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers) who bounded out of bed all wide-eyed and perky, who yawned, stretched and looked sexy as all get out. Not me. This ďbarnĒ needs paint! Ha! My paint, er, make-up regimen is relatively easy and doesnít make me look ďOld Lady.Ē Remember, less is more!! Forty or fifty is not the time to channel your inner clown. I use five and only five products: foundation, blush, brown Maybelline eyeliner, brownish-black Maybelline Great Lash mascara and then I vary my lip color, gloss, or Chapstick. Shucks, even make-up artists depend on Great Lash mascara so that is good enough for me! I do invest in a really good foundation. Itís worth it. But, please, put something under that foundation to keep it from touching your face. If it gets in your pores, you are only asking for zits and other problems. Eye shadow gets in eye creases and isnít worth my time. It only accentuates my ďteeny tiny but trying to showĒ wrinkles. I save it for evenings out or for the multitudes of galas and social events that I attend. {grin/wink}

Foundation: Try to not to apply so much that you have make-up lines. Dab it on with your fingertips or a sponge and smooth. Setting it with powder does have benefit but CAREFUL!! You can look a little too matte with powder and you can get very ghostly looking. With the right, perhaps expensive, foundation, you wonít need powder at all.

Blush: Hmmm, remember when you sculpted in cheekbones with brown powder to give the elusion that you had what Mother Nature forgot to give you? I think we did that in the early 90ís. We donít do that anymore. Okay? A light kiss of pink or peach on each upper apple of the cheek looks sweet and sexy and perfect for any girl trying to look ten years younger. There is a blush by NARS called Orgasm. Yep, you read that right. I have to say that it is almost perfect for all skin tones. Amazing! I do have to admit that if you have a darker skin tone, you may want to use it as undercoat for your blush. It adds a pretty luminescence that only adds to the darker blush you may need to use.

Eyes: Remember, KISS. Keep It Simple Silly!!! It seems that if you have really large eyes, too much eye make-up makes them look like Christmas tree ornaments. But if you have teensy, squinty eyes, too much makes them squintier. So whatís a gal to do!! Unless youíre singing on a stage next to Avril Levigne who looks kind of cute with all of that Goth eye make-up, leave the heavy liner in the 60ís where it belongs. This is one place on your face where you will need to practice your application. There are two recommended ways to apply. Try a pencil and put a very thin line on your top lid near your lashes in brown. Keep that pencil sharp!! Set it with a dab of matching powder eye shadow applied with a Q-tip. On your bottom lid, use an even thinner line. If you use too much, everyone will be able to tell. Again, set it with powder. Now apply your Great Lash mascara.

If you have sensitive eyes (as I do) or if you are experiencing seasonal allergies at the moment, this may irritate your eyes. Also, wearing contacts seems to preclude some wearers from using powder eye shadow. In this case use liquid eye liner in brown. And if your liquid eye liner brush is getting worn out, it wonít work well on your eyes. So replace it at least every 8 weeks. The best advice I can give is keep those lines THIN. After it dries, you might try to smudge it a bit with a Q-tip. Now apply your mascara.

When applying mascara, shy away from the spiky look. It was cute on Twiggy. You arenít Twiggy. It hasnít looked cute on anyone at all since her day in the sun. Apply one coat and wait a minute for it to get ďsemi-dryĒ and then apply another coat. Apply to the top of your lashes and then under the lashes. Do it twice. The first time gets all the tiny lashettes and then the second coat builds on them. See? Wasnít that fun!?

Now top it all off with your pink shaded lip product and you, my younger looking friend are good to go!

4: Face Cream: Well thereís a loaded question. But since you ask, Iíll tell you what my favorite is. First though, I must say that as an aesthetician and Master Cosmetologist (yes Iím working outside of my trade right now), there are as many choices out there as people to use them. So, what are your needs? I say go to an expert and request their recommendations for your skin type. However, since I was 16 years old, Iíve used aloe vera gel on my face twice a day. I always put it on under my make-up, always. I never let foundation touch my skin. Now over the years, Iíve noticed that my facial skin has other needs, like a good anti-bacterial to help fight against zit causing bacterium. I also needed, as I skirted through my 30ís, some vitamins. So my skin cream has evolved. I bought a nice jar with a lid, and sterilized it. Then I added to it: three tablespoons aloe vera gel, two ampoules (pills) vitamin A, emptied, two ampoules vitamin E and one tablespoon of Tea Tree Oil from Australia. Now put the lid on it and shake it until it homogenizes itself and gets creamy. In the summer, itís cool and crisp and feels GREAT after you get out of the shower. The Tea Tree Oil may burn a bit but itís killing microbes and bacteria. Unless you have very sensitive skin, you will get used to it. This is a natural anti-bacterial. You will love what it does to your skin. My face cream is made for me and Iíve been using it for years. I also put a bit of Oil of Olay eye cream under my lower lids at night before I go to bed. Iíve had to add that in recent years {sigh}. Thatís it!

5: Zits Ė What a pain! You hit 20-something and you think they are gone for good. Then the 30ís come along and they start back. And now that you are in your 40ís with its hormonal fluctuations, you get them exactly one week before each big day. Geez. Well, I found a website that had an interesting take. I thought there was NO way this could work but I have to say, I tried it and it has significantly reduced the amount of PMS breakouts for which I have to contend. Here is a synopsis Ė twice a day, wash your face well, but gently. I recommend a clean face cloth every time so that you donít reapply nasty bacteria to your skin. Use a simple astringent to finish that off and get every last trace of dirt and make-up off. Then itís recommended that you apply a low percentage of a benzoyl peroxide zit cream to your face. 5% BP cream is now pretty hard to find. Itís usually 10%. But lower than that? Impossible. So when I find 5% BP cream, I buy that and use it sparsely. Let your face dry well after cleansing and astringing (yep, that is a word!), then apply a small half-pea size amount to each side of your face. Let dry. Use a very light moisturizer over the top, dabbing on lightly so as to not dislodge the BP cream. Let dry well. Now apply your make-up for daytime. 10% BP cream dries your face out a LOT so please try to find the 5% version. Now that is what the website recommended. What would Beth do?

Pretty much the same thing. For *me* I ONLY use Johnsonís Baby Wash to cleanse. The pH is perfect and it doesnít burn the eyes when you use it to remove your eye make-up. Then I will follow up with Sea Breeze. Mmmm, smells clean. I use 5% BP cream and I alternate the moisturizers with something like Oil of Olay plus eye cream for nighttime and for the daytime I will use BP cream plus my famous homemade face cream. If I seem to be a little dry, perhaps in the winter, I may use the moisturizer day and night. In the summer, when Iím not so dry, I like to use my favorite homemade face cream morning and night. You just have to find what works well for you. Did you notice how inexpensive all of these products are? Yes, you do not need to go broke to have clean, healthy skin that is free of breakouts. Yay!

6: Plastic work Ė I love the name of this topic. Not only do you need to use your plastic to pay for all of this stuff, but you come out the other side sort of looking like a hunk of plastic, say, like a Barbie doll. Gee, just what I always envisioned for myself in my mid-40ís. Well, what would Beth do? Hard to say. I donít need it. I would have to venture to say that sometimes thereís a need. So I would never say that ďYou should NOT do this to yourself.Ē Why? Cuz itís none of my business! I know itís not for me but who knows what Iíll do in the future. I donít want plastic boobs. I donít want a plastic face. I wouldnít mind having a little baby roll sucked off but Iím a big chicken so that will probably never happen. I would say that going over board with it ala Michael Jackson would not or should not ever be necessary. But you know, Botox canít be all bad, so if you want it go for it. Please though, if you ever entertain the idea of jacking up your lips like Melanie Griffith and Meg Ryan with that ďstuff,Ē remember that people might laugh at the results. Iím just saying.

7: Home Repairs Ė Guess what!? In this day and age we have HGTV and DIY channels and it has really lit a fire under home owners, both guys and gals. Why should I pay an electrician $85 for the first hour to install something that I can? One time I walked into Home Depot to look at light fixtures wondering who I could call in my acquaintance book to install it for me. As I looked at my choice in bathroom lighting, I decided to open it up to make sure all the parts were in the box as IF I would even know that. So I looked at the directions. Hmm, they looked pretty easy! So the guy that runs the department wondering why I had just summarily destroyed the fixtureís packaging to rummage through its contents, though he was a pretty nice about it, walks up. I ask him if he thinks this is something I could do. He said, ďCan you read English?Ē (ďOf course.Ē) ďThen you can do it.Ē He then proceeds to hook me up with those little yellow cones (sorry, donít know the name) that screws around wires that youíve just twisted together, mentioning that the ones provided are smallish and the larger ones would be easier for me to manage (ďThank you very much for the suggestion.Ē). He also hooks me up with black electrical tape and a pair of wire strippers, explaining how each item works and why I need it. He explained how one of my kids could be instrumental in helping me find which switch in the electrical box turns the electricity off in that area and recommended that I drop an extension cord and a good light in the bathroom where Iíd be working so that I could see what I was doing. This guy must have been some sort of genius, cuz now Iím feeling like a genius. Guess what? I had that light installed in 55 minutes. I understand that this is actually a long time for what it was, but hey! I did it! All by myself!!

Later I replaced the lights in my foyerí and hallway. Cool!

Then I replaced my dishwasher. Admittedly, this took a long time. Seven hours to be exact. I called a friend of mine who happens to be an ex-boyfriend. Nice looking guy but could't stay my boyfriend. But here is the lesson I need to convey to you my fantastically feminine friendsÖ.donít burn your bridges! Even though he didn't commit, he owns a truck. A girl never knows when she will need a truck. So after locating the BEST deal ever ($500 dishwasher on sale for $399 plus 18 months same as cash Ė see item 13), I called on my good ole ex-BF to see if heíd take $15 worth of gas to pick up and deliver my new prize. This beat the hell out of the $85 the store wanted to deliver. Besides, adding $85 to my bill would be like another four extra payments. No way, Joseí. Iím ferociously tight with my greenbacks. Not only did he pick it up, he did it for free. So I made him a sandwich for his generosity. Remember the old adage about the way to a manís heart is through his stomach? That just may well be correct. But he didnít offer to stay and help with the install. Guess his mama didnít raise a dummy. {sigh} So I hunkered down and got started. I admit I read the directions first, like no man Iíve ever known would ever do. I noticed immediately that a trip to Home Depot was in order to get stuff. There is a little man there, kind of a scary little dude, that leers at me but he is helpful. I took the instructions with me, showing him the things I had circled. He couldnít stop grinning, ear to greasy ear, because he got to push the cart around for me, pointing out things I needed, putting them in said cart, and calling me by my first name, Beth. Ugh. See, he remembered me from the time I bought a dryer, rented a Home Depot pickup truck for $16.95 an hour and took my new dryer home with me. Fortunately, my sons were home and they helped me unload it. I guess I should be flattered that little man remembered me, but the leering thing was creepy. Oh, sorry, Iíve ambled off.

Well anyway, I get home and I put that dishwasher in all by myself. I used the instructions and it took three tries of wrapping that white plumbing tape around the water intake (see creepy little home store man for information on this product) but I finally got it where it didnít leak! Yay! Moral of the story, if I can do it, you can do it. Have faith in yourself.

Iíve gone on to install faucets too. Takes me a while but I can do it.

Iíve replaced window panes. How? I just walked into the glass store and asked how to do it! The gentleman (the owner) was delighted to show me how. Itís a piece of cake!

NowÖ about ceiling fans. You need 3 arms to do this. So if you havenít burned all of your bridges, call an ex-hubby or boyfriend. They come in handy sometimes.

Do you see a recurring theme here? Ask! That is what they pay the guys in the home stores the big bucks to do!!

And that is what Beth would do. {grin}

8: Tanning Ė Well, been there, done that, so I canít say a whole lot. Being a pale skinned girl, I need a little sunshine here and there. But let me just say this, anything you do to your skin in your 20ís and 30ís effects how your skin looks in your 40ís. Nothing is scarier to me that to see a late 40ís or 50-something gal with thick, wrinkly, loosely hanging, overly tan skin with big blops of blue eye shadow on to accentuate her fake bake. YUCK! We have a lot of that in the South. Not sure why we are so well represented with fake bakes when we have lots of sunshine here. Well anyway, there is nothing like moderation. A little sun looks natural but if you have a propensity for skin cancer (fair skin, familial history, moles), donít EVEN go there. Just naturally picking up what you will get by working in your yard (with sunscreen on, of course) is healthy looking enough. And what in the world is wrong with lovely, ĎRose McGowaní alabaster skin? Itís so gorgeous and rare! So what would I do? Moderation, moderation, moderation! Just accept what you naturally will get, or maybe sit outside under a shade tree with your legs sticking out in the sun, timed carefully, wearing an appropriate amount of sunscreen. Be a natural girl! You donít see girls of other beautiful colors doing thisÖ this is strictly a Caucasian thing. Why? I guess Iím over it now. Love me, love my skin. Thank you very much.

9: Clothes Ė Youíve heard it said many times in your four or five decades that ďclothes make the man.Ē Much as I hate to say it, itís true!! I am a firm believer in only wearing things that truly look good on my body and build. Iím only 5í3Ē and putting on a long prairie style dress will do nothing for me (except make me look like a walking bolt of fabric). Likewise, a micro-mini would look ridiculous on me since I have runnerís legs and one really needs thin bird legs (and a little height) to look cute in one of those. Now a nice denim mini that skirts just about four or five inches above my knee looks cute! We went to Arbyís one afternoon, seeking a sandwich. When we sat down, there was a tall, knock-out of a woman there too, with her domineering husband (that is another WWBD topic) and her two little boys. Truth told, it was very hard NOT to stare at this Barbie doll of a woman, tragically plastic and surgically enhanced. She really looked completely out of place there at Arbyís. It looked like she should have been dining at the Nordstrom Cafť instead. She was nicely tall, maybe 5í10Ē, trim, late 30ís and perhaps already 40. She was doing everything wrong in the clothing department. Her jeans were tight and truthfully she looked like she was having breathing issues. She may have been a nice 140 or 150 pounds. Her heels were way too high, making her over 6 feet tall and they looked silly with jeans. Her shirt was a cute college-girl baby doll T that made you (and anyone else in the room) want to look at her middle. Her fake bake had induced wrinkle production around her eyes at warp speed. Too bad too, since she was so pretty. Her lips were uber-plumped up with injections. Make-upÖ well letís just say she was channeling her inner Tammy Faye. And to ice her cake, she was covered in gold bling. She just looked wrong in so many ways. And frankly, what she was wearing made her look like an old lady in high school clothes.

If she would take an afternoon and read Ms. Charla Kruppís book she would see the error of her ways and dump the fake rich look that made her look trashy and dress to enhance her beautiful and natural good looks (even though she had some help from her neck to her mid-section from a knife-happy surgeon). I donít know, maybe she likes it that people stare at her. One canít help it. Your mind works behind the scenes wondering what she might really look like without all the crap and you perhaps wonder if she is so naturally pretty, why did she dress like that? One would think that she might like to look younger.

So how do you pick clothes that look good on your body style and age bracket? Easy. Look at other women that are built like you for examples. If they are wearing dress shorts (which should be illegal cuz they are so unprofessional looking with heels, puh-lease) but have thick ankles and you notice that attention was drawn to her ankles, that should tell you that unless you have stunning ankles, you probably shouldnít wear dressy-length shorts with heels. If you spy a gal wearing a micro-mini, and she is very short and has paired it with 5 inch spikes but looks a bit silly, the big clue there is that you as a short girl shouldnít dress like her. Like to people watch? Great! Go to the coffee shop at the mall that has seating out in the main mall area, sit down with your coffee and get your free lessons on what styles and fashions look good on different body styles.

10: Relationships Ė One would argue having been married twice that I have no idea what Iím doing there, but I beg to differ. Both of my ex-hubbies divorced me and moved on to their perceived greener pastures. I had nothing to do with their notions on women and why they changed their minds. I worked hard on those two guys, but my efforts were in vain.

Since then, Iíve had lovely dinners here and there with well-selected gentleman. Iíve even gone out for coffee. I even got engaged once! But alas, itís clear, there is usually a reason for why a man who is nearly in his 40ís and has never married. There is also a reason why he may be a career dater and a non-committer. I wonít get into those reasons. Thatís not why we are here. We are here because Iíve been asked what do I do now that Iíve been there, done that, but happily have gleaned much valuable information about what works and what doesnít. Here in my later years Iíve taken stock of many things and one of them is relationships. Iíve also noted the behaviors between two people that have been together for ages. Yep, Iíve discovered a few things that I didnít know. And then a few years ago, I decided to put into practice two rules that were formulated based on (1) experience and (2) the examples of others. No, wasnít dating anyone but I had determined that if I were to, I was going to say my piece right out of the gate.

Now Iím sure that when I related these two rules to one boyfriend about three months after we met (and it became clear that this cool cat that I had determined would be a great friend to me someday had evolved into something greater; it was obvious that we actually liked each other more than we thought we would), he probably turned his head and rolled his eyes. But since then, he tested me on them. And he even admitted that they do work well, although one needs to get used to the notion and at least give it a chance before passing judgment on this new theory behind couples behavior.

So now that your curiosity is piqued, what exactly are these two rules? Simple really.

(1) Fighting/arguing is not allowed. Period. There is nothing on this earth truly worth fighting about, except world peace. And unless youíre God, you have no stake in this. So stop already.

(2) Never, but never! say anything that you can NOT take back. Trust me when I say that after youíve said ďitĒ, you can never undo the damage you have just done even if you apologize.

What is so shocking is that there really is nothing to this. Can it work? Well, youíve been duly challenged. Yes, youíll need to enhance your backbone a bit and perhaps be the bigger person to take the lead into this new adventure into coupleís bliss. But the destination is contentedness. Arenít you worth that?

Let me give you some real-time examples. I am sure that the couple that was instituting this new method of content wonít mind me sharing, as these things really did happen.

One Friday HE emailed HER at work and invited her to a nice little shindig downtown on the next day, a Saturday. He offered to drive if she would get the directions. Great plan it seemed. However, HER work is very labor-intensive and things can go South quickly and being a Friday, wouldnít one know itÖ it went way South. You guessed it, she forgot the directions. Well she drives over and they start to leave and he asks about those directions. At nearly the same moment that she realized she forgot them, she thought of a good and perfect solution for her error. But HE didnít give her a chance. Right out of the gate he started with a raised voice, chastising HER. Since it had been agreed that they were going to put into practice the Two Rules, she took the higher road and stepped back and said, ďPardon me, Iíll be in the kitchen getting a cup of coffeeĒ and she walked away with a pleasant smile. It took HIM about five minutes to get the point. Now you and I both know that if they had launched into a full-on argument about his perceived irresponsibility on her part, it would have ruined their day. They wouldnít have enjoyed their outing. Speaking to one another would have been strained, at best. The day would have been all for naught and a waste of time and money. So now you are dying to know what happened, right? Well he gathered his twisted up, angry and confused wits and walked into the kitchen, a bit calmer and before he uttered his half-hearted ďSorry.Ē She said quietly and politely, ďI am very sorry that I forgot the directions. But I wasnít afforded the opportunity to apologize to you and offer an immediate solution. Why donít we swing by the library Ėitís on the way Ė and I will run in and get the directions off of their Internet.Ē You guessed it. He was feeling a bit sheepish. However after they exchanged apologies once more (THIS is important), they went on to have a marvelous day together, good solid quality time. Later that evening he told her she was right and thanked her for showing him how the First Rule works. They are ecstatically happy to this day and they never fight.

Now about Rule Two. One Sunday, another ďHEĒ was walking down the stairs past HER. Now their marriage was already in trouble but she was trying. So she asks, ďIím on my way out to get groceries. Is there anything you need?Ē He responds, ďYeah, I NEED you to stay gone.Ē Ouch. Another time HE told HER, ďMy next girl is going to be under five feet tall and she wonít be overweight like you.Ē Ouch again. Well their marriage is over needless to say. I know this girl well. And I feel very compelled to say that dwelling on these two incidents long enough to share them with her friends in conversation will still make her cry all these years later. Now HE meant to be ugly to her. But this does illustrate how hurtful words cut right through the soft tissue of the heart and permanently lay down their scars.

Another example: A young lady in her teens had been ďbustedĒ for being out too late with her boyfriend thereby breaking her parentsí trust. After a week or so, they all cooled off and the family was getting along happily and well. The young lady was helping her mom clean up the kitchen. A news report came on about a new roller coaster at a local amusement park called The Mindbender. The young lady mentioned that it sounded fun. The mom retorted, ďWell you should know, since you are so good at pulling mindbenders.Ē The young lady was instantly punched in the heart since she thought her mom had forgiven her for her misdeeds. This young lady, 30 years later, still feels the stab in her heart that her mom delivered that day.

So even if you donít mean to say something hurtful and it just pops out of your mouth, remember, YOU may damage the other personís heart permanently. Keep it to yourself, because you may not mean it anyway. Little things like this will chip away at your relationship. Do YOU really want that?

Now Iíve seen women (and men too) that love to push their mate's buttons. For some sick reason they have it in their heads that the make-up session is worth it. No it isnít. Are you crazy?? Crap like that slowly but surely tears little bits and pieces away from the most valuable thing you have, your relationship with the one person on this earth that thinks and acts like you, understands you, knows your physical needs, and should be the one that will always love being at your side.

Relationships are hard! If you get lucky enough to find the one person in the world that knows you enough to read your mind and your body, then boy howdy, youíd better be the one to lay on the compliments for his accomplishment (even when you know that what he did really wasnít much Ė to him it was). Or youíd better be prepared to let him know that those particular jeans cause a little stir in you when he wears them. Or even if he instructs you on how to do something, and you already know how cuz youíre a big girl now and you are pretty efficient, then you thank him and remind him how much you appreciate all his encouragement for your successfulness. Girl! What do I need to say to you to hammer this into your head!? Build it up and lay it on thick and it will be brick wall solid. Your time together will be QUALITY, QUALITY, QUALITY even if you donít have much quantity.

11: PMS in the Forties Ė Wow, who knew? For some ladies, PMS fades with the decades but for some of us it comes back with a vengeance! This took a little research but I did find out why. There is a little known condition called ďperimenopauseĒ and it literally means the time before menopause. As we age, we feed the problems associated with perimenopause with excessive estrogens in our environment and diet. This is called ďestrogen dominance.Ē To counteract that, a little progesterone cream on the wrists at night, every evening for one week to 10 days, commencing with the 10th day of your cycle, works miracles.

John R. Lee, M.D., was a pioneer in this research. You must read his book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About PREmenopause. It is fantastic! I bought it on Amazon for nearly nothing, used. Google Dr. Lee too, for more information. His website is very helpful.

After youíve done your research and you think this may apply to you, then you can go to TheCompounder.com to order real USP natural progesterone created by a real pharmacist. Best price for the amount and itís the real thing. You will notice almost immediately that your PMS symptoms arenít as severe. Ya gotta love that!

12: Finances Ė Credit Card Debt. Four words: Live Beneath Your Means. I probably do NOT have to tell you what that entails. Too many people are living way out of their league and the proof of that is the slumping economy, the housing market debacle, and the record number of bankruptcies. Why, oh why, people, are you doing this to yourselves? Back in the day, if you didnít have the money to buy something, well, you did without it. If you could, youíd put back money to buy the big-ticket item that you wanted. That is called saving. I think Big Fat America has forgotten about that concept. The only real debt a person (or a couple) should have is their house payment and perhaps a car payment. But if youíve been real ďgoodĒ you probably saved for the car and you may not have a car payment. I personally havenít been that good. {grin}

You only need two credit cards and a debit card. (But read below for another time that you might need retail cards.) Keep one major card like a BankAmericard, oh wait, they call those MasterCard now, or a Visa card, but this one should be put away safely for HUGE emergencies. I will define emergency. A tornado blew through your city and your roof was blown away with it. This is an emergency. You need to pay the disaster recovery company to cover your home with those great, big blue tarps, unless youíre wearing your big-girl panties and can do it yourself. After you settle up with your home-owners insurance company, you will probably have to pay another someone for repairs. True emergency, I tell you. After the settlement, make darn sure you take that money and pay off that credit card forthwith with no seconds in between. Remember, they are charging you interest!

A cool benefit of having a card you never use is that the credit card company gets a bit antsy when you donít use their product. So they send you those checks with magnificent offers attached to them, which I hope you are shredding when you receive them. I donít normally condone the use of these checks but I once bought my youngest son a car for $3000 at a used car dealership for only 2.9% for the life of the loan with a credit card check! He paid his saved-up $700 down. The CC company also charged me a $50 service fee but really, I could NOT beat that offer anywhere. I paid it off in 12 months. If you do this, be very careful and read all of the terms.

The other Visa or MasterCard is for carrying with you. You will not use this to buy any old thing, willy nilly. That would just be silly. Sometimes your debit card wonít work for whatever reason. Maybe the satellite that beams these transactions around the globe is spinning out of control in outer space or something. Sometimes youíre driving along and you have a tire blow out. What are you going to use for cash if you just paid your house payment and the utilities? There you goÖ your Visa card is just right.

Try to use your debit card whenever possible. When you get paid, pay your big ticket stuff first (house, car, biggest credit card balance). Add $50 to your savings (or whatever you have designated). Then everything else follows. If you are expecting your mobile phone bill (for example) but you donít have it yet, then go ahead, in pencil, and subtract that amount in your checkbook register so that you donít accidentally use it. Same with any bill that you are expecting. Shoot, with gas prices as they are, I subtract two entries for $35 each for gasoline fill-ups. Then when I use that amount with my debit card, I will erase the pencil and write in with pen. I even subtract two sixty-dollar entries for two weeks (the time between pay periods) for my groceries and incidentals.

One of the benefits of having stellar credit is that you can pretty much go out and get any credit card you want anytime, and I did. Why, you ask, since you know my feelings about debt? Well, I got suckered into it. When you fill out a convenient request for a store card at JC Penney at the cash register Ė thatís convenient, they give you 25% off the entire dayís purchases. Now that is fine if you pay it off and then close it. However, I did that a few too many times. I had Sears, Parisian, JC Penney, Loweís, Home Depot, Macyís, etc., etc., etc. And even though each only had $150 or less, that realllllly added up. Plus I was writing about ten checks a month just on credit responsibility and it was getting pretty old. Plus I noticed that four of the store cards had inched up to a whopping 23.99%!! What, do they think Iím crazy?? NOT. This little area of my life definitely snuck up on me when I wasnít looking. And if someone had stolen my wallet, it would have taken HOURS to call all of those companies to report the theft. Thousands of dollars could be lost before I got done. Something had to give.

So, how does one pay off that busload of credit cards you have? Okay, Iím a fan of consumer advocate Clark Howard. I must give credit where credit is due. This is his suggestion.

Lay out all of your cards. First, look up and write the interest rate on each. The highest get paid off first. You need to write this down and chart it. Letís say the first one at 24% has $150 as a balance. Can you manage to pay $50 a month until itís gone? Good. Do that. You may perhaps, have to pay slightly less on the next card on your list. That is fine. We have a plan.

Now, three months later, take that $50 and add it to your monthly payment on the next card. Letís say itís at 22.9% but you were paying $25 a month. We already know you can manage the previously mentioned $50 and this $25. Letís mention that your balance is $225. It will now be another three months, but at the end you will have paid off that card too.

Did we mention that you are closing cards as you pay them off? No. Okay. Do that too.

Alright. Your next card on this list has a $300 balance but just to keep them happy, youíve been paying $25 a month while paying off the first two. This interest rate is 19% - still too high but weíre working on it. Take the first $75 that youíve been using every month, add it to this $25 and now it will be another three months but you will have got yourself out from underneath yet another card. Woohoo!!

Did we mention that you may NOT use any of these cards that are on your list while you are in the pay down period? No? Okay, well you canít. Put them away in the safe. Outta sight, outta mind.

So do you get the picture here? I know there are a zillion questions zooming around your head, like what if there is a sale at JC Penney? Tough. You have plenty of clothes already or you wouldnít be up to your arse in credit card debt. Maybe every payday you can take $25 out and go to Ross or Marshallís to satisfy your shopping needs. Iím not much of a shopaholic so I didnít rack up clothing store card debt. My thing is home stores and do it yourself places. LOL. Bottom line sister, is that you canít buy it if you donít have the money. It can take about two years but you can get out of debt. When you get it down to just your basic two major cards and debit card, you have met your goal. Take yourself and your best friend out for dinner! But donít charge it.

Which makes me think of another rule: Never charge consumables. That means food, gasoline and things that only give momentary pleasure, like movies. Once itís gone, itís gone and you have nothing to show for the debt youíve just created.

Now that youíre debt rational (as opposed to debt irrational), you will have plenty of cash to buy whatever you want once youíve completed your pay-down process! Yay, you!! You have to be the one to buck up and take ownership of your financial situation. No one knows you like you do. Be responsible in the first place and this wonít happen. But if it creeps up on you, you now know what you have to do. Good luck!

13: Finances Ė Same as Cash! Yes - Life happens! The stove breaks down. The dryer catches on fire (that has actually happened to be twice and Iím really AR about cleaning the duct out periodically and keeping the lint trap clean). You need new tires. I for one canít pull three or four hundred bucks outta my arse to get big-ticket items when needed. Okay, Iím a BIG fan of same as cash purchases. I must say, I work very hard for my money, who doesnít?? SaC is just ďtheĒ way to go. I donít want to spend a penny more in interest on anything if I donít have to. SaC is just as good as a layaway plan PLUS you get to take your purchase home! I have discovered there are only a few retail corporations that utilize this powerful financial tool. Some of them are: Sears, Best Buy, Circuit City (be careful with them though Ė I could tell you some stories!), tire retailers, Home Depot (this seems to be seasonal), Loweís Building Supply (also seasonal), among others. Did you know you can actually ask for a SaC pay schedule? I did that recently at a dental office and lo and behold! They had one! You have to fill out credit ďstuffĒ but it is worth it. It turned out that we could do an 18 month schedule. Whoa! Who knew! So itís very worth it to just ask. The worst thing they will say is no.

The bad news is that you have to own a credit card for each of the companies that offers SaC. But thatís okay. Just donít even think about carrying those cards around with you. Too tempting. Some stores, like Sears has an interest rate over 22%. Oh my. You only get the card out of your safe (you have a personal safe right?) when you need it. Now if you have read the section on Credit Card Debt and how insidious it is, you know already my thoughts about that. So stay on the aforementioned schedule for dumping excess credit cards, but put the cards in your safe that you are keeping only because they are companies that like to attract customers with their SaC plans.

14: Wow, who isn't? Well, here's my answer, but it's not short:

Advanced Gas Mileage Tips --

A. Make sure your next car is a manual transmission vehicle, and learn to drive it!

B. Consolidate ALL of your trips. Keep a list on the fridge for everything you need, but divide it into categories so that when you are in "this" area, you can go to "this" store and when you are in "that" area, you can go to "that" store. Consider driving just a tad further to go to a deep-discount department store that carries everything, from groceries to automotive stuff. If there isn't a Wal-Mart in your area, try to do things on the way home from work. When you get home at the end of the day, STAY PUT unless you're taking the dog(s) for a walk.

C. Learn to coast into turns and into intersections where the light is red or about to turn red. When you have a manual transmission, as you approach a traffic light, anticipate if it will stay green or begin to turn red. If it's going to be red at your approach, even if you are more than two blocks away, depress your clutch (leave the car in gear for safety reasons, should you need to practice an evasive maneuver for instance). This will disengage the transmission (for lack of a better way to put it in lay terms) and the injectors will stop squirting gas. Brake as you normally would. Likewise, as you approach a turn, know when to depress the clutch and coast into your turn, braking appropriately. Only a little practice will have you doing this all the time.

D. Inflate your tires to a higher pressure. I have no idea why this works. If I were a scientist, I guess I'd know. But all indications are that this really works. Consult with a good tire store or a knowledgeable boyfriend for further details.

E. Turn your car off when it idles for more than 60 seconds. We have traffic lights near our major mall that cycle for a full three minutes and forty-five seconds! I put my windows down and turn off my engine. Will you wear out your starter sooner? Perhaps. But starters are cheaper than gasoline these days.

F. Stay as close to the speed limit as you can safely and try to keep your speed as constant. Most cars reach optimal gas mileage at about 60 miles per hour. Speeding up increases wind resistance against the car, making the engine work harder and burn more gas. According to the EPA, each 5 mph over 60 that you drive decreases fuel efficiency by up to seven percent.

I know that you have heard that it takes more gas to restart a car than to let it run when waiting for a traffic light to change. That used to be true. With modern fuel injection engines, it takes very little gas to restart a car once you've driven it for awhile.

According to the California Energy Commission, idling burns enough gas every minute to drive half of a mile. Half a mile??? Yep, for those long cycling lights, this girl is going to turn it off.

G. Take the first available parking space. Why are you driving in circles looking for the closest space? Reduce your tushy size, reduce your gasoline useage and save the environment all in one easy step by just taking the first space you come to! Easy huh!

H. If you have a five-speed manual tranmission, skip fourth gear when up-shifting to fifth, especially when you are driving at a slight downward angle. It's unneeded for the most part, helps reduce wear on the clutch, and you won't accelerate hard through fourth to speed up to fifth.

I. Hold the clutch down for an additional two seconds when up-shifting during acceleration, between shift changes. Those little bits of gasoline that you save do add up over a month's time.

J. NO JACK RABBIT STARTS! PERIOD!

K. Turn your a/c off! Experts make these recommendations: When driving at slower speeds, say for instance rush hour traffic, put your windows down since there will be very little inner cockpit air turbulence in the car to create drag. At higher speeds, there CAN be some drag if you donít have a car that can allow you to vent out the back by opening those small wing windows near the back of your vehicle (mini vans and SUVs), so a/c may be in order. The ďexpertsĒ differ very much on this. I know for me, when I drive my 48 mile round trip commute, 5 days a week, I save 3/8 of a tank of gas per week by not running my a/c. Iíve done this little experiment twice with the same results. So Iíd say YOU are the expert. Try it and let your car tell you what works best according to your commute.

L. Do you really need that drive-through lane? If there is more than one car ahead of you, you are contributing to the destruction of our environment, wasting your time, and burning up gasoline unnecessarily. Park and go in. Itís cooler (or warmer in the winter) in there anyway! And believe it or not, going inside can be faster at some establishments.

Americans waste approximately 3.8 million gallons of gasoline by voluntarily idling their vehicles EVERY DAY. The Environmental Defense Fund has pointed out that idling for more than ten seconds wastes more gas than restarting your car. Can you really afford to waste gas these days?

An engine that idles for a mere ten minutes yields 90 grams of air pollutants. These unnecessary emissions contribute to ground-level ozone and also produce particle pollution that can cause asthma attacks and lung disease.

So what can you do to save on gas, improve your health and clean the air? Don't idle.

So besides idling in the drive thru line for food, bank transactions or prescriptions, park your car and go in. Turn off your engine while you wait to pick up the kids from school or camp. If making a delivery or running a quick errand, turn your engine off while in park. Check to be sure your child's school has a no-idling policy for its bus drivers, and encourage your school system to adopt a no-idling program where little lungs are hard at work!

M. Google ďpulse and glideĒ driving techniques. Yes, even you drivers with an automatic transmission can do this!

N. Learn to drive in the ďslipstreamĒ while driving on the expressways. Following another motor vehicle and using care to stay in its slipstream allows for significantly improved fuel efficiency, mostly due to reduced atmospheric drag. Such practice is frequently referred to as drafting. This can be commonly seen in the instance of truck convoys traveling in a single-file queue several vehicles long on highways. CAUTION! Do NOT tailgate! I donít care how good of a driver you are... if you hit someone in the rear, itís always your fault.

O. Get a scooter. My Honda Metropolitan gets up to 120 MPG on a straight, no stop trip (like on the country roads to my mom's house). Just putzing around town I get about 100 MPG. In the spring, summer, and most of the fall, I have been (and plan to continue) parking the car on Friday night and not getting back into it until Monday morning. In my area, there are no speed limits above 45 MPH so I fit right in with the flow of traffic. Scooters under 50CCs usually go up 45 MPH depending on how much you weigh. And more and more of them are on the road so you are in good company! I find that people tailgate me less on the scooter than when I'm driving my car. Be respectful! If you aren't keeping up with the traffic, pull over and let everyone go by!

P. And from a friend of mine... itís a speed LIMIT not a speed SUGGESTION. Generally speaking, driving slower always produces better fuel efficiency. Are you really in that big of a hurry?? Nuff said!

Now...time for a little myth-busting:

Myth #1: Your engine needs to warm up before driving in cold weather.
Reality: Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to warm your engine is to drive the vehicle. With today's modern engines, thereís little need for idling on winter days before driving away.

Myth #2: Idling is good for your engine.
Reality: Excessive idling can actually damage your engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs and exhaust systems. Fuel is only partially combusted when idling because an engine does not operate at its peak temperature. This leads to the build up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption.

Myth #3: Turning off and restarting your vehicle is hard on the engine and uses more gas than if you leave it running.
Reality: Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components like the battery and the starter motor. Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving, money that will likely be recovered several times over in fuel savings from reduced idling. The bottom line: more than 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine.
Source: The Clean Air Campaign Website

Next question please!!

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All text, © April, 2008, by Beth-Ellen Colvin
No portion of this article may be reproduced without expressed written permission of author.