Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ask Me about My Divorce: interview with Candace Walsh

I started reading Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On, a bit worried that it would address concerns and experiences of young women exclusively and not be relevant to us. I'm delighted to be wrong. Although the editor, Candace Walsh, is a young mother, she has an old soul (that's a compliment) and a mature perspective. The essays she chose for this anthology are filled with wisdom, good writing, and stories that make us nod, remember, often laugh, and sometimes cringe.

The women in these 29 moving essays went through divorces that were sometimes devastating or brutal, but in hindsight, usually inevitable. In some, the women initiated the divorce; in others, they were blindsided by it. Yet all the writers found themselves on a path to self-discovery that was far more enriching and joyful than their marriages had been.

Because I knew I would review the book on this blog, I looked for evidence that some of the writers were over 50. Aha, here's a clue: this one wore combat boots underneath her wedding dress, six months pregnant with "The Hippie's" child, and red pumps to her divorce. Ah, this one's certain: she celebrated her 60th birthday by getting a tattoo....

As I read, I was swept away into the worlds of these courageous women who reinvented themselves after their divorces, and I discovered that it didn't matter whether they were our age or not. Many of us remember our own divorces with the revelation that we would not have become the people we are if we had not followed that path, willingly or not.

I asked editor Candace Walsh about her insights:

JP: Did you choose these authors and essays because they were able to move on in a rewarding way?

CW: I looked for stories that relayed a "thriving after divorce" experience. I did choose these essays because the women were able to powerfully relate how they had utilized this moment of divorce as a portal to a better life.

JP: Do you think most divorces do -- or can -- turn out to be a good thing?

CW: My dad told me, "The year your mother and I split up was the worst year of my life. But since then, I've had the best years of my life." There are indeed second acts in American lives. Let's face it. If you partner leaves you, you have a much better chance of a better life after divorce because otherwise, you'd be with someone who'd really rather not be with you.

JP: About what percentage of these authors are over 50 compared to the younger writers in your anthology?

CW: About 15%.

JP: Does the perspective of age color how your older authors now see their divorces and their lives since then?

CW: It seems to me that they have more of a sense of wanting to seize the day. They also look back and are more forgiving; they feel compassion for their younger selves and their exes. "I don't know then what I did now, but how could I have?" They appreciate how much more opportunities divorced women and women in general have now than they used to.

JP: What would you say to women over 50 who are in unsatisfying marriages now, but are frightened that being on their own might be worse?

CW: I would say, "Listen to your gut." It would be easy for me to say, "Take the plunge!" But every situation is different. If both parties are willing to work to improve the relationship and make the other person feel special, treasured and loved, there's a good chance that it could become something worth preserving. If you feel like you've come to the end of the road, or if you and your partner are unwilling to put any reviving energy into the relationship, or if you're dealing with someone who's verbally or physically abusive, you may as well get off that bus and begin anew. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

If you're over fifty, you have a good 30+ years ahead of you, God willing, and why not enjoy those years? They don't consist of an epilogue. No way. I am so excited to experience the decades ahead because it seems like a shroud has been lifted and women's ability to live active, vibrant, sensual, successful lives has been dramatically expanded.

JP: Are your readers exclusively women who are divorced or contemplating divorce?

CW: One young unmarried woman said that it should be required reading for all women before they get married. We need to have a better grounding in the realities of marriage before we sign on. It's too easy to be seduced by the expectation of a fairy tale. As little girls, we thought we were learning about love by watching princess movies.

What if we'd been coached in relationship skills instead? How to listen, how to take responsibility for our own needs, how to feel anger without lashing out, how to esteem and honor the other as we do the same for ourselves, how to talk about the elephant in the room, how to diplomatically bring up issues before simmering resentments harden into calcified, love-damaging deposits, how to be conscious of what triggers us and take the time to dismantle old hurts so that they don't dictate our futures. And how to learn from our mistakes so that we don't repeat them the next time.

Sure, it wouldn't be as transporting as watching Cinderella whisked away to "happily ever after." But it might just make happily ever after less of a fairy tale.

Candace Walsh is the editor of Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On. She's also the features editor at Mothering, and mom to two sassy and delightful children.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

First anniversary of Robert's death

"Will you be able to say goodbye when it's time?" I asked Robert softly, holding his limp hand in both of mine.

I couldn't tell if he was thinking about his answer, or drifting in and out of consciousness, or even if he had heard me.

"No," he said finally, without opening his eyes.

It was a few days before Robert died last August 2, and we both knew he was close to the end. Hospice -- such wonderful people! -- kept him painfree as his bones deteriorated and his body processes shut down. He drifted between asleep (or unconscious) and half-awake, sometimes painting in the air with his fingers, sometimes thinking it was time to go to dance class or out to lunch (though he hadn't been out of bed or eaten for a week), occasionally jumping into clarity for a few precious moments.

As Robert's cancer progressed, I felt trapped in a nightmare that I couldn't escape or rescue my beloved Robert, who was slipping away from me day by day, hour by hour.

Now, though, I am grateful that I was able to share this profound transition with him. I learned a lot about death that I never knew, never imagined. I also learned how love wins somehow, even at the end. Robert was rarely conscious over the last few days, but when he was, he murmured love to me.

Thank you, readers, for sharing with me the exhilaration and sensuality of our great love affair and far-too-short marriage. It feels right to share this part with you, too.

(Photos by Robert's son, Mitch Rice. Thank you, Mitch.)

Online Dating Sites for Seniors?

7/25/09: I'm updating this post from two weeks ago with new information -- see end of post.

I hear and read both delightful and icky stories from readers who are using online dating sites. Have you met people this way? Has it worked for you? What are the highs and lows of this new world of dating opportunity?

I hear from readers that both men and women notoriously post outdated photos on their profiles, understate age and weight, overstate financial stability and looks, and so on. At the other end of the happiness bell curve, I hear from readers who instantly (or after 3 dates) had great sex and/or found a love connection with someone they met this way.

Let's get specific -- which sites do you use, or have you used, and what have your dates been like? Which ones have a lot of single seniors to choose from? What are the pros and cons of the sites you've used? Inspiring stories, funny stories, worst-date stories -- I welcome them all. I'd like to hear from single seniors and elders so that the information is targeted to my readers, and please name the site.

I'm also looking for a volunteer posse who would like to report back on an ongoing basis as you look for matches, email, meet, and date (or not). Email me if you'd like to be one of my confidential reporters.

Note: Please don't comment here in order to advertise a site you operate or work for. Instead, if you're affiliated with an online dating site, please email me with all pertinent info rather than commenting here. I promise I'll respond and look into what your site offers.

Update: "Granny B" is a 69-year-old widow "looking for one last Love." she writes a funny and informative blog titled GrannyBoogies on the highway of life chronicling her adventures in online dating. Although at first she didn't identify the sites she's using, instead giving them pet names like "Silvermatch" and "fishyfishy," her July 24 post -- "Granny's adventures in cyber date land or somewhere out there..." -- tells which six online dating sites she has used: e-harmony, Senior Match, Plenty of Fish, Senior Friend Finder, BBW and Cupid. She shares wisdom and caveats, such as this:

Beware of guys who are "legally separated" and don't post a photo of themselves. Watch out for profile names (you usually don't use your real name for your profile, I am Granny Boogies, Granny B and NVHeart on my profiles). If you find a profile name like 694U or Buttlover, you might want to take a pass. You also might want to skip the profiles without any personal information, where the answers are "just send me a message". Watch out for guys who take photos of themselves in their bathroom. Keep a sense of humor, remember men are both wonderful and strange. Use common sense, first dates in a public place and let someone know where you are. Yes, we are grownups so let's use our grownup smarts.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Better Than I Ever Expected now on Kindle!

I'm thrilled to announce that my book, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, is now available from Amazon as a Kindle edition as well as a print edition.

I'm wild about my Kindle, and I'm delighted that now you can read Better Than I Ever Expected on the go -- and without the cover (lovely as it is) giving you away in the coffee shop, on the bus, or at your family reunion!

Did you realize that you can also subscribe to this blog on your Kindle? Read my announcement here, or go directly to getting a 14-day free trial here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jimmyjane Form 6: versatile, elegant, waterproof vibrator

What makes a vibrator worth $185? Granted, that's a lot of money for a vibrator. The Jimmyjane Form 6 Waterproof Rechargeable Vibrating Massager is a luxury item, a sexy gift for the sensual woman in your life (maybe yourself!), and it gives a lot back for that price.

It's lovely, one of the prettiest vibrators I've ever seen. It's sleek, sensual to the eyes and to the touch, shaped for a variety of uses, and... drum roll... waterproof -- you can take it into the bathtub with you!

The unique shape lets you use any part of it -- the plump end for clitoral stimulation, the smaller end for G-spotting, and the whole thing for rolling or pressing wherever it feels good. The two ends vibrate independently and have separate buttons for increasing or decreasing intensity. There's also a vibration mode button for six different types of vibrations -- steady, pulsing, surprises, and so on.

A couple of caveats for our age group -- although you can find the buttons by feel and don't have to look to change vibrations (a good thing, because you'd need your reading glasses to see the controls anyway), they require a firm press. If you have arthritis, you'll want to find your favorite setting and leave it there rather than making full use of the variety. It's powerful, but not as strong as some others I've tried. (I think I should make a comparison chart for you.) So if you require really, really strong vibrations, this might not be enough for you. One of these days I'll write a whole post about combining sex toys -- for example, inserting Form 6 to rev up your G-spot while using a different vibrator for clitoral stimulation, or vice versa.

The Form 6 (they could come up with a sexier name, don't you think?) has a handsome and discreet recharging station/ storage box. It's lockable for travel, so it won't set your suitcase vibrating as it comes down baggage claim. (Aside: A woman I know told me that her suitcase came open and all her possessions including her vibrator came rolling down the conveyer belt piece by piece. The impact turned on her sex toy and it was vibrating noisily. She didn't dare claim it (or the dingy bra splayed for all to see), though her blush might have given her away. Anyway, that can't happen with the Form 6.)

Good news: As of this writing, Good Vibrations has the purple version of this $185 vibrator on sale for $135.

7/29/09 update:
This review is highlighted as this week's Editor’s Pick, with a nice comment about my blog’s“wonderful subject matter,” by Pleasurists, a website that spotlights sex toy reviews!

Pleasurists adult product review round-up banner

And the Good Vibrations Magazine just blogged about my review, also, saying "We love Joan Price and the work that she’s done bringing sex-positive visibility to people over 60 years of age, something we think should be seen!"

Good Vibrations Sex Toys and Education

I'm honored and delighted that we're finally getting this subject out in the open!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lost the habit of physical intimacy and lovetalk -- what now?

"Way to go, Chip. Well said," Gruffalo commented on my July 9, 2009 blog post, Chip August: “Sex isn’t just a piece of skin wiggling around in some other skin.” "Now the really silly thing is that the first step is difficult. If you love, cherish and like each other, but you've lost the habit of physical intimacy and lovetalk, it feels strange, embarrassing and artificial to start. I know, one step at a time, but how to start?"

Chip returned a thoughtful response that was so helpful that I'm devoting this post to it, rather than leaving it as a comment that might be overlooked:

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to your question. Without knowing your history, how you came to lose the habit of intimacy, what each of you dreams your relationship could be, it’s very hard to tell you what your best first step might be.

If you were a client in my Intimacy Coaching practice, I would ask, Have the two of you ever talked about the “inertia” that has turned your sex life into a dead zone? Is either of you on medications that might be reducing your libido? Has erectile unreliability become an issue? There are so many ways to be unhappy.

In general, if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten. A great way to move past the embarrassment and artificiality is to change something -- anything. A place for you to start is to notice and change your thoughts that get in the way of you starting.

Noticing and actively changing thoughts that don’t serve you is a good way to get up the courage to start a conversation. Perhaps begin a conversation by sharing your appreciation of your partner. Another step might be to reach out and hold hands when you are walking together. Another step might be to print out this page and ask your partner to read it. Another step might be to ask, “May I gently caress your face?”

The best first step is whatever step you actually take.

Be bold. What have you got to lose?

Chas. "Chip" August is a Personal Growth and Couples Intimacy Coach, host of “Sex, Love & Intimacy” an internet radio show, and author of the soon to be published “Marital Passion: The Sexless Marriage Makeover.” Chip sees clients at his office in Northern California and also does phone-coaching, phone: 1(650) 391-7763, email him at

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Chip August: “Sex isn’t just a piece of skin wiggling around in some other skin”

Charles “Chip” August, Personal Growth and Couples Intimacy Coach, interviewed me on his “Sex, Love & Intimacy” internet radio show. Now it’s my turn to interview Chip:

JP: I understand you’re writing a book titled “Marital Passion: The Sexless Marriage Makeover.” Do you see many later-life couples in sexless marriages?

CA: As a Couples Intimacy Coach, I have met and worked with hundreds of couples struggling with unsatisfactory sex lives, most in their 40s, 50s and 60s. But it’s not just my experience. Recently I saw a blog from Dr. Phil where he writes: “sexless marriages are an undeniable epidemic.”

JP: Why do these couples give up on sexual intimacy? Do they say it’s because of physical changes?

CA: One major factor behind the “death” of sexuality in long-term relationships is changes in our physiology brought on by aging. As young, sexually active adults, we take for granted that feelings of arousal will be accompanied by tumescence (the swelling of genital tissues), erections (nipples, clitoris, penis) and lubrication. In our minds we link these physical experiences to the idea of arousal. As we age we seem to forget all the other feelings, emotions and sensations associated with arousal.

JP: What happens emotionally when those physiological responses change?

CA: Later in life, when erections and lubrication are less certain, we falsely assume that it is the end of sexuality. It’s as if we have forgotten all the other feelings, emotions and sensations associated with arousal. We seem to forget how hot it once was to hold hands, to kiss, to talk nonsense for hours into a phone late at night, to dance, to finish each other’s sentences.

JP: I often hear from women whose men have given up on sex when their penises don’t work like they used to. I also hear from men whose women don’t want sex because they say it’s no longer comfortable or pleasurable. How can these couples reconnect?

CA: I believe human beings are designed for a lifetime of sexuality. There are many causes for a man’s erection to become unreliable or even impossible, and just as many causes for a woman’s vagina to stop lubricating or hurt. These symptoms are sometimes physiological, sometimes psychological, and sometimes just requiring a bit of education.

If your body does not work the way you believe it should, or you are experiencing a loss of desire, see your doctor, as these could be symptoms of various medical/health problems, psychiatric problems, low levels of testosterone or high levels of prolactine. Low sexual desire can also be a side effect of various medications.

JP: Besides physical changes, why else do couples give up on sexual intimacy?

CA: Beliefs about sexuality that support the idea that sex is really for “young” people. Our culture fosters age-ist, sex-negative beliefs. Most people don't realize that sex is meant to get better and better as a relationship matures. They've bought into the idea that they can’t have a rockin' sex life if they’re no longer young and the relationship is no longer new. They believe myths that sabotage their sex lives, such as “Sex just doesn’t feel good anymore—sometimes it even hurts—but I can't talk about that with my husband,” and the most disastrous belief of all: “Passion always dies in a long-term marriage; it's the price you pay for stability.”

JP: How do you coach people in a sexless marriage to become lovers again?

CA: To become lovers again means behaving as lovers do. When we are in new relationship energy, we gaze into each other’s eyes, we kiss, we phone and email. We send cute cards, buy flowers, go out to dinner, and go for long walks. We make time just for us.

JP: And most couples stop behaving like lovers as the relationship matures?

CA: If we spent as little time and attention working at our jobs as we spend on our relationship, most of us would be unemployed. Relationships take time. Make dates (and keep them). Get naked together and just hold each other and talk. Park with your sweetie by the lake, the beach, the overlook, and neck like you were 17 again.

JP: What’s your most important message for improving senior sex and relationships?

CA: It saddens me that sex has become so genitally focused. Our biggest erogenous zone is between our ears – our mind. Sex isn’t just a piece of skin wiggling around in some other skin. Penises in vaginas are a necessity for procreation. Sex is about intimate connection and shared vulnerability. Sex is stroking each other from head to toe, eye-gazing, shared laughter and shared thoughts. Sex is kissing and hugging and dancing. Sex is lying naked in each other’s arms listening to our hearts beating. Sex is about surrender and control, about laughing and crying.

Chas. "Chip" August is a Personal Growth and Couples Intimacy Coach, host of “Sex, Love & Intimacy” an internet radio show, and author of the soon to be published “Marital Passion: The Sexless Marriage Makeover.” Chip sees clients at his office in Northern California and also does phone-coaching, phone: 1(650) 391-7763, email him at

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"Booty call" at 64?

Arlette, age 64, sent me her interview questionnaire for my new book, and I'm puzzling over something. What did we call "booty call" before that term was invented? What would we seniors call it now?

Arlette is single, independent, loves her solitude, and loves sex. She has a partner who feels the same. They have great sex and good conversation, then she goes back to her life and he to his. They're not living together or dating; they're just having uncomplicated, uninhibited, and exuberant sex when they want to.

Arlette writes me that she's living her fantasies -- and I'm delighted for her. I'm just wondering if we have a term to describe the relationship that's a bit more elegant or mature than "booty call"? (She didn't call it that -- I just can't think of what to use instead.)

I know, some of you will tell me that this kind of relationship doesn't warrant an elegant or mature term, but I don't agree. If we don't do exactly what we want at our age, when will we? I'm curious to know what you think.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

No Erection, No Intimacy, No Discussion

Molly, age 63, wrote a comment that was featured in a blog post titled "He thinks he can't please her without an erection, so why bother?" She recently emailed me an update, and I asked her permission to share it with you:

I wanted to thank you for trying to help with my situation. I was the person who asked what to do when he doesn't want to have intimacy anymore because he couldn't get an erection. He just said "why bother?"

Unfortunately, our relationship ended. Not by me, by him. He does not communicate in any way with me. I've tried everything to get him to talk to me, but it's as if I've fallen off the face of the earth. This is after over two year relationship.

I took your advice and have contacted a therapist. She has been a great help to me. But somehow I think he would benefit so much from seeing someone, too.

It's just so unfortunate that my guy thinks so little of our relationship that he only based it on one thing. I wish I could try to turn back time and make him understand that an erection is not everything in a loving sex life. But that's not possible, he has completely cut me out of his life. Won't talk, or accept any communication from me.

I still love the man and I think I always will. It's so sad. Life is so very short not to enjoy it all.

Thanks again for your wonderful blog, I can't tell you enough how it has helped me cope.

I feel the heartbreak in Molly's words. She obviously loves this man, but he has shut her out completely.

I don’t think, though, that Molly's partner’s inability to communicate or accept her loving means that their relationship doesn’t mean enough. I think he's devastated and depressed by what he perceives to be the end of sexual possibility. It isn't, we know that, but that's how he sees it. He may be too stuck and too afraid to seek help.

I hear from men who say they have to unlearn the “I am my penis” lessons they learned as boys and teens. This notion becomes deeply ingrained and is a difficult lesson to unlearn, but the old story no longer serves them, or us.

I know it was difficult for Molly to share her story here, and I hope, readers, that you'll show her how valuable it was by sharing what you learn here that helps in your own relationship. I'm sure she'll welcome your warm comments.

Vajayjay: Do We Need That Word, Oprah?

Many bloggers and YouTubers have commented on Oprah's use of the cutesy "va-jay-jay" during her otherwise open discussions about women's sexuality. She didn't invent the term -- the then-pregnant character Dr. Miranda Bailey introduced the term on Grey's Anatomy on Feb. 12, 2006, when she chastised a male intern by saying, “Stop looking at my vajayjay.”

The term caught on rapidly, especially after Oprah adopted it, and even the New York Times discussed the vajajay trend. According to the NYT, Grey's Anatomy's creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes fought to use vagina in the script instead:

"I had written an episode during the second season of ‘Grey’s’ in which we used the word vagina a great many times (perhaps 11),” Ms. Rhimes wrote in an e-mail message. “Now, we’d once used the word penis 17 times in a single episode and no one blinked. But with vagina, the good folks at broadcast standards and practices blinked over and over and over. I think no one is comfortable experiencing the female anatomy out loud — which is a shame considering our anatomy is half the population.”

Now you hear "vajayjay"on television shows, read it in blogs, see spoofs on YouTube (don't miss The Soup: Oprah's Va-Jay-Jay, and accept it as the cute, friendly, non-graphic, inoffensive way to say vagina or vulva. (The vagina is the canal; the vulva includes the whole area: labia, clitoris, pubic mound, and vagina.) As the linguist John H. McWhorter said, as quoted in the NYT, “It sounds warm and familiar and it almost makes the vagina feel like a little cartoon character with eyes that walks around.”

It occurred to me that if Oprah adopted "pe-pee-pee" as her pet word for "penis," it wouldn't sound as endearing.

Tell me, do you find "vajayjay" a useful addition to our lexicon? Do you like it? Do you use it? Personally, I prefer vajayjay to other, more demeaning slang words for female genitals, but I'd rather hear the anatomical terms normalized and accepted.

How about you?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Joan's First Cuddle Party

"May I touch your shoulder?"
"My I rest my leg on your leg?"
"May I stroke your ribs?"
"May I join your spoon train?"

I attended my first official Cuddle Party last night. Cuddle Parties are led by trained facilitators to enable people to experience more touching in a completely non-sexual way. Most of us don't get enough touch in our lives, or only get touched through sex, if we're in a relationship, or brief hugs if we're not.

Our skin and our emotions crave touching, holding, caressing. The purpose of a Cuddle Party is to enable people -- usually strangers, at least for the first few minutes -- to enjoy and feel safe touching and holding each other for hours.

Yes, hours. We had 45 minutes of rules and exercises (e.g. saying "no") first, then at about 7:30 p.m. we were let loose to cuddle anyone and everyone we wanted (as long as they said "yes") for 2-1/2 hours.

The Cuddle Party took place on a living room floor covered with sheets, comforters, and pillows. There were about a dozen of us, roughly gender-balanced, mostly clad in pajamas. The skilled facilitator and two assistants participated fully and were always available in case someone wanted any kind of assistance.

"Always ask before touching, and be specific about what you want to touch," we were instructed. "No" means "no" and needs no defense or explanation. If we're not sure, we say "no." We can change our minds at any time. We can ask for what we want to receive as well as what we want to do. Clothes stay on, and if we experience feelings of arousal from all this body contact, we do not act on those feelings.

I joined four other people who were spooning, and I enjoyed being cradled in a warm body sandwich. We asked for permission to touch shoulders, backs, legs, hair, thighs. The tricky stage was trying to change position -- if one person wanted to turn around, we all had to adjust and start asking for permission all over again.

If it sounds like fun, it was. It felt completely safe and relaxed -- even jovial. We could get up, get a snack (no alcohol), come back to the pile of people and decide whom to approach as the next cuddle partner(s).

To find out more about Cuddle Parties and track down one happening near you, visit