Social commentary on life from a Boomer Broad's Perspective (aka Lynda's soapbox)

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It is written, therefore it is . . . retained

Albert Einstein was once asked a simple question for which he did not have the answer. The world-renowned genius’ response was, “I don’t clutter my head with things that can be found in a book.”.  I knew there was a reason that story has stayed with me. And I certainly don’t clutter my head with anything I can do without.

mindThe journal Psychological Science reports that tests on university students who hand-wrote their class notes instead of typing them on a laptop had better retention of what they were learning. The Cleveland Browns of the NFL have put this knowledge to practical use and now require that their players write team strategies by hand. According to Dr. Daniel  J. Levitin, author of Organized Mind, professor and neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, our brain has only so much capacity for retained information so we should not clutter it with useless information. The human brain works much like our laptops. We have ROM for functioning and RAM for storing data and I certainly wouldn’t like my RAM to jam. It might affect my ROM and then I’d be royally screwed.

On an everyday level we can all relate to the importance of “To Do” lists in our lives. If we write down a task and enjoy the act of stroking it out when it’s completed, we feel satisfied and less stressed. Taking this a step further, Dr. Levitin suggests that making “To Do” lists is a kind of mental clutter that should be dispensed with in favour of breaking down the tasks. We should put each task or piece of information on a separate piece of paper such as an index card to free the brain from what he calls “rehearsal loop” or replaying of an idea or task repeatedly to remember it. Students practise this technique by writing and rewriting information on flash cards or index cards to etch it in their brains for exams. Stupid me—I just tried to memorize everything and was rewarded with dismal results.

Here's what my daily production schedule looks like.

Here’s what my daily production schedule looks like.

However, maybe I have genius potential after all. A few years ago, after I retired I ditched my “To Do” list system in favour of putting sticky Post-In notes on my kitchen cupboard doors. After I complete the ironing sticky note, I gleefully rip it off and stash in the drawer for re-use next time. This system works beautifully and keeps me organized and stress-free. Perhaps Dr. Levitin would like to research my brain. I’m amazing at retaining garbage but have trouble remembering the simple sequence of the three buttons I need to push on the remote to engage my PVR. Fortunately, I wrote it down on a stickie that I keep beside the remote. Otherwise my life would be chaos. Now it’s Guide, Record, Select. Simple, but I can only retain that information as long as it’s written on a yellow stickie. It’s genius.

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Grasping at skinny straws for solutions

Boomer broads are never at a loss for excuses about we’re always a few (or more) pounds overweight: I’m big-boned; it’s hereditary; it’s my thyroid; I don’t have time to exercise, or simply, I just love cookies and ice-cream. Well, my dears, your Boomerbroadcaster has come through with the definitive word on why it’s not our fault. It all has to do with city planning. You see, a recent research study of twenty-four cities in California by several university engineering professors concluded that the reason we’re all becoming obese and diabetic is because guys like Le Corbusier decided in the 1930s that people would be happier and healthier if our cities were more park-like. That meant no more efficient and boring street grids that connected us to stores and workplaces in the least amount of time. Instead, it was deemed that twisty, winding, wide avenues and cul de sacs would be more conducive to our well-being.

The suburbs are lovely places to live but getting to work is always a challenge.

The suburbs are lovely places to live but getting to work is always a challenge.

The result of that brilliance is that in North America it now takes us longer to get anywhere and cars are such a necessity that our entire economy has been built upon building, selling and driving cars. Unlike densely-populated cities in Europe where people walk much more than we lazy North Americans do, our residential communities are located on the perimeter of working areas. Living and working spaces are completely separated and lovely though that may be it has created generations of fatties with an increasing litany of health issues resulting from being unable to walk to the corner store without starting the car and driving to get there.

Growing up in small-town Ontario in the fifties, we rarely went anywhere in the car. My parents walked to their factory jobs. Everyone walked or biked to school except farm kids but their farm chores were usually completed before they hopped onto that bus at 7:00 a.m. Attendance at Brownies, Girl Guides, Sunday school, birthday parties, babysitting jobs, swimming lessons, summer jobs and all other events was always on foot, unaccompanied by adults. There were neighbourhood stores in the front of someone’s house every few blocks and we were always being sent to the store for last-minute quarts of milk, loaves of bread or a brick of neopolitan ice-cream for dessert. Malls didn’t exist in the fifties and early sixties so we shopped locally in our small town, on foot. How far we’ve fallen.

Wherever we live we have a responsibility to support local merchants.

Wherever we live we have a responsibility to support local merchants.

So you see, we can thank Le Corbusier for leading our city planners astray and we can thank those university professors for explaining why we can’t lose weight. I suppose we could all move to Paris where our butcher, baker, wine store and greengrocer would all be around the corner and we could walk to everything. I rather like that idea but I’m probably too old to become bilingual. I do think, however, our population and our city planners are starting to realize that driving ninety minutes to and from work each day is not the best use of resources on so many levels. It’s probably too late to start ripping up our cities to make the necessary changes but at least we can encourage them to start pouring money into public transit. That would at least require us to walk to the bus stop, climb up and down stairs to transfer to the subway and carry our groceries home in shopping bags.

Neighbourhood amenities are the key to healthy living.

Neighbourhood amenities are the key to healthy living.

The problem remains. I’m too old and too fat to live in Paris. Our city planners are ignoring the needs of seniors and baby boomers in terms of transportation and accommodation, and ongoing cutbacks in healthcare are jeopardizing any chance I might have of losing weight by making me pay for liposuction. I can only hope those city planners have an efficient plan for transporting my fat old corpse when I have a heart attack behind the wheel of my SUV on my way home from the bake shop at rush hour. If they wouldn’t listen to neighbourhood advocate Jane Jacobs, what hope do I have?





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To “e” or not to “e”, that is the question

reading5Digital e-readers are becoming increasingly more popular and are available in different devices to suit most individual preferences and pocketbooks. A divide does exist, however, between those who have embraced the new technology and those who prefer the traditional hard or soft-cover paper version. I have one foot firmly planted in each camp. On one hand, I love the convenience of downloading books from a retailer or the library from the comfort of my LaZ-Girl chair with a lovely cup of tea at my side. On the other hand, I’m a dedicated fan of cracking open a wonderful new book, the old-fashioned kind with ink imprinted on paper. I admit to sometimes even bringing the paper version up to my face so I can smell the wonderful musty aroma. Older books have a very special warm-sunny-day-sitting-in-a-chair-by-the window dusty smell that only enhances the reading experience.

Over the past few years I’ve acquired four e-reading devices and I’m still not satisfied that I’ve achieved e-reader nirvana. Here’s an outline of the steps in my quest for the ultimate, perfect device:

  1. My first e-reader was a rather hefty and expensive (at the time) Kindle that I purchased shortly after they launched. I incorrectly concluded that bigger and more expensive would be better and would minimize the obsolescence factor. I found that first Kindle to be too big and heavy and passed it along to a grandson.
  2. The smaller, pocket-book-sized Kindle proved to be perfect for toting along in my purse but because of Amazon’s proprietary software I couldn’t download library books. Back to the mall.
  3. The next, and most expensive step was to purchase an iPad so I could add e-mail capabilities, colour screen, durability, reputation and web-searching benefits to my list of performance enhancers.  I loved being able to carry it around for web-browsing and e-mailing but before long, I again found it too big and heavy for everyday reading. Start the car! (Unlike a trip to IKEA, this quest is costing a lot of money.)
  4. reading4The Kobo seemed like the next logical step. Available at Chapters/Indigo, they had several models with various features and a wide range of price points. Previous experience with my first Kindle and iPad told me that bigger and most expensive was not necessarily the best way to go, so I opted for the Kobo Touch which is their least expensive version. I’m embarrassed to say that I still have not achieved e-reader perfection. My new little Kobo is a joy to carry around as it’s light as a feather and takes up hardly any room in my purse but it’s a bit hard to read in low light, such as reading in bed with poor lighting.

Looking back at my checkered past in e-reader experimentation, I now think I should have purchased an iPad mini or similar Kobo device with internet, colour and web-browsing capabilities. These devices will never replace my laptop for word processing but they definitely have value and are a joy to use. My second little Kindle would have been perfect except I’m now a colour-screen snob who likes to download from the library and my little Kindle can’t accommodate that.

Regrets, I have a few.

Regrets, I have a few.

In the meantime, I’ve pre-ordered an old-fashioned hardcover copy of Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity, Book Three of the Century Trilogy. At more than eleven hundred pages, that should keep me busy for awhile and keep my mind off the tempting virtues of an iPad mini. I absolutely can’t wait to dig into Edge of Eternity and by the time I finish I should have steroid-worthy biceps and snoot full of lovely paper and ink smells. By then it should be Christmas-e time.








Giving women support where it counts

There’s a little shop in downtown Cambridge, Ontario called WIGG  (Women’s International Gift Gallery) at 55 Dickson Street that is worth the drive to Cambridge.  Affiliated with the YWCA, all proceeds from the shop are directed to providing sustainable programs that serve women and their families in the Cambridge community, and cultivate a society where women are respected, valued and are equal.

Celebrity stylist Lynn Spence (she's the one on the left in case you need to know) helped shoppers at WIGG, including this old Boomer.

Celebrity decorator and stylist Lynn Spence (she’s the one on the left in case you need to know) was available to assist shoppers at WIGG, including this old Boomer.

Celebrity decorator and stylist Lynn Spence, who owns a home in Cambridge threw her support behind the shop this past Saturday by working in the store to help customers select and try on artsy clothes and jewelry from the selection sourced from around the world. Lynn presented a fashion show on CITY TV’s CityLine on Friday, August 15th to help showcase the event.

On a previous trip to the shop I purchased a beautiful silver meditation ring and I have rarely seen bracelets, earrings and necklaces as beautiful and affordable as what WIGG carries. Each piece is unique and the ladies who work in the store are happy to share the story about the provenance of each item they sell.

Downtown Cambridge is well worth allotting a whole day to browse the lovely shops. Treat yourself to a delicious lunch at the Cambridge Mill Restaurant overlooking The Grand River that runs through the middle of the old town of Galt, about forty minutes west of Toronto. And if you go on a Saturday, the amazing farmers’ market is smack-dab across the road from the WIGG shop so you can load up on fresh Ontario fruit and veggies, cheeses, jams, honey and other local offerings. Shop on, girlfriend and support other women.


These boots are made for workin’

Sometimes entering a radio contest pays off as it did for me a couple of weeks ago when I e-mailed my entry to a contest on Sirius Satellite’s What She Says program that runs every morning on CBC Talk Radio, Channel 167 starting at 10:00 a.m. I always enjoy the topics covered by hosts Kate Wheeler, Christine Bentley and Sharon Caddy Their guests are interesting and the topics of discussion are of interest to women as well as men. In promoting a line of work boots designed specifically for women, they were offering a free pair to the person who submitted the best reason for why they should win. Here’s what they said:



This contest entered the construction phase with the appearance of our guest Marissa McTasney, the inspirational entrepreneur who told us her story of ditching corporate world high heels for the trade’s world work boots … only to find out there was no such thing as women’s work boots! Marissa is now President of Moxie Trades Ltd. whose first product was the Iconic Pink Work Boot for WOMEN! You can check out the entire line of women’s safety apparel now available at

Well, we were so inspired here at What She Said Radio by Marissa’s story that we challenged our subscribers to SHOW US THEIR MOXIE and that is exactly what our winner Lynda Davis of Mississauga did! This is what she told us…

” As someone who spent most of my career in the construction industry it was always frustrating to me that I had to buy MEN’S size 4 safety boots, which were nearly impossible to source in the days before the internet. I looooooove these boots – just wish they’d been available years ago. As a cool, rockin’ Boomer chick I’d really do them justice. Everyone would stop me and ask where I got those boots (Amelia boots) and I’d be your best promoter.” Here is a picture of Lynda Davis wearing her men’s size 4 safety boots. We are sure you will all agree how amazing she will look in her brand new black Amelia work boots – with pink laces of course!

0 2
Josee-Amelia-3_4-single-Right-Shoe_900x900Congratulations Lynda, we know that you will absolutely rock these $180 Amelia work boots and since the foundation of What She Said Radio is all about interviewing, informing and inspiring women all across the nation, we encourage you to promote the heck out of these Amelia Boots and Moxie Trades Ltd. to help us build a strong community of women helping women!


And here I am a couple of weeks later in my new Moxie boots. Although they have safety toes and are shock-resistant, they’re not just for working—with a choice between hot pink or black laces, they’re suitable for both informal and formal wear. Rock on!


What would Helen say?

Helen Gurley Brown's opinions were radical at the time and not always popular.

Helen Gurley Brown’s opinions were radical at the time and not always popular.

The other day as I was idling in the grocery store checkout line, I picked up a copy of Cosmopolitan Magazine prominently displayed with other magazines, chocolate bars and breath mints tempting me to make an impulse purchase. There was a time in the late sixties and early seventies when I would have never missed buying an issue of Cosmo. I remember once in 1968 all the girls in my office at Bell Telephone being outraged when Cosmo didn’t print for a couple of months because of some strike in the United States.

Boomer Broads will remember how Cosmo was our bible of reference material on how we should be living our lives. We were all familiar with and dutifully completed each month’s Cosmo quiz to determine if we were sexy-smart, financially stupid or whatever the issue of the month was. We loved the articles, the fashion, the book reviews and the advice but we particularly loved and admired Helen Gurley Brown (HGB) who referred to us as her Pussycats.

Helen Gurley Brown was the personification of everything we could be. She came from a poor family in Arkansas and from an early age was responsible for supporting her wheelchair-bound sister and chronically depressed mother. HGB started work right out of high school and worked at a series of low level secretarial jobs. Over the years she increased her skill-level and competency in business to eventually take over and turn around Cosmopolitan magazine making it every working girl’s touchstone and a cultural icon.

HGB was sometimes criticized for what people thought was her anti-feminist position because she advocated women pleasing men. She was certainly off the mark on some issues but she promoted and glorified power and choice for women. At a time when women were encouraged to remain virgins until marriage (this was the fifties and early sixties), HGB advocated that women also be allowed to enjoy the same kind of sexual freedom as men. Her book Sex and the Single Girl was de rigeur reading for any twenty-something Cosmo girl and was chock full of tips and advice on how to get the most out of life. I didn’t agree with her putting career ahead of everything else, but she was right about women being financially independent and asserting themselves in whatever they chose to do in life.

Helen Gurley Brown's opinions were radical and not always popular.

Helen Gurley Brown in her prime.

The Cosmopolitan Magazine I picked up the other day would not make Helen Gurley Brown proud. Its garish purple cover was cheesey and the cover model looked just plain slutty. Thumbing quickly through the pages, I was not impressed with the layouts, the articles or anything about the magazine. While the basic layout of the cover resembled HGB’s original plan with its single young woman and tantalizing headlines designed to pull us in, none of this was accomplished with the degree of artistic taste and fun inherent in Cosmo’s earlier incarnation. Forty years ago, the cover girls were also young and sexy but they were also classy and the content was informative and avante-guarde not salacious.

Helen Gurley Brown passed away two years ago this week at the age of ninety and I remember feeling somewhat bereft at hearing the news of her death. I used to love watching her being interviewed on talk shows as her opinions were always so controversial. She must be so disappointed in how her baby turned out. I pulled out a copy of The Late Show, her last book published in 1993 the other day just so I could enjoy once again her wisdom and insights. Although much of what she had to say is still valid and her words of advice stand up even today, she was definitely past her best-before date when Canadian Bonnie Fuller took over her job. As for today’s Cosmo, I’m not so sure Helen would be pleased.

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This #GIRLBOSS has her sh$# together

sophia4The first time I heard the name Sophia Amoruso was during a radio interview when she was promoting her new book, “#GIRLBOSS“. This 20-something young woman was describing her path to becoming owner of a highly-successful on-line retail fashion business called Nasty Gal. Her business smarts were remarkable for someone so young and my heart sang when she outlined her advice based on lessons learned that were so in-line with my own that I couldn’t wait to read her book.

Amoruso was the rebellious only child of baby boomers who grew up in San Francisco. Diagnosed with ADD, she was always swimming against the current and attended a different school nearly every year. Never a conscientious or cooperative student, she distinguished herself by wearing strange vintage clothing and generally resisting all efforts by her parents and teachers to conform.

sophia1Leaving home before finishing high school, Amoruso bounced around living the life of a young vagrant who managed to keep herself fed and clothed by dumpster diving and shoplifting. With a peculiar knack for sourcing and selling unique vintage clothing found at thrift and charity shops, she started selling her finds on eBay. This was the beginning of her understanding of the basic principles of work and reward, profit and loss.

Before long, she set up her own website for selling vintage merchandise and like most beginning entrepreneurs she did everything herself including buying, repairing, cleaning, merchandising, packing, and shipping her fashion finds herself. She soon recruited a friend to help and grew her business to 350 employees and annual sales in excess of $100 million in vintage and new clothing sales shipped to customers around the world.

sophia3Still only in her 20’s, Amoruso is an example worth paying attention to. Because she had no credit, her entire business was built on whatever income she generated, her own hard work, a genuine love for what she was doing and  turning the profits she made back into the business. There were no well-researched business plans, bank loans, fancy offices or early investors involved.

I loved the book. I endorse her philosophy. And I highly recommend her book. She’s a kind of anti-Sheryl-Sandberg example in that she had no educational or financial advantages. The business she created confirms that a successful career based on hard work, an original idea and perseverance can be achieved. Good fortune is earned and Amoruso used her own no-cost resources to become her own boss and a successful one to boot.


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