BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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Just don’t ask me to bring hors d’oeuvres


Only if I can pick up a ready-made platter at Costco.

You’re having a pot luck? Great. What can I bring? Dessert? Salad? Veg? NOOOOO! Not an hors d’oeuvre! That’s the one thing I hate to do most in the world—right up there with washing the inside of my kitchen cupboards. Even worse, because it requires planning, specialty shopping, fiddling and figuring out how to keep everything fresh/crisp/moist/whatever. And my creations are never as fresh/crisp/moist or as visually appealing as what everyone else in the world can do so much better. It’s like the time my coworker tore apart and rewrapped all our corporate Christmas gifts for clients because she was appalled at what a sloppy job I’d done. I must say, her exquisitely mitred foil end flaps and creative flair with ribbons was far better than my version which was more like preschoolers playing with paper and scissors. I’m just not engineered to do fiddley.

My idea of artful hors d’oeuvres never looks anything like the symmetrically arranged shrimp atop iced butter lettuce in a seashell glass dish that I’ve enjoyed at friends’ houses. My presentations are more like I went dumpster diving, found some salvageable scraps and arranged them on a platter. Some people even brave the world of hot finger foods and present what appears to be the main course entrée on delicate china plates. Have you ever had those gems of nouvelle cuisine served in individual serving-size Chinese porcelain spoons or in colourful martini glasses with themed toothpicks? They seem far too pretty to eat. Don’t expect anything like that at my house. I’ve been known throw a handful of little bags of leftover Halloween potato chips on the coffee table when unexpected guests drop in for a glass of wine.

And for this food that Lynda has prepared, we are truly thankful!

My biggest objection to this whole hors d’oeuvre business is that it takes the edge off your appetite for dinner. When I’ve spent the better part of an entire day on my feet in the kitchen chopping, ladling, stirring and otherwise slaving over a meal for my guests, I want everyone to come to the table faint from hunger. Then, whether my meal presentation is a success or not, no one will know the difference. They’ll be so starved and desperate for food they can barely sit up, so whatever I serve will be a triumph. “Oh Lynda, this meal is amazing; YOU are amazing!”

When you come to my house, enjoy those Tostitos  and the bowl of Kirkland cashews on your dainty paper cocktail napkin because that’s all you’re getting beforehand. It’s called smart meal planning. And if you have a pot luck and ask me to bring an hors d’oeuvre, I hope you like Halloween potato chips. You can always count on me to do my share.


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Goat yoga? Save your money


P.T. Barnum had a name for people like this.

You may or may not have heard of goat yoga. There are actual people paying real money to have a live goat walk on their backs. I’m not making this up. Advocates of this new form of therapy go to a farm or designated facility equipped with layers of straw or similar material on the floor (for obvious reasons) and play barnyard for an hour or two. Pictures of this latest exercise craze are popping up on television, in the newspapers and on internet news streams. It’s called goat yoga and is the latest fad in the world of sucking in the stupid consumer. I’m confident that anyone who would spend their hard-earned money to have a goat walk all over them also once owned a pet rock.

Who needs goats?

Proud owners of real pets, which may or may not include a goat, know that goat yoga is totally unnecessary. Dog owners who lie on the floor to do their Pilates or yoga know for a fact that dogs can always be counted on to do the job new-agers are paying goat-owners for. Just try doing the downward dog in your livingroom and see what your Labrador retriever will get up to. It’s called doing what comes naturally. They sniff your privates, try to climb on top of you and as much as possible generally attempt to become part of the game they think you’re playing. They have an entire repertoire of moves aimed at stealing kisses and trying to push you over.

Pets with benefits.

This same propensity for getting in your face and on your back is part of everyday life for pet owners who are generous enough to offer a spot of room on their bed for pets. We all know how it works. When we get a new puppy or kitten, we swear this time we won’t allow it on the bed. Then, during its first night in your home, you’re awakened by whining, whimpering and half-awake spectacles of a little body boinging up and down beside your face on your side of the bed. How can you not let them up for a snuggle?

Pets are engineered for loving. That’s why we get them. They provide it in spades and their way of showing it is by delivering a steady supply. Sleeping with pets is frowned on by many (I used to be one of them) until you experience the warmth and affection radiating from your dog or cat wedged against your spine while you sleep. Smaller pets also have a talent for wrapping themselves fascinator-style around your head which keeps your brains warm and functioning on cold winter nights. Not so much fun on hot summer nights, especially when you wind up with a tail in your mouth or ear. The other night I was a bit cold in the middle of the night and considered snuggling up against my honey to get warm. But the thought of rearranging our three-and-a-half pound Yorkie just seemed like too much trouble so I simply pulled the covers up closer and went back to sleep. Where are those hot flashes when we need them?

Our yoga partner and personal alarm clock.

Owning a pet also means you probably never need an alarm clock. Dogs and cats have built-in circadian clocks that chime at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. and demand instant attention. In our house, if we’re a bit slow to respond, our dog climbs on top of my husband, scaling his length like a tiny mountain goat (see . . . I told you goats are unnecessary). If he still doesn’t respond, she starts pulling the covers off, followed by licking his eyelids and cleaning his ears. This is usually enough to generate the desired result, but if not, we’re treated to an escalating symphony of growling followed by urgent barking.

So, if any new-agers are tempted to sign up for goat yoga, save your money. Give me a call and I’ll send my Yorkie over for a session. I also have friends who have cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers and standard poodles if you’re feeling like a more extreme workout. I could even rustle up a Newfie if you’re into hot yoga. Satisfaction guaranteed. We’d be happy to let you experience life as we know it and no goats, long drives to the farm or allergy-inducing straw are involved. The lovin’ is just a bonus.


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Have I lost my decorating mojo?


Give me strength; it’s baaaack

After decades of subscribing to various (OK, too many) home decorating magazines (a.k.a. house porn), I’m seriously considering cancelling at least one if not more of my subscriptions. The reason? I’m finding I like the “Before” pictures better than the “After”. Yikes! I’ve outlived the decorating fashion cycle. Without naming names, I noticed that one of my favourite Canadian decorating mags recently featured makeovers that reinterpreted the apartment from my first marriage in the seventies. It was all geometric wallpapers in headache-inducing colours, hard surfaces and, oh lordy lordy, an honest-to-goodness real-life macramé hanging planter. As they say in the world of fashion trends, “If you’ve worn it once, don’t do it again.” The same applies to home decorating. I’m certainly not about to start cruising ebay for my vintage polyester orange shag rug that required raking.

I’ve spent many years and most of my RRSP neutralizing my large decorating pieces like sofas, chairs and carpets so that I can blow my brains out on whatever pop of colour in accessories the experts tell me I can do more economically. I’ve tried that approach and I like it. I can change my cheap sofa throw cushions seasonally. My bed coverings can be easily swapped out for summer and winter looks and I never get tired of my plain sheets and towels. Old boomers like me also tend to enjoy throw covers to keep us warm when we’re binge-watching The Crown and they can be picked up in the yummiest colours. For a minimal investment we can change our entire “look” with one quick trip to Ikea, Urban Barn, HomeSense or Crate & Barrel when their sales are on.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Then, there are those who choose to throw good money after fads and trends. Tell me why anyone would ever want to install an expensive imported Portuguese tile backsplash in a bold, dizzying black and white pattern or crazy green and orange graphics? I know I’d get sick of it in about forty-eight minutes. And furthermore, if you put the house up for sale, any prospective purchaser will instantly subtract from his offer the cost of ripping it out and replacing it with white subway tiles. Spare me another go-round of teak furniture, moss green upholstery and patterned drapes. Unless you can afford to redecorate every year, keep the big investment pieces neutral. The decorating gurus got that part right. Obviously, I’m a strong candidate for the Brian Gluckstein Medal of Honour for my use of taupe in interior decorating. I’ve earned and I’m proud of it.

It’s the nature of business however, to keep selling magazines and furniture and the only way to do that is to induce us to want something different, better or trendier. It’s the same in clothing, makeup, shoes and automobiles. It’s called built-in obsolescence and Apple ingeniously engineers it into their iPads and iPhones. We have no choice after a few years to trade in the old, still functional consumer item and replace it with something supposedly better, more efficient and shinier. Which is why I would never recommend buying expensive consumer items—purses excepted of course.

When I first married in the seventies, we were advised to buy quality furniture that would last a lifetime. Who wants a high quality Barrymore sofa and loveseat in dusty rose with a pattern of exotic birds on it that will last forever? Well, my second husband sure didn’t. So I sold the set for a pittance, covered with an Ikea white twill slipcover because used furniture has little to no resale value.  And the cheque bounced from the woman I sold it to so I had to go after her for $200.00. Today, that same sofa and loveseat set would cost thousands of dollars to replace. That one still stings.

Moral of the story

With a comfy LaZgirl, a sunflower-coloured throw and a big screen TV we’re set for life.

Our tastes change over the years and particularly when we’re young, it’s not a good idea to buy expensive furniture. Just ask any baby boomer or their parents who are trying to download that heirloom dining room suite to millennials who would much rather have something cool and contemporary from Structube or Ikea. Off to the charity shop goes Grandma’s treasured antique solid cherry desk that no one in the family wants. Buy what you like within your budget and be prepared to swap it out in a few years when you need a change of scenery.

By the time boomers are grandparents, we’ve pretty much nailed what we like and are content with what we’ve whittled ourselves down to. Downsizing is a big part of our lives now as we move from the family home into something smaller, whether a condo or a smaller house. That transition often calls for more compact furniture (except in televisions) but we can still repurpose a lot of what we already have.

It’s a wonderful life.

We could probably afford to replace that worn out old leather LaZgirl but we’ll just get a newer version of the same thing. The neutral Hudson’s Bay polar fleece point blanket thrown over our legs keeps us warm and cozy while we watch the Leafs get humiliated for yet another year. It’s so lovely to kick back in our taupe-coloured recliner with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory on our magnificent 4G 55-inch big-screen television. Am I losing my decorating mojo?


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Hair today; gone tomorrow


Hair loss is not a problem unique to men.

The other day I read an interesting blog posting on a beauty and lifestyle site for mature women. It outlined different strategies for coping with thinning hair as we age. Many women our age have the added challenge of hair regrowth following chemotherapy when new hair is often quite different from its pre-chemo state. Our once glorious manes are no more and we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance thickness, texture, shine and body. Rogaine is one option for thinning hair, although it’s expensive and with limited effectiveness only for as long as you use the product. The science of hair colouring has made tremendous leaps in recent years and for that we’re thankful. Some women use wigs and others clip mini hairpieces into existing hair. Extensions are time-consuming and costly and because they can further damage fragile hair, they’re probably not an option for many boomer women. But they’re de rigueur in the entertainment world.

Hair products today are so plentiful and economical that most of us have such a vast selection in our cupboards we would probably never have to buy more product again as long as we live, if we were to use it all up. I’m totally guilty and my personal stash is embarrassing. Walking the hair care aisle in the drug store or grocery store is an overwhelming experience that can leave us bewildered and confused. All in search of a solution to our hair issues.

In the sixties, we thought our thick, gorgeous, healthy hair would last forever.

Isn’t it ironic that wherever we have hair we don’t want it and where we want to grow hair it’s like trying to cultivate roses in the desert. We spend hours and stupid amounts of money waxing, lasering, threading and otherwise eliminating leg hair, underarm hair and bikini areas. The brunettes and olive-skinned among us may also fight unwanted facial or forearm hair and even blondes aren’t exempt from plucking, waxing or depilatating mustache and chin hairs. The battles never end.

Where we want hair to grow, it stubbornly refuses. Thick, natural eyebrows are now the fashion. Boomers foolishly plucked ours to oblivion in the seventies, not realizing it was a one-way street. Now we’re experimenting with tattooed eyebrows or the new microblading technique. I must say, microblading sounds tempting but I hear it’s not long-lasting which means more maintenance and expense. There’s a resurgence in the use of false eyelashes, whether glue-on strips or professionally applied individual lashes from the salon. I loved wearing false lashes in the sixties, before I wore glasses and before I worried about pulling out my few remaining eyelashes when I ripped off the glued-on strips. We also have the option of getting our eyelashes and brows tinted at the salon to produce the illusion of abundance. Tattooed eyeliner sounds tempting but I’m not confident about the long-term results, and damn, that must hurt. Do I really want to incorporate more expensive, painful maintenance into my already time-consuming and rather tedious repertoire of beauty treatments? What’s a girl to do?

Would you still love me?

Imagine if we were all to rise up in rebellion and let nature take its course—let our body hair flourish wherever it appears and let the hair on our heads fall out, kink, break, go white, whatever. What if it became fashionable for women to have a mustache or a chin like a billy goat. Life would be so much simpler and infinitely cheaper, and if we all looked similarly hirsute, we’d have nothing to feel embarrassed about. Imagine being proud of our mustache? “Oh Lynda, what do you use to get that gorgeous upper lip growing like that? And I’d kill to have a goatee as silky and lustrous as yours!” There are certain cultures that consider it a sign of fertility. What a hairetical idea. I like it.

The downside is that our entire economy could collapse. Imagine the billions upon billions of dollars that presently go into beauty products—advertising, merchandising and manufacturing—suddenly drying up, like our skin or hair on a bad day. Although, as they say, when one door closes, another opens. An entire economy built around leg, face and other body hair grooming products would instantly spring up. Marketers would produce bejewelled, tiny little mustache combs and trimmers (to keep it out of your soup—there are some standards ladies), leg hair conditioners, exotic oils to enhance the shiny bald spots on your scalp, and what about those “natural” dyes that will be needed to make sure the ‘carpet matches the drapes’, as they say.

I’d hate to be responsible for such an apocalypse so I’ll just keep those credit cards ‘a smokin’ in endless attempts to not look how nature intended. When I consider my appearance with hairy legs and pits, chin hairs down to my collarbone and no makeup—well, you get the picture. If I follow up on the microblading thing I’ll let you know how it goes. If you are willing to back me up on the natural hairy look, however, I’ll definitely reconsider. And, once we redirect current social preferences on hair, (depending on where it blooms), I’ll start campaigning about those misplaced standards of beauty regarding weight and preferred amount of body fat. I’m going to be busy and I’ll need your support. Are you in?


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The Hudson’s Bay Company welcomes new CEO and this shopper couldn’t be happier


Helena, girlfriend, I really need you to listen. I’m only trying to help.

Canada’s venerable 350-year-old Hudson’s Bay Company (for non-Canadian readers it’s comparable to Macy’s in the U.S.) is getting a new C.E.O. Her name is Helena Foulkes and she comes from CVS, a health-care company with about 9,700 pharmacies in the United States. Since January 2014, Foulkes was the company’s executive vice-president and president of subsidiary CVS Pharmacy. As a shopper, loyal Canadian and feminist I’m thrilled with the news and thought I’d take the initiative on behalf of all baby boomer women and make her feel welcome:

Dear Helena:

Welcome to Canada. When I heard you were taking over the reins at The Hudson’s Bay Company, I was so excited I could hardly pour my Geritol this morning. For more than twenty years I’ve been lobbying The Bay, making suggestions about how they could improve business and keep their retail stores prospering. And for as many years I’ve been ignored. Maybe we finally have someone who will listen. After all—I’m just the customer—what do I know? I hope you don’t mind me calling you Helena. I feel we’re BFFs since I wrote that complimentary post about you on my blog recently: (Click here to read Brushing away wrinkles and imperfections doesn’t fool anyone.”). I was soooo impressed that you took a stand against digitally altered beauty ads (Photoshopping) in CVS stores.

Anyway, Helena, as I said, my emails, snail mail, blog postings and letters to a series of Hudson’s Bay CEOs have all been ignored over the years and I really want The Hudson’s Bay Company to do well. To make your job easier, here are a few simple things you can do that I guarantee will improve sales and sustain your retail business. This is a simple a point-form summary but you’re free to read links to previous posts with further details about the issue which I’ve conveniently included at the bottom of this posting.

  1. Hire more sales associates. If it means eliminating a few pairs of designer jeans from inventory to come up with the money to pay these people, it’ll be a worthwhile investment. Unlike in European stores, it’s impossible to find knowledgeable staff to assist shoppers in Hudson’s Bay stores. This is particularly critical in suburban mall stores which are severely understaffed compared to your downtown Toronto flagship store.
  2. Make the cash register/sales desks easier to find. I once stood in the middle of the second floor of the Square One Bay store in Mississauga and literally yelled for help. The place was abandoned.
  3. Train your sales personnel to take pride in their work. And what about paying these people a more attractive salary to improve morale? Coming from a corporate marketing background myself, I’ve always felt that valued employees should be treated like clients. Happy employees are the secret to the success of the company, just like those ‘contented cows’ who produce good quality milk. Nordstrom sales associates are trained to walk around the counter and hand me my little silver shopping bag like it’s a special gift and they value my business. I like that.

    We really want you to succeed.

  4. Up the ante on the on-line experience for your customers. American retailers have nailed this and Canadian retailers are woefully late to the game. I’m a dedicated on-line shopper who prefers to do business with established retailers. As baby boomers age, we’ll come to depend on this service even more.
  5. Speaking of baby boomers—I just want to remind you that we’re a huge, overlooked target market. We have time; we have money; we love fashion. But no one acknowledges us anymore because we’re not the 18-45 demographic.
  6. On the subject of listening, have you ever considered appointing customer feedback mechanisms? Perhaps on-line surveys or better still, customer councils?

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, Helena. I really do want Hudson’s Bay Company to succeed and grow. If you’ll just take my advice, I think you’ll find the boss will want to give you a raise. Feel free to just call me anytime. Let’s have a cup of tea and sort things out. No charge.

Sincerely, Your friend, Lynda

P.S. To give credit where it’s due, I’m glad someone responded to my earlier plea to upgrade the ladies washrooms in suburban mall stores. They were pretty disgusting and I’m pleased The Bay is making an effort to correct this.

P.P.S. Here are the links I mentioned above:

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2017/06/09/top-10-suggestions-for-hudsons-bay-to-survive/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/02/01/its-my-fault-retail-stores-are-closing/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/10/31/retail-rant-hits-home/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/10/29/the-solution-for-canadian-retailers-is-as-easy-as-1-2-3/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2016/11/07/what-on-earth-was-the-hudsons-bay-company-thinking/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2014/08/31/support-is-growing-for-truth-in-advertising/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2014/01/29/hello-saks-goodbye-bay/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/09/14/how-to-improve-sales-at-hudsons-bay/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/01/19/brushing-away-wrinkles-and-imperfections-doesnt-fool-anyone/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/hbc-cvs-helena-foulkes-1.4520526

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Sleeping on Jupiter is a clash of dreams and reality


This book first came to my attention when I heard the author of Sleeping on Jupiter, Anuradha Roy being interviewed on CBC Radio. Listening to the background story of a young girl from India being told in the author’s lyrical accent prompted me to immediately put it on my ‘To Read’ list. The characters’ stories are linked by their common voyage to the seaside temple city of Jarmuli. It’s beautifully written with many sensory touch-points that take the reader deeper into the scents, sounds and texture of India.

Two story lines run parallel. Three grandmothers have decided to make a pilgrimage to Jarmuli for what baby boomers would call a girls’ week. They have never been away from their families and this act of independence allows them to communicate and explore their separate and different personalities. Latika is slender, not religious and the most modern of the three. She dyes her hair deep burgundy and is the most adventurous. Gouri is devout, traditional and the most conservative. She’s also in the early stages of dementia and its ravages are becoming evident to the point her two friends realize they have to keep close tabs on her to prevent her becoming lost or worse. Vidya is the intermediary and the one least inclined to rock the boat. During their travels and excursions their different personalities both irritate and reassure each other, which is common among old friends.

The fourth woman Nomi’s story begins with a guerilla attack on her family in their local village when she was only seven years old. Her father and brother were killed while her mother managed to escape with Nomi on her back. After days on the run, her mother turns Nomi over to an unknown man on the beach who embarks on a journey with a dozen other young girls to a distant ashram where they are left in the care of a famous guru. They are told he is God and they are to be fed, clothed and educated while in his protective care. Nomi meets the three traveling grandmothers as an adult when she shares a cabin on the train at the beginning of their trip to Jarmuli. As their lives intersect we are introduced to secondary characters whose lives are equally complicated and challenging.

Sleeping on Jupiter is beautifully written. The narrative alternates between first person (Nomi) and third person, and times in Nomi’s life as a child and an adult. The characters and their experiences are described in language that is compelling and descriptive. The darker side of life in India such as child sexual abuse and poverty are handled with sensitivity and understanding. My only complaint with the book is that it ended too soon. There were loose ends and unfinished story lines that I would have liked to be wrapped up. But life does not always have happy endings and satisfactory answers; this book is a slice of life.

To order Sleeping on Jupiter from Amazon.com click here.

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Is there a future for romance in the workplace?


Workplace romances have always and will always exist.

Birds do it. Bees do it. Cleopatra, Angelina Jolie, Bridget Jones and even John F. Kennedy did it. I’m talking about love affairs in the workplace. With all the attention on the #metoo movement and the exposing of predatory bosses, it’s easy to be confused about what is now considered acceptable or unacceptable flirting in the workplace. A group of high profile women including Catherine Deneuve in France is speaking out against extremism in reporting bad behaviour. The French women maintain that flirting and bantering between the sexes is normal and acceptable. I don’t think anyone can argue with that but when one person crosses the line and infringes upon another’s personal boundaries or uses their position to jeopardize and manipulate another’s security or career, then it’s a whole different ball game.

A large percentage of the population met their spouse or partner at work. I’m one of them. In fact, I met both my first and second husband through work. It’s an ideal place to go prospecting as you get to see people at their worst and best behaviour.  Being exposed to someone for eight, ten or more hours a day, five days a week provides a pretty accurate indication of that person’s true character. We see how they respond to stress, whether they’re honest and ethical, smart or lazy, and if they’re known as the office gigolo we can opt out. Finding a romantic interest at work eliminates a lot of the guess work.

The power dynamics depend on who’s on top.

The political dynamics of office liaisons, however, are rather tricky. Peers are the safest bet while cross-pollinating between upper, middle and lower ranks is riskier. The inherent problem is if or when the relationship disintegrates, how do the parties handle the fallout? Participants are left in the uncomfortable position of working together when there may be considerable animosity or one partner may be left to witness the other embarking on a new relationship. Not fun and often painful. There’s also the career/business advancement component and women are most often the losers when the male in the relationship is in a more senior position. Chances are one of the parties will have to change jobs and probably leave the company. With all the potential risks associated with office or workplace liaisons, people are advised to enter into relationships with a large dose of caution.

Negotiating the hazards of an office romance can be tricky.

So, what’s a person to do? Long hours at the workplace, particularly early in one’s career often make socializing outside work difficult. When you’re young, single and beginning your career, the opportunities outweigh the pitfalls and if the relationship fails the fallout is less likely to be as damaging. During my forty years in the corporate world I lost count of the number of successful, lasting relationships I saw launched at office baseball games, Christmas parties or after-work drinks at a local pub. Some of these pairings that resulted in marriage and children have successfully produced second generation employees who became part of the corporate ‘family’.

As long as there are men and women, they will pair up in logical, illogical, beneficial and destructive relationships. It served Cleopatra well, but only for awhile; not so for Marc Antony. Brad and Angelina’s relationship fell off the rails in an industry known for risky outcomes. If J.F.K. were alive today, we would like to think his shenanigans would not be tolerated, but consider the track record of the current President of the United States. Workplace romances certainly have their place and will always be part of life but there are no guarantees and should be entered into only after carefully considering the consequences. Not all stories have happy endings.

The #metoo movement is making everyone pause and reconsider what we once considered acceptable behaviour. All flirting is not just cause for dismissal. Not all accusations automatically denote guilt. That’s the challenge. If there are multiple accusers, then odds are “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. But perpetrators also deserve a fair hearing.

Workplace romance is a complicated business and with the increasing awareness of sexual harassment and pushback from opposing viewpoints the discussion is far from over. The current spotlight on the issue will ultimately generate positive change but not without some bumps in the road. As women become more empowered, the rules will become more clearly defined. In the games people play, it’s essential that everyone understands the rules. Both men and women stand to benefit from the outcome.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

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