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Are Men Turned Off By Self-Confident Women?

small valueDear Susan,

I had a pretty interesting conversation with a guy friend a couple of months ago. He asked about my love life, I said that there wasn’t much going on, and he told me that he thought that my only problem was that I was “too confident and too direct” for most guys.

For some reason it reminded me of something the mother of my oldest friend once said to me: “You have everything going for you but you’re too self-sufficient and men need to know you need them.”

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How to Feel Attractive When No One is Calling You Hot

I get a lot of email from women who worry about attracting a guy because they’re not conventionally hot. My advice is to aim for your personal best – there are many boys on the boy tree, and a very wide variety of preferences. This video from Alle Connell at xoVain is inspiring! (H/T: Jackie)

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Let’s Dish: What Are You Reading?

rosieSeveral readers have expressed an interest in sharing information about books. In fact, I’ve received requests for a HUS Book Club – we could all read the same book and then discuss it here!

I thought I’d start by sharing what I’m reading now, and what’s in my pile:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

THE ART OF LOVE IS NEVER A SCIENCE

MEET DON TILLMAN, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. 

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you. 

I adored this book. I devoured it last weekend. The characters are delightful, flawed but earnest. I had many laugh out loud moments reading this book, and I believe Mr. HUS was not unhappy to see me close the cover, as my outbursts were not complementary to his reading of Bully Pulpit. :)

Highly recommended! Right now the Kindle version is only $1.99.

Foodist by Darya Pino Rose

In Foodist, Darya Pino Rose, a neuroscientist, food writer, and the creator of SummerTomato.com, delivers a savvy, practical guide to ending the diet cycle and discovering lasting weight-loss through the love of food and the fundamentals of science. 

A foodist simply has a different way of looking at food, and makes decisions with a clear understanding of how to optimize health and happiness. Foodist is a new approach to healthy eating that focuses on what you like to eat, rather than what you should or shouldn’t eat, while teaching you how to make good decisions, backed up by an understanding of what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.

Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting is filled with tips on food shopping, food prep, cooking, and how to pick the right restaurants and make smart menu choices.

I wrote about the food blog Summer Tomato earlier this week, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s full of great tips on how to live a healthy lifestyle without feeling deprived, and without wasting time on exercise that isn’t all that beneficial. She’s young and hip too – here’s her list of Tips for Drinking Less Without Your Friends Knowing:

  1. Altnernate drinks with water.
  2. Drink clear liquids and leave some in the glass – it will mix with melted ice.
  3. Order drinks that look like alcohol, but aren’t, e.g. vodka soda with lime.
  4. Be forgetful – abandon the occasional half full glass.
  5. Drink light beer.
  6. Master the shot spit. (This is kinda gross, it’s spitting a whole shot into a beer chaser.)

A few women have asked me how to handle this social situation, and Darya’s advice is far more comprehensive than mine was. (I suggested alternating clear drinks with water.)

Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume by Barbara Herman

Let Scent and Subversion take you for a whiff on the wild side of 20th century perfume.

Perfume has been — and continues to be — subversive. By playing with gender conventions, highlighting the ripe smells of the human body, or celebrating queer and louche identities, 20th-century perfume broke free from the assumptions of the prior century, and became a largely unrecognized part of the social and style revolutions of the modern era. 

In Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume, Barbara Herman continues her irreverent, poetic, and often humorous analysis of vintage perfumes and perfume ads that she began on her popular blog YesterdaysPerfume.com. The book features descriptions of over 300 perfumes, starting with Fougère Royale (1882) and ending with Demeter’s Laundromat (2000).

I decided to read this after hearing a fascinating interview with the author on NPR. She has studied perfume changes and fashions as they relate to political change throughout the 20th century. This book is next up. By the way, the novel Perfume by Patrick Suskind (2001) is one of the most memorable novels I’ve ever read. In it a man with an incredible sense of smell strives to bottle the scent of a virgin in 18th century France. 

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth–Middlemarch–and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories.

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people,” offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot’s masterpiece–the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure–and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot’s biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead’s life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.

I only read Middlemarch a few years ago, and loved it. I also enjoyed the PBS dramatization. I just got this book today, and look forward to digging in.

For the record, I get almost all of my books from my local library. It’s easy peasy – read reviews on Sunday, get online and request desired books, wait for email telling me they’re in. I estimate that I’ve saved hundreds of dollars per year since I started doing this. This is a sound financial strategy for you 20-somethings!

What are you reading? What’s in your pile? Share the love. And let me know if you’re interested in the book club idea, and any book suggestions you have.

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The Best Source of Healthy Lifestyle Advice I’ve Ever Found

Before I started blogging I was fit and strong. At 50, I was the star of my bootcamp class at the gym. My internist cheered when my bloodwork results came back. My friends asked me how I did it. Simple. I maintained a very fit physique by doing the following:

  1. Four hours of strength training per week, plus cardio needed to burn total of 500 cals. per session.
  2. Four spinning classes per week. 
  3. Five-mile walks on weekend days.
  4. Vigorous garden work in summer months on weekend days.
  5. Obsessive food journaling to ensure consumption of exactly 1,570 cals. per day.

With travel time, I estimate that I spent approximately 25 hours per week pursuing optimum health. I was so into the groove that missing a class or neglecting to account for a 10 calorie mint made me feel that I was “off” that day. Jury duty became a serious crisis. Icy winter weekends wreaked havoc with my well-being. A spinning teacher who ended class five minutes early annoyed me profoundly. 

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The Impossible Female Quest for Effortless Perfection

the little prince

I decided we all needed a short break from the shame and vulnerability discussions, but I do want to close out the series on Brené Brown’s work by talking about the very real pressure that women today feel around their looks. It’s rare to find a young woman who feels genuinely confident about her physical appearance, and comfortable with her imperfections. The cosmetic surgery industry is largely built on a foundation of female shame.

According to Brown, girls today are raised with this objective:

Look perfect. Do perfect. Be perfect.

“How we look is the primary trigger for shame: not being thin, young and beautiful enough.”

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