February 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Who better to know how to heat up your Valentine’s Day than a woman whose business is romance? Romance novelist Robyn Carr (robyncarr.com) has been honored with multiple RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America and her Virgin River series (the newest installment is Redwood Bend, coming out next month) landed her on the New York Times bestseller list. Here’s Carr’s advice on how to apply the lessons of romance novels to your own love life.
1) Set the scene. If you’ve ever read a romance, you know that the sex can be pretty steamy. But rarely do the characters just start going at it and rarely do I give them a chance to get away to a quiet lodge. That’s just not how life is. But I do like to set the scene—let them flirt a little to heat things up. So how can you do that in real life? Traditional things like candles and good lighting are nice, but go the extra step and get rid of distractions. Turn off the phone. Turn off the TV. Send the kids to your mom’s house. Turn on some music so you can’t hear the garbage truck doing its weekly pick-up. (And try a faster-paced mix of tunes for a change!) Make the two of you the focus so the “scene” can happen without any interruptions. My characters are at their hottest when they’re concentrating on each other and nothing else.
2) Write your own romance story. Sometimes words are all you need. Take it from someone who spends her whole life creating romantic scenes from words alone. Take advantage of their power by sending a letter detailing your plans for Valentine’s Day (and night) to your partner. You can stick it in the mail a week before Valentine’s Day so he has a few days to imagine what’s coming. For some last minute “story-telling,” a sexy text message will work too. Just be sure no one at his office will get to his phone before he does!
February 3, 2012 at 11:17 am , by Lauren Piro
Newlyweds Isabella and Ryan assumed that married life would be blissful and easy. Kids, right? Read on to find out how they learned to communicate (and keep their problems off the internet!), and find the full story here.
Isabella’s turn: Isabella comes from a very close-knit, traditional family. Her mother’s home was always immaculate, Isabella is very close to her sister, and everyone in her family knew they had responsibilities. Then she married scruffy, free-spirited Ryan, and found that their home life was, well, different. To Isabella, Ryan is a slob stuck in a dead-end job. He never helps around the house and resents the fact that she makes more money than he does (even though she knows he could be a successful comic-book writer if he put his mind to it). Tensions were rising, and then Isabella stumbled upon the real kicker. Ryan had been keeping a blog (which had garnered a bunch of readers!) complaining about life with Isabella. She feels betrayed and wonders how well she knows him at all.
Ryan’s turn: Isabella is overreacting—he’s only using a the blog as a way to express his feelings, and likes the advice he gets from his readers. He says it’s like anonymous group therapy, that’s all. Ryan’s life has always been a bit difficult. His parents had him at a very young age, his dad was an alcoholic, and recently they got a divorce, which Ryan took pretty hard. For awhile, Isabella made his life better—she was romantic and caring, and he loved spending time with her. But now, she just nags him as soon as she gets home from work. He feels like nothing in his life is working right now (including his dull job), so he took to the internet to sort things out. It’s not a big deal. Why can’t Isabella just drop it?
The counselor’s turn: Like many couples, Ryan and Isabella didn’t think it was important to discuss how they would handle everyday tasks once they got married. They seem trivial, but responsibilities like managing housework can quickly cause fighting and marital disappointment. Ryan’s blog was definitely hurtful, but it helped the couple finally get their feelings and problems out in the open. After working with the counselor, each agreed to try harder. They created a chore schedule to organize their household management in way that worked for both of them, and Isabella curbed her constant nagging, trading her resentment for better communication. Ryan apologized for hurting Isabella and minimizing her concerns, and admitted that it bothered him that Isabella was the family breadwinner. The counselor recognized that Ryan had a tough childhood, but told him it was time to change the outcome of his story and earn some self-worth. The couple decided that Ryan would enroll in art school to kick-off his new career, and before long their closeness returned.
January 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm , by Ron Kelly
Some have pegged Sherrié Austin as the Taylor Swift of the Sex and the City generation. While it was Swift who titled her 2008 album Fearless, it’s Austin who’s had a longer track record of making big, brave moves to get to where she wanted to be. From moving as a teen from her native Australia to L.A. (when she won a role on the sitcom The Facts of Life), to leaving L.A. behind to chase down her dream of making country music in Nashville and even later tackling a few roles on Broadway, Austin’s made a habit of staring down challenges and coming out on top.
If you think about it, Austin’s new CD Circus Girl could also have easily been titled Fearless: She funded the CD, coproduced it and is promoting it, all without the support of a major label. She also took full creative control, penning three of its songs and cowriting all of the others. The task would be a tightrope walk for any country act but it was even more so for Austin, considering that this marks the first time she’s thrown her own hat into the Nashville ring in eight years. Though the singer enjoyed a string of country hits that started in the late 90s (“Lucky In Love,” “Put Your Heart Into It”, “Never Been Kissed,” “Streets of Heaven”), she’s remained mostly behind the scenes the past few years writing songs for others, including some pretty big hitters (think Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, George Strait and Trace Adkins).
When Austin visited us here at LHJ recently, she was honest about how daunting her Circus Girl endeavor was, even though she came out the other side stronger than ever. “There were times when I just woke up and said, ‘Why am I doing this? I’m taking such a big risk here with my time, with my money,’ ” she admits. “But every day this voice just kept saying to me, ‘Keep going. Take another step, take another step.’ I just listened to it. And I have no regrets.”
Why would she? From its first track to its last, Circus Girl soars, bursting with a real sense of Austin’s effervescent personality and pluck. There are tracks that will make you laugh out loud (“I Didn’t,” “If I Was a Man”), tracks that will make you cry (“Get Your Leavin’ Done,” “Tryin’ to Be Me”) and even tracks that will make you want to … ahem … get a little frisky (“I Just Want to Love You Tonight”). Lyrically, Austin absolutely nails it when she captures the internal thoughts that run through everywoman’s head. In her single-lady lament “Friday Night Girls,” for example, she sings, “Trying to look twenty-one / is getting old and it ain’t no fun / That mirror don’t lie / like it used to.” And in “If I Was a Man,” she vows to burn her push-up bra, singing, “Wouldn’t mind me a girl / with some meat on her bones / I’d love me just as I am / If I was a man.”
For the time being in her life as a lady, though, Austin’s main man is singer-songwriter Shane Stevens (a cowriter on Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey”), with whom she stars on the Sundance Channel’s Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys. The show, just nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding reality program, follows the relationships of four straight women and their gay best friends down in the heart of Music City. While being a part of GWLBWLB has helped reintroduce Austin to her fans, it’s also reminded her that performing is something she loves to do. And that’s certainly music to all of our ears.
For a video of Austin’s live and acoustic performance in our LHJ Ladies’ Lounge, read on after the jump. You’ll also get the scoop on this once again rising Nashville star and find out what her hesitations were about doing GWLBWLB, the unique way she wound up writing her favorite song, what country (and pop) stars she’d love to hear sing her tunes, and lots more.
January 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm , by Sue Erneta
There are different kinds of people on Facebook. Personally, I fall somewhere between the kind that can’t eat lunch without sharing what kind of salad dressing they had, and those who you forget are on Facebook because they never post or comment. I post a few times a week — sometimes more (sorry!) — but I always try to make it funny, interesting, or just plain cute (it helps when your kids are adorable!). Some might think I over-share, especially when it comes to my kids. I mean, I once posted a video of Lily at age 2 sitting on the potty singing Beyonce songs. (What? It was cropped from the waist up!) Here’s my theory: I share with my Facebook friends what I would share with a real friend. Sure, there are co-workers and business contacts that I count among my Facebook friends but they’re only the ones that I’m actually friends with in real life. I’ve had some random publicists (that I’ve never met!) try to friend me and I’ve said no. For those people, you can follow my fashion posts on twitter @lhjFashionLady or read my blogs on lhj.com or even just pick up the magazine to see my stories. (Ugh – writing that list makes me feel like I’m everywhere! Aren’t you sick of me? Why are you still reading this?)
I have a friend who has vowed to raise his child “Facebook-free”. It should come as no surprise that I don’t know anything about his daughter. I think of Facebook as a nice place to share some stories. In fact, my husband has several family members in Argentina who have never met our kids but get to know all about them via Facebook. How is that a bad thing?
I’m certainly not a private person (I mean, why should I care if someone wants to see Sophia’s latest fashion ensemble? I mean, she is pretty cute!) but I suppose I could use a good “friend clean-up”. I mean, why am I letting the guy who was a cocky jerk in Jr. High enjoy beautiful pictures of my kids? Admittedly, I only accepted his friend request to see if he held onto his good looks or if he got fat and bald. Answer: It was the latter and for some twisted reason that kinda makes me happy.
So, I’ll do a little friend housekeeping (goodbye Jr. High jerk!) but for those of you that I keep on my list, you can count on me to keep over-sharing everything about my kids, my husband, my job, my blogs, my vacations, my house, and my life. And if it’s too much for you, go ahead and unfriend me. I don’t mind.
January 13, 2012 at 10:10 am , by Lauren Piro
Oh, love in the time of Facebook. Such innovation. Such connectivity. Such possibility … that your high school flame will friend you and want to reconnect in a more-than-friendly way. (We’re onto what that “poke” button is for, Mark Zuckerberg. How sly of you.) That’s what happened to Jenny, 38, wife of Tom, 36. Her old sweetheart Grant came-a-clicking and before she new it, she was in a hotel room with him. Read on to find out what transpired, or check out the full story in our February issue, on newsstands now.
Jenny’s turn: Jenny was feeling trapped—Tom is a workaholic, and all the couple ever talks about these days is how to homeschool their kids. All the parents at their church do it, and the couple was supposed to take it on together, but now Jenny basically does all of the work, and occasionally Tom makes a bossy suggestion. With all of this on her plate—and all of the housework—Jenny doesn’t have time for the gym, Bible class or coffee with friends, so she started spending hours on Facebook to feel less lonely. That’s when Grant sent her a message. They started talking and texting, and Grant made Jenny feel like herself again, which she really missed. Eventually, they decided to meet up and spend the day together. Jenny lied to Tom and had dinner with Grant. Every step of the way, she knew it was wrong, but couldn’t help it—until her kissed her in their room at an inn. Jenny immediately felt awful and told him to leave, and she went home the next morning and told Tom everything, sobbing. Will she be able to convince him that he’s the only one she truly loves?
Tom’s turn: First of all, there’s no way he believes that Grant didn’t spend the night with Jenny. Does she take him for an idiot? He was shocked when Jenny confessed, but looking back on everything he can’t believe he missed the warning signs. Their cell phone log shows 300 pages of calls between Jenny and Grant, and Tom always thought she was just excited to reconnect with her friends on Facebook—not her ex-boyfriend! He knew the homeschooling was hard on her, but he didn’t think it had gotten this bad. If he ever cut Jenny off when they were talking about the kids, it was only because he hates arguing. He can’t believe she’s done this to him—and he’s not sure he can move past it.
December 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by Lauren Piro
I know, these are questions I’m not supposed to ask, right? Of course you have friends! You were a Girl Scout, a glee clubber and a sorority sister, so you’re set. You might as well embroider yourself a “No Vacancies” sign to match your massive collection of friendship bracelets.
Right…? Or do I hear some murmurs of dissonance in the audience?
I just moved to New York, and my life-long friends are scattered across the country (sure, I’m proud of my friend who’s off bettering herself in grad school, but did she have to do it 3,000 miles away from me?), so recently I’ve found myself a little lonely and worried that I was, well, weird for craving a few more gal pals in my post-college life. That’s why I devoured Rachel Bertsche’s new book, MWF Seeking BFF (Ballantine), a memoir documenting her search for a new best friend.
It all started when Rachel and her now-husband, Matt, moved to Chicago, a new city for both of them. Even after two years there, she still felt like she was missing some local BFFs.
Her husband, though a great guy, didn’t get it (“I needed girl time; he’s just not going to re-hash a problem of mine for the eighth time”), and her work friends didn’t feel quite right for a last minute text to go to brunch (“We just weren’t there yet!”).
So Rachel made it her mission to meet people, challenging herself to go on one new “friend date” per week for a year, hoping to end up with some new girlfriends—even a best friend—by year’s end. (The introvert in me shudders at the thought, but Rachel thinks one date a month would probably also do the trick—and afford you a more manageable social calendar.)
“There’s this stigma against loneliness,” she says. “And we’re scared to say that we’re looking for new friends; that people will think we’re desperate. But, really, there are so many great women out there looking for people, too!”
Phew! That’s music to my ears, and realizing it helped Rachel truly shed her shell for her quest— MWF’s chapter on her fun and genuine experience online-friending at GirlFriendCircles.com and her story about renting a friend (!) alone make the book a must-read.
And since she’s done it all—with success!—I had Rachel spill her soundest advice for friend-making (you know you wanna), even after the meet-markets of high school and college are long behind you.
Leave The House
“Say yes to all invitations that come your way, even if it’s something you’re not super excited about. I used to think, ‘Oh she’s just inviting me to be nice; she doesn’t really want me there.’ But really, inviting someone to be nice is a really good reason to do so!”
Be a Joiner
“It might be obvious, but just join something. Research shows joining a group that meets even only once a month can radically improve your happiness. I did an improv class, joined two book clubs and started a cooking club for all of the new women I was meeting—some of them are really close friends now, and even spend holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year’s together.”
Spread the Word
“Tell people you’re looking for friends. People assume that you’re set with the friends you have, even if you move to a new city like I did. But people know people in a lot of places! So if you move to San Francisco, tell people you’re looking for friends there, and they’ll be happy to help.”
Assume The Best
“Going into my year-long project, I thought people would think I was weird, that they weren’t open to friendship, that they’re too busy, or that the world is just meaner these days—whatever. But I found that the opposite is true—you should assume people want friends, because they do!”
Photo of Rachel Bertsche by Jennifer Troyer Photography
December 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm , by Ron Kelly
If you drew Martina McBride’s name in the country music superstar Secret Santa and you need a last-minute gift idea, I’m so about to hook you up. “Everybody always says I’m hard to buy for, and I’m not,” McBride tells me. “Just give me bath stuff and candles, and I’m happy!”
What would probably make the Grammy-nominated country singer even happier this holiday season, though, is if you tuned in to the 13th annual A Home for the Holidays this Wednesday, December 21, on CBS. “I was really honored to be asked to do this,” says McBride, who will be hosting and helping the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network shine a light on the more than half a million U.S. children in foster care in need of a permanent home. “It’s a really important show that is literally making a difference to future generations,” she adds, noting that some parents featured on this week’s show had been inspired to adopt from watching prior A Home for the Holidays installments.
The fact that McBride and her husband, John, are blessed to have a family with three beautiful daughters (Ava, 6, Emma, 13, and Delaney, who turns 17 this week) was specifically one of the reasons why hosting this year was important to her. “We kind of take family for granted sometimes,” she explains. “I mean, we decorated our Christmas tree last night and halfway through it I thought, think of all the kids out there that don’t have a family to decorate a Christmas tree with. And yet we take it for granted. We do it every year—it’s a tradition. It really makes you stop and think.”
Categories: Do Good, Entertainment, Family, Fun, Ladies' Lounge, Relationships | Tags: A Home for the Holidays, Adoption, CBS, Children's Action Network, Christmas, Dave Thomas Foundation, Faith Hill, foster care, Gavin DeGraw, Justin Bieber, Martina McBride, Mary J. Blige, OneRepublic | No Comments