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August 31, 2010

This is copyrighted material reprinted from the book, "Defying Gravity: Tales of a Reluctant Cougar" by Maya Avery. Reprinted with author's permission.

Wisdom of the Reluctant Cougar I'm about to share my accumulated wisdom after 40 years on Earth as an American female human being. You might want to have a pen handy. 1) A lot of our society’s paranoia and panic about age is created by advertisers who use that fear of getting older to sell “anti-aging” products. In reality, there are many benefits to getting older. For example: A lot of people, although not everyone, will treat you with more respect when you get older. And, in general, people tend to have more money as they mature. I know I do. 2) Almost everything tastes better with a little bit of blue cheese dressing on it, including spaghetti with tomato sauce. Try it! 3) A great way to prevent chapped lips is: As soon as you get out of the shower while the bathroom is still steamy, take your towel and use it to gently massage and exfoliate your lips. Do this at least twice a week on average, more in the winter. I count this as one of the best beauty tips I have ever learned as it has ended my days of chapped lips. 4) Volunteer regularly for at least one charity. Volunteering will not only help others, but it will remind you that you are not the center of the universe and that we’re all in this together. (Unless you happen to see your boyfriend with another woman while you’re trying to do your part.) 5) No matter how good the original, most movie sequels will suck. Hard! Which is why I refuse to even acknowledge that sequels to "The Matrix" exist and plan to never, ever view such sequels if I do acknowledge their existence. 6) Everything is fine is moderation. Think about it. Every single study you read about coffee, sugar or wine consumption or just about anything else (including being out in the sun, exercising, watching television, playing video games) all seems to lead to the same conclusion: A lot of things that people think is bad for them can actually have positive benefits if consumed/done/used in moderation. On the other hand, watch out for studies. It seems as if almost every study that ever proclaimed something as truth was proven false by a subsequent study. 7) Everyone is addicted to something. The trick is to try and be addicted to something healthy, such as moderate exercise, as opposed to something unhealthy, such as crack cocaine. And I do stress that I mean moderate exercise. I’ve seen jogging fanatics who run miles daily and look as if they are actually addicted to crack cocaine. 8) If there’s something you don’t feel like doing, such as a project at work, break it down into less daunting segments. For example, start by saying, “Today, I’m going to work on getting the introduction to this report written, tomorrow I’m going to work on the overall outline,” etc. A lot of times, when you get started this way, you end up getting “into it” and achieving more than planned. 9) Trust your instincts. For instance, if you meet someone and don’t trust them for some reason you can’t quite pin down, there’s probably a reason. I used to work with this guy when I was a newspaper reporter. Pleasant demeanor, seemingly ordinary man. But he made my skin crawl from the first second I met him. It wouldn’t surprise me to pick up the newspaper one day and find out he’s serial murderer. 10) Do not talk bad about anyone. Ever. Even with someone you trust. Even if the other person is already talking bad about them. It will always get back to the person being talked about. Especially co-workers. 11) If you move away from where you grow up, one of the things you will miss the most is the food. As mentioned, I grew up on Long Island, New York. Now I live in the South where I miss bagels, knishes, Entenmann’s chocolate chip cake, Friendly’s and many other foods on a daily basis. 12) There is humor in almost every situation. Find it and you will live a better life. Along those lines, don’t let failure get you down. Watch any comedian. Most humor involves some kind of failure. Failure to understand something, failure to fit in, failure to find love, and so on. 13) Success is 50 percent talent and 50 percent drive. Unless you’re Madonna. Then, it’s more like 25/75. 14) Be thankful for what you have. There are always other people who have it way worse who would love to be in your shoes. Cherish your family, your friends, your pets, your talents and the pure, simple miracle of your very existence. 15) Strive to be a good person but know that sometimes it's okay to be a bitch if someone provokes you, especially if you’re protecting someone or something. For example, if my next door neighbor comes on my property and chops down the bushes along the fence that were providing shelter to baby bunnies, I will wait till she’s not home but her husband is, put on my sexiest pair of sweatpants and a white tee-shirt and mow my lawn. I'm not saying anything is gonna happen, but I will say that I sweat a lot when I mow. All of the above combined knowledge has improved my life a lot. Unfortunately, none of it helps make me anymore of an expert at relationships than I was when I first starting dating 25 years ago.

Defying Gravity by Maya Avery is available on amazon.com