Why do women of a certain age need to walk softly and carry a big tote?




When an article I recently read mentioned that older women should never carry a tote because it makes  them look frumpy, I wondered if the author had any insight into a real day in the life of an aging population.  

It seems every week there is an article published telling women over 50 how they should be dressing.  One article states that the official older woman’s “uniform” is crop pants, a long loose blouse and soft, comfortable shoes that will lessen the chance of taking a flop. A lot of women may say, “It works for me!”

There are also articles instructing older women to never wear their hair beyond a certain length, explanations of why they should color their hair, what shade they should go with and even what makeup they should wear or ditch.  Really!

I once had a manicurist who told me the shade of nail polish I picked was meant for a much younger woman.  The anticipated percentage of her tip was in jeopardy at that moment , but I knew she was just going along with those unwritten rules many of us ascribed to back in the day.   I decided on a full tip, but I was mad at myself for not going with the color I wanted.

Baby boomers are a generation of women who were encouraged in the 1960s to wear makeup every single day, wear stiletto heals, tease their hair and wear underwire bras and tummy tucking underwear even if they were as skinny as Twiggy.  Even though some women burned their bras in protest during the women’s movement back in the day, they are still being told how they should look and dress.

For many of us, trying to look like a Barbie doll at this stage of our lives just isn’t on our agenda.  That doesn’t mean we don’t care about our appearance or have given up and no longer care if we are perceived as attractive.  It just means we have more realistic expectations.   More likely, the reason may be we are at peace with ourselves.


So, being the guilty owner of several totes in lovely colors, I asked myself, is it really necessary for older women to have a bag that big?  

Well, that depends, no pun intended. We really do have a lot of stuff we need to carry around because life changes.

We’ve got stuff, and we need it with us!  

Our senses change.  We may have mobility issues, a need to carry medicine, medical devices or even slip a sweater in our tote in case the weather cools down while we are out.

Here is what this tote-carrying mama carries every day:

A wallet with all the usual stuff that goes into it

Glasses with transition lens and an extra pair of reading glasses

An extra set of cochlear implant battery holders, packs of implant batteries, a remote control for my cochlear implants, a bluetooth phone clip, a small one-on-one amplifying device

A five-pound keychain with assorted keys, FOBS and keychain reward cards

A comb, lipstick, tissues, antibacterial gel, a nail file and an eyebrow pencil to ensure my brows don’t “fade away” while I’m out

A small mirror that doesn’t magnify

Coupons, just in case I come across a really good sale

A small supply of Pepto Bismol tablets and Tylenol for those unexpected moments

Business cards 

A pen and pad to remind myself of all the things I would normally forget

A big cell phone with large print

Breath mints to offer to those who may need a “hint mint”

A small purse of quarters

Bottled water

On a rainy day, an umbrella

The real question should be, how do men manage without carrying around so much stuff everyday?  When asked this, some women will say men ask their wives and girlfriends to slip a few things in their tote bag so they don’t have to carry them.

Tell me though, do you really know any women who can get away with one of those tiny purses after 50?

Maybe this is a second coming of age for a generation that made their own rules. Walk softly in those comfy shoes girl, and carry your big tote proudly!






35 Days of Glory


A year ago Glory came into my life.  

I am profoundly deaf, but I can hear when I wear my two cochlear implant processors.  Like many people who have a profound hearing loss, my life experiences are divided between two worlds.  When I wear my cochlear processors I am part of the hearing world.  When the processors are off, I am deaf again.  

This is where Glory comes in.  Finally after a wait of about a year, there was a place for me in a hearing dog program.   The day I was accepted was a jubilant day for me.  I was going to be a puppy mom! 

I trained to work with Glory for two weeks last summer.  I trained alongside three amazing women with different levels of hearing loss. During that time, we shared many laughs, tears and stories about our lives.  I have wonderful memories of my first weeks with Glory and all the wonderful people I met during training.  As students, we quickly bonded.  The dogs captured our hearts.  We were in love!

Glory is a beautiful and petite black lab with deep and soulful eyes.  She is quick, bright and extremely insightful. When she first came home with me, she followed me around with those beautiful soulful eyes, never leaving me.  I felt like a rock star.  She established a special place on the couch that was hers, and she loved to rest by my feet under the table at dinnertime. 

Of course, I was flattered. I was humbled. Most of all I was touched by her unconditional love.  Everywhere I went, she was with me.  Out for my morning walk, doing errands, or snuggled by my feet at the dining room table, she was always nearby.  

First thing in the morning that sweet little face would be staring at me.  It was a remembrance of a time when I had babies, a time any mother will never forget.

Somewhere along the way, Glory developed a fear of transportation. Living in the greater New York area, this was a problem as I rely on some public transportation and drive to visit family and to do errands.  It was hard to watch her suffer, but I had to put her suffering before my special needs.  

On October 5, 2018 she needed to be removed from the program.  Both the organization and I were in agreement that it wasn’t good or safe for her and it wasn’t good or safe for me. This was a necessary but  very painful loss.  I would not be able to keep her as a pet as dogs are not allowed in my cooperative community unless they are a service dog.

I cried so much after she was gone. I didn’t know I had so many tears left inside of me.  It was yet another loss to grieve at this time of life.  So many triumphs and losses seem to occur in my life when autumn leaves fall.  

Yes, it is grief even though it isn’t death.  I didn’t even know I was numb for so long after my husband and my parents passed away.  Like hearing loss, losing Glory was a perfect example of experiencing “disenfranchised grief” coined by Dr. Kenneth J. Doka.  That is, losses that are not necessarily death or losses recognized by our society.  

Glory taught me so much.  Her presence was a reminder to never forgot to connect with all living things.  Glory made me realize I needed to feel life again.  

I could smell her scent on the couch for a long time after she was gone.  It was hard to give away all the sweet remembrances  of her days with me.  The house seemed empty.  I realized how much I needed to reconnect with the universe again after all these years.  I didn’t even know I was numb.  

She came to me for a reason.  It may be debatable what that reason was.  Her mission was accomplished, and she was entitled to her own brand of happiness.  I had to let go.

When we were in training,  we were asked to pick a song that reflected our experience with the dogs we were matched with.  I picked the song The Glory of Love. Coincidentally, when I was given Glory, her puppy raiser gave me a beautiful video of her early years that was entitled The Glory of Love.

I was told by a classmate, “Dogs get things that humans don’t get.” So very true.  How ironic is it that she recognized something in me beyond words spoken. That little girl reached a place in my soul that has been inaccessible for a long time.  

She is back with her puppy raiser who has kept in touch with me. She tells me “We will always be family that is bound by Glory.”  I was so lucky to have peace of mind in knowing that someone who loves her will be caring for her. She was so kind during the process, and has always recognized and respected my role as someone who loves Glory and my part as a “puppy mama” in her journey. 

Glory is in a good place now, and is loved by all of us. But I will never forget those 35 days of Glory.