April 16th, 2008

“We spend years searching for our Prince Charming, Prince Handsome, Prince Strong, and Prince Caring. Above all, he is Prince Loves-Me-A-Lot and Prince Only-Has-Eyes-For- Me. You see, the fairytales tell us little about him, except that he likes hunting and refuses to marry a woman with whom he is not in love. When we find him, or more ideally he finds us, he pulls us up to his steed and carries us off. Wedding bells. Story ends. Perfect! So as young women we don’t prepare ourselves for the ups and downs of relationships. Our vows of staying together in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, can’t even imagine what the worse may be.”

“With my relationships I was building up little cushions around me in my outside world. Building little nests even though the tree was going to break anyway, instead of finding a nicer tree.”

“You tend to miss certain irreplaceable things when you end relationships, for me they are that special someone to walk and talk with, to laugh with, to snuggle in bed and watch a DVD with.”

“We want care and attention, to be treated as though we’re the first and the last thing he wants to see every day. You’d marry Shrek, wouldn’t you?”

“Sometimes I’m asked ‘Do you worry that when a man talks to you he’s only after one thing?’ Well tell me this – what man approaches any woman not wanting that one thing? In all fairness, if George Clooney walked into a room, I’d only be wanting one thing.”

“Probably because of my tabloid image, the only men who approach me are pretentious and egotistical and naturally have the balls to approach me and say ’Do you want to go out?’ You don’t get the nice everyday normal guys.”

“Sex is probably the one thing that can take up the least amount of time, but in my book it causes the most amount of trouble.”

“Don’t take men seriously; remember they’re only here to keep us entertained.”

“Never, under any circumstances, should we admit to being able to change a tyre – men have to feel superior at something.”

“Try dating short, bald men – they certainly try harder.”

“We must always be prepared to walk when we discover he’s not in “Who’s Who” but did make “What’s That?”

“Take a few risks with your man.  White water rafting down the Liffey might prove too difficult, so how about standing in front of the telly during the FA Cup or giving his oldest, dearest sweater to the charity shop, or washing his car with a Brillo pad?”

April 16th, 2008

“I don’t have a first impression. My first impression is already out there.”

“People find it very difficult to see themselves as a product. It took a long time before I came to the conclusion that this is how you market yourself. You’ve got to know what sells, how the media work, how tabloids work. There is a business there; it is formulated. So you have to be able to disconnect from what you are in the papers.”

April 16th, 2008

“There will always be people ever ready to tell me what’s right and wrong but I’m going to stick with what my heart and soul tells me to do. I intend to follow my love of life and to discover it for myself. Maybe it won’t all be easy. Sometimes the prospect seems scary.”

“Everyone says to me ‘Jesus you must be tough to take all that’. But I don’t think I am. I think I’m probably really actually more sensitive than most people. But that’s why I’m tough.”

“We are so lost in this world, we are trying everything to kind of find our way, rather than facing ourselves. And facing yourself is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do.”

“I believe that I still matter as an individual and that the whole name of the game in life is to constantly move in and out of positions that are not compatible with my happiness – until I find circumstances that are. You, and only you, can make the decision to put yourself in a situation that you want to be in. If people say, ”I think what you believe is stupid and you’re dumb and you’re not righteous and you’re not going to get to heaven and you’re gonna have a lousy time,” you say, ‘Thank you for your opinion – it helps me concentrate. I particularly liked the way that cockroach walked around your coffee cup while you were talking about my life. And what threw me into a state of absolute ecstasy was when the cockroach stopped, looked up at me, winked, and then urinated in your coffee. I loved it. I totally loved it.’ “

“I get a lot of stick for wearing fur. If some people don’t like it, they give me stick; that’s their opinion. I don’t tell them to wear it. I wear it.”

“It seems that status has become our only way of gaining self esteem – so much so that we are becoming obsessed with material wealth, with what we own, with branded goods. We are beginning to believe these are the only ways to demonstrate our self-worth.”

“Attitude is everything but if you lack it, a pair of Manolos will help.”

April 16th, 2008

“When you can love both yourself and others miracles will always happen.”

“The kinds of things that money just can’t buy are love, self-esteem and self-fulfilment. And first comes love. It’s what holds people together and makes things last. Loving yourself, loving life, loving others is what gives us security. If we allow ourselves to be bought, then we’re not worth buying.”

“Nobody ever died from lack of sex; it’s lack of love we die from.”

“It’s the ability to be able to feel so close to a person, so connected, so comfortable that it’s almost breathtaking to the point where you can’t take it.”

“So I guess I’ve come to the conclusion recently, that understanding your partner means not judging them, not trying to change them, just allowing them to follow their path. Leave things be. Stop asking questions. The way things are is the way things are. Accept that. In doing so it sets you free. If a tree in the forest isn’t perfect you don’t go up to it and say “Excuse me tree but I don’t really like the way you look, would you mind if I lob a bit off?” You can’t be bothered. You respect it and leave it alone. Look at all people as if they were trees. Love is in respecting others – allowing them to be whatever they wish to be and giving them the time to come to the correct solutions on their own.”

“You can’t say this is why I love you to someone and now I’m going to change you.”

April 16th, 2008

“They were children. I loved every single one of them. They reached to the depths of the child in me and all I could do was smile and laugh also. I laughed with them and laughed at the real happiness I had found amongst these children.”

“It is not terrifying to see or experience these sights; it is terrifying to realise that the smallest amount each one of us can give can make such a significant difference. Just like us they want a chance to live and they will rally to every opportunity we can give them.”

“I would thrive on being a mother and a wife. I would like two or three children but all in good time. I have plenty to do before that.”

April 16th, 2008

“We are all here under the eyes of God to help each other, and He doesn’t require us to succeed, only to try.”

“Life is not easy for any of us. We need perseverance and, above all, confidence in our ability to succeed.”

“If there is one thing I cannot bear, it’s not being able to master something that I know is within my grasp.”

“Surely those feelings of constant exhaustion and endless stress only occur when we feel we are getting nowhere, when we give in to the everyday obstacles surrounding us and when we lose our drive to achieve what we are inherently capable of.”

“No matter who, where or what you are, you can have it all because you already have it inside. Age doesn’t stop you from being you, from being sexy, beautiful, and desirable. Nothing does, only yourself.”

“By wild I mean living a natural life, one with innate integrity and healthy boundaries. Wildness to me is a natural force that no woman can live without. Without it we forget why we’re here, we hold on when we would best hold out. Without it we take too much or too little, or nothing at all. Without it we are silent when in fact we are on fire. Without it we don’t allow our natural powers to develop. We let them be subsumed by our culture, or by our intellect or our ego – and those of others.”

“Knowing life holds no guarantees for them, they were not promised a tomorrow, they were living for today, embracing the moment, their time on stage. They were alive. There was something in them that is deep in all of us, – the non-stop, die-hard fire for life.”
Article on The Rolling Stones September 2003

“Your modern day gold-digger gets stuck in the never-ending struggle for financial security, where money can become more enslaving than liberating, where obsessions about having it and the dread of its loss block her from thinking beyond and achieving more in life.”

“If you’re feeling that money can’t buy you everything, just remember that credit cards can get you close.”

“We don’t have to campaign for world peace, nor live with gorillas to save them from extinction. That’s all too strenuous. Feeling charitable and remembering the poor is sufficient. It doesn’t cost a thing and we can feel so much better thinking about others occasionally than ourselves all of the time. What’s that saying? One good turn gets most of the duvet?”

““It is said that diamonds are a girls best friend and dogs are a man’s best friend so it should be easy to see which is the more intelligent of the two sexes.”

April 16th, 2008

They say bad things come in threes and they would be right as far as I am concerned.  My current three disasters are my recent break-up with my fiancé, the occurrence of heart-wrenching Valentines Day and, as if that gruesome twosome isn’t enough, I get the triple whammy of being a model, a job where, no matter what, I have to smile.

The last few weeks have been excruciating. All I wanted to do was curl up in front of a warm fire with a good book. But no, being flavour of the month in the lonely-hearts column has meant that with the most romantic day of the year coming and going I was seemingly hot property for every PR and press release on offer. Ok, so it’s not all bad. If I’d have had the opportunity to sit at home and wallow in my own self pity I’d probably have gained 2 stone, cried buckets of tears and watched mind numbing day time television – not the ideal when I’m really in need of spiritual and mental growth. But instead the phone kept ringing and it seemed I was given no choice other than to keep working.

I thought I had managed to disassociate myself from Valentines Day. They’re always a bit of a letdown anyway. But no matter what I did or thought I couldn’t escape it. That felt dismal to say the least. During the countdown to V-day I seemed to be receiving one knock after another. The first, and most prominent, was a press call on Grafton St., bright and early Monday morning. I arrived greeted by friendly and familiar faces from the PR Company and was ushered inside to prep for what was going to be a cold and windy photo call. I was launching 3 Mobile Network new limited edition red Sony Ericsson K610i mobiles for Valentines Day. They were ‘served up’ to me on silver platters by hunky waiters as I sprawled across a linen covered table. Not such a bad job eh? Beats running coffees and wrestling with a photocopy machine.

But let’s not be naïve here, no matter how good looking those male models were, no matter how cool the phones were, I couldn’t help but see the irony. My stomach began to somersault, hmm, restaurant table, waiters, mobile phones, text messaging. Those of you who have read the papers recently ay well understand what I’m referring to here. You have to hand it to that crowd in Thinkhouse PR; they’re good at what they do. I had never experienced so many press photographers turning up at a photo call in my whole career. The joke was on me, but when the photographers shouted ‘ready’, what could I do but smile? To be honest I found the whole thing quite hilarious, I laughed and smiled all the way to the last shot. At the end of the day, or press call as it may be, if you can’t be light-hearted and see the funny side of the situation you may as well just give up and crawl into that dark dingy hole called depression.

Not me. Though I know only too well that a break up can be tough I was helped by some alternative force that seemed to be at work and that made me happy as I went home that day. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that my profession pays me to smile. As a model I must smile at least twenty times more than the average person every day, even though I’m sure I have as many emotional problems, as many emotional ups and downs and as many critical issues as everybody else. Come rain or come shine, whether I want to or not, smiling is a must. Every model has to smile to do a job, to pull a job and to hopefully get the job again. No one likes a model in a bad mood, not your agent, not your client, not even your fellow models. Frowning gets you nowhere in this business and strangely enough all this smiling seems to have a great effect. I have not yet come across a model in bad humour.

This isn’t just a model mystery; it’s a scientific fact. Smiling can actually change your mood and lift levels of anxiety and depression. The actual movement of your facial muscles that you use to smile sends instant messages to your brain that in turn instantly creates the endorphins and releases the hormones that make you feel good. And it works whether your smile is genuine or not. It’s Nature’s way of giving a helping hand.

So for those of you that may scoff at what we models do, maybe you should take a leaf out of our book and say “Cheese” once in a while. It can make a dark day seem bright. My model friends are some of the most cheery people I’ve met, not because their lives are any easier, or stress-free, but because they smile more frequently. Perhaps it’s not our looks that make us ‘beautiful’ but our smiles that make life more beautiful for us.

What we don’t realise is that misery requires that sanction of its victim. Nothing is really that miserable unless we think it so. It’s not the person, the place, nor the condition that can make us happy or sad. It’s our mind, the way we choose to see things. The reality is that in a life of struggle we all still have the choice – whether to be miserable or to be happy. If we all managed to smile a bit more imagine what a wonderful life it could be. Sometimes your joy may be the source of your smile but sometimes your smile can be the source of you joy.

The fantastic thing about it all is smiling is contagious; not only are you giving to yourself but also to others. Smile at everyone. There are hundreds of languages in the world but a smile speaks them all. It costs you nothing and buys you a lot. Everyone will profit from it, especially you. It’s the most basic kind of peace work. I don’t think I’m asking a lot. It’s not trigonometry. It’s just plain sense, like the words of the song my Grandma always sang to me when I was feeling blue – “That’s the time you must keep on trying, smile, what’s the use in crying? You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile”.

So my advice? Always send a smile with your texts. It’ll get you much further in life. :-)

April 16th, 2008

Sex makes the world go round, doesn’t it? The urge to mate is in our genes. And for most of us women that means falling in love first, and finding the right partner that can love us too. Attracting this mate to us is our preoccupation, responding to our genetic urges that are deep and unfathomable inside us. So sex appeal is crucial. But what exactly is it? Is it something that is inherently in us, or is it something that we can develop? And, if so, what is the best way of going about it?

I talked to four men, each of them professionals in bringing out the best in women. Tony Kelly, top fashion photographer who is currently shooting a book on the Irish Fashion Industry, focuses on capturing the natural beauty of models and exposing their true potential in his work. Patrick Casey, now an international designer of evening dresses, works to make very woman beautiful in her own way and give her the “feel good factor”. Michael Leong, celebrity hairdresser, loves to create sophisticated styles that are sexy in their own naturalness. And Derek Daniels, top model agent with Assets Model Agency, finds every aspect of a woman attractive. They all felt sex appeal was important, “It’s what makes us tick!” says Tony.

So is it just how you look that matters? Is physical attractiveness essential or can a woman relying on her personality? Whilst our four men admitted that physical appearance is probably what would initially attract them, the good news is their views on what is physically appealing vary significantly; and all of them agree it is personality that ultimately attracts, that signifies to them the prospects of a long term relationship.

So what is physically appealing to these guys? It seems that overall physical presence is critical – the way we stand, walk, compose and hold ourselves, exuding an inner confidence that says we like ourselves enough to care about how we appear. It’s not just about what we do but the way we do it. “Stylish people are not always the pretty people” according to Patrick. “Inner style comes across from how you carry yourself”. We can also find great consolation, especially having just eaten that second slice of chocolate cake, in his opinion that this bodily composure can exude sex appeal regardless of our body build. He advised, “Stand well, walk well, then it doesn’t matter whether you are on the large side or the thin side”. Derek says “As far as dress sense goes it’s purely down to the individual, it’s in the eye of the beholder. For me I could find a pair of jeans as sexy as a mini skirt, it al depends”.

So okay, I get it – we should all hold ourselves assuredly, sway confidently, look well groomed, laugh (but not too loudly), dress uniquely, follow Michael’s recommendation to “take hints from different looks that suit you, rather than copy everything that on the runway” and most importantly, subtly suggest our inner strengths. So if that starts attracting men into our web, then what next? According to Tony and Patrick the ultimate secret attraction lies in our eyes. “They are the key to a woman’s soul” explained Patrick. “They can lead you to an understanding of what’s inside her. I always hold eye contact. Eyes can tell so much; they don’t lie. A woman just has to laugh, look at me, and that’s what flips me. It’s something you just feel.” “Eyes that are clean, glowing and healthy are captivating,” added Tony. “It’s amazing to be able to photograph that, to capture that true natural look and appeal”. For Derek eyes too are important, but there is something more – “I like a woman who smiles and laughs a lot, who looks at you when she speak to you and gives a warm handshake. That’s very important, but I have to admit, I’m a boob man myself”. (Aren’t so many men!) But according to Michael Leong it’s our hair. “Maybe I notice a woman’s hair more than most men, after all that’s my job. I hate bad hair that’s overdone. It should be natural, not over the top”. Michael also feels that intelligence plays a vital role in relationship interaction, “When you meet someone the conversation has to be appealing, I work in fashion, the worst thing for me is meeting another person who works in the industry and just talks shop all the time”. So be careful girls, though you might think a common interest might get you places, be wary of just prolonging the agony of their work day instead of bringing some new sunlight into their lives.

Personality is obviously essential but what types of personality are sexually appealing? Is it enough to let our inner selves shine through (provided we can overcome hormonal mood swings and daily stress)? All our men were attracted to a sense of humour, vibrancy and confidence. Yet subtlety is the key, as Derek reminds us, “confidence is important but I think the whole gender thing has got a bit confused. Some women now are so confident, so forward that it’s intimidating for a guy. The whole natural balance has got messed up. It scares guys off”. Now, we don’t want to be doing that! Rather, it seems to be the hidden promise rather than the obvious advance and the overplayed behaviour that seems to get the adrenaline running. Patrick referred to the appealing woman as “the indefinable whore, a woman who is really in touch with herself and can come across to you in many ways.” That was seconded by Tony Kelly who finds the less obvious more attractive. “I’m into hidden sex appeal, like hidden beauty”, he admits, “something that more subtle than overpowering, it can whisper a promise of what lies beneath”.

The question is, how do we get in touch with our hidden sex appeal? Without a doubt, our four men agreed it came down to an inner strength. They seemed to be saying that while sex appeal can get you immediately noticed (for better or for worst) it is the sensual woman that can maintain their interest. “You can see whether a woman is sexual”, explained Patrick, “she oozes it in her body movements. It’s an external thing; whereas a sensual woman is in touch with herself, her emotions and other people’s emotions. It’s internal. How you feel inside can affect how you appear to people and how you deal with them”. Derek concurs that “a sensual woman is more feminine; a sexual woman can sometimes appear brassy and cheap.” In Tony’s eyes sensuality lies in beauty, an ability to look amazing without having to “tart yourself up”. “If a woman’s dressed up and highly groomed” he went on to explain, “she can look amazing and would turn my head, but without that natural element her attractiveness would be short lived as far as I’m concerned”.

Does that mean we have to be beautiful in order to have sex appeal? I got two definite yes answers and two definite no answers. Tony and Michael strongly agree that having natural beauty made a woman automatically sexy. “I like natural women” said Tony emphatically, Michael went on further, “Sexy doesn’t have to be plunging neck lines; a woman should just look polished”. However Derek and Patrick’s experience of working with many beautiful women lead them to the opinion that this just isn’t enough. “In my job I know a lot of girls that are amazingly beautiful but I wouldn’t find them sexy” stated Derek, to which Patrick added, “There are some extremely beautiful women that lack that extra quality of sex appeal”. Does this mean that it’s a black and white case or is sex appeal attainable for all? Derek thinks that it’s “either there or it’s not”. Tony agrees but says you can become aware of sex appeal at a certain level, the average girl can glam herself up, take care of her appearance and sure, she’s going to look more attractive, but without that natural quality she’ll never achieve the ultimate….” Michael Leong has other ideas. To him everyone has sex appeal, “How can you define sex appeal for each person anyway? Different people have different ways of being sexy, there’s something attractive about everyone.”

I suppose it depends on whose looking but it does seem there’s a quality in each of us that needs to be drawn out and used to its maximum potential. Should we take a leaf out of the Italian’s book, who is notoriously confident and passionate women, or should we heed the Scandinavians, admired by men around the world for their reserved, understated sex appeal? I asked the four guys how the Irish rate in the sex appeal stakes? “If I had to choose the top five countries,” states Derek, “Ireland would be fifth”. The other three guys were somewhat more generous in their opinions. Said Tony, “Okay, so we don’t have the climate and as a nation we’ve lived on a diet of spuds for the last 35 years, but we are moving up the table. This is mainly due to wealth; money makes you look better”. Patrick felt “the Irish Have a certain charm about them.” And Michael added that we have the gift of the gab on our side. Nonetheless, all four men were unanimous in their belief that Irish women could make a few minor improvements. “A bit more attention to personal grooming is needed,” said Derek decidedly. 2Make up is a big problem in this country as far as I can see” states Tony, “from a photographers perspective, women wear too much of it. Make up can be the making or the breaking of someone, just a certain amount of subtle usage can enhance what you already have.” Michael feels that “less is definitely more” and that we should “let our natural beauty shine”.

The problem is, and what maybe these men do not realise, is that it can take much longer to achieve the natural look than to glam yourself up. When we look in the mirror in the morning, the natural that we see peering back at us can be anything but beautiful. It’s hard work to eat healthy, exercise, cleanse and tone pores and drink water all day. Is this ‘natural’ sex appeal so important to us that we have to go through all this effort just to attract a mate? “Is it important to have breakfast? The choice is yours.” Says Michael. “Everybody has a bad day, that’s life, but when you feel attractive you feel positive and good about yourself and that attracts positive people around you.” Derek puts it more bluntly, “It’s important enough, because without the human race we would not continue”.

Since all the guys agreed that sex appeal is critical to our natural evolution, I asked each of the guys to proffer a definition that we could use as our future guide. Tony felt that “it’s an understated beauty, nothing vulgar, just natural beauty”. “An indefinable aura,” describes Patrick, “it comes from many things such as intelligence, beauty, radiance and taste. Encompass all those factors and then you’re going to be sexy, ignite all those elements in the box and you’re going to be on fire.” “For me, it’s seeing somebody and just wanting to ravage them,” says Derek, “It’s in the eye of the beholder, you only have sex appeal if someone else thinks you have sex appeal. Everybody can have it depending on whose looking”.

The lesson seems to be that creating sex appeal involves acknowledging our individual quality and using it to its full potential so that we can be unique, attractive, special and sexy in our own way. It is an important strategy in our everlasting search for love no matter how young or old we are. Age does not protect us from love, but love, to some extent, protects us from age. It keeps us glowing, feeling good inside, wanting to look good outside. It’s a circle! So make a move, get started, no woman was ever ruined from without, the final ruin comes from within. We need to make the most of what we’ve got, love ourselves, never think that we are not good enough, but always look towards making those little improvements that seem to matter.

April 16th, 2008

Calvin

Calvin, named after the famous cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes, is my 9-year-old dog; my family adopted him at about 8 weeks old from a farm where we used to stable our horses in Wicklow. He’s a mongrel a mixed breed of terrier, Labrador, and German shepherd and probably a few other breeds. His mother was the farmer’s dog, a mongrel herself, unspayed; she kept having litters, which unfortunately if they were not adopted would have had a cruel fate in the lake. Calvin grew up with us at our family home in Enniskerry. He loved having the countryside to run around in but despite limitless boundaries he never strayed off our land. He seemed to be a most popular dog in the neighbourhood as all the other dogs would come to the kitchen door everyday looking for him to come out and play. Despite being neutered at an early age he proved too be quite a hit with the ladies who had quite a fondness for him. I do think he’s quite a charmer, when he looks at me with his big brown eyes I often think if he were a man I’d marry him. He’s the most loyal, loving well-behaved dog I have ever met; I don’t just think that because he’s mine. He used to love coming out on all day treks with the horses but sadly about 3 years ago we had to move from the country to the city. Calvin found this quite hard to get used to at first. He still has a garden though not quite as big so I make it up to him by taking him on long daily walks, well, more like he takes me on long walks. His pet peeves probably to do with city life are, postmen, quite natural for dogs, but strangely enough motorbikes, he hates them with a vengeance and is determined to kill every one that rides the road. One time in the early days of city life he was taken on a walk to the shops on one of those long extendable leads. Before we knew it a 1000cc motorbike came flying past and Calvin went for him, the extendable lead extended beyond it’s limits and snapped but got itself caught in the wheel of the bike and dragged poor Calvin for at least 50 meters before the bike coud stop. Poor trembling Calvin although ending up with 8 stitches in his jaw refused to learn any lessons, even on a short lead he is chomping at the bit in an effort to kill every motorcyclist there is. To be honest with you that was one of the few occasions we have had to take Calvin to a vet. Apart from his annual jabs, there never seems to be any other need, the strength of the mongrel goes on and on with never an illness, a toothache, or a joint complaint. He loves the water, he’ll jump in the crashing waves of the sea, as long as they’re not to big and he loves to swim in river or lake especially if you throw a ball in first for him to fetch. The nicest thing about him is that although he will guard our home with the most ferocious bark that would scare the most aggressive of burglar and better than a purpose bred dog, once we ask him to he will welcome any stranger to our house. One of the most endearing things about him is how considerate and friendly he is to other dogs. If they sleep in his bed or eat his food he looks at them in a forgiving way and says nothing. He even lets our cat Kitty eat his food and will even stand back to give her preference. Strange as it may sound you will even find the two of them snuggling each other, and who said cats and dogs don’t get on. Mind you he does like to ensure he gets his fair share of loving from us. If we are cuddling Kitty he’s up like a shot to make us aware that he’s there too. His other endearing nicknames include Pookies, Tufty Bum and Chicken Legs. Everyone who meets him, from friend, family, our vet and strangers say they have never met a dog like him; he’s a real gentleman who gives love and wants love.

 

Kitty

6 years ago things were not going too well for our family. Mum was troubled and didn’t know what to do and so a very dear and close friend advised her to go to bed that night and talk to her departed mother. She was convinced that her mother could give her all the help and advice that she needed. My mother, though sceptical was desperate. What the hell she said I’ll give it a go and she asked her mother to give her some strength and to try in some way to bring some love into our household. That night there was a great storm and my mother was woken at 4 o’clock in the morning be a whining miaow outside her bedroom French window. There was a little 6 week old kitten, drenched, shaking and looking like a little rat, we brought her in and she’s been with us ever since. We put notices up and informed the DSPCA but no one ever claimed her. She was ours, and as she grew into a his grey furry, green eyed Persian cat we were amazed to notice not only how much she looked like my grandmother but also how she acted like her, hence her name Kitty after Grandma Kitty, it seemed a little more than coincidence. Every time we felt down or sad she would stroll into our lap and rub her head against our cheek. When we were desperately looking for something she would miaow and she would be standing on top of it. Although she loves to explore she always comes back. Apparently she has one of the loudest miaows of cats. When she wants to draw attention to herself she knows how to – but always in the nicest possible way. She loves to crunch her cat biscuits but at the same time is partial to dog food, raw chicken and prawns. her most comfortable lounging spots are on top of the laundry basket, on the back of the couch, inside the hot press and deep in the attic, yet she has proved herself equally comfortable in front of TV cameras, having recently modelled for Newbridge jewellery collection for cats (and dogs) on TV3. She sat with me in her arms, looked at the cameras and I swear gave it a famous model smile. Always one for attention and companionship she even accompanies us when we walk our dog Calvin, happily trotting behind him. She asks little more than to be able to cuddle up on the bed at night time and around 7.30 in the morning she’ll give me a few gentle nudges on the nose to remind me it’s time to get up and eat – that is of course unless she over sleeps which she’s prone to do at times. It’s funny about Kitty to a certain extent we all have this fear that our cat might wonder off but some how deep down we know she never will. 

April 16th, 2008

We young people tend to believe that love and sex is the domain of the young. Let’s face it, most love poetry and popular love songs have been written about the young, and often by the young. We are inclined to believe that post-forties love affairs must be rum and ludicrous and are often disturbed with disquieting reminders of sexual activity between our parents.

What so many of us don’t understand is that love, sex, and even lust defies age and time. Desire can become more prominent as time passes. Yet most women turning fifty experience it as a watershed, a wasteland of self-loathing, with a refusal to acknowledge who they really are and what they have become. There are those who deny their desire, who have forgotten their authentic passion for red nail polish, fabulous earrings and sleeping in the nude, and who turn quickly to twinsets, tea and scones on Sunday afternoons and looking after the grandchildren. It works, they go straight from forty-nine to fifty-one; and they do not go quietly, – they do not go at all.

And there are those who embrace that desire. A woman at fifty does not want to waste any more of her time waiting for that second, third or fourth chance at ravishing life. They have experienced all the pain, angst, unfocused anger and jealousy of youth, got through it, conquered it and found that an entirely new life of possibility has opened up for them. Erica Jong in her book Fear of Fifty, tells us “At fifty the mad woman in the attic breaks loose, stomps down the stairs, and sets fire to the house. She won’t be imprisoned anymore.”

The mistake that so many older women seem to make, however, is that they focus on the search for external youth rather than the perpetuation of their own internal youth. They avoid social conversation with men over the age of thirty-eight. They throw out all their cotton underwear and invest in enough Italian silk lingerie to last several lifetimes. They learn to walk again in high heels, practice the art of regular waxing, start wearing stockings and garters and capri pants. They have trendy haircuts, begin to work out or give the latest diet fad a test run. They are rejecting any attempts to strap them down, refusing to swallow the birthday cake. If it’s their party, they feel they don’t have to show up. This way, when the extremely rude and crude inquire about their chronology, they can honestly say, ‘Well, I’ve not celebrated my whatever yet.’

And all of this is certainly not to maintain their health. It’s to look good and to feel desirable to the opposite sex. Their search for eternal youth takes the form of the search for eternal beauty, with the focus on the outside not the inside. Looking good creates a confidence in friendship, in work, in love. It’s important to be sexy, to want to appear beautiful. Beauty is one of the great gifts of nature; but old Mother Nature is cruel, abandoning women as soon as their reproductive life is over by withdrawing the hormones that kept them looking young.

And let’s face it, literature and mythology refers to women at these stages of life as ‘crones.” Granted there may be a few factors or circumstances that contribute to life’s agitation, such as a broken marriage, loss of partner, termination of employment, but it’s the word ‘crone’ that can throw you into a loop. And what an ugly word to describe such a creative chapter in a woman’s story! Surely invoking the image of a crone as a figure to emulate diminishes a woman’s sense of well being. The French call feminine act-two players ‘women of a certain age’, and that describes a lot of women very succinctly; we become more certain of ourselves as authenticity emerges. When it comes to a choice between the sexy chuckle of songstress Lena Horne and the gleeful cackle of sorceress Madam Mim, I’m much more inspired by the lady and her music than I am with the lady and her magic spells.

So what is the key to success, how do we women our desirability? Is there a clue in the crone myth, however ugly the word might sound?

At a recent concert in Dublin’s Point Depot I watched women scream, sweat and shake as the world’s greatest rock and roll legends set foot on stage. At the age of sixty plus the Rolling Stones still manage to maintain their sex appeal, still manage to put their audiences into a state of awe with their presence. What is it that makes these veterans of the stage the most wanted men on earth? Surely it can’t be their looks! The many years of life on the road, constant parties and mindless drug abuse have taken their toll on the faces of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards et al. The bodies of the Stones are a far throw from those of today’s strapping pop idols. Yet there was something mesmerising about them, something sexy about the way they moved, they sang, they jammed together. They had energy about them. It was as if they were aware that they were living for the last time, the only time. Knowing life holds no guarantees for them, they were not promised a tomorrow, they were living for today, embracing the moment, their time on stage. They were alive. There was something in them that is deep in all of us, – the non-stop, die-hard fire for life. No wonder over the years they had received the attention and adoration that had shot them to uber-celebrity status. They truly were life icons. It wasn’t their aesthetic beauty that made women want them, it was their power and thrust that made them desirable.

We all know about the Rolling Stones reputation. Mick Jagger has bedded some of the world’s sexiest women. These include wives Bianca Jagger and Jerry Hall, lovers Marianne Faithful, Luciana Morad and Sophie Dahl, as well as a lengthy string of others. Yet Jagger has admitted that his lovers often can’t get no satisfaction – despite his reputation between the sheets. He recently told Swiss newspaper Blick: “It’s a fact that this adventure playground behind the zip of my trousers has myth status on the groupie scene,” and confessed that he finds it hard living up to his “sex god” image. “When you are said to be the f*** of the century it’s a matter of course that every woman is disappointed after the first night with you”.

So in the knowledge that Mick, on his own admittance, is no superman in the bedroom, that his face is far from beautiful, and his scrawny bod could do with a bit of a build-up, how come the ladies are not deterred from chasing him? The answer was in watching and listening to him perform. What we women, young and old, desire in him is his passion. Though Mick also confessed, due to his unfaithfulness, that he was at fault for his marriage break ups, it doesn’t seem like he’s a lonely man. He has other fulfilment in his life, – his music. “All my friends at school grew up and settled down.” said Mick, ‘Then they mortgaged up their lives… They just got married coz there was nothing else to do’. Mick had something else to do – he played rock and roll coz he liked it. He stuck at what was authentically him.

We don’t all have to be world renowned super stars like Mick, but we can all attain that same something that he has by just capturing the spark inside ourselves and nurturing it, so that one day it’ll burn as brightly as a bonfire, emulating the warmth, light and energy that came from the stage that night. The music resonated throughout the Point. Young and old, it got us all rocking in the first second of drum roll and guitar twang. It touched each and every one of us, thudding through our loins, rock and rolling us into our past, reminding us of who we really were and how we feel. It was empowering. It was obvious the Stones love doing what they do, creating music and rocking audiences throughout the world. It’s what has kept them going all these years, what kept the Rolling Stone legend alive, what made them desirable.

Everyone joined in with an unbelievable depth of emotion to ‘you can’t always get what you want’ determined in their chorus of  – ‘ but if you try some time, you might just get what you need’. Those Rolling Stones were singing about our lives, about our striving. They were singing to help us realise what life is all about. And I was thankful there and then that in this world we do have culture, we do have various wonderful art forms that caption our emotions, trials and tribulations in living. Art is a comfort; it expresses us individually, makes us feel worthy of being. Every song reminds us of a time, an event, a moment in our lives when something mattered, when there was action, when there was feeling, when we not only existed but when we lived. Their encore of ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ with falling rose petals, billowing smoke and background lightworks thudded into my soul, into everyone’s soul I guess, reminding me of my inner strength and reinforcing my belief that the only way was forward, erect and positive.

The performance came to an end and the final beat was sounded but the buzz of the night lived on. I walked back to the familiarity of the O2 Point Club, the newest edition to the ever-expanding Point Depot. It seems now the essence of rock and roll can be experienced in surroundings a far cry from the muddied fields of Slane or the cold winds of Lansdowne.  No more car queues, – the O2 Point Club has it’s own VIP parking. No more limited choice of alcohol, the club has it’s own fully stocked bar and champagne was flowing all evening. No more burgers and chips – every table was supplied with first class goodies to eat.

For those of you that think that this means losing the essence of live performances, I beg to differ. The whole experience of attending a concert was suddenly a lot more enjoyable. Inside the bar were familiar faces all sharing in the ecstasy of the night, still hot and trembling. Everyone still out of breathe and slightly clammy from the show. The massive room was filled with the same energy just witnessed on stage moments before. Each one as energised as the person they were conversing with. Each still experiencing their own inner power that the music had stirred up. All busily talking about the music, the sound, the beat, and all intent on keeping this ‘rock’ feeling within them rolling on throughout the night.

Some women proclaimed that the whole experience made them feel sexy and horny. Sure every woman there must have felt like the honky-tonk woman. But I think that what they were referring to was much closer to their own essence of passion than any clandestine bodice ripping cliché. For my part, not only had I been blessed with seeing the music industry’s biggest and best, I had also been shown something I didn’t think I’d see. No matter who, where or what you are, you can have it all because you already have it inside. Age doesn’t stop you from being you, from being sexy, beautiful, and desirable. Nothing does, only yourself. Coco Chanel reminds us that “Nature gives you the face you have when you are twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But it is up to you to earn the face you have at fifty.” That face should be authentic, It should reflect the great passionate life we have lived. Then others will desire to be with you for the warmth of your fire inside.

So that’s what rocking and rolling means for me. Sure, I might find myself hanging out backstage some times, but it won’t be with my “crone-ies”