Pepper spray and armed robbery – It’s beginning to look a lot like…Christmas?

By now I’m sure you’ve heard. In the rush to stock up on the essential $2 waffle maker and $12 TVs a bunch of people lost their minds this past weekend.  One woman even thought pepper spraying the crowd to get the upper hand on a half-priced Xbox she had her hole in the middle of her chest heart set on, was a good idea. Not so much.

In other news, several people who thought that standing in line at 3 in the morning was absolutely ridiculous thought that robbing the people at gunpoint who did stand on line at 3 in the morning was a better plan.  And Walmart, once again takes the prize for Places to Witness the Worst of America.  And not just because sometimes Walmart shoppers wear things like this.

The hysterical materialism of the past few days is enough to make even the cheeriest holiday reveler a bit gloomy. But here are a few things that happened over the holiday weekend that didn’t hit the headlines as hard but should have…

• Gabby Gifford served Thanksgiving dinner to members of the military
• An 11-year-old Washington boy saved his mother’s life from a drunken attacker using a BB Gun
• In its 41st year, Atlanta-based Josea Feed The Hungry set up shop at The Georgia World Congress Center and served Thanksgiving dinner to over 40,000 needy families
• A teenager riding his bike noticed a truck on fire and pulled the unconscious owner from the burning vehicle, saving his life
• Meals on Wheels volunteers across the country prepared, packed and delivered dinners to thousands of needy families

So it appears that despite some people’s best attempts to put a price tag on the holidays, there are many of us who still value the things about the holidays that remain priceless. So maybe it is looking a little like Christmas after all.


Kalin’s Chronicles: 5 Shopping Destinations You Won’t Want To Miss

With Black Friday starting even before you finish your second helping of turkey and stuffing, I figure this is the perfect time to talk about shopping.  Personally, I don’t do Black Friday – too much commotion, not to mention the idea of getting up before the crack of dawn to stand in long lines.  Not my idea of fun.  However, I do love shopping and believe a vacation isn’t complete without it.   According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, shopping is the number one tourist activity in the United States.  So here are my Top Five Favorite U.S. Shopping Destinations…

  • New York – Bergdorf’s, Barney’s, Tiffany’s, and my favorite for “orgasmic” deals, Century 21.  Let’s face it:  New York is the CAPITAL of shopping.   You have to make a pilgrimage at least once!
  • Chicago – Michigan Avenue. Sadly historic Marshall Fields – which had a wonderful shopper’s tour — is gone, but there’s still plenty of shopping to be had on Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile”.
  • Minneapolis – The 520-store Mall of America.  This place blew me away! It’s like Disney for shoppers!  You can even get married at the mall!
  • Los Angeles – Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.   Where the stars shop!  But one of my best shopping finds is It’s a Wrap in Burbank,  a thrift shop that exclusively sells clothes worn by TV and film stars.  The tags even have the name of the celebrity who wore the couture, or the TV show/film where the wardrobe was worn!
  • Sunrise, Florida – When I visit Fort Lauderdale I make a stop by the  country’s largest outlet, value retail and entertainment center, Sawgrass Mills.  It’s one of several shopping destinations that plan to open 10pm today and stay open for 24 hours.

If you’re looking for a fun way to get your holiday shopping done, check out Shopping America Tours for shopping, dining and cultural tours in 40 U.S. cities.  It makes for a great girlfriend getaway or 40th birthday trip.  To find out what’s new in shopping tourism, travel to the One Travel Conference in Orlando, January 15-17.

Finally for those of you who plan to go straight from dinner to discounts – check out this site for the latest Black Friday deals. What you save on prices,  I’ll be saving in sleep time! Shop ‘til you drop and tell me about your favorite shopping destinations!

And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit

10-ish things I’m thankful for in 2011

In 2010 I was thankful for a lot of things. I wrote about 40 of them here and here.  In the gratitude department 2011 has been no less generous. I’ve still got car problems, knee problems and that persistent battle of the bulge, but I’ve learned to be grateful for the fact that having car problems means I have a car and the freedom to drive it to get anywhere I need to go.  The pain I feel in the knee I abused in the infamous paper retrieval incident of 2010 means that I can still walk. And if I’m still fighting the battle of the bulge it means that I’m not down for the count and haven’t been knocked down yet.

Here are a few more things (important and otherwise) I’m grateful for in 2011…

1.) My mom retiring and taking water aerobics, dance class and piano keyboard lessons making me proud and reminding me that it’s never too late to do the things you were meant to do.

2.) Income – It fluctuates, at times never seems enough and makes me question what I’m doing, but with record unemployment across the country, it is appreciated.

3.) My 16 year old TV finally kicked it this year, and if it hadn’t I would never have realized how awful the picture had become. On the new TV I can actually see people’s faces.

4.) Kindle daily deals and free books. What?! (said in my best Guster from Pysch voice) A Godsend for the cheap frugal shopper in me.

5.) Being uncomfortable. Let me explain. When it comes to the things we really want in life – health, peace of mind, using our gifts and talents – if we operate at a level that’s less than what we’re meant to, it’s uncomfortable. The job we just tolerate is ALWAYS frustrating, the relationship we know we deserve better than is ALWAYS disappointing, and if we’re not at optimal health, we just don’t feel “right”. And when things aren’t comfortable we move, make changes, do something – anything, to improve our situation. That’s where I’ve been for a while and I am grateful for it.

6.) This platform and the women at Women at Forty who continue to share their stories.

7.) This recipe for a Pastelitos de Guayaba, a Cuban pastry I fell in love with, and Anthony Bourdaine’s method for roasting fish from his book Kitchen Confidential.

8.) Two things with the word “Happy” in the title. ABC’s Happy Endings which makes me laugh out loud EVERY time I watch it (and reminds me how old I am because I remember when Damon Wayans looked just like Damon Wayans Jr. looks now.) Some of my favorite lines from Happy Endings; “I’m 30, and I’m Catholic and I’mma die alone in a light-up Christmas sweater talking to a menagerie of parrots”, “This cleanse is brutal. I lost 11 pounds… today.” -Brad, “I have two work husbands, three work ex-boyfriends, one work stalker and one work dog.” –Penny. The website Happy Place is my other happy. It’s a sarcastic, cyncial view of work life, school life and life in general brought to you by the people who actually said/did/saw/videoed the things we’re reading about.

9.) Sesame Street. I will be 90 and Sesame Street will still be on this list.

10.) The best, most eclectic Bible study group ever where on an average day the conversation runs from The Book of Acts, to the merits of The Matrix, to Idris Elba. And let’s not forget the enduring question of why no one will tell Shemar Moore that it’s 2011 and no one thinks using the expression “Baby Girl” when talking to a woman is sexy. Ever. Except maybe Shannon.

11.) No gratitude list is complete without me mentioning my sisters, parents and friends and family who always have my back.  Blessed much?

What made your 2011 gratitude list? Share your list in the comment section, on our Facebook page or email contribute (@) womenatforty (dot) com.  Wishing everyone in The Women at Forty community a Happy Thanksgiving!


The Plastic Surgery Dilemna

plastic surgery at 40Editor’s Note: Over a year ago I ran a poll on the site asking “Would you ever consider plastic surgery?” And while most said they would never “go under the knife”, a large percentage of women responded that they didn’t see anything wrong with “a little botox and a tummy tuck.” Over on Facebook a lively discussion started on dying gray hair, growing old gracefully and good genes.  On the site a few of you even commented that you’d already had some work done – and saw no problem with that. Here’s a little of what you had to say on dying gray hair, aging gracefully and cosmetic surgery…

I’ve decided against plastic surgery. I like how I look even as I get older. Yes, I see my little fat cheeks dropping a little, and I notice more lines under my eyes…but I remember that they are there because I laugh a lot and that’s a good thing, right? –E

For me, aging gracefully means accepting myself and loving myself as I am. I am fortunate that my only telltale aging sign is gray hair, which I’ve had since my early 20s. While I do color my gray, I highly doubt that I would or will ever have plastic surgery/Botox/Restalayne/etc.. –R

I would consider having plastic surgery, in fact I admit that I started doing fillers and botox about 1 year ago. What does aging “gracefully” mean anyway? Does it mean we have to accept the fact that we just don’t look like 20 anymore? I get that! I don’t want to look like 20 because I feel different now than I did 20 years ago. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to look my best, does it? – S

I had procedures done as well, Botox, Sculptra, Chemical peels and I might consider more “drastic” measures in the future if I feel I have to. I will turn 40 this year and although I know I am now considered to be a “middle aged woman” now, I will not let myself go. – Sun

Is there more pressure now to greet your 40s gracefully, without ever considering plastic surgery, or does society still want women at 40 to look young forever? Share your thoughts in the comment section and sound off on our Facebook page.