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March 14, 2010 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Academic Musings, Ambition, Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to True Love, Relationship Tips, Self-Help, Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

Thowing Men Off the Scent

A rather silly “study” emerged from England this week: According to a survey of some 2000 respondents, many men struggle to remember their partner’s date of birth, let alone what their favorite scent is. Mind you, this study was conducted by The Perfume Shop, a chain of perfumeries throughout the UK — and they are probably just trying to guilt guys into ponying up for more sweet-smelling sprays for Valentine’s Day.

But they came across my mate-preferences research and in yesterday’s UKNetGuide, I’m used as the foil to the argument that forgetful guys aren’t serious about love. Or something.

Ladies, in my expert opinion, it’s OK if your man has no idea what scent you wear. If you want him to buy you perfume on Sunday, I’d recommend printing out a detailed description online. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Or something.

February 11, 2010 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to True Love, Relationship Tips | , , , , | Leave a comment

MacFreedom: A Must-Have for Every Writer

A new writer friend, Siobhan Vivian, just introduced me to the coolest program ever: MacFreedom. It’s a free download (but they suggest a $10 donation) and when you run it, it shuts down your internet access for whatever period of time you set — up to 8 hours. During that time, the program appears to be unresponsive… you can’t undo it without shutting down the whole computer.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been haunting coffee shops where there’s no free wireless (like Starbucks–it’s only a few $$, but it’s the principle of it that keeps me offline) but overhearing girls dishing about relationship sagas, or groups of yoga types fresh off a “really zen session” always had me irritated and distracted.

With MacFreedom, I just got a book review written in the peace and quiet of my office, in two hours–the time I set MacFreedom to keep me offline. I left blanks where I needed to do web searches to fill in information, and, like a drug addict unable to get her next hit, I opened my browser occasionally, “just to see if I could get back online yet” … but after 2 hours, MacFreedom congratulated me on my efforts.

When I write a self-help book on achieving self-control, there’s going to be a whole section on the brilliance of this little piece of software…

Just in case you don’t believe me, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and many others have sung its praises as well.

Now get offline and get to work!

January 28, 2010 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Self-Help | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2010: The Year of The Happiness Project

2009 was a bit rough for me. Indeed, I heard that from a lot of people.

So Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Happiness Project was a welcome addition to my before-bed reading because, well, it makes me happy and gave me new energy to start 2010 off on an upbeat note.

Top pointers from the book include:

Your family is only as happy as it’s least happy member. If that’s you, start a Happiness Project of your own and raise the happy in your household considerably.

• As a kid, and even through our 20s, we had clear opportunities for “gold stars” — getting good grades, graduations, awards, new jobs, marriage, big birthday celebrations etc. But in your 30s, those gold stars seem fewer and farther between. You do your job, you do your errands, you raise your kids, you try to make time for fun with your significant other… but as you put in so much effort, you feel unappreciated. Where’s your gold star? Rubin advises all of us to make a list, do your stuff and then give yourself a gold star. That’s what being a grown-up is about.

Be Yourself. I know, it’s clichéd, but Rubin’s description of how she decided to “Be Gretchen” inspired me to be clear about who I am. She writes that learning to be herself means “accepting my true likes and dislikes… I have to face the fact that I will never visit a jazz club at midnight, or hang out in artists’ studios, or jet off to Paris for the weekend, or pack up to go fly-fishing on a spring dawn. I won’t be admired for my chic wardrobe or be appointed to a high government office. I love fortune cookies and refuse to try foie gras.” What does it mean to be you?

The Happiness Project isn’t quite a self-help book — it’s more of a memoir of a year of research into self-help — but even without quizzes and action lists, it does the job of any good personal improvement book: It inspires. Check it out and make 2010 your year for a Happiness Project of your own.

January 9, 2010 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Self-Help | , , , , , | 1 Comment

He saved a billion lives… do you know his name?

Quick — can you give me the latest on the divorce drama between Jon & Kate Gosselin? Or why Paula Abdul isn’t going to be judging this year’s American Idol? Odds are you can answer those questions but you can’t tell me the name of the man who died recently after saving more than a billion lives.

I’ll give you another hint: He was one of only six people ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

You can probably name most of the other five recipients of this trio of honors — Martin Luther King, Jr., Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi — but odds are you’ve never heard this man’s name.

You’ve never heard of him, yet when he died he was lauded as history’s “greatest human being.” You’ve never heard of him, yet he changed your life.

Dr. Christine Whelan, Dr. Norman Borlaug and Dr. Elizabeth Whelan

Dr. Christine Whelan, Dr. Norman Borlaug and Dr. Elizabeth Whelan

Dr. Norman Borlaug, who died September 12, 2009, at the age of 95, was humble and kind, and devoted his intelligence not to getting rich himself but to transforming the lives of those who needed help the most.

We spend so much of our time focusing on the goings-on of celebrities and reality TV stars — and that’s OK; it’s only human — but occasionally it’s important to give tribute to a person who is really changing our world, quietly, with no spotlight or paparazzi documenting their journey.

Check out my whole piece–including a link to a West Wing tribute here: http://www.bustedhalo.com/features/he-saved-a-billion-lives/

September 22, 2009 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Academic Musings | Leave a comment

“Single” Documentary: Sept. 15 release date

“Single,” an excellent documentary about single life in America, is being released in less than two weeks — and I’m one of the experts interviewed, so check it out! According to the press release, the documentary by filmmakers Richard Atkinson and Jane Scandurra is already winning awards including the Official Selection at the 2008 New York Filmmakers festival and Official Selection at the Berkshire International Film Festival and was called “…a really cool, cool documentary…” by Fox TV.

With over 100 million single adults in the U.S. – and a $1.6 trillion dollars in annual consumer spending – “Single” provides a timely and comprehensive look into what it means to be single in America and how singles regard marriage. Because today’s life is more complex, intense and demanding than ever, maintaining a lasting relationship has never been more challenging. Through thought-provoking interviews with a cast of social experts, performers and singles themselves, “Single” addresses the complexities of relationships in today’s world.

For more on the documentary (and academics, this would be a great one to use in any Family/Sociology class) visit: http://www.singlefilm.com/

September 2, 2009 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Academic Musings, Relationship Tips | Leave a comment

MSNBC and SexReally.com

Summertime is heating up — and I’m getting lots of press these days shattering myths and spreading good news for SWANS®.

Just up today on MSNBC.com is a piece by Brian Alexander, author of the popular Sexploration column who argues that marriage thrives despite our evolving sex lives. “Most women tie the knot by 40, statistics show — so why all the fretting?” He quotes me several times and offers lots of good news for SWANS®! Check it out on MSNBC.com.

And Monday, Laura Sessions Stepp quoted me on her great new website SexReally.com as she challenged that often-quoted statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Check it out — and take a gander at the Sex. Really site in general.

July 16, 2009 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Academic Musings, Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to True Love, Relationship Tips | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quoted in the June issue of Men’s Health

ewan-mcgregor-mens-health-june-2009What do women want? The answer changes constantly, says Men’s Health.

And here with expert opinion, is Dr. Christine B. Whelan.

(Apparently I’m an expert on the “quiet genius” types. Sounds good to me.) For more, check out p. 100 of the June issue online here.

And stay tuned for more expert quotes from me in the autumn issues… and in some major women’s glossies, too.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to True Love, Relationship Tips, Self-Help | 1 Comment

Why Jon & Kate Won’t Go Away

I’ve posted the lead commentary in The New York Times Room for Debate op-ed blog on reality TV this morning. As I said in the piece, we watch reality television because we like to take the rich and famous down a peg, but also because we experience that sense of relief that, as bad as our lives are, at least we’re not THAT bad.

I called it the “Can you imagine?” factor — and reality shows are full of those awkward moments viewers love to hate.

From The Bachelor and it’s many, many spin-offs, to family dramas like Little People and The Real Housewives of New Jersey, there’s something for everyone to complain about. Perhaps reality TV can be best divided into the shows that encourage competition – Top Chef, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway and the like – and shows that encourage B-list celebrity voyeurism – including The Hills, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. But is this leading us astray? Do viewers watch reality shows and say, well, hey, if they are doing, so can I?

No: Reality television neither encourages poor behavior nor serves as a cautionary tale because viewers are watching for entertainment, not as a model for “real” life. Since MTV first aired The Real World in 1992, hundreds of shows have freeze-framed on life’s tense moments as producers cut and craft for maximum effect, and viewers know it.

Perhaps what’s most tragic of all is that when the cameras stop rolling, it actually IS someone’s real life – a life that must go on and deal with the damage wrought by the quest for 15-minutes (or 100+ episodes) of fame. Not to be clichéd here, but what’s going to happen to the eight Gosselin children? The impact of their parents divorce—not to mention the odd childhood with cameras rolling 24/7—may have significant emotional and spiritual consequences.

Still, it’s entertainment – and we, the viewers, egg it all on. One of my colleagues at The University of Iowa said she watches reality television because, after that feeling of embarrassment for the “stars,” she doesn’t feel so bad about her own life “when real-person peers are making bigger farts of themselves—and on the national stage. I’m willing to grant these folks fame by tuning into their shows, but in return I get to judge them mercilessly and watch them humiliate themselves, or be humiliated by the show and editors.”

For more analysis, check out The New York Times blog.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Academic Musings, Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to True Love, Self-Help | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apparently, I’m now the expert on the Obama marriage

Today’s Irish Independent quotes me and my research — as I congratulate President Obama on making time for his marriage, despite the demands of oh, say, leading the free world.

Check it out here.

And for those of you who are in need of some more practical love and marriage advice, check out the latest episodes of The Princess, The Priest and The War for the Perfect Wedding.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | A Day in the Life, Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to True Love, Relationship Tips | Leave a comment