5min readLifestyle 21 November 2019
"There are no good men out there," yet another woman my age declared. At 50, I was freshly divorced after two decades of marriage and motherhood. My unhappy marriage had shattered my faith in men and romantic relationships. Based on my ex-husband's opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Rather gleefully, I announced to my girlfriends that I was done with men, and sex, forever.
For the first year, I got tangled in my sheets alone every night, overjoyed to have the bed and my body to myself. I felt liberated by divorce—free to be me, skip showering, and make dinner for one. But it bothered me when women decried the scarcity of men, because I'd known so many good ones—college boyfriends, my brother, my best friend from business school, etc. The first of many naked truths gradually crept up on me: I was not going to find my juju again through self-help and yoga. The feminist in me didn't want to admit it, but going for too long without men was akin to starvation.
I didn't want another husband. But I needed men, a lot of them.
The universe signaled its approval by sending Mr. Blue Eyes to me at an airport. He was 29 and perhaps the sexiest man I'd ever kissed. Being with him convinced me, pretty decisively, that men were going to heal me, even though men had destroyed me many times before. I became the female incarnation of a divorced, clichéd older man: I bought a sports car, revamped my wardrobe, and took younger lovers. "I want five boyfriends," I told my best friend KC after that first tryst ended. "Sweet, cute, smart, nice. Enough that I won't get too attached to one." My message from the frontlines of divorce at 50 is that to restore your confidence as a woman, especially in the wake of a crushing breakup, try dating outside your comfort zone, expanding your dating pool to include partners you might never have considered before. It may not be the recipe for a lasting union, but in terms of rebuilding your self-esteem, it can work wonders.
The first thing I noticed—and liked—about dating younger men is that they didn't want to marry me or make babies with me. And I didn't want that either. Frankly, I didn't even want them to spend the night. Since I'd been 11, I'd been taught to seek out and value men who wanted commitment. To my surprise, I found it refreshing, even more authentic, to be valued not for my potential as a mate, but instead for my body, intelligence, life-experience and sexuality.
And the sex! I quickly realized that—warning, blanket stereotype coming—men under 40 are more straightforward and adventurous than older men, maybe since they were raised with the Internet. You hear so often about the scourge of crude, sexist online pornography; and I agree that the depersonalization of women as sexual playthings is deeply destructive to all genders. However, from sexting to foreplay, I found younger men uniquely enthusiastic about getting naked and enjoying sex. Every younger man found my most erotic zones faster than any man my age ever had, with a lack of hesitation men over 50 seemed unable to fathom.
Also, about my big fear of getting naked in front of a younger man? Completely unfounded. I started to shake when Airport Boy took off my sundress in our hotel room. Had he ever seen a woman my age nude? How could I stand to be skin-to-skin with a body far more perfect than mine? I had given birth to eight-pound, full-fucking-term babies. I'd nursed them, too, and at times by breasts looked (from my view at least) like wet paper towels. "You have a spectacular body," he told me instead, running his hand over the cellulite on my stomach that I despised. That night I learned that younger men who seek older women accept our physical flaws—they don't expect perfection in someone 20 years their senior. These men taught me to see my body through a positive, decidedly male lens, to focus on the pretty parts (and we all have them) rather than the flaws that we all have too, whether you're 19, 29 or 59.
I even found the pillow talk lighter, easier and more intellectually stimulating, because a younger man's world view differs so vastly from the pressures of my 20-something kids, annual colonoscopies, 401K balance and mortgage payments. They have simple financial problems, like "Can I borrow a few quarters for the parking meter outside?" or "Do you have any advice on consolidating my student loans?"
Everything feels simpler with younger men. Men under 40 seem less threatened by assertive women; they grew up with them. They like cheap beer instead of expensive wine. They don't snore (as much). Leftovers a 55-year-old would scoff at look good to them. Their erections NEVER last more than four hours. Their hard-ons end the old-fashioned way and 45 minutes later they are ready for more.
But what I enjoy most about younger men is not the sex, or the cliché that they make me feel young again—because they don't. Younger men make me feel old, and to my delight, I like that. I feel valuable around younger men, precisely because I am wiser and more experienced in life, love and between the sheets.
I know I'll never end up with one for good. The naked truth is we don't have enough in common to last. One recently put it exactly right when he told me, "I love this, but there's always gonna be a glass ceiling between us." That lack of permanence, the improbability of commitment and "forever," doesn't mean I can't pick up a tip or two about self-esteem, and enjoy the magic of human connection with younger men. And vice versa. The experience can enrich us both, making us better partners for people our own ages down the road.
*My viewpoint is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, because I am one. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.
2 Min Read
It all started when I began documenting my daughter's 436-day hospital stay on Instagram.
She was a perfectly healthy 3-year-old and out of nowhere had a ruptured appendix made worse by a failed immune system. Sepsis began to consume her body and talking about it on social media was my way to cope with the fear of the unknown.
The doctors saved her life that night in January of 2018, but it was touch and go for a while until the doctors decided she was ready for a bone marrow transplant.
By then my daughter Theresa and our family had gained attention locally and nationally because of the rarity of her disorder. It doesn't even have a name. People would comment day and night on my Instagram posts wanting updates about how she was doing and wanting to see her on video.
View this post on Instagram436+ days in the hospital with Theresa taught me how to prepare to be productive during shelter in place . When you really couldn't go anywhere often while in the hospital . Not like there was anywhere TO GO... just waiting day in and day out for answers that took a long while . Didn't want to venture out much because didn't want to get Theresa sick . It feels VERY similar to now. Little within your control no matter how much you'd panic and worry . You realize you can see this as an opportunity for growth or an opportunity to let fear and worry consume you . . Let me give you my best advice on how to tackle shelter in place, from someone who gets it all too well . . 1️⃣ Develop your new routine: some may say to keep your normal routine but chances are we've gotta adapt things, like training schedules and coaching calls to fit with the fact the kiddos are home 😅 . 2️⃣ Fill your cup first: get an iced latte, take a walk, take a nap, whatever you gotta go to feel your best before you pour into working on your new project or content . 3️⃣ communicate: talk to your spouse and kiddos and ask for their support in your balancing life, family and work. Ask what they need from you right now and share how they can best support you . 4️⃣ Create as much as you consume: it's easy to get sucked into scrolling and the next thing you know the sun has set ☀️ set a timer ⏱ to step away from your tiktok for you page (just me? 😂😂) to write an email or post to your IG feed . 5️⃣ dont try to do it all alone: it's a crazy time and your feelings are valid. You don't have to navigate this by yourself. Ask for help, reach out... you know I always have your back❤️. . . Comment below: what are you up to this weekend?
A post shared by Kayla - LAUNCHING EXPERT (@kaylaybanez) on Mar 21, 2020 at 4:04pm PDT
It was in the Fall of 2018 when people started to ask me how I was doing certain things on Instagram. I didn't realize how good I had become at utilizing hashtags, posting easily digestible content and building up a loyal community around my daughter's journey to health.
I realized that the months I spent learning everything I could about using Instagram the way I had been, gave me skills that small businesses and online personal brands would pay for. For the longest time this was a way to make myself feel normal (because living in the hospital for over a year isn't normal) and now, people were ready to pay me. It was a surreal experience.
I started by offering one time consultations and the more demand increased, the more I realized that I had a very specific niche in mind. I wanted to help online business owners use Instagram to make genuine business connections without spamming or "cold messaging" them.
I made it my personal brand to "stop the 'hey girl' messaging movement," which is essentially the unfortunate standard of small business owners randomly messaging anyone they cross paths with online and asking them if they want to purchase their products.
Especially while we were in the hospital I would receive dozens of spam messages a day from people trying to sell me their products without even taking a moment to look at my page to see what my family has been going through let alone learn my name. That's where the "hey girl" comes from, because they couldn't even be bothered to look at the name on my page.
I called out these sleazy business tactics because I believe social media is meant for true relationship building and connection.
My message took off! My personal brand has become instantly recognizable because I am speaking out about things business owners feel but have been afraid to talk about because nobody else was talking about it — as a result, my business boomed!
I went from focusing on working with people 1:1 into working with more group coaching. This allowed me to scale my business to the point of making over $300,000 in revenue since I started in the fall of 2018, all from a system and strategy I created while in my daughter's hospital room.