Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chop Sticks Anyone?

I love stuff like this- technology used for good instead of evil. Maybe schools should be installing these since they're taking away gym class.



Piano Stair Case

In Case Of Emergency Tear Here

A little stress and tension is a good thing. Without it, handles wouldn’t stay on tea kettles, bridges would collapse and your pants would fall down.

A little stress has to exist in our lives otherwise we would never kick off the covers and start the day.  It’s the unexpected situations that make us dig into our adrenaline locker and pull out a wad to throw at our bloodstream and then our heart rate, blood pressure, sweat glands and gyroscopic thoughts are off to the races.
We once faced real dangers on a regular basis and some people living in isolated areas still do; the crocodile encounter at the river where you get your water, the tiger on the walkway through the jungle, the grizzly at the dumpster. It happens. For most of us though, the stress factors aren’t
nearly as interesting or dangerous. The stress factors look more like our family members, co-workers, or inanimate things like project deadlines and financial situations. Most stressors on modern humans are other humans and the “stuff” they drag into our lives. Or it’s ourselves, making poor decisions and the “stuff” that we drag into our own lives.

For some reason, our fight or flight response alert system has uploaded a file on The Boss, or The Significant Other or The Mother in Law, and just seeing a name on the caller ID can start the engines roaring. Being Italian and using my hands to gesture wildly about anything, I can see the centuries old traditional hand bite sign when I’m faced with dealing with someone/something that really gets my shorts in a knot. Something to the mouth is a pretty clear signal that stuffing something into your mouth is a comforting gesture. 

We’re taught as babies how to comfort ourselves. If mom was too busy to pick us up and rock us, we usually had a bottle shoved into our mouths or a pacifier so we’d quiet down while she finished whatever she was doing.  The self comfort program was installed in our little heads long ago and unless we remove the old program and install a better one, we will be trapped on a continuous loop until we are completely addicted to using that one and only coping mechanism. Stress rises and we run to the vending machine and tear open the plastic bag containing some calorie laden,  preservative filled thing that if we were calm, we would never eat. I mean really, anything that sat in a warehouse for four months before it sat in a vending machine for three weeks before you dropped your money in and pulled it out isn’t going to be healthy or helping you in any way.  Stress rises and we open our mouths awaiting the comfort that comes from food, or cigarettes or alcohol or, well, you get the picture.
I read a lot. Some books, self help in particular, either thrill me or I get 20 pages in and then it just goes on the shelf and leans on pottery pieces. The good ones, the ones that have a mindful practice included, feel like home to me and I return to them again and again. They usually offer a little mini tune up.  It’s something simple that I can do in less than 20 minutes, Thank God, because I am SO busy saving the world each day that I couldn’t possibly spare more time than that.

I am working on replacing my hand bites and my food bites with bites of silence. I am starting to call for a time out when I hear the first warning sign of approaching stress. I love the scene in Finding Nemo when Dory, the fish, is lost in the dark and saying “Find your happy place! Find
your happy place!” It may look a little odd to others when you ask for a short break, but the person you’ll be when you rejoin the gang will be a calm and collected one. Go into the restroom if you don’t have an office door to shut. Go for a walk if you can. Change the scenery by simply moving somewhere else in your home for a few minutes.
When you get to that other physical place, or even if you cannot leave the room where you’re at, you can get to the other mental place by focusing on your breath. Breathe in through your nose, slowly and calmly, and blow gently, out through your mouth. Do it 20 times. It can be so soft and
quiet that anyone around you wouldn’t know what you’re doing. If you’re concerned someone is looking at you, pick up a file or a book or something and pretend you’re reading while you do this. Don’t actually read because you won’t be focusing on your breath.  Just breathe. It’s instantly transforming and when you return to the stress zone, your calm can affect the others by calming them down as well. I don’t think it will have the same affect on the crocodile at the watering hole, but done each day before you enter the zone, and done each time you feel the stress triggers begin, your little moment of Zen space just might make all the difference. Practice mindful breathing. It’s free, it’s immediately available, it does not require a college degree and best of all, it’s zero calories, fat free and looks so much better than that snickers bar on your thighs.

Recommended book with Mindful Practices worth exploring: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s not just for “artists” in the traditional sense. It’s for anyone trying to make a masterpiece of their life.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I've Got To Hand It To You

A friend online wrote a poem this morning about her body and all the wonderful things it's done for her. She wrote about the need to acknowledge the journey her body has been on for all these years and to be patient with it as it changes again and again. Inspired by her, I am writing about my hands today. What's funny about hands? You haven't shaken my hand, have you? I've always worn men's gloves because, as a palm reader told me once, I have "Working Witch's Hands"; wide palm but very long slender fingers. I have always been able to palm a basketball. Mine are not ballerina hands, but graceful in their own "I can hold your whole face" sort of way.   What's your poem for the day?

Hand Resume

These same hands
climbed the tree
turned the pages
swam the distance
wrote the poems
played the music
drove the roads
held the lover
rocked the babies
cooked the food
touched the gravestones
cheered the team
brushed the hair

made the deal
wrapped the presents
held the hands
raised the fists
gave the directions
typed the words,
these same hands that got me here
will get me to where I’m going.
Only what matters should touch my hands.
Me and my hands choose wisely now.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Swimming In Dusty Exercise Equipment

I’m approaching this new food and health program as calmly and peacefully as I can. If you read my blog entry called “Attention! I’m Not Paying Attention.” You’ll know that I am purposely putting my attention on fun, creativity with the foods that I am eating now and removing the "Guilt" portion of the program so I won’t get bored and bail on it. I’m adding elements of this new lifestyle one at a time. Maybe I should say old lifestyle that I checked out of but have now checked back into. The food changes were first and now I’m trying to add some new activity back into my routine.

I headed out the door with my dog in her “coat”, ready for a brisk walk. I say brisk not in the race walking sense but in the arctic, blue lips sense in our 9 degree Michigan morning. The neighborhood sidewalk was like an ice rink, and not being Michelle Kwan, the pup and I turned back towards home after the third near miss of kissing the ground only a few blocks out. Even Matilda was not all that upset when she got back into the warm house and headed for her soft place on the sofa with her squeaky toy. I need an indoor activity.

Maybe you’re like me and the Magical Fairy of Good Intentions has guided you, over the years, to purchase exercise equipment to use in the privacy of your home. Curse you Infomercials! And maybe, like me, that equipment was used as often as the “Manual Food Processor” you got as a gift five years ago. Remember? You had to use a knife to chop the food into smaller pieces to fit it into the machine and then hand crank it like an old ice cream churn so it would cut the food up in smaller pieces that you could have used your knife to do in the first place? Yeah. That one.

Right now I have a pilates machine (in the attic), an elliptical that needs repair, a mini trampoline, an Easy Rider thingy, more than ten videos and DVD’s of yoga and aerobics, hand weights, stretchy band sets and a other things I forgot about. It’s pathetic. I just have to pick one, just one and start to use it. Be quiet. I’m thinking…

Actually, I’m thinking about back when my daughter graduated high school. A serape decoration was sitting on the elliptical and jogged a memory. She had waffled around about if or when she should have a party and finally settled on late summer, before leaving for college, which, by the way, is a GENIUS idea for parents of high school seniors. All the other parties were on the same nights in May and June and no one got to all of them. By mid-summer kids start to lose touch with each other. My kid’s Mid August Graduation Procrastination Celebration Fiesta (Mexican food and decoration theme) was attended by most of her graduating class and turned out to be the very last group get together before they all headed out in different directions to their new lives. It was fun and sad and sweet. Sometimes stalling is good.

Not so in the case of the dusty exercise equipment. I need to pick one and start to use it every day. I know that some people are working a food program to get to a class reunion, or to get into a wedding dress. What’s at the end of the fitness quest, for me, isn’t a singular event. It’s the ability to do something comfortably and confidently that I haven’t done in years.

I want to accept the invitation of the long, cool stretch of water waiting at a pool. I swam competitively as a kid. I was good. Not fabulous like some of my teammates and siblings, but good enough to make a small mark in my world. I miss the smell of chlorine, the familiarity of the lane markers and the weightless, other worldly sensation of moving fast through an element as peaceful and powerful and sexy and mysterious as water. At this moment of my life, you could not pay me enough money to get me into a swimsuit at a public pool. Since moving north from Florida, I no longer have my own in my yard where I can slide in and just move day or night whenever I want to. When I get my body to where I am going in my new food lifestyle, I want to pull on a tank suit without hesitation, curl my toes over the edge of the deck, launch myself out into the air and cut through the water again, just for my own pleasure.

Until I get there, I’ll have to choose another weapon for my Battle for Speedo Land. I’ll let you know
how it goes.
Don’t know how to swim? My own coach from back in the day is still out there swimming and doing amazing things. In his 60’s now, he’s still competing and is a World Record Holder and multiple gold medal winner in the Masters Swimming Program. Let him kick your butt for awhile! Here’s his Swim Instruction website:
Dr. Pete Andersen:

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Remember when you had to raise your hand and get a hall pass to go to the bathroom? Remember how your parents made you eat everything on your plate before you could eat your dessert? Even the horrible, overcooked, canned green vegetables that now sat there looking somewhere between an olive and a brown color and had the texture of slimy pond scum. How about “the haircut” that your mother gave you, or worse, paid some one else to give you, leaving you with 1/4” of bangs or some hideous helmet shape that is forever immortalized in your sixth grade school photo?
There are a thousand little moments in our lives, mostly from our childhood, when we felt we had no choice but to surrender, cave, give up, capitulate, yield, or cede.

Here’s the dictionary definition of this six letter word:
CHOICE: Noun– the person or thing chosen or selected, the act of choosing or selecting, one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen. Adjective– of superior grade, appealing to refined taste, pleasing to the sense of taste.
The thing is, we’re not children anymore. There is no one standing behind us watching our plates and forcing us to eat the double bacon cheeseburger with onion rings, fries and a chocolate shake. We chose that. We get to choose what we eat. As a direct result of that power we can either create a body that is healthy or a garbage storage unit that will hold onto everything we could shove in and slam the door down on.
Every time we raise a fork, or a spoon or a chopstick or our bare hands up to our mouths, we are able to choose to continue or stop. We even get to choose between healthy food and unhealthy food. We are not goats who will, at times, eat anything; an empty can, a discarded shoe or that fruitcake from 1987 that’s made it’s way around your entire family in the Great Re–Gifting Circle. Goats don’t do this because they are stupid, but because they are desperate. According to one goat expert: “The reason for this seems to be that goats are rarely given the food and care bestowed on other domestic animals.  The goat has been called the most optimistic of animals. Since it usually is not fed well, it will try to eat anything in the hope that it may be good.”
We’re not stupid either. We just make bad choices sometimes.
We also get to choose better next time, so choose as if your life depended on it. 
I’m so glad I’m not a goat … in this lifetime.

Since we’re talking about goats, here’s a talking goat.


OK, so maybe some goats are stupid. Here’s one “learning” about an electric fence.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is That A Wombat In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

I’m watching Oprah this week because she’s featuring the audience trip to Australia. If there is a country I would pack up and move to in one second flat, no hesitation, it’s Australia.  If you don’t go for the scenery, go for the food, the humor and that Jackman guy. (WooHoo!).

Question: Are there any men on TV shows who are American or are all of them graduates of the Australian Academy Of Seriously Hot Male Actors Who Do Perfect American Accents? I’m just wondering. Not complaining. Oh no. Just wondering…

My work resume, as I’ve mentioned, beyond “Most Awesome Mom Ever”, includes a variety of experience involving things I love; art, design, food, travel, the written word, and studies of body/mind/spirit. In the travel part, I’ve been a tour guide and worked in various posts creating, marketing and facilitating tours and events. Back in 1979, I had a whole busload of charming Aussies on my California/Las Vegas tour for 14 days.

Side note: The Aussie 10 cent coin is virtually the same size and weight of a US quarter, so when your tour group starts chucking them in the slot machines in Vegas, it is time to round up the gang for a “chat.” Second side note: Day 5 of the tour, they announced that their “favorite” American saying was “Holy Shit”. Ah, it’s the little things that are our real souvenirs…

By the time I sent them on their way back home, we’d exchanged addresses and phone numbers and I’d promised to let them know when I’d be Down Under to visit, not knowing I’d be able to keep that promise the very next year. As it turned out, this very same week, 30 years ago, I was winging my way south with a group of tourism representatives from the USA. We traveled to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.  

A cluster of my tour buddies lived in Adelaide and picked me up at my hotel on my work free night. I thought we were going to a restaurant to have a meal with them. Instead, I was brought to the parent’s home of one of the 20-something guys from the tour.

When I entered their backyard, I was greeted by about 30 people and outdoor tables decorated with little US & Australian flags: a true Shrimp on the Barbie meal. Apparently, I was the first American they had ever had at their home, so I felt a little like Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon with cameras at the ready to capture the moment for posterity. No pressure, right?

These folks couldn’t have made me more comfortable and beyond their great sense of humor and hospitality, I was really impressed with the great, simple, fresh food they served; so different from the gooey, starchy, fatty stuff we tend to bring to our own BBQ’s here in the states. We had gorgeous green salads laced with tropical fruits, incredibly fresh seafood and a “mixed grill” of lamb, beef and pork and ended the meal with fresh fruit and cheese for dessert.

The Barbie in Adelaide was an eye opener regarding the portion sizes as well. Some restaurants tend to serve fashionably small portions both here and abroad, but you get the truth about how a country eats when you go into someone’s home and see it firsthand. Australian portions were human sized and not Shrek sized like we expect here stateside.The people there were also human sized, mostly, and the clusters of very overweight people tended to be tourists… from America. When did we start to expect a giant container of food for our meals? Maybe we have to leave America to get a better idea about how completely bizarre our portion sizes are.

I remember the look on the face of an elderly woman from India on one the Arizona tours I guided when the gigantic steak meal was mistakenly set down in front of her at Pinnacle Peak, a western style steakhouse north of Phoenix. The meat was the first issue, being Hindu, but the portion size really took her over the edge. I grabbed the plate and whisked it out to the server to replace it with the vegetarian meal I had pre-ordered her. I guess her gorgeous green traditional sari or the Kumkum Sindoor mark on her forehead weren't a good enough clue as to who, at the table, might have asked for a vegetarian meal. One guy down the family style table had ordered the Cowboy; a 32 ounce porterhouse steak and my Hindu guest silently prayed her way through the meal. I took her outside to see the stars while the rest chowed down inside.

Actually seeing a person struggling to watch someone eat something that they don’t was an eye opening exercise. Watching them eat a portion the size of an entire butt cheek really drove the lesson home: We are a nation of mindless eaters like greedy children grabbing for the last bite and willing to pay for it with more money than most of the world earns in a week. We also pay for it with shorter, unhealthier lives.  

It should be required that every American travel abroad at least once in their lives. We should want to know how the rest of the world eats and we should not see a day when a flight attendant announces to the plane that in case of an emergency, the passenger in seats 37 A & B may be used as a flotation device.

So, Simon, John, Peter & Rosalie, I’ll be watching the rest of Oprah’s adventure as she swings her cameras around your part of the world. Thanks for the wonderful memories, the amazing hospitality, the great conversations and the food I still remember, 30 years later.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oy, Oy Oy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Now THAT'S Funny

I had every intention of getting up (as my grown kids say) at the @$s crack of dawn, writing a daily blog entry and heading out into the icy weather for my morning business meeting. Yeah. So that didn't happen.

Not wanting this day to go by without some laughing, I am going to share with you some stuff from a guy that makes me laugh so hard, coffee comes out my nose.

If you're not a Tweeter, this is a social networking tool that only allows 140 charcters per message. Here are some food related Twitter tweets from a truely demented man, Tim Siedell. He also has a new book for sale at Amazon called, "Marching Bands Are Just Homeless Orchestras." You can follow him on Twitter by his user name, BadBanana.
Take it away BadBanana~

When it comes to dieting, I'm finding the waking hours are the worst.

They should make vegetables out of something people want to eat.

I took the Special K cereal challenge. I didn't lose weight, but I did turn into a woman.

I like to draw a little Nike swoosh on my caramel apples so I look like a serious athlete at the gym.

Good news. Just finished the giant candy cane Santa brought me in 1975.

Day two of my raw food diet. Just ate a cold can of Beefaroni.

Tonight, I set foot inside a fitness center. Move the Doomsday Clock ahead one minute.

I've given up corn syrup in favor of candy corn syrup.

I've developed positive feelings towards my captors. Love you, couch and Cheetos.

My new diet is heavy on local, seasonal foods. Mostly Valentine's Day candy from the Walgreens down the street.

(And my personal favorite)...

Do you still call it a harmonica holder if you're only using it to hold fried chicken?

That's it today. Maybe it won't be so cold outside and my quilt won't be so warm tomorrow morning.....

Follow Tim (BadBanana) on Twitter, Facebook, or if you live in Nebraska where he does, you could just follow him around town. I'm SURE he would enjoy that as well.

Buy Tim's Book at www.amazon.com:


Monday, January 17, 2011

You Mean It's FAT Hair and THIN Body?

wake up neo...

Hahahahahahahaha. Wait. What? You mean it’s fat HAIR and THIN body? Darn it! I always get those two mixed up.

It’s interesting how we conveniently forget certain things we really should be remembering and remember things we really should be forgetting. Like that starve a fever thing; it’s feed a fever, feed a cold, right? And feed a headache and feed a heartache and feed a laugh and feed a cry and feed a memory and feed a sunset and… you get the picture. It's much easier to remember all these “details” when you can just slap a bacon band aide on everything and call it a day. Having to remember it right, truly, honestly would mean that we also have to remember getting out our own giant “Inconvenient Truth” erasers and using them, like a double espresso driven custodian on our life’s operating system.

My desktop is still running Windows XP. I went to remove a program I didn't want any more from the Program Manager and got the familiar message, "Please wait while the list is being populated." When I see that, I always think of a Sims computer game where you can add people and things and drama for more fun when you play. By the time my list finishes populating on my desktop, I'm always surprised to see just how many programs I actually have on this old machine! Some suck up a ton of room and some I installed ages ago and never use that just sit there quietly, minding their own business; or so I think.

While I waited for the full population to sign in, I wondered just how many programs I have inside my life that I am unaware are running in the background of my thoughts every single day.

There are child programs, sibling programs, teen programs, adult programs, girlfriend programs, lover programs, wife programs, mother programs, talent programs, work skill programs, creative programs, art programs, travel programs, communication programs, healthy food programs, crisis management programs, self image programs, self worth programs, self protection programs, protecting others programs, altruistic programs, scrappy street fighter programs, judge and jury programs, debate champion programs, guidance counselor programs, comedy programs, tragedy programs, and life guard over all things programs.

Those are just the ones I feel like recognizing. There's a truckload of other programs that I hope I don’t have, but probably do. (My Eraser works well too!) No doubt, there are even more that I do not have a clue what their purpose is or who put them there, but they're running in the background of my life and sucking up power from me every single day.


What was the first operating program anyway? I’m 56 this year, so my life must be running Windows AAP: Ancient Ass Program. 2011. Time to start the repair and removal process of outdated programs that cause me to glitch, freeze up, crash or beep and send out error messages into my life. This isn't going to be easy because a lot of these programs road in on the backs of other programs I installed on purpose and they sent out their spy-ware tentacles so even when you think you removed them, there's a sub-program that's hiding out down a dark sub conscious path waiting for a way back into the system.

I think the key to all this is recognizing when a mal-ware program is running interference with the really good programs that we could chose to run each day; like our healthy body program. So when you find yourself in a conversation that’s going south; even one between yourself and a box of Oreo’s, take a five minute break and go someplace where you can mentally hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and take a look at your own personal Task Manager to see just what is running the communication breakdown. Are you working from your family conflict program at a work meeting because a co-worker reminded you of a sibling just now? Instead of talking to Louise-super capable worker, were you holding a standoff with Sarah- the sister that still wishes she had been an only child? Are you and that gorgeous box of Oreos trying to sneak off to the No Tell Motel and have an afternoon together because something happened today and a roll in the cream filling has always made it “better” in the past? We can either clean out the programs that no longer serve us or ratchet up the frustration level hitting enter-enter-enter-enter!, while nothing changes. It's a choice.

Life is complicated.
Suffering is optional.


Brain Readjustment Department: MUSIC...
Bill Wither's Original Version of Lovely Day. You can not hear this and not sing along! I dare you!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Taste The Rainbow

In my writing/marketing/tourism/design/alternative healing/retail, Jill-of-all-trades resume, I’ve been called on to do some food styling for Kim Kauffman, a phenomenal local photographer.

*Her web link is below so you can see her work. Don’t miss her gorgeous and glorious nature & floral work using a photo technique she created!

While we worked, we’d get to talking a lot about what was being shot and over the years we have noticed a constant truth; fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, beans and spices, look better on film than meat or other “filler” foods that we should be eating the least of anyway.

We could look at a pile of strawberries from any angle and they just sat there looking glorious. Even if we added a pile of chocolate shavings as background, the chocolate would wave the red queen forward saying, “No my lady. You first. They are here to see you.”

Meat is the hardest thing to photograph because it always turns out looking like it does after it has moved through your digestive system. I actually had to use a mixture of soy sauce and 2 stroke motor oil on a piece of meat so it would look shiny and appetizing on film. Yes. I know. We need some protein. Operative word: SOME. Not TONS. And protein can be gotten from beans and other healthier sources.

According to www.epigee.org , “The human body can store only small amounts of excess protein. During digestion, protein is broken down into amino acids that the body uses for energy. Any amino acids that are not used are converted into fat. The digestion of protein releases acids that the body neutralizes with calcium. Eating excess amounts of protein requires a great deal of calcium, which can be leached from bones. A protein-excessive diet on a long-term basis could significantly weaken bones. A high-protein diet, like Atkins may increase the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis
Those are not my words but theirs.

The photogenic foods; fruit, vegetables, whole grains- even spices fall into the top three categories on the new Weight Watchers Power Foods list! The ugly step sisters are the bottom three and, interestingly, if you pick your daily menu starting from the bottom of the Power Food Pyramid up (page 93 of the Pocket Guide), then your bottom will continue to resemble the same expanded shape as the bottom of a real pyramid.

The top of the pyramid holds the key to the single item we actually dream about when lost in food fantasies; flavor. FLAVOR!

It’s really a choice between good food and packing fillers. All of the things we should be eating don’t need any work done to them beyond cleaning, removing it’s little protective travel case or if you like, heating. The kicker is that THEY are the true flavor we seek and not the four pounds of other stuff we surround them with before we consume them.

Think about it; bananas, apples, oranges, carrots, asparagus, almonds, all of them are ready to go in ten seconds flat! But do we just go right for them when we feel hungry? Nooooooo. We take bland packing filler, like flour, toss in some grease and chemicals and we add spices and tiny bits of the good stuff from the top of the pyramid to make something vaguely resembling the thing we craved in the first place. Strawberry Cake is a delivery system for a microscopic drop of the essence of real strawberries. Even something like a pretzel is nothing more than a salt (spice) delivery system, because on it’s own, the packing filler (flour, grease, chemicals) has no flavor! When did you ever hear anyone say, “Man I am STARVING for a bag of processed white flour!” OK, my brother’s Labrador did once but labs think cat poop fresh from the litter box is Almond Roca.

On the almond thing– why is it that we inhale the scent of fake almonds and then search for almond flavor things to eat or drink like cakes, cookies, and coffee, wasting a boatload of calories on them when we can just eat a hand full of real, readily available almonds instead?

The scent/memory/comfort component comes into play here. It’s the strongest memory trigger the mind has. You can catch a whiff of something aromatic and if you just close your eyes for a moment, you will pull up a memory of what you connected it with. There will be an emotion tied to it as well and the nature of the emotion tied to the smell will mark it as an item to AVOID or BRING IT ON. Don't think so? Wave a bottle of Jade East after shave under the nose of a blindfolded woman over 50. Now ask her what she's thinking. I double dog dare you. You'll hear a whole story of drive-ins and date nights and Varsity letter sweaters and stuff that makes her blush. Scent triggers emotional memories.

The problem with food flavor memories is that we have to eat food, and different foods, everyday, to stay alive. Instead of a clear connection to a flavor memory, our original food scent/memory association has been polluted by daily assaults of good ingredients and the packing filler. It's as jumbled up in our heads as the mess of stuff in a deep fried, everything in it, chimichanga. Which smell are we going for there? The cheese? The cooked meat? The onions? The chilis? The flour? It’s confusing. The jumbled emotional memories that are triggered by jumbled scents are always of the sad, loss, longing, depression, unwanted, unloved genre. And when one chiminchanga doesn't make you happy again, you're deadened ability to reason tells you to eat another one and maybe THAT will make you happy.
(** Link to a BRILLIANT talk by Brene Brown below. 20 minute talk- don't miss the last five minutes! )

Here’s the test for good food vs. bad:
The more time the item has to spend in a factory being “readied” for consumption, the less time its kind should spend heading into your mouth.

Grab one of those cake thingies and mentally walk through it’s life story until reaching your hand. I present to you the Life Of A Snack Cake~~
(Deep Breath for run on sentence... aaaand, go) Chemicals and binders and fillers and preservatives and processing and then they have to wrap them up in two separate bags; plastic and boxes and  then they take pictures of what it used to be before they beat the hell out of it to put on the outside of the box and it has to be placed just so on a shelf to catch your eye amongst all the other packing filler foods in the store so you'll break down and buy it. (And breathe)

Don’t even get me started on how they have to get a cow ready for sale or this blogisode will turn into a Quentin Tarantino slasher film. And now what does it smell like? Nothing. Cardboard. Plastic. Something dead?

Now follow a strawberry's life until it sits in your palm. I'll let you fill in that short story. Real, healthy flavor holds it’s treasure of scent close so you will come right into it's radiant energy field, lift it to your nose and smell it’s wonder. Crap smells from yards away because it’s a confusing jumble of scents. Who hasn’t caught the scent of donuts being made from two blocks away? What you’re smelling is grease and 20 pounds of sugar. YUM!

Simple perfection lives at the top of the food pyramid. If I gave you a bowl of fresh strawberries, you could just eat them straight away. Ten years from now strawberries will still grow as simple and perfect as they do today and you'll be able to enjoy them and their scent will still say summer, and healthy and sunshine. Let’s try that same trick with a bag of flour. Nothing? I thought so.

Flavor derived from those top of the pyramid foods are the delicacies of Planet Earth. Years before the thriving import/export food business really took off, winter food supplies held only things that would keep or were preserved in salt or some other packing, drying, pickling method. The people didn't eat those things all winter because they wanted to. They ate them because they had no other choice. And what did the suck ups bring as gifts to lords and ladies when visiting their castles; Peaches from China, mangoes from tropical places, peppers from the exotic market places of Istanbul, almonds from far away Spain and wild strawberries from the fields surrounding Rome.
We are eating like Kings and Queens as we re-think and re-thin our bodies.

Would you care for a fresh berry your Highness?

* Here are Kim Kauffman’s commercial and fine art websites– have a look at the food pictures! ( side note; the lamb dish is the one with the 2 stroke motor oil “sauce”
Commercial Work-

Amazing Art Photography!

** Brene Brown's talk from Ted.com

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Club I Want To Get Kicked Out Of

The Maori people of New Zealand, have a saying, “Never spend time with people who don’t respect you.” I couldn’t agree more. After a delightful holiday with the family or even a corporate retreat where “sharing” has become vogue, we often leave with brand new psychic injuries or scabs ripped off old wounds that have never quite healed. Apparently these people did not get the memo that a public gathering (especially a funeral, though it happens all the time) is not the most ideal setting for parading their “concerns” and thinly veiled insecurities that they have dressed up in the costume of Truth, Justice and the American Way. Where is Dr. Phil and his tranquilizer dart gun when we need him?

I start with this because a big part of changing our food consumption habits for the better means that eventually, the tightly wound cuckoo clocks around us are going to start to notice our bodies changing and they are going to want an explanation, damn it! I read on a blog that a member brought a salad to a pizza and cake party at her mother-in-law’s house. Instead of a thank you from the MIL, she got a raft full of grief about how she was insinuating that her MIL was a bad hostess. Really? Sounds like the MIL may be more than a little jealous, nervous and insecure about who the daughter–in–law may be when she reaches her weight goal. Maybe she’s afraid that the DIL will finally lock down and change the combination on the vault door of her self esteem so MIL can’t break in and steal pieces of it anymore.

Telling people that you are on a weight loss program is actually harder than it seems. It’s an issue that we prefer not to have an open discussion about with just any old person. The ones who respect us, no matter what, get to hear our dreams and plans first because they will not stand at the edge of our lives with a howitzer ready to blow them away like those character assassins will.

In the world of addiction, there are alcohol and substance abusers who function at work and home with co-workers and family clueless to their condition. Doctors perform surgery while their fifth vicodin kicks in. Soccer moms drive game car pools with Grey Goose in their Dasani water bottles. Food abuses, though it’s just us that it injures, are obvious to anyone that can see us.

Explaining to a character assassin why you are declining a snack can prompt a “Well, good for you” from their mouth, but their facial expression says, “It’s about damn time.” Thanks, Lie To Me TV show, for confirming through Neuro-linguistic programming technology, what babies can figure out in their first month. When the words don’t match the facial expressions, games are afoot. This is also why so many people are afraid of clowns but I’ll save that rant for another day’s blog...

Yes. I need to lose weight. Duh. I know this. But sometimes we behave as if others are unaware of this little detail and WE are shocked and hurt when some moment in the world confirms what we assumed was a secret; we are fat. I used to have a beach side gift shop and used my stealthy “ego preserver mode” when I slipped a larger size into the dressing room for a customer attempting to shoe horn her way into a swimsuit by telling her that particular brand ran “very small”.

Overweight people are members of a club we never intended to join and it is one of the only clubs where it is impossible to deny our membership status. Unless we intend to live in a community of sightless people, our membership is instantly known. And the jig is up if they want to “see” you with their amazing sense of touch.

This is a club I want to get kicked out of. I want someone to say to me, “Move your skinny ass lady. This club is for people trying to reach their weight goal.” I’m working on that dream right now. I’m also changing the combination on my self esteem vault today to squelch the burglars who would steal pieces of me that I need to be a whole, healthy, happy person.

Any one else want to blow this pop stand?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Twilight Of Immortal Weight Loss

“Edward stood beside me, casting no shadow, excruciatingly lovely and forever seventeen.” Yep. There it is right there. The last two words in that line of dialog from the blockbuster hit movie New Moon: The Twilight Saga; forever seventeen.

I was a Goddess at seventeen. I was still a Goddess at 27. True story: when I first moved to Florida, I was washing my car in my driveway-in a very isolated private community. Being August in swamp world, I was wearing a bikini top and some cut off jean shorts. Not Daisy Dukes but more conservative. A young guy drove past, staring at me, and he drove right into the tree in front of my house. You’ve never seen a more flustered and embarrassed boy, especially when he had to use my phone for a tow truck and his five second gawkfest turned into a 30 minute humiliation exercise with a married woman.

Back to the Twilight Saga, guilty. You got me. I have read the books and seen the movies and I will be seeing the last two films as well. Does this take IQ points away from me? Nah. I still have a voracious appetite (funny how we use eating words for so many things) for reading and researching a ridiculously diverse range of topics. I and a zillion others simply enjoy the occasional foray into the mysterious world of teen angst, impossible romance and first love that never ends. “Obviously”, says Stephanie Meyer as she flies off in her new Space Shuttle she bought with book and movie royalty monies. You’re either a fan or you’re not.

Here’s a little rant I wrote after hearing some guys (and gals) saying they didn’t get the whole vampire fantasy fascination.~~What do you mean you don’t “get” the Twilight thing? Here’s a multi lingual, musical, dangerously over educated guy who is over 100 years old yet trapped forever in a perfect, young body. He’s a gentleman with impeccable manners. He’s ridiculously wealthy so he doesn’t need a job. He listens to everything you have to say and finds you not only interesting and intelligent but also entertaining. His only job is to love you and protect you and since he never sleeps he does both of those things 24/7, which, granted, is a little creepy and stalker-ish but come on, have you seen this guy? So he drinks animal blood to stay alive. So what? I’m still eating cows, though I prefer to let someone else bonk them on the head and grind them up before I do. It’s no less barbaric. And to add to all this, you also get a funny, charming, devoted and beautiful young Native American guy who would die for you and, oh by the way, he can shape shift into a wolf in case you ever need a warm fuzzy blanket or someone to fend off danger. So what’s not to get? Think of it this way, what Twilight is for women, is what two 18 year old centerfolds who think you’re a total stud, a freaking genius, and who sit silently looking pretty while you watch sports all day in your underwear would be to a man. So, now what’s not to get?~~

How weight loss comes into play in this blog-isode is this: after watching one of the movies, I thought how amazing it would be to have all the time in the world to learn whatever you wanted to learn. You could master languages, learn to play every musical instrument ever made, read every book ever written and train in every field of study. In the next instant, in my head I saw a skit hatched that could have been out of an SNL show (when it was funny) where I’m undergoing the transformation process to become a vampire and I “wake up” sparkly and super strong but still in my over weight body- wait for it- FOREVER.

CRAP! The reason these stories are so appealing is because the vampires all look like they have spent a year on an island as a prisoner of Jillian Michaels and a team of Brazilian plastic surgeons and THEN they were frozen in time. The mere thought of being stuck for eternity in my elastic waistband mom jeans was what really began the brain readjustment that awakened me to the BIG TRUTH: being overweight is really a choice that I can make every single day.

British comic, Ricky Gervais, brilliantly says in his HBO special that getting fat is a project we can back out of at anytime. I’ve decided to back out. Not my cup of tea to go “all the way” with this. The thought of continuing my own saga of 37 clothing changes before I can go out the door is daunting. Kneeling down on the floor of the bra department because the beootches who stock the shelves put the bigger sizes on the bottom rungs, and the fact that my closets hold so many things I cannot wear is why being frozen in time today would be a seriously bad idea. I would be immediately booking a one way ticket to Italy for a little “chat” with the Volturi.

As for the vampire fascination thing, I won’t laugh at your Precious Moments collection, so if you don’t like me anymore because I love me some Sci-Fi-Fantasy, then bite me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lunatic

OK. That's crap. I am, but that is a story for another day...
Welcome to my cozy little living room.

You're going to notice that I have uploaded 4 posts all on this very same day, January 13. 2011. Make that 5 with this one. But it's not really a post so it doesn't count. It is not because I am a lunatic, although that may be part of it.

Here's why the multi posts in one day-
This blog is four days old and I've had some friends that are not members of Weight Watchers Online asking where they can read my stuff, so I am taking one for the team and sharing my adventure in weight loss here on Bloggy World...which is how you found it. I have just now uploaded my first four "episodes" and I'm caught up to today, so future postings will be date correct.
That's it. Read on.

ATTENTION! I Am Not Paying Attention (?)

I have decided to not use this blog space to hyper focus on every aspect of the WW Program. Why, you may wonder? Well, I shall tell you.
The extra weight on my body accumulated over the years; quietly, stealthily and easily. It happened without me paying much attention to it except for those shocking moments in shopping malls when my head would turn and I would see the overweight woman in the store window. After a few seconds, my brain ran it's facial recognition program and reported, "Holy **** That's Me!". This little "surprise party" was fostered by having mirrors set above waist high in my house so there was never a full viewing of the progress of my getting fat "project" in privacy. Oh no.
These moments always happened when I was in the midst of thousands of others on my way to Lane Bryant for some clothing item that my skinny self would never, ever wear.
Side note: notice how grocery stores have very few reflective surfaces besides the dairy and frozen food areas? Even those glass doors are so filled with product right up to the windows and the aisles so confined (like cattle chutes), that you don't really get a proper look at your self. Plus you're too busy trying to remember your shopping list to have the "That's Me!" moment. Imagine if they sold full length mirrors in the same aisle that they sell my beloved cheddar and sour cream Ruffles? The Ruffles company would be out of business in a month. I digress. Over the years and many diets, I would hyper focus on minutiae; mostly shame, blame and lame behavior that got me to this point in the first place. I hated the food restrictions. Carrie Fisher put it so well when she said, " I don't like that diet has the word die in it."
This time, in my new lifestyle, I'm using the Points Plus Tracker to carry the details for me. After a few minutes of researching a recipe or an ingredient, I log in to see how many points I have left to spend for the day and get on with my life. My version of this new lifestyle is to put my attention on the cooking school I am putting myself through right now (auto didactically) and discovering- like Iron Chef contestants, what kind of exciting things I can create out of the ingredients in front of me.
Last night for example, I pulled out my copper sauté pan and starting with a wild caught piece of salmon, some broccoli and some mini bowtie pasta as the main elements. I raided my fruit and veggie stash and my ridiculously stocked spice cabinet and began the clock. Second side note: My husband runs a hotel with an award winning restaurant and chefs and blah, blah. I get tiny gifts from chefs like Rajev, who brought me fresh cinnamon he peeled off his mother's tree in India on a visit home. He gives me little baggies of cloves (fresh!) and other wonders and ideas about how to use them. He must be a laugh riot at the customs gate. So, my point is, I have the supplies to go Giada on my food.
I steamed the broccoli as a side dish: simple and good. For the salmon, I took two fresh oranges and squeezed the unsweetened juice out of them into the pan and poached the salmon. I added shallots, 1 Tbs lite soy sauce, a pinch of dill and chives, and 1/2 can of diet Vernors soda (ginger ale for non Vernor's virgins). When the salmon was cooked, I removed it and reduced the "sauce" down adding some orange zest for flavor. I broke up the salmon into bite size pieces and served it over a cup of the pasta with the sauce over it. Viola! Yumminess.
The whole time I was cooking, my attention was on the fun of pure creation and not my butt in a mirror. I want this program to be so naturally a part of my life that I will forget I am on it-forever- and it will be like breathing. So, my blogging is going to reflect my "slimmed down" personal anxiety as well. Attention. Mine is looking here and ahead with a new attitude.

The Chair Prisoner Meets Her Match

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
It's 1/11/11 today, or as they say in Europe 11/1/11. It looks so much better the European way, but then those folks always do things with a bit more panache then we Americans do. I mean, just look at the symmetry of those numbers. That's design balance, baby. Structural integrity. It looks great and it can stand perfectly balanced on it's own.

Balance. That is my word for today. Balance became an issue starting last night when my 10 year old pound rescue dog suddenly couldn't stand up. Her back right leg has something going on, neurologically, and it just slides out from under her and she's down. The vet did the exam and xray's and thinks she might have thrown her back out playing with my other dog; a Great Dane. She's on her anti inflamatory and a little somethin-somethin meds for the pain and she's comfortable, so she's chilling out on a cloud of softness.

Yesterday morning life was the same routine and then just one thing, one leg threw all the balance off and now everything is different and may never return again, to the way it was yesterday morning.

It got me thinking about where I might be out of balance in my life. The smart part of my brain knows that everything has balance in the Universe. One thing pushes up against another compressing tiny particles and producing dense matter versus dark matter; a half day of darkness balances the half day of daylight during our custodial visit from the sun and we turn our faces towards where it hangs in the sky.

Some days, I have sat at this computer for way too long. If standing had a sound it would be like an old rusty iron door on a container ship creaking loudly as it's yanked open. I know that my body is out of balance when the creaking starts. If I spent as much time standing up and moving as I do sitting down, then my knees, and my lower back wouldn't be laughing at me when I try to use them as more than table edge locators and dull ache storage facilities. I refer to this particular physical phenomenon as "Folded Person Syndrome"; a common ailment amongst writers, IT people and eBay addicts everywhere.

Even though I may have achieved hyperspeed in my writing career by sitting here for five hours straight cranking out pages, the balance in my life is off because my body suffers. My mind does too when the cream filled version of my mind, tells me that I could just go prone on the sofa and catch up on the old How I Met Your Mother episodes so I will be current when it ends.

Shameus, who I introduced yesterday, works as the General Manager of the Creamy Mind department and if my body hurts enough from inactivity, he just might sneak back in here and try to take over again and "help" me get comfortable. "Dooooonuts!" So today, with my dog Pez (yes, named for candy. What else?) faces her own doggie balance challenge, I am paying attention to the active/inactive balance and walking away from this machine in just a moment. Notice I said "walking". Hooray!

Psssst- final word on balance: I haven't missed the deliciousness of Cherry Garcia yet. Trade off/balance: I found a new product, like Crystal Light, that is sold in little water bottle sized portions to jazz up your H2O. Awesome! It's made by a company called (ironically) "Klass" (what?) and I am currently enjoying a huge glass of pineapple flavor water. So delish!! I found this accidently when I was in the imported Mexican food section of our local Meijer store while looking for some spices. There it was, looking all innocent in it's white and blue box. A favorite flavor, she had some yummy siblings like a hibiscus one called "Jamaica". I have balanced my sweet tooth by trading the crazy points of ice cream for zero points of yumminess.

Plus, it's 20 freaking degress outside today in Michigan and I am also trading the mental image of igloos and blue lips for beach chairs and Coppertone as I sip my drink and hang out with Pez while she heals. 11/1/11. Standing up now...

The Tao Of Bathroom Wisdom

It's day 2 for me. I have to learn the whole art of spreading the daily points out so I don't end up with the majority of them bunched up like wedged undies around lunch or dinner time.I got to the evening and still had 14 points left to reach my daily number and felt a bit weird about having to portion out some more brown rice and shrimp and work some peanut butter, apple slices and a cup of cocoa in to an evening snack to use them up.

So why, when faced with being encouraged to eat more than I expected yesterday, did I not feel a small party going on in my head? Something had definitely shifted inside me. Just a little.

I found myself moving around my house the same as I do each day: take the dogs out, feed them, clean the kitchen, drop some laundry in the washer, putter, putter, write, blah, blah. Several times throughout the day, I felt an odd "something is missing" sensation. Do I have my glasses? Check. Was there a phone call I was supposed to make? No. Nothing. Was I supposed to have some important task completed or a problem resolved and it must be a big one, like accomplish World Peace, because I can't shake this sensation that what's missing has been on the To Do list for ages.

Some of my best thinking happens in the bathroom. It's basically the only room where I can go and never have another person or four legged friend following me in there, so my think time is blissfully uninterrupted. Well, there was that one work friend back in the early '80's that had ZERO personal boundaries who would come and sit on the floor to continue the never ending saga of her life that she really, really, really needed to tell me right at the same time that I really, really, really needed to pee, but that is a different story. So, there I was headed to my Sanctum Sanctorum for a few moments of "reflection" and as I turned to descend to my place on the porcelain throne, it hit me. The thing that was missing hit me. Not the actual porcelain throne. I had been walking around all day AS IF I were ALREADY thin again.

What was missing was the voice inside me that I have heard for several years that sounds like heckling and disparaging comments about my body and my health and my ability to ever get going and take this excess weight off of me. The voice was gone. What I realized in that moment was that even that annoying, hurtful, self deprecating companion that had been living inside my head was still a type of companion. Obviously the worst kind of companion but a companion none the less, and now it was gone. That voice has been making snarky and painful insults at me since the very second I tried to put on my "skinny" jeans and couldn't fasten them many years ago.

We've all got at least one friend who is never happy, always complaining, ever in some sort of self possessed crisis. Instead of removing them from our circle of influence, we drag them along like the 50 year old snapping turtle you inherited from your great grand dad and you secretly loathe but feel obligated to keep instead of donating it to a zoo where it might actually be happy around it's own kind. The weight loss is indeed a challenge and I have begun. The continuing silence and absence of my old frenemy who I shall call Shameus, is an even bigger challenge.

Shameus is the "Bouncer" that holds the job of keeping the door safely shut between the every day world and the ocean of information, healing and creativity and inspiration that exists in our subconscious. Back on a shelf, somewhere in my life's list of things I can actually do but have benched because I felt too fat to pursue them as a career, is hypnotherapy. I actually have my certification as a Hypnotherapist. I also have other technologies that I have trained in and rarely used because Shameus could knock the courage out of me in one second flat. And that 's his job after all, isn't it; to shame us?

I've got a sharp carrot to fend him off now

The First Day Of The Last Year Of Elastic Waistbands

I’ve done a lot of weight loss programs. A lot. I mean a lot, a lot. Let’s put that right out there so it doesn’t appear that I have just arrived on an interstellar transport and the whole “gravity” and the “too much food plus sitting still equals weight gained” concepts are new to me. This isn’t about what I don’t know regarding nutrition, cooking, exercise and common sense. It’s about what I don’t Do.

At 56, somehow, the “don’t do” part of this equation has finally moved to the front of my consciousness after pushing it’s way through the cheddar cheese and sour cream Ruffles, the comfy lap blanket and the channel changer to get there.

I live about half a mile from a Weight Watchers center and I drive right past it all the time- (I know! What?) . The huge sign has always hovered in my peripheral vision as I pass as if it said something about tractor repair so I just deleted it from my need to know stuff in my head.

A few nights ago I was collecting the dozens of catalogs that showed up in my mailbox in the past few months and out fell the one and only copy of Weight Watchers magazine I have ever bought. I had also never even opened the cover. It disappeared the same time I stocked my pantry with all the things I would need for my Michigan winter like a bear would stock up on things to survive hibernation until spring. I opened it and the magazine randomly fell to a page with a story of a woman who realized she needed some real help when she heard the NFL draft pick statistics and she weighed more than most of them. I’ve had the same revelation while hearing our University lineup as these gigantic kids run onto the field. I guess the old adage is true: you can’t see it when you are it.

My friend, who is a WW member, had told me that same day that she had decided to rejoin this month. My cousin, a long time member said to me, again, after hearing me whine about my weight, again, just go check out a meeting; still the same day. The next day I showed up for a working lunch meeting and the woman I met with laughed as she realized she still had her name tag on in the restaurant; her Weight Watchers name tag. She had just come from a meeting at the “tractor repair shop” near my house. OK Universe. Message received.

I went to the WW center when I left our lunch and was greeted by two very friendly, funny, helpful women. They had none of that evangelical-food-zealot vibe that usually sends me directly to Mickey D’s for a fish sandwich (because it’s “healthier”).

I went to my first WW meeting on Saturday morning. The room was pretty full with more than 50 people and my friend had saved me a seat. Unbeknownst to my friend, that empty seat was right next to one of my neighbors and I also saw several other faces I recognized. The big open space held none of the cloistered, secret shame or the “we staff members could be super models because we have always been skinny”, ambiance of so many other programs connected to hospitals that shall remain unnamed. I listened. I liked it. I went home and signed up for the monthly pass online.

Today is my first Points Plus tracking day and so far, I’m finding things in my bear cave that fit this program just fine and though I am referring to the tracker online like a tourist does their map in Moscow, I am finding my way. Wish me luck!