Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The 90-10 Rule

It’s no secret that I value a healthy lifestyle. At this age I can no longer eat and drink like some twenty-year-old at a frat house or even like I used to before I turned 30. That’s why I have the 90-10 rule. It’s a way of eating and living that balances good health with pleasure.

Here’s how it goes...Ninety percent of the time I eat for fuel. What I mean is that I eat to keep my blood sugar from dropping and my stomach from growling, not because I have a craving and not for enjoyment. It’s basically salads, vegetables and grilled, lean meats. But because we can’t live a life totally void of decadence, ten percent of the time I eat with “gusto”! I enjoy crèmes and chocolates, the “widow maker” at Prato and every other goodness you can imagine. The ninety percent is a sacrifice so that I can truly appreciate the ten.

This kind of living has taught me a few things. The first is that I need to be mindful of what I indulge in. I no longer blindly snack on whatever happens to be sitting in the break room or waste my calories on treats that don’t satisfy. Instead, I indulge in quality food and I am present and aware of every sinful bite. The other thing I have learned is that I don’t put limitations on the 10 percent. I make it a gastronomic indulgence moment or GIM as I like to call it. I eat outside my comfort zone. Rather than the same meals time after time, I’m adventurous. I try new things and challenge my palette. Finally, I indulge with company. That way it’s more about the experience than it is about the food.

Sure, I’d rather have chicken wings and anything made of chocolate for every meal but I know I can’t. If I ate with the same desire all the time, I would never stop. So instead I’ve learned to fuel up and hold back so that every once in a while, I can surrender to my appetite and truly appreciate the best of what the kitchen has to offer.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Animal Attraction

If a woman of a certain age prefers to date a younger man, they call her a “cougar.” If a man dates younger women, the guys slap him on the back and call him lucky. Why the disparity? After all, a cougar is an animal with a strong agenda, one that preys on others. I don’t like the comparison. Why is this woman on the prowl, while the object of her interests is not? Maybe we can call these younger men who prefer older ladies “cheetahs” or even “bulls.” Cheetahs are smaller wild animals who, like the cougar, are just another form of predator. And bulls will charge at anything that has a target on its back -- sort of sounds like a single’s bar to me! But my question is this, when did we all become animals? And when did dating turn into hunting?

I began considering this question not too long ago after a certain television show came out. I called one of my daughters to clarify the meaning of the term and to ask if there was any connection to myself. “No, mom,” she said. “A cougar goes after younger men. In your case, they’re chasing you.” We laughed and it got me to thinking about age, attraction and where we draw the line.

Today’s woman is independent, active and financially secure. The 50 of today is not the same as it was for our mothers and grandmothers. In fact, some women mid-life are more physically fit than plenty of 20- and 30-year-olds. We work harder to be attractive and often, we finding ourselves dating in between visits to see our grandkids. Maybe that’s why the lines between young and old have blurred over the years. Maybe that’s why everyone seems to be on the prowl.

These “cheetahs” are fast predators. But to be honest, I don’t know if one could keep up with me and my life -- or if I’d want to slow down enough for him to catch up. That’s not to say I haven’t been approached -- one time even by a man who graduated high school the same year as my daughter. Yikes!!! I can’t imagine ever being up for that. I do know this, life is too short to rule out happiness because of a number; and like the men of the past, today’s woman doesn’t have to. Like the term “old maid” that used to describe a 22-year-old who wasn’t married, I hope that time, perspective and progress will one day too make the term and the thinking behind the “cougar” a thing of the past.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Ghosts of Couches Past

Have you ever noticed you can trace the course of your life by the sofa in your living room? Think back a moment to the couches of your past. Can you remember where you were, what your life was like, as you sat on the cushions of each of them? When you look at faded Polaroid pictures of your kids in their Halloween costumes sitting on those ghosts of past lives, are you taken back in time?

I began my adult life on a sofa so hot, you could barely stand to lay on it. It was where I sat during my first marriage on two seats so small you could hardly fit another person alongside you. I didn’t pick it out, I would have never chosen it. I married into it. Like the marriage that never quite fit, that sofa was too small for comfort.

After I left that marriage and sofa behind, I came to America with my two girls where I found a new life and a discount couch. It’s what a single mom could afford: blue with flowers, practical and, most of all, cheap. It wasn’t quite the dream, but it was mine -- just like the new life I was building.

Then there came a pretty crème sofa that was the most beautiful one at the Scratch & Dent store. With its barely-noticeable, mismatched cushions and light color, this one fell under the category of “what was I thinking!” I had two children and “crisp and clean” weren’t nearly as important as “sturdy and stain-resistant.” Long since gone, it might be in someone’s basement by now -- who knows.

Years later there was another marriage and another couch; an ugly pink-leather one that came and left with the husband. Divorced again, and sofa less, I talked a friend who needed to store his furniture into letting me have his sofa. Eventually, I bought it from him and when he returned, he bought it back again. It now sits in his mother’s nursing home room -- that’s a lot of life for one small sofa! Even though I loved it, that couch was never really mine.

Finally, there is my current sofa -- the one I now say will be my last. I love it! It’s the one I bought and chose. There were no children to consider, no worries about spilt sippy cups or stray crayon marks. I didn’t have to consult a man or base it on another’s opinion. It’s a couch built and designed to my taste -- as comfortable as a bed, big and roomy enough to share. It’s where I can sit ‘Indian style’ to read a book or cuddle with my grandson. It’s the place I can choose to snuggle with a boyfriend, work in a power nap or just fall asleep alone. It’s not borrowed or inherited, pink nor floral. It’s finally what I want and it fits me perfectly. So this time around it looks like I’ll be keeping my last sofa!