Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Am What I Eat

And today I am low fat, low salt, low sugar. . . and low taste. Scott and I struggle with weight and trying to eat healthier so this week we have dropped salt from our diet. For months we have been low sugar, before that it was low fat for years.

Do you know that you can't really get low fat and low sugar in the same product? Those two gems of dieting seem to be mutually exclusive. So I look at calories. I have stocked up on high fiber, whole wheat and all-natural. I suck on rice cakes spread with a barely perceptible layer of non-fat cream cheese, sprinkled with a whisper of Mrs. Dash. We eat egg substitute, turkey bacon and 35-calorie bread for breakfast.

I'm comfortable with this. I've learned to love non-fat sour cream, diet soda, and Splenda. I can eat a Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice or Smart One. We can't believe it's not butter and even spritz it on dry, lifeless popcorn.

So adding low salt to our regimen seemed like the natural, organic thing to do. I went back to the grocery store today. I scoured the aisles for salt-free, low sodium and the moniker du jour--hint of salt. I filled the cart with low salt crackers, soup, condiments, and juices. I bought fresh meats, veggies and produce. Nothing processed, nary a box in sight except for the Shredded Wheat and Cheerios, the lowest salt cereals in captivity.

I got home and shoved the heinous sugar-free sodas, laden as they are with salt, to the back of the fridge to make way for the new salt-free vegetable juice. Tonight, we'll enjoy some special concoction, made just the way Mom never did.

But it's better than the alternative. At least we'll be here to play with our grandkids and cruise around the world (heck, yes, that's the plan.)

So, here's to the spice of life. It'll just have to do.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Sandwich Generation

So I am now officially the bologna in the Sandwich Generation--the group of people who used to be called Baby Boomers and who now hold the less-than-enviable position of having both aging parents and grown children. Less than enviable because while we thought we would have these years joyously and selfishly to ourselves, we find that we are called upon to switch our caregiving from our children, who are, for the most part, on their own, to our parents, who were, but aren't anymore.

Confused? You bet.

We have five kids, all fabulous, who would hate being discussed here, but who on occasion still show up on our virtual doorstep (via phone, email, but rarely in person) needing to borrow the odd vacuum cleaner, suitcase or 100 bucks til payday. Actually, lately they've even begun inviting us to their places for a party or dinner, a cause for celebration in my maternal heart.

They are all excellent hosts and hostesses, by the way, if I do say so myself. See the picture of them all with me last Mother's Day. I'm the one sandwiched in the middle of all that goodness.

As I've told my friends in the past, as long as all their plates are spinning, I consider it a great day. And so I wile away my very few and far between leisure hours daydreaming of more leisure hours filled with vacations to faraway and exotic places. I've begun planning cruises to skirt the outer edges of every continent, to explore the hidden wonders of the world, to taste the treasures other peoples and places have to offer.

But lately I've also started concerning myself with the spinning of my parents' plates as well as that of Scott's mother, Alice. And frequently I am left standing in a pile of broken china. Their health, financial situations, caregiving, houses, and especially stress and happiness are all part of my daily thoughts now.

Earlier today I heard a siren and saw an ambulance going in the direction of my parents' home and worried that it was on its noisy way to them. When I called to check, I found out from Dad's caregiver that my mom had gone to the beauty parlor (weekly trips to the beauty parlor, there's a topic to explore.) Thank God. That siren is not for them. Not today.

But one day it will be.

And for now my plans for great escapes are tempered with worries that while I'm away sunning on some foreign shore, a siren will scream down the street to their house or to Alice's and I won't be there to catch the falling plates.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some Things Never Change

Last night Scott and I videotaped a wedding. And aside from realizing that we are both too old to be lugging around cameras and tripods and microphones (oh my!) and staying up that late (didn't get home til almost 1:00 a.m.--I had long since turned into a pumpkin), I was gratified to see that tradition is alive and well at weddings.

We shoot several weddings a year in our business and while they're grueling for us, they are beautiful and sweet and the best part of what we're all about as human beings: family, love, tradition, commitment, love, hope, and, oh yes, love.

The grandparents show us how to enjoy a life well-lived, to be devoted to someone over time, to make sacrifices of the one for the many. The parents model (hopefully) the years of work and struggle and the reward that comes when offspring are good and grown and off on their own path. The little ones, the babies and children of the young families give us hope for the future, a fresh start to set things right, a cure for cancer or the prospect of world peace. At the very least, maybe someone will eradicate the loss of aerable topsoil and stop global warming (okay, that's another topic, I know.) You get my drift.

I love that brides wear white no matter what, that they hand roses to their mothers and their mothers-in-law, that the couple lights the unity candle, that someone reads the love passage from Corinthians, that someone always processes to Pachelbel's Canon in D and that bouquets and garters are thrown, cake is cut and the first dance makes me cry.

In a world where technology does a 180 every 18 months (yet another topic), it is comforting to know that weddings will never really change. Oh, the noveau bride may fill jars with colored sand instead of lighting a candle, but really, as long as it sits on the mantel for a few years, who cares.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Curse of Soy

My husband picked up a new prescription today and read me the warning label. He might as well have been holding raw mercury in his hand for all the things this medicine might do to him. In fact, I wouldn't have been surprised if it had come with a hazmat suit. No matter, I will be wearing one before I get in bed with him tonight.

But that's the way it is these days. Everything we thought was good for us is going to kill us now.
Here's a giant "for-instance:" soy. Now that my cholesterol is creeping up, I have been eschewing (I love that word--can't pronounce it, but writing it, well, that's cool) meat for a while now, substituting veggies or tofu whenever I can. I have also switched to soy milk for cooking and cereal. The reason? It helps with symptoms of menopause like hot flashes.

If you know me, then in your mind's eye, you're seeing me fanning myself even now.

So I have been happy to kill those two birds--cholesterol and hot flashes-- with one tasty stone.

Yesterday Scott tells me as he's reading the paper (the clarion call of doom) that THEY have found that soy may cause an increase in breast cancer. OF COURSE IT DOES! Whatever in soy that helps hot flashes must have an estrogen-like characteristic and a curse from the devil.

Bottom line--for those of us who eschewed estrogen to avoid breast cancer and have suffered through hot flashes, crying jags, forgetfulness, have drunk the soy milk, munched on tofu and sucked the edamame out of the pods (so ladylike), JOKE'S ON US!

Too late now. Anyone for a soymilk frappe?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Look, Same Old Woman

Okay, the first disclaimer. The high heels are a red herring. This blog is more about Erma Bombeck than Manolo Blahnik, and you'll find that out soon enough. It's just that pictures of lovely, comfy flats in an array of colors to match my tunics and elastic waist pants wouldn't catch your attention, so I lied.

We've been talking about the process of book publishing, and as exciting as that is to me, I'm getting the feeling it's a big yawner for you--not much better than hearing about someone's surgery, so I'll spare you the boring details until P-Day (Publication Day May 29) at which time I'll bore your head off.

In the meantime, I will be filling this space with something a little different, okay a lot different. I’ll be writing, not about fashion, which my children will tell you I know little about, but about women, for women and to women. Something I hope will be funny, wise, poignant, and relevant.
At least that’s what I promised myself.

But how to start? Aside from being a woman, I have no extraordinary qualifications for writing a column to women, for women, about women. My life is no different than yours. I have kids, parents, laundry, credit cards and cellulite. I have heartaches and backaches just like you.

But I know the first law of writing: write what you know. I know about aging kids and aging parents. Husbands and bosses. Hot flashes and ice packs. Crockpots and color-safe bleach. I know about being a woman. And so do you.

And you know there's more to you and me than just what goes on at home or even at work. We live in a global village now and as inconvenient as it may be, what happens with global poverty, global epidemics or global warming touches us all. And will definitely hit our children square in their adulthood.

So we’re going to explore new territory, examine the obstacles ahead, and try new paths. We’ll laugh a lot, cry a little, and generally lean on each other for strength. Traveling is tough, especially with the kind of baggage we’re carrying, but we can make it. Together.

First, let’s get comfortable. Unstrap the stilettos (6-inch heels! What kind of sadist invented those?) They’re not the kind of shoes we need where we’re going. Ease your feet into a pair of comfy slip-ons. Doesn’t that feel better?

And now, first things first. A new name for the blog. . . Sensible Shoes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Powerful Noise

Last night I had the privilege of viewing, with my daughter Sarah, my friend Kathy and two strangers, an incredible film, A Powerful Noise. It was an event organized by Care International and among others to coincide with the UN International Women's Day. At theatres across the country, women, and men, gathered to view the film and listen to the discussion panel which followed. At our theatre in Dallas, we arrived early to pick up our tickets and get a good seat. Imagine our surprise when only two other women showed up! Where were the people who cared about this issue--the empowerment of women? Certainly instead of a powerful noise in our theatre, we heard the crickets chirping.

At least until the movie began.

For an hour and a half, we watched the lives of three women unfold before us. These were women from far-flung reaches of the globe, light years from us, worlds apart.

And yet.

Hanh is from Vietnam, working with victims of HIV-Aids, suffering with it herself, forming a support network called the Immortal Flower Group. These people include women and children, the recipients of HIV from husbands long dead, and men as well, who feel the stigma of the disease in a country still loathe to recognize it as the epidemic it is. Her efforts include educating local businesses and being an advocate for children at risk. Her own child was lost to the disease years before.

Nada is from Bosnia, a country devastated by war, where many of the men were killed and the women are left to tend to fields and families. She works tirelessly to build a women's co-op, where the fruits of their labors can be sold at a fair price. For many, the harvests are lost because no market exists, no way to process and sell produce, meat, milk, or grains. The loss of dignity goes hand in hand with poverty and is as devastating as the crumbled infrastructure of the ruined country.

And last is the flambouyant Madame Urbain in Mali. She plucks marginalized girls off the streets, teaches them to read and write, and serves as an advocate with unscrupulous employers, making sure they are treated fairly and paid the wages owed to them. She is passionate about education for girls, and pushes, in a patriarchal society, for parents to send their daughters to school. As the recipient of an education herself, she knows it is the one true way to rise up out of poverty and create a different life for oneself and family.

Three women, one message: when women thrive, the world is a better place.

After the film ended, a panel began discussing global women's issues. It consisted of Moderator Ann Curry, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, actress and activist Natalie Portman, CARE president and CEO Dr. Helene Gayle; CARE advocate for maternal health and contributing editor for Marie Claire Christy Turlington Burns; and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times columnist and acclaimed author Nicholas Kristof.

This elite group touched on a number of issues including rape as a weapon of war, micro-lending, women's health, and gender bias. They also recognized how difficult it is for women to rise up in societies where they have no legal standing, can't own property, can't vote, and are basically the property of fathers and husbands.

At the end of the evening, the bottom line became clear: it will take the empowered women of the world, and the men who support them, to change the status quo. Women helping women in the poorest of the poor neighborhoods in the world. Women in the richest nations reaching out in different ways to lift up our sisters so they can help each other.

One of the powerful women I admire a great deal once said, "It takes a village. . ."

I would say today, it takes a world.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Change of Pace

Now that we are in waiting mode as far as the publication of the first book , I am planning to launch a new look and feel for the blog. Watch this space for the transformation to happen over the weekend. I think the posts will be more fun, more relevant, more "me". We'll see what you think.

This is a hint about what the new blog will be about. No, you're wrong, guess again.