Friday, September 28, 2012

Why I love being 40+.

I entered this decade, as most do, with a wee bit of trepidation. But now, nearly two years into "middle-age", I'm thinking it's the place to be. I'm not certain why it took so long to become comfortable in my own skin, but I am. 

Even if said skin is not quite so resilient. 

It is absolutely, positively freeing to join the legion of older women who look and feel comfortable in their own skin. It's as if by virtue of simply turning 40 I no longer felt the  pressure to look anything but . . . exactly how I look.

Perhaps it's all a right of passage -- much like motherhood -- and you don't receive the hall pass to "simply be yourself" until you've crossed the proverbial middle-aged line. Or maybe I'm just a slow learner.

Regardless, here's what happened when received my hall pass: 
  • I've refocused. I spent much of my twenties and thirties attempting to emulate the picture in my mind of who I should be. I've now refocused that picture on who I am. Now. I've stopped comparing myself to other women. I've stopped yearning for more. I've refocused on the here and now. And quite frankly, the here and now is better than I ever imagined.  
  • My glass is half full. Or at least, that's how I see it. I was extremely skinny in my twenties. I did not have to work hard to maintain the no curves look. Now, having lived more than half my life without curves, I embrace and appreciate the curves aging provided me. Of course, I'd like the glass to remain only half full. Any additional growth in this department would be unwelcome!  Which leads me to . . . 
  • I make an effort. I workout twice as hard as I did in my twenties. Clearly, I'm not still maintaining the same figure, but being fit is an excellent way to feel good about yourself and know - despite the imperfections - that you are doing what's best for your body. 
  • I had to get a grip. I cannot compare myself to the 25 year-old bikini-clad babes at the pool. Not even the 35 year-old bikini-clad mamas. I was there too and looked great at that time. Now I look great for this time.  There I said it.  I may not look great for any age; but I do look great - not perfect - for my age and my body
  • I've simplified. As I've aged, I do less to my hair and make-up. It's ironic that I would have never left my house without makeup in my twenties when my skin was flawless, but now my uneven skin is paraded around town weekly. Who cares! My skin-care regimen is also simplified and I've stopped trying the quick fixes and next best thing. Using a good sunscreen {daily}, antioxidants {vitamin C}, retinoids {Rx}, and drinking oodles and oodles of water are the most important steps you can take for good skin. Period. 
  • Re-evaluation is key. I do not long for all the latest styles or obsess over the shade of the season. I want clothes that fit, are well made, comfortable, and work for me. I am less concerned about what everyone else is wearing and more concerned about pieces that look great on me. As a result, I've thrown out more trendy clothes than I'd like to admit. I had to acknowledge that, while it was still cute, it no longer worked for me.

I'm not sure I can go so far as to say that I look better now than I did at 25 - that was nearly half a lifetime and many pounds ago - but I do have so much more perspective and less concern about what other people think of me, my clothes, or my looks. 

And quite frankly, when I see secure, confident women in the 40s, 50s, and 60s I think they look much more beautiful than many insecure-working-too-hard-at-it women in their 20s and 30s.

So look forward to your hall pass!

Embrace the inevitable changes.

And work like hell to be the best you you can be.

Because as they say: Everyone else is already taken.   

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And the winner is . . .

Leigh from Hines-Sight Blog is the winner of the 10-day Fall Renewal Detox Giveaway with Lisa Consiglio Ryan of Whole Health Designs

Congratulations, Leigh!  I will pass your contact information along to Lisa. Get ready - October 1st is nearly a week away!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Detox Recipe: Spicy Bean Soup

I'm gearing up for a 10-day Fall Renewal Detox beginning October 1st. A 10-day detox requires preparation on my part because, in addition to being at least a little addicted to caffeine, I am also quite dependent on chocolate. The pages of this blog attest to such dependence. 

Coffee is a habit; chocolate is a vital part of my world. 

Okay, that sounds dramatic, but I promise I will miss it more than caffeine or alcohol. Yes, alcohol too!  I know! And, as the Hubs pointed out, ten days includes an entire weekend.  

Send reinforcements. 

No. I can do it. 

I am strong. 

I have willpower {though it has not heretofore shown itself}. 

It's only ten days; not the rest of my life. 

Honestly, though, I am hoping it does impact the rest of my life. 

I need to recharge and reset my body. I know it will help with that. But I also want to change our family's eating habits more permanently. 

I hope this will be a catalyst to such change. 

If you are interested in joining me, please enter my Fall Renewal Giveaway. You have until midnight on Friday, the 21st, to enter. I'll announce the winner on Saturday, the 22nd. 

Here's a sample Fall detox recipe to inspire you: 

Spicy Bean Soup*

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove,minced
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½  small yellow onion (1/4 cup), chopped
1 carrot, sliced (1/4 cup)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
¼ bunch of kale (1/2 cup), chopped

Heat oil in pot over medium-heat.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes, onion, and carrot and cook for 10 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes and beans and cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat. Add kale and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper. Eat it up! Serves 4.

*Recipe provided by Lisa Consiglio RyanLisa is the founder of Whole Health Designs, juicy clean living advocate and mama of two. She loves her Birkram yoga practice, running, and is on a mission to spread the word, “Food is love.” She provides detox programs and private coaching for women who desire to embrace clean living. Lisa is also developing her own line of raw, cold-pressed juices. 

As a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach, Lisa has worked with over 1,000 people in her Renewal 10 Day Detox programs.  Her work has been featured in TinyBuddhaCrazy Sexy Life, and Mind Body Green. You can also check out her new program, Kickin’ It Clean virtual group and meal plans for plant lovers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Top Detox Tips for Fall

Early this summer I won a "detox" from a blog I frequent. But it was summer, and well, just not the right time for me to detox. But I'm on board and ready to get started on October 1st. And, here's the kicker, one lucky reader can join me for free!  You want to, right?

Well, if you don't now, you will after reading this piece by Lisa Consiglio Ryan.

Lisa is the founder of Whole Health Designs, juicy clean living advocate and mama of two. She loves her Birkram yoga practice, running, and is on a mission to spread the word, “Food is love.” She provides detox programs and private coaching for women who desire to embrace clean living. Lisa is also developing her own line of raw, cold-pressed juices. Yum!

As a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach, Lisa has worked with over 1,000 people in her Renewal 10 Day Detox programs.  Her work has been featured in TinyBuddhaCrazy Sexy Life, and Mind Body Green. You can also check out her new program, Kickin’ It Clean virtual group and meal plans for plant lovers.



Say this word, and some people will run for the hills.

Detox is sometimes equated to deprivation and starvation.

But it doesn’t have to be that way especially when done safely and effectively.

Detox can give you the jump start you need to lose a few pounds, reboot healthy habits, and gain tons of energy.

Think glow, radiant, clear, and focused!  Now doesn’t that sound good?

During fall, we are moving inward; slowing down from the movement of summer. In the fall, as the growth season of summer comes to a close, detox is an ideal way to prepare for winter, the holidays and hibernation.

Fall is actually the ideal time to detox. Think of purging the old …. just like the trees, you must shed your leaves and get prepared for winter. A fall detox will help stave off seasonal colds which are so prevalent this time of year, too. Bonus!

Fall is the time to get productive and finish projects for the year.   It’s about getting things done.

Back to school … back to routines … back to work.

It’s extremely important to cleanse each season to rid your body of toxins from food, the environment, and even your stress.  Each season brings different feelings and outcomes of balance.

During fall, here’s what you get when you are in balance: clarity, better communication, accomplishment, feeling light …

AND when you are not: confusion, indecision, fatigue, congestion, and overindulgence.

What sounds good to you?

If you want to go for the balance, detox can be so easy if you set your intentions and health goals ahead of time.  If you are ready to get back to healthy habits, a detox can be the perfect remedy.

Here are 5 tips for an easy, safe, and effective fall detox:

  1. Eat whole Foods:  Try a gentle, clean food-based detox. The first step is to eliminate foods that have barcodes. This means avoid foods that come in a can or box- processed foods. I usually remind myself of this rule when I shop. Also, stick to organic fruits and veggies for your cleanse. You don’t want to add any toxins into your body during your detox!  In fall, you will generally eat warm stews, soups, and root vegetable dishes. And don’t forget to add those warming spices to your meals, such as cinnamon and nutmeg.  

  2. Eliminate added sugar, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, wheat/gluten, and soy: These substances are allergens and even addictive.  These need to be eliminated while you are doing a detox. Try to keep things as clean as possible, and you will notice a big difference in your mood, energy and even skin. 

  3. Move your body:  Of course eating foods that nourish and detoxify are necessary for your detox, but the next step is to incorporate exercise. Try gentle yoga, walking in nature, stretching. You don’t want to run a marathon during your detox.  You will be completely exhausted. Your body is working hard to get rid of toxins, and she needs to restore during the detox period.   

  4. Take time to breathe and meditate:  This time is for YOU. So try sitting still for at least 10 minutes a day, breathing in and out. Have a mantra. Be still. Stress is the #1 cause of inflammation so do all you can to take a few steps back and calm your mind. 

  5. Determine the length of your detox: 10 days is a perfect time period to feel and see changes in your body.  It’s just enough time to really get the full effects of a food-based detox.  It takes time to make changes, and your body needs time to adjust to eating differently, getting rid of toxins, and establishing habits. So a cleanse less than 10 days might not give you the full results. If you are new to detoxing or want a power-boost to jump start healthy living, then 10 days is a good start. 
So what do you say? Ready to get your detox on this fall?


Giveaway details: 

Lisa Consiglio Ryan will provide one lucky reader with a free spot in the October 1st Fall Renewal 10 Day Detox! 

Mandatory Entry
Leave a comment below letting me know you are interested in detoxing with me in October!
Additional Entries
Follow Lisa on Facebook {one entry}. 
Follow Lisa on Twitter {one entry}. 
You must leave a separate comment below for each action to count as an additional entry. 

Rules (aka the fine print): You must be 18 years of age and a U.S. citizen to enter. Chances of winning are based upon number of entries received. The contest will run from Wednesday, September 19th through Friday, September 21st. A winner will be selected from all eligible entires using and announced on Saturday, September 22nd. 

Disclosure: I am joining the Fall Renewal 10 Day Detox as a winner as well. I am not otherwise being compensated for this giveaway. 

I'm so excited to have a reader join me on this journey!  

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Geek out.

Are you a technology geek? I am not, though I do keep the company of a few. Despite my high tech shortcomings, here's the latest techy gear that caught my eye. Perfect stocking stuffers, no?!

The cube laser virtual keyboard works with your iPad or iPhone and fits on your keychain. Tee-insy!

via ThinkGeek

This solar power charger attaches to any window and collects solar power to charge your device.  Perfect for your office with a view!

via LikeCool
Please do not ask me how the laser keyboard thingy works.  I'm still impressed by fax machines.  Yes, fax machines!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dog Shaming.

We've all apprehended a dog in the midst of eating a pair of shoes or food off the counter, but shaming the dog with a photo confession -- absolutely brilliant! Dog Shaming is a site devoted to just that -- photos featuring man's best friend coming clean about some pretty shameful behavior. 

Here's a little sampling of the shame:   

all via

And my own submission: 

Do you have a shame-worthy furry friend? 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why has being a kid become a full-time job?

We started young. Maybe too young.
It's a circular argument currently wreaking havoc with my mind: we have to push kids to succeed, but they are just kids, why do we push so hard? 

This conflict is not new to me; nor did it originate with me. It is a dialoge, however, on which people generally take a stance. Some truly believe pushing their children further and further ahead, whether in sports, or academics, or both, is required in these competitive times. Others believe children should be allowed to be children. 

I find myself in both camps depending on the day, which way the wind is blowing, or how exhausted I am at that very moment in time. 

The struggle in my mind often sounds a bit like this: 
  • My kids are super smart and will clearly just naturally do well in school {following in Mom's footsteps, of course}. 
  • My kids are a tad lazy and don't seem to push themselves beyond what comes naturally. 
  • My kids take music lessons and are trained in a sport so they will be well-rounded. 
  • We do have a free afternoon on Tuesday; maybe we should begin working on another language. 
  • Boy Genius still enjoys free time to play and is so creative. He needs time for that outlet. 
  • Little Miss Thang is incredibly tenacious and has energy to burn. Does she need more?
  • They rarely play with friends during the week because they work so hard on their schoolwork. 
  • Someone {no names} brought home a few Bs last week. Clearly we could spend more time on schoolwork.    
I've spoken with a few trusted sources on these issues and we do not seem to either agree or find a happy medium. I am beginning to believe the level of intensity with which children are pushed at such a young age will have ramifications later in life. Will they seek that intensity in future relationships, work, life? I don't know, but I also cannot conceive that the push to do more, accomplish more, and succeed more will not somehow impact their adult world. 

Is it no longer enough that our {elementary aged} kids are learning above grade level at their gifted and talented International Baccalaureate school? Most of their friend have math "enrichment" {opposed to tutoring} on the side. By the time they reach junior high, the majority of the kids on the international baccalaureate track bump up two grade levels in math. And the kids in high school are stressed about class rank from the moment they walk through the door -- the top ten scholars of each class are pictured on the wall in the entry and their positions change every semester. Talk about pressure?! 

Is it no longer acceptable to, as I did, join a sports team in junior high having never before played the sport? By seven and eight kids are already on select teams, practicing three to five days a week. And traveling every weekend. Sports are still just teaching teamwork, right? Or is all the intensity leading somewhere further?

I wonder:  what is the end game? 

Harvard education? Professional athlete?

How exactly do we sign our kids up for 100-percent-money-back-guaranteed path toward success? 

So many parents seem confident they have the answer and it inevitably involves . . . more activity. 

It's as if we have lined them up at a starting line, blown the whistle, and expect them to run for their lives, quite possibly expending all of their energy . . . until . . . some indiscernible finish line in the far distant future.

I am a big believer in parenting backwards. In other words, determining what you want your child to be like / behave like and working backwards from there

Consider potty training. Everyone starts with the goal {diaper free} and takes predetermined steps to reach such goal. It only makes sense to me that, as parents, we should set goals and take such measured steps in other big-ticket parenting stages.  

My end game:  raise happy, healthy adults. 

There is no full-proof way to ensure this result. But starting with that goal, I can prioritize or plan some measured steps or goals I can provide or nurture: 
  1. A good college education and post-graduate degree. This seems like the best way to ensure gainful employment, though, I realize it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Do they need an ivy-league education? No; just a good education. Would I pay for an Ivy League education if either or both rise that far academically? Absolutely; but it is not my goal.     
  2. Hobbies they enjoy {and at least one which helps them remain active}. Some of the happiest people I know have hobbies they love and take time to enjoy as adults. 
  3. Strong friendships. As with any relationship, friendships take time and devotion. I believe the value they add to your life well exceeds the effort expended. 
  4. Family integrity. Traveling together, spending quality time together, and staying close. This  goal is non-negotiable. 
Could they get "ahead" even further with additional math enrichment? Possibly, depending on where their interests ultimately lie. Will jumping on the trampoline with a friend until their legs sag from exhaustion help build strong friendships? You have to bond somewhere. Is competing in a select-level sport crucial? No, though I do believe everyone needs to learn to be a team player. I also believe exercise is crucial. Can you be too busy or too over scheduled? Absolutely. 

Kids are gifted with 18 short years of childhood {and they don't even remember the first few}. By twenty, if not sooner, the real world will overtake childhood bliss. I want my duo to work hard, do well in school, work well as a team player, and learn the virtues of compassion and empathy. But I also hope they will always enjoy summers spent lolling in the surf or running around like wild, unbathed children.   

As with anything it comes down to balance.

That, and maybe I cannot truly plan it all out in advance. At some point I need to let the kids lead me. If they become crazy interested in a sport, I will nurture that to see where it leads. Maybe it will lead to a hobby for life. If they show extreme talent in math I should consider extra enrichment. Maybe I am nurturing a future engineer. If they want to lay in the grass and watch the passing clouds, who am I to say no? We generally have to slow down to think big. Maybe I'm nurturing the next innovator or inventor? Those ideas need time to grow.

How we spend our time will all have to develop over time as they develop and demonstrate their desires. Because any true success will come from their own desires. Not mine. Not society's. Theirs. I can provide the tools and nurture demonstrated talent, but ultimately, they must define their own success.

Allowing them to do just that, I suppose, is my ultimate parenting goal. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Big hole.

The first thing to do when you find yourself in a hole is stop digging. Of course, that still leaves you in a pretty big hole.

Today Boy Genius found himself in just such a hole.

The specifics of the story are not important, but I asked Boy Genius to call his father and ask him a particular question. He took the phone and left the room. When he returned I asked what the Hubs said and he recited their conversation. 

Minutes later the Hubs called . . . after missing a call.

Me: "So you didn't just talk to Boy Genius?"

Hubs: "No.  I just had a missed call from you."
If you are a phone / tech savvy kid and intend to lie about a conversation with your father you should:
(a) not place a call to him at all,
(b) call him and talk about something else, or
(c) call him and leave the blatant "missed call" message on his phone so he immediately phones your mother and completely busts you. 
If you answered (a) or (b) you are on your way towards a wonderful future as a master manipulator! 
If, however, you chose (c), well, please return your "Liar, Liar pants on fire card" immediately - you are simply not cut out for the club. 
After speaking with the Hubs to ensure there was no confusion on my part I went upstairs and offered Boy Genius an opportunity to pull himself out of the hole he'd dug. 

Me:  "Is there anything you want to tell me? Anything you feel bad about need to get off your chest?"

BG:  "Nope."

Me:  "I just spoke to your father.  Anything you want to share?"

BG:  "No."

Still digging.

If you are a blatantly caught in a lie you should:
(a) fall at your mother's feet and beg for forgiveness,
(b) cry and explain that you've never felt so ashamed, or
(c) unabashedly act as if nothing has gone amiss. 
If you answered (a) or (b) you know how to work the system - it's nearly as if you are old enough to have lived through the Bill Clinton years and actually learn something from it! 
If, however, you chose (c) you deserve your punishment. 
Boy Genius's class is currently discussing idioms. Tonight he learned a new one: As you make your bed; so must you lie on it. 

Have your children started lying? How exactly do we {yes, another idiom} nip this in the bud?!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The odd couple.

Years ago when I worked as an attorney and lived in Houston, I shopped at Neiman Marcus so regularly that I not only had a personal shopper, but had acquired so many "points" that I was frequently invited to private shopping events at which I was served champagne and yummy bits and bites. 

It sounds positively absurd to me now. I currently live a hours from a Neiman Marcus and I have no points. None. Nada. Not a single measly point. If I want to shop and drink champagne I have to pay for the bottle, pour it myself, and sit down at my computer {not a bad idea, come to think of it}.  

Oh, the twists and turns of life! 

I now spend an equal amount of time {and quite possibly nearly as much money} at Target. So  imagine my delight when my favorite past and present retailers announced a collaboration?!  Just in time for the holidays, Neiman Marcus and Target recruited 24 designers to create limited-edition gift items. 

Some of the designers will step out of the product category comfort zone and others are staying with what they know best. Most items will be priced under $60 with prices ranging from $7.99 to $499.99. Neiman Marcus stayed very close to the design process which resulted in products made with real leather and silk, hand beading, hand-blown glass and 18K gold! 

The collection drops into Neiman Marcus stores, Target stores, and on December 1st.

I'll pop the top on the champagne! Bring your laptop and let's enjoy our very own private shopping experience on December 1st! No points required.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Family photo.

It's September -- the official beginning of Fall. A month filled with brisk mornings and turning leaves.  Unless, that is, you live in Texas and then, no groundhog required, you are doomed to two more months of Summer. 

And I mean S-U-M-M-E-R!

And while the rest of the country may have put away their linen and white skinnies, wearing breathable, light-colored fabrics is simply a matter of survival when the temps still climb near 100. 

All that said, as soon as Labor Day passes I begin wistfully imagining turning leaves and brisk breezes. With such beautiful imagery filling my mind I immediately, in a very Pavlovian dog sort of way, begin planning our Christmas card photo. 

I know. 

I am that mom

Really, are you surprised?!

I painstakingly plan it beginning in September. Pictures are taken in October. Cards designed in November. Posted the second week of December. No, not the first - though they are ready - the second week in December once the halls are decked and stockings hung.

So here's my idea board at the moment: 

Family Photo

Family Photo by eatlivelaugh featuring leopard print flats

This is simply inspiration, friends. Do not click through and look at the price of those earrings. It's insane {no Hubs, this is not a wish list of any sort. you make the money, I spend it - remember?!}.

So do tell:  

Are you compulsive enough to begin planning your holiday cards in September?  

Are you willing to clad your family in wool despite the blazing October heat so you can get a good holiday photo?

join the linky here

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