Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The lady in red ...

...  is the one that guys find the sexiest, apparently. 

According to an article on WebMD, researchers at the University of Rochester conducted a study with students involving photos of women on backgrounds of red and of other colors. The men found the  women in the red-background photos to be more attractive and appealing than women with photos on other colored backgrounds.  Female students who studied the photos showed no such bias. 

So, that age-old custom  that links red with romance seems to have a lot of merit!  Gals: If you'd like to wow your guy, then surround yourself in red! (Maybe even going so far as to fill your bedroom with red -- walls, bed linens, etc!).  And guys, you can boost your own romance potential by giving your sweetie red presents -- a sexy teddy, a tube of lipstick, red high heels, a bouquet of red roses: You get the idea! 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finally! It's fall in Florida!

Yay!  My favorite time of year is here, at long last!

I know that people in other parts of the country may be skeptical about my "It's fall!" proclamation -- doesn't South Florida have one season only?, you might think. But, if you've lived in this area for a while (longer than three years, say), you become aware of the subtle changes of season here. And for many residents like myself, fall is our favorite. 

OK, so there are no leaves changing, not much sweater-and-fireplace weather, no real reason to wear (or even own!) a nice leather jacket -- except for when you'r traveling, of course. (Say, to New England for indulging in leaf-peeping and fireplace-sitting ...)

I knew it was fall when I went to bed last night. After suffering a cold-front-induced, activity-killing, windy, overcast, drizzly weekend, I went to sleep in the cool, crisp windows-open nighttime air -- and awoke to a glorious South Florida day!

In Florida, fall typically brings: sunny skies, low humidity, refreshingly cool, light breezes, great temps (70s during the day and 50s at night), very little rain, and no more hurricane season!! Plus, the drier air and sun position usually give rise to gorgeous sunsets. 

Best of all, the snowbirds haven't flocked back in great numbers yet, so it's the perfect time to take advantage of all that this area has to offer -- walks, runs, bike rides, etc. -- and not be drenched in sweat! Likewise, it's also a great time to be a tourist: Book a hotel on Miami Beach, hit the theme parks in Orlando, go shell-hunting on Sanibel .... the possibilities are endless! 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Eat this way, not that ...

OK, so by now we've all heard the exortations to eat your food more slowly.  The benefits include better digestion and less consumption -- hence, less of a danger of weight gain. 

And now comes news of yet another study (conducted by Japanese scientists, as reported in BBC News) that corroborates the link between speedy eating and obesity. 

There's no arguing, then, that it's a good idea to try to slow down when you're dining. I've made a conscious effort in recent years to do just that -- and, even though I'm not always successful (wolfing down my food when I'm starving, for instance), I do try to follow some basic guidelines.

Such as:

1. Take smaller bites. Don't stuff your mouth; instead, fill your fork or spoon with an amount that fits only about half your mouth. 

2.  Don't gulp.  Chew each bite as thoroughly as possible so that you're not swallowing big, unchewed hunks of food.  

3. Take breaks. Put down your fork and knife every few mouthfuls or so. 

4. Dilute it.  Have a glass of water with your meal to slow you down and give you a "full" feeling sooner or with less food. 

And here are some other tips that might be worth trying:

1. Use a small (such as child-sized) fork and spoon when you eat. 

2. Chew on one side only (alternating sides). 

3. Do more conversing and less chomping when eating with others. You'll not only control your weight better, you'll be more popular as a dining companion! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's bugging the Boomers?

Apparently, it's not all roses and champagne for middle-aged Americans: Suicide rates are soaring for the 40-64 age group, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.  

The numbers are indeed alarming: from 1999 to 2005, suicides amongst white Boomers rose 17% (16% for men, 19% (!) for women); and 7%  amongst black Boomers (5% for men, 14% (!) for women).   These rises helped increase the overall suicide rate in the nation to 5% -- a huge difference from the previous period of 1986-1999, which saw an 18% drop

Yikes! What's going on here?  The researchers offered some ideas, from the improbable (menopausal women stopped taking hormone-replacement therapy due to cancer scares) to the possible (post-9/11 anxieties) to the plausible (a concurrent increase in abuse of prescription pain pills, such as OxyContin). 

But it was an almost-throwaway line in the article that made the most sense to me. I think perhaps the stresses of modern everyday life (can you say Sandwich Generation?) , combined  with disillusionment that life may not turn out exactly how we dreamed (can you say Economic Meltdown?) have caused a Perfect Storm of hopelessness and depression amongst many Boomers -- too many of whom, unfortunately, decide on a permanent "out." 

All the more reason to do whatever you can to relieve stress and maintain a positive attitude through these most trying of times.  So, go take a walk or hit the gym. Compose a "kiss-off" letter to that jerky boss (and hide it away safely!). Call a friend for an impromptu lunch.  Hug your kids, and kiss your honey.

Here's to keeping that glass half-full!! 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Adventures on the Boathemian

One of the most significant changes in my life since I started dating Matthew has been the introduction of regular boating outings into my calendar of fun activities.  

Matthew's boat, the Boathemian (clever, no?!?), is a 24-foot Bayliner that's perfect for short trips up and down the Intracoastal Waterway near his Boca Raton condo.  We like to run up and stop for lunch or dinner at nearby dockfront restaurants, or cruise down and drop anchor in Lake Boca, which can have up to 200 boats on nice weekend days.  We often invite friends aboard, too. 

I realize how lucky I am to have such a regular opportunity, and I highly recommend grabbing  every offer you might get to jump aboard a boat, even for just a few hours. 

It's a great way to relax, unwind, let loose, and escape the pressures of everyday life.  There's nothing like the camaraderie of the boating community: bobbing around in unison as the tides and winds change, diving in for a refreshing dip, knoshing on munchies, having a couple of cocktails or cooling sodas, listening and dancing to reggae and other boatish tunes, watching others partying aboard their boats, marveling at how the sun sparkles on the water like thousands of diamonds, and letting the cares of the world just drift away.  


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Update: A new member of the family

After losing their beloved cat, Tigger, last week, my parents decided to get another pet to refill  the yawning absense the big, loveable feline had left in their condo -- and in their hearts.  

They looked at some kitties in the local shelter but were not quite ready to take one home. Then  they heard about a cat owned by a friend of a friend that needed a new home.  So, they brought him home Monday night on a trial basis -- and there he stayed. 

According to my mom, he's a small, adorable gray cat with six toes on each front paw. He's about a year old, is neutered and vaccinated. Apparently he's had a bit of a hard life so far.  His name had been Gray Boy, but Mom didn't care for that, so she came up with "Grady," which resembles his old name but has a cuter, friendlier sound to it.  

So far, Grady has proven to be quite shy, hiding under the guest room beds and venturing out reluctantly.  He seems to be most wary of my stepdad.  But I'm sure it won't be long before he's coming when they call, greeting them at the door, and hogging the bed at night.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's a wine lover to do?!?

Oh, great.

For at least a couple of years now, researchers (er -- make that marketers!) have been touting the health benefits of drinking a bit of wine.  Such as: It may be good for your heart, it helps relieve stress, the tanins have cancer-fighting attributes, etc.  I didn't really pay attention to the details, just felt less guilty for enjoying my occasional glass (I drink an average of about 5-6 glasses per week.)   

But recently, posted a story warning women to be especially mindful of the amount they drink,  for they pay a higher price, physically, than do men for consuming alcohol.  

And now, reports that, for both sexes, even moderate amounts of any kind of alcohol SHRINK YOUR BRAIN, possibly exacerbating age-related diseases such as dementia. 

Kind of reminds me of the back-and-forth we went through about a decade ago over eggs: They were touted, then demonized, then touted again -- if consumed in moderation

So, I'm going to stay on my occasional-glass-plan. I just won't feel quite so sanguine about it, at least until the next pro-wine "study" comes out!!  

Monday, October 13, 2008

A member of the family

I just returned from a visit to my mom and stepdad.  While I was there, their beloved cat of 16 years, Tigger, died tragically (he was run over).  Needless to say, my parents were devastated, for they considered him their "child." 

Tigger, a large gray tabby,  was a very special cat in many ways. He was feisty yet affectionate, the kind of cat who came when you called, greeted you at the door, waited patiently for handouts as you dined, and hogged the bed at night.  I, too, had come to be very fond of him. 

After the initial shock wore off, we  considered the implications of his loss. At first, it seemed like a hidden blessing, for Tigger was getting on in years and had recently had health issues and stopped eating. Also, there was the expense of owning a pet -- an expense that my mom and stepdad, who are struggling a bit financially these days, could certainly do without. 

But then I reconsidered, and encouraged them to get another cat. The reason for my change of heart was the overwhelming joy and laughter he brought to their lives.  It's a proven fact that pets significantly enhance our lives, adding quality and even prolonging life expectancy. Read this St. John Health article for proof.  Even the Real Age test considers pet ownership a real-age-boosting category.  You can't put a price on that. 

So, here's to you, Tigger.  I hope you're chasing squirrels and birds to your heart's content in that big kitty playground in the sky. And I look forward to getting to know my parents' next "child."  

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Have you heard of this kind of breast cancer?

It's called Inflammatory Breast Cancer, or IBC. 

And no, neither had I.  But here's the scary thing: In October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you'll see pink-ribbon campaigns everywhere (including on my favorite sweet treat, Dove Dark Chocolate Promises -- which, btw, are on sale for two for $6 at Walgreen's with an October coupon) and many exortations to do self-examinations and get a mammogram -- but nary a mention of this rare but especially deadly form of cancer. 

Here's a  National Cancer Institute fact sheet with signs and other information. The most common symptoms are a red, itchy and/or swollen breast (doctors frequently misdiagnose it as bug bites), inverted nippes, and pain or tenderness.  Other sympoms are listed on the Mayo Clinic site.  And, here's a news clip that shows what some symptoms may look like, and discusses how little awareness there is out there of this form of breast cancer.

So, bottom line: Don't panic, just be aware, and take all the prescribed precautions. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

I was born on this day 52 years ago, in Naples, Florida.  

During that half-century-plus, I have been, at various times and for various durations: contented, discontented; stressed, calm; impoverished, comfortable; career-obsessed, unemployed; a student, a teacher; living in big cities, living in suburbs; happily single, unhappily single; unhappily coupled, happily coupled; overweight, fit and trim;  close to family members, distanced from family members; smiling, frowning; crying, laughing. 

But always, always eager to embrace life and what it may bring. 

These are just a few of the things I don't know: Who will be the next president (though I sure have my hopes about that!); what my next job will be; whether my current relationship will last; how much longer my parents will live; when I will be able to retire in comfort; where my journey will take me from here.

Here are some of the things I DO know: Every day of my life has led me to this exact place and time, just as it should be.  The true measure of success is how many loved ones you gather, not how much wealth. You get what you give. And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make (credit: The Beatles).  

Here's to the next part of the journey ....

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