A trashy novel ?

I just finished reading my first Janet Evanovich book called “The Rocky Road to Romance”. I am not sure what I expected, but I may have been expecting more than I got. Funny how you have certain ideas about books before you read them. I was expecting mystery, wit and intrigue with some romance. I guess I was expecting more mystery and intrigue and less romance. Then again, I really should have paid more attention to the title.

Maybe my idea of romance – love that grows over months or years, or develop a deep personal connection, are too much to ask from a 200 page book with large font. Do women really want to escape real life like this? I can see now why many women are lulled into the belief that Prince Charming is going to come along and sweep them off their feet. Sweep me off my feet? Can he just sweep the kitchen floor? As for this book it seems to follow the Cinderella theme. Since it can’t be Prince Charming to ‘save us’, why not an oil tycoon who manages a radio station?

The ‘Cinderella’ of this story did not have an evil stepmother, however Daisy (the leading lady here) was over-worked and under-paid. However this situation seemed to have been self-imposed (or doesn’t everyone volunteer as a crossing guard after we deliver the morning papers and before we head off to the radio station for our ‘real job’). As I just wrote that last bit I felt more like Daisy that I realized. I am a freak of nature burning the candle at both ends on a regular basis; Writing blogs, making jewelry, and reading books in between making dinner and listening to my 7-year-old reading his homework. I also can make breakfast, fold laundry and get the kids dressed for school…all at the same time. If squeezing all the things I love to do into a day doesn’t work (I am the master of multi-tasking) I stay up until midnight doing this thing that I love called writing. Maybe this stuff is more like real life than I thought?

I do have a Prince Charming, however he isn’t sweeping my floor, protecting me from killers, or lending me his cool horse to ride (or car to drive). Instead he is fast asleep already. It is only 11:30 PM why does he have to go to bed so early? I wonder for a moment, am I Daisy (a.k.a Cinderella)? Probably, but books are fantasy and real life is, well, lacking perfection. I don’t expect perfection, but it would be nice to escape to it once in a while. I guess that is why novels like the one I just read are so popular. No one wants to read about a ‘regular guy’ do they?

Wind in my hair

A gentle wind is blowing my hair around just enough so that it is tickling my face. It feels good to have fresh color and a clean haircut. For some reason my hair seems more bouncy. It is also nice to have covered up those nasty gray hairs that started to peek out. Funny how we pay hairdressers to make our hair look natural or should I say ‘naturalish’. Today my hair color turned out a nice brown with a hint of red that you can only really see in the bright sunlight. It isn’t a “Carrot Top” kind of red, but a nice auburn or burnt ember kind of red. I always wonder who gets their hair purple – because I saw that option in the ‘color’ book.

I was thinking about the weight of my hair. Somehow gravity is non-existent in the salon, because my hair truly defies gravity – at least until I walk out the front door. If I am lucky my hair will keep its bounce and fresh-cut look for about 24 hours. Will it stay like this if I don’t sleep on it? Should I just sleep in a chair tonight so that I don’t mess up my hair? Then I could show it off for work tomorrow. Hmmm… maybe not, because I would still have to figure out how to take a shower without getting it wet (like wear one of those crazy shower caps?). Does anyone under 70 or maybe 80 even wear a shower cap anymore? I certainly don’t own a shower cap. Honestly. I have seen them in hotels before. I have to ask…who still uses them?.

I guess I will just have to wash my hair tomorrow and let nature take its course with my hair (even though it feels more like revenge). I live in the driest climate (Arizona) which results in lack of curls, but it also isn’t good for body (this is why it seems to look flat all the time). Oregon seemed to yield ‘curly everywhere’ hair, reminiscent of a clown. Luckily I kept my hair pretty long when I lived there, otherwise I really would have looked like a clown. The wind seems to be picking up, but since the sky is dark (it is night-time) I cannot tell if the wind is friendly (clear skies?) or evil (rainstorm or dust storm?). If friendly, then I will be able to sit outside on the patio for a while longer. You just never know what the wind will blow your way. I was hoping the weekend would blow my way, until I realized today was only Wednesday. I think sadly,”By the weekend I will have completely lost the ‘new haircut’ feeling.” Another breeze pushes strands of hair against my face. I close my eyes and enjoy the tickling of my face while I still can.

Baby Cactus and Children…Hands Off!

I am sitting outside on the patio enjoying the warmth of the morning Arizona sun. For some reason the morning sun is warm vs. the afternoon sun which is scorching. I stare at the cactus sitting in front of me. It is so small and fragile. Just a tiny seedling found in the yard, now in its safe home in a miniature pot. I just watered it, although I wondered if that was even necessary. I mean it is a cactus? How much watering does it need?

The water absorbed into the soil, but I can see a few tiny water droplets clinging to the smooth surface of the cactus (not the spines!). The sun is shining on the cactus in such a way that it glistens. It makes me think of a child being nurtured and protected by a parent. The plant is glistening, shining and is so beautiful. I don’t want to do anything to interfere with its inherent beauty in its natural state.

Our children have that inherent beauty too, so why can’t we just let them be. See the beauty, enjoy the moment, and savor it, instead of stepping in and thinking we can fix them or make them better. What children (and plants) need sometimes is just to be admired for who or what they are. They really can be amazing and grow without us.

The key to good looks…your energy?

Why do women obsess so much about looks and weight? I find myself doing the same thing at times, which surprises me. I realized this past year (after putting on some weight) that I wanted to break the cycle. In some cases it is good to be concerned about excessive weight gain, because you don’t want to be unhealthy. Unhealthy can mean ‘weighs too little’, but hopefully most people realize they shouldn’t starve themselves and then run 10 miles a day. Just look at Christian Bale in “The Machinist” If you see this movie, or even just the photos you immediately see the more disgusting side of being too thin. If you see what Christian Bale looks like normally (ladies, you know what I am talking about here) then you also know that ‘thin’ is not really a good thing and having more weight is a lot more appealing.

If you want to worry about looks so much that you end up looking like plastic is that a healthy choice? Is it healthy to obsess and worry that you don’t look good enough? Improving your looks may seem like it makes you feel better, but you only feel better because you ‘think’ you look better. In reality you are trying to fix a confidence problem with improving your looks, when instead you need to work from the inside out. Change the inside and you actually change the outside too.

How many times have you seen a beautiful woman, but she has a sourpuss expression or she appears unhappy? The pretty hair and the tight body are just not enough. What people see is energy. They see your inner glow – your positive radiance. The energy is what draws them to you and makes them want to be around you. Sure, we all want to put our best foot forward (comb our hair, put on clean clothes, or put on a little lipstick). The point is we make the energy, and through it can enhance our looks or attractiveness to others.

Without a complementary combination of energy and looks, you get a fireball (just energy) or a facade (just a shell). Worry only about looks or weight and you end up focussed more on the facade and not enough on your inside energy. What is important is balance and the whole package. The next time you get ready to go out somewhere, think about generating positive internal energy for the same amount of time that you spend getting dressed and fixing your hair. You might be surprised at the results.

Running – easy breezy!

After two weeks of feeling chest congestion, having a runny nose, having a stuffed nose, and feeling like moving from the sofa was impossible, today I finally felt ‘better’. I had been contemplating whether my illness was a virus or just due to this vile allergy season (the worst in Arizona in years). Since I was feeling pretty good, I decided to do my regular run (2.7 miles). I still can’t believe it. I finished it in about 26 minutes. It was fast, or at least it seemed fast, because I could actually feel wind on my face. Another indication was the sweat rolling down my cheeks and the fact that my arms and legs seemed to move without my brain telling them to. There is something about a run where you get into the groove and it feels smooth – obviously I forgot what it was like.

I found I was breathing hard during the run, but not the kind of hard where your lungs feel like they are attacking you. You know, the kind where your chest is unable to intake enough oxygen to keep your muscles going? Last week on a run (or should I say attempted run) I found myself having to walk most of it because even when I ran as slow as I could (a slow jog if there is such a thing) I fell into an asthmatic type of attack. Since I don’t have asthma I wasn’t worried, but more annoyed that my body just wouldn’t work like I wanted.

Today I was listening to my IPOD (a requirement for any run alone) and listening to an odd compilation of Hebrew songs. I was thinking about other music I needed to add to my collection. I just heard of some Turkish music I need to get, as it might be a good complement to what I have already. I wondered if I should try running to my belly dancing music? Wow, I guess I just revealed a lot about my IPOD. Is that kind of personal? Like leaving your panty-hose hanging over the shower rod in the bathroom when you have dinner guests over?

For some reason on the run I felt out of my head. Or was it really in my head? I guess I was in my head where there hasn’t been space for several weeks because of my cold. I felt focused on my running because I wasn’t wasting any time thinking about my lack of oxygen or my darned shin splints (that seem to keep recurring). The running shoes I bought a few weeks ago (and broke in by walking around Disneyland for three days) were finally ready for prime-time running today and they worked great! The air temperature was about 80 degrees at the start of the run, which to some might seem too hot, but for me it was perfect. I love to sweat out toxins and hopefully lose a few pounds in the process. When I stepped on the scale after my run I was a bit disappointed, but I guess I cannot expect miracles from a single run. The feeling of a ‘good run’ was the reward anyway. I can only hope to avoid another cold and shin splints so I can have another great run tomorrow.

Don't try the chocolate chip diet

For some reason I decided that it was a good idea to lose 5 lbs this month. This is not just a goal I committed to myself, but I committed it to a room full of other goal-setters. In other words, I can’t just back out now, I have to keep going. I was just pondering how many calories it would be if I ate my notebook? I was talking about the paper kind, not my computer. I feel like I am counting calories of everything around me, and now, not just food! I have a few strategies I have come up with, but none has eliminated my tremendous pangs of hunger. Did I mention I could really eat?

Considering I work from home and I sit only feet from a vast selection of tasty treats in my kitchen pantry, it has been a real feat to eliminate in-between-meal snacks. Every time I would walk past the pantry (before) I would stop and grab something. It wasn’t anything big. Just a Cheez-It or a pretzel. What could be the harm? Well, my pants are so tight I feel like if I eat a single grain of rice, my stomach will expand – ripping my pants apart like the Incredible Hulk. As a result, I will be forced to buy a whole new wardrobe. Clearly this weight-loss thing is about mind over matter; my minds desire to not go broke buying new clothes. Right now the mind is winning, but my stomach pangs are holding strong.

As a tactic to limit my eating, I started writing down everything that crosses my lips in one of those on-line food diaries. It is great because you can even track calorie burn by activity and your weight over time. I now log every cup of tea, every nibble of a cookie, and every chocolate chip. Everyone eats chocolate chips right out of the bag don’t they? Or is that just me? When I tried to log it in the food diary it didn’t have a measurement for “chocolate semi-sweet morsel”, so I had to improvise with 1/100th of a cup = 1 morsel. I didn’t actually count the morsels, but surely a handful couldn’t be more than 15 morsels? Could it?

Now I see why the ‘single chocolate chip habit’ is so bad. You eat a handful, which doesn’t look like much. Then 10 minutes later you have another handful. It isn’t long before you realize that 1/2 the bag is gone and you barely have enough left for those chocolate chip pancakes you were planning to make at the weekend. Did I mention this would happen by Monday at 10 AM? I kept wondering if someone else had been getting into my chocolate chips. Then I realized I opened the bag this morning and everyone else was out of the house for the day. The next day when I stepped onto the scale, I would realize that it must have been me eating all the chocolate chips, because the dial inched upward ever so slightly. Now I am scared to eat any snack for fear that I will tumble down the slippery slope where my single cheez-it turns into a box-a-day habit. Sadly, my eating problems are just that, habit.

You would think without all my snacking, I would be a lot more productive because I don’t have to brush bright orange crumbs from my keyboard. Unfortunately, at times I find it hard to focus because I am distracted by the hunger pangs. Pangs that seem to hang with me most of the day. Well, except when I am sleeping. Then I can just dream about eating everything I want. I may feel hungry a lot of the time, but something must be working because the scale dial has started inching downward instead of upward.

How am I surviving this hunger? Surprisingly I have been positive for the most part. I have traded my sugar crashes to “Choose to feel better”. Besides just watching the calorie counts, I have reduced my gluten intake (you know, wheat? or anything made with flour?). This seems to really improve my mood and alertness. Another trick I tried, but not sure if it actually works – I wear my loosest pants and ‘think thin’. Can I brainwash myself to think I am thin? Will my brain just ‘make it so’? I thought this might be more motivating than trying to squeeze into pants a size too small. The pants must have shrunk in the dryer because I couldn’t have gained THAT much weight? In 2 weeks it looks like I have lost about 2 pounds. Feeling hungry isn’t so bad; just don’t put your hand too close to my face because my choices may be down to eating your hand or a notebook (although I need to check my calorie counter first). Here comes another hunger pang, time for my mantra…”Choose to feel better”.

Bad Hair Day…you don't have to have one!

I got my hair cut today…and I LOVE getting my haircut. When I was younger I used to hate it. To me getting a haircut meant getting it “chopped”…literally. My hair was always short and extremely curly and I had these…dare I say it…BANGS! For some reason my bangs were never quite the right length. Why? Right after a haircut they would be too short. Then when I thought the rest of my hair was finally a good length,  the bangs would curl up under the humidity of a hot New England summer day. They would frizz and go in every direction imaginable. I would come to the realization that my hair just looked out of control and a bit mangy really. Mangy? Ugh, that was the last thing I wanted was to look like a shaggy dog with ungroomed fur that was knotted and dirty. So maybe I didn’t look mangy, but I felt mangy!

All through high school I felt like my hair never looked good. I thought it was ‘bad hair genes’ that were responsible for all the ‘bad hair days’. Eventually I discovered the problem or problems, but it was a long and drawn out process that was more trial and error than a scientific investigation. After  a long time I realized that I didn’t have to have short hair and maybe I could be saved…by the ponytail! I thought cool, this will solve my hair problems for good. Once my hair was long enough, I put up my hair only to discover that my bangs were going to continue to haunt me. The bangs would curl up like a slinky at the hint of humidity. I suffered the painful “grow out” process to eliminate the bangs. ‘Hallelujah I have been saved!’, or so I thought.

I was under the false pretense that “my hair was as good as it could get’.  I moved from the stifling heat and humidity of Maryland to rainy Oregon and made an interesting discovery.  Oregon is known for rain and a lot of it, so how was my hair going to respond? Apparently when you cross the Rocky Mountains something changes in a good way, at least for your hair. Oregon is rainy, but since it is COLD and RAINY it seems to have a different effect on the hair…now my hair was…straight? Well, straight is an exaggeration…how about straighter? Most of my bad hair days behind me, I thought it couldn’t get any better than this. Could it?

After the birth of my daughter I noticed a change in my hair. Why is the new hair coming in a different color? and a lot lighter? Oh no…its GRAY? I have a newborn…and I am gray? This a cruel joke. I thought my ‘hair’ challenges were over, but no, my quest to avoid bad hair continued.  I finally discovered the one-two punch that could “knock out” bad hair forever. The secret combination was known to most, but it took me a while to learn about it…hair dye and a gay hairdresser.  I don’t know what I would do without plentiful hair dyes in every shade and my beloved gay hairdresser.  Somehow he could look at me and pick the perfect hair color (or colors?) and finish the look with a sassy new ‘do’. I knew I struck gold when I walked in the door and my husband said, “You better leave, my wife will be home any minute!”

Even if you are born with hair that is too thin, too thick, too brown, too curly, too flat, too blonde or too brown, you can have perfect hair days. All you need is 1) to live in a dry climate (did I mention I moved to Arizona?), 2) Ditch the bangs, and 3) Find a talented gay hairdresser.  Obviously anyone can still have a bad hair day once in a while…but you don’t HAVE to.