Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dateless over the Holidays: Spoiling Yourself

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As previously mentioned, I am alone for the holidays.  Neither of my children is here and Stella, our dog who normally lives in Old Town Alexandria is visiting while my daughter and her father are in Mexico.  I could be bitter but instead I am doing nice things for myself- I mean, if I don’t who will?  Which is my advice for those of you who are out there by yourselves at this time of year as well.

So it is Saturday night.  Many of my friends have sent lovely farewell greetings as they jet off to the islands, New York or Europe for Christmas and/or New Years. I am pooped from shopping and indulging in too much alcohol at nightly parties for the past 10 days.  Feeling fat as I have ignored my own advice and indulged in way too many sweets and had too little exercise this past week (will make up for it at 5 day Silent Retreat at Yogaville where I will eat only very healthy vegetarian organic fare and zero refined sugar and practice yoga twice a day).

One way to spoil yourself is to prepare a great meal and enjoy it by candlelight. That may sound a big odd to some people as we usually associate candlelight dining with a romantic evening but in the absence of romantic partner we must romance ourselves. Are you really going to waist all those opportunities for nice dinners waiting for someone with whom to eat them?

So to spoil myself tonight I made myself a delicious steak (desperately needed the iron) and ate it by candlelight on my fine china along with a good glass of red wine, fake fire blazing (we have this really tacky electric fireplace in our apartment which I usually keep covered by a chest of drawers but I decided, tasteless or not to expose it for ambiance for the season), Christmas tree lit and Pandora’s Jazz Holiday’s station providing the soundtrack.

Now I will put on my comfy pajamas, brush my teeth and head upstairs to watch a holiday themed movie like “Elf” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” or a good costume drama like “Jane Eyre” or begin my favorite version of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth and Elizabeth Ehle.

What do you like to do to spoil yourself when you are alone?

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BEATING THE SINGLE BELL BLUES:Strategies for making your single holidays bright

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Note:  I actually wrote this weeks ago, right after Thanksgiving and have been waiting to post it until C-VILLE WEEKLY published it but they haven’t yet and it is just getting silly so I broke down and decided to let it rip.  Fear not, I will write something else witty for them later.

When I wrote this, I really did lack any invites for the holidays.  Since then, I was invited to a bunch of events and now they are all done so I am facing a fairly blank slate once again.  My daughter has left to spend the next ten days with her father and my son, who is grown, will come for a visit after she returns on the second of January. So I am by myself (well, the family dog who normally lives in Northern Virginia with H2 is here with my while H2 and our daughter are in Mexico scuba diving).  I will write later about how I am spoiling myself on the cheap and loving having the place to myself.

Also note that when I wrote this Chanukah had yet to happen.  It has, at this writing, been over for a week already so please ignore the Chanukah reference in the farewell, “Happy Christmakwanzicah” and make it “Happy Kwanzmas” instead.

Read on…

 

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So the holidays are here already.  Let’s let out one big sarcastic “Yippy Skippy”!

As any single person can tell you the holidays sometimes feel something akin to walking through an emotional minefield as one stealthfully sidesteps questions like “When are you going to find someone and settle down?” as family gathers to focus on, well…family.  Add some age to that scenario, subtract the procreation question (because you have already chosen to generate offspring or not and it is too late anyway if you haven’t already if you are female) factor in the division of family caused by the break up of your  long term relationship and you may be staring at a potential summation of Ho Ho Holiday misery.  Ugh!

 

I myself am looking at two weeks of zero plans from December 21st – January 7th which is overshadowed in bleakness only by my looming 50th Birthday in February (no plans for that either) making me absurdly nostalgic for my former married life – dangerous territory at best.  Unlike other years, my home will be absent of children to spoil, family to feast and fete, a partner to snuggle with next to the fire. Heck, there won’t even be a fire since I moved into an apartment this year. “Boo hoo”. But before you barf at my overindulgent pity party, please know that I am not alone. According to unmarried.org there are loads of people out there in facing a similar situation including roughly 39 million people who were once married and now living singularly.

 

So how does a middle-aged single person get from Black Friday to January 1 without becoming a self-loathing Grinch-like cave dweller?  Below are three options for making a Scrooge-worthy transition to get you from zero to 60 on the fun monitor in 8 reindeer seconds flat.

 

Option 1: Take Care of Yourself:

According to Dr. Robert Leahy, PhD., Director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, the first step to beating the Holiday Blahs is to dedicate yourself to self-care.  That means, rather than trying to drink, eat or drug yourself through the season, try eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. This is a great idea because while everyone else is feeling sluggish from rich foods,  hungover and packing on the holiday pounds you will be feeling perky and working out in a practically empty gym. ( Bonus: You will look hot by January when all those flabby revelers flock to do penance.) If you need help with this concept you could head to and Ashram like Yogaville where standard vices are banned and you will be fed a delicious organic vegetarian diet. (They are offering a silent retreat from December 28th to January 1st to allow for some concentrated contemplation, possibly just the thing to prepare you for the new year.)

 

Option 2: Different: is Good:

The second step to Holiday Mental Health, according to Mary Burruss, MEd, is to get your self together and start some new traditions.  If you have some money to burn, go to a fancy spa for a week or simply go somewhere Christmas is not a big deal like Bali or Beijing. Nothing like white sand, palm trees and clear blue water or a visit to the Forbidden City to perk one up I always say.

 

If you are functioning on a tighter budget and wish to stay close to home, you might plan some paradoxical-holiday celebrations. For example; I just spent a wonderful evening with some friends watching their favorite Christmas movie, DIE HARD. We laughed our as…., um, antlers off at the bad German accents and seemingly endless scenes involving stairs (I expected to see M. C. Escher listed under Set Design). I have also decided to invite some friends to join me on a jaunt over the hill and through the woods to Blackfriars Theatre in Staunton to catch Genna Hoben’s hilarious Twelve Dates of Christmas, a one woman show about a year of dating recovery following a serious break-up (Hmm. That story sounds somewhat familiar.)  You could also through a party on a lesser holiday like Kings Day (January 6th). I have a single friend who hostesses a big Boxing Day (December 26th) party which keeps her so busy with preparations on the 25th that she hardly notices the day.

 

Option 3: Save the World:

You can realize your dream of being a super hero by volunteering during the Holidays. Locally, The Haven has many volunteer opportunities including making breakfasts and helping with other services. You can contact Stephan at stephen@tjach.org to learn more. I love volunteering over the holidays when I have the time and many regular volunteers need the time off.

 

The key is to take this potentially emotionally toxic time and turn it into something fun for you– a taylor made holiday rather than a Hallmark version you may think or wish you had – which really is the basis of time well spent, anyway.

 

Happy Christmakwanzicah Everyone!

What to do While in Dating Limbo: (a new series) Eat Sweets for Breakie

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Life in dating limbo can be super horrific or absolutely fabulous depending on your outlook. Dating Limbo meaning: that space where you are refraining from dating either by choice or attrition.  If you haven’t figured it out already, I am back in dating limbo myself,  my foray into dating someone ended in short order (my therapist says I am being healthfully picky- great!  That won’t get me kissed on New Year’s Eve but whatever.) So what to do?  It is the holidays and after that I am working full time on a charity event until the end of February so I think it is best I just lay low.  But rather than whining about being dateless I have decided to take this time to focus on me.  I will have a future blog post talking about that in a bit more detail but as I do that I will be writing about it from time to time.

One thing I am excited about at anytime is food and nutrition.  Everyone knows it is important to eat right.  Eating right helps to keep one’s body functioning perfectly which in turn helps to prevent icky diseases, keeps one feeling fabulous and looking totally hot – all good things, right?

In general, I eat a pretty good diet of organic and mostly non-processed foods, take zero drugs and drink alcohol only occasionally and then I have a two drink maximum limit.   I consider this one of the keys to my excellent health.  According to my last physical examination by an MD (which would count as my last physical examination by anyone. Ugh!) I have the health of someone half my age and fairly low body fat levels even though I eat real butter and indulge in sweets on pretty much a daily basis.

So I was thrilled to read an article in the August issue of Oprah magazine (Yeah, I know I am a little behind in my reading) titled, Could the Breakfast of Weight Loss Champions Be…Dessert?  that described research demonstrating that eating sweets at breakfast is likely to help one loose weight and keep it off.  For many years I have chosen to eat my sweets by 4:00pm and preferably earlier in order to work off the calories before bedtime.  I have often enjoyed a piece of pie or a cupcake right after breakfast.  Now, in  a research study in Israel, agrees with this theory.

Here is a part of Gina Roberts-Grey’s article featuring data from a study by Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz:

In the study, two groups of overweight and obese people were instructed to consume the same number of calories daily (1,400 for women, 1,600 for men); the difference was that one group ate a modest breakfast each morning, while the other went all out with a high-calorie (600), high-carb (60 grams), high-protein (45 grams) meal that included a sugary treat. (Imagine a scramble of cottage cheese and eggs—two with the yolk, one without—on whole grain toast, an eight-ounce container of low-fat yogurt on the side, plus a fudge brownie.)

After eight months, the dessert-at-breakfast group had lost an average of 38 more pounds per person than the traditional dieters. An interesting twist occurred halfway through the study: During the first 16 weeks, both groups dropped about the same amount of weight. But over the next 16 weeks, the big-breakfast eaters continued to slim down (losing another 15 pounds) while the small-breakfast eaters gained back more than 75 percent of the weight they’d lost. Why? They’d started to cheat—which makes sense given that they reported feeling hungrier and had higher levels of the appetite hormone ghrelin.

(Read more: http://www.oprah.com/health/Dessert-for-Breakfast-to-Lose-Weight#ixzz2ErKdocPJ)

YEAH!! Permission from Oprah to eat dessert at breakfast!  I am all over that!  So, I decided to try a recipe for breakfast bars that have chocolate chips in them (YUM!) called No-Bake Chocolate Almond Oat Bars. After all, eating right is part of focusing on me, taking care of myself, doing things that are good for me, right?

OMG! These bars are delicious, very east to make nutrition packed excuse to eat sweets in the AM.  Here is the recipe:

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 goji berries
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Directions

Heat honey, coconut oil, almond butter, sea salt, vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepan over low heat.

Combine chopped almonds, chopped walnuts, dark chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries and rolled oats in a bowl.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Press into a greased 8″ x 8″ pan and refrigerate until hardened. Cut into 16 bars.

For more sweets in the morning from Oprah Magazine click Here.

Another favorite breakfast (eaten mostly in summer) at my house is what I lovingly call Yogini Breakfast because I learned these recipes while d0ing my yoga teacher training at Clarananda with Valma Brenton in the desert of Baja Mexico.  (For more about Valma’s offerings and her company Herizen Adventures for Women click here.) She will be releasing a cook book soon with, I believe, a picture of yours truly on the front cover.

Yogini Breakfast consists of a  Banana Chocolate Almond Smoothie and a coated rice cake.

Recipes:

Chocolate Almond Smoothie for 1

1/2 cup of plain yogurt (I use goat’s milk yogurt which I think is better for you than cow’s milk which contains casein)

1 tbls of honey (local organic if possible)

1 +1/2 cups of Chocolate almond milk

1 frozen banana

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy! 🙂

 

Yogi “Toast”

1 plain rice cake

nut butter (peanut, sunflower seed butter, cashew or almond butter)

honey (ideally local organic)

Spread nut butter over rice cake and drizzle with honey.

 

Enjoy your yogini breakfast with green tea.  I drink decaf because it suits my dosha (Ayurvedic constitution) and because caffein makes be crazy.

I think I will try the Chocolate Zucchini Bread from the Oprah magazine  article next.  Wow, I am really enjoying this focusing on me stuff!

 

PS: If you try these recipes, let me know what you think.

M

 

You are just too Awesome!

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This post comes under the “You Can’t Make this Shit Up” category.

I was at THE HOOK Holiday Party last week, one of the best parties I have attended in a loooong time -Great mix of people, good food, excellent band – Love Cannon (80’s hits played in a bluegrass style) (pictured above).  Really, my friend “J” and I had a blast!  She kept saying, “Where have all these people been hiding?” and “Don’t you feel honored to be part of this crowd?”.  Yeah! like I am one of the beautiful people too.  It was totally fun!

Anyway…

My friend J is also a single mom and we met two other single moms who, like me, would be in the dating market if there was anyone we met worth dating.  We decided, just for party fun, to look around the crowd and point out any men that we would even be interested in meeting for a date if they were available.  While I was scanning the crowd, one of the women (I will refer to her as “Fuzzy” in homage to her fantastic white angora sweater) related this story:

Fuzzy met a great looking, funny, successful Scientist on an online dating site.  He lived in a town about an hour away from her town but that was OK with them.  They met, hit it off and were both eager to get together again.  They texted, emailed and chatted on the phone during the week or so between seeing each other again. Fuzzy excitedly sorted out the complicated arrangements for childcare for her two children so she could have a date and stay overnight in the town the man lived in.  Come the day of the date, she didn’t hear from him.  That seemed odd given the amount of communication that had transpired up to that point.  But she delivered her children to their weekend care givers and packed up her car anyway.  While on the road, she called him to let him know she was on her way.  He didn’t answer.  She left him a message indicating her confusion about the lack of communication and a desire for confirmation of the visit which they had been talking about all week including up to the day before.  He called her back and said their must be some misunderstanding and that it was not a good time for her to visit.  When she called him on the carpet for that ridiculous attempt to back out he caved and said, “You are just too awesome” followed by “I am mentally unwell”.

She turned her car around and never spoke to him again.

I just adore the “I am scared,” and the “You are just too good for me,” comments men make when if they were honest with you (and themselves) they would simply say, “I am sport fishing at this time and I could really fall for someone as fantastic as you are and that is not in my plan right now.  I wish to continue sleeping around with people who I could not possibly consider  a long term relationship because I __________.”

You can fill in the blank with hundreds of different answers like:

  • feel financially unstable
  • have slept with at least 20 more people
  • am mentally unstable
  • completely immature and unable to commit to anything real
  • fill in your own answers.

So here is my “You can’t make this shit up” story from that night:

After Fuzzy relates her story and we all have a good laugh, I point out three different men that I find interesting.  Two are married.  We can see their rings and wives as they walk past.  The third guy is speaking to Hawes Spencer, the owner and Chief Editor of THE HOOK.  Fuzzy searches his left hand.  No ring.  Seeing the perfect op to be introduced. I saunter over to Hawes to thank him for the fabulous party.  My scheme works and Hawes, being a well-mannered Richmond boy at heart, introduces us.  We start a pleasant conversation then Fuzzy fetches me to go to the bar.  As I excuse myself, he (I will call him Kringle because it it near Christmas and his eyes sparkled) asks if I will return to continue our conversation.  I say that I will and he replies with an engaging smile, “Good, I would enjoy that.”

I am melting.  A good-looking, quite possibly single man is indicating interest. It is the holiday season!

Fuzzy and I get champagne and go back to our spot with our other friends near Kringle and he is talking to a very attractive woman.  I stand behind him with my posse and we debate what I should do.  It is unanimous.  Get over there and join the conversation.  I do and it turns out she is a co-worker.  After a few minutes of what I think is charming party banter, I see some other friends and excuse myself to chat with them for a moment.  When I look back at Kringle a few minutes later, he is surrounded by six women.  I decide that if he is really interested in me he will seek me out.  I go back to my girls.  We chat some more.  He leaves the bevy, walks up to me and tells me he is on his way to the bar and could he bring me a drink.  He sought me out.  I am pleased. He goes off to the bar and I wait for a few minutes with my friends and we decide to go get our picture taken.  He can find me if he likes, right.  Roughly 30 minutes later, J is ready to leave and so we go to get our coats which are in a coat check just passed the downstairs bar.  As I am pulling on my coat, I see Kringle standing next to the bar in a circle of people chatting away. He sees me, his face assuming a sheepish facade.  I walk over to say goodbye.  We shake hands with a couple of “nice to meet you’s”, he apologizes and that is it.  He fails to ask for my number.

I am confused.

I have been in situations where I am standing in a circle of people talking at a party and had someone ask to bring me a drink out of politeness, leave and not come back (which is rude but whatever) BUT I have never had someone make an effort to ask – as in walk over from somewhere else- then not return.  Ugh! It seems like it is just my luck these days.  The one guy I am interested in that is possibly available out of a crowd containing maybe 123 men and he flakes out.

Then to top it off, I was actually disappointed!  What is up with that?  Someone is rude to me, clearly their actions indicate that they are not really interested and I am disappointed that they didn’t ask for my number?  That is messed up!  AND I want to believe that he was just sidetracked by his friends (as I would be after a couple of drinks).  Ha!  Already making excuses for him.  No wonder I end up in these F@$#ed up relationships, right.  At least I am becoming conscious of my behavior. That must be a step in the right direction anyway.

Result: The dating vacation continues..

The good news is, I had a complete recovery from the Kringle episode. I had my ego amply fed over the two following nights as I was fawned over in my hometown while performing at a two night charity event. Nothing like being adored by many to make you feel better about being dissed by one.

 

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Me (in Dolce & Gabana loaner) with Patty Cakes of RAWFL at Hamaganza 2012, a benefit for Feed More.