Sunday, February 27, 2011

Good old Texas girl...and guy

You can take the good old girl out of Texas, but you can't ever take the Texas out of a good old girl. Jenna Bush's Today show stint made the internets this week, when she tried to teach Ann Curry and Willy Geist some Soulful Dance moves.

Although the main thrust of the debate surrounded how lame it was, or not, what struck me is how completely and utterly natural in front of the camera Jenna is. And graceful, too. And when I thought about it, I realized, why she's just a good old Texas girl, no more complicated than that for an explanation.

When you think of other Texans in the limelight, from Matthew McCounaHunkahay to Beyonce to Owen Wilson to Angie Harmon to George Foreman, this is just the way a lot of Texans are. Okay, sure...Lyle Lovett and Rene Zellwegger are two who don't fit the mold, but they're outnumbered by those who do.

I really can't imagine anyone in Jenna Bush's immediate world who could actually stay mad at her for long. Barbara, Jr, however, remains something of an enigma.
I was very impressed this week with Ky Senator Rand Paul's performance on a number of news shows while pitching his new book. Since he grew up in Texas, he's the guy mentioned in my title.

After listening to him explain in more detail a rational game plan for entitlement reform, reigning in spending, and handling the debt, I decided to go sign the petition for a national right to work act that he wants to propose...since I've been an advocate of right to work for quite a while now. All of this is interrelated and I see that he gets that. I also see that the slowest effective transition is a high priority with him, too. That's pragmatic and a good logical viewpoint, as far as I'm concerned.

I think I saw him interviewed on Fox, CNN, MSNBC and on ABC, I think, one of the networks. And he is unflappable. Now just think for a minute (try to dispassionately, without political bias): can you imagine what the debates in the Paul household were like? Whoa, Lincoln-Douglas probably had nothing on those two getting it on, complete with pocket protectors, even. {Sorry, couldn't resist!}

On the other hand, did they have anything TO debate? Cuz, you have to take opposite sides to have one. Somehow, Rand either got these skills by osmosis or by practice, and my gut says the latter. Perhaps he was assigned the role of his dad's devils advocate around the dinner table?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Embracing the invisible...

Lately, one of the *in* things has been to "embrace imperfection", and I am all for that. You know that old adage "Nobody's perfect"? Well, it was coined for a reason. Reason is, it's 100% true. We live in stressful times right now. Many people are dealing with lives that are not what they planned. Perhaps it makes folks feel better to practice this *in* thing.

However. (Here's where the invisible part comes in.) There has to be some visible imperfection to embrace. I'm not gonna say never, but you usually can't embrace something that you don't really think exists. I bring this up because in real life and online I see a surprising amount of this, and not only is it just a facade or coverup, I also think the people trying to appear to embrace something they don't want to admit exists leaves, shall we say, their naked arsses hanging out for everyone else to see...everyone but them, apparently. Or maybe that's the joke, I dunno. I don't see the humor in doing that.

I'm in a private online chat group that formed a couple years ago as a bit of a rebellion against the attitude that was beginning to prevail about the time that the book "The Secret" caught fire. Nowadays, it is generally known this book is a veritable pile of b.s. for the most part. But the themes of positive thinking and retaining a positive aura were of course mined to the point of overkill and distortion, and suddenly diversity of opinion was the black sheep of the online family. Our online group is not a gossip nasty nook. Au contraire. Mentioning names, links, relationships, and obvious facts are forboden. We bring up more general thematic trends to notice and beware of. And the other day, the invisible imperfection embrace was the subject of a very long convo.

A convo that brought up instances of people ignoring others who asked something they didn't want to answer, instead of using good manners to explain they prefer not to answer, for example. Apparently, there's some folks out there who would just rather completely blow you off if you do anything they think is contaminating their positive aura with anything negative.

A few in my group actually think that kind of behavior borders on supertitious. I'm more in the category that sees it as a little rude, selfish, weak-willed, along those lines. I think back to the generation who made Zig Ziglar a household name, and before him, Dale Carnegie of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" fame. I think both of these men would be turning over in their graves to see how little their landmark strategies are avoided today. I mean, my memory of reading Carnegie is fuzzy, but I know for damn sure that he never advised to just walk away or to chastise with expulsion or to not respond when someone reaches out to you, no matter what they say.

Oh, Great Spirit, cast out all those with negative thoughts from my life! Nope, pretty sure he never would have signed off on that one.

So my group got me thinking. At first, I thought, man what a trivial gripe! Then, I began to see that there were some people that I knew, in my real life and online, who suffer from this. For me it was kinda like when you realize that someone you know and think is condescending as hell is actually terribly insecure and in pain and is covering up. And when I say suffering, I really do think they are. Because it's remarkably freeing and delicious to be imperfect and to be perfectly fine with it. Maybe even proud of it, a little, but just okay with it is the picture of good emotional health. I think.

I really try to give a lot of latitude to others online, so it took me a little while to realize that I do not enjoy what they were talking about...and then I thought about what I do enjoy.

You see, I love reading bloggers who write about their boys' buggers, their daughters' catfights and tantrums, their marital spats, their stupid behaviors, all the real and tangible problems of life. I love hearing about it all from my irl friends even more. This to me screams authentic life, real people.

"Always put your best foot forward" was the literal thing to do no matter what back in a time when knowing these truths about you could result in your spouse losing his job or not getting the better one, or your kid being excluded. Or prove you were a bad mother. Nowadays, it might subject you to a little idle long as Child Protective Services cannot be involved, that is.

True, there are still some jobs that require you to appear to be upstanding, but there's also never been a time more understanding of imperfection. And I'm not saying it's okay to take on Snookie as a mentor for good behavior. Not at all. It's just that I lament and feel for those folks who try so hard to only show a perfect family and life picture, because it's transparently showing a cancerous mass of insecurity and self-doubt. And ulcer-inducing stress. Cuz that's a lot of needless burden to carry. And it distances you from others much more than it ever unites.

I admit that I really haven't analyzed it much deeper than that. Instead, my head took me down a back side road of this topic, to thinking about bloggers I love, who need to express themselves no matter what (and more than a photo or a phrase) and blog the occasional long post about their problems or feelings. I don't always know what to say, and I hardly ever comment at all because of my fingers, but they usually have my heart.

Then I think of the couple of bloggers I read who are trying so hard to keep that perfect veneer up that I know hardly anything about them other than what they carefully have chosen for me to know, and I realize that it keeps them from having my heart, even though they may need it just as much or more.

And the longer they hold that veneer up, the more likely I am to just walk away. Even when I don't want to. I hesitate to go where I am not wanted. Even if that is not what they want deep down, it is the message they send. I know well that I've done the same things myself before, even when I didn't mean to or want to. Tis the nature of life, I suppose.

I guess I just prefer, identify more and group with *real* people, warts and all. Among them, I'm not the only smiling face with a wart or two on it. :-) xoxo

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ways of Eating: {everydays}

The Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, 
courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil
Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Dr. Weil's excellent guide is a must-read!
Fitday's explanation  is good.
Learn more about inflammation and chronic inflammation at Wikipedia's page.

This is basically the WOE (Way Of Eating) that I am supposed to follow. If you have any kind of physiological inflammation, you should look into it. It's hard but not impossible.

Types of inflammatory conditions include all forms of arthritis (including lupus and fibromyalgia), other diseases including parkinsons, alzheimers, pelvic inflammatory disease (pid), irritable bowel (ibs), crohns, colitus, dermatitus, ulcerative colitus, atherosclerosis, and most forms of allergies.

Inflammation destroys body tissues and worsens over time (destructive effects are cumulative). It can be caused by...

...a deficiency of the essential fatty acid Omega 3
...a diet high in acid foods, particularly animal proteins
...a lack of cortisone in the blood
...a high level of estrogen

It has been found that people with any of the inflammatory diseases can have a saliva pH of as low as 5, almost 1000 times lower than normal. It's been found to be helpful to concentrate particularly on eating alkaline foods (to bring the pH up) and the anti-oxidants: vitamins A, C and E, selenium, zinc and particularly Omega 3. You should also try to find your specific food allergies (everyone has atleast one, even if the reaction is nil) and avoid those foods as much as possible.

The following natural anti-inflammatories should be considered:

...arnica, gingko biloba and ginger to improve circulation and healing
...the citrus bioflavonoids to prevent vascular disease and bruising
...quercitin, glutamine and progesterone to inhibit inflammation
...silymarin to detoxify the liver

So....looking at this food pyramid, what we immediately see is that after the veggie and fruit predominance, a grain level makes up an almost equal amount of the diet. 3-5 servings per day of grains? How is one to find that much healthy unsugared and complex grainage without becoming a whole earth mother?

I have two answers for you that work for me: brown rice and homemade fresh muesli.

I buy Texmati brown rice and make some every week, which I put into individual serving containers of about 1/2 cup each and refrigerate. If the Hubs wants rice with an evening meal, we cook more. Leftovers can easily become desert with some dried fruits and a little honey or brown sugar.

Martha Stewart also has a delicious recipe for fresh muesli, but here is a basic one that is good:
Homemade fresh muesli (makes 8 servings at approximately 199 calories per) 

4-1/2 cups old-fashioned uncooked rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup oat bran
1 cup raisins (you can use other dried fruits of your choice)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (you can add other nuts of your choice)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (or less depending on your taste)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1. In a large mixing bowl combine the rolled oats, oat bran, wheat germ, wheat bran, dried fruits, chopped nuts, seeds and brown sugar. Mix the ingredients very well.
2. Store the home-made muesli in an airtight container. No refrigeration needed.
3. Soak each serving in liquid just before eating.

It is always best to soak muesli well before eating it. It is far more digestible and, once you get used to it, you will probably find that it is delicious that way. (It is more digestible because phytates in the fibre break down. Phytates are a problem for some people because they block absorption of some nutrients.)

Soak it overnight or for at least half an hour before you want to eat it. You can soak it in milk, water, fruit juices or any number of milk substitutes such as soya milk or rice milk. It's really nice soaked in a mild apple or cranberry juice. Orange juice and other citrus fruits are not so good as cereals and citrus tend to not mix well.

Martha toasts her oats prior to mixing hers and it is tasty but also adds to the prep, so I only do that on occasion.

Muesli mix is a great breakfast, but is also a great snack -- super high in fiber, stabilizes blood sugar. The Swiss even eat it sometimes as an evening meal. The thing to remember is to keep the ingredients as raw and natural as possible, and do not add sugars or corn-based sweeteners. Don't turn it into super sugar crisp or fruity pebbles, ok? If you must use an artificial sweetner, try stevia products. But the liquid you soak the oats in can help sweeten it, so don't overdose on the sugary taste. In fact, try learning to like the taste of less sugar!

Also, eat it sparingly at first in order to gauge how well your digestion handles it, as you would when introducing any very high-fiber food.

Muesli has similar properties to brown rice, which I have previously mentioned, so I won't go into them again, but if you are serving white rice with your evening meal, you are completely missing an excellent opportunity to improve your diet and digestion and nutrition by not simply changing over to brown rice.

If you regularly include muesli and brown rice in your diet, they will improve your overall health, leave you more full and satiated, give you more energy and start your road back to natural food eating. Two ways to begin that are pretty quick and easy, and can also help you comply with this new food pyramid that most experts are getting behind.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sharing: {everydays}

How do you file your digital photos? I file mine in folders by year and month, with older photos of unknown date getting the miscellaneous treatment within the year I'm able to best guestimate. I've tried other ways, but it seems that my brain remembers our memories chronologically 99.999% of the time. I am working on tagging my photos in order to dimensionalize them. (Tags create additional *virtual* files, which come in handy when you are looking for, say, all of dd's halloween costumes thru the years, etc.). But I'll probably always group the actual digital files by year folders, then by month folders.

Brown rice with marshmallows? Noooo, that's cut up string cheese melting in there...
So, it's fun for me to look through a month folder of photos, because I see *everyday* snippets of my life, a photography practice that's in vogue right now with scrapbookers and art journalers. When I see the shots of the healthy foods I'm trying to eat more of (like the brown rice, above), this reinforces my good behavior and helps me remember to do it. I caught myself the other day looking at a plate of food that The Hubster cooked that was not all that healthy and thinking, oh I shouldn't photo that. (As it was, I decided to not censure my record, but my camera battery was dead, so no photo got taken after all.)

Now, I wish I had a photo of that high-fat-high-calorie fare, because I think it would trigger "bad dog" self-criticism and help me say no next time. I probably didn't explain that the best way, but I hope you get the basic gist of it.

The photographic truth of our lives can trigger the memories we might not want to recall when we need to...

So, what else have I found in my January photo file beside brown rice? Well, this photo, above, of my recent genealogy software purchase, reminds me of a goal I wanted to achieve in 2011: get my main ancestor lines down on paper in a narrative and in charts. This photo reminded me that just buying the software unfortunately has not and will not make that happen on its own, darnit.

Over on my Paper-Paisleys art blog, I've been recording photos of some of my clothing combinations that I've worn during the cold weather. This has, in a small but important way, helped me take more of an interest in what I wear {ie, when dressing, I sometimes think, will these take a good photo? I still wear the "no's", but more and more I do wear the "yes's"}.

Here's a record of a new habit that The Hubs and I have begun again after 5-6 years: subscribing to the daily local paper. While the jury is still out on whether it was a fruitful change to make (local news being what it is), this photo will remind me that we did it.

Some of my naughty food meals are ones I love to eat so much that health be damned, lol. This was our Super Bowl Sunday meal: pulled pork bbq sandwiches, cole slaw and ranch-style beans. Oh gosh, I could probably eat this every day for an entire year (well, month for sure). I smile just looking at the photo. Yum......

So, anyway, you get the idea. Take photos of your life. Take lots. You can always delete them. But you can't get back what you never took, right?

Friday, February 04, 2011

All Ice and No Snow

There's an old Texas / Western saying that's used when someone is boastful or a braggart and has nothing to back up what they say or represent themselves to be: "He's all hat and no cattle", a reference to back in the cattle rancher days.

So, all I've heard for 3 days is, we're gonna get snow, and although I fought hard not to be taken in (I've heard this a few times in my 5 decades), it finally got to me and I could feel my excitement building.

I went to bed last night nice and early (9:00pm) and was so anxious that I promptly woke up at 12:30am to snow yet. The tv weather gurus said there was also going to be ice and sleet -- the whole enchilada. Well, it was cold, but dry as a bone, and to top it off I ended up wide awake and staying up.

I stayed busy with this and that, waiting...waiting...waiting. Finally, about 4:30am we began getting a drizzle. Actually it was really a misting...a fine intermittent misting so slight, so minimal that it made no sound. I usually will hear rain eventually drip off the roof at some point. This rain was silent and stayed on the roof and wherever it fell, turning to ice. Still no snow, however. A renegade layer of warm air had snuck in undetected and blew our chances for powder.

Ice my grill, Bro!

...the cold, hard facts (ice chunks on the morning paper)...

...our flags were stiff with ice trimming...
...icicles hanging out on the overhang: look out below!

We fared much better out in suburbia compared to Houston. I stayed entertained for several hours watching the Houston news station document various fools trying to drive on the freeways and overpasses, and hittinh ice patches that caused wrecks, blocked roads and stranded motorists until well into the late morning when first responders could reach them without putting themselves in danger.

I'll admit to worrying about where Missy was (as she lives in Houston now in her own apartment). But about 8am I broke down and texted her, after seeing one too many wrecks from her area of town. She was working at home, safe and sound. Mayor Annise Parker had declared a veritable work holiday for today and urged everyone to just stay at home until temps rose above freezing (not expected until Saturday afternoon) so the road ice could have a chance to thaw. I finally quit watching around noon as the roads began to fill up with motorists. I just hope the sun comes out to help the thaw. There are already 4 vehicular fatalities and a couple dozen injuries requiring hospitalization.

More wet cold weather is expected to hit us Wednesday. The tv guy said just keep the pipes wrapped; we're not through yet. Oh, my aching thumbs!