The Writer

“I lost a whole lot of weight,” she said, her voice almost a whisper.

Depressed Overweight Woman

No eye contact was made; instead she seemly excessively absorbed in staring at her shoes. “But now, not only have I put it back on, but I’ve added 20 more pounds. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. I can’t stand to look in a mirror. I don’t know what to do.” The sadness she felt practically dripped from her pores.

“That’s got to be frustrating,” I replied.

“…and frightening too!” she added. “When’s it going to stop?”

“Good question,” I answered, “What seems to be the cause?”

“Well, I’m obviously eating too much.” She tried to make it sound like an “ain’t-it-obvious” joke but the pain was louder than her laugh.

“That’s what’s so embarrassing,” she continued. “I just don’t know. It seems like I start out every day with great intentions. The problem is I work near a little mom-and-pop bakery. They make the best cakes and pies. So, on my break, I’ll find myself buying just one small slice, saying I’ll control myself. The next thing I know, I’m like a machine that’s eats everything! Then my inner voice says, ‘Well as long as you blew it, you might as well really blow it. You can always start tomorrow’ and I really go crazy! Every day is just like the previous one; same broken promises, same result.”

She paused; the gold hoop earrings she wore swung slightly under her brown shoulder length hair as she collected her thoughts. Picking up her gaze, she asked, “What do you think I should do?”

I always find that a difficult question.

[Read more…]

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The Very Best Holiday Treats

In a previous lifetime, when I was in radio, there was an expression:

“You can tell how successful a disc-jockey is by the size of the trailer attached to his car.”

car-and-trailer-cartoon

This was a reference to how often on-air personalities had to pack up and move, usually seeking larger markets or better opportunities.

Such is the saga as to how Humboldt County became my home.

Much like Harry Chapin’s song, “W-O-L-D,” I bounced around the western U.S., ending up as morning personality and music director at a classic rock station in Southern California, where I also published an industry newsletter. A newly hired consultant for a pair of radio stations among the redwoods followed my periodical and brought me up here. Initially, my strategy was to remain “a couple of years” and take family and trailer to San Francisco. If 31 years constitutes “a couple of years,” I might still be on track. Elsewise, it looks like I’m here for the duration.

After leaving radio with a background in promotion, I earned my take as a marketing consultant (which I still do at times). Some of my clients were political campaigns.

Following so far? (There will be a test.)

Anyhoo, a dozen years ago, I was one cog in the wheel of a team that helped manage the successful campaign of a local official, who was since been re-elected twice, and is now retiring. We don’t see each other very much these days. It’s not that there’s any animosity, quite the contrary; he’s always very warm when we bump into each other. It’s just, you know how life is, right? He’s doing his thing and I do mine. However, recently his “team” personally reached out to me, extending a special invitation to his retirement soiree, basically saying, “You were there at the beginning. It would be great if you showed up.” [Read more…]

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Dealing with Holiday Food Pushers and Food Cops

santa-taking-cookies

From Hanukkah gelt to peppermint bark to reindeer cookies; you can’t toss a Santa hat three feet without it landing in a mountain of sweet, sugary treats this time of year.

The holidays also bring out two characters extremely challenging to dieters attempting to stay the course through the most difficult time of year. So, in the interest of peaceful family get-togethers and company parties, I provide advice on how to deal with the ever-present “Food Police” and “Food Pushers.”

One can tell when the former is within earshot because you’ll hear: “Is that on your diet?” or “Should you be eating that?” Unfortunately, no matter how carefully worded and lovingly delivered, it always comes across as (delivered in the tone of a schoolyard taunt), “Neener-neener-neener! I caught you cheating!”

First tip: Override the initial reaction to share what you are eating rather forcefully by shoving it in his face.

The sad truth is that will not make the situation better; worse yet, your next meal might be served through bars.

On the other extreme is the “Food Pusher,” who sings a different carol, attempting to stuff you with all manner of delights. One recognizes her by the guilt-inducing expressions, “I made it just for you” or “One bite won’t hurt.”

Although these personality types appear opposites —one at-tempts to keep you from what you want and the other is forcing on you what you don’t — they are actually related. Each person’s is really trying to help you be happier. The “cop” does this by attempting to keep you on the straight and narrow, while the other provides “permission” to relax and cut loose.

Once we understand that motivation, we can handle them — without violence — by utilizing the “3 Rs.”

[Read more…]

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Time Traveling to Your Future You

One characteristic I appreciate about Christopher Nolan’s directorial style is that he respects the audience’s intelligence.

While so many movies are recycled sequels or targeted to drunken partiers, it’s refreshing to find a filmmaker who thinks more of his viewers, rather than less. So I recently ponied up a wad of cash to go to the cinema (I even paid nighttime rates!) and watched a heady sci-fi flick called “Interstellar.”

No spoiler alerts, but the butler did it. (Just joking.) Anyway, to sum up the film in the space I’m allotted in this column would be nearly as improbable as some of the concepts outlined in the story. Yet the main gist involves Matthew McConaughey and crew seeking out a new planet for humanity to call home via multi-dimensional, time-shifting space travel. I warned you: heady.

If you’re into sci-fi, it’s a great use of three-hours and, with the exception of some doubts I share with astrophysicist/celeb Neil deGrasse Tyson about traveling through black holes, the story is tight. (Of course, I’m pretty sure Mr. Tyson is not even aware that we share said concerns, but I’m certain he’d be delighted by my support.)

Anyhoo, I bring this to the conversation because the story reminded me that — although not as extremely as are the characters in the film —we’re all moving through time.

For us however, it’s limited to one direction and we are not given the ability to jump dimensions and re-chart former decisions we now regret.

Moreover, since the new year is rapidly approaching and January is ground zero for us to be inundated with reminders to make resolutions, I am jumping the gun to share a unique take on how to create that new you. Every year well-intended folks who espouse resolutions tell us to focus on positive actions, such as “I will go to bed at 10:00” or “I will use less salt.” Equally true, every year, somewhere north of 80 per-cent of people give up on their goals within their first three weeks. Something is obviously off-kilter.

That system is flawed because, firstly, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know you’ve arrived?”

[Read more…]

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Giving thanks in Confusing Times

Consider this column a holiday public service.

family reunion

Consider it an aide memoire of what really matters. Consider it anything you wish. However, I wanted to take these moments, particularly at this time of year, to remind us — me — of some reasons to offer up thanks. After all, despite what sometimes passes as common belief, Thanksgiving is not a caloric competition.

With beheadings and renewed violence in the Middle East, an exaggerated Ebola scare; a frightening escalation of global warming; vitriolic hyperbolic, unproductive, childlike exchanges among “our leaders” about everything from affordable healthcare to immigration; a still-shaky standard of living for far too many; gridlock in Government, and — oh yeah — the worst drought in centuries here in California, we’re having quite some time of it all.

In times such as we find ourselves, it is vital to recall the words of Francois de La Rochefoucauld,

“Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.”

The future will be better; be assured. Yet, while we are still chopping though the rough seas of today, some reminders might be in order.

Nonetheless, what really matters is that many of us will be surrounded by family and friends, people who support and guide us.

When we are off course, they redirect us. When we are on track, they congratulate us. When illness ravages our body and beats our spirit, they, like angels, sit by our side and heal us. When we are overwhelmed, they hold us near. When infused with joy, they join us in song. What a blessing, in the midst of seas of swirling, chaotic, pandemonium, to find islands of protection where we can have a rest and reclaim our souls. To say to them, “Thank you,” is woefully, pitifully, inadequate. Yet, it can do no harm.

[Read more…]

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