Author Archives: azsieck

One Sweet Bite

ONEI feel like I’m a lifetime dieter. Well, maybe not lifetime, but certainly over half a lifetime! One thing I have discovered in my many ups and downs–because I am definitely the QUEEN of Yoyo Dieting–is that while it is important to eat healthfully, watch calories, and not binge, it is equally important to not deprive yourself of things you really want. I know if I tell myself I CAN’T have something, it makes me want it more (I think my inner child Lucy is very, very stubborn!). If, instead, I have just a bite of what I want (and push far, far away or destroy what remains), I am usually satisfied. Otherwise, I finish my entire meal and then go home and start digging for something more–all trying to quash the craving.

So sharing desserts with family and friends is the perfect solution–as long as they will eat more than you. Usually taking a single bite, putting your fork down, concentrating on enjoying the flavors on your tongue of that bite, and being conscious of the joy from that bite will satisfy you. But you need to concentrate on that one bite and not eat mindlessly. Savor that one sweet bite!

Desserts are important to end the meal on a sweet note, but it is not imperative that you eat an additional 1,000 calories of sweet. If you’re trying to lose weight or eat more healthfully, try the one sweet bite. If you’re not trying to lose weight or eat healthfully, then come with me and eat the rest of mine!

Tip Please!

DON'TBefore I get started on today’s topic, this is the halfway point for what I had planned to do with this blog. If anyone out there is reading it and enjoying it, let me know and I may continue after I turn 60. I enjoy writing it and hope some of you have enjoyed reading it. It won’t be daily, but perhaps once a week. Just leave a quick comment below if you would read an old lady’s rantings for a while longer. Now, on to today’s post:

I am constantly struck by how stingy some people are, particularly with service professionals and wait staff. I’ve been in a nail salon where someone left a $2 tip on a $30 bill. Hair dressers, nail techs, aestheticians, and other service professionals have had schooling and other training to do well at their chosen profession. Tipping is important to show your appreciation for their expertise. Obviously, if you hate what they’ve done, perhaps you won’t tip, but I have not had that kind of experience. I appreciate the time they spend making me feel pretty and their knowledge in what will work with me and my lifestyle and preferences. I think at least 20% is a fair tip and often give much more than that to show my appreciation to them. One of the advantages of being a good tipper is extra good service–sometimes getting fit in at odd times that work for your crazy schedule, sometimes some extra glitter, sometimes a discount on product or service. But always appreciation for recognizing their expertise, and expertise it is. My beauty patrol (and it takes a whole lot of them!) are each experts in their field and are great at doing what it takes to make me look (and thus feel) good.

With respect to wait staff, I tip at least 20%. If you sit and watch them work, for the most part, they work their asses off and deal with incredibly rude people for their entire shift. If they are particularly attentive and nice, I could tip a little bit more.

I have never had a wait staff job, nor have I had to work in the beauty industry. I honestly don’t think I could do either. I have an extremely low tolerance for stupid and mean people and the first time someone yelled about something I have no control over, I would be done. So I have extra respect for those who can put up with that crap–and keep a smile on their face.

Don’t be a cheapskate. If you don’t have enough money to leave a decent tip, perhaps you shouldn’t be getting that service or eating at that restaurant in the first place. This is their chosen profession and they deserve to make a decent wage–just like you do.

Pokéneck, Pokéback, Poképosture!

Your Phone Is Bad For Your Posture (1)The Pokémon Go craze reminded me of this piece of advice–which is the same advice I got from my mother, my grandmothers, and I’m sure they got it from their moms and grandmothers too–STAND UP STRAIGHT!

I see people walking kind of zombielike trying to find little creatures around town. While I appreciate that getting gamers away from in front of the televisions and out in the great outdoors is a great start, it is still staring at a cell phone. I know just looking at my cell phone while walking, riding the elevator, and standing and waiting for something has affected my posture and my neck. My massage therapist confirms this is true. I’m trying to be better about putting my phone away and standing up straight while doing those things to make it less of a problem.

This pain is just from having a cell phone for the last 10ish years. I can only imagine what children who get cell phones at 6, 7, 8 years old will look and feel like once they get to be 60.

It is really important to take care of your posture. As you get older, the results of consistent bad posture become more and more apparent. Hips need to be adjusted, back needs to be adjusted, and massages become a necessity, not a luxury.

In addition, there is a possibility of running into people or things, falling down steps, falling into fountains or pools, even getting hit by a car because you’re not paying attention to where you’re going because you’ve got your head buried in your phone. It really is dangerous and it really is preventable.

So put your phone away, sit up straight, and have a conversation with someone while actually looking them in the eye! Interesting concept, I know, but you might be surprised at how much better the conversation will be.

I Feel Pretty!

I feelI was not (nor am I now) a makeup aficionado in high school. I wore the obligatory blue or green eye shadow, but not much else. Since then–actually long after high school–I have discovered the true joy of makeup. It covers a multitude of skin flaws (particularly flaws that appear with age) and makes me feel pretty.

I’ve been lucky enough to have great aestheticians, makeup artists, and makeup passionistas (I kind of love that word!) who have helped me learn how to take care of my skin and how to apply makeup well and in colors that complement me (which aren’t blue or green!). In fact, I have been known to ask my granddaughters for makeup advice since those who are old enough to wear it, wear it beautifully. I have also looked on YouTube for makeup advice. YouTube is actually a terrific source of information. If you are trying to use makeup to help deal with an age issue like hooded eyes, check YouTube.

You don’t have to use makeup. It seems the trend now is getting away from it and going au naturel, but if wearing makeup helps you feel more beautiful, then wear it, and wear it proudly.

If you don’t know how to apply it, which of the gazillion choices you should buy, or what colors work best with you, you have options. Find an aesthetician who also does makeup and have them help you figure out what will work best. Find a friend or someone you can talk to that wears makeup like you would like to and ask them what brand they use. Then find someone that sells that brand and see if they will help. You can also go to Ulta or Sephora or other beauty bars in some department stores and they will help you choose what will work for you.

While I own something like at least 10 different lipsticks, glosses, and lip balm, I rarely remember to put it on. Or I put it on in the morning and that’s the best it gets. I forget for the rest of the day. But wearing lipstick is my physical reminder that I’ve taken the time to make myself look as good as I can. It is also always a danger signal for those I work with who think if I’m wearing lipstick, I must have a job interview.

It sounds like a lot of work and it is, but if it makes you feel even more beautiful than you already are, then go for it! If it will help cover things that make you more self-conscious, then go for it! If you’re perfectly happy without wearing any makeup at all, then go for it!

It is definitely your face and definitely your choice. Just please don’t put others down because they “makeup” differently than you do.

Worship In Your Way

WORSHIPIt’s important that we worship often. The definition of “worship” is “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” Therefore, worship is not necessarily attending a church service every week.

I’ve done that in my past. In fact, I taught 2 and 3 year old Sunday School for a few years. And I know that some people truly appreciate the structured service that their church offers. It is hard for me to attend church and not get involved. That is me and my over-volunteering self. Right now my plate is overfull and I’m working hard to learn not to add things to my plate that don’t require my specific expertise (which is a very, very short list of things).

It is more important that your form of worship means something to you! But you do need to spend time being thankful, loving, helpful, and kind. My form of worship is that I sometimes walk outside of my house where I have a direct, nearly unobstructed view of the Superstition Mountains, along with visiting quail, rabbits, and lots of different birds, and other desert flora and fauna and I thank God for all of those things while I pause to take it all in. I do pray–often–for myself and for friends. I say a short prayer when I’m driving on the freeway and see an accident. I say a prayer of thanks when I see something particularly beautiful, like a sunset or a rainbow or flowers. I say a prayer of remembrance when I see a yellow butterfly, which I’m sure is a sign that my grandmother is watching over me. I say a prayer of appreciation when I go to a memorial to our armed forces or see members of the armed services in our building at work (there is a recruitment center in the same building).

I also try to love everyone–at least a little bit–which I think is the ultimate worship and why we are all here. I don’t need a building to do that. If  you do, that’s awesome and I hope you continue to do that, but if not, take time regularly to pause, reflect, and thank God for all that you have and all that you don’t have. Sometimes He knows better than you do that what you need is not always what you want.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Hi!The personality trait that I envy the most is the ability to talk to people you don’t know. I am missing–well I don’t think I’ve ever had–that trait. Watching people so easily talk to others always makes me wish I could. While I’m getting better, I’m still not there. Once I get to know you, you can’t shut me up, but if I don’t know you, I’m really quiet.

I’m not quite sure why I’m that way. Maybe because I think the person will think I’m stupid if I open my mouth. Maybe because I think I won’t have anything interesting to say to them. Maybe because I’m scared. Of what, I’m not sure, but I’m scared.

Start now. When you find yourself sitting next to someone you don’t know, strike up a conversation. All it usually takes is starting. If they are interested, there will be questions and conversation back and forth. When that happens, it makes me feel good. And I’ve gotten past my fear and have a new acquaintance who might possibly turn into a friend.

This irrational fear of mine I assume is shared by many. When I think about it logically, I know that talking to someone I don’t know is not going to kill me, I know I’m not stupid so I doubt they will think that, and I’ve lived (so far) an interesting and full life, so I’m sure I can find something interesting to say.

The thing that I notice most when watching others start talking to people they don’t know is that they ask interesting questions–once they get past the my name is, what do you do, etc. kinds of conversations. Things like “what is your favorite vacation spot?” “How long have you been here and where did you live before this?”

I know I can learn so much from other people that it’s just silly that it’s so hard for me. In our local professional association meetings, we ask an icebreaker question during introductions. I am amazed every month with answers I didn’t expect from people. Asking questions is a great way to learn about people. Imagine that!

Obviously I know I can do it and I know I have nothing to be afraid of, so I’m going to make a concerted effort to have conversations with new friends. What do you do to talk to new people? I’d love to hear what works!

I Do . . . Anyway!

I do . . .Having been married for over 42 years, I understand how hard marriage is. But it is worth it!

It is far too easy these days to give up on marriage. Get tired of your spouse? Get a divorce. Can’t stand the way they spend money? Get a divorce. Have a big argument? Get a divorce.

Now I’m not stupid enough to realize that sometimes divorce is the best answer, but I don’t think some people give marriage enough of a chance. A successful marriage takes work. It means that sometimes you put up with some things you don’t particularly like, like when his idea of “cleaning the kitchen” is loading the dishwasher, but not wiping off counters or closing cabinet doors. It means sometimes you need to have a discussion about really important topics. It means sometimes you come up with creative solutions to hard problems (which is why we’ve had separate checking accounts for over 30 years). It means sometimes you do things you don’t really want to do because your spouse wants to do them.

It certainly hasn’t been roses and rainbows for 42 years, but we have had lows and we have had highs. I’ve actually been very lucky. He treats me like a queen and we own things and have had experiences I never thought we would because he works hard and likes those things too.

And no doubt about it, he’s pretty lucky too because I put up with some of his idiosyncrasies. But that’s what marriage is–it is loving deeply, being best friends, putting up with a whole lot of crap, and thoroughly enjoying life together.

I’m lucky because my husband and I are opposites–I love to travel, he hates it. I love to eat out, he has celiac disease and is highly restricted. I love socializing, he loves sitting on the back porch with a cigar. He is very easy going and lets me do what I love with friends while he does what he loves. We’ve come to the comfortable point in our lives where it doesn’t matter that we have separate interests, because we always come back together because we love each other and have chosen our marriage over anything else.

Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is worth it. Yes, it is something worth fighting for.

A Camping We Will Go

CampingOne of my greatest memories of growing up is of our family camping trips. Our family didn’t have a lot of money and with five kids, a trip to Disneyland or someplace like that was pretty much out of the question. So we went camping. In a tent. Without electricity. And it was marvelous!

I must admit, I don’t think I could do that now, but I would go in a tent trailer or motel or something like that. I would really much rather go glamping, but I digress.

Camping meant we got our dad to make his Dutch oven biscuits. It meant we got sodas. It meant the family was all together for the weekend. It meant sometimes we camped with other families, so there were even more kids than my bratty brothers and sisters. It meant if we were at a lake, we could go into the water and look for shells and stones and if we were in the forest, we looked for animal tracks, pine cones, and leaves.

Camping meant we weren’t distracted but could play War with a deck of cards for hours or make homemade ice cream or cook marshmallows on long sticks to get them a perfect golden brown.

Camping meant my family was making memories. While to quote Dory “I have a short term remembery problem” so I don’t remember lots of details, I know that my heart warms when I think of our camping trips, and I know that I have siblings who will be only too ready to fill in the details of how I always got to ride in the front seat because I was the “privileged princess” (I actually get carsick but they will never admit that).

It was a way of getting away from the small houses we lived in, getting away from the day-to-day boredom for us (and I’m sure stresses for my parents), getting into a new setting, and being a family.

It was communing with nature. No television–just each other and the birds in the trees or water lapping on the shore.

I’m sure at the time I was annoyed because I would rather stay home in my room and read or go out with friends, but looking back now, I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. If you just can’t camp, go out of town for a picnic and put your phone away. Be with your kids or with your parents or other family. Be all there with them. Enjoy the outdoors, smell the fresh air, and actually listen to the sound of nature. It’s so much better than the white noise sounds marked as “nature” on your app. It is true relaxation. And it is necessary!

Listen and Learn

GrandpaYou know how during family get-togethers your mom and dad and grandparents and aunts and uncles all start talking and laughing and sharing stories of the “olden days”? The next time that happens, stick around for a while. Not only will you learn important family history, but you will find out a lot about your family members and very possibly will be entertained AND have stories to pass on to your family.

If my kids didn’t listen to our stories, they would have missed out on the story of how they challenged their grandfather to a slingshot contest and he beat the pants off them (I’m sure they remember the event, but not from the adult perspective), they would have missed out on all the stories of our family camping trips, they would have forgotten how Grandpa S. used to draw cows with triangle heads. Indeed, we wouldn’t have the stockpile of our family quotes if we hadn’t listened to the stories (and just where would we be without “Cast you want, cast you’re gonna get”?). There is just so much history in stories.

Listening to family stories can also give them hope that they are in charge of their own situations and those situations can change, if you want it bad enough and work hard enough, just like your great-grandma did.

Sharing events leads to some of the greatest family stories ever. We have in the past rented a couple of cabins on a lake and gone with siblings, kids, grandkids, parents, whoever wanted to go, and spent a few days with no TV or cell phone reception (and some of this was long before computers) and spent some truly quality time playing games, reading, and learning about each other. We not only have some of my favorite photographs of all time, but we have great stories. And we have grandchildren who keep asking if we are going to do it again, so I really need to make time to do that.

I didn’t spend nearly enough time listening to my grandparents, and I regret that now. I should have had conversations just with them about their life. Now, I should sit down with my mom and dad and their photo albums and listen to their versions of the stories about their parents’ lives and their lives as young people. For one thing, it makes you appreciate the life you have now and, for another, it gives you YOUR history. Not the history you get graded on, but the history that really matters to YOU. It is what makes you who you are.

So the next time you hear your grandpa say “You know, back in my day . . .” pull up a chair and listen, ask questions, and be interested. You might be surprised what doors that will open for you.

Read to Me!

imageWe all know that spending too much time watching television is not good for us. But do we stop? No. How else would we fill the time we spend watching TV? We could clean house (never my first choice!), we could play games all night on our electronic device of choice, we could actually talk to someone, or we could read.

I feel like reading isn’t as important as it used to be. Do kids even still do book reports at school? I’ve said before that children who read develop into adults who are more intelligent. And I don’t think it matters WHAT you read, just that you read. The editorial process seems to be such that the rules of grammar are followed (for the most part) so you are learning how to use our language. In addition, you are probably learning something. Even some fiction can at least develop your interest in another topic that could lead you to reading more non-fiction about that topic. For instance, I “read” (actually I listened to it through Audible) the entire Outlander series and I have developed a bit of an interest in Scottish history.

You can also read motivational books or articles to help you get out of your own way, you can read short stories to help you realize how blessed your life really is, you can read newspapers and magazines to keep you in the know about more current events.

Reading is important or, said in a much better way, Reading Is Fundamental. That is one of the best advertising lines in history because it IS fundamental. How can you cook if you can’t read a recipe? How can you solve a math problem if you can’t read the details about how many donuts Susie has and how many bananas Joey has? How can you do just about anything if you can’t read the instructions for it? Reading is important!

Before your children can read for themselves, you should read to them. And you should read to them regularly. Then let them see you reading! They will realize that it is important to you and something they should do while they are spending their time being your best copycat. Keep taking them to the library or a bookstore and let them choose a book or two. Most libraries have programs for kids. Enroll them! Praise them when they read. Ask them to tell you about the books they’re reading. Get them to talk about it and let them know how proud you are of them.

Even a few minutes a day is a good way to give yourself a “break.” And you deserve one! If you have much of a commute at all, audio books are a great way to “read.” But I will warn you–be very careful! I listened to one audio book and got to the end of the book on the way to work–and ended up crying and messing up my makeup before I even got to work. But I’m very much a person who inserts myself into the story so whatever is happening is happening to me (maybe that’s one reason I loved the Outlander series so much!)

The only downside to reading is that you may end up staying up to late, foregoing other activities, and avoiding humans so you can get back to reading more quickly. Just READ! Your life will change for the better.