Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I've moved....

You can now find itsme. here.

I am still working on setting that up over there.

Please let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Old People Say the Darndest Things

For those of you that don't know, I work at an independent/assisted living facility. I work with the assisted living residents. Most of them have some form of memory loss. Every Friday here on my blog I am sharing some of the funny things they say. I am a day late this week because I participated in Blog Boycott Day (which was tons o' fun!)

And it improved my Klout score.

But I digress.

Here is one of the funnies from my week at work. Enjoy!

Evidence suggests that your brain is like a muscle and benefits from exercise. Many of the brain exercises I do with my residents involve short term memory practice. I try and test their short term memory every day. Some days are better than others.

This week we played a game I used to play with my children when they were younger. Actually, we play this game still. Here's how it works. The first person in the game starts with "We are going to the beach (on a trip, camping, whatever) and I am bringing..."

In the game the first person has to bring something that starts with the letter A. The next person has to bring something that starts with the letter B and they have to repeat the letter A item. The third person has to bring something that starts with a C, has to repeat B and A and so on down through the alphabet. When you get to Z you have to repeat every single thing that has been brought, starting with the letter A.

It is a great brain workout and I encourage everyone to try it. The kids love it because quite often, they are better at it than the parents. All our children are in their teens or older and on the rare times that we play they still enjoy's great on long car trips.

Working your brain now can slow down memory loss later. For the love of your brain, play this game today. (That's my soapbox stand. I'm done.)

The residents and I have been talking about family vacations because it's June and lots of people go on vacation in June AND there's a bonus, reminiscing is an excellent brain exercise. I decide to use this same theme in the alphabet remembering game. Sans the alphabet part. I start off with "We are all going on a beach vacation and we have to pack our suitcase. Madge, what will you bring?"

Madge will bring a blanket.

I go over with everyone that Madge is bringing a blanket for us to sit on.

"Doris, we are going on a beach vacation, Madge is bringing a blanket, what are you bringing?"

Doris is going to bring a bathing suit. In order to make the remembering easier I turn it into an 'itsy bitsy, teeny, weeny, yellow polka dot bikini.' Because unique items are easier to remember...sometimes. "Doris, you are bringing an itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, yellow polka dot bikini, what is Madge bringing?" Doris can't remember, someone else helps her remember and we continue, repeating the whole routine with each item as it is added.

Adding to the list. Remembering. Adding to the list. Remembering.

My addition of the itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny? No, it did not help. But we sang the answer every time and they enjoyed that.

More often than not it is the group remembering rather than each individual, but slowly more and more residents can recall items we started with because they have been repeated enough times.

And the game goes on.

Barry is bringing booze.

Marty is bringing snacks.

Each time I have the group start over at what Madge brought. I also begin with "We are going on a beach vacation and we need to pack a suitcase, what will you bring to the beach?" I use clues, hand gestures and anything I can think of to make the game successful for all participants.

It is a tedious game for me. Internally I am disbelieving that they can so quickly forget things and I get frustrated. Externally I play the eternally patient teacher. Then, when they do remember, and recognize that they remember, the look of success on their faces makes me ashamed of my impatience.

The game has progressed and I have asked about seven people what they are bringing. We are experiencing more and more successful recall. I see Hermione in the back waving her hand at me. "Hermione, we are going on a beach vacation, what are you bringing?" I think she is excited because she has something great to contribute. She waves me over, indicating she wants to speak privately.

As I lean in to hear what she has to say she whispers "I hate to tell you this but, I am not going to be able to go on this trip, I have family coming into town. You all are going to have to go without me."

About three hours later Hermione pulls me aside again and asks, "Are you all packed for the trip?"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Be Popular

I am joining the popular people. (They are also smart, funny and good looking.) You can be popular too. Head on over to a bell, a bean and a chicago dog for fun and frolic on Twitter! (also some great info on Klout...what is it, do you have it, how do you get more?)

And there's a rumor that you can get free wine!

Enjoy your blogboycottday!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Brain in Rehab

Yesterday we learned about the downward spiral of eating carbs.

Today we discover there is a way out.

The first step towards recovery is admitting there is a problem.

I admit there is a problem. (ie you haven't seen your toes in over a year, you can't bend over to tie your own shoes, the dryer continually shrinks your favorite shorts, your wedding band is getting smaller or the scale accidentally fell into the garage and got crushed.)

The second step requires overpowering the brain. My theory is that we tend to do the same thing over and over because it is comfortable. We tend to stay in our comfort zone. If carbohydrates have been our food of choice we automatically think 'carbs' when we think of eating. We have to change our way of thinking. This requires a conscious decision to stop. think. and choose to do something different. Quite often we are so tired or busy or rushed, that this simple act is too much.

If you want to beat the carb spiral you must change the way you look at carbs. (ie duct tape pound cake to your fanny and see what that looks like. Ask someone to videotape you as you walk away. Pound cake fanny ain't pretty. Attach Oreo cookies, in stacks of threes, around your midsection, put on your favorite t-shirt and tell me that looks good. Fill a large ziploc bag (make sure it is sealed tightly) with jelly. Attach it to your midsection then have someone videotape you while you do some jumping jacks. Play it back in slow motion, concentrating on the movement of the jelly. Remind you of Santa? That's hot....not.)

The change starts at the grocer. Do not buy the stuff you really want. I don't care if it is on sale. I don't care if they are giving it away. I don't care if someone is paying you to take it home. No cookies. No ice cream. No white bread. No white potatoes. No corn. No doughnuts. No candy. No cake. If the outside of the box says Little Debbie, don't buy it.

If it's not in the house, you can't eat it. And I hear you saying 'But the children' manure! You are not thinking of the children, you are using them to get that food in the house. YOU ARE AN ADDICT. Don't listen to yourself. I practice tuning myself out all the time, it works. Besides the children don't need it either, if they want it, they can eat it at a friends house (this works two fold. One, you don't have it in the house. Two, since the children ONLY eat that crap, they will be at a friends house ALOT, which means you have gotten rid of the children too!)

I don't like this any better than you do. It hurts me more than it hurts you. I am doing this for your own good.

So what can you buy? Whole grain bread. It actually has nutrients in it. Your body does not convert it into sugar AND it will actually keep you fuller longer. It is delicious toasted. Slap on some all fruit jelly and you have yourself a snack that satisfies a sweet craving. Better yet, top it with some natural peanut butter and you have a filling afternoon snack that curbs your hunger, gets you through to the next meal and you just decreased your risk for heart disease.

Get this, soluble fiber has an attraction to fat. Yes, it likes to date the fat that is in your intestines. As the soluble fiber (found in whole grains) scoots on through your intestines it is picking up every loose (as in floozy) fat cell it can and carries it right out with it. Fat is an easy pick up. It has nothing better to do, it gladly hooks up with the fiber and out they go. Bonus right? Eating whole grains gets rid of fat. In medical terms this is lowering your LDL (bad cholesterol).

We can still have pasta, but now it's whole wheat pasta. Yes it's different than regular pasta, but if you eat it with the idea that it IS different, that it won't taste like white pasta; if you admire it for its nutty, al dente feel, you will find it is quite acceptable. And it too is carrying those fat cells right on out the exit ramp of your body.

The highway to well if you will.

Again, I am not a doctor but based on what I've read and experienced, this could work. My plan is to eat five to eight servings of veggies and fruits (not all fruits!) a day. Not to eat anything white. And, if I have made healthy choices all. day. long. If I am honest with myself and I have truly been good, I can have a cookie, or some ice cream or some other treat at the end of the day. Half a serving size. This way, I can still have my goodies and not feel deprived. Deprivation is death to any diet. By the way, this is not a diet, it's a lifestyle change.

It is empowering. I have control over what I eat now. My brain is no longer the boss of me...wait, does that make sense?

I know what you are thinking. This plan is brilliant right? Simple right? Anyone can do this, right? You want to pay me lots of money to help you do this right? No? Okay, skip that one but to continue, you are asking 'Why didn't someone come up with this already?' They did!

It's the food pyramid.

And it's free. All you need is a wife that is on board with it and willing to prepare all your meals for you. Let's get started....


The Downward Spiral of Carb Use

This household needs a dietary shake up. Bob and I are always talking about, FOREVER talking about getting healthy. We both have body issues. One of us is gaining (has gained) some weight. One or both of us is getting older, which leads to softer.

Our original plan included buying loads of exercise equipment, reading up on exercising and getting a couple of exercise videos. Unfortunately just owning them has not benefited us. Apparently you have to use the stuff you buy. Hence the garage sale we had two weeks ago...that stuff took up a lot of room.

Meanwhile there is very little weight loss going on. As the head chef in the household my job is to prepare healthful meals. Being vegetable challenged makes this job difficult enough. Add to that the fact that Bob and our youngest daughter have decided carbs are the enemy and it is pert near impossible. (Yes, I said pert near.)

Currently, anything you read these days will support the 'carbs are bad' theory. I am no doctor but will attempt to explain the vicious cycle of eating carbs. This is a realistic dramatization. It is not pretty. Graphic details may be involved. You have been warned.

Carbs act as a sugar in your body. They give you energy, but if you don't use all that energy then the leftover sugar is stored as fat. If you eat cereal for breakfast, potato chips or white bread for lunch and pasta for dinner (and who doesnt'?) chances are carbs could be contributing to your weight gain and general poor health.

The reality is carbs are like cocaine for your body. You ingest a high carbohydrate meal, your body gloms on to all that sugar (insulin) your organs get a rush of energy and they are pretty dang excited for this. They are revved and ready to go. But, the brain is the ultimate control freak. It says to your organs we are not going anywhere, I have to work behind my desk. Or sit in class. Or spend two hours on Facebook. Or lay in bed and watch horribly sad movies on Lifestyle channel. Most often this latter activity is done while consuming more carbs.

Not that I know from personal experience.

The brain is like a sick drug pusher. It lives to control. It encourages the eating of more carbs. It loves the taste of ice cream. It adores a delectable loaf of garlic bread. And pasta? The brain is convinced it is Italian and must consume pasta daily or its old Italian grandmother is going to come over and box it around the ears. (The brain is a big talker, but throw an itty bitty Italian grandmother in the mix and it changes it's tune.)

Meanwhile, the poor organs are suffering. The constant up and down rush that carbs is handing out is taking it's toll. Heart disease, diabetes and death are their future. But the selfish brain doesn't care man, it says "More cookies please!" The hand is a helpless middleman. Eventually the organs are addicted. They now signal the brain for the need of more, more and more carbs.

The brain has created a monster.

What the brain fails to realize is without the organs it will not survive.

Sadly, most brains don't realize this until one of the organs is hospitalized.

Once hospitalization occurs the brain is full of remorse. Apologies are offered up to all the organs, not just the injured one. Promises are made. A new resolve is found. In lieu of flowers, the brain brings fresh vegetables, the organs laugh and see the desire to change is there, eventually they all go home. The brain discovers there are Good carbs and Bad carbs and starts to reform.

And after a few blissful days the brain says, "We've been good for a whole month! Let's celebrate with cake."

Problem is, there isn't enough cake in Texas to satisfy the craving the brain has. Sadly, the organs have been going through some tough withdrawal symptoms, they too, want the cake.

And there you have it. Promises made are long forgotten. Jokes are made. "Remember that time we had vanilla yogurt with a little chocolate syrup on it and pretended it was dessert?"

Intervention is needed.

Tomorrow "The Brain in Rehab" will chronicle the life changes needed in order for the organs to survive. Will the brain succeed? Is it too late already? DOES THIS MEAN WE CAN NO LONGER HAVE COOKIES?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Old People Say the Darndest Things

This week on 'Old People Say the Darndest Things'.

Mr. Myerson* has a great sense of humor. Whenever we chat he always leaves me with a smile on my face.

Yesterday Mr. Myerson was leaving the dining room after lunch and as he walked by something fell on the floor. It was a sock. As I turn to call him I am taking an inventory, he has both shoes on and both socks, I have no idea where this sock could have come from and am trying to stop my brain from thinking about this too much.

Just as I say his name, he is turning, looking at the floor, feeling around his midsection apparently he noticed the sock was missing.

I have picked it up and am holding it out to him and before I can say "Did you drop this?" He takes it from me and says, "Yes, it's mine, I am not going to explain." He turns and continues up to his room. Leaving me looking blankly at him before I scurry in to the bathroom to wash my hands.

Old people say the darndest things.

*Names have been changed for job security.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Hairdresser

What is it with women and their loyalty to their hairdresser?

I have been going to my hairdresser for about ten years. I met Leslie when she was working as a teacher at a nearby beauty school. I went to the beauty school because my friend George needed a guinea pig. He did not say he needed a guinea pig, he said he needed a model. To be asked to be a model put stars in my eyes and I said yes.

George was fifty when he decided to go to beauty school. He is a happily married Catholic man. Totally not what one would envision when one hears 'male hairdresser'. It was kind of comical to see George cutting hair amongst all his fellow classmates. All twenty something women with wild hairdos and wilder hair colors and George. George is a bit over weight and six feet tall with a buzz cut. Like a giant among the fairies. (Fairies-again, not talking about your typical male hairdresser.)

As I sat down it was apparent that George was a little nervous. He helped calm me right down by confessing that he had no intention of ever cutting a woman's hair once he had his license and he was only doing this because it was required to get his certificate. He also appeased my fears by saying the owner of the school was in today and she was especially hard on him and he was so nervous he was shaking a little bit. Thanks George.

Much to my relief Leslie realized all this about George and kept close during the entire As a matter of fact, she did most of it. It was a great cut. George got kudos from all the little fairies and the wicked school owner was also impressed. He got his license and has happily been doing men's hair in a little shed in his backyard for the last ten years. He converted the shed into a small shop, by himself, except for the plumbing. Again, breaking the 'male hairdresser' mold.

I got Leslie's card before I left and have been going to her for cut and color for the same ten years.


Leslie is good. She opened her own shop. Her new shop was closer to a larger town which meant I had to drive about thirty minutes to get there. As a successful and in demand hairdresser she is allowed to charge outrageous prices. Cut and color was over one hundred bucks. But I couldn't leave because I was pretty sure a new girl would never ever be able to do my hair the way I liked it. The way Leslie did it.

About three months ago Leslie moved her shop even further away. It was too far for me. I could not go back, the cost of gas plus the cut and color, it's money I couldn't justify spending anymore. I was going to have to buck up and find a new hairdresser.

It had been three months since my last hair cut. I have very short hair, I started to look like a ragamuffin. A girlfriend suggested I try a shop right in town. She goes there. She has cute hair. I'll try it. The sign says walk ins welcome. They could take me right away and I won't have time to chicken out and will have a new hair cut for better or worse in an hour or less.

I walk in. There are two hairdressers, both older than me. There are three customers...all much older than me. I have a sinking feeling. This is an old lady salon! Fortunately they don't have an opening right now. So I make the appointment for a week later . Cut and color because I have no intention of coming back. But she asks for my phone number. I cannot think fast enough to give her the wrong number.

I leave with a feeling of doom hanging over my head. I am going to have to get my hair cut at the old lady salon. Everyone knows old lady stylists only know how to cut old lady hair, I did not want an old lady haircut!

I spent the entire week in various states of panic but my out of control hair got the best of me. People were starting to wonder if I was going back to my natural color (brown with a lot of gray). I have to try someone new sooner or later. When I show up it is the same two hairdressers and no one else. It was 1:30 in the afternoon for crying out loud, where are the other customers? I am now thinking this place is so bad they don't have customers. But I suck it up and go sit in the chair. I show her pictures of me from three months earlier so she could see how my hair is supposed to look.

We do color first. I am okay with this. I can deal with bad color, you just color over it. As I am under the dryer I have my eyes closed. My new stylist checks the color and says 'I see you are enjoying some nice quiet time.' I did not tell her I had my eyes closed because I was earnestly praying that my hair wouldn't be horrible when I left there.

She pulls me out from under the dryer and as I sit in the chair again I see the color is fabulous. She put in more high lights than I normally get but I really liked them. She also added a bit more red...which I had been thinking about doing for the last three months. Hmmm...this might be okay.

I only had one moment of panic, she took off about three inches of hair, she was cutting the back REALLY short and I realized there was no going back now. I had visions of old lady hair on my head. I couldn't breathe for a minute. My heart was racing. I thought about bolting to the front door. My legs don't work. I am stuck in the chair. Frozen with fear.

I got through it.

She finished. I loved it. It's a wee bit shorter than I usually wear it, but a good cut. I left paying about fifty dollars less than I would have spent with Leslie. I am very relieved. I even scheduled my next appointment.

Sitting in the chair with Leslie we didn't talk too much. After the normal pleasantries were exchanged it was mostly her talking to the other young stylists in the salon about their partying weekends. They had no children, they had puppies. They had long weekends in a hotel in Chicago with a bunch of friends. Their banter often made me feel uncool and old.

I realized as I sat comfortably chatting away with my new stylist that I had calmed down and was enjoying our conversation. This woman and I had children around the same age, life experiences that were similar and we both loved the food network. We had a lot in common.

Earlier I wrote that I feared this was an 'old lady salon'. I think it is a ' happy, satisfied, lived life with gusto, food network watching, glad the kids are older, mature woman' salon.

And I fit right in.