Pepper spray and armed robbery – It’s beginning to look a lot like…Christmas?

By now I’m sure you’ve heard. In the rush to stock up on the essential $2 waffle maker and $12 TVs a bunch of people lost their minds this past weekend.  One woman even thought pepper spraying the crowd to get the upper hand on a half-priced Xbox she had her hole in the middle of her chest heart set on, was a good idea. Not so much.

In other news, several people who thought that standing in line at 3 in the morning was absolutely ridiculous thought that robbing the people at gunpoint who did stand on line at 3 in the morning was a better plan.  And Walmart, once again takes the prize for Places to Witness the Worst of America.  And not just because sometimes Walmart shoppers wear things like this.

The hysterical materialism of the past few days is enough to make even the cheeriest holiday reveler a bit gloomy. But here are a few things that happened over the holiday weekend that didn’t hit the headlines as hard but should have…

• Gabby Gifford served Thanksgiving dinner to members of the military
• An 11-year-old Washington boy saved his mother’s life from a drunken attacker using a BB Gun
• In its 41st year, Atlanta-based Josea Feed The Hungry set up shop at The Georgia World Congress Center and served Thanksgiving dinner to over 40,000 needy families
• A teenager riding his bike noticed a truck on fire and pulled the unconscious owner from the burning vehicle, saving his life
• Meals on Wheels volunteers across the country prepared, packed and delivered dinners to thousands of needy families

So it appears that despite some people’s best attempts to put a price tag on the holidays, there are many of us who still value the things about the holidays that remain priceless. So maybe it is looking a little like Christmas after all.


10-ish things I’m thankful for in 2011

In 2010 I was thankful for a lot of things. I wrote about 40 of them here and here.  In the gratitude department 2011 has been no less generous. I’ve still got car problems, knee problems and that persistent battle of the bulge, but I’ve learned to be grateful for the fact that having car problems means I have a car and the freedom to drive it to get anywhere I need to go.  The pain I feel in the knee I abused in the infamous paper retrieval incident of 2010 means that I can still walk. And if I’m still fighting the battle of the bulge it means that I’m not down for the count and haven’t been knocked down yet.

Here are a few more things (important and otherwise) I’m grateful for in 2011…

1.) My mom retiring and taking water aerobics, dance class and piano keyboard lessons making me proud and reminding me that it’s never too late to do the things you were meant to do.

2.) Income – It fluctuates, at times never seems enough and makes me question what I’m doing, but with record unemployment across the country, it is appreciated.

3.) My 16 year old TV finally kicked it this year, and if it hadn’t I would never have realized how awful the picture had become. On the new TV I can actually see people’s faces.

4.) Kindle daily deals and free books. What?! (said in my best Guster from Pysch voice) A Godsend for the cheap frugal shopper in me.

5.) Being uncomfortable. Let me explain. When it comes to the things we really want in life – health, peace of mind, using our gifts and talents – if we operate at a level that’s less than what we’re meant to, it’s uncomfortable. The job we just tolerate is ALWAYS frustrating, the relationship we know we deserve better than is ALWAYS disappointing, and if we’re not at optimal health, we just don’t feel “right”. And when things aren’t comfortable we move, make changes, do something – anything, to improve our situation. That’s where I’ve been for a while and I am grateful for it.

6.) This platform and the women at Women at Forty who continue to share their stories.

7.) This recipe for a Pastelitos de Guayaba, a Cuban pastry I fell in love with, and Anthony Bourdaine’s method for roasting fish from his book Kitchen Confidential.

8.) Two things with the word “Happy” in the title. ABC’s Happy Endings which makes me laugh out loud EVERY time I watch it (and reminds me how old I am because I remember when Damon Wayans looked just like Damon Wayans Jr. looks now.) Some of my favorite lines from Happy Endings; “I’m 30, and I’m Catholic and I’mma die alone in a light-up Christmas sweater talking to a menagerie of parrots”, “This cleanse is brutal. I lost 11 pounds… today.” -Brad, “I have two work husbands, three work ex-boyfriends, one work stalker and one work dog.” –Penny. The website Happy Place is my other happy. It’s a sarcastic, cyncial view of work life, school life and life in general brought to you by the people who actually said/did/saw/videoed the things we’re reading about.

9.) Sesame Street. I will be 90 and Sesame Street will still be on this list.

10.) The best, most eclectic Bible study group ever where on an average day the conversation runs from The Book of Acts, to the merits of The Matrix, to Idris Elba. And let’s not forget the enduring question of why no one will tell Shemar Moore that it’s 2011 and no one thinks using the expression “Baby Girl” when talking to a woman is sexy. Ever. Except maybe Shannon.

11.) No gratitude list is complete without me mentioning my sisters, parents and friends and family who always have my back.  Blessed much?

What made your 2011 gratitude list? Share your list in the comment section, on our Facebook page or email contribute (@) womenatforty (dot) com.  Wishing everyone in The Women at Forty community a Happy Thanksgiving!


Be that kind of woman…

I want to be this woman. I can be this woman – some days. Some years even. But lately, not so much.

But, this inspires me, encourages me, reminds me that I don’t have to try to be that woman. I already am.

So today be that kind of woman. And tomorrow, get up and be her again. And soon you’ll find that you’ve lived your life being that kind of woman.

(Image: Pinterest)

The first time you meet Idris Elba, you shouldn’t have deep conditioner dripping from your head

Sad Spoiler Alert: I have not met Idris Elba. So this is not one of those happy posts where something magical happens at the end.

You know how growing up you had friends who were so close you called them play cousins? He’s sort of like my play British boyfriend.  If play means he has no idea I exist.

This post actually started out as a Facebook status update in response to Idris Elba singing in his new(?) video (check out the video at the end of this post. Wait! Will you at least read the post first?)

Side note – Idris is an awesome actor, a VERY good looking man, and from what I understand a great DJ and entertainer.

And a VERY good looking man.

Singer? Not so much.

But, a few of us remarked on Facebook about how it really didn’t matter, especially since the lyrics and the tone of the video are so…delicious. The funniest response I saw went something like this, ” He could juggle bottles of pink oil moisturizer while tap-dancing to the macaerena. I’d still buy that ish on DVD…”  So there you go. Emotions run high when it comes to my man Eed (that’s what I call him on our play dates together.)

Anyway, all this Idris talk reminded me of the time I almost met him.

You see at one point Eed lived in Atlanta (maybe still does) in the townhome complex of the girl who did my hair, and I was over there once getting my wig busted and she went out to her mailbox while I was under the dryer and came back and told me Idris was just at the mailbox and I almost snatched the plastic cap off my head to go stare (stare because like, what would I say?) at him, but then I thought “Grace, the first time you meet Idris Elba you shouldn’t have deep conditioner dripping from your head. You probably shouldn’t anytime you meet Idris Elba, but certainly not the first time,” she said, in the run-on sentence from hell.

Some of my friends, being who they are, chimed in.  One very supportive and equally misguided friend suggested “Nonsense! He meets thousands of women. It is important to make a memorable impression.”  A friend more grounded in reality countered, “I agree it is important to make a memorable first impression. But I must add POSITIVE memorable impression.”

Long story short, I did NOT snatch the plastic cap off my head and go running out to stare at Eed. So, I may have missed my once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the man who today is asking me in this song to share a few secrets with him.

The moral of the story? The next time Idris Elba is picking up his mail, I will, plastic cap, deep conditioner and all, RUN to go meet him. And that, is no secret. Check out this video to see why…

My $25-a-week clean eating experiment a year later

Over a year ago when I was a blogging neophyte, not quite 40, and determined to do something about my weight and health, I set out on a mission – an experiment really. It was my $25-a-week-good-food experiment, and I was determined to reshape the way I looked at food, health and weight loss. Here’s some of what I had to say about it back then…

For weeks now I’ve been seriously rethinking this obsession I have with food and my weight. Specifically it’s occurred to me that for almost all of the past decade, my obsession with controlling (unsuccessfully I might add) what I eat and don’t eat has centered primarily on weight loss. This focus on weight and not on health has caused me to become unhealthier. Yo-yo dieting, pre-packaged diet meals, low carb, low fat, sugarless…you get the idea. My quest to lose weight devolved into me eating man made substitutes for food and came at the expense of eating food the way it was intended to be eaten.

It’s time for a change, a real change – an “I’m about to turn forty so I’ve got to start taking this seriously” change. I’ve been heading in this direction for years now, but eating for health was far down on the list, somewhere behind carb and calorie counting and fat monitoring. And while I’ve never been a lover of junk food and have always preferred fresh fruits and vegetables over sugary desserts – when it comes to food, the choices I make every day are made unconsciously, out of habit, and with very little regard to health and where my food is coming from.

In a nutshell (pun intended), clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state or as close to it as possible. It means eliminating as much processed foods from your diet as possible, and it means being conscious of the source of your food and the impact its production has on the environment. Militaristic clean eaters might have an issue with my definition, but that’s the definition that sums it up for me.  The Gracious Pantry has a great resource page about clean eating that you can access here. The turning point for me came when I watched the documentary Food, Inc. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone curious about the source of their food – you will not be the same after watching it.

A year after test-driving my clean eating experiment I can say that I’ve adopted clean eating as a way of life.  A way of life differs from a diet in that it’s not something you ever “get off of.” So, on the (now increasingly rare) occasions that I don’t eat clean I, 1) enjoy it a lot less and 2) don’t belittle myself or consider it a diet catastrophe.  It’s not just a healthier way to eat, it’s a healthier way to think. Really, it’s a return to to the way my parents and grandparents used to cook and eat, before advertising and big business began convincing people that they had it all wrong.

Although I haven’t stuck to the $25 budget, I have been more conscientious about how much I purchase and what I’m paying for things, and in the long run that’s helped my overall budget.

So, what’s left is the weight loss. The good news is, the number on the scale is lower. The bad news is, not by much. As a child and teen I struggled with compulsive and emotional eating, and as a 41 year old woman I still do.  Like any habit/compulsion/addiction, it’s been a hard one to shake. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor apparently 41 years. Thankfully, I am a work in progress, not regress, and as long as I’m able, I’ll approach each day with the determination to become a healthier version of the person I was the day before. Anyone care to join me?