Dear Twenty-something me

Editor’s note: A couple of weeks ago I asked readers what advice they’d give to today’s 20 and 30 somethings. I got several great responses including advice about having kids and creating and living your bucket list. For one reader in particular, the question sparked an internal dialogue that ended with a letter to her twenty-something self.  In today’s post, Clare shares her letter with the WAF community…

Dear Twenty-something me:

So you’re a junior in college and your head’s screwed on backwards.  Boyfriend troubles, GREs loom on next year, and you don’t have a summer job lined up yet.  Mom and Dad still take care of you: you’re living under their roof when not in school, you have their health-care, they feed and clothe you.  Your auto insurance is only $5.00, which they pay for too.  They bought a car for you when the ol’ big Bertha Wagon died.  You have no idea what monthly payments are.

Lucky you.

Here’s what you have to look forward to:
Getting back together with your boyfriend.  Again.
Breaking up with your boyfriend.  Again.
Summer jobs.
Next year, your last.  Friends from freshman year are room-mates.
Getting back together with your boyfriend.  Again.
Another summer job.
Graduate School.

But even that’s so easy compared to what you have to deal with now.  Are you taking all this for granted, or is it really hard on you?  Do you take it all in stride?

Because wait, there’s more: Continue reading Dear Twenty-something me

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?


Kalin’s Chronicles: Literary Tours

eatprayloveReading is one of my favorite things to do. And I find that if a book is turned into a movie it usually can’t live up to the way I imagined the characters in the book. However, I find it very exciting to visit a city where a book is based. And tourism boards are banking on that trend with “literary tours” that highlight the sites of popular books and movies.

One of my favorite literary tours is Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil in Savannah, Georgia. I took the tour in the 90’s a few years after the non-fiction book came out. The bus drove us by Mercer House were the real-life murder happened, to restaurants where the characters hung out, and to Club One where real-life character, The Lady Chablis, entertained us with her drag show. I even got her and other real-life characters to sign my book.

Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: Literary Tours

Kalin’s Chronicles: World Travel Etiquette – Japan

It seems that women have more rules to adhere to than men when it comes to world travel.  This can be very frustrating — especially for women from the United States.  I’m a fan of Sex in the City, but I was appalled by Samantha’s disrespecting the culture of Abu Dhabi in the Sex in City 2 movie.

So you won’t get dubbed “The Ugly American,” I’ll provide a few tips throughout the year on cultural etiquette in international destinations.  We’ll start with Japan…

I love Japanese culture – especially their emphasis on spirituality.  But I had a bit to learn about their cultural etiquette while reporting on tourism in Tokyo.  I noticed that the Japanese were always speaking to the male members of my crew instead of to me.  I was the only black member of the crew, so I thought it was my race.  But then I found that in the Japanese culture women always defer to the men in the group. It’s customary to bow when you greet people.  And if you’re doing business, you should also present your business card to the person – always with both hands. Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: World Travel Etiquette – Japan

Kalin’s Chronicles: Weddingmoons

MP900422990When all the hoopla over the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton first started, I thought I was over it before it even began. However, when I saw the replays of the wedding later that day, something happened that I didn’t expect – I cried. Yes, I have to admit that though my own marriage didn’t last, I still get mushy at weddings. I always have so much hope for the newlyweds.

In the United States, the most popular months for weddings are June through September. A couple of generations ago, Niagara Falls was the most popular honeymoon destination. But that’s changed, and today’s brides are choosing to have their wedding in the same location as their honeymoon – it’s what the tourism industry calls a destination wedding, or “weddingmoon.”

Weddingmoons are popular for various reasons, including saving money. According to the average wedding can cost more than $15,000, while the average weddingmoon can cost as little as $3,000. They’ve become so popular that most resort destinations now have an on-sight wedding planner.

Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: Weddingmoons