Today’s blog from the heart

Who is more important to you than, well, you?

Valentine’s Day always involves matters of the heart, and today you might try thinking about your own heart health. But are you a commit-a-phobe, afraid to make that promise to yourself to treat yourself well? Put yourself first? Check in with yourself, and make sure that you’re doing ok? Give yourself a pep talk when you’re feeling down or stressed out? Do goofy things to make yourself laugh? To be absolutely honest with yourself? To take some quality time for yourself, make yourself a nice, healthy dinner, go for and enjoy a nice, long walk, and then take yourself to bed afterward for much needed loving rest?

You may laugh, but you may also realize that you probably don’t do this as often as you should for yourself as you would for any other relationship.

As poetic as it is, February has been deemed Heart Health Awareness Month and nothing could be closer to your – well – heart, right? Your health, life longevity, and happiness is most likely the closest to the hearts of all who love you. So, just remember that you’re not alone if you want to start making changes.

And we all have changes of heart in regards to our current lifestyle for different reasons. You may be overweight and want to eat better. You may have an illness or three that makes you realize you cannot continue on the path that you’re on. You may have heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke in your family and want to head it off at the pass. Whatever your reason, it’s never too late.

What is the heart, though? Here is a quick video that gives you a basic understanding of the work it does for you, every second, minute, hour, and day of your life:
Amazing, huh?

 

And major causes for heart ailments can stem from three basic concepts:
  • Inactivity
  • High fat/cholesterol/salt diets
  • Stress

If any of that sounds familiar, than you may want to pick one of those and start taking baby steps to wellness. How?

  • Take a 10-minute walk every day.
  • Eat a new vegetable you’ve never made or heard of for dinner one meal a day.
  • Take 5 to 10 minutes every day to just sit quietly without the radio, TV, or distractions and just breath as deeply as you can, clearing the cobwebs of yesterday’s regrets, today’s jitters, and tomorrow’s fears.

Feeling better already, aren’t you?

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and be good to yourself and your heart today. Because you deserve it.

Are you a woman, and have heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure in your family? Contact me, Lindsey, at platefulofsoulLLC@gmail.com to find out how you can start your path to wellness. All women looking to start a heart-healthy lifestyle will get a discount on services for the month of February. 

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Meaning of “mother”

Meaning of “mother”

I don’t often write editorials anymore…I got tired of repeating myself every year, every week. But as Mother’s Day neared, it was too personal not to express what mothers mean in my life. This was an editorial I wrote for my newspaper this past week… *Love* to mothers and daughters everywhere. 

I don’t often write editorials anymore for my newspaper…I got tired of repeating myself every year, every week. But as Mother’s Day neared, it was too personal not to express what mothers mean in my life. This was an editorial I wrote for my newspaper this past week… *Love* to mothers and daughters everywhere.

By Lindsey Gemme
Editor
Motherhood. The word alone seems like a sentence in and of itself. It implies an intricate amount of things, for both mothers, as well as those who have mothers.

As I prepared to write about mothers for this week’s edition of the Enterprise, I thought starting out with a definition of motherhood would be the perfect beginning in preparation for Mother’s Day this Sunday.

moth•er•hood
n. 1. the state of being a mother. 2. the qualities or spirit of a mother. 3. mothers collectively.

I don’t know about you, but after seeing the above clarification of motherhood, I couldn’t help but feel a little … underwhelmed.

Personally, defining and articulating what motherhood means has been a theme of my thoughts for the last year. So, I suppose for Mother’s Day, I can only celebrate what motherhood means to me as a woman, and daughter.

As women, our relationships with our mothers are probably the most unique. Women, especially for those with just one daughter, own the roles as their daughter’s life support, psychiatrist, best friend and confidant, mediator, marriage counselor, shopping buddy, teacher, and even martyr for her children’s betterment. She will lay down her own life to make sure her children are guaranteed a better life than her own. Even when her children are well grown with families of their own, instinct prevents her from ever dropping the role of “mom.”

In my family, our matriarchal connection is the strongest bond I’ve ever known. My mother is an only child, as well as myself. We both built strong connections with our mothers, and across generations with each other. I was never more proud to go out into public on a shopping excursion or day trip, arm-in-arm with these two women. We often got many comments from people that three generations of women were out enjoying one another’s company (cue the ‘We are Family’ song?). My grandmother, though, was the glue. A woman whose boundless energy and selflessness, thoughtfulness, and positive attitude was like an undeniable gravitational pull, and I fell in love with her more and more each year as I grew into a young woman. She was my mother’s best friend, and as close to being a second mom to me, as well.

Last year, though, I unexpectedly lost the love of my life – my grandmother – during the very early days of spring. It was March 25, during a very important cluster of celebrations in our small family unit: Her death cleft the generational bond three days after her own birthday, a week after mine (both of which we spent in the hospital by her bedside with diminishing hopes of her recovery), and two weeks before my mother’s.

This year will mark the second Mother’s Day my mother will mourn the loss of her own.

And so, relearning how to live life without that safety net that a mother can be between us and the world, has been a difficult one.

And it has made us appreciate the role she had in our lives all that much more.

I know for any daughter, a mother is the toll-free, 24-hour hotline we have on speed dial when we need to share our triumphs, and to seek comfort during our tribulations. We benefit from her wisdom, even if we only see that in 20/20 hindsight when we’ve ignored her advice the first time around and made our own mistakes. A mother is always there to help us up when we fall short, and be our cheerleader as we gain momentum.

Whether she uses tough love or positive reinforcement, a mother keeps us on the straight and narrow for most of our life. She is allowed to say, ‘I told you so,’ and inevitably will ‘hope your kids are as difficult as you were.’ No doubt the women in my family were always headstrong, and this was said often.

She’s the one we help drag into the 21st Century (try teaching a woman in her seventies what an internet browser is, or to check her voicemail on her cell phone).

A mother is the one that loves you incredibly, and drives you the most crazy than anyone else in the universe. She’s the one you hug the tightest, and have the loudest fights with. A mother is one you lose patience with the fastest, but forgive the quickest.

She’s the one that has always been there, life’s security blanket, and you never expect to lose – even as she starts to have to ask you several times to repeat yourself, her glasses get thicker, her body and mind slower and more frail. You try not to see it.

She’s been the flawed prototype you’d based most of your identity on as a growing woman, and the one you’ve been terrified to turn into as you get older.

But when the day comes that she’s suddenly not there anymore… there’s no one you’d be more proud to even come close to emulating.

And that is how I would describe motherhood. So ladies, celebrate your mothers this weekend: It’s not an easy role to take on. And it’s one they’ve willingly taken on – for life.

A foodie’s inspiration: Food, or inner drive to please?

What is your inspiration to cook? 

I am a self-diagnosed, obsessive-compulsive foodie. Anything food-related makes me want to drop everything and investigate. So, when I stumbled across the above linked video spot for the BBC’s new show No Kitchen Required last week on happenstance, I clicked through, because the tagline “What inspires you to cook” intrigued me.

In this short promotional, three chefs competing on the show were posed with this compelling question. The first competing chef, Michael Psilakis quoted, “all true chefs are gift-givers by nature” as the bedrock of his understanding for why he loved food, and to cook. The quote inspired me to consider my own creative, culinary nature, and what drove me to cook and enjoy hosting food-related events in general. What I came up with is, Psilakis was right on target.

Food has always been a passion of mine. Especially in the last few years, I have grown an insatiable, never exhausted drive to explore new and experimental flavors, colors, textures, and vittles in general that have all of the above and nourishes and heals the body. But the seeds started growing inside me a lot earlier than that.

lunch tray
The school lunch - not as healthy and appetizing as a five-star restaurant, but it was where my relationship with food blossomed. _____________~.~_____________

My relationship with food is an interesting one. It had a distinct role in my early childhood. As every parent endures, I went through many phases of likes and dislikes of food. But being monetarily minded as my parents were, it was instilled in me at a very early age that getting up from the table without having a completely cleaned off plate was not even an option. I learned quickly. But my eating habits eventually became based on the pleasure of the food rather than that rule in itself, which I took with me to any table-side meal. Further insight into my curiosity about food is that I was never a girly-girl growing up. Clothes shopping? Only if I had to. Hanging out with mall rats? Pass! But if my mom or dad were going out to the supermarket – I could hardly hold down my excitement. I never missed a trip to Stop & Shop if I could help it.

At mealtimes, though, it got to the point that it truly horrified me when I saw any food being wasted. Rather than see my friends just throw half of their hot school lunches out in elementary school, I would scoop their servings into my tray and save the food from being slung into the garbage can at the end of lunch period. Sometimes I got two or three servings from several friends who weren’t going to eat a particular item that day. This practice eventually earned me the moniker of “Hoover” – as in the vacuum.

At home, I was more lovingly referred to as the “human garbage disposal.”

Food tastes so good, and it was such a gift! I couldn’t bear to sit by the wayside and see such beautiful, tasty  meals go unappreciated.

As I grew older, though, the desire to expose those other than myself to that gift I find so precious became more and more prevalent. I didn’t want to just eat and enjoy food, I wanted to share that feeling! You can’t please everyone – as the school lunch cafeteria showed me – but I was sure going to try. When in a relationship, I had a ready Guinea pig for my experiments. On a larger scale, like my grandmother before me that passed away a year ago last week, I adore to host events. I can easily slave for hours, preparing healthy-minded, organic finger foods (and just recently, wine-tastings). Everything I prepare, I do from scratch as much as possible. It’s time-consuming, but a labor of love. To craft each food is like infusing a part of myself with it.

Although several of the attempts I’ve made to host parties in the past were all colossal failures (trust me, making the food does NOT ensure that “they will come”), the pleasure in the idea is something I still cling to. I love the presentation using color & texture (this includes the plateware on which things are served), watching people’s faces as they bite into my creations, their eyes as they squint slightly, trying to identify the ingredients…

The wonderful times and conversations that happen around a table where good people and good food is within reach, pleasing the senses and putting everyone in a good mood is pretty addictive. In a generation where instant gratification rules, pleasing someone’s taste buds is so satisfying – and as close to love as I can show another human being.

Of course, there are always downsides to any activity. The one thing that makes me think twice about going to town in the kitchen – is the dishes. I cannot describe to you the complete abhorrence and disinterest I have for the post-cooking cleanup ritual. I admit to having left pots and pans in the sink for several days before I begrudgingly put aside a few minutes to get them out of my way, muttering the entire time.

But it’s not that strong of a deterrent. I still break out the pots and pans on many a whimsical occasion.

So what inspires me to cook? Opening up a new world of a kind of ‘self love’ in food, with pleasuring of the senses (taste, as well as touch, smell, and sight), and sharing that collaborative affection for life with another is a true inspiration, indeed.

Food is energy. Food is pleasure. Food is life.

FYI Online Daters: You’re missing out on your brain telling you who’s Mr. Right

Matters of the heart can be hit and miss, no matter how you go about it. But apparently dating is literally all a head-game, according to Scientific American.

Health and the science behind emotions and how they affect us physically is something that has always intrigued me. Today, I came across this basic video on what “love” looks like in your brain, chemical-wise. What interested me further was a point made by a friend that has prompted me to write about it today.

The video [posted below] breaks down male and female attraction via the five senses – touch, sight, sound, smell, etc. All of them work on your brain that helps you decide whether each male specimen is a possible candidate for a life mate.

“Yes, very [interesting],” my friend commented. “How, then, would they explain internet romances that develop while bypassing the sight, sound, smell stages they discuss in the beginning?”

Hmmm. Well, like any correspondence-only “relationship,” you’re always taking a risk. Meeting and finding your mate in a more organic manner, as I call it, is the natural way to fully know the potential of a man or woman. When starting on the Internet, so many things can sound great. You can pretend to be just about anything. Starting an online romance is partly sufficing a need of “affection/attention,” and the rest is just guesswork and fantasy.

I speak from experience, as I have been an Internet dater for about a year now – and am failing miserably. And I know why. Dating online is missing a huge component – the HUMAN component of personal, physical interaction and letting your brain do the rest.

You can go through the entire rigmarole, which can take a few days to a week, before meeting in person and finally realizing you’d wasted the entire time. The brain can tell us vital information about someone within a few seconds.

But dating on the Internet, I’ve discovered, is a much more complicated process.

Dating online usually unfolds, like so:

1) You sift through hundreds of bios, finding one that sounds promising, and
2) Emailing them, waiting for them to peruse your pictures and bio, and perhaps
3) Get an email back from him. You email back and forth for a day or two, judging each other’s responses, and then
4) Get on the phone and have a real-time, voice conversation. If those goes well, THEN
5) You set up a time and place to meet. Despite all that work, here still be dragons.

You would think that with so many people who hold accounts on dating sites, and the increased popularity online dating has garnered, there would be more success stories. Ha.

I’ve likened online dating to being even worse than going on a blind date. With a blind date, you have a good friend set you up with someone. Through association, the guy already has somewhat potential. The voucher of your date is coming from a trusted source. But online is a whole different ball game.

Why I’ve resorted to online dating is that I live in a small town, and don’t get out to meet anyone. Literally. And usually when I hit “find local matches” on these websites, I get a “no matches found” every time. The dating pool is that awesome.

Despite the bigger pools outside of my city, it’s still not easy to find great dating material. Nearly every man on the dating sites I frequent describe themselves in the same way: They’re a “laid back guy,” and have a “good sense of humor” – and very little else. They all sound like they’ve been cut out of the same mold. Yet even those that give a more detailed insight into their personality and lifestyle don’t give you the full picture that a real-time, in-person interaction can tell you about the basic animal attraction between you – and the turnoff personality ticks he may have.

Online dating depends on uploading an initial picture, followed up with a fantastic tagline – and a sufficient pitch in your biography in order to sell yourself to set yourself apart from others.

Looking at bios on dating websites is like window shopping – they all look good on the rack, but until you take it home and try it on, you don’t really know for sure if it’s the right fit. They are helpful, though, if you’re interested in knowing their religious affiliations, lifestyle, basic media-related likes and dislikes of other singles.

But for the most part, its purpose is to tell a huge audience of singles why they should message you, and not some other account holder.

Yet, I get the feeling that many men on dating sites don’t understand this. On the Internet, you won’t lock eyes and just “click”. You need the perfect sales pitch before a girl will even bother giving you the time of day.

So it can take days or weeks, even, to weed through the time-wasting bios and find some that sound like they have some potential. Once you have engaged your sense of sight (if they haven’t just uploaded pictures before they gained 50 pounds and are trying to hide that) and you’ve messaged back and forth a few times, the next step is talking over the phone (engaging your sense of hearing). Some websites have live video feed chat, but I’ve never used it. So, you chat and see what kind of conversationalist he is, what you two have in common, and most importantly, what he sounds like. Whether we like it or not, sometimes the way we sound can make or break you – including accents. Someone may sound great on paper, but if he or she sounds like a country bumpkin from Alabama or a Brooklyn streetwalker, that may change your mind a little.

If you pass those few tests, it all comes down to the in-person interview, or so it feels. Despite all the careful weeding and filtering, I have ended up with some very, very strange men on dates. And within a few minutes, I already know there is no way in hell that there is a date two in the future due to quirks, or the chemistry (it all comes down to those chemicals, after all) just wasn’t there. Or if I’m open to it, the guy usually poses the probability of a second, and then never follows through.

Ah, the dating game.

As you can see, what takes a woman or man less than a second (200 milliseconds, to be precise) to do in person, could take a week or more over the Internet. Somehow in the age of information, that seems so counter-intuitive.

We’ve got it backwards in this modern age of ours. In the old days, a man or a woman would find someone attractive, and base a date on that. The date would be to see if the woman or man was a good match as a partner.

Today, we scour those online dating sites looking for the perfect partner, and then find out if there’s chemistry. We forgive a lot of the person’s other ticks and not-so-perfect parts when we base a date on already established attraction. But no amount of similar tastes and life outlooks can make up for that simple chemistry.

We’re all so stuck at our computers, in our little cubicles, cut off from the world. And somehow, we’ve decided to let online dating sites using computer algorithms tell us who our best matches are, and that that’s better than doing it the old-fashioned way – letting our brains tell us who is Mr. Right.