More Unsolicited Advice

Friday, April 8, 2016

Your Friend's Messy House

You have a friend, maybe several friends, that are reluctant to have you visit or even see past their front door.  Your friend can take five minutes to locate a single document on his desk, or to locate her keys in her purse.

You think, my friend doesn't care about getting organized; such a slob, but I like my friend anyway.

Well, your friend probably suffers from depression or crippling anxiety, or both.  Your friend really wants everything to be perfect, and is so embarrassed that the item can't be quickly located, they start stressing.  If you could monitor their heartbeat and blood pressure while they search their desk, their car, their pockets, you would see that both are skyrocketing.  If you watch their face, you'll see it either go pale or get dark red patches.  Their hands are perspiring heavily.

And this happens to them several times a day.  At least.

Later in the day, reflecting on the incident, your friend is deeply ashamed.  "I can never do anything right," they think.  "I disappoint other people all the time."

So....go easy on them.  Maybe you can help; probably you can't. 

Probably the best thing you can do for your friend is, at some other time and in some other context, praise their skill at something:  "You tell such great jokes."  "I can't tell you how much it cheered me up when I came into the meeting and saw that you'd be there, too."  "Your friendship and support mean a lot to me."

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Overnight guests

Your overnight guests may need a few simple things to make them comfortable.

First, make sure they know where they will sleep and how to find the bathroom at night.  If possible, light their way; otherwise, provide a small flashlight with fresh batteries.

Be sure the bathroom has minimal supplies -- toilet paper, soap at the sink, a clean handtowel.  If you can, provide towels that have a different color and texture than others that might be in the bathroom.  You and your spouse probably know that one of you uses this towel bar, and the other one uses that bar.  But a sleepy guest at four a.m. does not, and won't want to wake you to ask.

Third, many people over 40 will probably appreciate a bed that has a headboard and a small mound of pillows in clean pillowcases.  I occasionnaly have acid reflux problems and mild asthma.  At home, I sleep with my head and shoulders elevated on a small rampmof pillows.  I was recently offered a guest bed wth nice sheets and a good mattress -- set in the middle of the room, away from any walls, without a headboard.  I did round up pillows, but they skittered all over the floor as Ibtried to fall asleep.

Last, offer a capped bottle of water near the bed (if you can't provide a small pitcher of water and a glass).  A nught table -- even a chair set near the bed-- and a box of tissues will also be appreciated.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Diets Don't Work if They Deprive You

My mother, a chemist who minored in nutrition, always said, "Never go on a diet.  But you might want to consider changing your eating habits."

Her feeling was, no temporary drastic change to your eating was likely to do much more than give your body a nutritional deficit.

And in my own life, I know that if I try for a week to eat only "diet food", by the end of the week I've bought a pint of ice cream and eaten half of it. there a better answer?  Probably.

First, educate yourself.  What's in the food you're eating now, the food you enjoy? What vitamins and minerals does it contain?  How much fat, how much sugar?  (Lots of "low fat" is also "high sugar", the packagers just hope you don't notice.)  How do various cooking methods affect the nutritional content of food?

Second, reconsider.
     * Can you include a complementary item at the same meal?  Mom rarely let us eat ice cream without also having half a banana.  Pancakes and maple syrup were served with a side of homemade applesauce, not very sweet.  When I brought TV dinners to work as "lunch", I learned to open them halfway through the cooking, and pour in some frozen vegetables before finishing the heating process -- if I put them in at the start, they just got too mushy. 
    * Is there another way to cook the item so it will have fewer calories but still be yummy?  Deep-frying is pretty bad, but (a) you can peel off and discard the deep-fried shell after you've enjoyed a bit or two for flavor, and (b) maybe you could cook the same item in a frying pan with an olive oil spray.

Third, can you cut down portions just a bit?  This is best done before you take a bite.  I often ask restaurants to bring me an empty takeout container at at the same time that they bring my food.  I divide portions in half, and put one half into the takeout dish.  Then I enjoy the rest of my meal from the restaurant plate.  Later, that set-aside half makes another entire meal.

Fourth, indulge sometimes.  If you spend three days wishing you could have a chocolate malt, have a small one.  Then try to live without another one for a while.

Fifth, if it's not yummy, stop.  I will succumb to a tasty-sounding dessert item on a restaurant menu, or that fab-looking pudding at a potluck.  But if the first three bites aren't as tasty as I'd hoped, I set it aside.  I'm willing to wear calories that I enjoyed eating.  But finishing the cake slice just because it cost $4?  No.

Six, include small amounts of things that you do find satisfying --  a bit of butter on your asparagus, a smidge of real cream in your coffee.  It's is probably better for you than that powdered stuff I call "paper cream".   Enjoy real maple syrup (it's actual healthier than "pancake syrups" that are mostly sugar or corn syrup).  Treat yourself to fresh fruit.

And try including a walk with every meal, either before or after (or between dinner and dessert, as my family did for the Big Days like Thanksgiving).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Steal

It's so veddy, veddy ugly.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Enjoy Your Blessings

I'm getting old. (Well, so's everyone who isn't dead.) I watch my friends losing mobility, having cataract surgery, using canes. So every time I can watch something beautiful, every time I can step up to a high curb, or run for a minute to catch my bus, drive my own car where and when I want, I realize that these simple pleasures may be denied to me someday -- and it's time to enjoy what I have now.

Sunsets. Smiles. Happy events in the lives of your friends and family. Beautiful music. Soft warm clothes. Clean freshly-bathed skin. Yummy food. An interesting idea.

-- Rachel Holmen

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Take a Walk!

Walking has any number of benefits; even a short one will help reduce stress, and regular long walks (defined as 20 minutes or more) improve circulation and help stabilize your weight.

So as Geoffrey Rush's character says in one of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies, Boys, Take a Walk! (Of course, they're walking underwater, on sand. You don't have to work quite that hard. In fact, the underwater part is probably a Bad Idea (TM).)

-- Rachel Holmen

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If you autopay your bills, use your own checking account

Don't let the credit card company take a draft automatically. Occasionally, these will occur too frequently, or there will be other difficulties. Instead, use your own checking account's bill-paying function, so you always have control over which bills are about to be deducted from your account.