Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Other Wes Moore

It's back to school time and my daughter has been struggling with all of the changes starting middle school brings.  Those of us who have completed high school know that those can be the best or worst years of your life.  Bodily changes, girl drama, raging hormones and more homework are enough to make anyone want to stay in bed.  Although all of these things can be frightening,  I've tried to explain to her that they are part of life and everyone goes through them.  We are all more alike than different even though we may react to situations differently.

Oprah recently aired a show about two men named Wes Moore.  One was a convicted murderer and the other was a Rhodes scholar who became an army veteran and successful business leader.  They had the same name and were from the same hometown, but had different destinies.  The successful Wes wrote a book, The Other Wes Moore, which chronicles their lives.  They were both raised by single mothers, but the successful Wes also had support from his grandparents.  He started getting into trouble and was sent to military school at age 12.  He then went on to get a college education which opened up doors for him.  The other Wes dropped out of school and got involved with a bad crowd.  He later became implicated in the shooting of a police officer and is sentenced to life in prison.

We all take different paths in life as we get older.  Some people are luckier than others to have a good support system of family, friends or teachers.  The successful Wes made the comment that people never gave up on him.  As I struggle to be a good source of moral support for my daugher,  I am reminded of how we all want to feel loved, safe and secure.  It's up to us though to choose the right path.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Marriage Around the World

Oprah explored what marriage is like in other countries on one of her shows.  Some of her findings were very interesting.  Oprah found that in India 95% of the marriages are arranged.  Also, more than half of all marriages in the world are arranged marriages.  I can't even fathom the idea of being told who to marry. However, I may change my mind many years from now when my daughter starts contemplating marriage. I'm sure it cuts down on a lot of parental stress.  Maybe over half the world is on to something.

In Cairo Egypt one in every three marriages ends in divorce, and it is a major taboo to live together without being married. In Egypt a man can just say he wants a divorce three times out loud and it's a done deal. Women in Egypt have to go through a trial.  In Denmark, women are raised to be independent and there is a feeling of equality between men and women.  According to Nanna from Denmark, you never get married before you've lived together for awhile and sometimes couples never get married.   Author Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Committed explores marriage.  Elizabeth says, "The only thing that's consistent about the history of marriage is change and evolution."  According to Elizabeth, she is now seeing what she's termed as a wifeless marriage.  It is when women want to get married, but not be the traditional wife who stays home and sacrifices everything.

I celebrated my 20 year wedding anniversary this summer.  I started dating my husband when I was sixteen and got married seven years later.  I am by no means an expert on marriage, but I do feel it's something you have to work at.  I'm definitely not the same person I was at 16.  People grow and evolve just as your marriage does and hopefully you still like/love each other over time.  At the risk of sounding hokey, I'll share something the priest we met with prior to getting married said.  He asked us to think about what qualities we would use to describe Jesus and then how we would describe our spouse.  It just so happened they matched each other.  That's not to say that over the course of 20 plus years a few of Satan's haven't popped up as well for both of us.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


My daughter was on ancestry.com the other day trying to type in information about our family to the best of her 11 year old knowledge.  Her timing wasn't very good for me to help her so I told her we would work on it another day.  She made the comment that she was interested in learning where she came from. Oprah had a whole show on ancestry which I found fascinating.  Actress, Lisa Kudrow has a reality series "Who Do You Think You Are" where people explore their past and learn about their roots.  I have never seen the show, but enjoyed the parts I saw on Oprah.  One of the histories I found the most interesting was football legend Emmitt Smiths.  He is a descendant of slaves and while searching for clues about his past found that the book containing his genealogy was in book 22 which was the number he chose throughout his entire football career. Another surprise was Lisa Kudrow discovered one of her family members that had survived the Holocaust which they thought was dead.

I often ask myself, "What is my place in this world?"  My ancestors were from Italy and Holland.  I would love to have a villa in Italy one day.  I feel as though I have a connection to that country.  I don't know much of my family history past my grandparents, but would like to learn more.  In the PBS series, "Faces of America",  Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores genealogy through cutting edge DNA research.  On his show celebrities found that we are all more connected than we think we are.   Eva Longoria Parker and Yo-Yo Ma share descendants as well as Meryl Streep and Mike Nichols. I guess you never know who you might share a common ancestry with.  Perhaps Sophia Loren and I share a common link.   "Know thy past, know thyself."  -  Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Food Rules

One of the things I love about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits like juicy watermelons and peaches and homegrown tomatoes with a little olive oil, basil and mozzarella.  As much as I love summers bounty of fresh foods, I also love to eat the not so healthy foods that I equate with summer like a ballpark hot dog, ice cream and mojitos.   This summer is quickly coming to an end and I still haven't been to a local farmers market.  Oprah had author, Michael Pollan, on her show back in January.  They discussed his book Food Rules and the documentary Food Inc.  I'm a little scared to watch Food Inc. after they showed a clip of how chickens are being mass produced and super sized.  I am picky about the chicken I buy now.
Food Rules isn't about counting carbs, grams of protein or fat.  It's about eating more whole foods, grains, fruits and vegetables instead of processed food.  For years I have been trying, but not very successfully, to choose healthier snack options and buy less processed foods.  I buy fruits, vegetables and nuts to snack on, but the Oreos and chips eventually win as the day progresses.   Food Rules is a quick read and is broken into three parts.

  • What should I eat?   Food
  • What kind of food should I eat?  Mostly plants
  • How should I eat?  Not too much
There are food rules for each category.  Some of the rules are things you've heard that have been handed down for generations.  However, one rule you want to avoid is the clean your plate rule.  Those of you who are over 30 are probably familiar with this one.  In my opinion another rule a lot of people struggle with is eating slowly.  As a baby it takes forever for us to eat then in grade school we are given 20 minutes to eat lunch.  Then when I had children of my own I started to eat even faster because you never know how much time you'll have to eat before they start crying.  Michael says in Rule 50, "The banquet is in the first bite.  No other bite will taste as good as the first."  A lot of restaurants are now offering small plates of appetizers and desserts.  A good friend of mine wants to have a tasters party where we serve dessert in small shot glasses.  Pier One actually markets the glasses for this purpose.  The only problem with that is if I have several options all of my small bites will lead up to a whole portion.  Michael's last rule is the one I like best, Rule 64 "Break the rules once in a while."  The key words for me are once in a while.  Please feel free to comment on any food rules you may have.