At my age, many of my peers go in for the full facelift, or at least the eye-job, with or without browlift. In my own case, I confess to all sorts of manual/pretend operations before the mirror: "This is what I'd look like if...", imagining the deft slicing away of these new ellipses of spongy periorbital epidermis. I see "jowls" developing, too, and (make believe) do away with them, chop chop.
The challenge is to think contextually. Yes, when one is before the mirror, up close, it stands to reason that one compares oneself with filmed or magazine(retouched) headshots of those whose annual surgical bill exceeds your income. But get the Big Picture.
Here's the image that frequently comes to my own mind: Oscar Night, the last time I watched it. I don't remember what year it was, since I don't go to the movies, but it was the year Gwyneth won Best Actress and wore pink. I had never seen her before, or another actress named Kim Basinger, who wore mint/aqua (I think Helen Hunt was milling around, too, in taupe?), and I remarked, "They're all so POINTY!" Well defined clavicles, skinny necks and arms, flat chests, angular jaws, chins, cheekbones, and elbows. I thought, "This isn't even attractive" (and I had some credibility at the time, being then svelte and blonde and pretty myself).
Two women caught my eye at that televised gala, women whose names I was only told later. Both looked soft, womanly, real. Yes, "real" says it, for there seemed to be human substance behind their faces and physiques, so different from the emaciated herd. The two women were: Judi Dench and Kathy Bates. These women clearly knew they were actresses rather than runway models (and dare I say "women rather than boys"?). Much more than mere heft was of note in their carriage: They had class, presence, style, élan. Their sheer confidence made the Pointy Brigade look like vacuous wannabe's, grasping at angularity as if to cover or polish some paucity of ... soul?
Realness. Verve. Character and Vitality. Whenever I find myself playing with my eyelids or jawline, I force myself to remember Dame Judi and Kathy, whom I would much rather resemble as I journey croneward than, say, Morgan Fairchild.
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Looking 30 is great -- when you're 30 or thereabout. Me, I naturally got away with looking young through my 40's. During the past year, however, the decades and processes have realigned, somehow, and here we are... Still: I wouldn't rather be pointy (even if such were beautiful. Beauty, anyway, can attract unpleasant attentions, and all manner of creeps, don't I know it).
When I was "young and beautiful", the way to discourage unwanted attentions was to dress dowdily and hide. In midlife, it's much easier. Nature can help us gain weight, droop, sag, be soft and all too human, even with great hair and clothes. Interestingness should matter. Wrinkles should be welcomed, nay, fanfared.
Even in the case of masculine beauty, there are men who have their eyelids clipped and bald pates plugged, and look scary, like many of the women. Morgan Fairchild does look scary. Seen Olivia Newton-John or Cher lately?
Joan Collins was on Martha Stewart's TV show a couple of weeks ago; she looked like a ghoul beside the much more vivacious, natural (60-something) Martha, whose face gives us that "context". Judi Dench and Kathy Bates are, and look like, real people. (Princess) Grace Kelly died in her 50's, a natural beauty.
The keyword here may well be "grace". Imagine two very elderly former starlets, side by side. One looks her age and is full of life. The other seems to have outwitted Decay by stretching her skin so tight she appears, ironically, full of Death, while she's forced to FAKE the youthful vigor that matches her appearance. The former is aging gracefully and graciously. The latter is a pathetic picture of ambition laced with emptiness: All you see is a catalogue of cosmetic procedures, from hair to teeth to skin to lipo. Whom would you rather be, or know? (Warning: Every one of these latter types began, in midlife or earlier, with some "small" procedure.)
Whom are you becoming, at 50? The parent of bride or groom? A grandparent? A mentor? A sage or leader? And - even if you ARE an actor or actress - are you coming into your prime? or fighting, nipping, suctioning, raging against the softening of the light?
Is it really a spa-trip you need? A facelift? or might you be better occupied with living into your age, finding your depth, celebrating and thanking your wrinkles that shout at your soul to Get Real?
To my mind, a facelift says, "I won't face this reality". A truly aging face says, "I inhabit reality".
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Teenagers go through body-image trauma of the Adolescent kind. Postpartum women traverse a body-image passage too, having experienced pregnancy and childbirth, now coming to grips with mammary and pelvic reality, skin repercussions and the rest. Adolescence, Matrescence, and, yes, Senescence: Pivotal phases on life's way, involving, among other phenomena, coping with massive and permanent transformations of our bodies, changes over which we naturally have little control and which are meant, I believe, to co-operate with mental and emotional expansion and wizening.
Do we embrace all that is Life? Do we endeavor to understand it? Or, rather, to conquer it? This exemplifies one of the profoundest quandaries of our era: Is technology an enhancer of Life? or its Nemesis?
There are magnificent wines that age beyond their corks' lifespans. Masters of such matters fly around the world, visiting great collections and re-corking these fragile gems in a way that does not interfere with their aging process.
Are you aging that gracefully? Is your inner life blossoming so gorgeously that your container can't keep pace? Can you cross the bridge into Elderhood with your juice intact - nay - still developing? or are you jostling the bottle, messing with it, affixing new, glittery (and pointy?) labels? Overhandle the bottle, you see, and you actually destroy the wine.
So: Is your elixir worth preserving? Does it merit its antique bottle with all its dust and cobwebs? If not, pointiness might fool some of the people, but only some of the time, and never yourself.
"Age is one's true face, long waiting in the wings for the charade of youth to tire". - my Journal, 30 June, 1993
"Il faut apprendre à connaître les vins du pays où l'on se trouve. C'est la meilleure manière de pénétrer dans l'intimité profonde d'une terre." - Montaigne
On the third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais Nouveau (or "Primeur") is released for consumption but weeks after harvest (was it September 6 this year?). During my New York years, I remember the great fanfare about Georges Duboeuf's accompanying those first cases (via Concorde, in modern times) from Paris to New York every year. Here in San Francisco (my abode for over 20 years), the anticipation is almost nonexistent: (1) The European link is nowhere near as strong, and (2) Northern Californians have their own wines and tastes. As a former New Yorker AND European resident, I grab it fresh from its journey and taste it each and every year.
Hallelujah, the 2006 Duboeuf is Good Stuff. Vibrant, almost electric boysenberry-purple color bounds from the pour and dances around the glass; sweet berry aromas excite the nose, with no disappointment on the palate, where a round, live fruitiness magically dries down to a suave finish. A jolly quaff, suiting late autumn with its darkening late afternoons and more inclement weather: A reminder of nature's fecund provision (and the perfect accompaniment to tricky traditional Thanksgiving dinner elements: Cranberries, sweet potatoes...).
Why is Beaujolais Nouveau scoffed at by wine geeks and Californians but enjoyed with gusto by Europeans, non-Americans, and a stateside élite? It's actually a huge seller: Tops among all Beaujolais, which itself outsells red Burgundy (admittedly, the Gamay grape of Beaujolais is more abundantly produced). Because it's the people's wine,for one thing. Most wine snobs in America ignorantly associate wine with fancy, gourmet jet-set affairs while Europeans of all ages take wine for granted with almost every meal. So, secondly, it is an important symbol of a timeworn way of life the overwhelming majority of non-Europeans have never experienced.
As for its youthful bounciness and vitality, it seems Americans are heeding critics who tell them: Tannin=Good, Oak-chips=Good, Woodiness=Good; Europeans know better: To accompany most food, wood can be distracting, while tannic structure invaded too soon is always a serious no-no.
In continental Europe, most regions have their wines; the vintners are usually known personally and play an important role in their villages. I lived in the "Lavaux" viticultural region of Switzerland (Eastern Vaud/Northeast coast of Lac Léman) where the new wine was labored over and awaited every fall, where, in fact, the harvest's Must ran through drink machines in local cafeterias, as lemonade and iced tea often do in the US (talk about everyday, unaffected enjoyment). Everyone wanted to sample the year's juice and celebrate the harvest: A community tradition, keeping the people identifed with their ground.
Here in San Francisco, community traditions are not (a) as historically embedded, or (b) as earthbound, even with "wine country" just up the road. San Franciscans are, after all, still Americans, more concerned with each Friday's movie releases and with annual traditions like the World Series and the Academy Awards than with the one opportunity they have of distinguishing the fine points of a circumscribed region's terroir, year after year, fresh from the vine. Not only that, we Californians are a transient people, drifting between cities and counties with little, if any, relationship to our regions' soil or producers (Irony: Our state is the nation's major wine producer AND its "fruit bowl").
Now: For those of you new to Beaujolais:
Beaujolais is the region (southernmost tip of Burgundy).
Gamay is the grape variety.
More or less granitic is the soil.
"Nouveau" or "Primeur" means the wine is released about 8 weeks after the harvest, and is to be drunk from November of its vintage year until, say, February. By the end of March, it's no longer alive and brimming with vigor, but may be fine for a cooking wine. (Note: This year, Duboeuf has released a second Primeur, from Beaujolais-Villages - see below for definition of "Beaujolais-Villages" - in addition to his regular "Spécial Cuvée Beaujolais Nouveau".)
"Villages" is one step up: Worth a taste; I haven't yet tried it.
If Beaujolais is NOT "Nouveau/Primeur", however, it can age a bit:
"Beaujolais" can be enjoyed for about a year after vintage.
"Beaujolais-Villages" for another year to year and a half, maybe a total of 2-3 years in a good vintage and/or from a village headed toward "Cru" status.
"Beaujolais Cru" (the label will simply tell the name of the village, e.g., Juliénas; it'll only say Beaujolais on the back label): The "Cru" villages (10 of 'em) can go longer, depending on which village. Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent are usually the most "structured" (I think Côte de Brouilly can sometimes be as tight) and have occasionally been compared with neighboring Burgundy(Pinot Noir). On the other hand, one can enjoy a young Cru from a "lighter" village such as Fleurie or St-Amour at the 2-3 year mark as well. In 2006 I've had 2003 Moulin-à-Vent that's purple and fruity, albeit with (vive la France!) finesse and nuance.
Beaujolais: Where Gamay cultivation is perfected.
Beaujolais Nouveau: Gamay naked and upfront.
There's nothing not to like about it unless one is affecting a contrived sophistication. I'm no snob: It's real. It's cheap. It's friendly. It's delicious. It's fun.
Learn to make Beaujolais Nouveau a holiday season tradition; it's an enjoyable way to self-educate re: Terroir. This means: Honing one's tasting skills, year to year, vis-à-vis one small area and its one masterfully showcased grape variety, always at the same age. For those outside Europe, it's probably your only opportunity to taste what the current season's harvest produced.
Have a jolly Thanksgiving and merry Christmas/New Year with the 2006 Nouveau: A Good Year!
A Votre Santé!
The first I'd ever read or heard re: induced abortion as a risk factor for serious later illness was through macrobiotics, in the mid 1980's. Its practitioners were at that time certain that one major "yang" cause of multiple sclerosis was previous abortion, explaining its sudden dispersal of the intensely centripetal Ki flow of early pregnancy as later leading to MS or other weakening of the legs (see Michio Kushi's Natural Healing Through Macrobiotics, Japan Pubs., Tokyo, 1978).
Throughout the 1980's and 90's I was reading and hearing snippets of information linking abortion to breast cancer, and I'd often marveled at the rise of both, within the same demographic, over the same last 3 decades of the last century. Various macrobiotic practitioners, including Naburo Muramoto, had espoused a belief in this link.
Recently, I read The Cost of "Choice": Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion (edited by Erika Bachiochi, Encounter Books, San Francisco, 2004), especially for its middle section, "Abortion and Women's Health", containing three chapters. The chapter on the Abortion-Breast Cancer link, by Angela Lanfranchi, MD, cofounder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, is positively compelling, supplying data that show the following:
1. Breast cancer is the ONLY major cancer that has continued rising in incidence
2. There are 17 statistically significant studies showing a link between abortion and later breast cancer, 8 of which were conducted in the US.
3. Abortion before age 18 or after age 30, with no prior term birth, increases breast cancer risk substantially.
4. The more estrogen a woman is exposed to in her lifetime, the higher her risk for breast cancer (e.g., early menarche, late menopause, estrogen replacement therapy, birth control pills).
5. The earlier in life that a woman's breasts develop from Type 1 (female infant to early pregnancy) and Type 2 (adult female through early pregnancy) to mature Type 3 and 4 lobules (Late pregnancy/lactation-readiness ONLY) the lower her risk of breast cancer. Type 1 and 2 lobules are known to be where cancers arise, and these proliferate dramatically during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy. Youthful full term pregnancy thus protects a woman, lowering her risk of breast cancer(And this is why childless women have a higher rate of breast cancer: They, too, never develop those Type 3 and 4 lobules that act, effectively, as a prevention factor).
6. It is only after 32 weeks of pregnancy that a woman's breasts stop growing larger and THEN mature into Type 3 and 4 lobules in preparation for breastfeeding. ANY premature birth, before 32 weeks, more than doubles breast cancer risk. NOTE: There is NO medical dispute that premature deliveries cause increased breast cancer risk. (But were you told?)
7. Women who first give birth after age 30 (an increasingly prevalent cultural pattern in the US today) are at increased risk for breast cancer.
[Note: About 95% of my first-time postpartum clientele is over 30]
There follows an essay by Elizabeth Shadigan, MD, supplying more numbers:
Approximately 25% of all pregnancies in the US are deliberately terminated (between 1.2 and 1.6 million/year). Therefore, if there is even a small positive or negative effect of induced abortion on subsequent maternal health, many, many women - and their families - will be affected.
Dr. Shadigan cites current research suggesting that a history of induced abortion is associated with an increased long-term risk of:
1. breast cancer
2. placenta previa
3. pre-term birth
4. maternal suicide
A girl's decision to have an abortion instead of a full-term pregnancy at age 18 can almost double her 5-year and lifetime risk of breast cancer at age 50, regardless of race. Again, we see the finding that the risk of breast cancer is increased if the abortion is performed before a first full-term pregnancy. In sum, Dr. Shadigan confirms that the risk of breast cancer increases with induced abortion when:
(1) the induced abortion precedes a first full-term pregnancy
(2) the woman is a teenager
(3) the woman is over the age of 30
(4) the pregnancy is terminated at more than 12 weeks' gestation
(5) the woman has a family history of breast cancer.
Get this: ALL (100%) of the women in one study who had a family history of breast cancer AND aborted their first pregnancy as teenagers developed breast cancer by age 45.
Induced abortion was found to increase risk of later placenta previa by approximately 50%. Substantially increased risk for very early premature deliveries (at 20-30 weeks) where there's been a history of induced abortion, was also found.
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The three MD's presenting in this section are outraged that 'political considerations' prevent this knowlege from being shared with patients or presented to their colleagues at conferences, as if preventing educated consent can be considered either Good Medicine or Good Politics.
Recently I had dinner with a friend who was discussing the way(s) in which political considerations have driven AIDS research and disclosure. I asked him, "Can you imagine a man with AIDS NOT being asked by his own doctor whether he's homosexual?" We agreed that that would be scandalous; the patient with serious and perhaps terminal illness is not permitted (by the responsible physician) ignorance of known risk factors impacting his illness...usually.
Most importantly, responsible preventative measures must be taught to the public. We caution people about "safe sex", but not about abortion's risks? (So how "safe" was that sex?)
Dr. D'Adamo has stated, in his Blood Type Encyclopedia, that there is research implicating vasectomy as a prostate cancer risk-factor. This link, too, is not generally known. Even the birth control pill's health risks were considered "politically incorrect" to mention in the early days of the Sexual Revolution. What does that tell us about that Revolution? Are there subversive elements embedded within it, demanding public ignorance of its risks?
If women (and men) need to be "Free to Choose", then these must be EDUCATED choices. Induced abortion can have serious health repercussions, as can IUDs, Birth Control Pills, "unsafe sex", and vasectomies. All women and men deserve to have these risks candidly explained.
Here I go again, making things complicated. Often my dadamo blogs challenge you, the Blood Type Diet follower, to "Choose Right 4 Your Life".
One of my nieces has gone off to college for the first time. She was quite lonely in high school, feeling that the other girls were shallow and silly, while she, an introvert, took 17 Advanced Placement courses and, yes, participated in sports and many extracurricular activities, including yoga and art. Her parents encouraged her to expect a terrific social life in college, and she's indeed thriving there, adjusting well to her academic pursuits and enjoying dorm life, too. We're all so happy for her, and relieved.
Last week, my niece told me she's menstruated three times since arriving at school 6 or 7 weeks previously. I asked her if she's getting enough iron. She said she thinks so, eating plenty of meat. I do not know her blood type: She says she thinks she's "B positive". She takes her meals at the student cafeteria, a key element in her social life and adjustment. But: What is served at this cafeteria?
"Mostly chicken. I eat lots and lots of chicken". She can't remember if fish has yet been served at all. She's willing to indulge in red meat, but says it's not often offered.
My niece is not combatting any grave health challenges (that we know of!). Even assuming she has Type B blood, there's no reason to prescribe a chicken-free diet at this time, in my opinion. Our family's immediate and pressing concern in her regard is that she make friends and integrate herself into a wholesome and comfortable life there. It's just not the time to vex this child with difficult dietary prescriptions, so I don't impose any. What I told her was that she should enjoy red meats and fish (which she loves) every chance she gets, and snack on dried fruits and walnuts.
Another teenaged niece is going through a pocket of turbulence known as Anorexia Nervosa. I am loathe to impose restrictions in this case, too; we're satisfied with her enjoying and being attracted to any foods at all, for now. The fact that she's been gaining weight to please her parents - despite her own distorted body-image - is a recent positive development, not to be tampered with.
Myself, I need to lose weight, for sure. My weight gain began, and continues, as a side effect of a prescription medication whose benefits far exceed the distress of the side effect. There's a weight loss diet I've followed three or four times in my life that has been a very successful method for me, consistently, though I tend to drop it soon after I reach my target weight. (Most attrition from positive dietary programs is attributable to their restrictiveness and inconvenience. So: Make your régime MORE, not less, convenient wherever you possibly can.)
As a follower of the Blood Type Diet, I might find it easier to give temporary priority to the weight loss diet I've used successfully in the past, until reaching an acceptable target weight, and then - gradually - switching over, or adapting the BTD to what has already proven effective for my weight-control. I have, in the past, "blended" the two programs, but they combine to form an impossibly narrow path, far too constantly challenging for peace of mind and, thus, success. It seems I, too, may have to (temporarily!) unlock the door for occasional chicken and tomatoes, at least. On the road, chicken is often the only easily available protein offered. Tomato is often an ingredient in vegetable juices and sauces. If refusing chicken means I'll have no protein at all, during a given meal, I'll go for that chicken and move on.
See, I'm realizing that many BTD followers, in opting against lectins/"avoids", reject crucial and available foodgroups wholesale, during a given meal or even a whole day or more. The fastest route to B weight gain, and certainly adult female weight gain in general, is regular protein-free meals and snacks. When B's eat that way, while eating full fat dairy, starches, and low- or no- protein fats/oils, we simply must gain weight: That's Basic Science.
What's your current priority? If mine is weight loss, then I'll probably find myself eating/ordering the healthiest high-protein centered meals I can. Going protein-free at mealtime is NOT an option for me and is not compensated by some future high-protein snack or meal; one must do the best one can at each seating.
Blood Type A folks have a tendency to "stress out"; if their mealtimes become saturated with anxiety about each component's nutritive value, this, too, can be counterproductive. Neither can healthy Type O's and AB's afford to forego important food groups altogether at any time, or to beat themselves up about that cup of coffee or glass of orange juice.
My prescription is, generally:
1. Prioritize. Name your most important current life goal and aim straight for it. Achieve success. Then and only then: Tweak. Think: Dorm life for the freshman, meal attractiveness for the anorectic, etc. Your priority may indeed involve high compliance to the BTD.
2. Eat balanced meals that are as nutritious and as "beneficial" as possible without undue stress. Example: If your lunch plan calls for a fruit, choose the most "beneficial" fruit offered. If the ONLY fruit you can obtain all day is an "avoid", eat it and don't worry; it isn't poisonous. Move on.
3. Plan ahead, according to your own unique comfort level. If you can, refrigerate grabbable little Ziploc bags with Blood-Type-compliant snacks or meal adjuncts, or even larger containers of full meals. If this sort of planning or activity is too stressful for you or keeps you from other life priorities, defer this to another day or week or indefinitely. No sweat. Keep going.
4. Use dietary supplements to fill in nutritive gaps during a circumscribed health-focussed period, including "Deflect" by North American Pharmacal, or other source(s) of lectin scavengers.
"Dieting" is stressful enough. No one wins brownie points for adding difficult measures to any restrictive program. Keep your sanity, friends. Don't turn the Blood Type Diet into a major stressor. Don't allow a diet to negatively impact your higher priorities, if you have them, whether these be adolescent social adjustment, teenaged weight gain, midlife weight reduction, or anything else.
I eat to live, not vice versa; what about you? Choose Right 4 Your Life!
Fact #1: The biggest Great White Sharks ever consistently tracked (25-30 ft. long: Think Moving Van)(Dorsal fin height: 3-4 feet above water surface: When you're treading water, your eyes are only a couple of INCHES above waterline!) have been regularly spotted off of Northern California.
Fact #2: There are more human fatalities caused by Great White Shark attack in Northern California waters than anywhere else in the world (Yes, that does include South Africa and Australia).
Fact #3: In these waters, Great White Sharks often cruise in groups or gangs, rather than alone.
Fact #4: The Great White Shark occupies the San Francisco "Red Triangle" (from Monterey Bay on the South, to Tomales Bay on the North, to the Farallon Islands on the West) from September until December every year, feasting on the blubber of straying/ailing migrating whales and sea lions.
Fact #5: Many people go surfing within the Red Triangle during precisely -- and by preference -- this season (warmest water and air temperatures). But here's the really Bizarro angle: Many of those surfers are unaware of Facts #1-4!
(For more cool Red Triangle GWShark facts, check out Susan Casey's 2005 book, The Devil's Teeth)
Last year I had three different surfer clients who didn't know the Facts. Now that they're new parents, they have to start hunting for, and caring about, facts, no? One mom (blood type B!) pooh-poohed my Great White warning. "That's the risk we all take; we love our sport," My prayer is that, since last year, she's grown up into her motherhood. It being November, my thoughts turn to the beaches...
Another client decided to investigate some facts, entering his Zip Code into a "Megan's Law" site, discovering that his next-door neighbor was a convicted child molester.
A few years ago, my friend Carol told me the story of another postpartum scenario, that of her own younger brother's family: SIT DOWN for this one:
He and his wife had had a baby girl, and this mom's OB advised the woman to have a tubal ligation afterward, as her medical condition (to which I'm not privy) "ABSOLUTELY precluded" another successful birth. On religious grounds, this couple had refused the surgery. Fair enough, and, yes, I DO remember my own blog (24 April 2006: "A Problem Like Maria's...") on the subject of Faith and AntePartum/Partum health...
The following year, Carol's sister-in-law conceived again. She "just knew" it would be fine; her husband was anxious, but she "seemed ok", and neither considered any 'Plan B'. Daughter #2 was born, Mom in critical condition and then died postpartum, in hospital, age 35. Dad brought the newborn home. Too depressed to attend the funeral, he checked into a psychiatric hospital for observation, leaving the tots with Grandma. After two weeks away, he was discharged with Rx meds, to go home to his two little ones.
One night shortly thereafter, Carol left work for her brother's house, to make dinner and help with the children. Approaching the house, she heard crying babies. Opening the door, she found bits of her brother's bloody brains...
At age 48, Carol (unmarried) quit her career and took legal custody of the two babies, after burying her brother beside his bride (No more than a month had transpired between Baby #2's birth and my friend's resignation).
That's a couple that ignored the FACTS; they apparently didn't even consider the downside of their negligence and hadn't so much as discussed the possibility that her obstetrician's concern might have been founded. They'd made ZERO mental provision for a Worst Case Scenario, and this man's remorse and guilt drove him to suicide, leaving his children altogether parentless.
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Flip side: Sharkwatching charters motor out of the SF Bay to the Farallon waters every morning during Shark Season. Indeed, people fly in from all over the world to witness the frequent "breach-predations" (on/above surface feedings) from topside. A $500 surcharge puts the tourist in an underwater cage attached to the boat, to watch from BELOW)(No injuries sustained since inception 8 years ago).
(Even so, Moms/Dads especially: Count the Cost.)
Extreme Sports? Calculated Risks? It's time for New Instincts, when There's Another Life In The Equation.