Posts tagged bon vivant bible
how to survive a zombie attack
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The recent flesh-eating incidents in Miami and Maryland may have you wondering. The zombie preparedness kits issued by the CDC may have you questioning. But believe me, Dear Reader, zombies are real*. They are already here. And… they’re coming to get you, Barbara. You may have even had a few run-ins with zombies already and survived those incidents based on nothing but sheer luck. Well, let me tell you, luck isn’t gonna get you to the end of the movie with all your limbs still intact. Know-how will. So, since I’d like to see you on the other side of the closing credits, I thought I’d share these 10 tips for surviving a zombie attack (aka, 10 tips for dealing with the people and situations that suck the life out of you).

 

  1. Learn How to Identify a Zombie

Aka, ‘What You Don’t Know, Might Eat You’. Some folks find it difficult to spot zombies since zombies kinda look like everybody else. But it’s actually pretty simple to identify a zombie once you know how. Zombies move very, very slowly and they stumble and stagger about without any sense of where they’re going. They always seem dazed. Everything that comes out of their mouths is either a foul, disgusting mess or incoherent babble. If you find yourself in the company of someone like this, you might be chopping it up with a zombie. No need to excuse yourself. Just bounce.

 

  1. Don’t Go Where Zombies Go

This can be difficult to adhere to, since zombies can be almost anywhere. But there are certain places that zombies seem to have particular affinities for, such as: places where there’s not a lot of intelligent life around (like graveyards and shopping malls); Dark, smelly places (like graveyards or strip clubs); and places where there are a lot of plump, slow-moving humans to feed on (like crappy Chinese-food buffets and South Florida). Try to stay clear of these places as much as possible.

 

  1. Wear Protective Gear

Even in their decaying state, zombies seem to have pretty strong choppers. They can chomp right through bone, flesh, and organs. A full-body suit of impenetrable armor probably isn’t practical, but you can minimize your risk by protecting your most vulnerable spots from suspected zombies, namely:

  • Your head / brain – brains are zombie delicacies, remember?
  • Chest/heart – without your heart, you’re useless
  • Feet / hands – the two things that will allow you to either escape or fight off a zombie

 

  1. Learn to Use a Weapon

Doesn’t matter if it’s a rifle, a pickaxe, a bow and arrow, or a slingshot. Get skilled at using something to defend yourself against the zombies when you can no longer outrun them. And the # 1 weapon you should learn to use? Your brain. It’s the one thing they’re after and the one thing you’ve got that they don’t.

 

  1. Keep a Light on You

Zombies hate fire. Make sure you always have something on you (or in you) that burns brightly enough to send them scurrying away like roaches.

 

  1. Go to a Deserted Island

Aka, ‘Go to Your Happy Place’. You ever seen a zombie swim? Me either. Find a place in the middle of a vast, deep ocean that the zombies can’t reach.

 

  1. Get a Redneck Friend

If, during your zombie-fighting adventures, you encounter someone who regularly wears a cowboy hat or boots, speaks with a Southern twang, or sounds un-self-conscious saying the word ‘y’all’, stick to that joker like white on rice. A good redneck friend can be just what you need to help you survive in zombie land. They generally know how to make do in the worst of circumstances without letting it get them down; They’ve likely been shooting and killing things since they were knee-high to a Junebug; and they’re pretty much guaranteed to have a kick-ass batch of moonshine one them, which you’re probably gonna need to take the edge off. Just be sure to make sure your redneck buddy isn’t a zombie before you ride off into the sunset together.

how-to-survive-in-zombieland

 

  1. Travel in a Group

It can get lonely in zombie land. So, if you can, find some like-minded non-zombies to keep you company. You’ve got the added benefit of safety in numbers, and you can even share strategies for zombie survival with one another. And remember, if and when the zombies attack, you don’t have to outrun the zombies, you just have to outrun your slowest friend.

 

  1. Be Ruthless

As I mentioned earlier, zombies kinda look like everybody else. In fact, a zombie could be someone you thought you knew. Sure, that re-animated corpse looks like your Great Aunt Thelma, but it’s actually a brain-eating pile of rotting flesh. The zombie apocalypse is no time for being overly sentimental. If Aunt Thelma starts trying to nibble on your brains, don’t get all weepy and start screaming, “Why Aunt Thelma? Why!!??” Do both of you a favor, and put her out of her misery.

 

  1. If All Else Fails, Blend In!

Yes, I know I said you shouldn’t go where zombies go, but in the off chance that you find yourself surrounded by them with no immediate way out, blend in. It’s pretty easy to fake like a zombie. Anybody with half a brain could do it (refer back to #1 if you’re not sure). Just be very careful with this tactic and use it only when you have no other choice. Because the longer you pretend to be a zombie, the more likely you are to end up a zombie.

 

*Of course, I don’t really believe in zombies. And neither does the CDC, in case you were wondering. But we’ve all encountered people who made you question that belief. You know them. People who drain your energy, people who’d chew you up and spit you out and think nothing of it, or just people who seem to be wandering aimlessly about in life without a thought for you or even for themselves. It helps to have some strategies for dealing with those kinds of people or situations, and I hope this tongue-in-cheek list of tips not only gave you something to laugh at, but also something to think about.

 

Also – If you’re looking for a little break from zombies, I’m helping to coordinate a ‘get away from it all’ trip next month in the great outdoors. There will be rafting (no zombies in the water), hiking and camping (essential redneck stuff), and of course, a campfire (zombies hate fire). You should check it out.

cheers,

k

photo: Zombie Barbies by niallkennedy, on Flickr

photo: zombie-warning by This is Awkward, on Flickr

amuse bouche: how to live an umami life
umami-diagram.gif

umami diagram Umami, the so-called 5th taste, is described as savory, meaty, mouth-watering. Umami taste sensors are said to be in the center of the palate, surrounded by the other 4 taste sensors for salty, sweet, sour, and bitter.

Which makes me wonder: Maybe the savory life so many of us crave can only be attained by balancing the salty, sweet, sour, and bitter aspects of living?


 

umami life

i am sick of the cold, metallic taste of unwarranted fear in my mouth. i spit it out in favor of a hot-blooded, adrenaline-spiced passion. a flavor that never fails to make my mouth water

cheers,

k

how to live happily ever after
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I saw a funny-but-true statement on the internet the other day. It went:

Question: What’s the difference between a Northern fairy tale and a Southern fairy tale?

A Northern fairy tale begins with, “Once upon a time…”.

A Southern fairy tale begins with “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this sh*t!”

Well, y’all ain’t gonna believe this sh*t, but… I think I’ve discovered the secret. You know, the big one. The one everyone searches to find from the minute they realize that life is a search to find something.

I’ve discovered the secret to living happily ever after.

Ok, ok. So I didn’t really discover it, I just borrowed it from this guy named Kierkegaard. But hey, if Christopher Columbus can say he discovered America….

Wait a minute, Kisha. Who’s this Kierkegaard guy, and what’s he all about?

Oh. Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself.

soren kierkegaard

Well, to keep it brief, Soren Kierkegaard was a 19th century Danish philosopher (apparently back in the good ol’ days when philosopher was actually a valid job title). In his book ‘Either / Or’, he explains this idea that one has to progress through 3 stages on the way to becoming one’s true self (aka, living happily ever after).

Here’s my summary:

Aesthetics (Love of Pleasure) – The First Stage

In this stage, one is concerned with maximizing pleasurable sensory experiences. Music, food, drinking, sex, travel, art, poetry, pleasurable memories, and the like. Even the anticipation of pleasure is maximized by someone in this stage. The primary purpose of this pleasure-seeking is to combat boredom. But since pleasure is usually temporary, the person at this stage is constantly pursuing the next pleasure to battle the boredom that always returns.

 

Ethics (Love of Others) – The Second Stage

At this stage, one is concerned with how his actions affect others. Instead of being driven by self-pleasure or personal gain, the ethical person is driven by pleasing others, adhering to a certain set of social principles, and doing things for the good of society as a whole.  The ethical person is in a constant battle with anxiety – the anxiety of not being good enough, or not being accepted by society.

 

Religion (Love of God) - The Third Stage

In this stage – which Kierkegaard considered the highest plane – one is concerned with her personal, spiritual quest, or her personal relationship with God above all else. Unfortunately, very few reach this stage because of the distraction of large-scale religion which discourages personal relationship with God, and encourages being ‘falsely religious’ by adhering to one-size-fits-all doctrines. The person at this stage battles the despair of trying to live an authentic, spiritual life in a religious world.

Kierkegaard proposed an either / or approach – that is, you either dedicate your life to love of pleasure, love of others, or love of God. But instead of either / or, why not ‘all of the above’?

You see, living happily ever after means you get to have it all. You don’t have to choose between one way of living or another. It’s your fairy tale. You own everything!

you own everything

 

In my opinion, to live happily ever after you have to find a way to balance all 3 of these loves. Thinking and living in terms of ‘either/or’ will almost certainly lead to a life of excess or imbalance. With the either / or mentality, something will always be lacking, missing, or given up. So, how can you start to move from 'either/or' to 'all of the above'?

The Path to Happily Ever After

Appreciate More – Or, exercise your 'pleasure muscle'. Instead of pursuing or chasing pleasure, derive pleasure from more and more things – even the simplest things. This will likely require a shift in perception, maybe even a slowing down. Instead of rushing through traffic or hurriedly gobbling down a meal, or speeding through your household chores, take time to savor something about every moment you experience. The more you do this, the more you’ll realize that pleasure isn’t something that has to be chased down, it’s something that has to be tuned into.

 

Give More – Now, I want to be clear here. I’m not necessarily suggesting that you sign up for another committee to save the world or keep going out of your way to be all helpful and savior-ish to everyone you know. On the contrary, I think many people (especially women, since we are often trained to be over-givers) should be more conservative with how much of themselves they’re giving away and who they’re giving it to. What I’m talking about here is giving more of the things that you have – whether they be material things or abstract things. Give more compliments, give away more credit (even if you did the work), give away more ideas, give away more of your belongings. Remember, you own everything, so why should you be so concerned with clinging so tightly to it all?

 

Meditate More - It takes a tremendous amount of energy to just sit still and shut the hell up. To calm your brain, cancel-out all the inputs and just be in silence (not even in deep thought). If you’ve ever tried meditating, you probably know that even seemingly harmless, little itty-bitty thoughts can quickly balloon into monstrous distractions.

stay puft marshmallow man

By meditating more, you develop the discipline and strength you need to find God or your spiritual center even in the midst of all the distractions that life presents. Imagine More – Or, exercise your 'faith muscle'. Imagining is a way of reminding yourself that everything is possible. Even the seemingly absurd. Many of us SAY that God is the source from which all good things flow or that the universe is abundant and overflowing. But the way we ACT is that God or the universe is judgmental, demanding, and always ready to punish. The reality is YOU’re the one doing the punishing, the demanding, and the judging by believing you’re not worthy of good things, or by not having faith in the idea that almost anything you think of, can happen in real life. Think of it this way, whenever you  present something to God (or the universe, or whatever you choose to call it) the answer is always yes. If you continually present ideas that affirm negative thoughts about you and the world around you, the answer will be, “yes”. Whatever you focus your mind on has a way of materializing. So instead of using your mind to focus on the negative, dedicate time to imagining the best possible things you can, and watch for the “yeses” to roll in.

as you wish

cheers, k

8 simple ways to improve health
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live-well-health-manifesto Since last year’s personal health discovery, I’ve had fits and starts with making permanent - and hopefully beneficial – changes to my lifestyle. While I’m still not 100% there, I’ve already made several small adjustments and have begun to see noticeable benefits. Those results are encouraging. They’re also evidence that I don’t have to make this ‘reclaiming health’ thing overly complicated. I just need to exercise some common sense and a little bit of commitment. Since I know that I’ll occasionally need a reminder of what it is I should be focusing on, I decided to pen my own personal health manifesto. Wanna hear it? Hear it goes….

  1. I have to be my own health advocate. A doctor is not an all-knowing source of medical wisdom. He/she is a practitioner. And practitioners of any craft are as much students as they are adepts. I have the responsibility to educate myself on my own body and conditions so that when I meet with the practitioner, I can engage in thoughtful dialogue and Q&A with him or her and challenge (respectfully) the info he/she provides. We are a team. I should not just take what is said or prescribed as Bible truth. I should use that as a launching point for further investigation, so that when I next meet with him / her, we can continue to plot a course to optimal health for me together. If my chosen practitioner is not open to this type of relationship with me, I should choose another.

 

  1. My body is itself a store of wisdom. If I quiet myself and listen, really pay attention to it, I will receive tons of clues about what might be causing dis-ease or imbalance within me. I was gifted with intuition to do this work, and I should make a conscious effort to strengthen this gift by paying attention to outward signs of inner distress or well-being. My skin, hair, nails, weight, emotions, eyes, teeth, gums, bowel movements, and menstrual periods are all readily accessible and easily observable external signs that give me clear clues as to how I am doing inside. I should not ignore these things or think of them as yucky, messy, gross, or inconsequential. I should pay attention and note any significant changes in them. I should seek out tools and reliable educational materials that allow me to accurately interpret what these changes could be saying about my overall health.

 

  1. Diet (i.e., what I put in my body as food, fuel, or sustenance) is of paramount importance. The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method applies here. The simpler the food, the more beneficial it is to me. The more the food looks like it did in its original state, the better it is for me. If it comes wrapped in plastic, encased in cardboard, Styrofoam, cellophane, aluminum, or glass, it is probably less beneficial than things that don’t. I should avoid those types of food as much as possible, but where I can’t or don’t want to, I should both: be very aware (by reading labels) of what extra / unnecessary / unhealthy ingredients are coming inside that package; and be sure to balance consumption of those foods with other, healthier choices. I will limit my consumption of foods prepared by strangers. It is my belief that the closer my relationship to the preparer of the food, the more likely that food is to be good (or at least not bad) for me. I will prepare my own meals as much as possible. I will plan ahead by stocking my fridge / cabinets / workspace with foods that are good for me, so I am not forced to make bad decisions due to limited options.

 

  1. ExerciseMovement is essential. Because I am not an athlete and never plan to be, nor am I a supermodel (though I could be… lol!), I refuse to become obsessed with points, pounds, number of reps, number of calories burned, miles logged, etc. My only obsession will be making time daily or at least 4 out of 7 days to get in the movement that I enjoy, that brings me pleasure, and preferably, that causes me to break a sweat. For me, this includes: dancing, gardening, stretching, dancing, swimming, hiking, biking, stretching, dancing, and stretching. Also – sex is exercise. Especially when done with a partner, and especially when done right.

 

  1. Nature is a source of regenerative energy and healing for me. Its cycles mirror my own internal cycles of birth, growth, death, and rebirth. I must dedicate time to interact with nature on a daily basis, whether by combining it with my physical activity (e.g., hiking, gardening, walking), by meditating on some aspect of nature (e.g., a tree, squirrels playing in the yard, a vase of fresh cut flowers), or incorporating nature into or acknowledging it as I go about my daily routines (e.g., taking lunch outside, touching a leaf as I pass, observing the movement of the clouds overhead).

 

  1. My mental diet is as important as my physical diet. The information and ideas I consume have a direct impact on love-your-lifethe health of my mind and emotions. I will make conscious decisions about the books and magazines I read, the websites I visit, the TV programs and movies I watch, and the conversations and friendships I enter into and foster. This does not mean that I will only consume info or ideas that I agree with, but that I will limit intake of such info that leaves me feeling distressed, anxious, uneasy, or causes an uptick of negative emotions or associations about myself, others, or the world around me.

 

  1. Vices. I like to stay up late. I like to drink. I occasionally like to smoke. I like to drive over the speed limit. I tend to stress. I recognize that none of these things are beneficial to my health, especially if done to a level of excess or overindulgence. At this point, I don’t think I can or want to eliminate any of these behaviors 100%. I accept the inherent risk I am assuming by not being able to do this, and plan to at least minimize / mitigate that risk in the following ways:
    • If I stay up late (or don’t get enough sleep) one night, I will go to bed early the following night and/or sleep in late the following morning, and/or incorporate a nap the following day or days.
    • I will not drink during the week. If I find myself at a weekday event or occasion where alcohol is a factor, I will opt for my non-alcoholic beverage of choice (grapefruit juice and tonic water).
    • I will try to limit smoking to ‘special occasions’ (e.g., 2-3 times / year). Since I’m especially tempted to smoke either when stressed or when drinking, I will ask myself these 3 questions when the temptation arises: 1) is this worth a new wrinkle? 2) is this worth an increase in blood pressure? 3) is this worth dying for?
    • When I recognize stress in myself, I will either: remove myself from the stressful situation, reframe the situation in a more positive light, or focus on my breathing (i.e., taking several deep breaths until I feel the stress is reduced or eliminated.

 

  1. I will practice self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. Not beating myself up for falling off the wagon or experiencing setbacks, but using such experiences to reflect on what caused the setback and what I need to adjust to get back on track.

Do you have any healthy reminders for yourself? How do you keep yourself on track with your health and wellness goals? cheers, k

photo: 100_2230 by echoesofstars, on Flickr

photo: Reminder... by redwood 1, on Flickr"

wake-up call: how i got real about my health
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finding-a-healthy-balance

I don’t deal with sickness well. Whenever I’m called upon to visit an ailing friend or relative, I’m the awkward person in the room. I don’t know where to look or what to say. I just feel uncomfy about the whole business and literally struck dumb.

So you can imagine how I reacted when I went in to one of those urgent care centers for a persistent sore throat almost one year ago today and the doc-in-a-box shared some unexpected news:

"Ms. Solomon, your blood pressure is extremely high."

Me to him: “Really?”

Me to self: “Well, no shit, doc. I just fought Atlanta traffic to get here after a long day of work.”

Him to me: “I don’t mean just a little high. I’m talking stroke-level high.”

Whoa. Now he’s got my attention. Stroke-level high? What the!?

“In fact”, he continued, “If your blood pressure is this high consistently, you’ll be dead by your 45th birthday.”

Gulp. Gee. Thanks, doc.

After reluctantly letting me leave(he seriously considered sending me to the ER), and reassuring me that the sore throat wasn’t an infection, the doctor advised me to monitor my blood pressure several times over the next week or so, and if it remained elevated, to go see my primary doctor.

I left, stunned. What did this mean? I mean, I’d been stressed at work recently, but… I didn’t think it was this bad. I know high blood pressure doesn’t run in my family, and though I’d put on a few pounds and treated myself out to dinner and drinks fairly regularly, I wasn’t exactly an unhealthy eater. Plus, I’d just visited my GYN 6 months ago and my blood pressure was normal. This guy’s tripping. I just need to meditate, enhance my calm, and everything will be back to normal soon.

Except… it wasn’t. I followed the boxdoc’s advice and checked my blood pressure at a nearby pharmacy a couple of days later. It was high. And when I checked again a couple of days after that, and a couple of days after that, it was still way higher than normal. Like… way.

The boxdoc’s words kept reverberating through my head, ‘Dead by 45.’

Even though I had insolently and defiantly quipped at him when I walked out of the door, “See ya on my 46th birthday,” I couldn’t deny the simple truth.

I was scared.

 

Coming to Grips

Over the next few weeks, my emotions were all over the place.

I went from a numbed state of shock: “Why is this happening to me? Is this really happening to me?”

To avoidance: “This isn’t happening. I’ll just not think about it. I mean… I don’t even feel sick.”

To morbid fatalism: “Would it really be so bad to die young and leave a good-looking corpse?”

To finally sucking it up and searching for and visiting a doctor who talked to me, let me cry, reassured me that this wasn’t the end of the world, then scheduled a few diagnostic tests and prescribed some little pills and sent me on my way.

pills-and-billsAfter the tests, which revealed no physiological abnormalities and left me with as many questions as before, I was faced with a daily regimen of pill-taking and a nice stack of medical bills. Both of which pissed me off.

It was then that I confessed to myself that if I to reduce my reliance on pills and avoid even more medical expense in the future, I’d really have to suck it up and take a long, hard look at the factors in my life that had very likely brought me to this point.

 

Skipping Breakfast

Most mornings, my breakfast routine consisted of a cup of coffee. And on a good day, two cups of coffee. After doing lots of research on the benefits of eating breakfast (namely: improved focus, weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease), I determined that this was one of the first things I’d need to change.

 

Eating Out

As a self-proclaimed bon vivant, I consider it almost a duty to try new restaurants and cuisines as often as possible. Plus, I write about food. And how can I write about it if I’m not out experiencing it as much as possible? Yet, when I was honest about my food experiences of late, I had to admit they often left me underwhelmed. And in my desire to try the most interesting- or exotic-sounding or most highly acclaimed items on a restaurant’s menu, I was often consuming the worst food they had to offer from a health perspective. And I was doing this multiple days a week. It was time for me to reclaim my meals by re-entering my kitchen.

 

Too Much Alcohol

I drink. I drink when I’m stressed. When I’m happy. When I have writer’s block. When I celebrate a new gig or the loss of an old one. When I wanna feel sexy. When I wanna appear witty. When I want to calm my nerves after a hard day at work and when I want to be the life of the party on the weekends. And, all of my friends and associates drink too. As with my food interests, I’m always looking for unique or not-so-common cocktails, beers, wines, and liquors to imbibe and share with others. At every event I attend, whether it’s an after-work happy hour, a gallery exhibit or a casual backyard barbecue, alcohol is almost always a central component of the festivities. And my social calendar is often quite full with these types of gatherings and events. I had to find some way to cut back.

 

Smoking

While I’ve never made a regular habit of smoking, the habit I picked up in college continued to linger, and I’d often find myself lighting up when drinking heavily or when around friends who also smoked. My doctor minced no words when I told her about my occasional smoking habit. Her words, “Oh, no. You don’t smoke anymore.”

 

Not Enough Exercise

The most movement I got on many days came from a mild morning walk with some neighbor friends of mine. Certainly not enough to get my heart rate up, break a sweat, or lose weight. I’d often spend the rest of the day sitting in front of a computer, often only getting up to take care of biological necessities.

 

Reliance on Quick Fixes

In the past, when I’ve admitted to being out of balance, say, due to an excess of partying, or a really finding-a-healthy-balance2decadent holiday season, I’ve tried to get back in balance by focusing my energies on the opposite extreme. For example, I’ve used the Master Cleanse (or lemonade diet) to ‘get back on track’ several times. If you’ve never heard of the Master Cleanse, it’s essentially a fast where you consume nothing but a mixture of lemons, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup for anywhere from 5-21 days. While it does take a great deal of willpower to do such a fast, and while such fasts are touted for eliminating accumulated toxins from the body, I knew I could no longer rely on quick fixes to provide lasting effects. Proving that I could subsist on spicy lemonade for 5 or more days didn’t change my day-to-day behaviors, my approach to relating to my body, or my discipline to make the right decisions and sacrifices on a consistent basis. I realized that using such binge-and-purge tactics to achieve balance was akin to bouncing up and down repeatedly on a seesaw and assuming the net of the bouncing movements would produce a state of balance. When, in fact, to achieve balance – either on a seesaw or with my health – I would need to find a centered spot that produced the desired effect, then move very little to stay in that space.

 

Other Conditions

I – like many other women (especially African-American women) have suffered from symptoms of fibroids and estrogen dominance for years. Neither my doctor nor any of the other medical information sources I’ve perused had been able to give me any solid or conclusive guidance on what to do to fix this issue (you may remember a previous post on this topic). Yet, intuitively I felt that there might be some connection between the estrogen dominance and my high blood pressure. At a minimum, I felt that the healthy balance changes I planned to implement could only benefit this condition as well. I also made a note to find ways to deal better with daily stresses both on and off the clock.

 

At the end of all that reflection, I simplified the changes I needed to make into the following equation:

Current Health + Exercise + Improved Diet + Consistent Effort – Alcohol – Stress = Healthy Balance

 

It was clear that I had a lot of things that needed working on. And I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But it was a journey that I was willing to take, and it’s one that I look forward to sharing with you.

 

cheers,

k Photo: Balancing Act by Digitalnative, on Flickr

Photo: Interest's Conflicts by CarbonNYC, on Flickr

Photo: Seesaw by nzgabriel, on Flickr

amuse bouche: biodegradable
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Compost making class Extreme patriotism / chauvinism /  partisanship = little piles of dirt arguing over which piles of dirt they belong to and which long-since-turned-to-dirt people they believe in.

In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter 'who ya wit'? or 'what set you claimin'?

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." - Genesis 3:19 (NIV)

cheers, k

photo: Compost making class by Milkwooders, on Flickr

you know you're a bon vivant if....
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A little while ago, I mentioned that I would be delving deeper into defining – in my own terms, based on my own observations – what it means to be a bon vivant. Unfortunately, the term bon vivant is one that is not well understood or is often misconstrued to be an individual who puts on airs or enjoys a excessively lavish, high-priced lifestyle.

Of course, I couldn’t disagree more. So in an effort to clear up any confusion, I’ve penned what I hope will be an informative series of clues that will more clearly define what it means to be a bon vivant and help you decide if you are one of that illustrious ilk known as bon vivants.

Let’s get started, shall we? 

 

You enjoy and actively seek out experiences involving food, drink, and travel

what is a bon vivant
what is a bon vivant

Source: lawsofmodernwoman.tumblr.com via kisha on Pinterest

Bon vivants are sensualists at heart, and anything that stimulates the senses is right up their alley. It’s no surprise that the bon vivant’s greatest passion is food and drink, since dining is one of life’s activities that involves all five senses at once. Travel is generally a close second, since it offers the bon vivant the opportunity for new culinary experiences.  The thorough enjoyment and passionate pursuit of good food, good drink, and good company is a tell-tale sign of a bon vivant.

 

You like work, but only if you can have fun doing it.

what is a bon vivant.
what is a bon vivant.

Living the good life doesn’t usually conjure up images of workday drudgery. So, many bon vivants  will only pursue professions that they truly enjoy. But not every bon vivant has a cool job, nor is everyone with a cool job a bon vivant. Many bon vivants have fairly traditional jobs, but very non-traditional career paths or working schedules. One bon vivant I know literally works to travel, and spends up to 2 months a year away from his high-profile corporate job. Another I know has no job to speak of, and lives modestly (but well) off income from past investments. And yet another bon vivant friend has taken a 2-year-on, 1-year-off approach to employment. She works in her chosen field for about 2 years, then takes every 3rd year to do whatever she likes, whether it be travel, volunteer work, or work on her never-quite-finished novel. [/nextpage]

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You enjoy having money only because it enables your lifestyle

what is a bon vivant
what is a bon vivant

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.” - Groucho Marx

For bon vivants, the amount of money they have is secondary to the type of lifestyle they lead. In fact, many bon vivants aren’t anywhere near wealthy, and aren’t driven by financial gain. But since they value high quality experiences, bon vivants usually have the financial means to indulge their tastes. As previously revealed, many bon vivants choose non-traditional jobs to earn money. Some bon vivants were simply born into money. Others, unfortunately, may resort to less scrupulous methods to maintain their lifestyles, including cons, marrying for money, or becoming a ‘kept’ man or woman.

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You have an extensive and varied social network

diversity
diversity

Bon vivants love to surround themselves with interesting people. Especially those with unusual occupations, intriguing conversations or personality traits that the bon vivant finds entertaining in some way.

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You have above average intelligence

above-average-intelligence
above-average-intelligence

Bon vivants tend to not only be well-educated, but also well-learned. They are perpetual students, always seeking to learn new ideas, languages, skills, and concepts. But unlike academicians or scholars, bon vivants often get bored with classroom learning, and prefer to learn by experience. Bon vivants are likely to opt for apprenticeships and self-directed learning to sharpen their intelligence instead of rigorous classroom instruction and advanced degrees.

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You're a Jack or Jill of all trades

Swiss Army Knife

The bon vivant’s love of novelty inspires him to cultivate many interests and skills, and he’s usually experienced enough in all of them to be dangerous. As a result, bon vivants thrive in careers or professions where they can be generalists or universal adapters versus specializing in one well-defined area of practice.

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You’re equally philosophical, spiritual, and religious

jesus-was-a-bonvivant
jesus-was-a-bonvivant

Because of their unconventional ways of thinking and living, bon vivants aren’t likely to be strictly religious. They may even have their own sense of morality or spirituality that is a hybrid of several religions or philosophical traditions. Yet even professed atheist bon vivants will usually have a strong sense of right and wrong that guides their behavior and is reflected in the behaviors and philosophies of their friends and associates. [/nextpage]

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You tend to overindulge in both work and pleasure, often to the detriment of your health

Bon vivants are known for burning the candle at both ends. Since their work is also their play, they are likely to spend long hours at their profession, with seemingly endless energy for the tasks at hand. Bon vivants put as much energy into their leisure (especially wining and dining) as they do their work. Though this work hard, play harder mentality often earns them the admiration of their associates, it can be quite detrimental to their mental and physical health. The bon vivant’s penchant for packing a lot of living into a short period of time is one reason – I’m sad to say – that many bon vivants throughout history have died relatively young.

"Human happiness and contentment involve so much more than improved material conditions... to say this is not to decry the importance of material alleviations, only to insist that they do not by themselves produce the good life." - John Hewetson

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You value high-quality goods, services, and experiences

Bon vivants have high standards of quality, but aren’t necessarily big spenders. A bon vivant will go out of her way for the higher quality item, but isn’t necessarily swayed by the more expensive item.

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You are uninhibited (or less inhibited than most) or gregarious

Little One.

There’s a reason that bon vivants tend to have such a wide and diverse circle of friends. They have no problem striking up conversation with relative strangers. And because of their diverse experiences and education, they’re generally able to find something to talk about with almost anyone. This social self-assuredness makes the bon vivant both fun to have and easy to spot at parties. He’s usually the one enthralling a small group of people with his sparkling wit, a funny story, or a string of well-timed bon mots between sips of his drink. [/nextpage]

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You are heavily dependent on rewards from others

APPLAUSE

Since bon vivants are such social creatures, they will often choose professions with higher visibility and influence, even if it means lower pay. More than most, the bon vivant is motivated by people’s appreciation of her and her work. This is why many bon vivants tend to thrive as performers, artists, and politicians. Read Psychology Today's 'Field Guide to the Bon Vivant' for more on this trait.

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You’re somewhat irreverent or a button pusher

Three Muses - Odd Bird
Three Muses - Odd Bird

Bon vivants are very keen on social graces and will shun those who obviously lack them - as it offends their sensibilities and love of beauty. However, bon vivants enjoy thwarting or challenging conventional ideas, and the bon vivant is often the first to bring up a controversial subject or adopt an unconventional, eyebrow-raising lifestyle. [/nextpage]

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You dress well and/or in a way that expresses your uniqueness

To the bon vivant, image isn’t everything, but it’s pretty damned important. Bon vivants love to express themselves, and their choice of clothing is one of the main ways by which they do it. In other areas of life, bon vivants tend to gloss over the fine points, but when it comes to their clothing, they’re all about the details. Accessories like feathers, hats, scarves, bow ties, rings, and brooches are favorites of the bon vivant, as are unique blends of contemporary and classic styles.

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You enjoy life to the fullest

for every true lover of life!

Bon vivants recognize that living a good life doesn’t mean there will be no bad times. In fact, it’s the bad times that make the good times taste even sweeter. Whether they’re down on their luck or riding high, bon vivants find a reason to celebrate life for as long as they live.

"The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it." - W. M. Lewis "May you live every day of your life." - Jonathan Swift

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what is a bon vivant?
life-is-a-bowl-of-cherries.jpg

I don't know where I first heard the term bon vivant, but I do remember thinking to myself, "Now that sounds like something I could get used to being called."

Or something to that effect.

I do, however, clearly recall a pass-the-time bar game I played a few years back which involved me and a friend sharing our intergalactic spy credentials (don't ask). During the round where we revealed our alter-ego occupations, I boldly proclaimed that mine was: 'bon vivant'. To which my friend replied (actually, scoffed) "That's not an occupation."

I was and still am indignant about the matter. Being a bon vivant is an occupation. In truth, a bon vivant is only ever occupied by one thing. Everything else is a diversion, or an experiment that helps the bon vivant excel in her chosen profession, which is a simple one: that of living life to the fullest. The bon vivant's trade is one that should not be taken lightly, but often is. A rare few truly commit to and excel at the task, yet the masses generally treat the pursuit of a well-lived life as much more trivial than the pursuit of money or fame, vice or romance, power or success.

And so the bon vivant that we see in literature and film is often portrayed as the wayward dilettante, or the lascivious boozer, or even the hopelessly conniving dandy. Many of those who assume the moniker in real life also assume that it affords them the right to lift their noses a bit higher in the air. In my opinion, both are miscontrued notions of the term and the persona.

In searching the interwebs for a more accurate description of the bon vivant, I came across one delightfully simple but perfectly illustrative definition.

 

"If you love good food, good company, good times and something really, really good to drink, then you’re probably a bon vivant. In fact, if you love two out of the four, then you are most likely a bon vivant."

The above quote is from "Are You a Bon Vivant?"  on the blog, Miss Lola Says.... Miss Lola goes on to explain what bon vivants bring to the... er, table:

 

"We all know at least one bon vivant. And this is how they make our worlds better:

  • They bring the lightness of life with joy, laughter and gaiety.
  • They introduce us to experiences and foods that we would not otherwise have an interest in.
  • They help us keep the goodness of life in perspective. And we all need goodness, right?"

Miss Lola Says... features well-written articles on etiquette and common sense manners that are suitable for intergalactic spies and bon vivants alike. As bon vivants are known for their refinement, the blog should serve as a handy resource should you need to remind yourself or a less-refined associate of the appropriate behavior in any situation.

I invite you to peruse some of my favorite posts from Miss Lola:

An Excerpt from “The Correct Thing to Do, to Say, to Wear” [1941]

 

Putting on Airs

 

HINTS TO KITCHEN MAIDS by Rufus Estes

 

Tips for Riding the Elevator with Me.

 

In the meantime, I'm working on a series of posts that will delve deeper into what it means to pursue the profession of a bon vivant - including some life examples of famous bon vivants, both real and fictional. Stay tuned.

 

cheers,

 

k

photo:A Chair-i-table Event 2011 by rwentechaney, on Flickr

how to lose like a winner
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A couple of weekends ago, I got invited to watch a friend’s daughter compete in the National American Miss pageant. I’ve known this young lady since she was a toddler, and over the years I’ve watched her blossom into an awesome little woman. She’s bright, energetic, savvy, and beautiful to boot. You know, one of those kids that makes you feel confident about what the next generation will be able to do with their infinite potential. So I was thrilled to join her parents in the audience to hoot and holler like a madwoman whenever she appeared on the stage.

That night, we watched all the contestants do their opening numbers and have their individual moments in the spotlight. We also watched watch as girl after girl got picked for various and sundry titles – Miss Congeniality, Most Likely to be a Top Model, Most Likely to End Up as a Trophy Wife and Get One Helluva Divorce Settlement when the Dog of a Husband Gets Caught Cheating (or something like that). Even with all her charm, poise, and intelligence, our girl didn’t get a single trophy or accolade, and she didn’t even get to move on to the next round of competition. Needless to say, we were crushed. She, of course, was even more crushed. After she’d changed back into her street clothes, she joined us to head to the car. She held up pretty well for a few moments, then the tears came. “It isn’t fair,” she cried. “They weren’t as good as me!” she protested. And we agreed, clucking over her and consoling her like dutiful supporters. There wasn’t any use in trying to rationalize the outcome of the pageant to her. Even if there had been a rational explanation, it likely wouldn’t have made a dent on her emotional state. So, I thought that the words her mother offered her were the best that could be said at that moment. She simply told her daughter, “Baby, it wasn’t your time.”

No doubt, losing sucks. Hard. Especially when it’s something you’ve worked hard to get, or something you feel like you’re naturally more qualified to have. So when you don’t land that job, or you get passed over by that girl or guy you had your heart set on, or someone else snags that grand opportunity that you know was meant for you, it makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs, “It’s not fair! They weren’t as good as me!” It’s irritating as hell to see the lesser-qualified get your moment in the spotlight, with the crowd cheering and the fair maiden planting a wreath of laurel leaves on their unworthy head. When it happens more than once, you may stop screaming outwardly and start whispering inwardly to yourself: “Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe no one will ever want me.” Even the most confident and self-assured person has their moments of uncertainty when met with a consistent stream of losses.

I thought back to one of the girls in the pageant who had advanced to the next round that evening. It was her fifth year in the competition, and she’d never made it beyond the first round before. Yet she kept showing up every year. Kept donning the glitzy gown, kept flashing the perfect camera-ready smile, and kept being sent home with nothing to show for her efforts. I wondered what she must have felt like after two years of not winning. After year three? I wondered how she even mustered up the energy and optimism it took to come back for one more chance at winning, though she was a repeat loser. By the colloquial definition, this girl was insane. She kept doing the same thing and expecting a different result. But eventually, after five long years, she did get a different result.

So how exactly do you distinguish the insane person from the winner-to-be?

"Sometimes losing is a wake-up call in disguise, a universal conspiracy that’s letting you know that you’re chasing the wrong dream..."

Winners recognize that there may not be any logic to the fact that they lost, but they take the loss as an opportunity for assessment.  A time to prepare themselves for the win that will inevitably come. After a loss, winners ask themselves the following questions:

Am I losing because I’m playing the wrong game?

If you’re going after something that doesn’t align with your purpose or your true values, why would you want to win? Sometimes losing is a wake-up call in disguise, a universal conspiracy that’s letting you know that you’re chasing the wrong dream, and you need to set your eyes on a different, more fitting prize. If you feel certain that what you’re after does align with your purpose, it’s much easier to deal with temporary losses on the way to your goal.

 

Am I losing because I'm not yet prepared to win?

and the winner is
and the winner is

If you were to get that job, land that cutie pie, or be granted that opportunity, are you currently prepared to make the most of it? Do you have the skills to maintain the thing you’ve won after you’ve won it? You’ve heard the stories of lottery winners who are penniless only a few years after their big win, because they had no money management skills. It’s almost impossible to believe, but it happens all the time – and not just with the lottery. Winners take time after a loss to continue to hone their skills. They visualize what they’ll need to do after the win to make sure they’re ready to perform when it happens. Winners know that a gift given to the ill-prepared can easily become a curse.

 

Am I losing because it just isn’t my time?

So you know for sure that you’re after the right thing. And you know that you’re well-prepared to maintain that thing after you’ve won it. So what gives? Why do you keep losing? Well baby, maybe it just isn’t your time. While you’re fuming about how unfair it all is, maybe there’s someone else out there who had just as much right to the ‘big win’ as you did. They may have waited longer or worked harder, or maybe it was simply ‘their time’. Maybe you’re like that year-five winner, and you’ll have to lose many times before you win. Just remember to re-assess, re-equip, and reapply yourself… even if everyone else thinks you’re insane.

As it turns out, our girl made it through the pageant ordeal without too much emotional or ego damage. After a post-pageant dinner out, she was mostly back to normal. The following week, she got an unexpected phone call. It came from a talent scout who’d seen her at the pageant and wanted to know if she was available for other opportunities.

So let that be a lesson to all you losers out there. The next time you lose, go ahead and have a good cry, check to make sure the makeup is still ok, then treat yourself to something tasty.

And know this… your day is coming. Maybe even sooner than you think.

cheers,

k

photo: total loser by bamzin

photo: ...and the winner is by notsogoodphotography

how to overcome stagnation
whats-next.jpg

Making your own money – and by that I mean, not from a typical 9 to 5, but from something you created and you own – is like a drug. Once you’ve had even the littlest taste of it, you’ll always want it again. Be careful what you wish for when you wish to be your own boss. You might get hooked for life.

I say be careful because it’s not an easy path. It’s a #@$&! scary ride. But… it’s a ride that changes you for the better. You learn to become bigger than yourself, if that makes any sense. You learn to use your strengths and your weaknesses to your advantage. As master of your own work domain, you have to know yourself well and still continually try to outsmart yourself, to outdo your last move. That’s innovation. That’s growth. That’s ultimately sustainability. Because if you’re always thinking about where you’ll get your next entrepreneurial fix; if you’re constantly asking yourself, ‘what next?’ you’ll have an answer when someone else comes asking the same thing of you.

In business, that ‘someone else’ is your customers, your employees, your partners, your teachers and mentors. When those people come asking, ‘what next?’ you’d better have an answer. If you don’t, you’ll be cheating yourself and them. Or worse…. you’ll become stagnant, and ultimately irrelevant.

“What next?” is a question that I’ve been continually pondering for the last few months. I’ve been an independent freelancer for almost a year now, and have had plenty of ups and downs, direction changes and lots of opportunities to test different approaches in marketing, selling and delivering my services. I finally feel like I’ve reached a level of comfort with the ambiguity and the sometimes unpredictable nature of self-employment, and I’m preparing to kick off some new projects and partnerships that will continue to propel me down paths I want to travel. I recently shared one of those projects with you, and I’m looking forward to sharing the others as they progress.

In the meantime, I’d like to pass along some highlights from a blog post entitled ‘How to Overcome Stagnation’ by Dean L. Forbes. Work - whether done for yourself or for someone else – is one of those areas that it’s extremely easy to become stagnant in, and Dean has provided some excellent insights for recognizing the symptoms of stagnation and developing strategies to deal with it.

Symptoms of Stagnation:

  • Lack of focus – feeling scattered and unsure of the goals you’ve set
  • Indecisiveness – unable to make a decision because every option is too risky and/or impossible
  • Doubt – feelings of self-doubt, lack of confidence in your skills and abilities
  • Hopelessness – inability to see the silver lining, the upside, the light at the end of the tunnel
  • Cynicism –feeling like the cards are stacked against you, that everyone (especially the ones who ‘don’t deserve it’) is getting ahead except you
  • Depression – lack of energy or will to do anything positive, productive, or progressive

Like any emotional or mental state, stagnation is temporary. The amount of time spent in a state of stagnation depends on your willingness to take the right actions to move beyond that state. Forbes recommends the following right actions to overcome stagnation.

5 Ways to Overcome Stagnation:

  1. Re-evaluate your core values – Make sure that the principles you wish to live by – your own personal definition of ‘the good life’ – are intact. Make a list of the things in life that really matter to you and be sure that your daily activities and decisions reflect that.
  2. Redefine your mission – What is your purpose? What are you here for? What do you feel that you were uniquely created to do? You may already have an idea in your head. Take some time to reflect on and re-envision this mission.
  3. Change your mission – Does the mission you previously envisioned for yourself no longer make sense? Maybe it’s time to find a new mission.
  4. Change your circle – If you’re on a journey to somewhere, your travelling companions can make or break the trip for you. It can be difficult to change or sever associations, but if you find out that people in your circle aren’t interested in going where you’re headed, you’ll all be much better off going your separate ways.
  5. Take a different route – There’s more than one way to reach a given goal. Maybe the path you’re on isn’t the one that’s going to work for you. There’s no shame in changing directions or scrapping what you thought was a well-planned route. What matters is that you keep moving towards your ultimate destination.

If you’re looking for more help dealing with stagnation, here are a few of my favorite stagnation-killing books:


photo by: Crystl

cheers, k

20 things mama used to (and still does) say
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I was listening to WABE the other day and the announcer asked for listeners to call in and share things that their mother always said that they still remembered. I didn't get a chance to call in and share my memories, but in honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd share them with you, Dear Reader. Here goes...

1. It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.

2. There is a difference between being a woman and being a lady.

3. Always be observant.

4. Your beauty may open a door, but your brain will keep it open for you.

5. The streets will always be there.

6. If you ever feel you want to try drugs or alcohol, come to me first. (yeah, my mom’s progressive as hell!)

7. Bedtime is at 9:30 pm. (progressive, yet ridiculously strict!)

8. Always take 2 quarters with you, so you can use the pay phone if he acts up on the date. (obviously before cell phones!)

9. Never go for the HMO option.

10. Real ladies keep their shoes on all night (for those of y’all who like to wear those heels you can’t walk in).

11. As long as you live under my roof, you will do what I say.

12. Never say, "I don’t know" when I ask why you did something. Say, "Because I wanted to". You should always know why you did something.

13. Y’all called me up to the school for THIS? (when I got in trouble for saying the word ‘penis’ on camera in high school)

14. Don’t be the one who is influenced. Be the one who influences.

15. People didn’t expect much from you because I was a single parent. Just shows you that you shouldn't worry about what people expect.

16. I got you this far. I’m done raising you. The rest is up to you.

17. I guess I have to cut the apron strings at some point.

18. Alright, queen. don’t forget I am yo’ mama! (said when we ‘argue’)

19. Aren’t you lucky to have such a beautiful muuuther!? (I am, by the way)

20. You know I always got your back. (and I got yours, mama!)

What are some things your mother used to (or still does) say?

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. We hear you, even when we're not listening ;-).

cheers,

k