By Laura Moncur @ 9:10 am — Filed under:

It’s not about the turkey. It’s not about the pumpkin pie. It’s not even about being with family. It’s about being thankful.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), ‘Pro Plancio,’ 54 B.C.

You see, every year I worry about this holiday. I have a Thanksgiving at my parents’ home and another to attend at Mike’s parents’ home. How am I supposed to attend two Thanksgiving dinners and not gorge myself on all the good food? It would be fine if I didn’t like any of the Thanksgiving faire, but I love it all. I always feel like this is the only time this year that I will get this food, so I need to eat it while I can.

Plus, I feel like I would insult them if I don’t take at least a little bit of everything. “Don’t you want the candied yams? You only have one bite of them on your plate. Don’t you want more?” This holiday is a nightmare for someone who is trying to eat healthy.

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.
– Jacques Maritain (1882 – 1973), Reflections on America, 1958

But it was never supposed to be. This is a holiday to express thanks, gratitude and appreciation. Old Cowboy Winter has hit Utah in full force this year. We are entering the dark times, yet we have an abundance of food and a warm house. I’m grateful for that. I am stronger and fitter than I have been in ten years. I have healthy eating and exercise habits. I’m thankful that I have finally learned how to take care of my body properly. I have friends and family that are caring and supportive. I am so appreciative of them that I don’t know how to say it.

It’s a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation.
– Roberto Benigni (1952 – ), in Newsweek

That’s what Thanksgiving is about. I’m thankful for the abundance of food, so I will participate in the holiday. I’m thankful for the healthy body I command, so I will eat moderately. I am thankful for the family that has supported me through the hard times, so I will be there for them. This year, Thanksgiving means so much more than just a four day weekend and I intend to celebrate it mindfully.


So Many New Toys

By Laura Moncur @ 2:21 pm — Filed under:

In case you hadn’t noticed, I recently joined a gym. I keep getting surprised at how nice the facilities are and I am so happy to go there. It’s really like a big playground for adults. There are treadmills, rowing machines, two kinds of stair climbers, two kinds of elliptical trainers, two kinds of exercise bikes and a funny thing that you do with your arms that I don’t even know the name of. There are free weights and weight machines of such variety and quantity that I am intimidated and excited all in one. There is a hot tub and a sauna to relax in after I’m done with exercising.

If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.
Herodotus (484 BC – 430 BC), The Histories of Herodotus

I feel like the kid that can’t choose between the swings, the slide, the monkey bars or the thing that goes round and round until you puke. I set aside time to go to the gym today and I was so excited to get finished with my routine plans just so that I could go there. I was sitting quietly in my meditation class trying to clear my mind, but all I could think about was which cool thing I would do today.

Remember when exercising was fun? I sure do. I remember learning to ride a bike. I didn’t have a bike, but my grandma said that I could use hers. It was an antique bike with a bright blue frame and white-wall tires. It was too big for me, so I used the curb to get on it. No one ran behind me. No one held it up. I just kept falling and falling until I learned how to stop falling. I have no pleasurable memories of a loving father following behind me, just battle scars on my legs, hands and arms. I did the same the summer I taught myself to ride a bike with no hands. Riding a bike wasn’t about cardiovascular exercise back then. It was about learning and transportation.

Only the curious will learn and only the resolute overcome the obstacles to learning. The quest quotient has always excited me more than the intelligence quotient.
– Eugene S. Wilson

I remember wanting to roller skate all night. When my mom would call me in for dinner, I pretended like I couldn’t hear her. I hoped that maybe she would give me just a few more minutes of play time. I remember wanting to roller skate so much that I skated to school in the winter. It had been a freezing winter with little snow and too much fog. I remember worrying about bumping into something in the fog because I was going so fast.

I remember wanting to roller skate to impress the boys. I wanted to go to Skateland West so bad that Chelly and I rode our bikes there. We rode our bikes about fifteen miles to go skating and then rode them home in the dark and the cold. I remember eagerly awaiting my report card to see how many good marks I got. Skateland West would give out three free skate passes for every A, two for every B, and one for every C. I was so excited to earn those passes because it was really expensive for me to pay three dollars to go roller skating and a free pass was like free fun.

People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.
Bill Watterson (1958 – ), Calvin and Hobbes

Now, here I am. Flushed and happy from a good workout and relaxing soak, I feel like that little girl who had a handful of skate passes. I’m thinking about when I can go back again. When I’m there, it’s hard work and lots of unattractive sweating, but after I’m done, I’m so stoked for the next time I can go. The best part is that I can go whenever I want. I think I’ll try that weird arm thing for my cardio next time. I just hope it doesn’t go round and round until I puke.


Vegas with a Cooler

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Going to Las Vegas with a cooler is a very different trip from going to Las Vegas without one. You can vacation in Vegas very inexpensively. There are $20 hotels with a shorter commute to the big sites than I drive to work every day. There have been times when we were very short on money and had to go to Vegas for a computer convention. We have survived in Vegas for $25 a day including hotel.

Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.
 – W. C. Fields (1880 – 1946)

We have a nice little device that boils water very quickly. With boiled water, you can make oatmeal, pot noodles, and tea. A cooler can hold bagels and cream cheese. Granola bars hide nicely in my purse for when I’m hungry and we are trapped at the computer show. Vegas with a cooler is a very different trip than Vegas without one.

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.
Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870), David Copperfield, 1849

On this last trip, we were there by choice. We had saved up the money to go, so we could eat anywhere. No matter what was suggested, we were able to afford it. We tried the Champagne Brunch at the Mirage. We ate at the food court at New York New York that is supposed to look like Harlem. We had elegant pastries at the Paris Hotel. We had the cheap hot dog at the snack bar in Jean. We ate the moderately enjoyable buffet at the Silverton. Whenever we were hungry, we ate and we didn’t worry about the cost.

Food is the most primitive form of comfort.
Sheila Graham

What we should have worried about was the health. I know I overindulged. So many times, I have claimed overindulgence as a right of vacationing, but isn’t taking a vacation about doing something good for yourself? Shouldn’t eating healthy be part of that regime? What is it about taking a vacation that told me I should abuse my body? The security guard’s confession made me think about what Vegas could look like with a cooler.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973)

What if the food in the cooler was better than all the food at the hotels? What if it were healthier? What if it tasted better? What if the cheap hot dog and the fancy pastry had no appeal to me because I knew I had better waiting for me in the car? How would that trip taste if we used the cooler because we wanted to, not because we had to?

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.
Julia Child (1912 – )

Well, I think I would keep the bagels and cream cheese. To hell with the oatmeal and the pot noodles, but I think I’d still keep the tea. I would bring fresh fruit. I craved fruit the entire trip and the only things I could find were melons at the buffets and garnishes on the pastries. I could bring apples and tangerines and oranges and every good thing. What about those ham and cheese sandwiches? With the fat free ham and low fat mayo, I could make them healthier. Maybe Vegas could taste as good as Lagoon did when I was a kid.


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