I never knew how true that Irish saying was until I got older. Early on I learned that we were supposed to honor our fathers and mothers. It was something that would put us in good stead for life. However, with the fastest growing segment of the population being people aged 80 and older, many of us are taking a more active role in caring for our parents as they age.
My great-grandmother said to age was to be blessed with years. Unfortunately, aging does come with varying levels of disability, chronic conditions, and sickness. While these issues must be addressed medically, we must consider the emotional and mental health aspects of aging for both parents and their caregivers, who are more often than not, daughters.
For most daughters taking care of others is second nature, especially if they’re mothers. That said, you don’t have to be a mother to be caring in nature. For those of us who are either empty-nesters or winding down careers, we shift gears to assist and take care of aging parents. All of this results in juggling a number of balls at any given time to our own detriment. It’s important to remember that we are our own best resource.
We’ve got to take care of ourselves first otherwise we are of no use to anyone. It’s imperative to eat correctly, exercise, and get enough rest. We don’t want to forget our mental and emotional health. Take time to hit the reset button by talking to and socializing with friends. Pamper yourself with a trip to the salon, get a massage, or a mani-pedi. Whatever allows you to take a deep breath and feel good. You’re allowed to focus on yourself and me-time and still be a good daughter and your parents’ treasure.
With the official start of spring just around the corner, chances are you’re ready for a little time off to be with your family, friends, or that one special someone. However, as we watch the prices of everything, including gas, rising, a getaway might cost more than we can comfortably afford. Guest blog contributor, Emma Grace Brown has a great few tips to help you plan an affordable and enjoyable staycation at home or nearby.
How to Plan an Affordable Staycation That Feels Like a Real Getaway by Emma Grace Brown
What do you do when you want to get away but can’t go far due to COVID-19? Plan a staycation of course! A staycation is a safe, budget-friendly alternative to long-distance travel during the pandemic.
Staycations needn’t be dull either! Whether you’re exploring the great outdoors or discovering local hidden gems, there’s a lot of fun to be had right in your own backyard. Ready to start planning your staycation?
These tips from Still A Chick Lit will help you plan an affordable local getaway or home staycation that feels like the real thing.
Preparation is the key to a truly guilt-free staycation. Take a long weekend off work, set a budget, and chart out what you plan to do at home or on the town. A roadmap makes it easier to stick to your staycation!
Book a Local Stay
This is also the time to book local lodging, and getting out of the house can make a difference if you want your staycation to feel like a real getaway. You won’t have to spend a lot either with many hotels offering discounts to local travelers during the pandemic. To make it more romantic or special, consider a B&B for a more personalized experience.
Dress to Impress
It’s been months since you’ve had a reason to get dressed up, so take advantage of it. Refresh your wardrobe with a couple of new pieces before your trip, like a fun and flattering dress, pajamas for cozying up at your B&B, and maybe even some lingerie. Not only will you look and feel your best, but you’ll also get a little bit of retail therapy too! If you’re on a budget, look to deal sites with promo codes and discounts to help you save money.
Pick a Theme
Not sure where to start planning your staycation? Planning an itinerary under COVID-19 restrictions presents challenges, but it’s far from impossible! A theme provides a great focal
point for planning. Do you want to take a culinary tour of the town, explore local history, or get back to nature? With a few adaptations, you can do whatever your heart desires.
● Get takeout, delivery, or dine outdoors rather than eating in. Instead of splurging on gourmet dining, take a tour of local taco trucks, ice cream shops, or another budget-friendly (but delicious!) food.
● Explore art museums and visit local art galleries. Galleries are rarely crowded outside of openings, but be sure to wear your mask.
● Visit local attractions like zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens during slow midweek hours.
● Plan a DIY walking tour of your city’s historic downtown or visit nearby historic landmarks.
● Get outdoorsy with hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, and other outdoor experiences. National parks are a great place to start your outdoor adventure.
Make Time to Relax
Fun activities give you an experience to remember, but don’t forget to relax on your staycation too! Vacations can be just as stressful as a day at the office when your itinerary leaves no room for downtime.
● Get mindful with yoga and meditation.
● Recreate the spa experience at home with bath bombs, facial masks, self-massage, and soothing music.
● Curl up with a good book in a tranquil setting or go on a walk while listening to an audiobook. Reading for pleasure is a rare treat for many adults!
● Clean and organize your home before your staycation to ensure you’re not stressing about the mess and to create the perfect harmonious environment for your staycation if you plan to stay put.
● Most importantly, disconnect from work. You can’t relax when you’re answering emails and phone calls. Set an away message on your email, turn notifications off, and let yourself sleep in. You’re on vacation!
Travel right now is a question mark for everyone. Instead of pining for a far-in-the-future getaway, plan one that’s more feasible in the interim. A staycation can be just as relaxing, and it won’t hurt your pocketbook!
Still a Chick Lit offers tips on fiction, food, fashion, and modern fairy-tale beginnings at forty, fifty, and up. Check out our books!
Embracing Silver Linings of the Pandemic by Emma Grace Brown
New jobs, careers, lifestyles, ways of learning, and uses for technology alike have all arisen from the global pandemic. In these unexpected and unconventional times, many people have done what they can to build healthy habits during COVID-19 lockdowns.
The great news is that as you begin to embrace a new normal, those who’ve learned to balance work and play, picked up new hobbies, found a new appreciation for friends and family, or worked on new goals have a lot to look forward to. Whether you’ve learned to embrace nature or returned to school for an advanced degree, bringing these new interests and skills with you post-pandemic is a great way to set yourself up for a healthier you.
Mother Nature and Fitness Trackers
For many, the pandemic has afforded them the time to explore nature. Many people have picked up great habits, such as hiking and biking. Others have found a passion for outdoor travel and camping. If you’re like many who’ve become closer to Mother Nature, a fitness tracker or smartwatch can be a useful tool to track the progress you’ve made since picking up healthy habits and making positive changes.
Specific Changes to Carry Forward
The truth is that change is hard. Many people are struggling with their mental health, are grieving, or are experiencing anxiety about the future. Even good change can cause someone to feel stressed or experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. While it’s perfectly normal to feel down during a global pandemic, research shows that embracing healthy habits and engaging in self-care can help.
Consider changes you’ve made since the pandemic, such as eating healthier, getting regular exercise, making the most of family time, or being more engaged with your child’s schoolwork. These are all great habits you can carry forward. Whether you’ve created a new space in your home that you love or vowed to support small businesses, these changes will matter in the future.
Making Habits Stick
If you’ve decided to form new habits, create new goals, and set new priorities, make them a permanent part of your future. It’s not a good idea to return to work and the “old normal” without bringing with you those positive activities and interests you’ve worked so hard to develop during the pandemic.
As you return to work, school, or old schedules, build in time to engage in the things you’re newly passionate about. If that means scheduling daily walks or weekend hikes, go for it. You’ll thank yourself down the road. Not only will keeping good habits help your overall physical health, but they’ll add up to great ways to cope during the challenging times ahead.
Embracing Healthy Habits
At the end of the day, no one can change the fact that you’ve been impacted by the global pandemic. However, by embracing a healthy lifestyle and carrying it past the pandemic, you may enjoy a more productive future.
For more about Emma, click her to visit her website
Although life north of forty and fifty plus has changed in a more positive way for us as women, many of us still struggle with the changes our bodies go through in the three stages of menopause. According to Johnson Memorial Health, the three stages are:
Perimenopause– The earliest stage of menopause usually happens 3 to 5 years before full menopause occurs. During this time, estrogen, and progesterone levels drop.
Menopause– The technical definition of menopause is not having your period for 12 months or more without having other health issues like illness, surgery, or pregnancy. At this time, the ovaries cease to make estrogen and progesterone.
Post-menopause– When a full year has passed after your last period, you are officially in post-menopause. Over a period of years, your shifting hormones will settle into a more stable balance. Hot flashes and other menopause symptoms will likely reduce significantly.
Besides hot flashes, many women find themselves battling weight issues. For some women, hormone fluctuations make it harder to lose weight, and it can feel like you’ve lost control over your weight regardless of what you eat. There is always something shiny and new when it comes to the world of dieting and diet fads. At one time the grapefruit diet and cabbage diet were the rages. Then there was the Scarsdale diet that focused on protein and the villainization of carbohydrates, which resulted in weight loss but raised cholesterol levels and caused gout in some people. Here in the US, we have the proliferation of diet plans from Nutrisystem and Jennie Craig, diets where you buy the food you eat, and then there’s WW formerly known as Weight Watchers. WW uses a system of points for each food. Servings of food are assigned points based on four criteria: calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. Every Weight Watchers member gets assigned a daily and weekly point goal based on their height, weight, age, and gender. One of the latest entries for weight loss is Noom, which uses psychology to design a program to change eating habits. Members are coached virtually by psychologists whose goal is to help unlearn bad habits to form a healthy relationship with food. Dieting in America is a multi-billion dollar industry. Where it doesn’t seem to be a billion-dollar industry is in Europe.
People in countries like France, Italy, and Spain consume a lot of butter, pasta, cheese, and more, but they also have lower cases of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, just to name a few issues that are very common in the US. What is their secret? Well, there really is no secret. Europeans eat an abundance of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, extra virgin olive oil, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. They also eat beef, lamb, game, and pork. What is most notable is the smaller portion sizes, and if they do snack, they don’t go for a bag of chips, choosing fresh bread, cheese, fruit, or nuts.
Since there’s so much going on in our lives, one of that the best ways to address this issue is to make a change gradually. Our bodies have been evolving since we were in utero, if we embrace this as something that happens incrementally, it can help with our health goals. We’ll share recipes that touch on facets of the Mediterranean diet (Italy, Spain, Greece), and the French diet full-fat cheese and yogurt, butter, bread, fresh fruits, and vegetables (often grilled or sautéed), small portions of meat (fish or chicken than red meat), wine, and dark chocolate.
Naturally, before beginning any lifestyle diet change, check with your doctor so the two of you can work together for a healthier you.
We begin with Baba Ganoush which is usually served as an appetizer. It’s a spread made chiefly of eggplant, tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon. There are a lot of variations of this eggplant spread. This recipe comes from the Mediterranean Dish Blog by Suzy, who has a number of wonderful recipes to try. The link to her site and social media platforms is below the recipe.
Baba Ganoush by Mediterranean Dish
2 pounds Italian eggplants (about 2 small-to-medium eggplants*)
2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, more if necessary
¼ cup tahini
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the eggplant and garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
¾ teaspoon salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of smoked paprika, for garnish
Serving suggestions: warmed or toasted pita wedges, carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, etc.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil. Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down.
Roast the eggplant until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 35 to 40 minutes (this might take longer if you are using 1 large eggplant). Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes. Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind.
Place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, then transfer the flesh to the strainer and discard the skins. Pick out any stray bits of eggplant skin and discard them. You want to remove as much moisture from the eggplant here as possible, so let the eggplant rest for a few minutes and shake/stir the eggplant to release some more moisture.
Discard all of the eggplant drippings, drain and wipe out the bowl, and dump the eggplant into the bowl. Add the garlic and lemon juice to the eggplant and stir vigorously with a fork until the eggplant breaks down. Add the tahini to the bowl and stir until it’s incorporated. While stirring, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue stirring until the mixture is pale and creamy, and use your fork to break up any particularly long strings of eggplant.
Stir in the parsley, salt, and cumin. Season to taste with more salt (I usually add another ¼ teaspoon) and more lemon juice, if you’d like a more tart flavor.
Transfer the baba ganoush to a serving bowl and lightly drizzle olive oil on top. Lastly, sprinkle parsley and smoked paprika on top. Serve.
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