February 28, 2013

A Great Message To All Of Us To Be Our Very Best...

Let me introduce you to a cool guy.  His name is Robin Sharma and he is an inspirational, highly positive, makes sense kind of guy.  He's an author, motivational speaker, master of leadership, observer of human nature, and someone who basically lives life every day like it's a privilege.

I stumbled upon his website and was transfixed by a video that he offers up on the first page of his site. (I took the liberty of linking the video below so you can glean a thing or two from Robin, if you should choose to do so)

Basically, his challenge to us is to become a master at whatever it is that you love to do.  Essentially, focus on your individual craft and, as he says, "become stunningly good at what you do."  Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, a member of the service industry, or the president of a company, he believes we should spend each day becoming more and more proficient in an effort to be the best, achieve more than we could ever hope to achieve, and model for others the pride of personal excellence.  His book is called Lead Without a Title and the premise is to visualize yourself as an artist when you go to work each day.  He wholeheartedly believes that every person has a creative need to actualize the imaginable.  Essentially he boils it down to this... Focus+Time= Genius.

I have chosen to follow Robin Sharma on Facebook, as well.  He contributes daily nuggets of inspiration that are quiet reminders to strive for excellence, be the kindest and best person you know, and continue the daily march toward the deep seeded goals that can propel us to be our very best in life.


February 25, 2013

Why Do Some People Think The "F" Word Stands For Feminism...

In the sixties, women like Gloria Steinem became prominently known for leading the women's movement demanding basic civil rights and equality.  For years women proudly called themselves feminists, which is defined as "the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men." So..why do so many women today feel awkward when asked if they are a feminist. For that matter, why wouldn't a man consider himself a feminist.  I mean, don't men want their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers to be on par with their male counterparts?

On Sunday we all anxiously awaited host Seth MacFarlane, who we knew would be controversial at the 2013 Academy Awards.  I was especially turned off when he dove into a musical performance singing over and over and over again, "We Saw Your Boobs."  Frankly, it was not at all clever and made me long for the well-known musical numbers composed by the great Billy Crystal, who was notorious for his hilarious and smart introductions at the Oscars.  MacFarlane was nothing but a mischievous child, who pandered to the least common denominator.  I am no prude, but it was yet another misogynistic opportunity to use women as a punch line.  Not to mention several other off-color jokes that did not appear to sit well with the celebs.  On a night when our most cherished filmmakers and actors gather to celebrate each other's accomplishments, I can't help but think that those in the audience must have been disappointed.

In an effort to pass along some positive television options, there is a wonderful documentary on PBS Tuesday February 28th at 8 p.m.  It is called "Makers: Women Who Make America."  I know you're thinking that it may be dry and kind of boring, but don't!  It offers up everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Danica Patrick to Lilly Ledbetter.  If you can't place her, she was the gal who we can thank for fighting for the Fair Pay Act in 2009.  The documentary chronicles the struggles and challenges that women in America have endured in an effort to persevere in order to achieve greatness in the last 50 years.   I plan on watching it as a reminder to quietly acknowledge the women who have paved the way for me and now for my daughter, who is part of a generation who really can have it all if they choose to do so.

If you decide to watch, be sure to post a comment and let everyone know what you thought of it.


February 22, 2013

Can You Be Fired If You're Too Attractive...

In December 2012 the all male Iowa Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower courts to allow the termination of dental assistant, Melissa Nelson, simply because she was "an irresistible attraction."  You are probably saying, "No, there's no way in this day and age."  Well, that's exactly what happened.

So, here's the story.  Melissa Nelson was a dedicated hardworking dental assistant for Dr. James Knight for over ten years.  As many employer~employee relationships develop, it is not uncommon to become friends.  Both Knight and Nelson were good friends, and their families were friendly, as well.  Although, after almost 10 years, Dr. Knight  became increasingly familiar and began discussing more, shall we say, personal matters.  Commenting about her clothing and asking questions about her personal life that should never have been any of his business.  Nelson, who stated to the court that she always saw her employer as more of a father figure, failed to say anything when he made the inappropriate comments or sent her unprofessional text messages during the final year of her employment.  Essentially, she ignored his awkward statements hoping the problem would simply go away if she did not fuel the situation by responding.

So, now enter Mrs. Knight.  One day she stumbled upon her husband's extracurricular texts and he was busted!  Rather than dealing with the problem, Dr. Knight, at the direction of his wife, opted to terminate his loyal 10-year employee, claiming she had become a "detriment" to his family.  At the meeting where Melissa Nelson was blindsided with the news that she no longer had a job, he made the odd choice to have his pastor present.  Why he would need spiritual guidance during this meeting, I have not a clue.  Seems to this writer that he should have thought about that prior to his abusive comments. But I digress.

So, we have a devastated dental assistant who is now out of a job, a wife who believes firing the "distraction" will dissuade her husband from keeping his thoughts to himself, and a dentist who seems to have escaped the situation unscathed.  In an effort to bring some clarity to the situation, the husband of Nelson paid a visit to the dentist.  Can you imagine being a fly on that wall? Anyway, Dr. Knight had the nerve to say that Melissa had been the best dental assistant he had ever employed, and she did nothing wrong.  He went on to say that they could no longer work together because "the nature of their relationship was a perceived threat."  In my words, he was hot for his dental assistant, his wife figured it out, and basically he was saving himself by throwing the victim under the bus to hopefully make the whole thing go away.

Well, you can imagine that a lawsuit was filed, and it ultimately made its way through the legal channels, finding its way to the Iowa Supreme Court after not prevailing in the lower courts.  And in December 2012 the decision to allow the termination was upheld by the highest court in Iowa. According to Justice Edward M. Mansfield he wrote, "The question we must answer is...whether an employee has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be unlawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction."  The high court answered the question by saying that while not fair, the employer's actions did not constitute unlawful discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

So, you may be wondering why this was not a sexual harassment claim.   I wondered the same thing. My guess is that Nelson never said anything so she was barred from making that part of her claim.   I can't judge her though.  Upon reading the high court's decision, I was sadly reminded of a similar situation that I encountered as a young post-college grad in my very first professional gig.  I was young and put in a very awkward predicament with an executive at my company. And what did I do? Nothing.  I was paralyzed with fear and terrified that my job could be in jeopardy if I said anything. So, I can fully relate with Melissa Nelson's hope that the situation would simply go away if she continued to ignore it.

I honestly believe that women have and will continue to endure harassment as long as we continue to be mute and turned a blind eye to inexcusable behavior. As painful and scary as it may be, it is imperative that we speak up for ourselves and those around us who may need support.  I also fully believe that women must continue to seek positions of authority in order to have a collective voice.  So I ask... would the decision have been different on the Iowa Supreme Court if there had been a woman on the high court? Maybe. 

I am sure Melissa Nelson will move forward and Dr. Knight will likely do the same.  Although, I can't help but seethe when I think of the players in this story who wronged Melissa Nelson.  Shame on you, Dr. Knight for your audacity.  Shame on you, Mrs. Knight, who kicked the wrong party to the curb.  Shame on you, pastor whatever your name is for attending the termination meeting, as if God somehow was showing up to support and justify Dr. Knight's decision to eliminate Nelson from the equation after his despicable behavior.  And shame on you, Justice Mansfield and your colleagues, who did not rule that Dr. Knight's actions were anything but a violation of Nelson's civil rights.  I have no doubt that, if the tables were turned and Melissa was male, this scenario would have turned out much differently.  I fully plan to discuss this story with my teenage daughter and encourage you to use this story with any young women you know. We must empower our young females to continue to strive for equality and justice.  I plan to tell my daughter to make her opinions abundantly clear if anyone ever has the nerve to disrespect her in the way that Dr. Knight disrespected Melissa Nelson when all she wanted to do was her job. 

February 19, 2013

A Love Letter To Portland...

I have spent much of my life moving up and down the West Coast, and now to the East Coast. While I love the adventure that goes along with a new community, there is one city that I will always consider my true love. Maybe it's because I spent the majority of my adult years living there or maybe it's the funky unpredictable energy that continues to draw me back.

Long before Fred Armisen developed the quirky vignettes that we fondly know as Portlandia, the residents of this Pacific Northwest city would tell you that Portlandia is the name of the grand statue that sits proudly in the middle of downtown Portland. Although, the yoga practicing, hippie-chic, highly cerebral hilarity that ensues during each episode really is quintessential Portland.  It is not uncommon to see a person in the middle of the rainy winter months reading the New York Times while sporting a slicker up top and socks and sandals covering the feet. It is also not uncommon to hear celebrities gush about their experiences during movie and television productions, which frequently take place in this gem of a town.

Long before Seattle and San Francisco stumbled into providing their residents access to the city center via a commuter train, Portland was all over it. You can now travel from all points north, south, east, and west on the MAX Train. For $2.50 you can catch the train directly from the airport and arrive downtown in no time. Once you are in the middle of town, there is really no reason to leave. Unless, for example, you want to take a short trip to the beach, the best skiing in the country, or to a sprawling wine country that rivals any fancy winery that Napa/Sonoma offers up.

While wandering through the city, there is a no muss, no fuss feel. However, you will find the restaurants to be among the best in the country. Portland has also embraced the newest rage in food trucks. In fact, there are multiple lots in the center of town that offer anything and everything, and beckon long lines (even in the rain) for on-the-go foodies who know where to find gourmet options at a reasonable price.

The food, the beauty, and the zero sales tax are, in itself, perfectly good reasons to visit, but it's more than the tangible that cause me to have had a 30 year love affair with this amazing city. It is the energy of this beautiful town coupled with the people that bring me back time and time again. There is a kind soul in the heart of this town that makes it a West Coast treasure. The people of Portland are genuinely lovely and make every effort to extend a friendly smile or hello in passing. You would be hard-pressed to walk away feeling that the people of Portland are not the most inclusive group of city dwellers around.

With that said, I challenge you to check out Portland if you have not done so. As a little gift to you, I am going to make a list of my favorite stuff so you can refer to it when you arrive in the sweetest city on the West Coast. (Yes...I said that, Seattle. You think you're so cool with your flying fish and your Tom Hanks "Sleepless" movie...)  So, I dare anyone to visit Portland and not fall in love with this charming city.

Hotels:  I always stay at The Courtyard Marriott on SW Oak Street.  It is a reasonably priced refurbished hotel and has an upscale contemporary feel, with a HUGE dash of eco-chic. They have a wonderful restaurant called The Original Dinerant.  Is it a diner...is it a restaurant? They couldn't decide so they combined the two. My favorite is the quinoa burger. I know it sounds like something they might order on Portlandia, but trust me...Yum! There are numerous other hotel options like the famous and historic Benson Hotel or Heathman Hotel. The Heathman was THE hotel from last year's trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey. (Don't tell me that you didn't read it, we all read it...)

Coffee:  If you take 3 steps in any one direction, you will be smack-dab in the middle of a Starbucks. Enough said...

Shopping:  Don't think for a minute that there are few shopping options because many of the locals happen to sport fleece and khaki pants for nine months out of the year. Portland has a beautiful Nordstrom, Macy's, as well as Pioneer Place, which offers the likes of many high-end stores like Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, and J. Crew. You also have the Pearl District, which is a historic area that was developed from a cool industrial part of town and offers expensive lofts, shopping, and eateries to the "beautiful people." You know, the people who shell out a big pile of cash for exposed brick walls, hot-yoga on every corner, and a $4.00 avocado at the Whole Foods down the block.

Restaurants:  Portland has some of the top restaurants around. My personal favorite is Jake's Famous Crawfish. It is a staple of Portland and a must if you are only in town for a short visit. An after dinner option is a famous Spanish coffee at Portland's oldest restaurant, Huber's Cafe. They make it a show by preparing the drink tableside, and I promise it will not disappoint. I will tell you from personal experience, though, that if you have more than one, there is the chance that you will be dancing on the tables.

If it is a breakfast you are seeking, Mother's Bistro has an excellent menu with the loveliest atmosphere to boot. It is a fan favorite of Portland so either arrive early or be ready to wait a bit.

And here me now...you cannot leave Portland until you have paid a well-deserved visit to Voodoo Doughnuts! They offer every bizarre combination to make the experience something to write home about. If I were to give you one recommendation, it would not be the coco-puff delight, or even the decadence of the M&M slathered goodness. No...it would be the granddaddy of them all. The maple bar and bacon.  I shall say no more...

So, there you have it. And I didn't even cover music, the arts, and sporting events. All within a short walk or train ride from the center of town. I hope I have at least piqued your interest. Oh...and just so you know...nobody uses an umbrella in Portland. It's how we roll...     

February 16, 2013

What Advice Would I Give My 20-Year-Old Self...

I'd like to think I would have appreciated a list of potential roadblocks and well-intended suggestions a few decades ago that may have made life a bit easier to navigate.  Although, if you ask my husband, he would probably say that I don't necessarily accept friendly recommendations well.  In other words, I don't like being told what to do!  Which is why, like many strong-willed women, I seem to learn things the hard way.  Regardless, I have compiled a list of quotes and thoughts I have gleaned along the way.  In retrospect, I wish I would have committed them to memory about 25 years ago...

~ Don't waste your time on revenge or negative thoughts because it depletes your energy.  Let karma take care of those who hurt you.

~ Today a reader~tomorrow a leader.

~ Life doesn't always give you second chances, so don't let the first one slip by.

~ Don't compare yourself to other women.

~ Listen to your gut.  It will always tell you the truth.

~ Winners never quit and quitters never win.

~ People always reveal themselves so pay attention.  Sometimes it comes with a bang and other times in a whisper.

~ If you are fortunate enough to be quirky and different, embrace it.

~ Let the past remain in the past.

~ Movies and books are works of fiction.  Don't compare yourself to either.

~ Work harder than everyone else.

~ Pay your credit cards off every month.

~ Recognize the quote "he's just not that into you."  It will save you so much time analyzing someone who's just not that into you.

~ If it's meant to happen, it will happen.

~ Don't worry!  It will not make bad things or good things happen.

~ A good friend is a great gift.

~ Laugh often.

~ Sometimes you just need to have a "F#@k it" attitude when you find yourself holding on too tight.

~ If you're wrong, say your sorry.

~ If something doesn't work, maybe it's not meant to be.

~ Nobody is perfect.

~ Beauty comes from within.

~ With that said...never go to bed with your makeup on.

~ Tough days often make for an excellent story.

~ Spend time with those who celebrate your presence.

~ Go beyond your limitations.

~ Learn from failure.  It builds character.

~ Well-behaved women rarely make history.

February 14, 2013

The Lovely Audrey Hepburn Lives On...

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There is no denying how lovely Audrey Hepburn was during her lifetime.  She was the quintessential gal that every woman wanted to be and every man wanted to date.  While chic and ladylike, she was sassy as hell.  I think that's what made her beloved by all.  Hepburn always had a firm understanding of who she was whether on screen or not, and she never apologized for it.

Thank you, Ms. Hepburn for giving us the perfect example to emulate.

February 11, 2013

Ellen DeGeneres Always Knows Just What to Say...

A few weeks ago I wrote two articles on the Boy Scouts of America.  Last week the executive members of the Boy Scouts of America announced that they voted to put off until May the decision to allow or not allow gay members.  This is what Ellen had to say...


February 9, 2013

How do you want to be remembered?

I stumbled upon this piece a while back and I thought it was a very interesting way to inspire women to reach for the stars, so to speak.  I have always loved the quote, "well-behaved women rarely make history."  This supplements that sentiment, but in a more profound way.  Because every day we toe the line, do the minimum, or not think outside the box, we are not pushing ourselves to be our best selves.  Women have historically been the taskmasters, double shifters, and yet find a way to remain a tower of strength during tough times.  So...I am going to challenge myself to make 2013 the year of great accomplishments, pushing myself to excel beyond my comfort level, and model for the young girls who find their way into our home and my life that they should follow suit.  Who's in?

Would it be okay if your gravestone read: “She was an exceptionally mediocre woman”?
If your eulogy went something like: “She followed every rule with precision. She rarely made a mistake and was a great champion of the status quo. She never ruffled any feathers, took any great risks, suffered any great loss. She always operated within the bounds of appropriateness. She had the love and acceptance of her community, family, and friends, though no one knew her. Her life was smooth sailing because she never rocked the boat. She contained her passion, her dreams, and her danger enough that they could call her a good woman”?
For some, that would be enough. But not for you.
Your epitaph will begin: “She redefined what it meant to be a good woman.”
It will say: “She scaled mountains, in hiking boots and in heels. She started in her own backyard and then went all the way around the world. She accepted challenges with curiosity and determination. She emerged victorious regardless of outcome, knowing both the pleasure of success and the grace of failure. She tasted long hot days and cool still nights, at home wherever she found herself. She wasn’t always popular, but she was always true. She wasn’t always comfortable, but no one can say she didn’t enjoy her life. She explored her edges, increased her capacity, and lived as big as she could dream. Moved equally by bliss and pain, she played her heart out one moment at a time. She was dialed in. She was courageous. She was turned on.”
If this sounds more like you, what are you waiting for?

February 5, 2013

Shining A Spotlight On The Invisible War

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently lifted a long standing ban on women serving in combat.  A controversial issue that has naysayers claiming a small framed woman couldn't possibly handle the physical demands or endure the psychological and emotional pain found on the front lines or behind enemy walls.

While the privilege of serving in the military is not one that personally appeals to this writer, thousands of women see it as their destiny.  A selfless, courageous, not to mention mentally and physically challenging career representing America in a most profound way.  I will forever be humbled by those who enter any branch of the military, especially in our current climate of international discourse.

Sadly, the mental and physical toll of the job itself is increasingly overshadowed by an ugly truth that has become prevalent and grossly underreported.  Last year an independent film called The Invisible War was placed into the hands of Defense Secretary Panetta and within two days there was a game change in the way that sexual abuse is reported and investigated in the military.  The film chronicles the lives of several women and one man, representing thousands more in our military, who have endured sexual assault.

The statistics are staggering.  It is believed that 20% of female veterans have been sexually assaulted. Estimates put the number at 500,000 women who have been raped while simply trying to serve their country, which correlates to 50 sexual assaults per day.  The numbers also put men at a 1% risk of being assaulted, which tops the numbers at 20,000.

Each branch of the military has a system in place for reporting crimes.  However, upon further investigation it was discovered that the intimidation and retaliation from those investigating the allegations made it virtually impossible to receive a fair outcome.  Due to the fact that the investigations were conducted by the military personnel who were in the direct chain of command of the victim, and often friends or colleagues of the alleged perpetrators, it is believed that some 80% of sexual violations have gone unreported.  In fact, it was not uncommon for the victims to be advised of professional admonishments that likely would be attached to their service records if it was later discovered that their statements were unfounded.  It was strongly implied by the powers that be that if you came forward, you would probably end up losing in the end.  Essentially, our country's military was systematically perpetuating an environment of fear and intimidation, and in doing so, allowing the unspoken acceptance of criminal behavior from the sexual predators living and working alongside their victims.

Following Secretary Panetta's decision to remove the investigative power out of the direct line of command and instead to an independent facilitator, our country started seeing the embarrassing secrets that had been swept under the proverbial rug.  There was no branch of the military immune to the rampant occurrences of sexual assault. It was as prevalent from the lower levels of basic training to the most prestigious post at the Marine Barracks in Washington DC.  The same soldiers who protect The White House and its dignitaries.  The same soldiers who we proudly see at ceremonial performances.

According to the weak accountability within the military, the Defense Department estimates that only eight percent were ultimately prosecuted for their crimes and a mere two percent of those prosecuted received punishment.  It was not uncommon for the perpetrators or the victims to simply be moved to a new location in an effort to avoid the issue altogether.

So, here is what has occurred in the last nine months since the Defense Department stepped in and started cleaning house.  Independent investigations have commenced from each branch of the military.  Rules have been established making public the expectations of soldiers and the procedures that are now in place to investigate and protect the men and women who are the victims of a sexual assault.

Although, I still have my doubts.  On January 23, 2013 General Edward Rice and General Mark Welsh were questioned before the Armed Services Committee concerning the series of sexual assaults that went unreported at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  The panel spent hours questioning the new procedures that were recently implemented to remedy the pervasive problem. While their answers appeared on the surface to be compliant with the newer stringent regulations, I could not help but agree with Representative Jackie Speier.  A fiery congresswoman from California, who has been a champion of this issue.  Representative Speier introduced the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act in 2011, and has spoken out on many occasions to her colleagues in the House of Representatives to keep this issue prominently in the eyes of Congress.   As Representative Speier began her questioning last week, she entered into the record a letter that was sent to General Rice in November 2012 asking him why, in the months of investigation, which included investigators, documents, interviews, and the ultimate implementation of protective regulations, not one of the victims was asked to testify.  That letter was never answered by General Rice and, frankly, he did not provide an acceptable answer during the January 23rd session either. Basically, 45 new rules were crafted by Lackland Air Force Base in 2012 without first including any testimony from the very people who were failed by the old system. It's as if they want the whole issue to go away with the appearance of an in-depth investigation, but they really don't want to hear the gory details.  Sadly, the gory details got them into this mess, and until they fully see the good, the bad, and the ugly, the problem is going to continue to be perpetuated.

As Secretary Panetta departs his post, we will have a new sheriff in town.  My hope is that whoever assumes the position will continue to fight for the basic human rights of our soldiers.  During the initial hearings where Senator Chuck Hagel gave an overall mediocre performance, he did commit to the continuation of Secretary Panetta's work concerning this issue.

This ugly reality that has plagued the military is incredibly infuriating and complex.  Of course, the issue of sexual assault is inexcusable.  But put aside the gross failure of the military to address this issue, thousands of honorable service men and women have been tainted by the hidden realities that have gone unpunished.  I have many friends who have served in all branches of the military, and they are among the most honorable and heroic people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  My hope is that this will not cast a dark shadow on the thousands of men and women who have literally given their lives for our freedom. I ultimately believe that, in the end, knowledge is power and, in the years to come our military will be stronger and more resilient after dealing with this hidden evil. 

As for my personal opinion on whether women can and should serve in combat, hell ya! 

I would encourage you to watch The Invisible War, which was recently nominated for an Academy AwardA difficult yet important film that was the catalyst to giving our soldiers a voice when all they want to do is serve and protect the rights of Americans.


February 1, 2013

Maybe Kale Is The New Beef...

I just read an article that was actually entitled 7 Reasons Kale is The New Beef.  It caught my eye because for the better part of a year, I have developed a love affair with its leafy goodness.  I drink a kale/spinach smoothie every morning and I sauté its international sister, Swiss chard, to enjoy with salmon for dinner.  Funny enough, though, I have discovered that people do not show kale the respect that I believe it richly deserves.

I have spent a good amount of time lately reading about the benefits of food, balanced with exercise and sleep.  You know...all the good stuff that's supposed to keep you from getting sick and feeling fuzzy headed.  In a nutshell, here are the bullet point positives in kale:

~ A Natural Anti-Inflammatory: Inflammation is the main culprit of arthritis, heart disease, and many autoimmune diseases.  Kale has been known to prevent and, in some cases, reverse many illnesses caused by inflammation.

~ An Excellent Source of Iron:  Most Americans do not get enough iron.  Kale is an excellent source of iron, and has just as much as beef with fewer calories.

~ Calcium: While dairy and beef products are excellent sources of calcium, kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk and is absorbed easier.

~ Fiber: One serving of kale has 5% of the daily recommended intake of fiber, which many Americans lack.  Did you also know that our fiber deficiency can be the cause of other digestive disorders, cancer, as well as heart disease.

~ Omega Fatty Acids: We all hear about the importance of the omega family.  Kale is a rich supplier of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

~Immunity Health: Kale will give you a super duper boost of immune-boosting antioxidants of vitamins A and C.

~Kale is Sustainable:  Kale grows to maturity in just 60 days in most climates.

Aside from the obvious benefits outlined above, it is basically the best all around brain vitamin you can take.  Consuming dark leafy veggies is a must in every diet, much to the chagrin of my teenage daughter.  As a country, we have become uber dependent upon a primarily high carbohydrate diet. Specifically complex carbs, which are made up of rice, pasta, bread, and cereals.  Simple carbs being made up of fruit, veggies, and milk products.  We need both but not to the degree that we have become accustomed to in our country.

As it turns out, a high intake of complex carbs basically turn into sugar.  We all know sugar fuels the brain, but did you know that too much sugar can basically overwhelm the brain?  Over time it can even cause the brain to lose its ability to function properly.  Now add that to the refined sugar we add to our diets, and you are getting a call from Dr. Oz to join him for a sugar intervention.   According to the American Heart Association, we should be consuming no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily, but the average American eats 22.2 teaspoons.  That is 3.2 cups per week, which is the equivalent of 27 candy bars.  I call that a holy crap statistic!

According to some studies, there is also a glaring correlation between disorders that affect the vascular system during the middle age years like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and obesity and the ultimate onset of dementia.  While there are just as many arguments stemming from environment, head trauma, and genetics being the cause of dementia and Alzheimer's, the studies linking glucose are irrefutable.  I have a feeling that in the years to come researchers will definitively find the majority of cases to be due to excessive amounts of sugar and it's unpleasant friend, corn syrup.

Have I convinced you?  Tell you what...I am going to give you my recipe for my very own morning boost of brain power and you be the judge.


                                                  Kale~Spinach Smoothie

Fill the blender (and I mean fill) with kale and spinach.  You can find kale and spinach pre-washed in your veggie sections.  I buy mine at Trader Joe's.  Add about a cup of milk (I use vanilla soy). Add 2 TBSP of Chia Seeds (chia seeds can also be found at Trader Joe's and in some local markets.  A single serving of these flavorless seeds pack more of a punch than flax seed and also give you protein, fiber, calcium, and zinc.  Not to mention an excellent antioxidant.)  Now blend it down to a liquid.  Add one banana and any other fruit you like.  I usually spend one day preparing individual bags of fruit and freeze them.  That way I don't have to cut up fruit every morning.  I fill a baggie with organic frozen blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.  I also add a few slices of pineapple, apple, and pear.  Prepare the fruit in advance and then all you have to do is pull it out of the freezer before you go to bed and it's all ready for morning.  A blender of this smoothie will fill you up until lunch and you will basically have most of your fruit/veggies consumed in case you accidentally (on purpose) hit the wrong button on the vending machine later in the day!