michelle’s weekly pet challenge: week #4

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…one of my furry sweeties who’s definitely…one-of-a-kind!…

………hugmamma.

Check out other entries here…

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dressing to “wow”

Ynez Sines is an overnight celebrity. Others have traveled similar paths to sensational success, like Kim Kardashian, a darling of reality TV. Her body hugging fashions with plunging necklines accentuate her natural assets, which include a gorgeous face. These days, such apparel seems the style of choice for reality TV divas. Picture the women of the “Housewives of…” shows, “Jerseylicious,” “Bethenny Gettin’ Married?,” “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” the “Batchelor,” and  “Batchelorette.” So why the uproar over Sines?

Women dressing to attract men probably began with our prehistoric ancestors. Like their contemporary counterparts, cave women needed an edge over the competition. Capturing the strongest cave man was essential to keeping  food on the table. But we’ve come a long way in dressing for survival, to dressing for the WOW factor. Where a woman might have narrowed her audience to a handful of men, she now wants to impress every man who sees her. And that can range from a roomful to a worldful, of men. Grabbing the attention of the competition is an added bonus. Maybe the media’s coverage of “red carpet” events has contributed to our narcissism.

We have increasingly turned our focus toward better health, including a better body image. Efforts to eliminate anorexia and bulimia are ongoing, as is obesity. On one hand we are attempting to regain control over our bodies so we can live our best lives; on the other hand, we continue to worship celebrities and models for their rocking, good looks and hip, hot fashions. It seems like an oxymoron to be striving for self-acceptance, while remaining shackled to our desire to look like someone on a magazine cover or a TV show. It’s as convoluted as trying to save in this economy, while trying to spend our way out of a recession. It’s a struggle, but it can be done. I guess.

Sines is neither a reality TV diva, nor a red carpet regular; she works in an all male environment which, for the most part, revels in grunge and sweat. So why the need for body hugging styles and plunging necklines as a 9-year-veteran, professional sportscaster? Her response? That’s how she’s always dressed, and she’s not making any changes to her wardrobe. So why twitter that she was “embarrassed and uncomfortable?” It’s like “wanting her cake and eating it too.” So what’s wrong with that? Don’t we buy a cake to eat it?

I’m guilty of having worn hot pants in the day, even in Guadalajara in the early 70’s when I was a summer program student at a local college. I dressed provocatively to captivate my husband when we were dating. Obviously my tactics worked, 40 years later we’re still celebrating marriage. But I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have dressed to provoke unwanted cat calls from football players, of any ethnicity. I think it would be similar to walking past construction workers in tight jeans and blouse. 

I’m not averse to athletes, having dated the captain of the football and basketball teams in high school. It just seems that their attention would naturally be drawn to the human body, since playing sports involves their bodies. Being in a locker room is probably like being in a frat house, with behavior bordering on bawdy. I wouldn’t want to witness what goes on, but that’s my choice. According to journalist Cokie Roberts on GMA this morning, Sines presence in locker rooms is part of her job as a sports reporter.

The stand-off between Sines and athletes in locker rooms is being addressed by the NFL, and in the court of public opinion. I don’t think we’re looking for a winner; I think we’re looking for both sides to be accommodating, going forward. The best scenario would be if Sines modified her professional dress, and the players were more respectful in the presence of female reporters. Whether that happens or not, is for both sides to decide. Of course the resolution will impact the female-male professional relationship, beyond the locker room. Miniscule, small, medium or large, change is already underway. Eyebrows have been raised, so there’s no going back.

accommodating change, for the better…hugmamma.

european getaway, holland america line

As a not-so-frequent world traveler,  I wanted to share some Holland America Line information, in particular cruises which I can vouch for, since I’ve “been there, done that.” Cruising is like taking your hotel everywhere you travel. There’s no need to pack , unpack and repack. You needn’t fret about transporting yourself from city to city. All meals are included, selections ranging from Asian to Italian to American to Continental to everything-in-between. And contrary to popular belief, you needn’t stuff yourself to overflowing. But if you do, exercise opportunities abound. There are spin classes, elliptical machines, decks to walk, and pools to swim. I can attest to the fabulous shopping, especially in the jewelry shops. Some of my favorite pieces, real and costume, were shipboard “gems.”  Nightly entertainment rivals Las Vegas and Broadway. Then there’s the casino for gamblers, the lounges for dancers, and the amusement arcade for the younger set. A theatre features current films, special cooking classes satisfy the gourmands among us, non-denominational services gathers the religious together. Finally, the ports-of-call are yours for exploring, if you so desire. Our family chose walking tours, so we killed the proverbial “two birds with one stone.” We could eat very well onboard ship, and rid ourselves of excess calories on the shore excursions.

Cruising is my idea of a REAL vacation, no making up the beds, no straightening and vacuuming, no cleaning the bathroom, no cooking and serving, no clearing away the table and stacking the dishwasher. I can rise early or late, eat whenever, nap if I like, finish a book I’ve only read for 5 minutes before falling asleep at night. Time to myself with no chores to do before I’m allowed to play, is my favorite part of being on a ship away from land, hearth and home, at least for a week-and-a-half or two. That’s enough to get me back into the swing of living the life I love.

A brochure recently sent in the mail was like a siren’s call to passing ships “Welcome to Europe, the place we call home, where priceless works of art meet compelling natural landscapes. Let us offer you a firsthand perspective of our heritage. Only here will you bike through Barcelona’s historic squares or live the life of a Viking as you cruise through Norwegian fjords. Readers of Travel Weekly named Holland America Line ‘Best Cruise Line, Europe.’ Cruise with us and you’ll understand why.”  A friend from exercise class, swears this is true, having cruised with HAL for the first time to Australia with her husband during Christmas, and most recently to Alaska, treating family members. Like me, she also did a 10 day Mediterranean cruise, thoroughly enjoying the included ports-of-call.

In Livorno, we saw the famed Leaning Tower of Pisa, snapping photos to our hearts content. Stopping in Monte Carlo, we took a side trip to Nice and Eze where we walked charming streets, shopping in small boutiques. A self-guided tour of Barcelona’s old district was my husband’s idea of a great time, while my daughter and I gawked at the modernistic architecture and spent euros on the latest European fashions. Driving into the hilly countryside of Palma de Mallorca, we understood why celebrities Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones chose to make their home on that breathtaking island. The white stone homes with painted blue doors of La Goulette were as mesmerizing, as the camels we rode near the docked ship were cause for nonstop giggles. Palermo offered us a chance to dine seaside in a local cafe among natives, our eyes soaking in the blue-green Mediterranean waters. In Naples we toured the beautiful Amalfi Coast, where we lunched, and shopped. But the “piece de resistance” was walking the streets of Pompeii, or what was left after its demolition by nearby Mt. Vesuvius. The cobbled roads, structural foundations, and preserved archaeological finds put us in awe of the Italians who built this city. Surrounded by the stillness and quiet, hot sun beating down on us, it was easy to imagine its citizens walking among us, going about their daily affairs.   

  • 20-Day Mediterranean Adventure Collectors’ Voyage – Roundtrip Civitavecchia (Rome)

Leaving Rome, the ms Noordam sails to Messina, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Katakolon (Olympia), Santorini, Kusadasi (Ehesus), Piraeus (Athens), Rome, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Monte Carlo, Barcelona (overnight on board), Palma de Mallorca, La Goulette (Tunis and Carthage), Palermo, Naples, returning to Rome.

Dates include:  5/21, 31; June 10, 20, 30; Jul 10; Aug 6, 16, 26; Sep 5, 15, 25; Oct 5, 2011

Also available are 10 day cruises which feature some of the aforementioned ports. For this and other information, call your travel agent or 1-877-SAIL HAL (1-877-724-5425), or visit www.hollandamerica.com. Inquire about special promotions; it never hurts to ask.

tell them i sent you, with hugs…hugmamma.