Falling in . . . love with San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel De Allende is a small dusty hillside town in the middle of Mexico—a town without an airport or a casino—a town that has no beaches or blue waters, and yet it was voted the best city in the world according to Travel + Leisure’s World Best Awards for 2017. The awards are based on a survey that includes responses from thousands of experienced travelers, and San Miguel beat out major travel destinations like Florence and Cape Town. What is the appeal of this small town? I spent a week in San Miguel and came up with 10 reasons why travelers ranked the city so high.

Calling All Star-Crossed Lovers; A Valentine's Day Story. . .

“Think of yourself as a tree,” her therapist says, “a tall, sturdy oak with its roots deep in the soil.” This is the visual she is supposed to imagine anytime she feels stressed by how her eighteen-year-old daughter treats her.

“Oh, for crap’s sake, Guinevere,” she complains, her lips pursuing. “Sorry, pardon, my French, “ she mumbles, when she sees Guinevere cringe at her choice of colorful words.

Guinevere is probably sixty years old, a throwback to some bygone age in how she has decorated her home-office tucked away on the corner of Tiptoe Lane in downtown Pleasanton. Shiny new linoleum graces the kitchen floor and dainty white doilies adorn the arms and backs of the mohair green sofa and matching chair in the living room where Jaya is seated. Jaya runs her hands over the white-fringed, chenille spread covering the sofa where the outline of a large yellow and pink flower flows from the center giving the room a focal point.

Guinevere doesn’t have to deal with the hell-child who’s too much like her father, only meaner.

The Real Truth About Aging . . .

“Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.” -Groucho Marx

The real truth about aging is wrinkles on the forehead where once the terrain was smooth; unsightly age spots on a hitherto unblemished complexion; a spidery web of veins on formerly flawless skin.

The real truth about aging is that if one is so inclined, it is important, nay, mandatory, to have your dermatologist on speed dial.  Next to the handy dandy number that indicates your plastic surgeon's twenty-four-hour phone line.

The real truth about aging is the self-knowledge that you can get married; get divorced; have kids; survive their terrible two's and their terrible teens; watch a parent die, and still find yourself perched on the edge of a whole new and different adventure.

The real truth about aging is the confidence that no matter what curve ball life throws you, you can smash it out of the park.  Because you've looked death in the face; you've teetered on the brink and, yet you've lived to tell the story.  And nothing but the whole story.

Cheers to 2019 and another chance for us to get it right!

”For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” – T.S. Eliot

A New Year brings infinite new possibilities. A clean slate.  A reason to erase past mistakes and start afresh. We all know that resolutions don't always stick. But for a shot at real happiness, try penning a set of personal commandments (an idea borrowed from best-selling author Gretchen Rubin.)

I would suggest writing them down and keeping them handy. This may make you laugh, but I have mine scribbled on a post-it note stuck to a long-expired Bed & Bath coupon. Anytime I'm stuck in traffic, listening to Camila Cabello’s 'Havana’ repeat itself for the fourth time in a sixty-minute window, I find myself pulling out my handy-dandy list and ruminating on what's important.

Here's my list . . . to help you get started on your own:

1. More adventures

Creatures that Glow: My Adventures in a Bioluminescent Bay . . .

“Mom, you’re glowing in the dark,” says a high-pitched squeaky voice in my ear. I look down at my arms and thighs as I push up through the waves lapping at my feet, and discover they’re covered in shimmering stardust. Off to the left and through the swaying palms, I catch an occasional glimpse of the rising moon as it emerges from the ocean, full in its glory, beginning as a huge, bright, orange gold globe slowly fading to a mother-of-pearl disc as it rises higher and higher in the velvety night sky. Suddenly, the bay is lit by millions of illuminating microorganisms adding their bright light to the moon’s pearly white shine, turning the water around us to a glistening blue glow.

Welcome to Jamaica’s luminous lagoon!

The Skinny on Staying Skinny

One of my first jobs in college was as an aerobics instructor at the gym in New Delhi’s Surya Sofitel Hotel in the late 80s.  It was the era of Jane Fonda, spandex leotards and leg-warmers, an era when “no pain, no gain” was the mantra, low-fat diets were all the rage and “step” was a noun.  I would sail through a dozen high-impact Jumping Jacks, my twenty-something body quivering with effortless grace, while the rest of my class composed of forty-something-year-olds heaved and panted through the fitness routine.

Three decades later, that image fills me with envy.  After two kids, a sluggish metabolism, and a body that feels decrepit, I've found (like many others before me) that it's not easy to lose the pounds anymore.  At cocktail parties and at meetups, the most common lament I hear from people is that they'd like to "exercise more regularly."  Exercise is very important for health and mood (those aerobic highs aren't exaggerated!) and everyone knows this—and yet it's often tough for people to stick to an exercise routine.

Here's my cheat sheet on staying fit . . .

Twas' the day after Thanksgiving: reflections on what it means to be an American . . .

A few days before Thanksgiving, I took a train from San Francisco to the suburb of Pleasanton.  It was one of those mornings that signal Thanksgiving is near—a cloudless sky, temperatures bracing enough to warrant diving into the coat closet to locate a scarf and gloves, and the sight of fallen leaves swirling in a neighborhood park as I walked to the Bart station.  A billboard loomed above me, advertising a turkey dinner for only $39.99 at Marie Callender's.

I love the week leading up to Thanksgiving because of the anticipation of my family coming together again.  I love the reminders on T.V., on radio, and on social media to be grateful for what you have and hold because it allows me a moment to close my eyes and thank the Universe that my house echoes with laughter and joy again.

However, this year as my family gathered around the Thanksgiving table our mood was somber. In what has become an eagerly awaited tradition, every sibling, every aunt, every uncle, every parent, every grandma, every kid articulates what “I’m thankful for this year." We sat down to dinner, the room full of the smell of curry and cinnamon pumpkin and around the big oak table we went, each taking turns to remember the year’s blessing.

“We are all blessed to have a home and a warm bed tonight, our families together, “ began my brother, clearing his throat. “Let us remember the people in Paradise, who lost their homes and their loved ones,” he continued gravely.

Does Hypnotherapy Work?

Imagine you’re seated in a big, deep, velvet-upholstered antique purple armchair. You look out the window across the street where the wind is blowing in gusts, whipping dead leaves around the parked cars, shaking store signs and rocking the streetlights high on their poles. You sit back in the chair and lift your feet to make yourself comfortable. Your eyelids grow heavy and your body slumps into the chair, eyes wide open, gazing into nowhere as you hear the gong: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Your subconscious takes over and suddenly you’re in a tropical paradise, basking in the sunshine, lying on your stomach in a teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini on a white sandy beach. You’re relaxed, filled with happiness and peace. A soft lilting voice penetrates the trance-like state you’re in, “Anoop, your mind is at peace like a lake with no ripples. Feel the warmth of your bed cocoon you into a restful state of mind.”

Inside Edition to Iceland: The Mystique of the Blue Lagoon

Let me begin by saying that I did not expect to fall in love with the blue lagoon. Given that 1), it is heavily marketed to international tourists, 2), all celebrity visits to Iceland feature the blue lagoon as a top Instagrammable moment and, 3), it was artificially created from wastewater pumped out by a neighboring geothermal power station, I was prepared to shudder delicately and turn up my highbrow nose at such an obvious touristy attraction. Since I’m not a spa aficionado, I expected to spend no more than fifteen-twenty minutes in testing the waters and finding it too crowded or too cold (the outside temperature being a bone-chilling 38°) I would deign it to be “done.” I would clap my gloved hands briskly together as if to say, “checked off the bucket list” and stride off to find the next big adventure.

I ended up frolicking in the blue waters of the lagoon for two hours without getting bored with the experience. Despite its popularity, the blue lagoon remains an eerie, mystical destination. Here are the top reasons why the blue lagoon is a must-see-must-relish experience: