Danville Express

Column - November 30, 2007

Diablo Views: Don't spend the day in your nightgown

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Don't you just love those lists of "tips" that are published frequently to help people improve their lives? Newspapers get a lot of them in press releases. Tips to stay healthy, mentally and physically; tips to have happy children/pets/spouses/neighbors; ways to keep teenagers safe; healthy eating tips; how to beautify the wood in your home.

We try not to insult our readers by passing on obvious suggestions such as this car travel safety tip: "Remember to always roll up the windows and lock the car doors before leaving the car." Although the second part wasn't bad: "If you are stopping at a hotel for the night or for a meal, park the car where you can keep an eye on it and your possessions."

I remember feeling completely overwhelmed right after my second child was born. Would I never get enough sleep? Would I never feel attractive and healthy again? A magazine called to me with its "Tips for New Mothers." Even after 28 years, I remember two. One was: Don't worry about keeping your fingernails polished. The other was: Get dressed each morning; staying in your nightgown all day will cause you to feel depressed.

I was amazed to think there might be new mothers who worried about their manicures. I'd figured out this time-saving tip when I was busy going to school and working.

After reading the tips that afternoon, I quickly got dressed. Time does go quickly when caring for a demanding newborn. Before that, my goal had been to be dressed before my son got home from school or, if I couldn't manage that, definitely to be dressed by the time my husband arrived home from work. But I soon realized it was easy to pull on my jeans - who knew I couldn't button them up? - and it did make me feel better to be dressed. I also discovered it was just as easy to put on an attractive top as an old sweatshirt. Hey, this is a good tip! Why schlep around in ugly old clothes when it's just as easy to put on something flattering?

At the beginning of this summer, I received tips to help save on gas after AAA released a survey showing that gasoline, lodging and restaurants were expected to be 3.7 percent more expensive than the year before. Then a few weeks ago, I got the aforementioned car travel safety tips with an admonition to remember the dangers of the open road.

Both sets of tips started off the same: Have your car serviced. This tip might be obvious but it was also a nice nudge to spend the money needed to keep my car running optimally.

The second car travel tip was to travel during the daytime hours if at all possible. Well, ye-ah! It's not just fear of the bad guys loitering at the roadside rests that keeps me off the Interstate at night, it's my progressively worsening night vision - driving at night is for the young. The next tips are to always carry a cell phone in case of an accident or breakdown, and to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times to avoid running out of gas in a desolate area. These two are fairly obvious, although the half-full gas tank (or half-empty if you are a pessimist) sounds like a bit of overkill. Let's just say keep an eye on the gas gauge, plan ahead, and don't count on a service station appearing just because you need one.

The other tips to save gas were to check tires; combine trips; remove heavy objects from the car; drive gently; check around for the cheapest gas; avoid peak driving times; and find alternative modes of transportation. All good ideas but really, are they anything you hadn't figured out on your own?

Nonetheless, tips make easy reading and a list of 10 usually yields at least a few worth thinking about. This week in the Danville Weekly, Epicure Jacqui Love Marshall gives Tips for Managing Holiday Calories (page 17). Now how did she know those were just what I needed?

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.


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