Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Tiger Takes a Mulligan"

In a press conference yesterday, Tiger Woods, issued a 'profound' apology to his fans, his colleagues, his family, his sponsors, the PGA, his charitable foundation and everyone else he felt he failed with his recent unconscionable behavior. He accepted 100% blame and took complete responsibility for his actions.

While watching the replay of the Tiger apology with my husband, he explained to me that Tiger was essentially taking (or perhaps requesting) a mulligan. In golf terms as described by the PGA, a mulligan is a "do-over, or replay of the shot, without counting the shot as a stroke and without assessing any penalties that might apply. It is not allowed by the rules and not practiced in tournaments, but is common in casual rounds in some countries, especially the United States." If we think of this in literal terms, I'm sure Tiger would love nothing more than to be able to request a 'do over', to ask for a second chance to make a better first impression, to be able to replay his actions and make smarter, wiser choices and to be able to do so without consequence. Tiger seemed sincerely ashamed of his behavior and vulnerably honest about the work he has ahead of him. We know he will return to the links sometime soon and I'm sure he is hoping that we will have forgiven him his transgressions.

I have to admit that Tiger's apology was perfect fodder for those of us who teach manners. His speech was chock-full of references on the importance of maintaining integrity, having good character and being a good role-model, all subjects of which are addressed in our work on a daily basis. Let's take a closer look at some of the highlights.

1. A return to fundamental values. Tiger made reference to his work in a therapeutic program to overcome his indiscretions and to a return to Buddhism and to the "fundamental values of his religion." Our fundamental values are what save us from making mistakes and going down the wrong path. These are the core of our existence, they are what should inspire us to do great things. Once we lose them, we are in trouble.

2. Apology through behavior. I loved that Tiger made mention of apologizing to Elin not through his words, but through his "behavior AND over time." Instead of making empty promises in the immediate, he is more realistic about the long road ahead and knows that his change must be made through his actions or non-actions as the case may be.

3. Complimenting Elin. The fact that Tiger stood up for his wife and admonished the public for their scrutiny or doubts that she had any role in his behavior, was commendable. He then made a point of complimenting her on the "enormous grace and poise" she has been able to uphold "throughout this ordeal." Her ability to maintain decorum for the sake of her family is something I'm sure he could never have fathomed.

4. Admittance of irresponsible behavior. Tiger's admission that he felt "the normal rules didn’t apply" to him, was an illuminating statement to make. We have seen countless examples of this with our politicians, our sports figures as well as our celebrities. Fame and notoriety has somehow provided them with a false sense of power that they are above the rules and therefore have no responsibility attached to their behavior. He then describes his revelation that "the same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me" and that living a life of integrity is what is truly important.

5. Issue of entitlement. "I felt I was entitled." Those were the exact words Tiger used to describe the impetus for his infidelities. Entitlement is a monster issue for people of all ages in today's world. Perhaps it is because life is perceived to be such a struggle that the moment a person achieve's even a small amount of success, they grab onto it with both hands and run, rather than take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge.

6. Setting an example. Finally, Tiger touched upon the most significant issue of all when he declared that "character and decency are what really count" and being a better "role model for their kids" is what will be his highest priority. He proclaimed that in order to do this, he will need to revisit the Buddhist principals to "stop following every impulse and learn restraint."

Tiger's last words were to return his behavior to one that was "more respectful of the game" in which he has devoted most of his life. I think the key word here is RESPECT. This is the number one cardinal rule of good manners. It always boils down to respect. Once Tiger restores respect in all aspects of his life, beginning with self-respect, he is sure to receive his mulligan (at least from me).

P.S. Here's a little piece I read in the NY Times Sunday edition with the media's reaction to Tiger's apology

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"I Never Met a Chocolate I Didn't Like" - How to Eat & Enjoy Chocolate

Well, I suppose if I'm being totally honest, that's not exactly true. I am not a huge fan of truffles or boxes of chocolates because I don't like creamy centers or certain fruits and nuts mixed with my chocolates. I am a big fan, however, of solid chocolates. I used to eat only milk chocolate, but since dark chocolate has become so popular I have noticed that I actually prefer it because it has a finer quality and taste. I usually only eat white chocolate if it is made with coconut. As far as big name brands go, I think See's and Godiva are my favorites. Locally, my highend favorite is Madame Chocolate on Canon Drive in BH. Their hot chocolate rivals any cafe in Paris and their solid bars are not only to die for, but make beautiful and tasty gifts. My everyday favorite is Edelweiss in BH or at the Brentwood Country Mart. Their chocolate covered marshmallows taste decadent without feeling like you consumed a million calories in fat. Given that we are coming upon the biggest chocolate holiday of the year, Valentine's Day, I thought it was high time to uncover the proper way to eat as well as enjoy chocolate. Here are my top fave tips for doing it the right way!

Eat chocolate in moderation. Whether a chocolate fanatic or a dabbler who only indulges on special holidays, chocolate is best enjoyed in moderation. It is very rich and high in calories and can take a toll on your waistline. Chocolate can also be quite expensive and burn a hole in your pocket, especially if purchasing the finest quality. However, dark chocolate, enjoyed in small amounts, has been found to have several health benefits from lowering heart disease to lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure. Chocolate comes from the cocao plant and contains many of the flavonoids and antioxidants that are found in dark vegetables.

Educate yourself on the extensive varieties. Chocolate is a delicacy that comes in many varieties from the best milk chocolate, to the finest quality dark chocolate and sweetest white chocolate. An experienced chocolate connoisseur seeks only Swiss made chocolates as they are held to a higher standard than American chocolates. Dark chocolate comes in a range of intensity from 45% to 100% cocao content. It is advised to start at the low end and work your way up. The higher the intensity the more bitter the chocolate will taste. 100% intensity has absolutely no sugar content at all and is extremely bitter and unpleasant tasting. Good chocolates start at 68% cocao content. White chocolate has a delicious, creamy sweet flavor because there is no added cocao at all, instead cocao butter is used. Bottom line - if you're going to splurge, do it with whichever brand or variety strikes your fancy!

Take time to savor the flavor. Chocolate is to be experienced slowly and with pleasure. Begin the process by cleansing your palate. A drink of warm water will do the trick. This will enable your taste buds to really appreciate the chocolate. Because of the solid nature of chocolate, if it is chewed and quickly swallowed the flavors will be missed. As a result, chocolate is best enjoyed when allowed to linger in the mouth and melt before swallowing. This enables the maximum amount of flavor to be consumed by the palate. As with wine, chocolate differs in taste and quality depending on the subtle flavors that have been added which can range from a mixture of fruits, herbs or spices. Take the time to discern the many ingredients to determine which flavors most suit you.

Delve into the guilty pleasure. Chocolate is one of the six foods of love. The chemicals, phenylethylamine and serotonin, in chocolate stimulate the pleasure points of the brain. Chocolate is soft to the touch and provides a sensuous feeling in the mouth. Give it all the attention it deserves. For maximum enjoyment, clear away the distractions, close your eyes and internalize each piece.

Wipe up your mess. As good as chocolate tastes, it can also be a complete mess. When eating chocolate desserts or candies, make sure to have an ample supply of napkins or wipes nearby to clean up after yourself. At a restaurant, remember to use the inside of your cloth napkin (a) to avoid a big stain on the visible part of the napkin and (b) to avoid accidentally smearing chocolate onto your face instead of wiping it off. Finally, beware of smiling for the camera or getting close with your significant other after diving into a big bite of chocolate. Take a swish of water to clean things up a bit before you say "cheese" or lean in for a big kiss!

All this talk about chocolate has got me jonesing for a piece. Now, where did I hide my secret stash???