Dear Zelda Wisdom Fear Factor bulldog humor advice therapy dog advice column

Here Comes Sumer (6/14/06)

Dear Zelda,

While I'm big-boned and busty, I still want to look good in a bathing suit this summer. You're big-boned and sort of busty, but you're also a supermodel. Can you share your tricks with a small town girl who wants to flaunt what nature has given her?

Big-Boned, Busty and Beautiful

Dear Big-Boned, Busty and Beautiful,

You sound like a gal after my own heart! Heck yes, get out your sun-screen, grab your beach towel, find a sexy suit, and get ready to head for the beach!

First, however, let me say that being big-boned, especially as a supermodel, doesn't mean you can't also be fit. I'm big and I'm proud, but I also try to stay healthy. For me, that means running laps (okay, one lap) on a nearby track to trim off some of that winter insulation that seems to gather around my waist. So start by taking a good look in the mirror.  If you see 'love handles,' you can start by making them look less like 'handles' and more like something to love. My real trick for staying buff, though, is to always keep moving.  Walk everywhere you can.  Climb stairs instead of taking the elevator.  Bicycle rather than take the bus. Walk in circles if there's nowhere else to go. Move move move. When you're feeling a bit more fit from all your movin' and groovin', it's time for my next piece of advice, which takes place in the dressing room.

Remember when you're trying on swimsuits, don't ask the sales person's opinion of how the hot pink thong bikini looks... ask yourself.  Only if YOU feel good flaunting what nature has given you should you buy that pink thong. And if you do feel comfortable wearing it, and have that much nature to flaunt, more power to you! As for the busty part, use good judgment. As I've said in the past, "all you need is a great set of coconuts." But understated is never underrated. Trust me, a great one-piece black swimsuit can look stylish, sophisticated, and sexy... just ask Audrey Hepburn. So buy the swimsuit that makes YOU feel good.  

The secret to balancing fitness and happiness is to be proud of what nature gave you, but still committed to taking good care of the wonderful body you've got, whatever its size and shape. Stay active, stay positive, and find yourself a knockout suit, and I guarantee it'll be a long, VERY hot summer.


Dear Zelda,

I have been with my job for over 16 years working for an oil and gas company as a secretary.  In the past 2 years whenever I go on vacation, I am not able to relax and totally enjoy myself because all I am able to think about is work and all of the e-mails waiting for me and typing that will be left on my desk until I get back from vacation.  What advice can you give to an overworked, stressed-out, burned-out middle-aged woman?

P.S.  The last time I took a vacation was one year ago!

Stressed out in Texas!

Dear Stressed out in Texas,

As I always say, "let your vocation be your vacation." Now that doesn't mean every day at work has to be a picnic... we can't all be teaching pilates in the South Pacific, and last time I checked, there aren't a lot of high-paying jobs out there in the field of massage-receiving. But even so, there should be some aspects of your job that leave you a little more than just "overworked, stressed-out, and burned out" at the end of the day.  What's worse, not only is your vocation no vacation, but now your vacations are actually being ruined by your vocation! What a situation! Your brain is telling you something very simple here... it's time to look closely at your job, and something needs to change.

It sounds like you're a perfectionist and a people-pleaser, and for that, you pay a heavy price. Every day is a gift we are lucky to receive, but you don't even have time to unwrap the present!  It's time for you to put some balance in your work-a-day world. Short of quitting your job, I'd say the first thing that should change is your attitude. Obviously you are good at what you do... probably too good.  Why don't you try being a little bit bad every now and then?  You don't HAVE to finish that pile of typing today, after all, it's past 5:00.  There are times when you need to learn to just say "no."

I'd suggest you start by not being so perfect.  Do what you can. Don't do what you can't - either delegate to someone else or admit to your boss that there just aren't enough hours in the day to answer all the e-mails, finish all the typing, and maintain your mental stability. Let your boss solve it, or hire someone to help you. You've worked for this oil and gas company for 16 years; most marriages don't last that long these days. You are incredibly valuable to them, and it's totally reasonable to let them know that you need some changes in your working conditions to keep you happy and healthy. If they're unwilling to compromise with you, start looking for a job that WILL make you happy. There are so many companies that would love to have someone with your character and experience working for them. Time is the ultimate non-renewable resource.  Don't waste yours.

Your own body is telling you that it's time for a change. Listen to it. Who knows, with some luck maybe this next year you'll be able to take that vacation and even enjoy it.


Dear Zelda,

Summer is here and my wife and I have 2 female Golden Retrievers that love the beach.  We'd like to make travel plans for the summer.  Can you give us a list of the best beaches?

Unleashed Beaches

Dear Unleashed Beaches,

Boy oh boy do I know how hard it is to find dog-friendly beaches.  I love to feel the sand beneath my paws, and nothing is more fun than running and splashing in the shallow waves. When it comes to finding pooch-permitting patches of sand, the good news is that our friends at America’s Best Top Ten ( have searched across the United States and uncovered the ten best canine-friendly beaches where you and your furry friends are free to run wild... as long as common rules of etiquette are followed.  Drum roll, please:

#1) Cape San Blas, Florida
Just 35 miles south of Panama City, but feeling worlds apart, the Cape San Blas beaches are peaceful and not overdeveloped; in fact, you can sometimes walk a mile or two in the off season without seeing another dog...or person.  The state park at the end of the cape was recently named Best Beach in America by Dr. Beach (a real person, not a doggie...but most doggies would agree).  

#2) Dog Beach, California
Come on, with a name like that? This place must be doggie nirvana.  Your canine companions will have tons of company at this popular spot near San Diego. In fact, people may be outnumbered by dogs here!  

#3) St. George Island, Florida
No wider than a mile at its widest point, and located near renowned historic towns in the Florida Gulf, there is plenty here for man and man's best friend.   

#4) Carmel City Beach, California
Close to the lovely village of Carmel, the Carmel Beach is a beautiful and popular escape on the California coast, with loads of fantastic hotels and restaurants within walking distance. Other pet-friendly beaches are close by, too.

#5) Dog Island, Florida
And you thought dog beach sounded good... now we've got our own island! It apparently takes a bit of effort to reach, but your pooch will consider it worth the effort, as long as he/she doesn't get seasick.  Accessible only by boat, ferry, or airplane, Dog Island is 50 miles east of Panama City in the Florida Panhandle.  

#6) Hunting Island, South Carolina
A regular "Shag"ri-La for dogs.  At low tide, the beach on Hunting can literally appear to be a mile wide, with tidal pools and remote stretches rarely found today. Lots of great stuff to sniff and explore. Located near the resort island of Fripp near Beaufort, SC.

#7) Grayton Beach State Recreation Area, Florida
This lovely 400-acre oceanfront park, also recognized among the Best Beaches in America by Dr. Beach, is located between Destin and Seaside, FL.  

#8) Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon
If your pooch isn't fond of windsurfing, no matter, this windsurfers' paradise will suit them just fine. Located just outside of Oregon State Park boundaries and just south of Gold Beach.

#9) Jekyll Island, Georgia
This island destination is loved by beach fanatics from all over the country; the fact that it welcomes dogs with open arms and open stretches of untouched sand just adds to its appeal.

#10) Ft. Fisher State Recreation Area, North Carolina
Just outside of Wilmington, NC, this fantastic beach allows dogs in all areas except the areas reserved for swimmers.

For more detailed information, check out the complete list at Speaking for myself, Zoe, ZeeZee and I have our own favorite beach here in Oregon.  It's called Short Sands Beach, and it's located at Oswald State Park just south of Cannon Beach. Dogs and surfers happily mingle, and the setting is spectacular.

Happy beaching with your picks of the litter, and remember to pick up your litter!