AT 45, I feelI’ve reached themajor crossroadsof my life, thepoint at which Ihave the wisdomand wherewithal tochoose the patternfor the quality oftime remaining tome. And the determiningfactorseems to be health– mental, physicaland spiritual.I can still correct the poor choices of thefirst half (which, trust me, were legion), andlive a robust second. No permanent damagehas yet been done.And the way to live out the rest of lifewith optimum health is a no-brainer – allthe gurus hum the same OM. Cut out meat,sugar and all processed foods; think, speakand act positively; hang out with optimists;keep the mind active; exercise daily; spendtime with pets; contribute to community.Simple, no?Yeah, right.MAKING salad isn’t that tough. Buyfresh veggies, wash thoroughly with a dropor two of bleach in a sink full of cold waterto remove fecal matter, dry, slice, dice,shred, toss, dress and viola – healthy food.OR I could pull into McDonald’s and oneminute later be eating deep fried salt andfat, two of my favorite food groups (thethird being chocolate).Thinking, speaking and acting positivelyis a snap – as long as I don’t turn on thetelevision, open a newspaper or talk to mostof the people I know, who love dirt just asmuch as I do and avidly share the latestscoop. I’ve actually managed to avoid thenews, both in the electronic and printmedia, but the cop shows I crave just don’tpresent that cheery a picture of life. Juicy,yes. Positive, no.Someone recently suggested rentingcomedy videos. Feh! They’re terrible! Reallife here in Costa Rica presents more laughsper ridiculous minute than these Hollywoodconfections.I DO keep my mind busy by readingThe New Yorker and enjoy every story,except the political ones, which I skip.Unfortunately, that’s about half the magazine.A friend who shall remain namelessrecently gave me a stack of People magazinesbecause she was done with them anddidn’t want anyone to see them in her home.I hide them at the top of my closet andsneak them out, one at a time, when I knowI’ll have no guests or clients that day.Exercise is good, pumps endorphins andseratonins from the brain through the bodyand makes my butt less bulbous. Why is itthen, that the brain, which gets me to thegym in the first place, can justify a cup ofHäagen-Dazs after every session?My animal companions (which, TheNew Yorker has informed me is the politicallycorrect term for “pets,”) are the onlyunconditionally easy way to stay healthy.They don’t gossip, they’re always positiveand ready to exercise, and so far, I haven’teaten them.