When were you Born?

I developed a theory today while jogging in the long-awaited, warm New England sunshine. It’s possible that the day you were born may actually have a direct impact on your favorite time of year.

I was born on June 6th and my Dad would tell me, over and over, “You were born on D-Day”. Well, that explains why I tend to be a mental disaster most of the time (except for the times I am manically happy).  Enter early June – the time of year that says good-bye to rain and hello to sun, budding trees and flowers in full bloom. I can now bid my Seasonal Affect Disorder farewell and embrace my June birth. The closer I get to sporting flip flops and sundresses, the happier I am.

Our eldest son was born April 22nd. It makes perfect sense that he lives for the Red Sox, the chance of a play-off and the pursuit of a World Series pennant. He dusts off the golf clubs on the heels of the Masters tournament. Add in the Celtics and Bruins post-season play, and you understand how well defined he is by Boston sports.

My husband was born Oct. 20th. The love of leaf season, crisp air and the landscape of autumnal colors on the shores of Lake George in the Adirondacks at his family’s summer home. His joy escalates as he bikes, golfs and escapes the oppressive summer heat and humidity.

But what about those born in winter?  Do they become indoor folks versus outdoor people?  Do they find what they need to thrive?  Do they snap on their crampons and take to the ice, learn to ski or do they just hibernate?

Wondering about that makes me manic again … so I digress.  But I do know one thing – I am infinitely happier in June than January.  How about you?yoga on the dock at lg 2012

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Stand Up for Depression

STAND UP FOR DEPRESSION: A stand up comedy routine defending our right to be depressed

In Science they teach you how to conduct an experiment. Variables, Constants, stuff like that.

Here’s how you know Depression is ALL IN YOUR HEAD.
A perfectly sunny day emerges and you are finally happy. Happy, happy, happy.
Then, a week of cloudy days follows, you’re depressed all week. The variable you think must be THE SUN.
But then the sun comes back and shit, you are still depressed.
So what happened to the sun variable?  The variable must be your mind.
Experiment concluded.

Some therapists believe depression is anger turned inwards. No way. I think anger is depression turned outwards. Fuck you, former friend.

Speaking of friends, Who  wants to be friends with someone who is depressed? Put another way, who  seeks out their friends when they are truly depressed. It’s a no win. Bottom line: Depression time is time spent alone.

I get why comedians turn tragedy in to comedy. Who better to understand what is funny in life than someone who suffers? The legitimate defense mechanism for constant depressive thought patterns IS comedy. If you are  clever enough to figure that out– comedy is the cure all for depression. Besides it’s  legal and non habit forming.

I admit I’m a bit of a manic depressive, though I hate the sound of that as much as being called “neurotic”. You know no one ever compliments someone with “She’s awesome, and so neurotic”. As for my manic depressive tendencies, it could be a good thing, if my highs were high enough, but they are only mediocre. My lows, however, they hit pay dirt.

 

If you can be good at skiing and golf, why can’t you brag about being good at depression.

I AM good at depression, and I’ve recently figured out how this can be a good thing.

How’s that you ask?

Well, if you can get depressed over nothing but day to day living , think how prepared you will be when something really crappy hits you.

Unlike those unfamiliar with this mood disorder, you will hit depression  as if you’re spending time with an old friend. “This is so familiar”, you’ll think,  like we never were apart, because you never were apart.

Hey if depression were a sport, I’d be an elite athlete.

I’m pretty sure you can learn to live with depressive episodes if you know they come and go, especially if you have an arsenal of tools that work for you. My tool box includes: yoga, taking walks, forcing smiles, healthy foods, and of course an ounce of hashish brownies every day. Just kidding about the brownies.

The Hungry Ghost

I wanted a new pair of boots.
I looked at everyone else’s boots in Breckenridge, Colorado and dreamed of replacing my worn out, out of style, super comfortable, black suede snow boots with something newer, more fabulous, more hip.

Unlike the boots I saw everyone wearing, the Sorel’s, Ugs,  I wanted something unique, eye catching, some fur on top, treads on the bottom to prevent slipping, not to heavy, not to light: Goldilocks boots with WOW factor.

I looked and looked, recruiting my friends, my husband, until finally I threw down the cash and splurged. The boots were perfect, albeit deep brown leather vs. the black I desired, fake fur top, outer stitching, truly unique, and since they were not sold in New England, where I lived, I’d have that star power.

My buyers remorse crept in the moment I purchased them.
BOOM. I was right. They were too heavy and the half size too big was a problem as my heels and toes rubbed as I walked, causing friction and pain. Too loose and too tight. My walk in the Denver Airport to our gate in my new boots caused my face to grimace as I counted down each gate number to #33, wishing I were in my sneakers.

Thoughts of remorse plagued me over the next 24 hours, as if I had made a million dollar mistake, whereas the boots were only $200.  What is wrong with me, I kept asking.

My boot quest was purely symbolic — I knew this all along. They were a symbol of all that we buy to fill a need, not a want. The need to have something new, shiny and different. The need to feel differently, satisfy the “hungry ghost”. I tried to resist the urge, but when I employed friends to help, the pressure mounted.

My dreams of owning a new home or buying that new outfit, they are all just an extension of this false desire.

The truth is,  if you don’t catch the beast within and cut off its head, you’ll keep trying to fill an emptiness. Buy a new coat, get a face life, it will never stop.

Instead, be thankful for what you’ve got. This and only this will quell that painful desire once and for all.

My Sweet Spot

In my own little corner in my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be.
On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere
And the world will open it’s arms to me. — Rogers and Hammerstein, Cinderella

 

My career/life coach told me that I can do anything, as long as it fits my sweet spot, or my comfort zone. And that’s ok. I don’t have to be anyone else, just me.

After meeting with my astute life coach I wrote myself a short illustrated children’s book to and for myself. The words go like this:

I used to feel bad about myself, but now I tell the voices in my head, “don’t trash talk, I’m not listening to your put downs”. “You’re not good enough” is detrimental to my mental health.

She taught me to talk to myself like I talk to my kids: loving, respectful, building confidence.

I have a “sweet spot”. It’s when I’m comfortable, feel safe, secure, not put upon, not stressed, not too much, too little, too cold, too dark…Slow and steady, like my yoga practice. Honor and respect that space. Don’t judge it. It’s there for a reason.

I’m more a gnat than a tiger! I flutter in and out, up and down, this way and that. A gnat is as good as a tiger, just different. Honor the gnat.

About some things I’m a ferocious tiger! I stick with my yoga cuz it makes me happy, healthy, grounded and strong. I stick with those I love with ALL my heart, very tiger like.

My goal is simple. Make this day my best day. Start out right, build on that.

 

 

 

The Right Kind of Yoga Teacher



If your yoga teacher gazes off into space while teaching, barks orders (cues) to you in a shrill voice, or neglects to mention anything about what’s happening inside your mind, roll up your mat and run, don’t walk, out of the studio.

Sadly many yoga teachers grew up with a physical education background vs. a philosophical bent. But yoga is ALL about the mind, body, spirit connection. It’s why you go and why you come back. Otherwise you could just have grabbed some kicks and taken a zumba class. No disparaging intent to zumba. 

Here’s what I know, from the perspective of being a yoga teacher for more than 10 years as well as from being a  yoga student for more than 20 years:

The road to becoming what I believe to be a “good yoga teacher” is long and winding, like the Beatles song. The teacher must gain experience, which takes many years. And alas,  the juice of the nectar comes later on when that soothing and confident sound of the teacher’s voice matches up to the intelligence gained from studying not just yoga poses and transitions but from life through all perspectives. 

Find a teacher who teaches kindness to oneself alongside movement. By this I mean, my students want to hear kindness in my voice, feel kindness in my thoughts.  They want me to care about how they are experiencing the class.  I know from being a student that when I hear from my teacher “great effort” or “beautiful” I feel on top of the world. Yoga is about compassion, not competition. As a student you should comes to yoga to be enveloped in loving kindness, like a long, slow, soft hug. Only then can you lose what is holding you back and gain courage to keep on going. Yoga has the dual purpose of marrying body work with mind work, and the “great” yoga teacher knows that their words matter to fill this intention. It’s an awesome responsibility. 

Many teachers can learn to cue the pose, string them together in a flow, and keep your body safe from injury. But teaching compassion towards yourself through yoga is the most beneficial aspect of Yoga. It is this alone that is the heart of Yoga.

Pitching the Past

We all have obsessions, maybe I have a few more than most.

One of mine concerns the thousands of photos, loose and in books, that fill my attic.

My issues are this:
If there’s a fire, or I have to leave in a hurry, or move to a smaller place, I may lose my photographed memories of the past.
My living in the present it hindered with all these photos of the past.
My neat freak OCD persona is challenged living alongside boxes full of photos.
Lately, with a push from my first boss in NYC 35 years ago (yes, there are photos of her in my war chest) I decided to make a change that would satisfy just me.

I took my camera-phone up to the attic and book by book, photo by photo photographed only those photos I wanted to keep. They have specific meaning to me: best friend, old boyfriend, important event, blessed family member. Then I enter them with a year in order to file by decade into the cloud. Funny how the older you get decades are important, not the year. So the 60s, 70s, 80s are now populated with only 20 or so personal bests, whereas at the time these photos were taken, 100 plus photos made up a great day on the beach with friends. Not necessary any more to keep them all.

The level of catharsis this project creates is hard to explain, but my ability to sleep has improved. I can live less in the past and more in the present as I transfer memories to the cloud.

Breaking News

 

I thought it was a good idea: get a valid “breaking news” app on my phone so I could be the first to know when breaking news hits. Of course how do you define “breaking news”? I did not want a buzzer every 5 seconds to alert me about inconsequential news. So, after sizing up the competitive news channels, Bill set up my phone to receive “qualified breaking news” during waking hours only, which I thought with our son in Israel for 2 weeks was a good idea.

 

Not so. At 6:30 am, we received “breaking news” in Jerusalem: a bus drove in to a crowd of young people killing several, one a 20-something year old male. That was the first report, sending my husband and I into a tailspin. I texted our son in Israel: no response, and then called Birthrights 24/7 800 number which on Sunday sent me to another number, which I did not call. Instead, I sat in stress while seeking internet updates on this story until finally I got the answer that let me breathe again. The dead were all soldiers in uniform. Not our son.

 

Nathan promptly responded from Israel saying he was in a Holocaust museum when we texted so could not respond. Naturally we set up his phone to work internationally before he left.

 

When the panic died down, I quickly had my husband disengage any “breaking news” alerts from my phone. He could keep his on, as he’s not a freakazoid worrier like me.

 

Experiment over.

 

Lesson learned: Protect yourself. Better to start the day with deep breathing, meditation and gentile yoga, which I do, in a heated, aromatherapy studio, which I have, and not be assaulted by news, which unlike the Birthrights phone number is 24/7 and then some.

I could while away the hours

 

IMG_0861boulder, colorado watching my son “while away the hours”

 

The End of Daydreaming   

“I could while away the hours, conferrin’ with the flowers

Consultin’ with the rain.

And my head I’d be scratchin’ while

my thoughts were busy hatchin’

If I only had a brain.”–The Scarecrow, Wizard of Oz

We all know that tune and could easily hum it out loud.

This tune runs through my head when I lament the end of daydreaming, the root of all creativity. Whatever does “while away the hours” even mean these days?

In olden days, prior to computers, when boredom set in during long drives our choices included counting telephone poles from the backs of our parents car or simply fighting with siblings. All of which produced creative thoughts.

Those days are gone, thanks to Facebook, e-mail, Zillow, Homeaway, Google Earth, just a few of the apps that have me by the back of the neck. They suck away my boredom and create an emotional vortex. I need my Facebook “likes” like a rat pressing a bar for water, a classic Pavlovian response also known as addiction. I can spend hours fantasizing about renting homes on Homeaway in warm, sunny locales. I can turn to Google Earth to spy on friends’ homes around the world. Or look up former colleagues on Facebook, not to mention voyeurism among “friends” as I view their expositions. Habits are formed, addictions are made since according to Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s much quoted research from 1960 it only takes around 21 days to form a new habit.

“Post less, live more” is the motto many young folks already know. They have figured out the dark and down side of needing to share what you do, eat, and who you enjoy life with. It’s funny how they know this more than most of my middle aged friends. My kids tell me it’s only a real and pure experience if no one but you sees and feels it.

Recently my husband quoted a Facebook post that said, basically, “I’m glad I lived in the times I did, before Facebook, when no one knew the shit I did, nor can find it out now”.

352 words  Jan. 3, 2017

In My Closet

img_2971One of the benefits of spending lots of time at home, combined with an addiction to organization and clothes, is that your closets rock.

By ROCK I mean you learn and improve things as you go along in order to create something quite wonderful.

In the past I organized my clothes by color. All whites folded or hung together. Same with black and a few other allowable colors. This basically looked great but did not function well;  I never really dressed by color. Nor did I take the time to unfold those beautifully folded foundation pieces to create a look, electing to  grab the usuals instead.

Just the other night, after returning from another unfulfilled shopping trip to realize  I have what I need, I was charged.  Reorganizing my closet  I began to put together the outfits already assembled. Genius! So sweaters had the appropriate layer underneath (color, length,  flow and fabric). I can now put on my standard black leggings and grab the top(s) that work, already layered and ready to go. This is essential, as layering is the only way to dress for me. It flatters me, gives me a longer waist, hides my stomach, resulting in a taller, creative look. Thankfully layering is also IN STYLE, but either way, it’s what I need to do. I’d be layering even if it were out of style.

These dates with my closet  could be one of my favorite times. Could this be a sign of OCD? Who says you have to do something amazing to feel good about yourself? Whatever, it’s what I love to do. My creativity does not require messy materials like paint and clay, just clean clothes and hangers.

 

Empty Nesterhood Starts in Aspen

maroon bells, aspen.jpgEmpty Nesterhood Starts in Aspen

 

Dear Kids,

As you are aware, Dad and I went on to Aspen for 3 days after dropping your brother off at CU Boulder to begin our life as empty nesters.

While driving the most majestic Route 70 through the Rocky Mountains, with Dad reminding me to look up at the mountains to find the long haired sheep vs. my facebook posts, we decided to stop at Hanging Lake to do our first climb.

The sign said “strenuous hike” which immediately turned me off. Dad changed into his hiking boots, while I lazily remained in my new black Nike Air’s on, thinking if it were too strenuous I’d blame my shoes and turn back. That’s exactly what I did 5 minutes into the hike, as my shoes were slipping on the rocks (the whole climb was a giant step ladder of rocks) and my quads were starting to ache. I went back to the shaded parking lot and did some yoga stretches for about 1 hour til Dad returned in record time (the hike is supposed to take 2 hours). I guess his working out two days a week with a trainer for 3 years paid off.

Aspen was a dream come true. Hollywood-set mountain backdrops, designer stores, gorgeous architecture, and gourmet food. What could be better?

Next day we used the free hotel bikes with those fat tires to follow the Rio Grande bike path down hill towards Woody Creek, where Hunter Thompson lived, died and whose remains were shot of a cannon. Dad rode way ahead and this time I found just a few things to complain about: should have worn my bike shorts (Dad of course did), sun was too strong and worst of all, panic was setting in as I stressed over how I would get back to the hotel which was all up hill. Fortunately at Woody Creek Tavern we found a cab with bike racks to take us back. It cost $50 to go a few miles, but I would have paid a year of your tuition to avoid that monstrous hill home.

Everyone told us “you have to see Maroon Bell’s” which is this cool mountain top lake created by glaciers. We drove up after 5:00, when the tour buses leave, happily cancelling yet another gourmet, GMO free, gluten free, free range, Paleo, farm-to-pricy table dinner night out in Aspen. Dad again reminded me to look at the view vs. my I- Phone, above the line of Aspen trees and wildflowers where campers were starting their cookouts. Bikers and hikers pushed their way up 10,000 plus feet of insanely lit mountain terrain.

The summit was windy and too cold for my blood. I told Dad I would not eat sitting by the lake, with all those dogs around, and I wasn’t even hungry yet. “All about you” repeated Dad, as he seems to say a lot these days.

We went back to the Limelight Hotel and I happily ate my Whole Foods salad in bed, while Dad went to the lobby to hear some live music and drink some local Aspen beer. While he was having his time alone, I imagined he would attract a young equestrian realtor from Aspen, wearing her gold designer slip on sneakers and high-priced athleta-leisure wear. She would set up appointments to show him some phenomenal homes in Little Woody Creek Ranch and eventually he would re-marry the outdoor loving ski bunny Yvonne and stay in Aspen – permanently.

I would sell your childhood home in Wellesley and move to Boca, where it’s warm all year long. Don’t worry about me, I’d find a rich old guy who will be dead in 3 years and you boys will have a winter place in Florida and a skiing place in Aspen. Lucky you.

The morning light of Aspen is beyond description, especially when it casts a shadow on the man I love, who is lying next to me, your father and my loving husband of 26 years. Though he may like biking and skiing more than I do, I cannot imagine a day without him by my side. However long we are together it will never be long enough.

Your forever loving Mom