Virtual

My local gym used to have a ton of classes: spin and body conditioning and yoga, etc. Then pandemic, and gyms shut down for a bit. When they reopened, my local gym had very few classes on the roster. This was a problem for me as I am a big fan of classes. I need motivation to work out. Period. This is neither good nor bad, it’s just me. While I can and do go to the gym and jump on the elliptical five times a week, I love a class.

Slowly my gym has begun adding more classes. But a few months ago they started having virtual spinning classes in the facility (as opposed to the Peloton model where you can do the classes at home).

I was not happy about these virtual classes. I like doing things in person with a live instructor. However, a virtual instructor was better than no class, so I began attending two spin classes a week.

I hate to admit this, but I loved it.

The teacher was teaching live at a studio, and there were four other gyms taking part in the same class, and we all participated by watching a huge TV in the cycling rooms at our own particular location. We could see the instructor, but she couldn’t see us. However, the instructors were able to monitor our bikes, and our progress, from the studio where they were filming. The class was set up so that my gym would be “competing” against the other gyms. Throughout the class, our stats would flash up on the monitor: how on pace we were with how the instructor was telling us to go, and how much power we were using. (FYI- I was awesome at pacing but really lousy at power)

My competitive nature clearly came out, as did the competitive nature of the others in the class. As we were cheering ourselves over “beating” the other teams, we would be laughing at ourselves for how all out we would go for this meaningless tribute.

I was working out and having fun. I really enjoyed the class.

You may have noticed that I was sort of speaking in the past tense. About six weeks ago the gym decided it wasn’t going to do virtual classes anymore. We don’t know why they stopped because we get absolutely no communication about what is and isn’t happening. But I was a little sad that virtual spin was over.

Luckily, my gym added some live, in person instructors so that there are now a few more spin classes. In fact, I was sitting on bike 19 at 6am today.

When I scheduled this post a few months ago, I thought I would be telling you about how virtual spin class was awesome- but instead I’m giving you its obituary. In a blink of an eye, things change. I guess that’s the lesson of today’s post…enjoy things while you can because nothing lasts forever.

Believe

As a child, when your Mother believes in you, you believe in yourself, and when that happens, there is nothing you can’t do. As a Mother, that is the greatest gift we can give to a child

Caroline Kennedy- She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems

The holiday season has just left us. You’ve recycled the environmentally friendly wrapping, or put away the gift bags to be used next year. The credit card bills haven’t quite hit the mailbox yet. But the gifts have been given. The physical show of love has been exchanged…

I’m all for gifts. I still remember when my daughter was seven and she received the Hannah Montana Malibu Beach House, the years of the American Girl stuff…This year the highlight was tickets to see Funny Girl on Broadway. To be clear, I like the idea of giving gifts. I think it’s OK to want something tangible, or an awesome experience.

However…

Even though I have given my daughter a lot of physical things…

The greatest gift I ever gave her was the that I believed in her- that I thought she was strong and capable and had the ability to set a goal and work towards it. I taught her that it’s is OK to make a mistake, to fail. I taught her that the greatest asset you can have is resilience…

Physical gifts are wonderful, but they won’t make you a better person. Buying something doesn’t give you confidence. Owning something doesn’t make you stronger. The things that really matter are the things that reside in your head and heart: confidence and determination and a thirst for knowledge. These are the things that a parent or primary caregiver can give a child.

So next time you’re with you’re kid, remind them that you think they are special. Give them the courage to try something new. Be there to pick them up when they fall, but then push them to try again. These are the best gifts to give a child- the gift of you believing in them.

Adding the Spice

I’ve been on a rather circuitous route towards mindfulness. I’m actively trying to become more mindful, more present in the journey, but sometimes life manages to sneak in and I have to get all pragmatic. But yet, I try.

One mindfulness exercise that I have come across is about making daily activities more mindful- to actually find peace, and daresay enjoyment out of something that is quite banal.

Hmmm

When I am doing household stuff, I tend to have on music or a TV show in the background. This is my way of making things better, but singing along to the Doobies or watching a house go from fixer to fabulous isn’t exactly being mindful…

So how do you make the tiresome details of your life more mindful?

Here’s what I tried:

I started with cooking: I already like cooking, so you would think it would be easy to throw in some mindful moments. However, stopping to smell the aromas of cooking went from being a pleasant, heady experience to an moment that felt sort of false- I ended up looking like Pepe Le Pew holding his nose aloft and being haughty…

Fail

I tried it when changing the litter. Yeah…there is nothing mindful about dumping litter from the box to the waiting bag in the garbage. As much as I tried, I could not focus on making my cat’s environment better: I could only focus on getting the task done as quickly as possible.

Fail

Laundry? From wheeling my cart down the hall, waiting for the elevator, hoping the big machine is free and in working order- this was not a mindful moment. This was a bit of wishing, hoping and not quite dreaming but a whole lot of wait and see…

Fail

Cleaning the bathroom? Seriously- can wiping under the rim of the toilet ever be a joyful experience?

Fail

Mopping?

Fail

Dusting

Sneezy fail

You get the idea. Try as I might I can’t find the moment of solace in doing everyday household chores. I can’t focus on thinking that the meal I make will nourish my family or the shelf I dust will make the surface sparkle. I live in NYC- there’s dust ten seconds after I’ve dusted. I don’t even get a moment to savor the dust free surface… I can’t help but think that trying to feel mindful about the day to day is really what a fool believes…

While I can try to be more mindful of my moments, I’m going to have to choose which moments to savor, and which moments to endure. I don’t think I’m cut out to be in the moment every moment.

Anything Can Happen Friday: The Best Marriage Ever

I recently bought a book at Barnes & Noble and the receipt showed up as BN/Paper Source. I had completely forgotten that BN bought Paper Source last year.

My very two favorite stores in the world got married.

Huzzah

My two most favorite browsing experiences are in stationary stores and book stores- the mere thought that all this paper and ink goodness has become a union is almost too exciting for me to handle. I am awash with glee!

Insert smiley face, hearts and exclamation points…

I don’t normally push recently married couples to have children, but really, I am anxiously awaiting the day when there is a BN/PS superstore… Can you imagine the planner section? The journals? The range of happiness and you go girl books on personal growth? And what about tea and all its accoutrements? Coffee table books about art and the color Pink, and maybe even the singer Pink…The possibilities are endless.

This is the marriage I am most rooting for- this is the marriage I really want to make it for the long haul…

So congratulations to my two favorite stores. Remember, communication, respect and an occasional compromise are key to a successful marriage. May the honeymoon period last forever.

Envy

Raise your hand if you have ever envied someone?

For the record, my hand is totally up in the air.

According to Oxford Languages, the definition of envy is:

A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, or luck and desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else

So yes, I have been envious of people carrying Hermes bags, or going on fantastic trips. However, while I might have a moment of wishing I were that person, I snap back into myself pretty quickly and realize that my life is pretty good, and really, I have everything that I want.

Of course, sometimes I see something that someone else has, and I really want it, but instead of being envious, I just figure out what I need to do to have whatever it is that I desire. I set a goal, make a plan, and just do it.

Someone I know won a writing contest- My thoughts were as follows:

  1. How awesome for the person
  2. I would love to win a writing contest
  3. I can’t win something I never enter
  4. I actually have to have a finished piece to enter into a contest
  5. Let me finish something and send it off

I then finished and sent something off. I did not win, but I somehow feel that I did indeed win by just putting the piece out there. I now regularly work on pieces to submit, and one day I will hopefully win a contest.

What is a better use of my energy: envying something good that happened to someone else, or doing something that would make me more fulfilled?

Our talking points for today are:

  1. How do you define envy?
  2. What is something you’ve envied about another?
  3. Is envy a “normal” emotion that most people feel?
  4. How easy is it to be consumed by envy?
  5. What is the difference between envy and jealousy?

Boredom

How many times have we heard someone say “I’m bored.”?

How many times have we said “I’m bored.”?

I admit- I rarely utter the phrase- I tend to think along the lines of- If you’re bored you’re boring…(for the record- there are many who would call me a very boring person, because the things I love tend to be cultural, or sedentary, so it’s all in the perspective)

I guess I don’t use/like the word “bored” because I think it’s OK to sometimes just sit with nothing to do, and no where to go. I don’t call it being bored: I think of it as creative recharging. My favorite time of the day is about 5pm, when I sit in my favorite brown chair, cup of Earl Grey at my side, and I kind of sit and stare at the void. I don’t look at my phone, I don’t have music on, the TV is off, and I’m literally doing nothing but admiring the way a slice of lemon and a cube of sugar completely enhance my drink. Some people think this is boring. Some people would be bored by this. I refer to it as heaven.

Now it’s your turn:

What do you think about being “bored”?

Do you think boredom has a place in our society?

Is boredom a bad thing?

Discuss:

Keep on Swimming

I was lucky enough to attend a lecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art regarding how some of the Disney animators got their ideas for some of the Disney animated movies. The lecture coincided with the Disney exhibit at the Met.

The lecture was amazing, and I was enthralled by listening to how the animators were inspired. Right in front of my eyes I saw how Beast was created. Mind. Blown.

But do you know what impressed me the most?

One of the animators was part of the lecture via Zoom. Unfortunately, because tech is still not actually our friend, the zoom link didn’t work 100% and we could see him, but not hear him. Trying to work out the technical bits was equally frustrating and annoying, but no matter how flubbed things were, the man at the other end of the Zoom link kept his calm, was funny, and just rolled with the punches. To borrow a line from another beloved Disney character, he just kept swimming.

How do we learn to keep cool in situations that require patience and resilience?

Many of you remarked that I was patient when dealing with my Mom buying a new car, and while I tank you all for the compliment, I don’t know how patient I really was. I had to drink at least three cans of diet coke. I had to take a walk outside the lot at least once. I most definitely took a few deep breaths. And I’m pretty positive I spun a fantasy in my head about the Mustang. Can we conclude that the keys to patience and resilience are:

  1. vending machines
  2. caffeine
  3. stepping away
  4. breathing
  5. day dreams

We can break it down…

I guess it’s easy to be patient if you are fortified- hangry won’t get you anywhere. So while diet coke in itself might not be a cure, the thought of being sustained by food or beverage isn’t a bad idea.

I’m not advocating for people to be hopped up on caffeine, However, as anyone who has ever been around a toddler knows, if you’re tired, you are going to be cranky. Well rested is definitely better than sleepy. Sleep and rest are important for fueling body and mind.

Stepping away. No joke: when you are faced with a trying situation, stepping back for a moment really is key. If you can gather your thoughts and emotions, you will react better to a situation.

Just breathe. Always, always, always just breathe. There is no greater mindfulness tool in the tool box than just breathing and being aware of one’s breath.

There is nothing wrong with a little, harmless day dream if it gets you out of the anger and into the happy, or at least neutral. Picture yourself driving down the highway in a Mustang, imagine you’re looking at penguins on a beach, watching a sunset…whatever…Thinking about something that will make you smile will actually make you smile…There’s a reason why people watch kitten videos.

So that’s my fifty cents (inflation you know)

What do you think the keys to patience and resilience when you are placed in a situation that is out of your control?

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 5/28/22

I take Betty when I run many of my errands. I was in search of an organizing thingie, and had struck out at Container Store and Bed Bath and Beyond. My next stop was Muji, which is a store with an odd assortment of good, including clothes and organizing products. (it also has very reasonable prices, so that’s a big plus…)

So Betty and I are in the store, and there’s a mannequin. Betty went up to the mannequin looking for to be played with… (I never claimed my pets are smart) I said:

“Come on. It’s not a real person.”

To which other shoppers started laughing.

(OK- I may have said “It’s not a real person, dumbass”)

I am grateful that I can bring joy to other people with my dog and my antics.


My mindfulness/journal prompt for this week is HOPE

Hope is used in the books I’m reading in the following ways:

  1. The sweeping minor chords, the pining lift into hope, into desperation, into joy, catapulting into that quick, fast, danceable celebration of light and wind across the water- it was all there. Brendan Slocumb
  2. I have an affection for the road yet (though it is not so pleasant a road as it was then), formed in the impressibility of untried youth and hope. Charles Dickens
  3. If we surrender to the idea that we can’t and needn’t control everything, our expectation is significantly reduced, leading to less disappointment if things don’t work out as we had hoped. Kate Peers
  4. Getting married is an act of hope and optimism- an affirmation of life. Caroline Kennedy
  5. The sheen of spring’s hopeful freshness blanketed all- the bags, the sidewalks, our lives. Qian Julie Wang
  6. When you tackle even a single drawer, you’ll experience success, boost your confidence, and start to feel hopeful, even excited, about tackling the rest of your home. Shira Gill

What I am going to think about as journaling:

  1. When did hope become so narcissistic? Always? It’s rife with narcissism in Dickens
  2. I am a big believer in hope- I think that hope is essential to resilience and yet, when I read how hope is used in books, I can’t help but feel demoralized…
  3. Is hope about trivial things going your way, or is it about the big things?
  4. To feel hopeless is the worst feeling in the world- how do we make people feel less hopeless
  5. This has been a lousy week for both my friends and for the world- is hope enough? When does hope become an action word
  6. One of the quotes that I almost used was something along the lines of, don’t hope you can- believe you can. What’s the difference between hoping something and believing something?
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
BY E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Source: Complete Poems: 1904-1962 (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1991)

Gratitude and Mindfulness

One of my friends had a tough week. There’s very little that’s worse than someone you care about having troubles, and there being nothing you can do to ease their pain, whether it be mental, physical or emotional. It’s hard to be grateful when you know someone is hurting.

But I am grateful for my friends, and that we can talk to one another. I’m grateful to know that there are ears willing to listen to me when I am down, and that others trust me enough to talk to me.


My mindfulness/journaling word for the week is Authenticity.

It’s used in the books I’m reading in the following sentences:

  1. Polly had given Laura a ride to the store, but rater than wait for SnaggleBuggle to extricate himself from an argument with Clare about brand authenticity, Laura had decided to walk home. Abbi Waxman
  2. That’s all right: boredom is an authentic emotion just like any other, and you’re allowed to feel it. Kate Peers
  3. In a world where language is too often used to manipulate, poems can help us find our authentic voice. Caroline Kennedy
  4. Memory is a fickle thing, but other than names and certain identifying details- which I have changed out of respect for others’ privacy- I have endeavored to document my family’s undocumented years as authentically and intimately as possible. Qian Julie Wang
  5. Make sure to carve out some time and space so you can tap into your deepest, most authentic desires. Shira Gill

How I’m going to think about authenticity this week:

  1. Do we have trouble being authentic?
  2. Do we want to be authentic, or is this a word we throw around because we are struggling to find out who we are?
  3. What does authentic really mean in our day to day lives?
  4. Has authenticity become a marketing term? When we think authentic do we think brand?
  5. Am I authentic?
  6. Are we afraid to be authentic?
  7. Quote 3- is poetry more authentic than prose?
  8. The word authentic was used the most times in a home organization book- in our homes do we try to show who we want to be instead of who we are?
The Smaller Orchid by Amy Clampitt

Love is a climate
small things find safe
to grow in- not
(though I once supposed so)
the demanding cattleya
du cote de chez Swann,
glamour among the faubourgs,
hothouse overpowerings, blisses
and cruelties at teatime, but this
next-to-unidentifiable wildling,
hardly more than a
sprout, I’ve found
flourishing in the hollows
of a granite seashore —
a cheerful tousle, little,
white, down-to-earth orchid
declaring its authenticity,
if you hug the ground
close enough, in a powerful
outdoorsy-domestic
whiff of vanilla.

Poem Attribution © Amy Clampitt, The Smaller Orchid





Value v Time

I ride public transit. In order to ride, I need to pay. Though we’ve recently adopted the OMNY system, which allows us to swipe a credit card or an Apple Pay tap, until very recently we had to rely on Metrocards- fare cards that needed to be refilled at the station.

When you need to refill your Metrocard, you go to a machine, insert your card, and you’re given two options:

  1. Add Value
  2. Add Time

Add value or add time.

I had never really thought about the impact of those words until recently, when I read the book Smile The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl. The author became afflicted with Bell’s Palsy after giving birth to twins, and the book is her memoir about dealing with the effects of BP. There is a section where Ruhl talks about refilling her metrocard and facing the options of adding value or adding time…

I have always been confused by these two options, which never fail to glimmer with existential meaning: Do I prefer Value or Time? But isn’t time value? Could I not have them both? A subway car often came by while I contemplated this question: value or time, time or value… Sarah Ruhl

When I read this section, my first thought was: How have I never overthought that as I refilled my metrocard. Maybe I have to turn in my “Biggest Overthinker in the World” badge, because for twenty years, I never had an existential crisis at the machine while opting between value and time… I just always added value and scurried off to the turnstyles…

I never considered adding time- it was always value for me…

I guess I can overthink that statement for a bit…

In my life I guess I do attempt to lead a full life. I guess I would rather have five great years than ten average ones… I mean, I’d probably prefer ten great years…but what if that’s not an option?

What if it’s either/or? What if it’s value or time but not both?

I think I’m always choosing value…

What would you choose: add value or add time?