A Dangerous Journey

July 28, 2013 - 3 Responses

I am going into my teenage son’s bedroom!   The danger is obvious in the mere description of the task-  1. teenage male 2. his bedroom 3. going in.  I’m sure that my trepidation is the same felt by the Navy Seals as they descended into Bin Laden’s compound.  What will we find? Are there booby traps? Am I sufficiently armoured? and ultimately , What will be the casualty count?

Typically, I never go in my 15 year old son’s room.  At most I will stand at the threshold, yell in the time, and advise him to get out of bed, but I never step a foot inside.  First of all, there are huge obstacles to even the contemplation of going in- huge piles  cover the floor- clothes intermingled with the unknown, empty potato chip bags, even electrical gadgets poking out of the 2-3 foot mounds of debris.   Even when my dog ventures in she steps cautiously, unlike me she is willing  to risk life and limb to get to my son,  and for her there is the additional reward of being able to eat or roll in anything that smells really bad.   Those thigh-high heaps of unknown matter clearly contain biological and inorganic waste products resulting from the toxic mix of things decaying,  chemically combusting,  and doused with the juice of man- feet- stink-  – clearly the stuff of biological warfare! 

Why?- you ask- why would I sign up for a near certain suicide mission?  First, I’m a Mother-  a.k.a. A Hero, the bravest of the brave, courageous and undaunted in the face of the most herculean of odysseys.    The process of birth- internally pushing out something 100 times the size of the hole it emerges from- creates a warrior, a super- solider, prepared for and subject to the grossest and most challenging duties.  Secondly, we are going on vacation and school will be starting soon- and I have got to take inventory of what is salvageable, and what needs to be “red bagged”.  The only alternative: fire-bombing the room, is not an option since it is quite connected to the rest of the house.  So I must venture in…… !

 A testament to my mommilitary training I  go in fully prepared,  donning  a haz-mat  suit, which I wear over my bee-keeper outfit, and my cold-water dive wetsuit and oxygen tank.  Using the night-vision goggles and the infrared, Geiger counter I should be able to sift through the debris, and  safety manage the radioactive exposure.  I am hopeful that I will emerge within a few days with a handful of school uniforms, some library books,  and an acceptable body count .  And  most importantly – the pride of completing another death-defying mission and the triumph of surviving and living to tell other mothers that victory is possible!

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My F*#k It List

July 10, 2013 - 2 Responses

My F*#k-It List

Another birthday is approaching and even though I’m periodically annoyed with some of the physical realities, I am moving forward into middle age with surprising ease because I am also open to some of the positive gifts of growing older. Generally speaking for me, there is actually a converse relationship between my physical attributes and my overall contentment. I feel freer to be me, now more than ever before. Those youthful “should be’s” and “better do’s” are melting away with the years. Being of a certain age I’m confident and clear about what fits the real me. I can let go of other’s ideas about me, or women, or good mothers, or mature behavior.

The more I thought about this new freedom I began to realize that there is a whole number of things that are just NOT me, or right for me and from that “My F*#k It List” was born! This is the complete opposite of a “Bucket List”- that quaint Boomers exercise where one lists all the things they want to do before they “kick the bucket” to ensure that at the end of their life they are fulfilled and complete- I guess?
My list is all the things that I’m really never going to do, have no intention of doing, and feel no compulsion to ever complete or improve on. I’m embracing my authenticity!
Here you have it:

#1. I’m not going to look at my back. A dear friend recently described to me a depressing scene in her bathroom after a shower where she examined herself naked thoroughly from the back in the mirror and she was appalled, so I decided- why bother? I have a general knowledge about what is protruding, wiggling or even discolored back there, but I pay a doctor to make sure nothing is really wrong and beyond that what is back there is actually anyone who is behind me’s problem. F*#k em, they should up walking next to me anyway- catch up!

#2. I’m never going to pack light- and related to that,
#3. I’m never going to carry a small purse.
I want to be able to decide when I’m there according to my mood, the weather, my weight, and any other changing conditions what shoes, clothes and accessories I’m going to wear, so I’m willing to pay extra and yes, I do need help with my bags. As for all those orthopedic warnings about large pocketbooks ruining posture, and causing neck and shoulder injuries, please- I’m middle age- I’ve pulled a muscle just getting into bed. I maintain a miniature bathroom valet in my purse complete with over- the- counter everything, and lotions for all occasions and skin types. AND I have a membership or customer reward card from every retail store and eatery in North America. I’m going to be buried with this stuff- because you just never know – when life as we know it ends maybe you can still redeem points earned from Panera Bread for a free pastry.

#4. I’m never going to do a hot yoga class- or run a full marathon. I love to exercise, I run several times a week, and Yoga has given me back flexibility and balance that I thought was lost forever, BUT nothing should ever be done in triple digit heat- it’s called “Hell” cause it’s so fu*#king hot!
And because I’m a slow runner there is nothing ever created or imagined that I really want to do continuously, and repeatedly for over 5 hours- even eating chocolate cake for that long would not be fun. By the way- 26.2 is completely stupid number.

#5. (This one should be obvious.) I not going to clean up my language and stop dropping f-bombs in my conversations. I’m professional when I need to be, and I would never intentionally offend anyone, but with my friends, and when not in mixed company (children or Religious people) I will continue to exuberantly color my descriptions with “What the f*#k?”, “Get the f*#k out of here!” and “I can gauranf*#kingtee you…”

#6. I am not going to stop talking in that funny voice and making up words when I encounter a sweet puppy, a snuggly kitten or an adorable baby. I speak fluent “dog” to my dog Mae, and her neighborhood canine friends and their wagging tails confirm that my accent is perfect!

#7. I not going to wear pajamas or nightgowns- ever— I can’t get over the ridiculousness of getting dressed in clothes to go to sleep!!! —I’ll never parade around publically, but even in the nursing home of the future – it’s naked and nothing for sleeping.

This is not an exhaustive list, I intend to continually update the list with decisive “not gonnas” and “no f#*king way” for years to come. Actually my Bucket List is simply to keep adding to my F#*k It List. I encourage everyone to pursue deep self knowledge and create their own list of never- evers, challenging the status quo and the self improvers to sit down and shut the f*#k up.

Befriending Fear and Worry

June 9, 2013 - 2 Responses

Fear and Worry

I would like to introduce to you– my two, best buddies: Fear and Worry. Ever since I learned that my current job would be ending in the coming months, they are my constant companions. And they are loyal friends. They are present in my dreams as I sleep, and while awake, they feed their own existence by predicting the future or digging up examples from the past.

Most of all, these friends are great storytellers. They make Stephan King look like Mother Goose. What they lack in creativity- (ALWAYS the same ending: Me, under a bridge sleeping in a wet cardboard appliance box)
— they make up for in special effects, catastrophes that rival the technical ability of “CGI”, but with the classical touches of Dickens.

There is no banishing these threatening bullies. This is their legitimate real estate. I am losing my visible means of income and that is without a doubt fertile land for Fear and Worry to stake out their territory.  So for me it’s really a matter of getting along with my rowdy, loud neighbors.  No use in fighting them.  They are NOT going to turn down the music or pick up their dog’s poop from my front lawn. Fighting them will only intensify negativity, and actually distract me. If my past is of any use it will evidence that all previous decisions made with Fear and Worry as the guiding force- have turned out to be (to put in mildly) not in my general best interest.

I have invited them to sit beside me now as I meditate. I visualize them each sitting close on either side of me, I drape my arms around their shoulders as they alternate turning toward me snarling, baring their pointed, sharp, large teeth. They even attempt to intimidate further by snapping those teeth at my hand dangling off their shoulders, or they lean in inches from my face and slowly contract their quivering lips to highlight a menacing smile.

scarey

And I breathe deep.

I feel the tension and the release. Fear contracts, Presence releases, Worry pauses, Exhaling moves me on. If any one of them solely is allowed to reign it could (and has) paralyzed me, but when we are united- sitting together, when allowed their rightful turns, we are conjoined and our offspring is born: Possibility. The neighborhood is expansive.
Fear chants, “What will I do?” Worry asks, “What’s next?” Possibility responds, “What is there yet to be?” and Presence recites, “Now”.

Joined we create the electricity of aliveness which provides the energy for me to move, to take the next step, to be alert to and then sort through possible options, reach out and communicate with others ( flesh and blood friends), breathe, wait, move, repeat.
I am fully in my life, my scary real life.
It’s a neighborhood block party – talk about increasing property values!

large baloon floating

                                                                                                                                                                     

5 yoga rules for my dog

May 11, 2013 - 3 Responses

My 50something body, my 16-miles- a- week running routine, and my sanity necessitate a daily ritual of meditation, immediately followed by 15 minutes of yoga stretches and poses. My wonderful dog Mae, always eager to participate in everything , is even more excited about the fact that I am purposely coming down to the floor- typically her domain, since she often eats off it. I don’t think I am anthropomorphizing if I interpret Mae’s enthusiasm as genuine joy for the opportunity to be with me and I do not take her adoration lightly. I feel gratitude everyday for the life-enhancing relationship I enjoy with Mae, but her exuberance over my coming down to her level creates some interference in my practice so I’ve instituted some etiquette /hygiene guidelines for her:

1. There’s no chewing in yoga!
-Blocks, stretchy bands, rolled up rugs- yes.
Chew bones- No!

mae chewing in yoga

2. Yoga is not a competition.
I know your downward dog is better than mine! Don’t show off- Bitch!

mae downward dog

3. Do not sniff the burning flame of the candle.
– That is gonna leave a mark!

4. Meditation is not:
a. Jumping on my on my bed to sleep with your head on the pillow
Or
b. licking your nether-parts

mae lickin

and lastly

5. Do not lick my face when I am in corpse pose/ Asana
(See 4b above)

Admittedly, I am not a yoga teacher or even a spiritual advisor, but it would appear to me that less licking and more breathing might advance Mae’s practice.   Abiding by some of the philosophy of yoga, I try to maintain an attitude of acceptance and tolerance for her “doggishness” ,  but we still gotta have some ground rules.  I will welcome Mae to join me each morning and hope that she can honor my humanness .  Namaste.

Running

April 23, 2013 - 2 Responses

I’ll never forget the first time I drove in the darkness of the pre-dawn to meet the group of women runners at Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove. I was stunned to learn that a whole secret society convened early every Saturday morning with hundreds of runners meeting to run the route that provided the reward of a spectacular sunrise as we crested “the bridge” on Key Biscayne. Unbeknownst to the average, sleeping Miami resident, there are throngs of runners and walkers organized by charity, fitness levels, and general camaraderie, outfitted with the latest digital watches, special engineered shoes, energy snacks and hydration belts. All focused on accomplishing their mileage, precisely preplanned to train for the next “race”.

Health is a common motivator, either to begin a healthy routine or to maintain one, or to help those not healthy. Many of groups train specifically to run events and raise funds to fight cancers or a number of other life threatening illnesses.

This phenomenon of people of all sorts and sizes coming together early every Saturday morning to connect and run is extraordinary.
And yet it is also simple. Just one foot in front of the other, repeatedly, over and over and over.
And spectacular- A picture postcard backdrop with canopied trees, waterfront mansions, and eventually the waterside route sandwiched between the ocean and the bay, with the downtown skyscrapers and the cruise ships serving as the horizon line.

It is simple, it is special –
And it was safe.

Running etiquette protects runners from traffic and one another. The familiar warning: “runners back” will shift everyone to their right, slipping into single file to allow the faster to pass. And like boating, runners always stop to assist anyone enroute with an injury, or a fall.

Most running events are organized, fine -tuned machines, with well trained and abundant volunteers and staff, clearly marked routes, and ample, well placed hydration stations all along the course. Police are also a staple along the routes, leaning against their cruisers they have wedged into intersections to prevent rogue cars from “entering” the race. The officers are often some of the loudest of the cheerleaders as the runner streak by them. Medical personnel are always quickly available for the overheated, and the inevitable injuries. Safe and sound, all taken care of- all the runners have to do is show up and run.

It’s simple- one foot in front of the other, the next step and the next. Simple goals of further and faster. Attention has to be paid to the body, soreness or pain, road hazards of potholes, dog poop, and rude drivers, but for the most part, runners had assumed an innocence of security, especially during running events. That sense of safety was literally shattered by the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon last Monday.

Now running is associated with war -like images of carnage, the finish line no longer a symbol of joyful accomplishment, but a place of blood soaked horror.

We will need to pause, to absorb the reality of the irreplaceable losses and the deep pain. In that pause we turn toward one another with profound compassion and a compulsion to help one another to go on. These incidents only succeed in breaking our hearts – open. Injury and inhumanity may sideline us for a while, and we will walk if we have to, but we will continue on- together. It’s proven that violence does not solve anything and nor does it stop us from going forward.

I can guarantee to the perpetrators of Monday’s blast, that every single runner will be there again running that bridge this Saturday, and every Saturday morning thereafter. No one will stay away because of this, everyone is still running, and the ladies of my running group will be waiting for me there. The Boston Marathon will have just as many, if not more runners next year. We rebuild buildings, we send our children back to school, we hurt, we mourn, but we keep going.

There isn’t any food in the house – {with editorial comments}

December 7, 2012 - 3 Responses

Last night while  at work  I realized that  I  had 5 missed calls and one voice mail message from my 14 year old son between 5:57pm and 6:30pm. The following is a transcript of the voice message he left: { and my editorial comments}

{5 calls within 28 mins- OMG is the house on fire!?!} 

“Hey Mama, It’s me, Alex.”

{He’s an only child}

“Ahh, I just realized that ah, well- there isn’t any food in the house.”

{ Subtext- I finally looked up from my computer/phone screen and realized your big ass was not in front of the stove}

“Yeah. No leftovers. Nothing I can make.” 

{ see pics below}

“and it’s ah- kindaof problem.”

{ Look, I don’t want to get you in any trouble , but child abuse and neglect IS a felony!}

“Now I’m not just calling to scream and whine.”

{ I am a man with a solution}

“I’m calling to ask if you could please, maybe, order some pizza, have it delivered to the house with a credit card- I guess.”

{ payment method is your choice: we take checks, credit cards- or you can shake that money tree that you have hidden up your ass}

“I have no money.”

{ I’m dependent on you- actually more like a slave/exploited child worker}

“That’s why I ‘m calling you.

Byeee.”

NO food in the house pantry

NO food in the house pantry

                                                                                                                                                                                  

NO food freezer

NO food freezer

NO food refrig

NO food refrig

What love aint

December 2, 2012 - One Response

I’m reading the classic, Of  Human Bondage by  W. Somerset Maugham It is great book! – about life, art, classism, but mostly it is THE unofficial handbook on what love aint.  The “love” described is full of self degradation, cruelty, and narcissism -it takes He’s Just Not That Into You to olympic heights!

Now I am crystal clear that I would hardly qualify as an authority on the topic of love. Actually, in the virtual contest of failed relationships I would be unanimously crowned the winner, pictured tearfully stumbling down the runway wearing a satin sash inscribed in glitter: “She sure can pick ’em!”.

 Loser magnet

Loser magnet

As reigning queen I am endowed with the experience to know what love is NOT:
1. It is not obsession, it not “completing”, it is not lust, it is not subjugation, it is not desperate, it is not settling.
2. It has absolutely nothing to do with fairy tales, jewelry, picket fences, wedding receptions or happily ever after.
3. It doesn’t fix, replace, make up for, or rescue anyone- ever.

4. It does not occur at first sight, at strip joints, in the produce section of the grocery store, or between cars stopped at a red light.

5. It can not be feigned, imagined, erased, exaggerated, or accurately described.

*Oh-  and Anastasia, Bella, and Rihanna- love is NOT EVER being hit, whipped, bitten or requires giving up your life.

not_to_love

Shoulds and supposed to be’s

November 26, 2012 - 3 Responses

What if as children we were all told repeatedly by caregivers, advertisers, religious and political leaders that everything is on the table–  that you can play with any toys you want to, that you can grown up and not get married,  have children or not, love who you want, wear what is comfortable for you, call yourself what you want.  What if there were no boxes to check or fit into–

What if the true, sanctioned and rewarded goal for everyone was to find and be who you really are and not hurt yourself or anyone else along the way?  

What if the skills we were taught were not to repress, follow along or behind, but to locate our genuine voice and use it to find the way to be and express ourselves, while not getting in anyone else’s way while they were doing the same. 

Currently,there are outside voices that drown out the inside voice and sometimes even replace it. Those outside voices are fueled by fear: you’ll be poor, you’ll be lonely, you’ll die alone, you’ll get hurt, everyone will think you’re crazy or stupid…

The task is excavation, getting still enough to be able to discern the real from the Should and Supposed to be’s.  It’s taken me half my life to hear well from the inside.   The biggest “mistakes”  I’ve made in my life are directly attributable to attempts to be or do something that isn’t inherently me. The good news is that the pain I suffered as a result of those mistakes lessons hurt enough for me to wake up and correct my course, again!

Constant course correction IS the path of life.  I’ve  begun to accept that there is no auto -pilot that keeps me barreling ahead in a well-defined, always meness route.  I need to be still daily, I sometimes need to stop in the midst of a situation to breathe and listen intently, and I often have to readjust, back up, even apologize, and re-set -when I didn’t  listen or couldn’t hear.    Sometimes the fear voices are  just yelling so loudly and so convincingly that it’s impossible to hear my heart.

What if the  driving fears were transformed:  Is this what feels right for me?  Am I hurting myself? Am I hurting someone else? Is this truly what I want or need? Am I afraid of a supposed to be?

Of course the outside voices are here now: you are so ridiculous, that’s not realistic, pie in the sky, Kumbaya – that’s never gonna happen.

 But Today I listened to and wrote down my inside voice.

Puppy LOVE

November 11, 2012 - 5 Responses

Every woman has a bad boy in her past- at least one.  Even if the relationship was not consummated, even if it was only a silent,  fantasy- from- a- far in high school. Every woman has had that unmistakable compulsion to be with the rebel, the defiant one, the exciting, spontaneous, good- looking , devil- in-his- eye, guy.

                                                        

And Mae is no exception.  She is a beautiful, kind, fun -loving, happy girl.  Rescued from the streets, with a healthy appetite, and attitude,  she has been a life-enhancing addition  to our family. 

 But she’s got it bad –  for the neighborhood Bad Boy—Nicky!  She is under the spell of his classic handsomeness with his flowing long locks and aloof coolness- he is a canine Brad Pitt!

Hello Gorgeous!

It’s a story as old as the stars: Mae- her mixed pedigree, harlequin face, sets her apart as a rare, exotic beauty and her friendly, yet demure personality instantly endears her to everyone she meets.  And she has brains to match her beauty- Mae graduated top of her class  at obedience school, and earned the nationally recognized “Good Citizen” status as well.

Nicky is a pure bred, a full year younger than Mae, with chiseled features and a full, silky mane that begs you to run your fingers thru it. With his a muscular, sleek physique he’s a canine Fabio fantasy of soft porn (paw?) romance novels.

But mostly– he’s just irresistable

They run together in pure delight, side by side playfully chasing one another, eventually collapsing together, rolling side by side in the tall grass. 

Splendor in the grass

But Nicky craves excitement and adventure.  When he spies a squirrel or the ducks in the canal, he takes off and Mae instinctively follows him.  Oblivious to my commands, she bolts- blinded to traffic dangers by fantasies of passionate adventures. 

And when they are captured, and both admonished for their dangerous behavior she shows no regret, panting with exhilaration and unrestrained desire, bordering on obsession.  She’s wide-eyed and defiant; “We’re not doing anything wrong- We’re –In Love!!!”  she pleads with her beautiful, brown puppy eyes. 

 But alas it is not to be.  Nicky  is betrothed to another – an “arranged marriage” which is the custom with this species (a  local breeder has already identified his intended mate).  The more experienced of us know that this is only going to end with the inevitable quart of Ben and Jerry’s.

 Mae will endure her first broken heart-

Most importantly she will heal– 

the way we all do— with the love from those around us. 

Healing comes from receiving MORE love.    Never replacing what was lost, even in the midst of feeling the pain we are taking in love- coming in from those around us- comforting, caring love from family and friends. 

It’s astounding to realize that even as our heart  breaks it still has the capacity to absorb and feel the love coming from others.  

So eventually,  Mae will know the secret of how we all move on.

Gravity

October 21, 2012 - 5 Responses

Like a lot of women my age- I pee my pants. 
 Occasionally it’s when I laugh or cough, or when I’ve had too much coffee or soda, but most recently it has begun to happen when I run.   I would love to blame it on  the trauma of childbirth( in order to add it to the list of things I’m compling to try to make my son feel guilty),  but the reality is – it’s just gravity. 

Gravity is a force most evident to women- from eyelids to uterus,  joined in the parade with our skin, breasts and various internal organs, marching in unison, in one direction- downward.  I’m convinced that considerably earlier than the 1600’s, there was at least one unnamed,observant woman, who has been denied the rightful credit for understanding  the laws of gravity–well before that apple-guy, Newton was exalted for his “discovery”.   I recently consoled a friend, informed that she needed to have a hysterectomy, that she should be glad they were cutting it out before it fell out. 

Gravity is not to be denied, it is a physical reality and regardless of what technical or medical advances the future may bring, you can count on it.  Even if I continue to preserve my overall health, I  still visualized myself as a triple -digit , white haired, woman insisting on remaining mobile, necitating being  pulled around in a large, red wagon with my used-to-be internal organs having migrated out of me, floating around outside my lower body.

Running has become one of my “medicines” – a self- prescribed activity that preserves my physical health, and because I do it with a group of inspiring women,  it also preserves my mental health.  This group has a weekly ritual of running eight miles before daybreak on Saturday mornings over a spectacularly beautiful course on Key Biscayne -ensuring a payoff for getting up that early ,with views of  awesome sunrises over the ocean. 

 Running compounds gravity, with the  the up and down motion, additional pressure is put on the bladder, leading to intermittent leakage.   My attempt to mitigate the effects of gravity while running was to begin to wear a sweetly named, smartly designed, very expensive diaper pad affixed to my underwear.  I have to say that I am routinely annoyed with advertizing and packaging strategies supposedly aimed at women, especially when the goal is solely to charge more for a product.  When I first investigated the “bladder control” aisle at the grocery store, I was stunned at the cost for the small, floral scented, pink packages, especially when I checked out the next aisle over. and compared the prices to the regular baby diapers, which were half the cost!  Clearly, they were made of the exact same material, but there was significantly less of it , since it was cut to fit discreetly inside the crotch panel of a woman’s underwear–  Another example of economic misogyny!

On a recent morning I was wearing one of those expensive lady diaper pads when I started out with my running group in the pre-dawn darkness.  As the light began to advance it became obvious that the usual, spectacular sunrise  was curtained by a very dark sky.  At around mile 4,  as we reached the approach to the bridge, the sky opened up and we were all drench in mere moments.  Running in the rain in Miami is a common occurence and barring lightening,  it is often preferred as a way to combat the stiffing humidity.   So we slowed our pace to match the decreased visibility and continued on. 

Suddenly, I sensed a heaviness in my shorts.  Panic struck  as I realized that the pad was uber- doing it’s job.  It is “Poised” to absorb liquids, all liquids, all the time. As we start up the bridge I am now pulling serious crotch weight.  It had never occurred to me to read the label on the package for volume capacity!  I have a flashback of my son as a toddler at the beach with a sandy, bloated, balloon diaper that impedes his movement, and weighs well over his own body weight when I finally wrestled it off of him. 

As we reached the bottom of the bridge, the pad’s sticky strips have reached their not-water-proof capacity and the pad is now unfastened from my underwear.  I now have what has quickly become the size and weigh of small, wet mammal mobile in my underwear. 

 As we approach the five mile mark with no bathrooms on this stretch of the course, it keeps raining, I keep running, and the  rain gorged, mammal migrates to the back of my shorts.  Due to extra weight, and my slowly building mortification I have now dropped to the back of my group to consider possible solutions:

Stopping mid course and digging around in the back of my shorts only to pull out a five pound blob and then what?–  Carry it dripping to a trash can visible, a 1/4 mile up ahead?  No, touching it is out of the question. 

I glance behind me and see other runners far enough in the distance, to go with the impulsive decision to just reach around my back, pull wide the elastic band on the bottom of my running shorts and

-yes,

you guessed it- 

Allow  Gravity to do it’s thing— 

  The massive, waterlogged bundle plops to the ground behind me as I continue to jog forward.   I am just about to relish the lightness of relief , when a bare chested, tall teenage boy over takes me on the path.  This course is a often used by local high school cross country teams and their sheer speed is remarkable– owing to why I didn’t see him when I glanced backward. 

With the phrase “my load lightened” having a new meaning,  I run to catch up with my group, and I’m amused  as
I consider all the possible explanations running through that young man’s head for what he just witnessed.