Thursday, August 7, 2014

Glass Houses/Stone Houses/Rocks/Glass

Recently a friend and I were talking (OK, gossiping) about another friend who had just moved from a beautifully done two million dollar house on a great street, to a spectacular four million dollar house on a coveted street. We were talking about her, because she is telling everyone in town that, yeah her house is great and all,  but she absolutely loves the house across from hers, because it's on the water.  We were talking about how ridiculous it is to so blatantly always want the next step up.

It's very easy to look at someone who has so much and yet still wants more and make fun of her a little bit.  It's easy to feel a little superior.  It's easy to say, when is enough enough, when faced with such obvious excess.

But.....aren't I doing the same thing?  My house is small, but it's warm or cool depending on the season, and there is always plenty to eat and drink in it.  It should be enough.  So why should I look at someone else's house, or car, or hips and want what they have instead of what I do.  And if I do that, shouldn't I be made fun of too? (The answer is yes, and please feel free to call me on it when you hear it.)

In yoga the phrase is "stay on your own mat" meaning, think about where you are in your practice, not about what your neighbor is doing.  Live in your body.  Be in your moment.

When the girl-thing was very little, something she did made me say to her, "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."  She looked at me, very pensively for a moment and replied, "but Mommy, people who live in stone houses shouldn't throw glass either."

So my thought for the day is, live in your own house and everyone please stop throwing things.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Don't Let the Door Hit You....2013

In a final act of petty vindictiveness, the last thing that happened to me in 2013 was to lose a pearl and diamond ring that once belonged to my mom.  It wasn't hugely valuable, but it was very sentimental, and a nice bit of family lore.  My mom found the ring at a tag sale, misidentified as costume jewelry, and bought it for $1.00.  She cleaned it up, brought it to her jeweler who told her it was real pearl with tiny diamonds set in white gold.  It was proof of how smart she was.

I on the other hand, was using it as a scarf ring and failed to secure it properly after putting my scarf back on, after having to take it off to jump around Sheila's kitchen to Meatloaf's "Paradise By the Dashboard Light."  Proof of how dumb I still am.

2013 wasn't all bad - nothing ever is. Both kids got into the colleges of their dreams.  P and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  The four of us are healthy and doing things that interest us and make us happy.  No one is hungry, or cold, without access to food and heat.  But the big impacts of the year were losing people we love.

2013 was about loss. So I suppose losing my mom's ring was the appropriate last act for it.  The first thing that happened to me in 2014 was a long, lovely kiss with P.  I'm holding on to that as the story of this year.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 - Change is the Only Constant

Thanksgiving comes around again, as it does.  The stress of the holiday season always makes the kick-off a day of moment, but this one seems particularly fraught.  I just turned fifty, and while I don't really feel old, there is nothing about fifty that feels young either.  It's my first Thanksgiving without my dad, and that is tough.  It's also my first Thanksgiving with one home from college and one waiting on acceptances, with his foot halfway out the door, and that is a different kind of tough.  It is a melancholy day.  And it is all I can do to keep from weeping.

People die, kids move out and on, we have each other for such a short while.  It is the way it has to be.  It is the only way it can be.  Life moves on, ever changing and ever the same.  The idea that it is time for me to figure out a third act is terrifying and reassuring at the same time.  I have no idea what I'll do next.  I have a few things to wrap up here in act two, but not many.  I still have to finish the hands-on mom stuff with the boy and the estate stuff with my dad.  But next is coming, whether I agree or not, so I need to get it figured out or get smacked in the head by the curtain coming down. And at the very least I know I'm lucky to have some future in my future.  I'm healthy and sane(ish), so next is mine to write.

Our little family foursome has been so much fun. And I am ever so thankful to have the girl back home, even if for a short time.  But this first visit home also really reinforces that those days are gone.  The silly foursome exists only in memory.  I know new happy experiences will take their own place.  I know we remain a family.  But I also know different is not the same.  Change is the only constant.  And while we live we change, so it's certainly better than the alternative.  But oh how I miss those days.  Just as I know someday I will miss these.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Veil of Time is Thin Today

The veil of time is thin today

All at once, I am, all at once
A little girl in a bunny rabbit suit braving snowflakes on a wintery Massachusetts night,
A teenager, black pointy hat on head, at a party in the woods, crunchy leaves beneath my feet,
A new mom figuring out how to turn white waffle pjs into a Dalmatian suit, sewing felt ears onto a white cotton cap,
A middle-aged woman walking through town in kitten ears, admiring other peoples kids’ window paintings,
And just around the corner, I sense a crone with a basket of candy, a frivolous hat and a joyful heart
The veil of time is thin today.  
All at once, I am, all at once.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Feets of Clay

OK, well if we can posit ahead of time that the only proper response to the question "Do you think you'll keep it off?" (coming from an acquaintance after hearing about your ten pound weight loss in the wake of your dad's illness and death.) Is a stunned silence, followed by a gurgled, "What?"  Then I think I did OK.  Of course I still wake up in the night, months later wishing I had had the wherewithal to have asked the woman, "Did you seriously just say that?"  I'm hoping the shocked look on my face said that for me.

This summer has been filled with tough moments, dealing with the stuff my dad left behind and the family drama that goes along, my little girl running away from home (OK, fine, starting college, semantics, whatever), and the difficult realization while trying to finish my yoga teacher training that many, many fitness people (yes, even the yoga ones) are narcissitic asshats one really doesn't want to spend all that much time around.  The above mentioned acquaintance is in my teacher trainee group and that was her one question to me once I returned to training. 

I love yoga, it makes me feel good in my body and in my head, and I want to teach because I want to help bring that feeling to other people.  But learning to teach has made me see that a lot of what passes for yoga is teachers pretending to teach yoga.  They say all the right words, but they don't believe them.  Or they think they believe them, but their actions prove otherwise.  Worse, some teachers don't even do that, they are so wrapped up in getting to "perfect" they don't remember anything else about the practice.  It becomes about fitness, not yoga. Which is fine, I just think it should be called something else.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not really much of a purist about anything, but I do think if you can do the moves without any true understanding of the head, you are doing gymnastics or dance or some other kind of exercise, but not yoga.  And if you want to do that, great, but then don't pretend to be doing otherwise.  I've observed a number of teachers this summer as part of my training and many would say the right thing, "be on your own mat," "listen to your body," but then do things that countermanded that - pointing out another student's perfect form, pushing people past where was comfortable or sometimes even safe - going for the goal rather than being in the moment. Some were better than others, some made me despair at the state of American yoga practice.

Then in my last observation, I came upon a teacher, a Rye YMCA teacher - not a fancy studio person, but an ordinary teacher-person.  Not young, not old, in good/average shape, but certainly not perfect, nice voice, but not super-commanding, who as I observed her class, exemplified TEACHER to me.  When she complimented people on taking the time to do "their" yoga, she really meant "their" yoga.  She spoke to the beginner and expert on their own terms, didn't compare them and definitely didn't encourage them to compare themselves, subtly or otherwise.  She was at peace, funny, sweet, breathing and celebrating being there at that moment, and was showing everyone in her class how to be the same.

And she gave me hope, that I could be a teacher without being perfect, that I could look around and take what I needed from the people I learned with without having to do things someone else's way (never one of my strong suits), that if I was going to be brave enough to stand in front of a class and be the teacher, it was ok to do it in a way that honored my yoga which is a little about fitness and a lot about feeling good.

Friday, March 22, 2013

To be Human

I have now been waiting for my dad to die for a full week.  One hundred and sixty-eight hours of jumping out of my skin every time the phone rings, because I think it's someone calling me to say he has passed.  That doesn't include the hours during the two weeks before that, when I got the first phone call that he'd had a massive brain aneurysm - he missed a minyan and a meeting, so his friends called the fire department who broke down his door and brought him to Lowell General.  I was just getting dressed to go out to dinner with friends.  Just a normal Friday night.  Then it wasn't.  Next was the call from Lowell General saying they couldn't handle such massive neuro-trauma, and which hospital in Boston should they transprt him to.  (Is this something I'm supposed to know? I figured it would make him happiest to be in a Jewish hospital when he woke up, so I picked Beth Israel.)  During the first of those two weeks I spent alternating between hope and fear every time the phone rang.  (And driving up and back between New York and Boston seven times.) By half-way through the second week, they told us there was no hope. His doctors and medical team at Beth Israel have been wonderful, smart, kind, and caring, but it is never a good sign when a team of doctors ask you to meet in a private room and hand you a box of tissues.  Since then, and in the week since we had to take him off life-support and say good-bye, all I have done is wait for him to die.  It is brutal and exhausting. He would be so angry if he knew this was happening.

You have to understand that this lying around in bed is the exact opposite of who my dad is.  My dad is the guy who always had a joke, always knew the score of the game, always had change for the soda machine.  He always wanted to talk to you, didn't much matter what it was about.  He was a perpetual motion machine (which often drove me crazy) running three miles a day, even on the day he had his fatal aneurysm,  normally getting up four or five times during dinner to reheat his food because "it has to be so hot I can't taste it."  My dad is the guy who sold his business in his early seventies only to go back to work three weeks later because being home was driving him crazy.  He went to work on his last good day as well.   He loved it there.  He was the Security guy at the town court's lot, schmoozing and chatting with everyone who came by.  He loved to be in the middle of it all.  He was a dirt poor street kid who built a business that allowed him to give his family all the things he never had.  He got up and worked hard every day of his life from the time he was a six year old shoeshine boy to his last day.  Because he loved it.  He loved to be busy.  He lived to be busy.  He would hate this entrapment so much.  He hated to be still.

Part of being human is loving people.  Part of loving people is the knowledge that someday they will no longer be able to love you back.  The loss is almost unbearable, but the love makes it worth the pain.

I love you Daddy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What the hell, let's blame Australia

My day today started with me splitting my pants.  OK they were a couple years old and all but splitting your pants is never a good way to begin. Even less so when it's a high point.

After changing my pants I went to the dog park with Jezebel and Scarlett.  Scarlett was being really weird (even for her) pulling towards the wall instead of towards the interior of the park, so I kept her on the leash, made her sit for a few seconds to make sure she knew I was in charge,  and then let her off leash - at which point she looked at me, cocked her head to the right and promptly bolted for the exit, went over the wall, ran across a busy street and disappeared back towards our house.  While I was screaming, "No, Scarlett! Scarlett get back here!" and "Scarlett, stay!!!!!" over and over again at her.  I had to round Jezzie up, put her on the leash, run back towards our house and call P all at once which worked about as well as you'd expect. My phone ended up slightly damp from a brief sojourn in a puddle. but worked just fine.  Got a hold of P, explained the dog was running hell bent for leather towards home, grab her if she got there. but I still didn't know where she was going or why, when one of the super nice landscaper guys down the street started yelling to me, "Aqui!"

Found the stupid dog with a face full of frosting.  Pink, green and blue sugar splotches all over her muzzle and doggie eyebrows.  Yes she'd endangered her life, running across a really busy street to dig through garbage to eat cake she'd smelled from across the street on our walk to the park!!!!! Resumed breathing, called P back to say I had her.  Again, not the low point.

Got home to find boy got a really shitty grade in Bio.  Turns out it was from early October but the teacher is just getting around to posting them now. Yes, despite promising better communication. Trying to figure out how the hell he's going to pass this quarter.  Yet still not my low for the day. Why do you ask?

Gave up on anything going right and decided to get ahead on some holiday shopping  Since Lord & Taylor had all kinds of coupons out I figured there would be lots on sale.  Nope, nothing but summer clothes.  Total strike-out. Couldn't even buy a lipstick. Still other than a waste of gas, not a bad spot in my day.

Got home and got into a facebook fight with an old friend about the Boy Scouts being a discriminatory organization (it's not just me - New York State says they can't meet in public schools because they are a discriminatory organization!!!!) over their ban on gays and non-theists. We've been friends since we were thirteen years old. And I believed we would be friends forever.  Friends from first periods to well past menopause.  I guess I was wrong. Or she knows she is, but can't admit it.  (I'm not saying you can't choose to have your kids belong to a discriminatory organization - just that you can't deny that you're part of one when you are.)

That was my low point. Giving up someone who was in my wedding.  Giving up someone who's wedding I was in. And no, as you can probably tell, this isn't the first time she's told me good-bye.  The last time lasted almost two years.  But this time I told her not to tell me we aren't friends and expect to come back.  I walked on eggshells for a year so she could feel comfortable with me again. Enough.

Meanwhile Halloween was just last Sunday - and Thanksgiving is next week already.  Stupid hurricane took two weeks out of my life.  Every one around me is scrambling through this truncated season. I'm just hoping tomorrow is a better day.  For me and my Scarlett.

I blame it all on the eclipse in Australia.  It's as good a reason as any for this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.*

(*with apologies and admiration to Judith Viorst)