Sunday, February 27, 2011

Has Age Or Children Changed Your Alcohol Consumption?

I was ready and grateful to pick up some extra hours working at my favorite clinical skin spa this weekend. If you call Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa on a Sunday, I am who you will be speaking too.

I can honestly say I love everyone that works there and what they bring to the table. I do not think my words could ever convey the inspiration, admiration or happiness that the people and the place bring me.

It is on a rare occasion that I get to work with the owner and Saturday was one of those days along with another beautiful esthetician that I regularly work with.

We were fully booked as usual. The three of us working together brought a bit of dialogue to the day. I just happened to have my face buried in the computer when I heard product  placed on the desk. Looking up from the computer screen, I saw my friend patting her cheeks, saying, “I think my face started to age since I stopped drinking.” I could say nothing except laugh. This esthetician has me laughing most Sundays and like everyone there, keeps it real. There are two people in my life that I would dare not ask their age. She is one of them. This led into a whole conversation which started out with ”Remember when…” I am Not a nostalgic person by nature, but the brief conversation quickly took me back to a couple of ever so fond memories.

Once upon a time I enjoyed a Dirty Martini or a Seven and Seven, but hard liquor can no longer meet these lips. Gone are the days of ordering a Dirty Martini or two, a father-in-law who makes the Best Bellini’s and emerging out of a South Florida club at 7 AM with friends. It feels like another lifetime.

The question that I asked was,"Is it the aging process, having children, or changes in body chemistry that alters your tolerance for alcohol?" I’ve never been a heavy drinker myself; I like to wake up the next morning, feel good and be productive although an egg and cheese omelet, black coffee and OJ in the morning have helped in the past, along with a packet of Emergen-C. These days one glass of red wine is lovely, two glasses, I bid thee a good night; anymore I’m energetically scrambled for days. It’s not worth it. Let it be known that I do admire any woman who knows her scotch and that will smoke a cigar.

Realizing that everyone has different tolerances and even having a few friends who cannot even drink alcohol, have you increased or decreased your alcohol consumption since children or aging?

Please feel free to contribute your experiences and thoughts to my ongoing consensus about this subject matter.

Monday, January 17, 2011

If I'm Not My Zodiac Sign, Then Who Am I (Wink Wink)?

Does your Zodiac sign change or doesn't it? Some are saying, “No it does not change and is only applied to people who are born After 2009.” Others are saying, "Yes, it may have changed." and adding to my perplexity, “It does not count if you were born Before ’09.” So I hereby declare, “Identify with the sign you so choose!” I for one am grabbing my bull by its horns and bidding thee a fare well and now wish to associate with Aries (being born May, 11th). This is a leap by any standard, not knowing anything about the fiery sign of Aries, but what the hell.

As someone who drinks from the well of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, I wonder what he would have to say about all of this if he were alive today. Bhagavan taught Non-dualism, but he is most widely associated with the practice of Self-Enquiry and advocated the enquiry of "Nan Yar" (Who am I?).

The practice of Self-enquiry is not an intellectual exercise. It involves fixing the attention firmly and intensely on the Feeling of “I”, without thinking. Point being, lots of people identify with their zodiac sign for whatever reason. The other day, I was sitting next to a woman who told me “The whole zodiac change created such upheaval that she called her doctor immediately to up her meds.” this is of no surprise. Of course if you put that much stock into anything that you think defines you, you would be in for a real identity crisis. I fully understood her. Her concepts of what she thinks herself to be have been single handily altered by the universe and she had no say in the matter. By simply believing that her zodiac sign had changed, whether true or not is her reality. This would have been the perfect opportunity for her to practice Self-enquiry.

For whatever it is worth, I love hearing what people have to say about all of this and seeing their reactions. I never knew how comedic people could be until this whole zodiac confusion started. Messing with peoples’ signs has been quite entertaining and has given me a few decent belly laughs, so I'm not complaining. I find astrology fascinating and do believe the heavens to have significant meaning, but then again, what do I know?

As always, I welcome your comments.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Where Have You Ventured Into For Your Child?

I kind of wish I could say I was one of those artsy crafty mamas that I so admire, but I’m not. In fact I’m pretty sure there is not one crafty bone in my body and if it were a prerequisite to becoming a mother well let’s just say I wouldn’t be a mother. The other day I noticed how enthralled my son Leo was with the paints and paint brushes when they were brought out on a recent play date. Now crayons have been the rage in our apartment as of late and much to my chagrin his favorite surface just happens to be the walls so I decided to get him a few art supplies in my attempt to keep him and his masterpieces contained (I’ll keep you posted on that one). So, on my way out of Whole Foods I happened to notice one of those arts and craft stores right next door. Never have I thought of such a concept, me venturing into an arts and craft store, but I found myself standing outside staring at those emerald green colored double doors. I sized them up, took in a big deep inhalation and for the love of my child walked straight through them.

Feeling the anxiety rise within my already contracted body, I stepped onto the escalator straining my neck as far as it would go to peer down into the unknown abyss. My eyes moved rapidly, taking in as much as I could mentally register. When I reached the bottom I finally was able to exhale. I stepped off the escalator and quickly assessed where I needed to go, I told myself to stay focused, no meandering up and down isles, eyes forward the entire time. My game plan was to get in and get out lest I be swallowed up somehow. Of course I got out of the store unscathed and really not too overwhelmed or traumatized by the whole experience and I have come to see that possibly doing arts and crafts has a Zen quality to it (I’ll be sure to let you know if I experience that).
I never cared much for creating art, but I’m pretty sure it was how it was presented to me. In kindergarten I remember being called out in front of all my peers on ‘how not to hold scissors’. I sat there crying unable to move and feeling that I was somehow bad and in sixth grade my teacher gave the art assignment to draw what came to us. I ended up turning in a blank white crisp clean piece of paper. After she questioned why I did nothing, my reply of, “Nothing came to me.” seemed to have baffled her for a second before she quickly became indignant with me. Now thinking this was totally unfair treatment as I was just being honest with her I let her know that the piece of paper she was looking at was completely open to interpretation. One could not possibly put a time frame around creating works of art and who was she to say what art is and is not? Where were her creations hanging? That sealed my fate. Needles to say I spent the next week in detention. My refusal to do any art projects after that landed me with an F in art, did nothing to help my grade point average and just pissed off my parents.

I wanted to love doing art and after I got to high school I remember seeing what seemed to be all the intriguing kids going in and out of the art room. It seemed to be this inner sanctum where these minds went to create and release. I couldn’t bring myself to ever sign up though. I would just admire from afar.

Realizing this is only the beginning to years of art projects with my son, I am going to be forced to look at this inner demon. Maybe gluing cotton balls, Popsicle sticks and glitter together won’t be so frightening to me once I see Leo dive in without any inhibitions, but I still think making anything into a gingerbread house is creepy.

Where have you ventured into for your child?   


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Will You Choose Resolution Or Cultivation In The New Year?

Instead of a New Year’s Resolution why not abide in the space of Cultivation for the New Year?


1: The act or process of resolving: as a: the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b: the act of answering: solving c: the act of determining

The thought and statement “I resolve” is a fixed and unwavering mental position to hold and sets one up for a battle with one’s own will in the end. With 52% of people unable to keep those New Year’s Resolutions it would seem to me that the odds are stacked against you. I offer this up instead-  


1: to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops; also: to loosen or break up the soil about
2: to foster the growth of <cultivate vegetables> b: culture 2a c: to improve by labor, care, or study: refine <cultivate the mind>

Shifting into a state of Cultivation allows for you to just be. To abide in the space of cultivation allows for movement, essentially Life to move through you and around you. If you can acknowledge and accept that which you would like to see changed you can then begin to move from that space. This is a far gentler way of approaching yourself and life.
That being said, if you choose to cultivate instead of resolve in the New Year, can you do so without holding on to some destination? If you are able to see beyond your mind/body you will realize that it is all merely ideas and concepts, i.e. your story, all of which die when the mind/body dies. You may quit smoking, put more money in the bank, say your mantra 108 times every day for the next year and even lose 10 pounds which is all well and good, but it’s all really just a myth, keeping you from the awareness of what is. The reality is you are Existence itself so if you choose to hold firm to a resolution for 2011 why not resolve to just be who you are. That in and of itself is total acceptance, then no need even to practice cultivation arises.

What will you choose in the New Year?        

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Diet And Fitness Un-Challenge: Part 1

The topic of food and ones relationship to it is ever present. We can’t flip through a magazine, turn on our televisions or open up Yahoo’s homepage and not see an advertisement or article referencing the state of our body’s index. We are inundated with diets, workouts and supplements all marketed towards us with our insecurities in mind. I just finished reading Portia De Rossi’s book “Unbearable Lightness”, her epilogue alone is worth a trip to Barnes and Nobles to sit and read it for ten minutes, especially if you have ever dieted, binged, purged, starved or have a habit of overeating.

With the holiday season upon us diet companies so-called fitness guru’s and celebrities will bombard the public with their wares trying to convince us that if we were 10 or 20 pounds lighter our lives would be somehow happier and more complete. How many times have we spent our money on diet books, eating programs, food delivery services, supplementation, etc., only to be left with a new regimen, another mental preoccupation and less happier in the end? All of this simply takes us out of our own ‘knowingness’.
Recently I was asked by an acquaintance, “What should I eat?” Knowing that this type of question is looking for validation, my reply was, “What do you like to eat? What do you think you should eat?”  My feeling on this is to eat what you like, but bring your awareness to what it is that you are eating as you consume it and then watch what happens.

I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost weight, I’ve been sick from overeating and not eating. I ate certain things because a book or a fitness trainer told me I needed to and all the while left not feeling well, constipated and still unhappy. The way I eat today is very different; I eat what I feel best on. Not because the government created some pyramid or Patanjali instructs me too. I love chocolate, fresh cheeses, delectable pastries and red wine and consume at least two of those items everyday and some days I happily double up. Any nutritionist will tell you there is not much nutritional value in any of those things except for maybe releasing some delightful feel good chemicals in my brain, but I find them to be some of the pleasures of life and will partake in those things as long as I continue to enjoy them. I would not impose the way I eat onto anyone. It has taken me years to find what works best for me and it wasn’t until I started to slow down and bring some awareness into what it was that my body wanted did ease come about.

If you feel better eating nothing but McDonalds or eating nothing but Twinkies who is anyone to tell you what you consume is wrong, and the notion that one can purify the mind or body through food is nonsense. You may be able to eliminate waste and toxins out of certain organs, gain weight or lose weight and shifts in energy may change through diet but that’s it. It has nothing to do with who you really are and if you think it does then you are bound to a never ending despairing cycle, being completely identified with your body. I know people who eat very wholesome foods even raw diets that live in constant egoic contraction and other people that eat very rich diets completely at ease with themselves and life and as the proverb states, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

Medical issues aside i.e. diabetes, arthritis, celiac, thyroid, etc. Having someone else who tells you what and when to eat is not natural. I truly believe we all know what our bodies need. As this year comes to a close, maybe save your money this time around, slow down a bit, and bring some awareness into what you are feeding yourself, you may come to be pleasantly surprised. I guarantee, if you just take a moment, take a breath and feel what it is your body needs your feelings will change about what you eat. Start with only one meal or one snack; don’t take it all on at once. It will all work itself out. This simple practice only requires that you slow down a bit and check in with yourself, no overhaul to become overwhelmed with and no band wagon in sight.

My message always goes back to this: Come back to yourself, inquire within and be okay with what you find. Consider this your “Un-challenge”.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When Did Getting Into Pre-School Become Harder Then Getting A Job ?

I put it off long enough. To be honest I got so overwhelmed by it all I just had to leave it alone for awhile and after talking with my friend Nicole the other day who is currently applying and going through preschools I figured it was time to get back on that horse - finding a preschool for Leo. I’m a bit late into the race as the starting gates opened right after Labor Day. So, I called one preschool, “Oh, sorry the application process is already closed for the fall of 2011.” Ok, on to the next. “We are no longer accepting applications for next year.” Now my mind kicks in with scenario after scenario about being left with PS 72 and their crappy test scores, or in the middle of government housing where they can’t even afford to fix that broken down tricycle that is left outside in their playground, or Leo coming home with gold chains around his neck and his pants held up by his knees. I know what my mind is doing, but I’m already totally hooked. It’s a slippery slope my dear friends. I frantically ring my husband to tell him we’ve been shut out of two preschools already for next year. He calmly asks if we can discuss this when he gets home. Of course, there is nothing he can do and I’m sure my husband thinks I’m on my way to becoming one of those quintessential “Manhattan Parents”.

When he arrived home from work before he even took off his coat he laid down an article in front of me called “Cracking the Kindergarten Code” that was published in the “New York” on November 20, 2005. After reading it a sense of ease came over me. According to the article, “It’s the post-9/11 baby boom. So many more kids were born in the city, and now they’re applying to kindergarten.” Roxana Reid of Smart Kids adds, “Several nursery schools had ten or more children shut out from getting into school altogether last year.”  I myself had just learned about the ERB (an aptitude test used by many kindergartens) to get into kindergarten has grown by almost 40 percent. More families are applying to more schools now. From five or six was the typical number in 2000 is up to applying to nine or ten! Gone are the days of just signing your child up for school. Michele Hernandez, a former admissions official at Dartmouth who runs a college-admissions consulting service stated “Coming from schools like Spence and Dalton can actually be a disadvantage. The admissions staffs at Ivies bend over backwards not to take kids from those schools,” Hernandez contends. “Unless your kid is at or near the top at those schools, your chances of getting in from the top of a mid-level school are probably better,” she says.

I know schools such as Dalton, Collegiate and Horace Mann are not options for us and there are some really good public schools in the city even in our zone along with Charter Schools, Montessori and Waldorf  being an option. With all the extraneous stress I am putting on myself, I know Leo will get into a school that is suited for him and if not the one around the corner, there is always another school for us to look at. His father and I can only observe him to figure out what environment he would best flourish in. Leo is only coming up on two years old and so what if he doesn’t go to a formal school until he’s three, but this is Manhattan and being a bit neurotic is in our nature.

All I can do is diligently take the steps necessary to ensure Leo gets into the best school that is suited for him and within our means. I know stressing is futile and everything works out the way it’s going to be, whether it’s how we wanted it or not. I just don’t want to be left with schools that are subpar and I don’t want him to just learn how to take and pass a test. I’m wondering if other parents around the country go through this or are we just living in the “Manhattan Bubble?”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Vote, My Remembrance .

This year I was very unclear if I was going to even vote or not. Growing up in my household it was instilled at a very early age, “It is your civic duty as a United States citizen to vote.” My interpretation of that statement has always been, “you vote”. End of discussion. So I have always voted. But this year I have grown tired of it all - the media, the politicians, i.e. Dems and Republicans, and I seriously cannot believe much of anything that comes out of their mouths when their energy is not congruent with what is being spoken.

After a conversation about political parties with a friend today, it became clear to me why and how I go about voting. I am not a registered elephant or donkey, and to be honest, I don’t care much for politics. For me it’s simple - Government should butt out and let me live my life without having to adhere to a hundred million laws and regulations, and the understanding that whatever party I vote for they are still going to take money out of my pocket. It is what it is. 

As six PM rolled around I grabbed my coat & purse and headed out the door to vote at the school a block away (super convenient). As I looked at the ballot, I noticed how many other parties besides Dems’ & Repubs’ there were. It brought a smile to my face to know I wasn’t boxed into just one or the other, because quite frankly I hear mostly complaining when it comes to the one or the other. I generally don’t vote for either party, so I don’t complain because the people that I vote for don’t win. I refuse to vote for “the lesser of two evils” as that statement has run its course and I would rather not vote then be left with just that. The ballot showed me there are other parties out there that would also love my vote and I will vote for them as I see fit. Of course keeping in mind that government is a mighty big machine.

After I finished voting, I turned to walk out of the gymnasium and felt my eyes swelling with tears as both my Grandfathers faces flooded into my head. They no longer walk this earth, but their service to this country is not forgotten. Next, the name Lydia Taft followed by Frances Wright, Ernestine Rose, Margaret Fuller, Lucy Stone and Abby Foster ran through my head - all Suffragists. They too will not be forgotten.

I will continue to vote because I believe there can be more than just a two party system. I will vote to honor my family and friends who have served this nation and I will vote to remember the women that fought for the right to vote.

Did you vote today?