Walking. Bring out your Dead!

It all started with an article Susan sent me. This one or something like it: 10-second balance test could predict longevity. “The inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds in mid to later life is linked to a near doubling in the risk of death from any cause within the next 10 years, according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.”

I try to ignore it. Put it out of mind. Impossible.

So, it’s 4 am, yesterday morning, and I’m standing in the bathroom, trying to balance on my left foot. Counting down 10-9-8-7-6… I reach for the counter.  You have got to be kidding.

I go at it again.  Whispering the count down, 10-9-8-7… I reach for the counter again. OMG. I can’t do it.

I pause, inhale, and while balancing on my right foot, I reach down for my sock and put it on my left foot. No problem. I got this.

I’m brushing my teeth, and my attention is drawn back to the sock on my left foot.  OMG, I put the right sock on the left foot. 

I rush back to review the article, to see if the study found any connection to Alheizmer’s. Wow, thank God for that.

Later that day, I tell Susan the story of the balance-thing and the right sock on the left foot.

She knows that I have sh*t for balance, unable to stand on one foot for any length of time before toppling. Barely able to navigate on two feet. Can touch my toes, but no more. Not bendy. Nothing there. Not going to happen.

And after 38+ years of marriage, you know, you just know with certainty what comes next.

And you think that an adult, a defined term for what I am supposed to be at this stage of my life, I can stand quietly, watch the performance, listen, smile, and say something polite: “Wow, that’s so good.” “Or that’s nice.”

She starts her demonstration. She’s standing on one foot. Think Karate Kid.  You know the Crane Kick.  Then she moves to Yoga. The Tree Pose.  Warrior Three Pose.  Then she moves to the floor. Downward facing dog. Up dog. Before you know it, she’s gone through her entire Vinegar Flow or Vin-Damn-Something.

OMG. Sorry. I can’t take it. I’ve seen this performance hundreds, maybe thousands of times, or 300 iterations of it.  She’s a retired high school and collegiate gymnast. Now amateur yoga enthusiastic. I just can’t take it.

She’s on the floor, rolling around doing her Dog Sh*t —  I turn my back and start walking away.  I know it’s rude, but I- just-can’t-take-it-anymore.  She’s mumbling something about Hare Krishna, my back to her, her voice fading as I make my way up the stairs. My God, JUST STOP. [Read more…]

Secrets of Success: Focus & Balance.

    

    


Don’t miss video here: Little Owl.  Source: HuffPost (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: Coffee!


Source: Mennyfox55

 

Walking Cross-Town. With a Note to Todd.

It’s Sunday. Sun’s up and it’s warming. Squirrels are foraging, birds are pecking at the feeders, others chirp overhead in the trees, still bare and free of spring shoots.  Dickens had it right: “It was one of those March April days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Day of Sabbath. Day of Peace (should be). Several hours remain, and they are leaking fast – Monday’s calendar is already bullying its way in.

So why go here?

Because it goes where it wants.

It’s Friday afternoon, and voila, the appearance of a fortituous gap in the calendar. The elevator is racing down from the 39th floor to the Lobby.  I check the train schedule, 1:04 pm departure, 24 minutes to walk across town to Grand Central. Doable.  Fingers, eyes and mind skitter from the Metro North App, to iMessage, to Work email to Gmail.  The mental box continues to drop, one eye is on the floor indicator, like it might not stop on the ground floor and keep going. The stomach does a wee backflip and settles. Otis Elevator Man has this under control. How all this sh*t works is lost on me. Best I don’t know.

I step into the lobby and then onto Times Square.  A ZOO, even in the drizzle. I glance right, left, and across the street, the scene is Same – the jeweler on break for a smoke, the Construction worker with his florescent vest, the driver of the double decker tour bus, the traffic cop pausing between lights – all have their heads are down inside smart phones, and outside the World.

Me too.

I wait for the Walk sign, and it’s back to Gmail.  I pop open a WordPress notification from Todd’s blog – Bright, Shiny Objects, with the post titled: “Why?” I click the link, wait impatiently for the cell service to catch up, thousands of others doing the same at the same time, the rain, the overcast, the tall looming skyscrapers block satellite reception – it clears.  I chuckle, and whisper: “Truth.”  I punch out: “Great“, hit send, and the gremlins grab it and race off to Algoma, WI.

The signal turns to Walk.

I walk.

Six minutes later, my phone buzzes, the gremlin’s have raced back from Algoma with a reply from Todd:

How do you do it?[Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

rested-balance-work-carl-richards

Carl Richards, excerpts from Let 2017 Be the Year of Working Hard and Resting Hard (NY Times, Dec 19, 2016):

I’m tired — really tired — and I’m tired of being tired. In fact, it feels like I’ve been tired ever since I read Andrew Grove’s book “Only the Paranoid Survive” a decade and a half ago. That book was the beginning of a sea change in my thinking about work, business, hustling and survival itself — so much so that I’ve been working like a fanatic ever since.

Up at 5 in the morning? Tried it! Daily workouts? Yep. Paleo, bulletproof, gluten-free, cold showers? Check. Build a business, start a side hustle, dominate Twitter, Instagram and Facebook? Yeah, all that too! Make my family a priority? Of course. Serve in my community? Definitely. For 5,478 days, I’ve been hitting repeat, and it’s killing me.

I know I’m not alone. The last 10 years have felt like the #CrushIt decade. Every time you turn around, somebody is crushing something. Gary Vaynerchuk wrote the book on it, and according to him, people “need to work harder. And faster. There’s really nothing else to it. I’m exhausted every day, but I’m making all sorts of things happen in my 18 hours.”… [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

bird


I have packed my bags, I am out of here. Gone.

yoga-lean-jpg

I have had it with perfection.
I have packed my bags,
I am out of here.
Gone.

As certain as rain
will make you wet,
perfection will do you
in.

It droppeth not as dew
upon the summer grass
to give liberty and green
joy.

Perfection straineth out
the quality of mercy,
withers rapture at its
birth.

Before the battle is half begun,
cold probity thinks
it can’t be won, concedes the
war.

I’ve handed in my notice,
given back my keys,
signed my severance check, I
quit.

Hints I could have taken:
Even the perfect chiseled form of
Michelangelo’s radiant David
squints,

the Venus de Milo
has no arms,
the Liberty Bell is
cracked.

~ Father Kilian McDonnell, “Perfection, Perfection” from Swift Lord, You Are Not 


Notes: Photo by Ravshaniya (Uzbekistan) (via Mennyfox55 and Avax.news)

Saturday, June 18th. I want –

relax-read-hammock

“…June 18th. I want –

Time, leisure to draw and study a few things closely by feeling, not thinking – to get at things.

I want laughter, its satisfaction and balance and wide security.

I want a chance to play, to do things I choose just for the joy of doing, for no purpose of advancement.

To understand patiently the laws of growing things. I feel there is no time for these because I am driven by the crowd, filling my days with earning money, and keeping up with friends – like a ping-pong ball.”

~ Marion Milner, A Life of One’s Own (Originally published in 1934)


Notes:

Saturday Morning

toes-feet-hands-fingers-black-and-white

A balanced life has a rhythym. But we live in a time, and in a culture, that encourages everyone to just move faster. I’m learning that if I don’t take the time to tune in to my own more deliberate pace, I end up moving to someone else’s, the speed of events around me setting a tempo that leaves me feeling scattered and out of touch with myself. I know now that I can’t write fast; that words, my own thoughts and ideas, come to the surface slowly and in silence. A close relationship with myself requires slowness. . .

A thoughtful life is not rushed.


Notes:

 

Sun on skin, smell, particular light, that sort of stuff

marion-coutts

The template of self-image I adhere to is that of a happy person. Is this different from being happy? I have no idea. Before the crisis, the bad sank down somewhere I couldn’t reach or was too lazy to get to, and the good floated up as flotsam near the surface. I was usually near the surface too, sometimes impressively active and sometimes just bobbing and lolling, lolling and rolling, the one a front for the other. Bad and Good are weakened words now, blanched of force. Language is failing me too.

Optimism is an under-researched attribute. Where’s the science? Where’s the research? What do our brother creatures – the owls, crabs, bonobos – think about the bright side? What do optimists do under pressure? Do they continue to seek out slivers of silver the size of fingernails in the crushed, smashed and folded lining of the earth? Optimism doesn’t seem to be something you can just adopt. Equally, I can’t be rid of it, even in mid-fall. […]

I am a blessings counter. I am and always was. My family gifted me balance and ballast. By upbringing and temperament it was just one of those things that came with me. I link it to the most rudimentary physical sense of being-in-the-world: sun on skin, smell, particular light, that sort of stuff, and that in turn connects to the articulation of the stretch between being an individual – myself – and non-individuated matter. I have always been able to think of myself as matter: one and many, all-solipsist and nothing at all. Not anything.

~ Marion Coutts, The Iceberg: A Memoir


Notes:

 

 

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it’s off to work I go

dancer-dust-cloud

After I had looked for a while at that daffodil before I got up,
I asked myself the question,
“What do you want of your life?”
and I realized with a start of recognition and terror,
“Exactly what I have— but to be commensurate, to handle it all better.”

– May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude


Notes:

Word. Full Stop.

wrinkle-face-close-up-portrait

Wrinkles here and there seem unimportant
compared to the Gestalt of the whole person
I have become in this past year.
Somewhere in The Poet and the Donkey Andy
speaks for me when he says,
“Do not deprive me of my age. I have earned it.”

– May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Notes:

That one. The quiet healing road.

face-portrait-duality

I am torn between two ways to handle this doldrum that has been going on for weeks, really since January, when I did at least get down a few small poems. The first way is to give in, to enjoy the light on flowers— yesterday white daffodils and white iris in the dusk— to enjoy this beautiful place, rejoice in the animal presences (Bramble at last comes up here to my study and curls up on the daybed…), to live the slow quiet rhythm of a day as a kind of healing. The other way is to ask a great deal more of myself, to drive myself, and hope to break through into deeper, more valid places.

~ May Sarton, Tuesday, March 9thThe House by the Sea: A Journal


Notes:

  • Image via Mennyfox55
  • Related posts: May Sarton
  • Inspired by Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” – […] I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.

Lightly child, lightly

light-chest-mind

I wanted to think it was like a light bulb, life,
dangling in the chest, asking to be switched on.
But it’s not the light that’s even in question,
rather, what’s your brilliant, glaring wattage?
What do you dare to gleam out and reflect?”

Ada Limón, “The Other Wish,” from Bright Dead Things

Credits:

  • Sculpture: Ronald Ventura (Blanco, 2015. Metal, fiberglass, Resin) via Thisisnthappiness.com.
  • Poem Source: Boston Poetry Slam
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Time to pull in the boundaries and lift the drawbridge

Roberta-zeta-illustration-red-hair

It’s a season when one gets spread out almost too thin in too many human directions, but come January first I am determined to batten myself down, tighten up, go inward. I feel the day must be marked by a change of rhythm, by some quiet act of self-determination and self-assertion. Everyone earns such a day after the outpourings of Christmas. We are overextended. Time to pull in the boundaries and lift the drawbridge.

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea: A Journal


Notes:

A soft gray morning

bird-solitude-sky-alone

Such a tightly packed weekend …
I shall never be able to sort it all out today.
But there are things I must capture here this morning …
a soft gray morning, well-suited to a quiet think.

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea: A Journal


Notes:

Saturday Morning

sleep-black-and-white

I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. I am still pursued by a neurosis about work inherited from my father. A day where one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room, not try to be or do anything whatever. Tonight I do feel in a state of grace, limbered up, less strained.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly

black-and-white-bubbles-light
Under the light of eternity
things,
the daily trivia,
the daily frustrations,
fall away.
It is all a matter of getting to the center of the beam.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude


Credits:

  • Image Source: Carolyn Cochrane
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Walking in Woods. Clueless.

trees-woods-light-umbrella

2:30 am.
We’re back on the front seat of the insomnia bus.
Unfinished business from work is clanking around.
No. Don’t get up. Not yet. Keep your eyes shut.
It’s dark. It’s quiet. I listen through my eyelids.
The North winds whistle, and freezing air leaks through the window sills.
It’s cold. I pull the comforter up.  Zeke, at my feet, stirs.

It keeps coming back.
It’s mid-December.  A late Saturday afternoon.  Overcast.  Rain is threatening.  I grab the leash, call for Zeke and we walk.

Baker Park is a small suburban park, a brisk ten minute walk.  It’s adorned with a half-sized aluminum backstop, grassy fields and a small playground.  A wooded area rings the back end with paths carved by the Boy Scouts in a summer project.

Zeke bounds ahead, his feet stirring the leaves that layer the earth.

I pass the first. It’s a glance.
I pass the second. It has my attention.
I pass the third. I slow my pace.
I pass the fourth. I’m troubled now.
I approach the fifth. I stop. Don’t you dare move to the 6th.

[Read more…]

di·lem·ma (n)

jump-hair-tuck

And it occurs to me that
there is a proper balance between
not asking enough of oneself and
asking or expecting too much.
It may be that I set my sights too high
and so repeatedly end a day in depression.
Not easy to find the balance,
for if one does not have wild dreams of achievement,
there is no spur even to get the dishes washed.
One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude


Notes: Image Source: Mennyfox55. Related posts: May Sarton

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