Upon finding out that there are two Van Gogh exhibits, I was like, Yep, I can go to the other one to compare. Upon finding out that the Van Gogh exhibit at the pier offers yoga classes, I was like, Hey BR, we’re going, and she was like, Yes, of course we are.
And so, a 6:15 AM train got me to Penn at 6:47 AM, which got me a taxi that arrived at Pier 36 a bit after 7 AM. My yoga friend was already there, and the night security guard had let her in to hang out at the front. He was super nice, explaining he gets excited when he sees people, and also we saw how the large portrait of Van Gogh could be stunning but also creepy if it were the only eyes on you in the wee hours in the dark.
Because we got there so early, we were first in line and first let into the rooms. We walked through the first two rooms and got into the bigger room where the animations of Van Gogh’s art goes across the floor as well as on all the walls. We set up, sat down, and basically stared. We were inside a painting.
The instructor, Dasha from Sputnik Yoga, started talking about what her yoga studio offers and how she teamed up with Lifeway for this sponsorship. Right away, we looooooved her—her energy was perfect. As people started piling in and lining up (we were all masked and the room was large), she found that a lot were new to yoga completely. She asked if any instructors in the room would demo. I didn’t even think. My hand was up. Well, look at that. She came over and I was like, I don’t do inversions. She laughed and was like, You don’t need to worry about that.
Then the magic unfolded. The music started up. The animations ran around the room. We moved through a yoga sequence in rhythm with both. Magic. Magic. Magic. I demoed each pose without knowing what was coming next, so it was a little clumsy at times, but also, sometimes it was clear where we were going though not at all static or dull. All those years of practice have paid off! When we got to balance, it was a little shaky because the walls were basically moving, but no one fell, so that’s a plus for everyone in the room. The most advanced pose was a half moon, which I rarely do, so it was an adventure. Savasana was the best savasana because, again, magical.
When we were done, B and I got to see all the photos from the session as the instructor airdropped them to me. Whoa. Basically, you’ve gotta do it for yourself because I can’t explain the energy. I could live on that energy. The exhibit played the entire animation again, and we all had free reign to go through all three rooms to watch from wherever we wished and to do more yoga if we wanted. We then headed into the absinthe lounge and had hot beverages, where I told B that was all I ever want to do—yoga and romping around the city. We romped around the gift shop for a while, and we found a tree that had a way for you to write a letter to Vincent and have him write you back (again, hard to explain, so do it for yourself).
Speaking of romping, she was like, do you want to go to the Met? I was like, yes, let’s do it. We headed outside where I acted like I’d never seen a bridge before because the view was simply striking. We grabbed a cab outside and headed all the way up. We found a place for food because I almost keeled over from malnutrition and ate beside the fountains outside. Then we had to reserve a time to go inside to then get tickets. We got tickets inside because we were paying by donation, and then we went off without a map. Careening around the museum without a map and without a plan was fun and a workout.
The only plan I had was to see the rooftop and to find a bathroom. We found the bathroom first, and then we got sidetracked by every pretty thing we could find. At one point B was like, This is kind of like going to Epcot. So true! We were in Greece and Rome and Egypt and other places across history and the globe.
Mostly I enjoyed the modern floor, especially the abstract stuff (that’s a technical art term) and the photography exhibit with a focus on women. The rooftop offers artwork as well as the best views from above. We took it all in, thankful for a semi-overcast day that allowed for gorgeous sunshine without that extreme sticky heat. As we headed out of the museum, I was like, You know, I didn’t take a picture of a statue butt (which is something I always do at museums because I’m 12). B was like, well there’s one right over there. I appreciated the support.
For days that start with art and yoga and end with art and sky and all throughout offer fun friend times, I am always grateful.
Happy Summer Solstice!
For over a decade, almost every year, I’ve been fortunate to feel the energy of Times Square running through my body while a simultaneous calm washes over my mind. I am so grateful for #Solsticetsq @timessquarenyc for the unity and the waves of om that echo from the mat to the universe.
I’ve started setting up yoga hikes for the summertime. Yoga either outside or in studio followed by a hike through a nearby park. I ventured into outdoor yoga territory on one of the brightest mornings, and that led to a super sunny hike around Hempstead Lake. The captain came for the hiking part, and we took the path on the sand closest to the lake this time, which meant it was like a completely different park.
Some parts were extremely buggy and spiderwebby, which is not my kind of outdoorsy. However, there were some spaces that felt like tropical island beaches, including one such space where people were swimming, which I wouldn’t think to do in this particular lake, but then again, I don’t think to swim anywhere ever. There were also spaces where the woods framed the lake, and places that had boats, and places that had roosters (I’m not joking—there was a rooster). Some duck friends crossed the path, too.
Then we encountered a guy. This guy had on a shirt, which is what I call progress. He was sitting on a concrete thing that you’ve gotta climb up and over to keep going on the path. As we got closer, he started to move a bit to make way for us. Capt climbed over first and said to him something like, Sorry to get your way, and the guy was like, No, no, man, it’s a public park, man, it’s for everyone, man. By the time I climbed up the concrete and down the slab on the other side, I had a contact high from whom I assume is a cousin of Jeff Spicoli.
We made it around the lake to where there’s a concrete water thingie where the water runs out and under the road. I remembered walking here a different time of year when the sand shows down by the water, and that seemed to be a way around this. However, this time, there was no sand to walk on. The capt started explaining high and low tides to me, and I said something about the moon because that’s the only thing I know about tides—the moon is in charge. Then he said, We could walk across it. Then I said, No we cannot.
And so, we made our way back onto the higher path and found the rest of the way around the lake. Jeff Spicoli’s cousin was no longer at the concrete slab by the time we doublebacked. Was this yet another brief encounter with another realm? Maybe! More likely, though, he found another place to get high. There are tons of places open to anyone to smoke up in a public park, man.
I could write about the chaos of a semester that never ends. I could tell you about my Instacart freak out concerning lots of frozen broccoli. I could also discuss what it’s like to live alone and not touch anyone for months and feel like everything is okay until going out into the world and being shocked by the sun and the grass and realizing my brain has been coping but this situation is far from okay.
Instead, I’m going to write about how I’ve gotten to do all the things I usually do in person (like teach and workshop and write and practice yoga) from my office and my living room and my backroom that is now my yoga room. I’ve been able to see my mom and chat through a window and across a yard. I’ve seen my brother, too, both in person and through technology when he’s not big on technology. I’ve started to go out and take walks with friends. I’ve started a fashionable mask collection.
I’m still here, and I’m healthy. Actually, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a while, and I know that’s probably not everyone’s experience, but it’s been mine. For that, I’m grateful. For all the things I’ve been able to do, I’m grateful. It’s these silver linings that make life still a wonderful and beautiful life.
These silent meditation retreats are becoming my everything. They come up exactly when I need them. I get exactly what I need out of them. The universe works if you let it. This most recent one was at Kadampa Massapequa, and it was a bit shorter, from 9:30 to 1ish. I had to move my car a few times because of timing and parking, but the breaks between meditation were a good time to do that. Plus, I like to walk outside during the breaks, and I found out that that’s what people do–they walk clockwise. And that’s what I’d been doing all along at all of my retreats. Clockwise walking. I didn’t choose it. I just did it. See? The universe. Also, breaks are a good time to eat, which I did. I brought snacks. What? Did you think I wouldn’t be carrying a bag of food around with me? The best part was seeing someone there I know from yoga and hearing that she came because she read about it in my newsletter, aka my Highly Infrequent Email list. Changing lives, people! Changing lives!
When I arrived, I saw that someone had already put a jacket on my seat. Yep, my seat. I go there only once a month, and I don’t have a membership, but apparently I’ve claimed a seat. So that was a reality check, realizing that I’ve created an attachment. This moment was like the moment in the airport when S and I were flying to ATL and I moved to the side after checking our luggage and before security so I could take off my coat and I said to her, I”m realizing I have an airport routine.
Side note: Delta owes me a ginger ale. It’s not their fault. It’s turbulence’s fault. We experienced a lot of bumps on the way home so all beverage service was halted and the flight attendant threw cookies at everyone on the way to her seat. My attachment to drinking ginger ale on a flight was tested, and I got through it. Sort of. Because I still think Delta owes me a drink.
Anyway, the point here is that self-realization is a good thing and realizing attachment leads to a chance to grow and become non-attached. Which means I sat in a different seat instead of confronting the woman who put her coat on my chair. As if I’d actually confront a stranger. Or talk to one. But this was the point of the day–not talking. The seat I chose worked just as well as the other seat, and now I’m no longer attached to the chair, physically, mentally, or spiritually. (I still want that ginger ale, though).
As an about-face, the next day was very chatty. I taught two yoga classes–my regular power hour at 9 and then a sub stint for a stretch and flow at 10:15. By the by, if you’re a lady, you can join me every Sunday at 9 for dancey-yoga. If you don’t want to be out of the house that early or you’re not a lady, then you can get your yoga on in semi-private or individual sessions. Also? Reiki. I’m available, y’all! After yoga, I headed out to Sip This to write with a poet friend. It was our first time writing together, so we actually wound up chatting more than writing, but I did draft a poem about dolphins and yoga that’s been floating around in my brain, so that made me super happy. Also, there was jazz, loud jazz, which made for a really groovy coffee klatsch.
Then off to Industry in Huntington for Mostly True Things, a storytelling game. I mean, does it get any better? It’s storytelling. It’s a game. I get to listen to people tell me stories and then I have the chance to win. The last time someone told me a story was at the Rubin, and it was bedtime. This time, I was not in pajamas. The four tellers were fantastic. I saw some poets I know, so we chatted about possible truth tellers and fibbers–only one person was telling a completely true story. I was wrong in my first guesses, but when it came time to make official guesses, I got it right.
I won a tote bag!
All of this unfolded on the tail end of a President’s Week that put all previous President’s Weeks to shame:
Sunday: Yoga and South Bay Sundays Workshop–I love love love my group of writers. Some new faces appeared, and I love them as much.
Monday: Sit Around and Write. I wrote some poems!
Tuesday: Hair cut! I’m bald! Not really.
Wednesday: Mr. Cheapos with my brother to sell CDs. I came home with fewer CDs. Does anyone want CDs? I also have a DVD of the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic New York Minute, featuring Eugene Levy.
Thursday: Writing editing cleaning cooking doing all the things one does to stay alive
Friday: Breakfast at Morning Rose Cafe with T and D. And it was delicious. And I shook and had a headache for a few hours afterwards because salt and sugar. Worth it for sure.
So a very fun week rounded out by a very fun weekend and how grateful am I to be able to live this life so fully!
What’s happening to me? I’m out in, like, nature. I’ve found that if I’m outside in the late Fall heading into winter, there are fewer bugs. Except for the almost moth attack when I did that workshop upstate, I’ve been pretty a-okay with nature. So on a weekend in November, I took myself up into the Catskills to Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch.
The Catskills? Isn’t that where all those resorts are? Yes, it was exactly like Dirty Dancing except more in the middle of nowhere on a higher further mountain without dancing dirtily and with more vegan options, though Dirty Dancing did have watermelon, and the ashram did not.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
The ashram was offering a workshop on santosha, which is contentment. I’ve been wanting to continue my education in yoga philosophy, and I also wanted to go somewhere. Perfect fit.
I drove up on a Friday. It was sunny. There were snow squalls in the air that didn’t touch the ground. I was happy I’d worn my big red coat.
Side note: I have a NEW big red coat! It’s much like the last one only the hood has a faux-fur rim and is removable. Who would remove such a fashionista accessory?
I checked in at the main building where there was a very happy statue of Swami Vishnudevananda sitting outside with a pumpkin. This was a good sign. Also a good sign were the heated floors. In a place where you have to take your shoes off, heated floors are everything.
Guided by someone on staff, took my several bags for a two and a half day stay up a very steep hill to find my mini apartment. These digs were nice! I’m maybe mid-maintanence. Hence, the several bags whereas I’m sure other people brought a backpack. However, this apartment was nicer than I thought. It had two chairs, a kitchenette, a bedroom with two fluffy beds, and a bathroom. The shower was small for even me, but I didn’t care because this was modern living and there were no bugs. There were probably bugs in the summer. November is where it’s at! Or when it’s at, I suppose. Also where it’s at is baseboard heating. Mine was cranked up when I got there, and what a blessing for later on when the sun would go down.
From my front porch, I could see mountains rolling and rolling. After settling in my stuff and eating some snacks I’d packed (one of the several bags!), I took a walk all over the grounds. In my big red coat and snow boots, I stayed mostly warm hiking all up and around the hills and paths. There was a rather steep path down into the woods that I found following a sign for a temple, but I backed away. I didn’t want to die alone in the woods on my first day at the ashram.
Life at the ashram is regimented but also relaxed. I’d gotten there in time to walk around and then change in time for afternoon yoga. I settled in with my mat and found that they begin in savasana. I can get behind that. I lied down and let the relaxation begin. Then I heard the instructor say we’d be going through breathing and movements for the next two hours. Two hours? That’s part of the regimen. Two hours of yoga in the afternoon followed by dinner. Ah, okay, so it’s like to get to dinner, we get through two whole hours of yoga. Got it. I could do that.
The yoga they do at the ranch is not the kind of yoga that I particularly like. It’s a lot of the same pose held over and over again. Each asana is separated by a savasana. I’m used to the flowy kind of yoga. Which means this yoga was the yoga I needed, so I did it, and I found myself liking it. Sometimes not liking it. Then liking it again. They do headstands and other inversions as part of every practice. I don’t do headstands because of fear of everything, so I didn’t do them, but I did the prep for them. The instructor was really encouraging. The prep steps to headstand are very specific, and with the first four, he was like, We can all do this. He was right, so I did those first prep moves for that practice session and for all the others the rest of the weekend, and I got better at them each time. That’s what happens when you have yoga twice a day for two hours each. Yes, that’s right, four hours of yoga daily. Who’s in heaven now? Or nirvana? Or, well, you know.
So after that we had dinner, and meals turned out to be my favorite part of the weekend. I know, me and food, yes, I eat five times a day. I take that for granted, yo. Over at the ranch, they eat twice. That’s it. Two times a day. They have a brunch and a dinner. And that’s why I bring snacks everywhere. However, that’s not what was my favorite part. My favorite part was before every meal, everyone stands around the food holding hands in a circle and we all sing Hare Krishna and then they ask these questions to which everyone responds jai and then they say something else and the only word I understand is “cooks” and we all clap and then everyone gets to eat. This description does not do it any justice. It’s the most joyous ritual, and I kind of want to do it every time I eat now, but again, the five times a day, that’s time consuming.
The food was delicious and mostly vegan. There was soup with every meal. There was a lot of greens. Tea for every meal. Vegetables and a salad for every meal. Just delicious. Delicious. Delicious.
After dinner, anyone who was new to the ashram could go to the orientation. First, we learned that ashram means house in the woods. This made complete sense. Then we learned about the legacy of Swami Vishnudevananda and his teacher Swami Sivananda. I got some of this, but by this time, I was nearing tired, so a lot of it went over my head. We then learned about the schedule. Our days would be regimented, but also relaxed. Again, it’s a difficult concept to explain, but it works.
After that was evening satsang. Satsang is meditation, chanting, singing, and listening to a talk. Swami Satyapremananda was there to give the talk the next day, so she discussed santosha a little bit during this session, too.
By the way, everyone there had a name like this. Not Swami, but the other very long name. They would say their names as if they were understandable and repeatable. The staff wears yellow, so if you can’t call out a name, you can at least tug on a yellow shirt for help. Also, fun fact, they are all volunteer, offering themselves up to karma yoga. What a life, for real.
Walking up the hill in the cold at night after satsang was exhilarating. I stopped at the top and stared at the stars. There are so many stars. So many. I went inside after a short while because it was, like 17 degrees out. I crawled under two blankets in my baseboard heated bedroom, read a little bit (still working on that Kerouac book), and fell asleep.
I woke up too early in the 4 AM hour. I was giddy, and I never sleep very well the first night I’m in a new place. I showered. I stretched. I had a little bit to eat, knowing I wouldn’t be eating until 10 AM. Then the bell outside gonged. It was finally 5:30. Time to head down the hill in the still very cold for morning satsang. Yeah, that’s right, we do that twice a day, too.
This weekend was special because it was the anniversary of Swami Vishnudevananda leaving his body. That meant that there would be a special ceremony during this morning’s satsang. How fortunate for me to be able to experience this. There was much of the same silent meditation and then chanting and singing. Then there were offerings. One of the staff members was carrying one of those industrial sized metal salad bowls around and handing out what I truly thought was salad. I mean, it was greens in a salad bowl. Turns out, it was flowers. Close enough. We all offered these flowers to the altar. Then there was a milk offering. Then there was another offering, and I don’t remember exactly what it was. All I know is that the ceremony went a bit long for my taste, but still, I’m happy to have experienced it. At the end, we were offered the leftovers from the offering, and they were, of course, delicious. This little morsel would tide me over until brunch.
Because first, yoga! Pranayama (breathing). Asana (poses). Savasana (resting). Two hours.
Then Hare Krishna Hare Rama jai jai thank you cooks, let’s eat!
I wound up writing a lot. I carried around a snack and my book wherever I went. This was partially so I would remember everything, but it was also because here I was, me, alone, not knowing anyone, in a very tight knit social situation. Yikes. Who even am I?
There was a nature walk at noon, so I took it. The walk included the very steep hill down into the woods that I’d skipped the day before. This was also a walk through real nature. there weren’t paths. There were markers nailed to trees and some planks for crossing treacherous places, but no real clearing of brush. This was nature nature. The staff guy said a few times, It’ll be a little muddy. To which someone answered, We’re yogis, it’s fine.
Flashback to Yoga Times Square when the dragon fly was flitting about and all the yogis were in awe, trying to take pictures of it, and I was dying inside, knowing that if it came near me, it would die outside, like a real death. So “We’re yogis” isn’t exactly a universal definition of being okay with nature.
However, there wasn’t a lot of mud. There was a lot of iced over leaves, which looked pretty cool. Some spots of large puddles. Mostly moss and woodsy-ness.
Then, because we’d gone down a hill, we were going to go up a hill. This hill was vertical. I shit you not. I found myself leaning forward for fear of falling backwards. Some people stopped along the way, and I knew if I stopped, I wouldn’t start again. So I got up that hill in one shot, one booted foot clambering over the next until the ground evened out. And when I was at the top, I moved over to the side, unzipped my big red coat because I was now sweating (if this surprises you, then you know nothing about me, for shame), and I kind of leaned forward to collapse my lungs so they could breath easier. I look up and saw another woman doing almost the same thing. She saw me and said, Oh thank God it’s not just me. And as I watched everyone ahead of us not stopping, I answered, I work out every day, and I have no idea how any of them are still going. She was like, this is nuts. I was like, that was completely vertical. We agreed, gathered some oxygen, and then headed on the path to catch up.
We saw two temples in the course of the walk, and they were both gorgeous. We came out on top of and behind where the apartments and dorms were. I walked down to the main house to get water, and then I walked back up because there were 45 minutes before the santosha talk, and I needed to change because I was soaked. Worth every bead of sweat, for sure.
The talk on contentment continued where satsang left off. Swami Satyapremananda has this subtle kind of energy that melted into some funny moments and a lot of wisdom. One big takeaway was: Everyday do one thing you don’t want to do, and acknowledge its benefits; everyday don’t do one thing you do want to do, and acknowledge its drawbacks. Eventually, this leads to realizing that contentment is not based on satisfaction of the external world but being satisfied internally, and that leads to santosha. You’re welcome.
Then yoga time. Then eating time. Then bedtime.
No joke, by the time we finished with dinner, I was like, I need a rest. So I went up to my room, thinking I’d rest for half an hour and then come back down for satsang. The first part of that plan happened. Then instead of going back down, I showered so I wouldn’t have to shower in the morning and also because I’d sweat so much before and then did yoga on top of it, and so that wasn’t making for very aromatic armpits despite any kind of deodorant attempts. Then I climbed into my jammies and climbed under the covers and read the same sentence in my book over and over until I decided I needed to go to sleep for real instead of pretending to not be tired.
Sunday morning I felt like a million bucks! I got up before the bell gonged. I stretched, changed, packed a little, and then at the sound of the bell, I headed down to satsang. At the bottom of the hill, I got into a standoff with a cat. It wanted to go inside. It wasn’t supposed to go inside. I was trying to go inside without it following me, and that wasn’t working. My pleads of, No Kitty you can’t come in, fell on neglecting cat ears. Then I decided to try to trick it. I walked towards the front of the building, and the cat followed. Then I made a quick dash towards the back. Cats are fast. It literally got to the door right before I did. So then I did what any rational adult would do–I stood there and waited for the cat to become someone else’s problem. Sure enough, someone came down the hill and let the cat in. I followed and heard someone talking about taking the cat outside, and that’s what happened. Several times, the cat came in, and several times the cat was ushered back out.
Then it was satsang beginning with a very quiet meditation. I’ve been going to meditation sessions here and there, and several times, I’ve been meditating for a while and suddenly, I get one of those sleep jerks, only I’m awake. It’s been very trippy. I almost had that happen that morning, but meditation ended right before that. It was back to regular satsang, complete with a talk on santosha that involved the story of Elizabeth Taylor and that guy she married twice. It was a great story. We got a strawberry on the way out to yoga.
After yoga was breakfast where I chatted with two very lovely people. Then after breakfast, I went up the hill to get my bags, which I carried down the hill to my car. Then back up the hill to bring the linens back down to the main building. Then, quite content, it was time to go. I drove home with a full heart, and it still feels that way. Knowing that people devote their lives to work that will make the world a better place makes me content, for sure.
Last year, I spent my birthday surrounded by color with S. A ball pit was involved. No surprise there.
Perhaps the surprise is that this year’s birthday did not involve a ball pit. Though it is ball pit adjacent, time-wise, considering that questionable zodiac excursion.
Almost-Birthday Birthday Gift From Me To Me
On Friday night, I took myself to a reiki circle. I felt like I was floating at one point. Ooh.
Museum Sans Ball Pit
My mom and I went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and got lost pretty much all day. The guiding factor in every set of directions we received was to go right or left at the large column.
Never Enough Moon
I thought the moon exhibit was going to be that one tiny gallery the photography exhibits are always in. It was there for sure, but it was also sprawling across four other galleries! As if watching the moon landing 18 times at the Cradle of Aviation weren’t enough, we watched again. We also saw early drawings that mapped the moon and daguerreotypes that mirrored the moon. One gallery was devoted to an exhibit I had seen part of at the Whitney when I was sabbaticalling, and its inspiration led to some poems in Liberating The Astronauts. That was the room in which the Guardian of the Glass Case scolded me for touching the exhibit. I didn’t touch it. I tapped it. When he turned around, I touched it a lot. Like a lot a lot. So much so that my mom grabbed my hand and led me away, and in good timing because after that, the guy stared at me until we asked him where to get to the next gallery and got out of there. This outer space stuff is quite compelling.
Never Enough Rooftops
My mom has been a New Yorker her entire life and my birthday this year marked the first time she’d ever been to the roof of The Met. When we got up there, she kept asking me which way the park was and where 5th Ave was, and I was like, You’re asking the wrong child. My brother would know right away. I had no clue. I pointed to a building and was like, Well, that’s the Woolworth Building, right? And then I saw another building and was all, Or maybe that’s the Woolworth Building. Really, one of the many buildings had to be the Woolworth Building. Unless it’s no longer there. In which case, what the hell happened to the Woolworth Building?!?!
Aside from the cityscape views, the artwork fell in line with an outer space vibe. I tried to figure out which orb was Earth and then what planets the other orbs were. Then I read the description of the exhibit and found that it didn’t necessarily replicate our solar system. So then I simply chose one as Earth.
Cramped and Loud and Awesome
Guitars. Drum sets. Pianos. Flashy sequined outfits. Psychedelic concert posters. Film footage of loud music in action. Cram it all into tiny galleries and you’ve got yourself a musical masterpiece. We didn’t get to see everything because every room was overrun by music fans. Still, we saw enough and got to listen to some dang good tunes.
Once we found our way out of the museum, mom hopped in a cab, and I walked down to Pig N Whistle to meet up with S and R for a fun dinner. Along the way, I took in some public art and some sunny rays.
Bags and Dessert #1
And dinner was fun! S gave me back the bag I gave her for her birthday because, as you may recall, 82% of our friendship is giving each other bags neither of us wants to carry. To top off our dinner, the two of them sang Happy Birthday while the server set down a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a candle in front of me. No one really wanted to eat the ice cream, but S and I split some of it as R made the wise choice of not eating it at all.
Then to show how much they really care, they walked with me to Penn. Through Times Square. At night. On a Saturday. I mean, That! Is! Love!
A Healthy Interlude
I taught my regular Power Hour yoga class on Sunday morning. I was feeling a little icky from the ice cream, but a morning workout followed by the yoga turned that around. I thanked the women for showing up, explaining it was my birthday weekend, and they were all like, Awww, yeay! Because that’s how people react when you tell them it’s your birthday.
(Semi-Free) Lunch and Dessert #2
On Sunday, my brother and I went to my mom’s to have some Panera. They deliver! Not really. They use Door Dash to deliver, and they dashed out without any of the sides for our entrees. After five minutes on the phone with a manager who was “logging the incident,” I wound up with a free pick two in my future that I could pick up when I went to pick up my sides at a later date. Somehow it was impossible for them to simply have Door Dash bring the sides. Sides are complicated.
Then my aunt and uncle came over, and they sang Happy Birthday as I sat beneath the traditional Haphy Birthday sign (yes, that’s spelled wrong; a story for another time). Then we ate pie! Apple pie! And it was delicious!
Dinner = Dessert #3
I didn’t eat a whole lot after that because I knew what was on the horizon. DB can make fire, so we made s’mores. They were the healthy kind because we used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate and Trader Joe’s marshmallows.
Fact: Trader Joe’s marshmallows do not roast in the same way other marshmallows do.
Fact: Chunks of dark chocolate do not melt in the same way thin milk chocolate does.
Fact: My s’mores are better than your s’mores.
A Healthy Recovery
Sugar hangovers can last for a really super long time when your body isn’t used to sweets. My body was super angry, and the hangover is just about over itself now that it’s been almost a week. Yep, that’s what sugar does to you. To make the recovery sweet in that non-sugar way, at work on Monday, S handed over a basket of veggies she’d harvested from her garden! You know what helps a sugar shocked body settle down? A slow-cooker kale and celery frittata!
I’m still celebrating, you know, but not simply for my birthday. Every day is a celebration. Every day is a good day. These have been good, good days, and I’m so thankful for every moment.
Yoga In Times Square Mind Over Madness. Done!
Summer Solstice in years past have been scorching hot. This year, monsoonish. The class before me got drenched in a downpour. My class saw some drizzling. I wore my socks for part of it. I got to lie down on my back in Times Square once again, and this time, it drizzled all over me, and somehow, that was magic. Catherine Cignac has the best sequences. I try to memorize them as we go so I can take them home with me and luxuriate in them. Another reason the rain was fantastic? No lines! I walked right up and went right in. No waiting around for anything. Somehow, the yoga village afterwards was jam packed, but otherwise, it was so spaced out and roomy. For FREE, we got mats from Aerie, water from Propel, tea from Pukka, and a bag to put it all in.
Kicking off a tour of all the museum exhibits I’ve been wanting to see. Done.
Who doesn’t love the 80s? The Nassau County Museum of Art has an 80s exhibition. I was all set for neon vibes all over. I didn’t much neon. Instead, I saw a lot of artists who died too young from AIDS. It was really depressing but also stunning. There was a Jenny Holzer, and I love her work because she uses a lot of words. Added bonus–my friend who met up with me told me about meeting Holzer and that was fascinating.
Bonus Bonus: We went to a bakery afterwards and I FINALLY TASTED RHUBARB and I LOVED IT.
Attendance at poetry readings. Done.
This past Monday saw no rain, which meant the Gazebo Reading was on! I went to listen to some good stuff and heard some good stuff.
Sunday before that, I read at Industry. This reading? My new favorite venue. I wanted to buy everything there. Sciency stuff. Quirky stuff. Artsy stuff. All my kind of stuff. Also, they had pretzels. Mmm, pretzels.
So the moral of this story is that everything I do involves some sort of food or beverage.
A silent meditation retreat naturally appeals to me. I’ve always been quiet. The hardships of being in public include having to talk to people when I don’t feel like it. At a silent retreat, I’d be out in public but not forced to chit chat. I’d be able to do a deep dive into my own brain with the guidance of a guru. I found Kadampa Meditation Center. They offer Silence Is Golden retreats that last from five to six hours. That’s about the speed to ease into this thing.
My morning pre-retreat found me excited, looking forward to all the not talking I’d be doing. The excitement turned to anxiety as my GPS decided to test all that is calm and focused within me by taking me to not-the-mediation center. It kept telling me I was there when I was not there. I wasn’t really anywhere. It kept exclaiming You have arrived! when there was nothing to arrive to except for the backs of buildings. I figured it might be on a corner. Nope. I drove in a few circles. Then by the grace of all that is not GPS, I spotted it on a wider swath of circuity.
After checking in, a lovely woman brought me over to where the coats and shoes were, and showed me where the meditation room was. Thankful, I peeled off my jacket and my boots. I headed into a room filled with meditative souls, sitting on bolsters on the floors and on chairs. I took a chair. I took in the Buddha inspired vibrant paintings. Then everyone stood up. So I stood up. Oh, here was the leader. This is some heavy meditation respect.
The leader is a lovely woman who began with basics of why we meditate and why in silence. She spoke of people finding a challenge in keeping quiet. Ha. Nope, not me. This was heaven. I can only imagine how tiring this day was for her because her energy radiated in every moment.
We meditated through her guidance and readings. We took a break. They served mini Mrs. Fields cookies. No one talked. There was tea. This is what life should be.
We meditated again for a longer while. This took us to lunch, which they provided. All vegetarian. Soup. Quinoa. Vegetables. Fruit. More tea. No one talked. I went for a walk around the block. Then I circled again. These circles were a lot calmer than the GPS anxiety ones.
We meditated again. And then it was done. Five and a half hours of silent contemplation, cookies, soup, and tea.
I can’t explain how I felt afterwards. Driving home, an exhaustion overtook me. I couldn’t wait to pull into my driveway. Then when I got to my street, I drove past my house in a burst of energy and did some errands. Then I got home and felt somewhere between those two. Ah, I’d found equilibrium, which is exactly what we’d been meditating on. This stuff ? Works.