Every day Life
Tonight, my oldest child went to his senior prom. What a magical night. What a magical time in the life of young adults, when girls can play dress up for real, and boys look like men. It’s a rite of passage.
In the months leading up to prom, I broached the subject carefully. I didn’t want to scare him off, but oh! did I want him to go to this. He stayed home and read last year, on the evening of junior prom. I longingly looked at pictures of his peers on Facebook. The boys were so handsome in their tuxes, the girls stunning in their gowns.
Two months leading up to prom, he decided that yes, he did want to go. After a few weeks of hemming and hawing, he finally asked his girl friend – carefully explaining to me that it was not a girlfriend – to go, and she said yes.
Then we were off to the store to rent the tux. After I got over the sticker shock, we went through the options. Bow tie or tie? Vest? Which color? Pocket silk? Shoes – pointed or round? I had no idea that men had such fashion choices.
Fast forward to tonight, when my son transformed into a tuxedo-clad handsome young man. We went to the park in town, where all the seniors gathered to take pictures. The girls were gorgeous, in all colors, shapes and sizes. One young woman wore a beautiful dress kimono that was stunning, complete with socks and sandals. Another wore a dress that was barely there at all. One young woman wore a tux, escorting a pretty girl in a long sequence gown.
Everywhere, young faces glowed, their happiness at the evening shining through. As a friend commented in looking at the diversity of the crowd, it gave one such hope for the future of our society. In a few short weeks, these kids, now young adults, will graduate high school and go on to higher education, the military, the workforce.
But tonight, they get to play dress up and enter a ballroom called prom. They will kick up their heels, dance themselves silly, and let loose.
It's a magical night indeed.
Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. Just as it had been on 9-11, the sky was bright blue, people were out and about, and the world changed from the actions of a few evil people.
Much has been written about the miraculous recoveries of hundreds of victims. How fortunate to have this tragedy in a city where the emergency responsiveness effort is world class, as are the number of hospitals that sprang into action. Without this aid, the outcome would have been far grimer.
It’s these terrible situations, that bring out the true goodness in people. Those who rush towards the tragedy, putting themselves into harm’s way, in an effort to help. Carlos Arredondo, the hero in the white cowboy hat. The police, the medics, the medical students and veterans, all rushing in to help. Out of bad, comes the truly good.
One survivor, a physician from Alabama, crossed the finish line as the bomb went off, shattering his ear drums. He had to close his practice due to his head injuries. Yet he comes here yearly, calling it a special time to connect with his second family, the city of Boston, who knows what he’s going through on his journey to heal. Out of the terrible, new lifelines emerge.
As fellow citizens of this earth, we have seen it happen before, and it will continue. Whether the tragedy is caused by humans or by nature, from earthquake victims in Pakistan to bombings in Paris and Brussels, hope emerges. Out of the horrific, the community comes together to heal.
Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh proclaimed April 15 to be One Boston Day to celebrate the city’s resilience, through acts of kindness, service and generosity. Many participated in neighborhood cleanups, blood drives, food and clothing collections and other shared activities. A positive tradition is born out of the chaos, the destruction and alteration of lives.
What happened in Boston, sadly, could happen in any city, any community. And there is no double that the response would be the same, as we as humans put aside political differences, policy disputes, trivial worries of the day, and reach out to help, to heal, to hope.
When my kids were younger, I restricted the time they could watch TV. We read, we played with logo’s, we went for walks. They had babysitters – young, energetic girls who took them outside and chased them around. Watching TV was reserved for those times when we didn’t have a babysitter, and I had to work. They did still watch their fair amount, and probably more… but it wasn’t encouraged and there was a fair bit of nagging on my end.
Then when my kids were in middle school, we discovered The Middle and Modern Family. And so we started to schedule things around Wednesday evenings. There were no arguments about completing homework on Wednesday afternoons – that was the rule and was always done by dinnertime. Sometimes I’d make a special snack. During dinner we’d talk about the previous week and wonder what Sue Heck or Manny or Claire were going to do this week. And we would all hunker down on the couch to laugh and relax for a blissful hour.
Then gradually, Wednesdays became just another night. My son started going to a weekly community event. My new job required long days and longer nights. My daughter discovered on demand everything on the internet, and soon we were going here and there, checklists of things to be done, another evening where the highlight was hitting my head on the pillow.
The other day I heard my daughter tell her friend wistfully about those Wednesday nights. “They were so fun… I couldn’t wait for Wednesday,” I heard her say. And I grew wistful too. It’s not the TV I missed. It was the chance to sit still and be entertained, to laugh and hear my kids and husband laugh too. It was our bonding time.
Now, on those rare evenings where we are all home and in the same room, I look up from my book and see my husband scrolling through his phone, my son with headphones watching something on the laptop, my daughter with both i-Pad and i-Phone in her lap so she can watch two things at once. And yes, sometimes we share a funny post. But most of the time, we are isolated in our own private entertainment. The world has changed and I want to roll back to those good old days of scheduled television.
In these days of Tivo, On Demand, On-Your-Devices – not to mention sports and other kid activities - I wonder how many families are out there that schedule family time on a regular basis. I know one family that has declared Sundays as ‘no devices day’. Hats off to them. Who out there has a family boardgame nights? Or gets the family up and out for a walk or bike ride? What do you do in this digital age?
When my daughter was four, we put her into the local parks & recreation-run dance classes. She, along with the other preschool girls, were simply adorable. Each week we’d watch them run around, stretch, point their toes and tap them, and twirl. She loved it, and so did I. Who couldn’t appreciate a class of twirling tots?
The culmination of the year, of course, is the Recital. I got the bill for the costume, gulped, and handed over the money. Silently I calculated that this adorable outfit was costing me $27 for each minute it was worn on stage. And then the tickets went on sale, where I handed over $70 for tickets for me and my husband, our son, our beloved babysitter, my sister. Yet when my daughter got into her Dancing Poodle costume – complete with headdress and a little tail, it was worth every penny. And when she went on stage with her friends, it was absolutely priceless. The entire show was dazzling: costumes and kids of all ages, classical ballet to hip hop.
And after the oohs and aahs were over, the pictures taken, that costume went into the dressup box where it eventually got handed down to a younger cousin.
And the next year, the cycle started again. Another year of dance, another pricey costume, more money handed over for the dance recital tickets, and this time, we bought flowers too (something that as first-year parents, we neglected to think about). And after her three minutes of fame, another costume went into the dressup box.
And in the fall, every fall, we started the cycle again. One year, she switched studios to one that offered Irish step dance, which meant an additional $85 for the ghillies (on little girl size 8 shoes). But that year, the costume was worn to a St. Paddy’s day dance event for senior citizens, bringing joy outside the performance hall.
Another year, we realized midyear that she would not be able to make the recital. Sorry, we were told. You have to buy the costume anyway. It’s part of the contract. And after forking over $75 dollars, she got a paint-splattered t-shirt and a pair of unremarkable jean shorts, that were, in her words, ugly and therefore unworn. That costume went directly to Goodwill.
After our first recital those 11 years ago, I told a friend that I should start a dance outfit drive, to take these costumes to inner-city Boston studios for lower-income girls. But life got busy, and I didn’t take action. But I thought about it from time to time. How many costumes went into dress-up boxes or were packed away in attics? Dancing itself was the important thing – learning new moves to music, feeling strong and confident. Yet I know that my daughter felt like a princess or rock star on stage, and that made it all worthwhile.
So now that spring is here, I am once again writing checks for a costume. This year, it included a bill for $12 tights to wear under the recital pants that covered her legs. When I asked why, I was told it was to establish a uniform look of the legs. Mind you, there are girls from 4’8” to 5’10” in the class. Uniformity indeed. I wondered about the profit margins in that little pair of spandex and nylon.
But come May, when I see her on stage hip-hopping away, that it will make both of us happy. Dance recitals are a money-making machine, but sometimes, you can buy happiness. And now I think again, how can I take action to spread that happiness around to girls who may not have the resources for recitals. Dancing moms out there, what have you seen and done?
I had low expectations for the Republican debate on Thursday night, but this left me speechless. How low can we go? Does Mr. Trump really think that the size of his manhood is the top issue weighing on the American voters’ minds?
When I had kids, I made the decision to always be open and honest. Sure, there have been those times where the truth was stretched (‘of course your drawing looks exactly like a horse!’) but on the bigger things, I strived to be approachable and to encourage frank conversations. I grew up in a close-your-door, don’t-ask household, and I decided early on that my kids would know that all topics are open for discussion.
With the Republican election circus now in session, however, these conversations are taking on new maneuvering on my part. Take, for example, this morning, when my 15-year old wondered what the meaning was for the comment on Thursday evening, about the size of hands and “doing quite well in that department.” I vaguely mumbled something about body parts corresponding in size, and she looked at her phone and said, “Mom, CNN says it’s about his penis.” Welcome to the new era in politics, where the soundbyte is more important than issues on national security, the economy, the environment, the welfare of the people.
Having seen the type of voter attracted to Trump, I can image that Thursday’s debate has elevated the man to an even greater statue in their eyes. “He’s got balls! He speaks freely.” Yes, he does. There is no holding back, no diplomacy from the stage. Trump speaks, he shouts, he insults left, right and center. He does indeed, stand out among his fellow office-seekers. Who, by the way, shout right back. What in the world are we teaching the next generation of candidates, of voters?
With all the negativity in this campaign era, I think back to the wise words of Robert Fulghum. He has this gem, that wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school. And among the kindergarten lessons he reminds us, are: Play fair. Don't hit people. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
I wish that all the candidates this season, would spend a few hours in a kindergarten classroom. They may actually learn something.
Last week, I had the good fortune to visit Cancun, Mexico. The beaches were white, the water was turquoise, the palm trees were a deep green, and the sky was blue. At our hotel, there were plenty of pale tourists, like myself, who slathered on sunscreen to catch some of the sun’s warmth. Many were from other countries: I heard French, Portugese, German, Italian. And one thing I noticed, from these non-English visitors: Their lack of tattoos. Pale, golden and darker skinned bodies were on display, au naturel.
The Americans, in contrast, were artfully decorated. Some lightly, some head to toe. Older women had vines and flowers adorning the length of their legs. Muscular men had pictures of Mom, girlfriends, babies. Some had tattoos broadly displayed on their backs. “Why get a tattoo if you can’t see it?” asked my daughter. Indeed.
The rise of the Millennials is one reason for the surge in tattoos, as young adults proudly clarify their identities to anyone and everyone. The top benefit, according to the study: It made the owner feel sexier. (Role models, perhaps, by David Beckham, Angelina Jolie?) Yet there are plenty of older folks, too, who are taking to literally proclaiming their heart on their sleeves. And when the romance with Suzie falls through, well, there’s always tattoo removals, now a billion-dollar industry. Re-purposing tatoos has also spawned a whole new art form, even creating its own television show. It's something to keep those 21,000 tattoo parlors open, and expanding.
Last year, a friend sent a birthday card that said “Show and Tell at the Old Folks Home”. The game was “Guess my Tattoo.” Shrinkage matters, as one ages.
Tattoos are getting more sophisticated. According to Inked, the new trends in 2016 are minimalistic, single line tattoos, and double exposure. And color. Much more color.
According to Pew Research Center, 14% of all Americans – some 45 million people - now have at least one tattoo. Seventy-six percent of these are 16 – 40 years old. And some 17 percent of these individuals have regretted their decision.
What is clear is that given my tattoo-free state, I’m about to be in the minority. There’s something about voluntarily handing over hundreds of dollars to inject ink into one’s body, painfully, that keeps me from being tempted.
What about you? Do you have a tattoo? Do you have more than one? Any regrets? Does it make you feel sexier? Rebellious? Empowered? Let’s devote some digital ink to those Inked. We’d love to hear from you!
So if you haven’t heard, Macy’s suffered a pretty dismal holiday season and will now lay-off thousands of workers and close 36 stores in the United States. Now, I’ve been a Macy’s shopper for a very long time (Hudson’s to Marshall Fields and now Macy’s) and have frequented my local Macy’s stores for my apparel needs for years.
But, let me tell you after my last few shopping experiences the above news is no longer surprising. I recently visited the Macy’s in Westland, MI for some long needed work cloths and jeans. I can tell you that this was my worst experience at a Macy’s ever. First of all, I must have hit the store on some type of special sale Saturday and by 11am the entire store was a mess. By the time I tried on some cloths and had my items selected, the checkout lines were at least 6 deep all over the floor. My line had about 8 people ready to check out at a counter with 2 salespeople. One of those associates decided to go clean out the dressing rooms and leave 8 people standing in line. All she did was bring out large piles of cloths and throw them on a heap to put away later. Now what do you think would be more important? Checking out customers who have already selected their purchase or slowly pile up the cloths. When I mentioned this to the remaining associate, she apologized and eventually called her associate back to start the 2nd register.
When I got to the counter to pay, I was told how busy they were and that their manager never had enough employees called in to work the sales. When I was finished checking out, I went to where Macy’s customer service counter used to be and discovered only phones in its place. There was no way to locate a store manager and convey my disappointment.
I have noticed a steady decline at this Macy’s over the last few years. Cloths are on hangers that often have the sizes mismarked. The dressing rooms are messy, out of date, with broken doors and hooks and the sales clerks are totally disinterested and never around to help or check you out when ready to pay. I’ve visited several other Macy’s locations in Chicago, Ohio, and throughout the Midwest where service is still hanging on a bit better.
If Macy’s really wants to stay around, they need to address customer service. I would have much rather stayed at home and shopped online than spent my day like this!
My wonderfully innovative daughter found a great opportunity to get a free haircut and donate her hair at the same time. Just recently my tween, out of the blue, came home and declared that she had decided to cut and donate her very lengthy hair to charity. I was dumbfounded. There was nothing I could think of to say since she fought so hard for years against any kind of cut. She mentioned that one of her friends had just gotten a cut and donated her hair to Pantene Beautiful-Lengths (minimum length 8 inches) and her cut looked so nice. My daughter was really excited. So after some research, we chose “Wigs for Kids” since it was for kids and my daughter had at least 12 inches to donate (which is the minimum).
Wigs for kids is a private, non-profit organization relying solely on donations to make durable, custom Hair Replacement Systems that look just as a child's natural hair would. If you are looking for places to donate your hair, Wigs for Kids will be happy to use your ponytail in order to create a Hair Replacement System.
They give you many options to donate to their charity; You have an option to visit a salon listed at Wigs for Kids, or you can follow the step by step guide to cut the ponytail and send it in yourself, you can setup a cutting party as an event, you can donate money, or you can sponsor a child.
We looked through the list of salons that are affiliated with “Wigs for Kids”, but we couldn’t find one close to us available. So we decided to cut her hair at home using the step by step guide and send it to Westlake Ohio ourselves. It’s a win – win, she looks beautiful with her new haircut and one special child will be closer to receiving a wig for free. I’m very proud of her for doing this, she did the research, she found the charity and she followed through on the drastic cut that took off 1.5 feet…no flinching, she practically placed the scissors in my hands. Later she told me how nervous she was, but also how glad she was that she actually did this.
When Children lose their hair, they don't just suffer physically. The change in their appearance can drastically undermine their self-image and sabotage their self-esteem. To help heal the pain of these struggles, Certified Cosmetic Therapist Jeffrey Paul founded Wigs for Kids, a nonprofit organization that has been serving children suffering from hair loss since 1981.
Just yesterday, one very talented and remarkable group of hair stylists in Sterling Heights MI from Elementz Salon held a “Wigs for Kids” event at Lutheran High North High School. They donated their time and energy working all morning cutting hair.
One of the ladies, Denise Graham Kriebich comments: Had a great start of the day! Cut hair with some of my girlfriend's at Lutheran High North High School. The girls donated hair for Wigs for Kids!!!! So proud of them! What a wonderful thing they did for sick children suffering from hair loss usually from cancer! It was so rewarding! I swear I'd do it every week if I could! You can tell it really made them feel good even though they were so nervous!
Love Peace and JOY!!!
Here is Boston, we’re bracing for another frigid day ahead. The temperatures are in the single digits – and then there’s that wind chill effect. I envy the animals and amphibians who sleep through it all and wake up, refreshed, in the spring.
I work from a home office. Today I’m wearing four layers, plus my thick socks and sheepskin slippers. The electrical heater is at my feet. I sip tea all day long. And I eat. And then I eat some more. I’d like to think of it as nature making me do this – after all, think of the whales, the bears, the sea lions and their thick layer of blubber protecting them against the icy weather. But if I’m honest, I realize that I eat because I’m stuck inside, not inclined to get up and away.
Yet the days are getting noticeably longer, and the march to spring has begun in earnest. I just wish the Artic snap would remember it has outstayed its welcome here, thank you very much.
Here are my top favorite things to do, when the weather keeps me inside:
The warmth is coming. And for me, it can’t get here fast enough. What is your favorite tip to survive winter?
Right now, I’d like to thank all of our relatives and friends for the endless supply of children’s reading material sent to us over the years. I believe those books helped turn on my daughters imagination… which helped turn her into the silly and fun thinking person she is today…..it doesn’t hurt that her father and I are truly demented beings. Some of the best times that I have spent with my daughter were when I read to her.
I don’t know if it was because we read so much to her, or that we really showed an interest in the stories, or that she is just a really good reader, but she started reading books to herself before she was five years old. Whatever the reason, I am happy that she enjoyed books so much that she created her own. Pages of cartoons about her hamster “Nibbles” were EVERYWHERE. Play dates with her friends turned into notebooks filled with the “Adventures of NIBBLES”. The whole family got in on the act….slowly we created tooth fairy characters that befriended Nibbles and their stories together. We had fun making up jokes and drawing pictures of their alphabet rhymes. …sometimes her friends joined in too, they seemed to really enjoy the tongue twisters and the adventures.
Now, years later, she is a tween. She is amazing! Yes I am blessed to have her…and YES, she is still reading books. I mean real,”hard print” books, where you have to turn the page between two-fingers books. It changed though when she was given an ipad. She read hard copy books but only because it was for homework and these books couldn’t be found in electronic form. When this happened I started to look for books that might peak her interest, help her destress from a day at school and take a breather from the ipad which was her goto for destressing. I chose the silly cartoon books that seemed to speak to the most silliest of children….”Captain Underpants”,”Calvin and Hobbes”, “Diary of a Whimpy Kid” and don’t forget “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” (not a cartoon, but definitely a favorite). It helped but it’s taken a lot of effort to get her back to reading and loving to read the way it was before.
Before I started this blog post, my daughter and I talked about how much we enjoy books, and she said that one of the best things about reading a book was to open a new book and smell the new print.…can’t get that from an ipad.
I’m sure that there are many reasons why Steve Jobs did not want his children to have ipads (or similar electronic devices), to me I can see that electronic devices can kill the imagination if you’re not careful.
Read to your children, it’s a great adventure that you can go on together without even leaving your house.
…you won’t regret it.
LOVE, PEACE AND JOY!
“Mom,” asked my daughter. “What’s a cankle?” “A what?” I asked. “Cankle. You know, a cankle. It’s in this article, Miley Cyrus hates her cankles.”
I went onto dictionary.com, my go-to source for these being in the know moment. Nothing. Nada. None.
My son overheard us and said, “It’s a fat ankle.” No way, I replied. They didn’t make up a word about something so trivial.
After some spending a few minutes with the almighty Google, I realized there was indeed a name for such a thing – 458,000 discussion points, more or less. Where have I been, when the scourge of the latest body imperfection has been exposed? Who knew that people cared so much about chunky ankles?
As I looked through Google, I came across picture after picture of beautiful celebrities, dressed for the red carpet or caught by paparazzi being out and about. And the text was merciless. ‘The curse of the cankles’ headlined one article. ‘Chunky Ham Hocks’ screamed other. Dr. Oz weighed in on what causes them. Women’s Health and Shape magazines offer advice to reduce them.
Where’s the advice to men on this? Where are the pictures of celebrity men showing unflattering pictures of their legs? I haven’t found any yet. It appears that solidly strong legs from foot to torso are admired in men. In women, it’s yet another body flaw.
Cankles has even entered the political race. Poor Hilary Clinton. As if fighting off the Republicans wasn’t enough, her cankles have now been exposed. It’s hard to compare records on this front, when the other candidates are keeping their ankles hidden under their pinstripes. Maybe she needs to take away time from laying out a new policy for economic growth, and instead go boot shopping.
Personally, I don’t think about my ankles much. They hold me upright, they forgive me on the rare occasions when I wear high heels, and in general they don’t give me trouble. Since I live in a cold climate, they are covered up for much of the year. I suppose I should feel grateful that they are one less thing that I don’t go to bed worrying about. Until this week, I wasn’t aware that the strength in them, was something to be reviled.
Some reading this blog will protest, saying that there are those with truly chunky ankles out there. And my response to those who believe they are suffering from cankles is this: I hope you use your strong legs to help hold your body erect and your head high. Let the world see who you are, by your actions, not your appearance. “Be the change that you want to see in the world” said Gandhi. I don’t know if he had cankles. The world didn’t focus on his ankles back then. They were too mesmerized by the man himself.
What’s next? The curse of large, capable hands?
This is a fun video of Oreo playing with our Gunea Pigs and some hamster toys.
She’s huge! And she’s hasn’t reached her full potential. Her parents were between 12 – 17 pounds, so she is close to her end weight ..we hope!!!...because the bigger the dog….the bigger the doggy dooty. The bigger the doggy dooty, the less time I have for my other duties. She’s great too at telling us when she has to do her dooty. She rings a bell on one of our door knobs until someone notices and we do our duty to take her out to do her duty of going dooty… She’s a wonderfully dootiful puppy!
Is it your duty to pick up the doggie dooty? Does your dog do her duty at night? Then I suggest the kitchen sponge!!!! Or something similar to that. If you’re like me and you have a hard time finding the dooty when you do the duty of picking up the duty, drop a plastic toy, or anything bright that would be easy to find when you come back so you don’t spend half an hour looking for the dooty. WARNING: if you’re in my neighborhood and you see some brightly colored objects on our lawn, I would consider them dooty bombs and walk carefully into the night.
“Ohh do your duuuuty ….and don’t let the dooty make your day ….cray cray!”
Oreos found her voice…
If you notice on the youtube video, our puppy has found her voice. I know a lot of you out there were happy for me when I had reported that we had a dog that didn’t bark….especially our neighbors. NOW we can’t get her to stop barking when we take her out because this puppy barks at her shadow. So she barks more at night and early in the morning….waking everyone up while she protects us from our shadows. If anyone has any tips on how to show a puppy that a shadow is not a danger, please write and comment in…We (& our neighbors) would really appreciate the advice!!!!
This blog may give you some ideas that we do not LOVE our puppy. On the contrary, she is a wonderful source of LOVE to our family. We had a great deal of stress moving to another state just recently….which she has helped to greatly relieve. We now have a common LOVING interest that the whole family can bond over…
….nobody likes doggy dooty duty!
Love, Joy and Peace to you
Happy New Year Everyone!
This is the year...I'm going to get in shape.
This is the year...I'm going to lose that weight.
This is the year… I'm going to eat right.
This is the year my dreams will take flight.
This is the year I vow to be more spiritual, grounded, forgiving, gentle, kind, loving, and I vow to show up...inspired by Queue Murphy.
….and this is the year I am going to start my own Reiki healing business. …wow, I typed it in, it must be true.
I’ve got my level II Reiki certificate for distance healing. So now I’ve got to do 3 major things before I startup my website. 1) Pick a name for the company 2) design the website 3) get through the fear of having my own company and get out of my own way….OK, that’s 4. I know it takes more than 4 steps to start a business, but to me those 4 are my mountains. I don’t know what I’m afraid of…the unknown maybe. Where will this journey take me? What if I fail? What if their pain becomes mine?...or horror among real horrors, what if my business really takes flight? What then? I’m not someone that goes out and looks for attention…hence the distance healing. I read Yoga Tigers Blog and new exactly what she was talking about....terrified to no end!
OK, breathe breathe breathe, then the world will be a much healthier and LOVING place….my mantra to help me get through the startup jitters.
Will you help me? Can we start on step 1?
Step 1) Have any ideas on names? Please email, FB, tweet or comment with name ideas, I’m really starting from scratch below, what do you think?
Ease your pain LLC, or Reiki for you LLC, or SuPERCHARGER!!!! YEAH LLC, or Reiki Got Me A New Life LLC, or Reiki Journeys LLC, or Reiki Reiki Reiki LLC, or Stop the F#$%ing pain NOW LLC.
Please let me know what you vote for, I’d appreciate any comment.
Peace LOVE and Joy!
In 2013, after 17 years with a blue chip company, I found myself on the wrong side of a layoff package. It had been a very good company to work for, and it had treated me well. However, it was time to move on.
Change came in the way of a 20-person, 25-year old company that was seven short miles from my house. The people seemed pleasant, the work would be interesting and hey, it would be a steady paycheck again. Plus, I was assured that there was great life-balance involved. I signed my offer letter and was excited to start this new chapter.
As is with most honeymoon periods, mine was blissful. I went in at 8:30 a.m., took a lunch hour, and left at 5 p.m. I hadn’t worked such short hours in years. We were building a new project, and it was a slow period while things came together. I had the luxury of having actual water-cooler discussions. I took my time. I was able to do real research. I was motivated and happy.
Gradually – and sometimes abruptly – things changed. My product launched and was more successful than expected, but the company was unwilling to invest in adequate resources. I started to work long hours, including most evenings and weekends. Quaint technologies that worked just swell 25 years ago, were straining to keep up with the current processes. There was a lot of manual processing, which drove me crazy. The management team was disengaged and gave no direction. Still, I liked the work and I liked my co-workers. I hit my 18-month anniversary and trudged on.
Yet I started to like it less and less, until one day when I realized that I actually was unhappy. I had an unsupportive, disconnected and uncaring manager. When I told him I needed help, he patronizingly told me to give him a list of what I was working on, and he would help me prioritize my tasks. That night, I spent time I didn’t have, creating a list of the major tasks ahead. When I presented it to him, he glanced at it, said, ‘Yes, there is a lot to do. Do the best you can,’ and grabbed his coat so he could leave at his usual 4 o’clock departure time. I tried another time, using the method from my previous company, by asking him what I would be measured on. ‘Everything,’ he replied. ‘Everything?’, I said in disbelief. ‘Marketing? Finance? Business Development? Customer relations? Operations?’ ‘Yep’, he said. ‘Everything is important.’ And he walked past me, on his way out to lunch.
My personality started to change. I became crabby and had no time for pleasantries with my colleagues. Twice, I closed my office door and cried in frustration. I ate more chocolate that usual. I became bitter, resentful, frustrated. But good things would happen – we would close new business, we would run a successful event – and I would get a tiny bit of that exhilaration back. It didn’t last long, but it was enough to keep going.
My turning point came after working very long hours for two months in a row. Exhausted, I tried to negotiate a raise for a highly-valuable, underpaid person on my team. Our revenues were robust and I wanted to bring her up to market rate. ‘You’re all commodities,’ my manager snapped as he rejected my request. ‘I can get rid of any of you and find a replacement, any time.’
And that’s when I decided it was time for the divorce.
I planned carefully, and updated my resume. I called in connections, went on interviews. But my day-into-nights-and-weekends job still pulled at me, zapping my energy and my time. After a month of looking, I decided to just take the plunge and resign, so that I could regain some energy back before starting something new.
Now two weeks into unemployment, I’m happy again. My wallet is slimmer, but my smile is wider. One of my favorite quotes is from Tokyo Drift, where Han says, “Life is simple. You make choices and don’t look back.” I’m at peace, and ready for whatever adventure lies ahead.
Who out there, is a natural runner? Lucky you. I always envied those who love to run, who gracefully glide by, seemingly without effort. I’m not a natural runner. My face turns red, my knees hurt, and I huff and puff and count down the minutes until I get to stop. Which I did, for about 15 years.
Nine weeks ago, after a particularly grueling work schedule that involved much slumping over a laptop for much of my waking hours, I was feeling more sluggish, out of shape, and lower on energy than usual. I needed a change. Two days later, a local Meetup advertising a new Couch to 5K program popped into my inbox. It was free, it was at 6:30 p.m. – which would force me to leave the office on time – and best of all, it was right in my town. I was in!
On the first night, a very eclectic group of all shapes and ages assembled at the track. Coach Jim gave us a pep talk and told us that the goal was the Turkey Trot 5k race, Thanksgiving morning. We walked at a normal pace around the track, stopped to do some jumping jacks and stretching. Then, he blew the whistle and we proceeded to walk again. Whistle blown, we then jogged a bit. A short time later, the whistle blew again and we walked some more. And 30 minutes later, after some more walking, a bit of running, and more walking, he blew the whistle to signal the end of the workout. Barely out of breath, I thought, ‘I can actually do this.’ I was pumped.
The first few weeks were easy. Three nights a week, we’d meet at the track to walk for several minutes, run for a few, then walk again. Gradually, we added more running, and less walking, time. It was a low-key, supportive group, and Jim literally would run circles around us at the track, shouting encouragement along the way.
I missed nearly a week of Meetups thanks to a business trip, and when I returned, I realized that we were doing a lot more running. I was out of breath… but not as much as I would have thought. ‘Wow,’ I thought again. ‘I will do this.’
On Thanksgiving morning, our group was among the 1,700 runners in my town who gathered for the Turkey Trot. It was a gorgeous day, crisp but not cold, and the sun was shining. As we gathered near the start line, coach Jim gave us our final pep talk. ‘You can all do this,’ he said. ‘Take your time, pace yourself. I’ll see you at the finish line.’
Then the horn sounded and we were on our way. There were many whoops, much laughter and talking, and cheers from people along the route. We ran down the street, turned the corner, and I realized that I was actually running in a race. And I was actually having fun. While running. It was unimaginable.
I did stop halfway, where small kids were handing out cups of water. And a little later, I stopped running on the steepest part of the hill, but kept walking briskly. A few minutes later, I resumed running.
There’s nothing like the site of home stretch, where people are lined up, shouting encouragement. I quickened my pace and my body didn't complain. I charged onward, grinning as the clock flashed my time as I crossed the finish line. The time didn’t matter… the finishing bit, did.
For those who are looking for a great way to ease into shape, the Couch to 5k program is a fantastic approach. With the New Year approaching, it’s a great time to get started. If you’re lucky, you’ll have some friends to do this with – and perhaps even your own coach Jim.
Here’s to the road ahead, to get you through the holidays, leaving that coach behind.
By On The Cusp
Isn’t this the generation that was supposed to be the liberated from our underwear? For centuries, woman suffered from tight corsets and girdles. Who can forget the famous scene in Gone with the Wind, where Mammy pulled ferociously to help Scarlett O’Hara bind in her 17-inch waist? Up through the 1960s, girdles were part of the standard dress code.
Our mothers and grandmothers showed a little more sense and staged a revolution in the 1960s, shrugging out of their girdles and burning their bras in the 60s and early 70s. Lumpiness and sagging was in, rigid underwear was out.
And then along came Spanx. The product was created by Sara Blakely in 2000, after she unsuccessfully searched for a solution to improve the way she looked in a pair of her cream-colored pants. The undergarment didn’t exist, so she set out to create it. In 2012, Sara became the youngest self-made woman to make the Forbes Billionaire list. That’s a whole lot of Spanx.
While I had heard of Spanx, I always thought they were for fashionistas, of which I am not. My first close encounter was about 10 years ago at a high school reunion, when I accompanied a friend – in the jock clique at school - to the ladies room. “It’s going to be awhile,” she informed me. “I’ve got my Spanx on.” Ten minutes later, she emerged, looking sleek and victorious.
A few months later, panicking over an upcoming business trip and an over-indulgent month of indulging, I succumbed and plucked down my credit card, hoping for a slight improvement. Pulling the tiny nylon garb out of its package, I wondered how the heck it could get over my foot, never mind up my leg. I tugged and pulled, sucked in and yanked, sweated and wiggled some more… and lo and behold, there it was. My body looked more toned, less lumpy. And miracle of miracles, my jacket actually buttoned without straining. I immediately became a convert.
While I wasn’t quite ready for the paparazzi, I felt great. In the space of 10 strenuous minutes of tugging, I had quite literally achieved a more pulled together look. By putting on what the previous generation had cast off, I gained a little more freedom, a little more confidence in my outward appearance.
Turns out, some of those ladies on the red carpet share my love of Spanx. And it’s not just Oprah. Willowy celebrities Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow have publicly admitted to the role of Spanx in achieving some of their sleekness. And I recently read that Adele wore not one but four pairs of spanx underneath her designer gown to the Grammy’s. Can you imagine her helper in wardrobe that night? Or the line in the ladies room, as the famous and merely rich wait and wait for their turn to tug, pull, yank and then reverse steps?
So, ladies, who among you are shapewear converts? And who is reading this with pity for me and others with our Spanx-ing new bodies? Let’s hear what you have to say!
We’ve had a new addition in our family about a month now. She is wonderful!!! She is everything we could have asked for, she is playful, Loving, curious, Loving, fast, Loving, cute as a button , and Loving!!! She is now a little more than 3 months old and it’s hard to remember life without her. She keeps us company when we are lonely, sad, scared or even bored.
Let me tell you why believe that she was a circus dog or some kind of circus performer in another life. When we are walking if there are any people within a 50 ft radius, then she will stand on her hind legs and face them until they are either petting her or out of hearing range. And out of the blue, for some reason or other, she will pick a spot in the middle of the road and just sit down and look around her, like she is the center of attention and she is waiting for whatever audience there is to come, sit down and watch her perform….weird and wonderful!!! …she blends into our family perfectly!
I’ve learned a few things I thought you would like to know:
Best times to get your puppy would be in the summer of course because then you’re not struggling to get dressed, get your coat on, tripping over the dog toys in the bedroom, finding your shoes, find your dog’s leash, put the harness on, find the flashlight, tripping over the toys on the stairs, trying to get her out in time so that she doesn’t pee on you or the rug, all at 3 am quietly. The first week consisted of making sure that she was taken out every 4 hours so that she wouldn’t go to the bathroom indoors. …reminded me of when my daughter was younger, she would strip off her diaper and go commando.….ha ha ha ha
Best chew toys:
#1.our hands, fingers, legs, toes, and nose! …I am not a chew toy I am a human being!!!
#2.the bathroom paper cup, seriously, we find her trying to sneak into the bathroom for extra helpings of bathroom cups to chew most of the time…she can’t get enough. …the best recycling for a bathroom cup I know of too….no, she doesn’t eat them, she just likes to chew them.
#3. Stop and Shops raw hides, she will eat these nonstop when we run out of bathroom cups
#4. The lobeler, yes THE LOBELER!!! This is a homemade toy. Made from a sock, put old clothes into the sock and knot it up at end and you have a perfect chew toy. So many store bought toys have stuffing in the middle. Unfortunately it only takes a few chews and tug of war games, and you’ve got stuffing that you don’t want your puppy anywhere near because she will choke on it.
…it’s gotten to the point where we’ve created our own little jingle… (sung to the spiderman tune)
Oreo, Oreo, she’ll lick off every one of your toes
Don’t bend down
Don’t get close
She will bite off your whole nose
LOOK OUT, here comes Oreo, she’ll lick off all of your toes, she’ll even eat your NOSE!!!
Best way to shop for harness:
Make sure you take your dog into the store, most pet stores will allow it, and you will never get it right and you will have to bring it back atleast 3 times before you get the size just right for your dog. There are literally so many varieties that it’s impossible to know what is right until you see it on your dog.
Best way to cut your pets hair:
I would definitely take her in to a groomer, there are so many reasons to let a trained professional take over in this event. Yes it is an event!!! But if you are in between grooming apts, you can do what we do and wait until she is absolutely asleep, and when you pick her up, and she’s in the state where she looks like she has had just one too many beers, you have time to make maybe one or two cuts before she is fully lucid enough to wrestle and wriggle away from you. Wait for another nap, and then, bam, you’ve cut a little more, and then a leetle more. She may not look as well groomed as if she had been taken to the groomers, but at least she will be able to see….hey don’t judge, we have a lot of stairs she needs to navigate.
Best way to keep your non-trained puppy with you when you’re busy. The most absolutely best way to keep your dog out of the way would be the crate, but sometimes when she’s been in the crate too long and you don’t have the time to play, may I suggest slipping the leash onto your ankle, and letting her play tug of war with you while you walk around the house doing your housework. She will have fun, get exercise and you will get a tension workout for your legs. EVERYONE WINS!!!
Just a shout out to Whoopi Goldberg who has adopted a blind puppy. What a wonderful person!!! https://www.facebook.com/whoopigoldberg/photos/a.214759651869396.59220.181582881853740/1086220138056672/?type=3&theater
Of course November is the month we all are asked to take time and reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. And of course November is so stinking busy that there is no time to sit and reflect on our blessings because we are preparing a 15 course dinner for our 53 close relatives coming in from out of town next thursday. I myself obsess over new recipes and ideas for setting the table (i have devoted way too many hours watching food network!). I think over all the different colors and textures of dishes I want to offer my guests and impress them with a glorious and delicious bounty of tastes that surpass the prior thanksgiving feast! I go to sleep reworking all the possibilities in my mind. The shopping, the prepping, the planning, hours and days of pulling this whole thing together. Along with these important tasks, there is the nasty complication of work, my children, a house to maintain and a full on commitment to completing my yoga teacher training. so, I have now stressed myself to the point where this isn't any fun. it's work and i've got lots of that to do always. Now, everything gets in the way of everything else. I want to think about cooking, but i have a weekend of yoga training. I want to focus on yoga, but I need to plan what I'm making for turkey day. It's all become a big hair pulling disaster and I started to feel sorry for myself with all these now unpleasant things I have to do. That was before the horrific events that happened in Paris. The tragic loss, the grief and the shock of it slapped me in the face. What was I stressing about? Why? Life can bring unexpected unpleasant things that I cannot control. It made me stop and think. What do I have here and now? How can I live life to it's fullest now? How can I just be able to appreciate the wonderful people in my life as we are without needing a foodies dream of a thanksgiving meal? These events have a way of pulling us back to what we have in this moment, what we are grateful for and what we don't want to lose. All my heart desires now is to see my family and friends around my table. The meal is not what will unite us, its our love for each other. My grand plans have drifted away from me now and I see a simple meal made with love and ease that we will all be thankful for, because we will be together. It was not the way I thought I would find gratitude this month. It wasn't anyones. And my heart grieves for those who have suffered the loss of those whom they loved…
I love to people watch. I think that the next generation is missing out on building people skills – and on lots of fun too - by choosing to look down at the digitized people and text on their tiny screens, instead of looking up at the world around them.
One of the best places to people watch is at the airport. There you see people at their best, and their worst. Patterns emerge. Stereotypes are reinforced, then shattered: Vacation-bound families of stressed-looking parents juggling bags and passes, bored teenagers, excited kids. Well-dressed older women, tidy and prim for the journey. Retirees in brightly-colored clothing who are taking it all in stride, relaxing with a cup of coffee and a book. A heavily-pierced young man politely allowing others to cut the line ahead of him. Harried men and women in business suits walk briskly by themselves, talking away on their Bluetooth-connected devices.
This week, I was at Logan airport for a 7:00 a.m. flight to Washington. As I drove to the airport at 5:15 a.m., I marveled at the traffic jam, the flood of cars at a crawl. Really? Who are all these people, and why were they on the road at this unspeakable hour?
As it turns out, most were heading to the airport. Inside the terminal, there were long lines. It was now 5:50 a.m. I punched in my information into the self-service computer and shuffled over to the crowded security area, and settled in for a long bout of people watching.
The best part of people watching at airports is at the security line, where the shedding game begins. Shoes come off. Clunky jewelry and watches are carefully placed in bins. Coats are dumped into small bins, unveiling rumpled sweatshirts or silk blouses underneath. On that morning, there was a middle-aged woman who quickly became my favorite attraction. She had on a fashionable head scarf. As she attempted to go through the metal detector, the security machine chirped and flashed. The TSA agent stepped over and asked her to remove her scarf. She complied, showing us a headful of large metal curler pins. There had to have been at last 15 of them. Realizing that they were going to take a few minutes to remove, the TSA agent asked her to step aside to do the deed. Others shuffled through the line. Hardware free, the woman then stepped to the front of the line and crossed through the security machine. The TSA agent once again stepped forward, frowning and pointing at her feet. She had forgotten to remove her shoes. Unfortunately, it was then my turn and I had no choice but to walk around her. I had been hoping to see what would have stopped her next.
As I write this blog, I’m back at the airport, this time for the return trip home. Today has a whole different vibe to it. The rush of the workday and getting to meetings, has been replaced with a sea of relaxed-looking passengers, anticipating the weekend adventure ahead, the return to friends and family. Here too are characters to entertain: The older woman in her purple sweater and red jacket. A middle-aged couple who sits side by side in silence, not touching or looking at each other. Several people are hunched over laptops, urgently getting things out of the way. A rather large gentleman eating a rather large, and rather messy, sandwich. The bearded man in Birkenstocks, shouting angrily at someone on his iPhone, oblivious to the rest of us. (The dichotomy of his footgear makes my head spin.).
Strolling confidently, a woman in a full length fur coat passes by, accompanied by a tall man with a felt fedora hat. It’s a warm November day, and I hope she’s heading to Canada or Alaska. A large extended family chats excitedly, greeting the rest of their party who just arrived. A smartly-dressed businessman sports a neatly-tied long ponytail of cornrows.
Inevitably, I spot the parent flying solo with their young child. This time, it’s the father who is competently maneuvering around people, finding a seat for his son, deftly pulling the tab off a small dish of grapes with one hand. I watch in admiration as he calmly talks to his curious child, sharing observations. After about five minutes, however, the Dad whips out his phone and starts texting away, oblivious to his son’s questions and chatter. The son, however, continues to look around with wide eyes, asking questions, making observations.
I spy a teenager, who is sprawled over two seats, hunched over her phone, oblivious to the chatter and movement around her. I urge to go over to her and tell her to break the silicon umbilical cord. If she does, she will find that the real entertainment is found by looking up, not down.
There was a time in my life that I was convinced my growing to grown up girls wanted me to be the cat lady. I i had lost two husbands and my girls were moving on to college, so I think they felt i needed company. We had two beautiful felines that had survived their childhood and we adopted a new boy when we moved into our new home a few years back. It had a very sad ending, as our boy never came back after following the middle cat out for the night. Then we lost the middle cat soon after, to likely the same fate. Then the oldest girl had to be put down. That was a lot of loss in a years time. I was ready to be free of being a pet owner, letting go of the responisbility of caring for a cat. Letting go of being so worried about their well being. Then, I got the call from Brooklyn, NY.
My daughter called distressed and worried about a cat on the street. Her boyfriend and she worried that she was a domestic abandoned and left to the kindness of strangers. She was so friendly and open with them, they wanted to bring her in to a shelter to have her shots and be adopted. But, I guess the rules in NY are that felines only have a couple of weeks as a rescue to get adopted before they are put down. The local kids in the neighborhood called her midnight (cause thats when she came out). So, my daughter and her boyfriend put in action, operation midnight! Because she was a rescue, the vet bill was lower. Once she was inoculated, she was lured back into a carrier and brought on the overnight train ( one of the few that allow pets to travel with you) to our home.
She was terrified, traumatized, so scared. We let her just hide and calm herself. We tucked one kibble bit after another toward her to get her to eat. she started to nibble, then eat. Phew. Still, she remained hidden.
The next morning i went down and just talked to her and blinked my eyes to let her know it was ok. she slowly slithered out from under our couch. I did not approach her. I walked away and sat so she could approach me. She came up and started to rub against me. It was going to be ok. She was starting to feel safe. It's just been a couple of days, but we have a new girl in the house and she is loved and loves!
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Yesterday, my co-worker went to his fourth funeral in three weeks. The last one began with the nightmare of all parents: the knock on the door in the middle of the night, the fatal car crash. As my co-worker struggled to help his son cope with the loss of his high school friend, he came across some powerful words that stunned me in their beauty and insight. This appeared on the community website Reddit, as a response to the following plea: ‘My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.’
And so I am copying these words in hopes that the women of this community, will rarely need them... but if you do, that they may bring you a sense of peace. And to the gentleman who wrote this, I give my heartfelt thanks for your gift to mourners everywhere.
Alright, here goes. I'm old. What that means is that I've survived (so far) and a lot of people I've known and loved did not. I've lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can't imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here's my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don't want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don't want it to "not matter". I don't want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can't see.
As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too. If you're lucky, you'll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.
By: Queue Murphy
This week we celebrated my Grandmother's 97th birthday. There were over 50 of us ranging in age from 18 months to 97 years. My Grandmother is a Great-Great Grandmother by my oldest son and his wife. I am the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter (that's as far back as we can figure out). My grandson is my Grandmother's Great-Great Grandson. What a family line - we can't pick them, but I love them all. Many were missing as they lived out of state, but their well wishes were with us!
We grew up next door to my Grandmother and Grandfather. We called him Dzia Dzia in Polish. Our house was a small 3 bedroom bungalow with one bathroom and 7 of us. Whenever we had to go to the bathroom quick, we ran through the yard and used their bathroom! Whenever I wanted to feel special (being the oldest of 5 kids, you get told to watch the younger ones a lot, and are never alone) - I would go next door and sit in between my grandparents while we watched McGyver. My Grandmother used to take me to movies and walks with her German Shepherd (who dragged me around like a rag doll). She wasw the fastest walker I knew and we could never keep up! She used to start all of the water fights when we were kids at our family camp, and made wonderful birthday cakes for us. Her Polish dinners were better than anyones! She taught us how to Polka and sing Sto Lat (Happy Birthday in Polish). She went to all of our sporting events and watched us for my mom. She even named all of us after we were born. I was named after the Saints she prayed to because my mother's first baby had died. Whenever my kids give me a hard time she tells me: 'Don't worry honey, the first 100 years are the hardest.' She would know - she has taken care of many of us and held us up through many ups and downs in our lives. Always there!
I remember when my Grandmother used to feed me and give me baths - now we do that for her - and everytime I am washing her back, or walking slowly behind her or making her tea, I think about those times, and look at her well worn loving hands and know that they were there for all of us. I only hope that
Sure enough, every spring forward and fall back my internal clock does not adjust voluntarily. I don't use an alarm to wake up, my body just knows it's time to wake up as it did the day before and the day before that. It was something that kicked in after kids and being on high alert for so many nights! But toss in a time change and Hello! everything misfires! Every year it seems to take a week more to reorient myself. I go through the first week or so dazed, tired and not completely in the moment! It's like jet lag without the fun trip. Bedtime comes and I'm exhausted. I fall asleep almost immediately and wake up 3 hours later staring at my ceiling fan. While this years fall back change has triggered all the same time issues for me, I found a handy tool from yoga that helps!
Forward folds. They calm the nervous system and seem to do the trick for me lately. From lying on my back in bed, I sit up with my legs extended. I take a deep breath in and then blow it out while lowering my head down toward my knees. I bend my knees a lot to let my belly rest on my thighs. My hands are resting next to my legs.Then I gently release my head down allowing for a stretch from the base of my skull and all along my spine/back. It's here i feel all the tension that's built up along my spine start to "talk" to me and I'm very careful to notice it releasing but not let it be painful. I relax here for at least 5 longs breaths, then slowly (and i mean slowly) roll down to my back. Ahhh, that just really makes me sleepy and ready to drift back off to slumber. If I find my thoughts start to invade this peaceful trance I created, I take another forward bend. It's also good to do these before I go to bed, but when I am exhausted, I just want to hit the pillow! That's why I'm up at 3am doing forward folds. It's a process.