Aerial Yoga

Aerial Yoga Cocoon

Aerial Yoga Cocoon

Always looking for a new adventure, my friend asked me to join her in an aerial yoga class. You hang in cloth suspended from the ceiling, she told me; all quite safe. We committed to an upcoming class at the only aerial yoga studio in town.

As the yoga date drew near, I wanted to be prepared. I watched a video, thanks to the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/video/health/100000000789079/gym-class-trying-antigravity-yoga.html) and read a quick article (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/gym-class-antigravity-yoga/). This is going to be fun, I said to my friend.

We arrived at the yoga studio early. The studio was pretty and smelled nice. There were a few ladies twirling and swinging in their aerial wraps. Experienced, I said to myself. We met one other novice and became fast friends.

The instructor was very pleasant and the class of about 15 had a nice mix of abilities. Our first move involved jumping into the fabric and wrapping ourselves into a cocoon. I was surprised at how difficult it was to jump into the fabric, I wondered if I should have worked on the TRX a little more. Ugh, why do my arms feel so weak? Once seated on the cloth, it was necessary to maneuver my body and feet while unraveling the cloth enough to create a cocoon. Having experienced getting wrapped up in the bed sheets and falling to the ground I wondered, how many newbies fall out of these things? Besides getting really hurt, I will be really embarrassed, I kept thinking. When does this become fun?

Ah, success! I was finally encased in the fabric. My excitement was quickly erased by the overwhelming human smell within the cocoon. The fabric stunk! I could not get the thought of the terrible odor out of my mind while trying to enjoy that sense of Om the instructor was preaching. Perhaps I just have a very keen sense of smell and I’m too sensitive, I thought.

Come out of the cocoon and stand on the floor, our instructor requested; then she showed us some really nifty yoga moves. She was smooth and moved like an acrobat. I marveled at her arm strength. As we stood together listening and watching, one of my friends commented about the smell. All together we replied, yeah, it really stinks! I found myself quickly glancing at the instructor, to see if she heard us.

It was kind of okay for me to feel like I was alone in my feelings, but after our common refrain I could not fully engage in any of the yoga moves. My thoughts went from smelly body odor to other sordid communicable things, like head lice, skin lesions, and fungal infections. Having been encapsulated with a whole bunch of other people’s DNA, left me praying that I get out of this unscathed.

Once the class ended I wanted to get home and take a shower. The instructor and I exchanged pleasantries and asked me if I would return. Of course, I said as I said to myself, when pigs fly!

Does It Matter If We Save the Children?

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Photograph of US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in her office with her son, Henry, playing in the foreground. Photo Credit: The New Yorker Magazine, December 16, 2013, page 40

Talk to me about saving a dog from a life of starvation and harm, and I’m touched.

Really.

Talk to me about saving a child from a life of starvation and abandonment, and I want to take action.

Human beings, they’re at the top of the hierarchy, for me.  People come first.

So many cute quotes come to mind when I think about saving a child.  Society seems to wax poetic over the ideal of children and childhood, yet the reality of childhood for many is a horror story.

Children are abandoned.  Everywhere.  The causes are many.  Wars; insurrection; natural and unnatural disasters; jobs; disease; and more.  The Washington Post just ran a story about the abandonment of about 65 million children in China.  Work.  Money.  Decimation of farmland.   An entire way of life.  Gone. Parents forge their way into the city for work.  The work is hard; the hours are long; the pay is minimal.  No children allowed.  Leave them behind.  It’s the only option.  Leave them with…someone…anyone who will take them.   Mom and Dad will come back.  Reunite…someday.  It breaks their heart to leave, but they must work.

Sad.

Millions of children in Africa abandoned.  Wars. Disease.  They wander and cluster together, looking for direction; a sense of family.  Bad elements often fill the void.

Children.  They’re vulnerable. They’re needy; they need direction.  Cults and gangs prey on negligence;  they provide direction and a sense of family to many lost and abandoned children.  They mold and shape them into their culture.   Childhood…lost in a moment.

As they always say in planning, if you don’t plan your outcome someone else will.  Millions and millions, perhaps billions and billions of children are becoming programmed to be something that citizens of the world will fear.

Does child abandonment only happen in third world nations?  Does it happen in our cities?  Our neighborhood?  Our own household?  A topic that begs discussion loses out to the news about China and Africa.   But they’re here, all around us.  They’re walking the streets or sitting in a house alone with nothing to do but watch TV.  Often hidden from view.  Out of sight, out of mind.  We have our own lives to live.  Time is a valuable commodity.  Our resources are strained.  We don’t want to interfere.

When a young teenager arms himself to the hilt, walks into an elementary school and murders as many children as possible, we can’t fully process the complexity of the issue.  When the story repeats itself across the nation, we start to imagine the worst.  What is creating this type of monster?

Is it possible that the natural parent-child relationship is losing out to an all-consuming job or jobs?  So many things going on in our society, so much to maintain; it’s difficult to imagine how any family can juggle all its responsibilities.  Something or someone suffers.

Think for a moment about all the working parents.  Now, think about their children.  What are their children doing while they are working?  U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s six year old son, Henry, is shuffled around the Capitol, when a sitter is unavailable; he’s locked out of the Senate Chambers during session.  He amiably sits on “an antique wooden bench outside the chamber door while mom [Gillibrand] went inside to signal yea” (p. 40, The New Yorker, December 16, 2013).

The Senator has resources.  She knows people. If she experiences problems with child care, what are the masses doing?  Where are the children going?  Who is watching them?  Who is loving them?  Who is caring for them?

When parents are with their children, are they really with their children?  Are they in the moment?

I can’t help believe that the effects of children growing up without love, without direction or guidance is devastating on any scale, but the vast numbers of abandoned children are becoming more commonplace, even in this country. I cannot help but think that the future of our planet will suffer for the lack of care and concern afforded our most vulnerable individuals. Life is so very simple; living is so very complicated.

I wish I could save all the children, but I can’t.  I can save one child, my own granddaughter.  My husband and I watch her. Care for her. Nurture her. Educate her. Feed her. Nine hours a day; five days a week.  We started doing this when she was twelve weeks old.  She just turned two.

Our patience is enormous, much better than when we were younger.  We’re attentive and just love to watch her learn and grow and develop new skills.  She teaches us things about ourselves.  Makes us develop skills we never knew we had.  Keeps us moving.  Motivates us.  Loves us right back.

I think we have helped save a child.

If I could have one wish.  One really big wish.  I wish that we could find a way to provide better care for our children.  Make it easier for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins to take care of our children.  Incentivize this.  Please.  It’s really important.

The Daily Newspaper

I miss the daily newspaper.

From its front page with world, national and local news headlines to the goings on in the Chambers of local government and the courts.  The news…it was all there, seven days a week without fail.  From the ridiculous to the sublime, the daily newspaper brought a whole world of information to my doorstep.  Full time reporters met deadlines in order to bring news-breaking stories to their audience.  Many times the news was so timely it became the source of news for the local television stations.   The scoop of the day was always had by a tenacious beat reporter who might even be awarded a bit of notoriety in some upcoming news reporter’s award ceremony.   Local politicos, ever wary of the ‘reporter in the room’, were more careful.  Armed with Open Meetings Laws and Ethics Laws, the print media provided another set of eyes on the happenings in the Chambers of Local Government.   The print media, in its heyday, was a force to be reckoned with.

I miss the daily newspaper.

In its print edition, the daily newspaper provided something to be folded, marked up, referred to and kept on the shelf for a few days.  If I went away for a week or two, I always asked someone to collect my newspaper for me so that I could read it when I returned.  It was my daily dose of equilibrium; the reason why I arose an hour early each day.  I’d mull over its pages while enjoying a fresh cup of coffee.

I miss the daily newspaper.

World news abounds.   I can listen to NPR or open my tablet to read any number of world news outlets.  There’s an abundance of news out there, but not so much local news anymore.  Things are happening in my local government, but I have to go up onto various electronic sources to get that information.  It’s no longer consolidated into one nice package.

I miss the daily newspaper.

I miss the reporter’s writing.  I miss the tone.  I miss the misspellings and the really good information.  I miss the comics and the cross word puzzle and the listing of real estate transactions, bankruptcies and the police blotter.  I miss Dear Abby and Heloise and whole bunch of information that is no longer available at my doorstep every day.

I miss the daily newspaper.

Redundancy

I don’t like doing things over and over again, which is why I don’t like shopping for groceries.  Necessary as it might be, a trip to the grocery store is fraught with do-overs.  Think for a moment about the process of grocery shopping; the whole process from list making to inventory-ing the larder, all the stuff that goes on before even heading off to the grocery store.  Then park the car and walk through a parking lot.  Parking lots, by the way are not meant for people to walk in, just one of those nuances we seem to accept in this car culture.  Oh well, that’s for another blog; back to the redundancy of grocery shopping.  After traversing the parking lot, I finally reach the bank of grocery carts…those dirty, wet grocery carts sitting in the open air (ugh!); abandoned by someone so that the next shopper could gather up their food purchases.  Is this what’s meant by hunting and gathering?  (Hmm, another example of failed policy; looks like another blog topic.)  Anyway, to go on with my story about grocery shopping, a task most of us have to do, except George Bush, we take our grocery cart and fill it up with our culinary wants, needs and desires as we travel up and down the aisles of the store.

At the end of our journey through the store we have to tally up our cartful of booty and pay for it.  All those things we put in the cart must be removed and individually scanned and bagged.   If you’re lucky enough to shop in a store where the checker bags the groceries after scanning, you’ve saved yourself one or two redundant  touching sequences; otherwise, you may just have to bag your own groceries.  Next, put your bags of groceries back into the shopping cart and wheel them back through the treacherous parking lot to your vehicle; load them and head for home.  Once home, remove your purchases from your vehicle, lug them inside to your pantry and unpack.  Finally, put them away.   It looks to me like we touch the items we purchase a whole bunch of times, maybe even more times than the farmer or producer did and maybe more before we own them than after.  Seems pretty silly to me, but maybe I live in a backward community?

Surely, I thought, some inventor or grocery store marketer has thought about all of these redundant actions and developed a better system.   I’m thinking something on the order of selecting items and scanning and bagging them immediately, rather than putting them in the cart to pull out again to scan then bag, etc.  So I did a little research.  My first stop was to look in the Trades, so I visited Supermarket News’ Web site (www.supermarketnews.com).  The opening page was full of different articles and pictures of mucky mucks in the supermarket industry, all elderly white men.   Interesting I thought, this must be the last bastion of elderly working gents, but also very telling because it explains why supermarkets here in the U.S. haven’t changed much over the past few decades.  The industry appears to be run by people living in the past.  Take for example an article I was drawn to because its topic touches on the very thing that could be a time saver for the consumer.   Entitled, The Birth of Scanning by Bill Daley (http://supermarketnews.com/blog/birth-scanning), it’s a complete treatise on the past, circa 1970’s.  I guess we can’t go forward unless we know where we’ve been, but IBM and Pathmark?  Why does Supermarket News devote the first page of its Web site to this, I thought.  Another trade journal, called Bricks Meets Click (www.bricksmeetsclicks.com) was mentioned in Supermarket News, so I surfed right over to that site; hoping to find something alluding to sanity for the consumer.   All I found were more articles about upping the ante for the supermarket retailer through social media and other electronic means.  I was drawn to a White Paper entitled, Guidance for 2013: Acting on Key Shopper Trends.  I thought this is it. This White Paper will point out the present folly of the Supermarket and outline a plan of action to change things.  So I clicked on the link (http://www.brickmeetsclick.com/guidance-for-2013–acting-on-key-shopper-trends–online-paper-), grabbed a cup of coffee and started reading.  The very first paragraph, The Introduction, had a spelling error.  Legitimate articles do not have spelling errors in the very first paragraph, I said to myself.  I was disillusioned but read on and found the Paper to be fairly light on the substance I was looking for.  I searched the Web, Time Magazine, The Hub Magazine; finally, I hit pay dirt.  ABC News ran a story in 2007 (Wow, that’s a long time ago, I thought.) entitled, Sci-Fi Supermarket: High-Tech Innovations Coming to the Grocery Store (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/NewYearNewYou/story?id=4081198).  It outlines Stop and Shop’s Shopping Buddy System, which does exactly what ‘m I’m looking for:  remove the item from the shelf, scan it and bag it.  It tallies the total purchase on the spot; you just walk out the door when you’re done.  Sounds great; so I surfed right on over to Stop and Shop, just to see if the system is up and running and whether or not it’s effective and, yes, they have the system implemented.   You can use your smartphone or an in-store scanner to scan the merchandise and bag it yourself (http://www.stopandshop.com/our_stores/tools.htm?linkid=SN).  ABC wrote about another innovation at Green Hills Farms in Syracuse, NY, where patrons can finger scan their merchandise right on the spot and have their purchases automatically debited from their checking account.  I surfed on over to Green Hills’ Web site (http://www.greenhills.com/dept/about/about.htm), but found nothing discussed. 

My mind started to think of other problems inherent with a system where the goods in the shopping cart are paid for the second they enter.  The consumer just inherited a whole bunch of risk.  Uh oh, I’m not sure I like this.  What if I change my mind, after putting it in my shopping cart?  What if somebody walks off with my shopping cart?  Surely there must be a White Paper discussing all of the pros and cons.  Right?  Should I trust those fine old gents at Supermarket News to think of all this?

Enough!  Before this story gets too long and drawn out or even redundant, I will close by saying the technology exists to make our shopping experience more beneficial.  Armed with this knowledge, we consumers must push, cajole, prod and campaign for better conditions.  It’s time to tell supermarket management to start making shopping easier for you.  Turn their social media programs into your own forum to get something accomplished.   Fight for your rights!

Really?

Do I really have to become an advocate?

I get tired just thinking about all this.

Keep It Simple

My mom used to always say, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?”  It was her perpetual retort anytime I wanted something because ‘everyone else’ had it or did it.   Her lack of empathy could be so annoying.

Fifty years later, I still think about her short answers to complicated issues whenever ethical dilemmas arise.  Sometimes her voice permeates the headlines as I hear her tell Lance Armstrong, and the rest of those bikers, to stop doping all together.  Her lofty pronouncement, “They call it dope for a reason,” resonates.

“Do unto others…” is another one of mom’s favorite answers.  Applying the Golden Rule to many of life’s situations has merit.  I often repeat the phrase to myself when posed with a dilemma; it has never failed me.

I spent this past weekend with a rather large group trying to learn a form of Tai Chi.  Simple movements made complicated by an overzealous instructor.   One day into the training we were all exasperated and near to tears.   With day two and a test looming, we practiced late into the evening until we could practice no more.  We felt like we were concentrating on each individual movement too much and losing the natural rhythm and flow.  When the instructor took ill the next day and cancelled the class, each of us felt like a great weight had been removed.

Tai Chi, doping, educating our children, housing, senior care, child care, health care…basic, simple stuff should not be so complicated.  I know this; I understand this…so why the heck do things get so darn complicated?

Bad Haircut

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Bad Haircut

I made the mistake of asking my hairdresser for more height. My current hairdo was too flat on top. So the hairdresser gave me wings. Obviously asking for more height was not the correct thing to do with this hairdresser, because he cut some really short layers and then finished off using thinning sheers. What a mess.

At my age I’ve experienced lots of bad haircuts. I’ve had the cut with the wingy, flippy ends; the one with the way too short bangs; the one with the pointy at the top, wide at the bottom pyramid look; the one with the too short layers; the list goes on and on. When I experienced my most recent haircut, a total expression of hairdresser gone kamikaze, it brought me back to those deep feelings I get whenever I get one of these bad haircuts. I hate the way I look and tell myself that truly attractive people look good in any haircut; my communication skills are lacking because I should have been able to describe what I wanted with pinpoint accuracy, or I’m too easy going, because anyone else would have had the presence of mind to get up from the chair the minute they saw the session going awry.

The hairdresser isn’t blameless, either. The next morning, I’m incensed! I’ll have to get ready to go out into the world with this, this hair! It’s absolutely awful. I’m not a vindictive person, nor am I into black magic, but if I had a VooDoo doll … the things I would do to that hairdresser! Woo Hoo, that felt good!

For the next few weeks, while I wait out this bad haircut, it’s just me, my VooDoo doll and a whole box of pins.

New Year’s Resolutions…or What I Learned Pushing a Vacuum Cleaner

I forgot to put the dust collector in the vacuum cleaner the other day.  Funny, I wondered why the vacuum cleaner sounded noisier than usual but I continued vacuuming, unfettered by the extra noise, only to discover at the end of my labors the omission.   So where did all the stuff I vacuumed go?  I never saw it blowing out the exhaust.  Perhaps it was a more finely ground version of dust.  I re-vacuumed, with the dust collector attached, and, yes, there was dust to be had in the collector but my job was truncated by a worn out battery.  Seems this vacuum cleaner only likes to go around once.  Smart vacuum cleaner, I thought.  It just doesn’t like redundancy; neither do I.  In the future, I think my battery charge will fail whenever I have to re-do.

A Run on Baby Poop

Pure, unadulterated baby poop is the liquid gold of the millennia.  Scientists working with human feces have long known the curative benefits of reintegrating poop into our bodies via the nose or mouth to cure the ill effects of problems in the gut, but what they didn’t see coming was how valuable baby poop would become.   Just like placenta, where practices such as placentophagia, the scientific word (usually referring to animals) for the practice of eating one’s own placenta.  There’s also a scientific community, named Placenta, which is the International forum providing up to the minute information on all scientific and clinical investigations pertaining to placental research and applications, www.placentajournal.orgThe Huffington Post even ran an article about Placenta apothecaries, describing the burgeoning business of converting placentas into herbal pills for the new mom to ingest, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/20/placenta-pill-maker-nutritional-supplement_n_886420.html.   But let’s return to the topic of poop, because this is the newest genre of, perhaps, ‘meat candy’.   E gads; I may never look at bacon the same way again. 

I’ve digressed enough.  I’m going to get serious for a moment because this is very serious business; as with all serious business there are consequences.  So let’s examine for a moment the chatter in the news and pull out our long lens to look into the future.   It seems that Dr. Johannes Aas, (Did you ever wonder if people aspire to their names?) a prominent gastroenterologist, was written about in a March 2, 2004 article in the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A22098-2004Mar24) and lauded as a pioneer in the field of alternative treatments.  Dr. Aas* sought a cure for an antibiotic resistant sickness affecting the stomach, named clostridium difficile colitis.   With about 14,000 deaths in the United States each year and 300,000 cases contracted annually by patients in U.S. hospitals, it’s a problem and Dr. Aas seems to have landed a real coup by concocting a poop slurry and reintegrating it into the body via the nose or mouth to fend off the little buggers thereby curing the disease with incredible frequency.  Like the “mother” used to make sourdough bread; vinegar; yogurt and a host of other good concoctions, ingesting a ‘good mother’ to undo the bad in our gut, seems to have long-term effects.  Once cured the “mother” in the gut provides a life-long defense mechanism.

How utterly simple this all seems.  Can it be that we are not so complex after all?  I can’t help but think that ancient civilizations; ones that survived and prospered much longer than our own, must have relied on similar types of cure-alls.  Native Americans have espoused the curative powers in nature and that which is all around us.  But what is all around us is not such a good thing anymore, given the ‘advances’ we have come to depend on; think plastic and cars and oh yeah, the stuff we fight international wars over.  So let’s get back to the poop deal.  Let’s say, for instance that our poop becomes the new gold standard.  If we poop what we ingest there are lots of drugs floating around in the waste stream buried in our poop, making it a fairly expensive soup.  If all of that ‘stuff’ doctors have been prescribing is so bad for us, having it injected into another person to cure his or her ills could have some awful consequences.   Which leads me to the moral of my story, the next really valuable commodity will be BABY POOP!  I’m calling my Broker today.

 

*The senior author of the newest study, conducted in the Netherlands, is Dr. Josbert Keller; on Wednesday, January  16, 2013, results of that study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.