Tuesday, October 26, 2010

RE: Serenity Now! Humor about the elusive creature that is relaxation...

Serenity Now!

In our “hurry up and relax” culture we search for the elusive commodity that is serenity as though it’s our lost keys. The visual I always get is from Seinfeld when George Costanza’s father, played by Jerry Stiller, screams “Serenity Now!” in that classic episode when he is attempting to achieve a nirvanic state.

One of the last bastions of serenity is yoga. Whether it’s Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar or Kundalini, right from the get-go yoga is a real eye-opener, providing plenty of opportunities to execute physical and mental twists, all leading to personal growth. Yep. It’s all about self-reflection, self-empowerment and self-discovery in positive surroundings, making for a peaceful environment. Until new, stressed out people visit, that is.

Our Generation Y-ME guest seems much too young to have accumulated that much stress and unfettered tension in such a short period of time. It took me at least 15 years of motherhood, unsympathetic credit card companies and an even less sympathetic metabolism to amass the boatload of irritation I brought to my first yoga class.

She snaps out her mat as though it has attempted to exact bodily harm upon her, plopping down with an irritated sigh. We grizzled veterans wear Mona Lisa smiles as we continue breathing in with practiced rhythms, breathing out with good intentions. Our peaceful pond is experiencing a few rough ripples, but we’ve been here before.

As we go through our warm-ups we achieve a glow better than even an energy bill credit can provide. Despite our collective feel-good vibe, our visitor provides spirited commentary during the teachings, which is not all that usual in yoga, but then again, it’s not completely unusual either.

As a class we experience increasing centeredness subsequent to our various postures, poses and positioning, working our way toward my hands down favorite pose, Savasana, also known as corpse pose.

This is when we will be guided through our final breathing segment by our instructor, culminating in nearly eight blessed minutes of deep relaxation. I live for this state of mind. I breathe for this state of mind. I yearn for this state of mind.

There we all are in gentle repose, calmly listening to our teacher’s melodic voice intoning gentle instructions. “Lightly tense your hands, relax, go with the breath, let the floor take the rest of your tension,” when suddenly out of nowhere – okay, actually out of the mouth of the newbie – comes the jack-hammered question: “Can you turn the heater up?”

I jump up so far that, for a second, I am convinced I have achieved a spiritual state that has gifted me with levitational abilities. I can feel the whole room simultaneously lose our beloved deep relaxation as we now struggle to achieve any sort of non-agitated state that doesn’t even have to begin with the letter “r.”

Ah, the young of heart and heat. It is a weekday morning, so the group is primarily over the age of thirty, forty, (do I hear fifty?) and female. There is general, unspoken consensus that there is no such thing as a room too cool for exercise, even during the cool down phase of our session.

You can bet when the room temperature finally dips below seventy degrees we’re all feeling relieved that we will not have to strip down to our practical Hanes underwear in order to achieve Celsius comfort.

Nevertheless, our teacher calmly walks over to the central heat and boots it up, as though this was part of the routine.

In the last few minutes of our class we manage to gain back dually acceptable levels of serenity and temperature. Everyone is kind and understanding, refraining from comment and we end as always, feeling better than when we came in.

Placing our hands in prayer position over our hearts, sitting in a comfortable lotus position we silently give thanks for the accumulated yogic wisdom we’ve netted since we first skidded in, our bodies fairly screaming, “Serenity now!”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

(Humor) Signed, Hermetically Sealed, and Delivered

Signed, Hermetically Sealed, and Delivered

Have you noticed things are getting harder to get into and I’m not talking about colleges? I just bought a new lipstick and, for my protection I’m sure, it had no less than two, plastic-encased side adhesive units, rendering the package safe in case of all-out germ warfare or nuclear attack.

And CD’s? Don’t the record companies get that it’s not itunes, Limewire and file sharing that have practically put them out of business? It’s those frustrating, hermetically sealed CD coverings that have thwarted their sales efforts, forcing those of us who previously thought downloading referred to loading the washing machine while bending over, into procuring our music on-line.

I knew my purchasing habits needed to change the day I was attempting to open a new CD I’d acquired – Joss Stone, just for an interesting side note – while I was attempting to also answer the phone, have a thought, and chew gum. For those of you motivated types out there, you call it multi-tasking, using lots of positive tone. Here’s what I call it to overuse an overused Icarus metaphor: Flying too close to the sun.

Here’s the simple version of what I thought I would do; open the CD. Here’s what actually ended up happening.

As I tore into the vacuum-wrapped celebration of aeronautical engineering with my teeth, having failed in the task when using my hands, I jogged over to the phone, tripped on our three dogs, who were sitting at varying height levels according to breed dominance, managed to pick-up the phone shouting, “Hello!” followed quickly by, “Oh, no!”

I then dropped the receiver where it first hit the sideboard, careened off the mop, then lightly bounced off of the three dogs at varying height levels, according to fleetness of feet and their individual ability to sense impending danger. While no animals were hurt in the eventual opening of the CD, (unless you count the massive plastic cut on my hand webbing), I was sweaty and my indignation flared.

Liberating a CD should not be a death-defying experience and it certainly gives a whole new meaning to the term “CD release.” I figured there must be thousands of forums addressing this packaging issue, accounting for a multitude of reported household injuries. I was more than a little surprised when I launched into an Internet search at which time I typed in, “packaging injuries,” and there was no research on the topic of the danger that lurks when opening one of these hazards. Where’s the outrage? The outcry? The hue and cry? Hugh Grant?

And perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed this trend of overly engineered casings so much if, in a purchasing one-two-three punch, I hadn’t immediately acquired a new curling iron as well.

Once again, for the third time in as many days, I found myself searching for all manner of objects that may be utilized by people with two gashed up, but mostly useable opposable thumbs, in order to gain admission into something I wanted to use, hear, or touch.

Therefore, I have a message to all those retailers out there who seem to perennially scratch their heads over diminished sales statistics because they’re absolutely sure they’re providing the type of products we want and they just cannot figure out why we’re not buying what they’re selling.

I don’t need freshness. I don’t need more plastic than the average Hollywood actress possesses. What I need is access, so why not make the products as easy to open as, say, a pop-tart? Now, that’s a solution I can sink my teeth into.

Friday, October 1, 2010

RE: Number 8 is Number 1...A Tribute to My Daughter's Friend, Justin

October 1, 2010

Today is Justin Butler's Memorial which will be a celebration of his life
Friday, October 1, 2010, 5:30 p.m., the Bear River High School football field; Grass Valley, CA

My Daughter’s Friend, Justin

My daughter told me that he was the first one to reach out and connect with her in their English class last year. Anybody who has ever changed schools at any time in any year, let alone the middle of the sophomore year, knows how much that meant to her.

But that was the essence of who Justin was and you can see it in frame after frame of pictures that are posted to his Facebook account which now serves as a memorial to him. Grieving friends have added to a growing list of emotional posts, each more poignant than the one that preceded it.

Whether it’s his beloved football action shots, his sweet prom portrait, or the photos of his devoted family, he radiates liveliness, joy, and friendliness. In fact, if you met Justin you were his friend instantly, so not only is his entire junior class of peers hurting, but everyone who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance is as well. His fans are not confined to any certain age or type.

You see, he represented what youth is really like and, specifically, he represented what the beautiful students at Bear River High School are really like, who are a community like no other. They take care of each other, love each other, connect to each other and at no time will they need those admirable traits more than right now.

It’s a fact that us Mama Bears love everyone who is good to our kids. I would have liked to have the opportunity to chaperone next year’s senior all-night party, cross Justin’s path and create one of those awkward moments us parents are famous for. I would have thanked him for reaching out to my daughter, for helping her with math and for being such a true friend.

There will be memorials, there will be dedications, but there will be no all-night graduation party for Justin. Though our kids are going forward admirably, showing strength and determination to live a life of purpose as a tribute to Justin, nothing will ever be the same.

I watch my daughter walk determinedly out the door this morning, on her way to school, wearing a headband with Justin’s #8 emblazoned boldly on the front, in remembrance of her friend. Hot tears press on my eyelids as I log onto Facebook and find Justin’s page. I look at his beautiful family and silently thank them for Justin and I thank him for being the most excellent friend a mom’s kid could have.