the strong but silent type

I don’t remember your cries at birth. I think I was too tired from being in labor for longer than I wanted, which sounds absurd because no woman wants to be in labor for any period of time. But when your brother was born, the nurses told me his birth was so easy my second baby would pop out with a sneeze. Fast forward two and a half years, those three bouts of preterm labor led me to believe you were eager to make your arrival. But oh no, once the real labor finally started, you weren’t quite comfortable with the idea of a whole new world. Until you were comfortable, that is, when you loosened your grip and took us from two centimeters to birth in 20 minutes.

This zero-to-sixty pattern continues to define you. You’re taciturn until suddenly you’re ready to entertain with a story. You resist change, but then on a dime advocate for it fiercely. Some days you barely eat, until without warning I can’t get enough food in your body.

I worried about your reaction to my recent accident. Sensitive at the core, but either unwilling or unable to always show it, I suspected seeing me in a hospital bed would bother you. And I was right. You didn’t cry or ask what happened. In fact, you sat ramrod straight in the chair. You could barely look me in the eye. You asked about safe topics like whether I had any snacks. You hugged me cautiously. But I could read the worry in your eyes.

I feel compelled to constantly reassure you I’m fine.

Until I broke my ankle, I still tucked you and your brother in at night, every night, without fail. It pains my heart that in my current condition I can’t get upstairs for our bedtime ritual. The other night, the thought that you wouldn’t want or need it anymore tugged mercilessly at my heart. As if you heard my anguish, after the lights were out, you came downstairs to tuck me in.

Inside that skinny preteen body a strong, sensitive man is brewing. I love watching your new layers and complexities emerge.

Happy birthday to my baby.

on “doing” yoga

 

“I guess you aren’t doing yoga for awhile,” I frequently hear.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Now is when I need yoga the most.

While a physical yoga practice eludes me for the time being, I would not have survived the hard times at the hospital and since my discharge if it weren’t for the other seven limbs of yoga, the ones we westerners often ignore when worrying about the right Lululemon outfit to wear or complaining about a class that didn’t leave us sweaty enough.

Not that I’m so highly evolved. I own a ridiculous number of expensive yoga pants. I have been known to pass judgement on group classes I like or don’t like and am often reluctant to try new instructors even though I am a new instructor. I choose sleep over meditation on cold mornings when it’s hard to get out of bed. Since shoulder surgery, I’ve had a relentless (yet obviously unachievable) urge to stand on my head. While I hate that I can’t walk/hop/scoot up or down the stairs, I’ve spent equal time despairing over the lost progress I had been making toward hanumanasana (otherwise known as the splits) before a sheet of ice sent me flying. Every bite of food irrationally represents a pound I worry I will have to lose when I get out of the wheelchair. I get angry and frustrated at my current limitations.

Yes, I have the woe is me moments. But my intention is to use my time on the DL to transcend the fixations with my physical body.

I’m still working out exactly how to achieve this…

In my better moments, I close my eyes. I breathe deeply. I direct that breath to the parts of the body that need love: ankle, shoulder, almighty/overworked left side. Inhale love. Exhale angst. When I teach, I constantly remind my students to let go of thoughts, tension, energy that doesn’t serve, but true release is easier said than done. These last few weeks, I’ve had to peel back the layers, protective sheaths that keep me from asking for help, showing vulnerability, accepting unsolicited offers of help, coming to terms with what I can and can’t do.

I have the semblance of a plan. I want to reread the Yamas and the Niyamas, the ethical guide to yoga. During yoga teacher training, a wise soul recommended picking one yama or niyama and dedicating ourselves fully toward it. I focused on practicing ahimsa —or, nonviolence. Now I recognize that what I need in my life is the hardest for me to contemplate achieving: ishvara pranidhana —surrender. I do not control the universe.

Whether I can do a headstand or a split is irrelevant. My right side body is down but the left side remains strong. I can breathe, think, love, and appreciate. Kitchen items are going to be out of place, but why? Because kind and generous caretakers prepare my every meal. I’m mostly confined to my house, but I get to avoid cold (icy) winter days. I feel alone deep inside, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

A yoga practice represent more than a series of poses on the mat. It’s a journey toward peace. I will bumble and fall (hopefully only figuratively) on the way to learning to let go. I’m ready to offer myself up to this time and experience.

In all these ways and more I can’t foresee, recovery from my injuries represents the hardest yoga I’ve ever “done.”

Namaste.

the middle ages

A dear friend of mine – let’s call her Kate – recently pointed out that we are in our middle ages.

“Get out of here,” I texted. “I am NOT middle-aged.”

“Um, how long do you intend to live?” she asked.

“Barring random accident, I’ve got a good shot at 90.” After all, my grandmother is in her late 90s and her mother lived to be 101.

“And half of 90 is…?”

I did some quick math in my head. Dammit.

How can 45 be the middle ages? For that matter, I don’t even feel 45. Or at least I didn’t until over the weekend, when I went to the wedding of another dear friend, let’s call her Laura. While a majority of the guests were (like Laura and her groom) in their early 30s, it didn’t occur to me how much older I am until I sat down to dinner.

“Are you a friend of the bride’s mother?” the woman next to me asked. She clearly was a guest of the same generation of the mother of the bride. Obviously she should have recognized I am not.

Or maybe I am delusional.

My goal has always been to age gracefully. That means instead of planning on surgical interventions or injections, I spend less time in the sun and more money on skincare. I do color my hair and get an LED facial every three-to-four months, but that’s about as extreme as I plan to get. I have firm rule against wearing mom jeans, but also nothing screaming teenybopper graces my closet. I drink at least ten glasses of water a day. I work out. Come on! I am not old enough to be a friend of the mother of bride!

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Sigh. It is what it is. I will concede to being in my middle ages, but only because it’s a better than old age or… the other option. With age comes experience and with experience comes wisdom.

And maybe a few wrinkles.

like sands through the hourglass

FullSizeRender (3)

I am officially mother to a fourteen-year old. While the age thirteen sounds whimsy and sixteen, scary, I’m not sure what to say about fourteen. I barely remember myself at that age.

I turned fourteen in 1983. Like my son, I was in 8th grade. Unlike my son, I had a perm, bad feathered bangs and wore bright purple eye makeup. I’d never been kissed. Return of the Jedi came out that year, but I only know that because I googled 1983 cultural occurrences. Apparently my mom was paying a buck-thirty-five for a gallon of milk and a dime less for gas.

But back to Jack. I asked this sprouting teenager over breakfast what responsibility he’d like to be granted in honor of his 14th year.

“The right to do everything I want,” he said, foam of a homemade latte on his lip.

“Doing everything is overrated,” I replied. “Really, what do you wish you had the freedom to do?”

We talked about his taking the metro alone or going to the movies with friends. Maybe a solo metro ride to the movies with friends. Otherwise, I was at a loss for suggestions, and Jack didn’t have any ideas either. Moms of fourteen-year olds, I’m open to your thoughts. Essentially, I want to give him space to grow, but within the bounds of what’s safe. A doable challenge that will make him feel good about himself. And then I want to help him build on the added responsibility rather than force him to drink from the firehose of adulthood. I don’t have many more years left to shape this soon-to-be young adult. I want to get it right.

I’m not one to miss the years gone by, but tonight we will look at his baby book, sing happy birthday and celebrate the funny, thoughtful, witty, guy he’s growing to be.

when words count

 

A year ago, the boyfriend of a dear friend asked me to draft his bio for the website of the company where he’d started working. The write up couldn’t read like a narrative version of his resume; it was supposed to be quirky and convey his sense of humor and interests as well as get his qualifications across.

I spent about 45 minutes preparing the piece, which he (and his boss) loved.

“Hey,” he said. “I know a lot of guys who could use your help writing their online dating profiles. You should really look into doing this as a job.”

I dismissed his suggestion. Surely he exaggerated. How hard could it be to write an online dating profile?

Apparently I overestimated mankind’s writing ability.

Now that I swim in the online dating pool, I’m constantly struck by the poor writing I encounter. Online daters, you have one chance to make an impression. And maybe you hit it out of the ballpark with your photo; a picture does say a thousand words. But you must follow up your photo with at least a few sentences to attract the attention of potential suitors. Make their click on your profile count.

I don’t care how attractive your picture, if you spell a word wrong, I’m done. Double check your/you’re, its/it’s and their/they’re/there. Don’t randomly capitalize Words. In other words, don’t say you’re (not your) looking for a great Lady. Strike a playful, witty or friendly tone; your (not you’re) online profile is not the forum to bash your previous bad dating experience and shouldn’t read like a LinkedIn summary. Please refrain from writing words as if they end in in’ – for example, chillin’, hangin’, relaxin’ or my biggest pet peeve, chillaxin’. If you decide to go dirty, at least get lie vs. lay correct.

Readers, if you know a poor soul in desperate need of a modern day Cyrano de Bergerac, inquire within. The Internet may not have secured me a ton of dates, but I don’t fault my way with words.

lay-lie

why your friends should have final approval of your online dating profile picture

I have to admit that one of my favorite new pastimes is taking screenshots of potential matches that come across my online dating feed and sharing them with girlfriends. I do this partly to mock but mostly to question: why on earth would a person choose this particular photo as the critical first impression shot?

For example, in this adorable holiday card worthy picture, who is Ben? Gentleman on the right? Gentleman on the left? Baby in the middle?

Will the eligible bachelor please raise a hand?
Will the eligible bachelor please raise a hand?

Perhaps if a friend with a discerning eye had been consulted, this confusion never would have arose, and Ben and I would be perfectly paired. A number of group shots make it into people’s dating profiles, rendering the subject of the profile highly unidentifiable.

One of my favorite photos is the non-photo. I suppose I should not judge a book by its cover, but we are talking about the internet. It is more honest than offering a doctored or dated photo, but please, no photo draws an automatic decline from me.

Really, what do you look like?

It boggles my mind how many deletable photos are posted. Like when you drop the phone as you are about to take a picture and half your face ends up cut off or the image turns out blurry. I didn’t crop this photo, readers. I can only presume this dude does not have friends to tell him he’s not putting his best side forward.

How does the camera function work anyway?

The gentleman below loves a good rugby match, and I applaud him for being upfront about his passion for the brutal sport. But he could have gotten his point across without leading with a bloody picture. If you are related to this man, please tell him to save this photo for the third date.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Your friends can also be there to help stop you from posting underwear photos and dark/upside side down photos. A consultation might result in the straightening of your headphones or someone near and dear telling you it’s a very bad idea to grab your junk for a photo.

"Help me"

Friends also don’t let friends post pictures that contour their hairy backs:

Just say no to posting pictures like this...
Just say no to posting pictures like this…

And last but not least, a true friend would never let you post this pronouncement. I mean geez… leave a little to the imagination, please.

I have no wordsWe can’t all have photographer friends to make us look gorgeous, but with today’s technology, it doesn’t take much effort to look good. If you’re unsure of a photo, don’t post it. And whatever you do, don’t forget to include the witty banter.

try a little tinderness

A man, his pool and his pug
A man, his pool and his pug
Broad shoulders. Itty bitty man shorts.

I tend to come to Internet trends late. I initially rejected Facebook and more recently, divorced the site. I never followed a blog until I after I started my own. I avoided Twitter as long as I could, and I’m a self-diagnosed Instagram stalker, just posting enough photos to be legit but preferring to ogle at other people’s meals, outfits and sunsets.

“Try online dating,” my friends pushed. Love? Like I’m going to find that on the World Wide Web. But they coaxed, and I tested the waters.

Match.com was a disaster. Not only did I go on zero dates, but their algorithm is broken because I kept getting paired with men whose profiles declared my single biggest deal breaker: wants kids, definitely. But the final subscription-canceling straw came when one of my daily matches, the 10-12 carefully selected true love potentials I was thoughtfully sent everyday, was a 62-year old school bus driver.

“Hinge is the way to go,” a twentysomething told me. It sounded kind of dirty, but I gave it a go. I met a guy, respectable enough. Hinging on the boring side. We dabbled in dating before I admitted to myself we had no spark.

Of course, everyone brings up Tinder. But why would I sign up for the hook up site? That’s certainly not what I want, and if it were, I’d find other ways to meet eligible men.

“Tinder is different for people in their 40s,” I was assured. “I know a woman who met her boyfriend on Tinder,” one guy friend told me.

Fueled by wine and boredom, the other day, I joined. It literally took me all of 30 seconds to set up my account. Unlike Match and other dating sites, there is no long profile page to fill out. Just add some pictures and a 400-character description and voila. Immediately, I had hundreds of “matches” to swipe right or left. It took time to get the hang of it. I sadly left swiped the man pictured in front of his extensive wine cellar and my friend accidentally right swiped someone unacceptable who instantly became a match, leading to scrambling and un-matching.

I don’t think it’s 100 percent true that 40-somethings use Tinder for “real” dating, as evidenced by some of the profile photos I’ve seen. Readers, Nude Photo Exhibit A:

Lower half of photo cropped to protect the innocent.

The lack of a character description is telling. I’ve left swiped some handsome guys because they wrote nothing about themselves and I just don’t go for illiterate men. Nor am I interested in a “poly” relationship or to be an out-of-towner’s fling. I mean, it’s one thing if we meet at happy hour at Proof, but quite another if I have to prearrange sex on my iPhone.

I get it… you have to kiss a lot of frogs. And then maybe you find a prince. And he owns a hot tub.

Hot tub time machine
Hot tub time machine

the son of all fears

My younger son had a panic attack last week. I wasn’t with him; he was on spring break with his dad and brother, exploring a cave outside Austin, Texas. I talked to him on the phone after the incident and he sounded fine, but I know how my little guy gets once he decides he’s scared of something.

“Mom, I figured out in the cave that I have claustrophobia,” he declared last night.

“Hey,” I tried to reassure him. “Anyone can feel uncomfortable in a dark cave. It doesn’t mean you have claustrophobia.”

“Do you have any phobias?” he asked.

“Nope,” I replied, trying to keep it light.

“Do you have any fears?” he pressed.

Do I have fears? I know he meant of the dark (yes), heights (no), or spiders (sometimes) but my mind went elsewhere. This child collects fears. Through therapy, in his young life we’ve already had to address his fear of candles, knives (even the butter slathering variety) and holly berry bushes. (“What if I accidentally eat a berry?”) He grows anxious if a passenger stands too close to the ledge on the metro and admitted recently he is apprehensive of flying. If I have a fear, it’s his letting fear stand in the way of enjoying life.

I knelt down beside him.

“You know buddy, I do have fears. It’s totally normal to be frightened, especially of the unknown. I probably would have felt the same way you did in the cave, but we can’t live our lives being scared or we’d never try new things.”

He nodded and looked to the ground. I squeezed his shoulders and reminded him he hasn’t met a pillow fort he didn’t want to live in forever. Only time (and a pillow fort in my living room) will tell how deeply seeded his claustrophobia is. And in the meantime, I will try not to let fear of his fears morph into my own phobia.

liar liar

My computer dinged with an incoming Match message.

We should talk, wrote a person whose handle suggested British heritage.

This could be interesting, I said to myself. DaveTheBrit had not previously caught my eye, but I gave him points for being bold. I’m freaking tired of twenty-message exchanges about the weather and what music I like.

Me: Why, so you can woo me with your British accent?

DaveTheBrit: Exactly.

Me: What are we going to talk about?

DaveTheBrit: We’re going to talk about how you’re coming over tonight for dinner and Netflix.

[I pause here to reassure readers I’d never venture to a stranger’s place for a first or even fifth date. I have no desire to have my dating life fictionalized on Law and Order.]

But my heart skipped a beat. He was thinking beyond I can’t wait for spring or I heard the Civil Wars broke up. I held my response, not feeling the need to state the obvious but not wanting his cyber flirting to end. I decided to play coy.

Me: I lived in London for a year… I’m immune to your British charm.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Refresh screen. Tick tock.

DaveTheBrit: Well, I’ve lived in the U.S. for twenty years. I really sound more Australian now. Maybe that’ll do something for you.

Yeah, it did something for me. It made me think he was a big fat liar. Now I’m imagining a different scenario than what dinner and a movie inspired. I’m imagining DaveTheFakeBrit having beers with a buddy and mentioning he wasn’t getting much attention on Match.

BeerBuddy: Dude, you should totally say you’re British. Chicks dig a British accent.

DaveTheFakeBrit: You’re a genius!

Fast forward to the other night.

DaveTheFakeBrit (in panicked text to BeerBuddy): Dammit! Winked at hot chick. She lived in U.K., gonna know my accent is fake!

BeerBuddy: Shit! Say U R Australian! U sound more like the Crocodile Hunter anyway.

DaveTheFakeBritFakeAussie: Right.

His last words of our short-lived exchange suggested he’d leave me breathless; instead I’m stunned. Maybe he’s really British but decided I was boring. Maybe he’s American and knew he was nabbed. The crazy thing about online dating is you have no idea what’s real versus what’s fiction.

behind door number three…

Remember that old TV show The Dating Game? I watched this precursor to The Bachelor/ette in syndication a few times back in the dark ages when we had four TV stations and my brother and I argued incessantly over who was going to get up to manually change the channel. (My children often wonder at these medieval times and how we ever survived. But I digress.)

Match reminds me a little of that old show. You never know who you’re going to find behind that cyber wink. Dearest reader, you’ve shared my shock over my ninety-four percent match with ZipperRipper and laughed at my near miss with WegmansLover. Now I’d like to introduce you to Friday’s gem:

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This eligible bachelor joins a handful of other profile pics so absurd I’ve put their screenshots in my personal Match Hall of Fame. And joining the rapidly expanding class of guys who need help choosing their online dating handle is UnrstrctdFreeAgnt, ClickHereToDate and FiftyShadesOfJoe. How about the dude who listed his desired age range in a woman as eighteen to fifty, only slightly worse than the guy who indicated his preference as thirty to fifty. I mean, come on… It’s very different to date an eighteen-year old than it is to date a thirty-year old than it is to date a fifty-year old. Maybe the errant verb here is to date. As my friend Shannon joked: Have a heartbeat? Have breasts? IM immediately! 

This is why I’m single. Not that I consider being single such a bad thing. I have a wonderful network of friends who share my passions. I have the Weekend Warriors to help with household projects beyond my abilities. And I get to do whatever I want without comparing schedules, arguing about budget or getting passive aggressively angry when the trash doesn’t get taken out. I know, I know (or at least I think I remember) there are wonderful aspects to being in a meaningful relationship. I committed to opening myself to the prospects of a romantic connection, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to settle for a man who is less than exceptional.