DEMAND BETTER

fea-guns-symposium

I grabbed my phone when I woke up Sunday morning to check the latest news on the El Paso shooting, but that shooting was so five minutes ago, because there’d been another shooting in Dayton. I wondered if I had logged into The Onion. No, it was the New York Times alright, and they never joke.

I didn’t know anybody in either shooting, but they were people just like you and me and your little brother who loves baseball more than pizza and your aunt who makes that really good coconut cake and your best friend from high school who had that snort laugh you can still hear.

It’s easy to become desensitized to these shootings, to pretend that these victims aren’t real, aren’t like you. Certainly, it’s easier than thinking about people dying in a fucking Walmart. But don’t allow yourself to turn away this time. We have an election in 2020, consider carefully who you vote for. We have to define who we are right now in this country. Our president is encouraging white supremacy. After Charlottesville, he said there were good people on both sides. He’s telling non-white members of congress to go back to where they came from. And these are just a couple examples of the many times this divisive president has spewed hate and incited racism. This president is poison.

We have to demand better. We have got to do what we can. Life in America does not require an assault weapon. High capacity magazines need to be banned. Universal background checks need to implemented. Congress need to act today.

And we need expanded mental health help. In our schools, in our places of employment. in our family systems. Of course, if there were fewer guns and more stringent gun laws, those with mental illness wouldn’t have easy access to them. 

Because remember, next time there’s a mass shooting, (which could be this afternoon) it could be your middle daughter who loves to draw, or your neighbor who volunteers at the homeless shelter downtown, or it could be you.

Make no mistake, it could be you. 

 

 

.gratitude-a-thon day 2068: yoga

This is my incredible yoga teacher, Roni Brissette, who has taught me yoga, which is not an easy task, I can tell you. She is just amazingness. I have tried to do this pose and well, I can’t write anymore because I’m laughing too hard…..

I started doing yoga about three years ago, although just writing that shocks me, since I still don’t know my Ardha Chandrasana from my Prasirita Padottanasanaa. I’ve never been good with languages. I flunked Spanish I three times, well, maybe just twice, but still. Anyway, I love yoga. For so many years, my back issues (sciatica caused by L4 S1 herniation) made me think that yoga would throw me into an “episode” of searing pain and the inability to do anything but moan, a sad and not infrequent feature of my younger life. And no, I can’t do all the poses, but I give it a good go. And I’m fucking grateful for every single pose (that I don’t know the name of) that I can do a close proximity of. Fucking grateful.

I am generally a total student during class, paying close attention to the pretzel shapes my body is trying so hard to emulate.  But there are days when my focus isn’t quite as clear and I have a running dialogue in my mind of what some of the poses should really be called. Like when my teacher says to (and let me just stop and say here that I have the best, most wonderful, most knowledgeable, gifted and adorable teacher ever) get into dog pose, I am thinking (in my head, or at least I don’t think I”m saying out loud,or Jeez, I hope I’m not) why don’t they just call it  “Ass in the air Pose”? Because that’s what it really is. Your. Ass. Is. Sticking. Straight. Up. In. The. Air. (And the higher, the better). In. The. Air.

Or like, tree pose. Why isn’t it just called”Stick Your Foot in Your Vagina” pose? I mean, this is exactly what’s happening. Me: I’m pregnant. Friend: Who’s the father? Me: “The heel of my left foot.”

And speaking of me not knowing the names of the poses, you should see my head swivel when she tells us what to do and I quickly, but nonchalantly scan the room for someone who actually knows the pose. I am Linda Blair in The Exorcist, I tell you.

My teacher will also say to look up from the eyes of your chest. I always want to scream, “Some of us have bigger “eyes” than others to hoist on up.” Because really, 32 E.

And then there is the pose, which my teacher does with ease, because she is a yogini in the first degree, but also weighs like 4 pounds, that I don’t know the name of, but I will just call “Impossible.” You get into criss cross apple sauce and then you pick yourself up with your arms and swing your body. PICK YOURSELF UP WITH YOUR ARMS. Hahahahahah, that’s happening. I couldn’t pick up my 32 E’s plus the rest of my body weight anymore than I could pick up my SUV. So, yeah, the “Impossible” pose is something that’s probably never going to be possible for me.

I love yoga. And the people I’ve met in my yoga community are exceptional, like really wonderful and generous and amazing. And like I said, my teacher is the best. I adore her. But you know, every once in a while my head can’t help but laugh at what I’m doing. Because like everything else in life, if you look at it just the right way, it’s  just funny.

If you want to go to a fabulous yoga class, go to Roni Brissette Yoga.  But if you can do the “Impossible” pose, please do not let me know.

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2067: your choice

optimism-pessimism

There are two ways of looking at something always.

There is one way that limits us, steals our hope like a thief in the night, poking at our vulnerability until we scream “Uncle,” in a high pitched voice. This is pessimism at its core, the equal opportunity robber who demands darkness and fear. The glass that’s half empty.

There is another way, which shouts possibility as loudly Trump shouts racist rants and lies. Optimism makes us buoyant and light, it keeps our eyes on the possible prize. It states simply, “You can, go ahead and hope, believe in maybe, the glass really is half full.”

Each day, with every situation we face, we have a choice to wear the dark side, or tout the light. It’s not external, it’s an inside game. It’s your brain, it’s your choice.

I constantly have to remind myself of this. I redirect like a cop at a busy intersection. You can too. And gratitude for that.

gratitude-a-thon day 2066: the knee bone’s connected to the friendship

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Jake and Sophie. Sophie and Jake. These two were inseparable as kids. They grew up together. Here they are walking down “the aisle” in Menemsha on the the Vineyard, a place we vacationed together for many years. This weekend Sophie gets married. And despite knee surgery, Jake will be there, We all will be.

My son is no stranger to knee surgery. He had a meniscal repair (they go in and stitch up the torn meniscus) and then you’re in pain for a week and a brace for 6 weeks and physical therapy and no sports ensue for three months. He had two on one knee and one on the other, in 5th, 6th and 8th grades. And two days ago he had another, making a total of three on that left leg. Although this time, no repair, just a big snip of meniscus.

He was goofing around while visiting San Diego friends from LA and his knee locked, as in couldn’t straighten it. He was lucky that he already had an appt. with an ortho doc my husband knew for a day later (because his other knee was bugging him, yup, uh huh). Anyway, his meniscus was stuck in his joint space and surgery was the only way to get it out. So, for a week, he couldn’t walk, or straighten his knee.

To complicate matters, the wedding of one of his closest childhood friends is this Saturday. He refused to hear of not being there (despite not being able to destroy the dance floor)! So, our goal has been to get him on a plane, because FRIENDSHIP.

I flew to San Diego for his surgery and he had it two days ago. He’s doing ok, although uncomfortable in bed, watching bad movies and ESPN, hooked up to an hourly ice machine, eating snacks from Trader Joe’s and room service (who must think we are two reclusive weirdos).

It’s beautiful here, but I’ve pretty much just seen the inside of a hotel room.  An old Boston friend had us to a wonderful dinner at her house the night before surgery and I got to meet her husband and kids, so that was the fun part. Today we have to move to another hotel because we didn’t think we’d be here this long, and the hotel has no rooms (his post-op got postponed until tomorrow).

My gratitude: that my son is ok. Resilient and resting his knee, he will be just fine in a week or two and will embark on a killer quad building workout program. I am grateful for my husband’s old friend/doctor coming in on his day off, the incredibly nice nurses at the surgery center. So grateful for my hysterical friend Cheryl opening her home to us, and all the well wishes from friends near and far (that really helps when the chips are down, I’ll tell you).

We will be on that plane Friday morning and see our adorable friend Sophie walk down the aisle. Because friendship matters. In fact, it’s everything in my book and apparently my son’s too.

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gratitude-a-thon day 2065: gratitude, oh gratitude, where are you

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I’ve had a lousy week. I won’t even go into it, but there has been a bug bite allergy the size of a small country on my leg that itches like someone is tickling me with a feather (Is it Jeffrey Epstein–what, too soon?) a knee injury for both my son and husband and a few other absolutely shit things. I was in a foul, read MISERABLE mood yesterday, feeling overwhelmed and angry and frustrated. Gratitude was missing, a droopy plant beaten down by the summer sun, in desperate need of resuscitation.

But this morning I woke up and slapped myself across the face after trying not to touch my bite, which I WANT TO SCRATCH LIKE I WANT TO EAT A BAG OF POTATO CHIPS, and gratitude came rising up in me, like a fiery fire. “Stop,” it said, “Pull yourself together, girl.” Sassy, that gratitude. “Time and modern medicine will heal you all. Get some gratitude on for that, wouldja please.”

And this is true. One hundred years ago, my bite and the knees could have meant death or a life of impairment. Now we have RX remedies and surgery. Now we have Netflix.

And so, with that, I once again bow to the intelligence and power of gratitude. A little goes a long way. If you get off course, just get back on. Gratitude, will open its arms to you and welcome you home (even if it gets a little snitty in the process).

gratitude-a-thon day : let’s go

Every fucking chance I get.

I have been doing a lot of traveling. Part of it is that I got some amazing events and trips as gifts for my birthday, and part of it is, that it’s just time to go. What I mean is, I don’t want to wait for anything anymore. I just want to go, do, see. Because we all know that rarely do things go as planned.  I mean, life is about as dependable as a 14-year-old with a curfew.

Elton John was, as the Brits would say, brilliant. At 72, he played three hours STRAIGHT with only one costume change! I am fairly sure I sang every song with a permanent smile pasted on my face.
This concert was part of my gift from this guy for my 60th. I will never get a gift (seven events connected to my life, that lasted all year, in all parts of the world) as good, or as thoughtful as this.
This was my first trip to London and I fell madly in love with it. It’s hip, it’s huge and it’s absolutely beautiful.
This is London’s answer to the Hancock Building, but way cooler. The Shard.
I am a sucker for a flower display. This one was on Portobello Road.

 

This is the street in Notting Hill that Kiera Knightly lives on in one of my fave movies ever, Love, Actually.
This dude just sits on his horse and doesn’t move. No matter what. I love that the “Beware” sign is crooked. Someone didn’t!
If you go to London, you are required to take this picture! Doesn’t get more touristy than this. Westminister Cathedral is behind me.
This is the Castle Leslie Estate in Ireland. It is stunningly gorgeous. I expected Lady Mary to come out of the shadows and have a drink or a spot of tea with me.
The gorgeous couple, Jess and Adam. You guys know how to plan a wedding!

I have met some extremely interesting and funny people in my travels. I have had some experiences that will help me survive another New England winter (bah, humbug). Not to mention the inevitable bumps that will occur along the unpredictable path of living.

On my most recent trip, I had the spectacularly good fortune of going to an Irish wedding in Ireland. If you ever get a chance to do this, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just get on a plane and vamos. And if you don’t, stay in touch because I am thinking of starting a business where I find Irish weddings and sell tickets to Americans. Big hit! First of all, Ireland is stunning. Second of all, the Irish people are so friendly, they invite you to into their pubs, their towns, their homes. Third of all, they know how to throw back a drink (or two, or 27). Put it on your bucket list–Irish Wedding. You’re welcome.

I went to see my son’s house and office. This isn’t either of those, it’s where I stayed in Santa Monica.
Seeing my cousin in L.A. was just great.
This guy! My husband couldn’t come to San Francisco, on one of his gifts–to see jim Gaffigan–so this one flew up! Here we are at China Live. Best chinese food I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.

Along the way, I have felt deep gratitude. I haven’t written about it, but I have laid in silence in my bed in the late night or early morning first thing, letting my thanks pour over me. I have thought about how every time I get home safely from a trip that the experience is mine, something nobody can ever take from me. I can pull out the moments of decadent meals and awe-inspiring art, architecture, culture and food whenever I want. I can bask in every impossibly beautiful sliver of time my travels took up until I can’t remember them anymore. I will see a picture of a place and think, yes, I have been there and I have a little piece of you right here in my brain (left side, upper right-hand corner).

Signs, actual signs in L.A. reminding me to be grateful!

We stack up the experiences in the present and then we get to run the footage in our heads for as long as we want. For this, a plane-ful of gratitude (extra leg room, please).

 

 

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2063: the writing connection

 

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Lately, I have been reading books more for the writing than for the story. When I shop on Kindle, with it’s “get a sample” option, I don’t have to commit to buying, until I’ve done some reading, which really helps me to find stuff I don’t just think I’ll like, but actually like. (I am notorious for buying a book and then just hating it and having to fight with myself about reading it when I don’t want to).

Recently I read a wildly emotional book which normally, I wouldn’t have wanted to read because of the topic, but the writing, the writing was so absolutely gorgeous, a pack of rabid wolves couldn’t have kept me away.

The book is called Once More we Saw Stars: a Memoir by Jayson Greene. And bloody hell, its apt and beautiful writing and awe-inspiring gut wrenching story telling is stunning. Greene tells the true and horrific story of his two-year-old girl getting hit on the head with a piece of a New York city building (a total freak accident), while in her grandma’s arms. I’m not ruining it to tell you that she dies. You find that out pretty quickly. And it hurts, but what is extraordinary about this book is not only the way the parents move through this horrific loss, but the telling of the story, the candid, raw and apt way he describes the aftermath, the pain and the path he and his wife take to carry on.

Why, you might wonder, wouldn’t I find a book that was just as well written, but more, well, upbeat? Good question! And I wondered it myself. With all of the exceptional books out there, the zillions of choices, why read about something so painful?

I’m visiting my son in California right now and I’ve had some time to think about this. And here’s what I’ve come up with. It’s the humanity factor.

When people share their worst moments, the kind of pain that forces one to question everything about living, they’re getting to the heart of the human condition. And we can all relate to the searing darkness that can exist amidst the bright blue skies of that complexity. I think this is what connects us, this examination of the broad range of experiences, of the investigation into what we can endure, because in the telling, we connect.

My son is 24, with his first grown-up house and job. There is a beauty in seeing this for me, but it is also tinged with a wistfulness over his no longer being a kid anymore, that the days of his childhood are gone. When I tell you this, you can maybe relate to it from your experience, and it is here that we create a connection to one another, to the greater humanity we all share. The more we share, the more we share.

So, while I haven’t had something as horrible as Jayson Greene had happen to me, his bringing me into the tent of his experience, his grief, he brings me closer to everyone and everything. This is what good writing does. It brings us closer, and gratitude for that.