Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Cuckoo

The book I finished reading tonight finds its characters travelling to Florence in the last 20 pages of the book.

I didn't expect this turn in the plot and felt my heart jump just a little bit reading about Santa Croce, the Piazza Signoria.  Even before my marriage in the Palazzo Vecchio, Firenze held a most special place in my heart.

I have so many amazing memories of the city and countryside, but the one I couldn't stop thinking about tonight was the sound of the cuckoo.

This May as Jason and I spent a week in a nearly deserted Torre a Cona, I had the nearly epiphanic experience of being awake in the morning, seemingly the only person awake yet on the earth, walking across the dewy grass to sit on our little patio and hearing the call of my first cuckoo.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TV Update

The TV is still off.

Over a month since the call to Comcast was made on 8/17. 

I appreciate all of the offers from people for the "box" which would allow us to get regular reception without cable.  However, people are missing the point.  We don't want any tv. 

It takes most people I speak to several minutes to wrap their heads around this one.  The dialogue is the same almost every time. 

Nice person:  Did you see so-and-so last week?
Me:  No, we cancelled our tv.

NP:  Oh, you don't have cable? [quizzical look mixed with fear]
Me:  Well, we don't have any tv.  We cancelled the cable and don't get any regular reception.

NP:  Did you know you can get a box and get regular reception?
Me:  Yes
NP:  Well, I have an extra box, you can have it if you need it!
Me:  Thanks, but we don't want to have tv right now.

NP:  Um, ok [quizzical look mixed with fear and rapid switch to new topic]

I think the instinctual fear response arises as people brace themselves for some sort of pompous, deluded rant and rave about the evils inherent in television and some "holier-than-thou" attitude and my moral superiority as a non-tv subscriber.  I think people are afraid that I am also finally going off the hippy-dippy deep end (she also pickles, should we be worried?)

I'm not here to tell anyone not to watch tv.  I'm just not going to do it right now.  No judgement, no attempted conversion here. 

I will say that it is an interesting experiment.  It's like other addictions, drinking, cigarettes.  People say they can quit if they want to, but never go ahead and do it.  I didn't think I could survive without my tv.

Taking an activity that had a strange hold over me and vanquishing it IS empowering.  It makes me more "hands on" with my life.  I am able to make adjustements, change my attitude and my routine.  The possibilities start becoming more and more limitless. 

Am I making too much out of this?  Maybe.  Maybe I want the "nice person" to understand I'm doing this for a bigger reason that I even realized when I started out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sushi Birthday!

After meditation, we joined a group of friends for sushi to celebrate my friend Martina's birthday!

We went to the original Hot Woks Cool Sushi

 Jason and I had eaten there just once before and were a little underwhelmed.  However, we had a great dinner last night and were seated in an adorable upstairs area I didn't even know existed!  I had the Spicy Tako (spicy octopus), Jason didn't have sushi and instead went for the garlic chicken. 

I don't know if the food was really any better but the group we were with was super fun.  And, the birthday pickles were a hit!


Last night at meditation I used what Mary (our swami) described as an "Earth Mudra". Similar to the wisdom mudra (tip of the index finger into pad of thumb) except palms down. It is supposed to draw energy downward and be very grounding.

I did have an amazing experience last night. Whether it had anything to do with the mudra, the environment, or the result of having a very jarring day and really needing to take some deep breaths, it worked.

Another technique that we employ is the idea of drawing energy up through your spine and imagining the energy coming up about 6-12 inches above your head. By drawing the energy upward, it helps to draw our hearts and minds above the shackles of daily life and help to focus on a higher existence. I've struggled with this practice the last few weeks, but this time it seemed to start coming together for me. I could literally visualize the energy above me and could feel myself drawing the energy up through my body and through a mental, instead of physical force, keeping it suspended in the air.

Very cool.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I think it might be happening.  I've been trying my hardest to get addicted to running.  A here and there event has turned into 3 solid days/week plus at least another day or two of some other exercise (elliptical at the gym, tennis on a Sunday).  One of the things I most look forward to on my weekends is a Saturday morning run with my husband.

My friend Jenny O and I are getting into a Tuesday night routine.  And I'm managing to motivate to get out there all on my own.  The Park District completed renovations on a local park and I love running the track that circles the perimeter (about .6 miles/loop). 

It's amazing how much better I've gotten!  A pair of jeans have re-entered my wardrobe rotation now that I can get into them.  And a pair of work pants is on the brink.

There may be a running announcement on this very blog in the near future.  Stay tuned!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I came across this blog, The Happiness Project a couple of months ago.  I'm having a hard time figuring out the website, the author reports on all sorts of "happiness" or "self-help" techniques, but I'm not getting a feel for how she implements them in her daily life.

However, I subscribe to the blog and probably once a week take a look at what is being discussed.  There's way too much information presented, but I like the premise.

What steps can I take to be happier?

We all want to be happy.  But I've found that as time goes on I literally forget that desire.  Work, cooking, cleaning, obligations and constant comparisons to other people manage to blot out the overarching goal of happiness.  It's all too easy to put on the blinders of my quotidian existence, ignore the bigger picture and suddenly awaken to see that years have passed. 

What makes me happy?

Right now, being more conscious and present in my life and putting forth the effort to carve out the time and awareness for happiness.  Turning off the tv, meditation, running and even pickling are helping me on this journey.  Working on being more present in my relationships with my friends.  Being aware of the value of each minute of a day.  These are small steps, but even the small steps can result in big rewards.

What makes you happy?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quit Smoking Now

On the eve of my one year anniversary, a short list of the changes that start taking place immediately upon quitting!

When smokers quit -- What are the benefits over time?

  • 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops.

  • 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

  • 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

  • 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.

  • 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.

  • 10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker's. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease, too.

  • 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker's.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I continue to attend  meditation practice.  One short hour/week but what a wonderful hour it is.  Amazing how, in this day and age, we even have to schedule something as peaceful and fluid as meditation.

Tonight we experimented with a new mudra.  Most are familiar with the "ohm" mudra, practiced by joining the tips of your index finger and thumb.  The thumb represents "Life" and the index finger you.  The gesture signifies the interconnectedness of yourself with the universe. 

The mudra I used tonight during meditation was described as the "wisdom" mudra.  The tip of the index finger is pressed into the pad of the thumb.  The gesture is meant to represent the idea of giving over to the natural flow of life.

I liked this idea and needed it sorely tonight as I struggle this week with some hard choices about my future.

But I think the decisions are made.

I'm working on facing hard choices in life not as struggles, but as opportunities!  Trying to take the process more lightly and face it with joy and enthusiasm instead of fear.

Some might say I can be too serious.