Archive for February, 2011

February 18, 2011

running helps handle my nightmares

Today at lunch time, I ran with David, my coworker. We ran for 29 minutes, about 2.5 miles. That’s double what I did January 30th, two and a half weeks ago. I love progress.

Yesterday was crazy busy — judging a writing contest, attending a lunch time book club, meeting my daughters’ teachers, watching my son’s swim meet, getting on a conference call, then showing up for my online writing class at 9 pm.

This morning I woke up sweaty. I dreamed I was carrying a baby in one arm and a stack of papers in another. I was crossing from one apartment to another, stepping next to an open elevator shaft. I had that scared-of-heights feeling. I dropped the papers, but not the baby, several stories down. The baby and I watched papers fall slowly, beautifully, like in a movie.

Then I chatted with a friend in my apartment. I left the baby alone in the hallway. I suddenly thought, “I hope the baby girl doesn’t play too close to the air shaft.” Then I thought, “She’ll just have to learn her lesson.”

I think the dream was a way for my unconscious to work out the fact that I carry too much. The dream was a reminder that I need to learn my lesson too. In dreams, we are all the characters and symbols — like, I am the baby, the friend, the air shaft, the sheaf of papers. There are times when my writing, my papers, my parenting, my work, my life gets away from me, falling like the papers down the air shaft. I carry too much.

The only thing I carry when I run is my phone so I can watch my CardioTrainer app and see how far I’ve gone and whether it’s time to go from a run to a walk. See, I’m still doing that 5 minutes of running and then 1 minute of walking routine. It’s good to pace myself.

Now, if I could only figure out how to pace myself in my life outside of running. Is there an app for that?

February 14, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

What are you grateful for?

Studies show that people who keep a journal every morning or make a gratitude list every night have an improved immune system. (I can’t find the link right now to support this claim, but just trust me!)

I have also heard that a child must hear 10 positive things to overcome one negative thing. The number is probably similar for adults. Today I made a conscious effort to remain positive, adding to other people’s positivity and not depleting them.

Sounds altruistic, but I am doing it for my own health. Remaining positive is good for me. 

I love a neuroscientific excuse to write, be grateful and pursue happiness.

Here are today’s 10 reasons for joy and gratitude — in no particular order.

1. The power of nonviolence and the peaceful overthrow of the dictatorship in Egypt
2. Valentine’s Day chocolates everywhere
3. Handmade Valentines left anonymously on coworkers’ desks
4. Kids’ health, especially my son’s heart, fixed by brilliant doctors
5. Wonderful boss
6. My kids’ singing voices — at this moment, the girls are singing a song from Grease. So fricken’ cute!
7. This warm day nearly melting the icy mounds of snow in NYC
8. My mother’s coming to visit in a week and a half
9. My friends, especially my book club friends
10. My own creativity and sense of humor

While I was watching the Grammy’s last night and making Valentines (see number 3 above), unbeknownst to me, one of my daughters was making one too. If I ever get down, and it is inevitable, I am going to look at this:

February 9, 2011

Cross Country Skiing and Listening

When I started out cross country skiing today, I was totally listening to the world from a level 1. “I can’t do this. I’m cold.”   

In my workplace Leadership Academy, I learned there are three levels of listening:

  1. Listening to yourself  (at times, self consciously)
  2. Listening  to one other person (intently)
  3. Listening  to the room (the vibe)

After about 20 minutes of skiing, I found my rhythm. I may not have been elegant, but I was competent. And I could see the trees and the snow and the mountains.

After looking around, I began listening around. I was at level 3 — the greater room, the bigger world. Nature was my room, and the vibe was quiet.

There is a time when doing outdoor sports — or maybe any sports — when it is no longer possible to remain self-centered. Okay, yes, I can run with headphones on and stay in my head. But, at some point, I will be aware of a larger world around me. If I take the buds out of my ears, I can hear the sound of my feet hitting the sidewalk, a bird calling, or a dog barking.

Out in the snow today, the sounds were muffled and quiet. Occasionally a tree creaked as if in pain. There was nothing really much in the world to hear. Yet I was alive to the sounds and to the day. I forgot I was cold. I transcended myself.

February 5, 2011

Vanity or Confidence?

I can’t disengage my thoughts on loving myself — including my own body — from a feminist perspective. When a woman engages in positive feelings about her own body I think we eye her suspiciously.

I admit I’ve raised an arched eyebrow at a colleague who I saw applying make up at her desk. But a man who straightens his tie and kisses the mirror? I’m likely to applaud his self esteem. For men, we call it confidence. For women? vanity.

The other day a colleague ran into my office to grab a note pad. I noticed that she noticed my curling iron on the floor.

“I am taking appointments,” I said. “Need a blow out? or an Up do? I can give you an appointment 10 am.” We giggled. (This is my way — deflect my embarrassment with humor!)

I wanted to launch into a diatribe about how I can barely get my teeth brushed in the mornig before launching my kids and myself out the door. Of course I curl my hair at my desk! But I resisted. I’m grateful I can get my teeth brushed at home and then have time first thing at work to brush my hair.

The curling iron is a symbol of how my self care (and grooming!) spills over into my work life (And when I check work emails from home on the weekend, that’s a symbol of how work life spills into my home life!)

I don’t have the answers, I’m just raising the questions.

I hope this Valentine’s Day, I do feel good about myself and my body. I hope that I can curl my hair at home before I get to work. (And since I’m not shampooing every day, I do need a lift!)

Oh, better yet, just lump it. Go into the morning meeting with straight hair, but first — kiss the mirror, straighten the tie and call it confidence.

me in the mirror

So, on this year’s Valentine’s Day, join me as I cultivate self-love (and not self loath!).

Send yourself flowers, chocolates. Or hold your own hand and take yourself out for a candlelight dinner. Whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Take a picture of yourself in the mirror. Then kiss your reflection. The mirror might feel a little cold, but dig the lipstick mark that you leave behind.