Archive for ‘Nature’

July 29, 2012

Need for Speed

Am writing this while watching the Olympic hopefuls sail along rainy London streets on their bikes. The women are so fast. I love sports where you go fast, like skiing and biking.

The other day I was riding my bike to work and there was a woman running faster than I was riding on my bike. That was one fast runner.

There’s used to be a myth that only men liked the adrenaline rush of the high-speed chase. But women (and kids) do too. It’s a human instinct to push our physical limits and thrill with the ride. We were born to run.

And now that I’ve admitted my own need for speed, let me post a couple of pictures from my long walk in the Adirondacks.

While I love to run and ride and go fast, it’s easier to snap a pic when you walk and amble and go slow. It’s easier to savor the moment when you slow it all down.

To catch a good photo, you have to pause to frame it. To enjoy a moment, you have to stop and savor it. And any sport that you do outdoors, reminds you to love nature.

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July 12, 2012

Biking in New York City

signage in a bike shop window in Portland

I love riding my bike in New York City. I love when I forget my helmet and I feel the wind in my hair. I used to not wear a helmet at all but then I had kids and I valued my life (and my brains) more.  I always make the kids wear a helmet now too.

I think I started riding a bike in the city when I was about 30 and had just broken up with my ex. At that time, if a girlfriend and I were going out for a drink, my friend’d take a cab and I’d ride my Schwinn. We’d set off at the same moment. And I’d always get there first.

Mostly now, I just ride my bike to work. The bus or subway takes about 30 minutes. I’ve pedaled the 45 blocks in less than 15 minutes.

my morning commute

Besides, staying healthy, saving money, I sail past trees and grass and flowers and happy people in the park. I have a lovely commute through Riverside Park.

Pulling in to my work garage, I used to think people were kind of laughing at me and my bike. Now? Am I imaging it? — coworkers seem slightly jealous. I have a sweet ride.

Ten thousand new bikes are about to be launched on New York City streets through a bike-sharing program. Cool. Every day, my fellow New Yorkers will discover my secret pleasure — commuting to work by bike.

I’m not worried about my route getting clogged with bikers, because most of the bike stations will be in midtown and downtown.

This blog post could easily have been written for another one of my blogs, My Beautiful New York blog. I love New York City.

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March 22, 2012

Going Running

How do you psych yourself up to go for a run? I tell myself, “Come on, girl. You can do it.” I talk to my body like it were a beloved family horse. “Yes, get moving, Ole Paint. Get out of your easy chair.” (I know that’s a mixed metaphor: horses don’t sit in easy chairs! Hey, it’s my blog. Write your own blog and mix up your own metaphors!)

There are a million reasons NOT to run. Here are a few:

Florida flower1. My feet hurt.

2. I am slow.

3. No one else is running. (Everyone else is going out for breakfast, in fact.)

And here’s why:

1. It will feel good when you’re done.

2. You will see some new things.

3. You will model fitness for your kids.

4. When you’re done, you can have a big breakfast.

Maybe I’ll go wake up one of my kids and see if they want to go with me.

I am writing this from a rocking chair on the porch. The kids and I are on a four-day trip to Siesta Key, Florida. It is our third day and inertia has set in. After a few days of vacay, especially in a warm clime, inertia always sets in. I must beat back inertia as if it were a horse sitting in an easy chair. (That’s a horrible image. But there you have it. As I’ve said, inertia has set in and I am mentally lazy, can’t come up with a better image. I could, if I really tried. But I have to go running.)

Come on, girl. Let’s go.

October 6, 2011

an upturned tree

Up in the Adirondacks, Sunday morning, I was sipping coffee before my family woke up. I was crabby because I’d have to rally the troops, pack up, leave the country, return to the city, get ready for the week ahead. Even writing in my journal didn’t work the usual magic of lifting my mood.

So I went for a run. I watched the fitness app on my phone, noticing that I was still unable to run faster than a 13-minute mile. Yes, I was in the slow lane; my feet hurt. And I couldn’t get enough breath. I tired easily.

I ran for five minutes, then walked for a minute. Then did that again. The first part of the run was easy. I passed the school house. Then it was wet so I looped around the Cold Spring Road instead of going down to the Stable Inn. I began the walk up the rough-hewn stone steps to the Big House. That’s when I saw this upturned tree.

Hard to capture in a dark, rainy forest, but this wide swath of trees and roots were upturned by Hurricane Irene.

Un-be-liev-able! It took my breath away.

If some special effects geek tried to recreate this 10-foot circumference of a sideways forest floor, it would cost millions of dollars and people would never believe it. But nature did this outstanding damage free of charge. Nature is whack, doing crazy shit. Hurricane Irene must’ve tore up this part of the woods as she tore through Vermont and the Adirondacks a month ago.

I gave up running, walked up the steps back to the house, packed and woke the darlings. I wasn’t crabby any more.

For some reason the extraordinary sight of the upturned tree calmed me down.

Today people are contemplating Steve Jobs’ death. And I’m remembering the upturned tree.

We all will die. I will die. I am small. Whether my death comes by cancer like Steven Jobs, by hurricane like the forest floor, or my personal preference, by old age, I will die. Running away from my troubles on a dreary Sunday morning made me remember that. And it humbled me and made me less crabby.

July 6, 2011

Running Without a Soundtrack

The silence running in the country was deafening.

I could not find my head phones. I usually run with ear buds listening to Pandora and the Omar Shariff sound-alike who calculates the distance of my run on my Cardio Trainer app.

I like running to Britney Spears songs like Piece of Me or Pat Benatar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot. I think, “Yay, world, hit me. Try getting a piece of this.”

I know, I know. I am delirious after just five minutes of running, wondering, Is it time to take that well-deserved water break or walk yet? The music keeps me going.

So running without Britney, Pat or Omar, I felt a twinge of loneliness. The steadiest sound was the scraping labor of my own breath. Then the silence came alive.

running on a country road

There was a cawing of a crow, an old Buick rounding a corner, the wind swishing the hay in the field, and in the mix, my breath.

My breath was just a speck on the country road. Running helps you figure out where you fit in, a small piece in a big picture.

For this epiphany I rewarded myself by slowing down and walking.

January 30, 2011

Just Do It

I am a fan of gentleness. I should write a book about the gentle approach. I try to be easy on everyone — forgiving and kind. Especially myself. But not with running. I can’t be. I have to be unforgiving and unkind.

I have to just do it. The Nike ad is right. You don’t want to do it. But you have to. Because it works. Seriously.

I got my sorry self out of the house at around 9 yesterday morning, stepping over the kids’ snowpants and my own bad self esteem.

I headed down into Riverside Park to the river. The sidewalk was clear; the snow still clinging to the branches. I ran for 1.1 miles. And it took me 14 minutes! Yes. Beat that!

I stopped for bagels and strawberries for the fam on the way home. I seriously walked into the apartment giddy with happiness.

Running is a mood enhancer. I am going to sign up for a 5K in March with my kids and my coworkers (Join us — http://www.coogans.com/events/).

I am going to run slowly, but I am going to stay in the race. And I’ll be happy when I’m done.

January 5, 2011

Shampooing Everyday Is Not Necessary

I shampoo every other day and I’m fine. But lately, I’m going three days between shampoos. Recent studies — okay, a handful of my friends at Happy Hour — have told me that they no longer shampoo every day.

One of my BFFs, let’s call her Grace, and I had the same therapist, let’s call her, June. June has gorgeous long wavy hair. June always looks fabulous in that pulled-together yet slightly-harried-Upper-West-Side-Mom kind of way. June told Grace that she has used no poo for years. My ex-therapist has not shampooed her hair in years and she is a great therapist (okay, I know, totally unrelated!). (If you’ve ever wondered What the heck do people talk about in their therapy sessions? Now you have an inkling —  ‘to shampoo or not to shampoo? That is the question.’ Yes, there are bigger issues to discuss in therapy, but who am I to judge? I’m blogging about going no poo.)

‘No poo’ is a  movement for a more natural cleanliness and a snub to corporate conglomerates who have drummed it into our smelly heads that shampooing daily is essential. It is not. It is better, especially in the winter, to go a few days.

My daughters can go a week between shampoos and they always look fabulous in that pulled-together yet slightly-harried-Upper-West-Side-Kid kind of way.

Grace said her stylist recommended that if she really must shampoo her hair, only shampoo the roots and condition the ends. I have not tried that. But one of my daughters tried it and reported it worked well. When I tucked her in that night and kissed her head, she still smelled delicious as always.

The smell of my kids’ heads releases my happy pheromones.

August 6, 2010

Crying at the Sky

I was in yoga on Saturday morning. Because it was Heritage Day, we could not meet at the Heritage House. So we met on the band shell of Ballard Park. It was a little like being on stage. Well, it was like that because we were on stage.

Almost everything that Michael, the teacher, says during class is brilliant. He said that in a new translation of the Upanishads, published in 2008, a line was written, “Hope is never false.” And he was making a political statement. 2008 was about hope. Hope is never false.

Wow. His July theme for the yoga classes was independence. Because Independence Day can be celebrated for days beyond the 4th of July. It can be any day. It can be every day.

I looked up at the sky from the band shell. I think I was in warrior pose. The white clouds were striated. The blue sky was almost too blue. I started to cry. I have no idea why. The beauty of the sky does that to me sometimes. I cry during church when the choir sings too. I don’t know why. I am an intellectual. There are times when yoga, a cloud or music sneaks past my intellect and makes a direct hit for my heart. Or maybe it’s my soul.

March 21, 2010

Walking in New Jersey with Babies

I know I should be running. There’s really nothing like running. The only thing remotely like running is walking.

Yesterday Barbara and I drove with my sleepy daughters to visit Mandy and her baby in Summit, New Jersey. We sat in the sunny suburbs. We  pored over the school auction catalog.  (Last night was the big fundraiser. Spent too much).

Then we walked in a public park. Morris County Park. Maybe it was half a mile there and back — past a stream, past dog walkers and curled-up caterpillars. We had to step off the path when little tyke bike riders rode by.  The girls bickered. Then held my hand. Mandy’s funny husband, KC, pushed the stroller. Baby Nathaniel wore a baseball cap.

It was absolutely idyllic. We stopped near a playground. We chatted at a picnic table.

The thing about walking that’s better than running is you can talk to several people at once. When you run, you can only talk to one person. But when you walk you can spread yourself around. Or you can talk to no one. You can stare at the teeny tiny shoots of green emerging from the dead leaves. And you can marvel at the miracle of it all.

The miracle of growth. Of that new baby growing into some big kid. Impossible to arrest the march of growth (in March!). My little kid was once that little baby in the stroller.

I miss the baby days. I love babies. Their silliness, chubbiness, simplicity. The way they have no subtext. They feel something, even gas, they express it. They do not censor themselves. I love my grown-up kids. Their witty remarks, their athleticism. But I miss their snuggly baby days. I try to hang on to them as long as possible. I still baby them.

I was a bit depressed  on Friday, having to write about Haiti —  the incredible sadness of losing my coworkers in Haiti. And then worries over Chris’s inevitable decline with Parkinson’s. But then, I see a baby, or feel the sun, or one of my kids hugs me tight, or I walk or ride my bike, or yes, I  run. Or like on Friday, I ducked into a NYC museum and see great art. And I feel better.

These fixes are non-pharmaceutical cures for whatever ails me. Take two walks in the park and call me in the morning. Tell me if you don’t feel the same way. Feel some inevitable March of growth.

January 26, 2010

Riverside Park Walk

I walked from 75th and Riverside to 116th and Riverside to pick up one of my daughters from a sleepover.

As I walked, listening to Britney Spears, there was an aroma. An amazing scent that filled the air and practically made me cry. Pine trees. Christmas. Little woodchips made from yours and my Christmas trees in New York City.

To smell this mulch on the side of the hills along Riverside Park. It made the walk so worth it. It began to rain. I didn’t care. The smell grew stronger. I love the way New York City recycles Christmas trees and helps other trees.

Also, at the end of the walk, I saw this guy (I’m trying to post the video to show you but I just practically crashed the computer. I’m not a techie!). It was of a guy rollerblading down a metal railing. People are risky and talented and amazing. A walk in New York always leads to some kind of crazy serendipity.