A Six-Year Old State of Mind

When I entered the first grade at Stafford Elementary there were too many students for the two classrooms. I was assigned to an extra class, which was temporarily located in the southeast corner of the all-purpose auditorium, the exact location where they display the book sale in the Spring. The teacher, a mean spirited woman, whose name escapes me, derived her sense of power by placing me in the corner.

school_home_default

I would laugh uncontrollably with Robin Reed, a beautiful, tall girl with large green eyes. We would just look at each other and start laughing. However, my laugh, for reasons unknown to me would set off the teacher. And, I alone would have to sit in the corner, having been shamed in front of my classmates. I thought this completely unfair. As a six-year-old fairness meant a great deal to me. Why was I sent to the corner, and Robin could stay at her desk learning how Dick and Jane were getting on? My back was to the class so I’d miss the lessons and get behind. One unfairness on top of another. Perhaps it was this experience that wed me to proper rules. This fabricated black & white idealism.

50s1a

Today I was in Central Park on a run. I was going the way of traffic, far on my right on the Bridle Path. I like the soft earth under my New Balance even though I always end up with small stones and sand that has to be emptied. It was late morning, and with the heat there weren’t many runners out. And, yet, from time to time a runner would come at me on my lone path, on their wrong side of the path. I get mad at them. I hold my ground running along, certain of my right to be where I am. But I am filled with righteousness, and a touch of malice.

Unknown

Since I run because it gives me pleasure, my holier-than-thou attitude does not lend itself to enjoyment. In fact, I allow those unwitting runners to get in the way of my satisfaction. So, I started to ask myself where these thoughts may have originated. And first grade came to mind. My idea of what’s correct and fair was compromised. I held onto my notion of right and wrong as a defense. It’s time to let it go. I needn’t think mean thoughts for runners who are going where they want to go. There is room enough for all of us. Well, I’m not quite there yet. But I’ll work on it with each subsequent run.

Addendum:

school_2

After a month of torture from that First grade teacher, the class got moved to the old art room, and Mrs. Schlosberg became our teacher for the rest of the school year. She was kind, and thoroughly supportive. I even won a poster of Cambell’s Soup as an outstanding student award. It was a great redemptive prize. I will always be grateful to her. And in the end, first grade worked out. I made it to second, and so on.

Dropping the Ball

Unknown

I’ve dropped the ball. I haven’t answered emails, returned calls or followed through on making plans. This is not like me. Well, the me I used to be. Apparently, it’s very much like me at the moment. Usually I’m on top of things. Often I’ve stayed up late to make sure everything gets done. Not now.

Tonight I almost missed a terrific show. I tried to purchase tickets at the last minute, even though I planned to go weeks ago. And when I went online it was sold out. My friend Kathy bailed me out and gave me her ticket, so I was able to enjoy Brad Freyman in Pimm’s Mission. I was lucky this time, but who knows the consequences with my next near miss.

Unknown-1

I seem to be the rather undependable, someone I swore I’d never be. Yet, here I am avoiding or forgetting to be more responsible. I promised myself I’d write more this summer. I was going to write a pitch and a proposal. I was going to read more. Do some research. I didn’t, though. There are exhibits to see I have yet to view. Not a priority, but still….. I’m not diligent with my running either. I don’t know what accounts for my lack of luster. But here I am behaving in a way foreign to me.

170290_p_1

I have to say, I need this break. I have always been busy, too busy. I’m busy now, just not as busy with all the coulds & shoulds. I guess the difference now is that I’m not fighting this phase so much. I don’t understand it, but I imagine there’s a good reason for it. So while I’m missing what I think needs to get done, I’ll be curious about this rare break from my norm.

Unknown-2

My Shade of Gray

paul-mitchell-brown-hair-color-chart-

Some changes are easy. Changing my clothes after a walk on a hot day, changing my mind, when I go for a walk rather than a yoga class, easy. Changing my hair, not so much. I’ve sat in many salon chairs, tears in my eyes, feeling helpless while scissors cut away the vision I tried to communicate to the hairdresser. Conversely, I loved the artists who gave me so much more than I had hoped. But the last few years I’ve gone back and forth about going completely gray or continuing my once a month trek to my local salon, tediously covering my roots.

Unknown-1

Like my dad, I went gray at an early age. Like my mom, this wasn’t something I wanted to share publicly. So by my mid-twenties I dyed my hair any number of shades of brown, auburn, chocolate, and other colors not easily found in nature. This past year I made the decision to stop dying my hair. I came to this decision partly because I don’t enjoy going to the salon, and mostly because I’m working on not doing things that aren’t pleasurable to me, if I can help it. Dying my hair fell into the category of something I could help.

janet-zinn-1 (3)silk jacket dyed green; hair dyed dark auburn.

At first it was uncomfortable to walk around with gray roots. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been because my hair is curly and I don’t usually part my hair. Nonetheless, it wasn’t the style that I wanted to sport. But I let it grow and grow, walking around as a two-toned woman. And then last week I cut it all off. I hadn’t imagined the freedom I’d experience. I feel unburdened. I can’t explain it, but I feel liberated. I cut away a part of my past and am embracing my present. I am fully gray and proud of it.

Photo on 6-16-15 at 12.13 PM (1)two-toned

IMG_2057latest cut

Wrong Again

Unknown-1

The impulse to judge is a strong one. Although I can be intuitive, seeing how someone holds him or herself or has a certain expression that speaks volumes about character, I can also go to a less caring place when looking at others. More often than I’d like to admit, I can dismiss someone at first glance. Sometimes, though, I’m fortunate enough to be proven wrong.

The other day I was in a group and I totally dismissed a conservatively dressed woman as someone tight, lacking a sense of humor. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. When she shared she had us all laughing with a wonderfully dry wit. Now, here’s a woman I wanted to know. Yet, I almost didn’t give myself the chance because of my own inaccurate conclusions.

I wonder how many missed opportunities I’ve experienced. How many people would have contributed to my outlook if I hadn’t been so judgmental. In reading a wonderful piece about a fat bride and her joyous wedding, Lindy West affirms true happiness.

9c941fb8-ab6f-4c3a-a5cb-fb6bfb330f4d-2060x1236

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/21/my-wedding-perfect-fat-woman

While I persist in learning to be open, I have no doubt I’ll continue to be inspired. And, thank you to those who reveal your true selves, rather than the narrow impression I forged, I am humbled.

Choices

Unknown-1Someone else doing yoga

I am not going to my yoga class today. If I go I won’t get a chance to write, and I want to go for a jog before work, too, which I won’t be able to do if I go to my class. I love yoga and will miss the stretching and the relaxation that comes from the class. Lately I’ve chosen not to go more often than I go. I miss it. But when I do go, I miss these easy mornings before long days. I miss time spent with the family in the morning, or taking Lucy, our dog, for a walk and enjoying beautiful Carl Shurz Park. With every choice I gain something and I lose something else.

ImageLucy

Unknown-2A View of Carl Shurz Park

When I was in my 20’s & 30’s I hated making choices. I felt personally responsible for others’ happiness and if I made a choice that someone didn’t like, then I felt deeply guilty. I always said, “it doesn’t matter to me, you decide.” Often I did have a preference. I preferred to go to a café rather than a coffee shop for breakfast, but I kept my mouth shut, while I silently regretted their decision. It took a long time for me to be able to voice my preferences. It’s not always easy, but I’d rather have a say in what happens, feel whatever I feel in relationship to the results than resent the ultimate outcome.

When we’ve experienced deprivation in any form making certain choices can feel daunting. We know we’ll feel a loss of what we don’t get, even as we know we’ll enjoy what we have. This has happened to me on vacations. By the time I take a vacation, I am so looking forward to the rest. Yet, because I yearn to travel the world, I am sad that I’m not choosing the Amalfi Coast over an inn in Connecticut. The practical, easier choice is the inn, which will be lovely. But the Amalfi Coast looks splendid. And, Italy is a wonderful country. If, in the end, I choose to go abroad, then I choose wander over simplicity.

6951_p1The Bee & Thistle Inn

Unknown-1Amalfi Coast

No, I am not deprived in that I get a vacation, a luxurious option in any life. But considering my options brings up all the times I had to do what I was told without being able to voice my unhappiness or disgust. The fear of the consequences of voicing my displeasure always seemed worse than just doing what I was told.   So even though my current life is not one of deprivation, making a simple choice can feel oppressive. But with practice the deprivation lessens, and the choices get easier. So, as I learn from a day without yoga , I feel more equipped to make the harder choices that life brings our way. And, I don’t feel like the old victim because I now understand that I do have a say.

Walking the Dog — A Grounded-Spirituality Post

IMG_0185 (1)

I had given myself a self-imposed deadline to write this post by tonight. But I was making no headway. I tried to start a couple of times, but they went nowhere.  Lame ideas with no way out. And, it was a busy day, testing my thin veil of discipline. Finally I sat down to write in earnest, well, I was hoping for that when Lucy, our dog, indicated that she had to go out. So, I got up hesitantly, got her leash, put on my jacket, checking for bags and treats, and we headed down the stairs to a lovely Spring evening. I was walking down the block when we ran into a friend with her adorable dogs. I rarely get to see friends given my schedule, so this impromptu meeting, was an unexpected gift. We walked the dogs for a short time while catching up.

IMG_0714

When they left, Lucy and I went into the park. There are guards and a patrol officer at our entrance, so I felt safe. Lucy took her time, sniffing to find just the right place to roll around. After that she was happy to take her time to do what we came out to do. All the while she’s happy to be outside, enjoying the sounds and smells of the park. Observing her had me realize that it’s the simple things that carry us through. Earlier I worked so hard to think of just the right blog post. Lucy’s ease of being reminded me that simply being out with her was pleasure enough. She reminds me to take my time, and enjoy the moment. She teaches me patience. I always want to walk quickly to the next thing, while Lucy is happy to be wherever she is. So, taking her lead, I’m acknowledging that this is where I am at the moment. I’m putting this on my blog because I told myself I’d write something. It’s not perfect. But, thanks to Lucy I at least have this much.

DSC_0001