Bikram Spinning

Bikram:  Yoga done in a really, really hot room

Spinning: Indoor exercise class, involving stationary bike with control panel similar to one found in NASA style equipment, very loud music and overly enthusiastic instructor

Bikram Spinning:  Spin class done in small room with no air conditioning

I went to a Bikram spin class yesterday.  Not intentionally, I may add.  I’d signed up (because you need to sign up in advance to exercise- you can’t just show up with sneakers and a can-do attitude)  and when I got to the gym, I found out the air conditioning in the spin room was totally busted.  A 20×20 room, with no openable windows, and 25 bikes.  Oh, and 25 people.  The temperature in the room was 85 degrees.  No lie.  Not exaggerating.  I’d have taken a picture if my phone screen wasn’t fogged up.

I knew the room was this hot.  25 people knew the room was this hot.  Yet we all stayed.  And only 1 person was getting paid.  The rest of us were paying for this privilege.

So why did I stay?

Am I a masochist?  (those of you that know me are not allowed to say yes to this.  I’m making a point, sort of)

No.  I am not a masochist.  I actually like to go to the gym.  I get pleasure from working out, and honestly, if I don’t do some sort of physical activity every day I don’t feel right.  And trust me, I am not a palestrato (Italian word for someone with overly toned body, and absolute devotion to gym workouts)  I am miles away from overly toned, and my body type is more curvy than straight.    I lead a balanced life.  I spend about an hour a day doing formal exercise.  My gym workouts aren’t about achieving an ideal physique.  They are about being healthy- both my body and my mind.  (And yes, I admit, I knew I was going to eat popcorn and pizza later that evening- so it was sort of balancing out the scales of healthy/not so healthy.)

But here’s the thing.  My hour a day at the gym is about the only time I am singularly focused on one thing.  It’s almost a form of meditation.  All I’m thinking about is pedaling, lifting, or moving my feet and arms.  I’m not thinking about my to do list.  I’m not obsessing about tiny details.  I’m not worrying about family or friends or the state of the world-  I’m as close to a blank slate as possible.  And I need this- I need a blank slate.

So for 45 minutes yesterday, I worked through the sweat (anyone who tells you that  women don’t sweat but glow is an idiot)  I cursed out the instructor when she told us to turn it up (meaning increase the resistance- as if you’re going uphill).  I drank more water that I thought possible.  For the first time in my life, my hands kept slipping down  on the handlebars- no towel could help.  But all I thought about was pedaling, breathing, working though it.  Nothing else.  Blank slate.

By the end of class, the temperature in the room was 87 degrees- there wasn’t a dry body in the room.  We looked at each other- survivors- warriors.   and I looked at the control panel of my bike:  CALORIES BURNED- 32.  Good thing I exercise for my mind.

You Can’t Remake Your Youth

Apparently, a remake of “Dirty Dancing” was made.  I saw a commercial.  I saw some of the stars being interviewed.  What I did not see was the actual remake.  I refused on the grounds of….I just don’t want to.

I remember when the original came out.  I loved that movie.  I thought it was an amazing coming of age story.  You watched Baby learn how to navigate an adult world, toeing the line between being a teen age daughter and becoming an independent adult.  It also gave the viewer a glimpse into the historic cultural changes that were about to hit in the 1960s.

Debra Messing portrays the Mother in the remake.  I saw her interviewed.  I love Debra Messing as an actress.  She is funny and warm and intelligent, and she starred in on of my favorite all time sitcoms.  But when she talked about how you were going to see much more of the mothers story…….stop.  Stop right there.  This isn’t about the mother.  It’s about Baby becoming Francis.  That was the beauty of it.

So watching the remake was never going to happen.

I couldn’t help but wonder: why remake this movie?  This movie that people adore?

Can something become more iconic?

Or are we just trying to recreate a perfect experience?

Sometimes things need to remain a memory.  Sometimes things need to remain in the past.  There are no do overs.

When life gets tough, we often think back to “the good old days”.  We look at old pictures, watch video, reread journals…..anything to bring us to a better place.  We want to recreate the good feelings that we had.  But you can’t recreate an exact moment, an exact feeling.  A unique set of circumstances happened in a unique order to create a singular experience.  A guy walks into a room exactly when you turn your head…..Love at first sight.  You can never remake that specific moment.  That specific feeling.

You can’t remake your innocence.

The reason past experiences seem so much better is because we viewed them with less mature eyes.  Getting older is simply adding more life experience to our bodies, to our minds, to our hearts.  As each day passes we may suddenly understand something better, form a new hypothesis.  Conversely, things could get a little more confusing, add new questions to our already overloaded circuits.

We can’t remake our memories because we are no longer the people we were.

So:

Remember the past

Plan for the future

Live in the present

 

 

 

 

 

We All Get Older

Every day, we get a little bit older.  Every day, the people around us get a little older.  There’s a young woman who lives in my building. I remember the day she came home from the hospitol.  In a month, she’ll be graduating high school.  She got older.

There’s another woman in my building.  I met her when she formed the building book club.  She was 55 then, not much older than I am now.  She was a practicing therapist and an avid bird watcher,- divorced  by choice, with absolutely no interest in remarriage.  She was living a rich fulfilling life.

She retired as a therapist five years later, age 60.  And at age 60, she wrote a book.  Over the next few years she became an active fund raiser for causes she believed in.  Her secret dream was to be a stand up comedian- and she began performing at amateur nights.  To watch her onstage was mesmerizing- she was having so much fun.  Her behavior post 60 was what my teenage daughter would refer to as goals.

A few years later, things began to change.   It was a small thing at first- she had always brought fruit to club meetings, and suddenly she stopped.  I like fruit as a snack, so I began bringing fruit.  And she yelled at me- told me fruit was her thing.  Normally I’m a huge fan of conflict, but this particular issue wasn’t worth my ire.  I just brought something else and book club went fruitless.

A few months later she  quit the book club she lovingly formed and cultivated.  The woman who once embraced all genres suddenly only wanted to read novels of espionage-which was odd in that she had always abhorred books like that.

Fast forward a year.  I saw her in the lobby of my building.  She pulled me aside and said:

“Someone has been taking things from my apartment.  I’m missing things.”

I asked her if she told the super, and she replied that it was the super who was taking things.

What do I do?  Part of me is thinking, she’s a little older, she could be misplacing things.   I knew that her family had recently hired a companion to help her during the day and I certainly didn’t want anyone taking advantage of her.  I knew her son came by weekly to check on her, so I left a note with my doorman.

Her son called.  He was happy that I was watching out for his Mother’s well being.  He explained that he did a weekly inventory of his Mom’s belongings, and everything was accounted for.  The only thing missing were little bits of her memory.

I’ve watched this amazing woman for years.  She lived her life and did the things she wanted.  Her bucket list is all crossed off. So why am I a little bit heartbroken?

Maybe it’s harder to watch someone else get older.  Maybe I worry that this is my fate 15 years from now.  Maybe I worry that one day my daughter will be taking inventory of the things in my apartment.  It’s probably a compilation of all of the above.

So what’s the message?  Live, love, enjoy.  Eat, drink, dance, sing.  Thats all I’ve got.  Perhaps, that’s all we need.

 

The End (of a theater)

One of my favorite movie theaters will be closing in January.  The building is going to be torn down and supposedly will be replaced by a retail establishment (as yet to be determined).  There is no historical ot cultural significance to this theater.  It is not a landmark, nor do I have specific memories tied to it.  So why is this seemingly benign event bothering me?  Let me count the ways:

1) They feature under the radar movies.  Critically acclaimed, foreign, documentaries- movies that I love to see but are not shown in a traditional cineplex.

2) The seats are large and comfy, with decent legroom, and most importantly, stadium seating.  As I’m short, I appreciate being able to see the screen instead of someone’s head.

3) They serve hot tea.  My beverage of choice is tea.  Very few theaters serve tea.  The combination of tea and a movie is intoxicating.

4) An usher comes out before the film starts and welcomes us to the theater.  The usher tells us that they will come back into the theater 15 minutes after the film has started in case we have issues with volume, picture quality or temperature.  I like this.  It makes me feel cared for in an often uncaring world.

5) The theater is easily accessed by public transportation.  This is important during bad weather when movie viewing is highly desirable.  It is also a nice walk on a pleasant day.

But most importantly:

6) The theater is in the middle of a virtual food Mecca.  All types of cuisine, all price ranges, casual to trendy to fancy.  It’s perfect.

So why is this the most important reason?

I love quirky movies.  I embrace sub titles.  I look forward to learning about something new.  The husband though…..not so much.  His passion is not film, it’s food.

So I approach my husband as follows:

Me: There’s an awesome documentary about cats in Istanbul out in the theater.

The Husband:  That’s nice.

Me: I read about an awesome Sri Lankan place.  They have this dish called roti, which is where they take the roti, cut it up, and sauté it with this marinated chicken.  It’s right around the block from the cat theater.

The Husband: What times the movie and do we need reservations?

And everyone is happy.

Until now.  Cause this perfect theater is closing.  But until the credits roll in January, I’ll take advantage and savor the moments.  And start looking for theaters with good restaurants around them.

Happy Monday!

 

Fill in the Blank: _________ can wait

No, this is not one of those dreaded tests you took a kid.  This is just a little exercise in mindfulness.

I went to see the movie “Paris Can Wait” yesterday.  (Side note- starring Diane Lane.  When there is a movie about my life, I want Diane Lane to play me.  I think she’s perfect.  And look at my optimism- I’m sure I’m going to do something notorious enough to warrant my life on screen)

But anyway.  The literal plot of the movie is that it takes 2 1/2 days to make a 7 hour car journey to Paris. The figurative plot is that sometimes we have to slow down and savor life and remember what’s important.  The figurative plot is the winner here.

On their journey from Cannes to Paris, they stop at museums and old churches.  They buy gorgeous fruit from vendors, indulge in luxurious wines, order every chocolate dessert on the menu.  They try.  They experience.  They slow down.  They live.

How often do we actually live life?  Savor the taste of food?  Sit and actually listen to music, paying attention to its subtle nuances?  Sit at a dinner table without a phone or electronic device?  Sometimes we need to slow down.  Sometimes we need to live in the moment.

So- I said it wasn’t a test, but I didn’t say there wouldn’t be homework.  Here’s your assignment:

1) Figure out something that can wait, a chore, an obligation, anything.   (Mine would be shredding.  There is no timeline on when routine household shredding needs to be accomplished)

2) Engage in an activity you love

3) Stretch out the time you engage in this activity- pay attention to each step of the process

4) Live in the moment

5) Enjoy

Couples Night: Paint and Sip

As I’ve gotten older, my style of socializing has changed.  Back in the day, double dating, or going out with other couples usually meany hanging out at a bar. As we got a little greyer, we went to dinner.  Now that we’re a lot greyer, we started planning activities.  Last night we tried a painting class.

Forgive me if I’m momsplaining, but paint parties consist of you, a bunch of other people, a painting guru, a small palette of paint, a canvas, three brushes and an apron.  And wine.  You bring your own wine.  The guru gives you step by step directions, (literally, mix red and white paint to create pink), and explains things in a clear and easy format (paint a grey line that extends 3/4 of the way down your canvas).  You joke around with your friends.  You talk about how your own work looks like a Picasso but is supposed to be more realist….and you have fun.

You have fun because your relaxed.  You’re relaxed because your out of your comfort zone and you don’t care.  (Unless you’re actually an artist, which one of my friends is, and you’re freaking out because you own a very expensive MFA and you think your work is the worst.)

What’s the take away?

1) Socialize- its important to listen to other opinions and points of view.  It’s fun to share experiences with people.

2) Be creative- especially if you usually aren’t.  It allows you to look at things from a different perspective.  It helps keep your brain active.

3) Go out of your comfort zone.  Change and new can be good. You might find something you really enjoy.

4) Don’t worry that you’re not very good at something.  Relish your imperfections.

5) Don’t do a paint night on the same day as you tried a new exercise routine.  My shoulders were killing me.

Happy Saturday!

ps

the painting is not for sale!

1st Rule of Aging: Flexibility

I tried a Barre class today.  Essentials, the 60 minute class consists of a variety of stretches and lifts that utilize many of the muscles in your body.  The goal of the class is to create long and lean muscles, and help increase flexibility.  I’ve never been a flexible person.  In my youth I had trouble touching my toes and doing splits, and my flexibility quotient has only decreased with age.  I’ve begun to dread any activity that requires sitting on the floor.  It takes me hours to stand back up.  Ok maybe I exaggerate…a little.  Last year I ended up with a case of heel spur, most probably caused by not stretching my legs after exercise.  So I’m trying to add stretching into my daily routine.  I stretch first thing in the morning.  I get to the gym a little early so I can warm up my body, and I don’t leave class early and skip the cool down.  The foam roller has become my best friend.  I think the path to aging gracefully and maintaining a healthy body begins with keeping the body loose.

But……your mind must remain flexible as well.  Often, as we age, we become set in our ways.  We read the same type of things, watch the same type of shows, do the same sort of activities.  There is nothing wrong with doing things you enjoy.  There is nothing wrong with having the same hobbies.  There is nothing wrong with reading the same authors…..

But…..

You need to venture out of your mental comfort zone.  Your brain needs exercise as much as your body does.  It’s fun to try something new, you may actually like it.  And if you don’t, it gives you a fun story.

I enjoyed my Barre class today, even though I really didn’t know what I was doing.  Though it was hard, both my mind and body were invigorated.  Now, my body might be a bit stiff tomorrow, but that’s ok.  My mind is going to be open.

Happy Friday!  Try something new!