I’ve been on a Rolling Stones kick recently. Maybe it was that tribute band I went to see a couple of weeks ago at The Hangar. I listened to them all the way on my run today from home to Troy, where I met my neighbor at event and caught a ride home. It wasn’t the easiest run I‘ve ever taken and parts of the route were new and a little unnerving to me, but I don’t regret a step of it. It was a gift to be outdoors with the air on my skin and every scent encountered along the river pleasant.
I ran in South Troy for the first time, which was kind of cool since I had made a brief cameo just yesterday at my friend Mary’s birthday. You know, Mary Panza from South f’n Troy. She’s my oldest upstate friend and I was thrilled to attend her celebration yesterday and to give her a gift. Not just “a gift,” but the most perfect gift – one I had seen at Elissa Halloran’s and immediately knew
it she belonged with Mary.
Giving Mary to Mary was the perfect demonstration of how much more joyous it is to give than to receive. That is a true gift.
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and it’s caused me to struggle with writing a bit. I’ve been purposefully keeping myself busy – attending events like Champagne on the Park and working extra nights, such as last Wednesday at the annual Troy Arts Center Gala. But, today, there was that run from Albany to Troy which gave me a long time to think things through and I believe I’m getting closer to being unstuck. At least for now.
Life is so unpredictable. Who really knows what’s next? With things in such a state of flux, is it even worthwhile to try to figure it the fuck out? Just keep running…
I’ve been examining how I’ve grown from situations I’ve faced, and have to admit that I just don’t yet have the necessary perspective to understand exactly what happened. I know I’ve changed and learned new things, but haven’t yet determined at what cost.
Taking the time to process stuff is critical. It’s comparable, I think, to pain management. You have to be aware of it, understand that you can’t hide from it and stay on top of it before it has a chance to overwhelm you. Eventually, though, you need to move forward with what comes next. This song just might help you with that.
Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, birthdays, Exercise, favorites, friends, musings, Observations, relationships, running, sunday, Troy, Uncategorized
How many times a week do you conclude that your day was one that felt as if you had lived it well? Once? Twice? Maybe more than that?
How do you personally define a day as “well-lived?” Is it measurable in some way? Is there a consistency in the components that come together to combine in a fashion that would satisfy your own criteria for well-lived?
I’ve been struggling. As a person with a pretty firm idea of how long life is (not long enough), my ability to
tolerate accept witness loved ones who can’t seem to recognize and embrace the simple joys, daily miracles and random accomplishments that are present in most of our lives, is limited. Sometimes I just need to separate myself from people who do not appreciate the time they’ve been given.
How do I define a well-lived day? I’ll give you an example – on Saturday I raked up the backyard and filled three bags with leaves and yard debris, swept the deck and finally tossed a bunch of cracked flower pots, roasted some vegetables, took care of a few chores inside the house, played ball with Jeter, prepared and ate dinner with my family, went to work and took care of my guests with as much attention and competence as possible, came home and wound down with an episode of some HGTV show and a little ice cream and was in bed by midnight. To me, that felt like a day well-lived.
Was it exciting? Not particularly. Did I change the world? No, but my yard looks so much better and my deck is ready for sunshine and the plants I pre-ordered from my neighborhood association. Were there moments when I felt stressed or even melancholy? Of course, but my appreciation for the physical strength I possess which enables me to do outdoor and indoor maintenance overshadowed those instances. Would I have liked to simply remain at home or have gone out to socialize rather than go to work? Sure, but I do value the extra income and it provides me with the means to travel, something I absolutely love to do. Plus, I’m not great at going out solo. Believe it or not, I can be a little shy in social situations.
What made the day well-lived, to me, was the sense that I made good use of my time. It wasn’t even necessarily what I did with my minutes and hours, it’s what I didn’t do – I didn’t squander them or spend them doing things that didn’t give me satisfaction. The day in many ways was spent cultivating happiness – it makes me happy to have a tidy yard and a clean house and a fridge stocked with good food and guests who have enjoyed their own evening out because of, in part, my efforts. It was a good day.
How was your weekend? Did you live it well?
- Never regret money spent traveling.
- I’m not a good boss and have no interest in ever owning a business again.
- That being said, I did learn how to do payroll and use Quickbooks.
- The Hudson Valley has no shortage of adorable and fun places for quick getaways.
- For every $1000 spent on a cosmetic household improvement there will be $3000 spent on necessary home repairs.
- Running a half marathon in single digit temperatures is possible and even a little fun.
- Solo travel is indulgent – and exhilarating.
- U2 live still delivers.
- Although I love being home, spending time outdoors makes me happy in an entirely different way.
- Donald Trump is an even worse President than I had ever imagined.
- Jeter loves a vacation just as much as any of us and the ‘new” house we rented last summer in Wellfleet was ideal for the whole family.
- Making granola is super easy and it tastes far better than store bought.
- There’s a lot of good television these days – think Stranger Things, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and This is Us. The jury is still out on Black Mirror.
- Cookie swaps are best enjoyed retrospectively. Having 8 or 9 dozen cookies is great, but the stress of baking 9 dozen cookies and packaging them beautifully robs the joy from holiday baking.
- An afternoon ski on New Year’s Eve with your Lunar bitches, your dog and an airplane sized bottle of limencello is a perfect way to spend the year’s last daylight hours.
- Giving up the scale and eating another cookie might be my best new holiday tradition. I plan to repeat it next year for a full 12 Days of Christmas.
- Bourbon sours with her favorite fella on December 31st can make a girl forget about Times Square, fireworks and the ball dropping.
Filed under aging, Cape Cod, Christmas, concerts, DelSo, Eating, Events, family, friends, Germany, holidays, house, love, musings, Observations, Random, relationships, running, travel, x-country skiing
- My children – even on the days when I can’t understand their actions or attitudes.
- A brother whom I never doubt, even when he just makes stuff up.
- Friends whom I’ve known for so long that I don’t have to explain to them where I come from because they were there.
- More recently made friends with whom I share interests like running, attending fun events and learning new things.
- Health and the ability to get up in the morning and run a 5k without batting an eye.
- The belief that each day comes with an opportunity for positive change.
- A profession that gives me a chance to work with interesting kids and adults and have summers off.
- An ability and means to express myself creatively.
- The opportunities I have to travel and see new places.
- A former husband with whom I can coparent without drama or conflict.
- My home, in a neighborhood of good people, complete with creature comforts, a well stocked kitchen and a dog who brings me joy.
- The knowledge that my life is full of blessings and that every single new day is a reason to feel appreciative.
- Challenge your body, but don’t forget to respect it.
- Know your limits.
- Listen to that voice in your head.
- Visit new places.
- Eat good food.
- Be kind.
- Love with your whole heart.
- Cultivate and nurture friendships.
- Get outside – fresh air cures so much of what ails us.
- Be honest even when it hurts.
- Keep moving.
- Teach your children coping skills.
- Spoil your dog.
- Speak your mind.
- Pay your bills.
- Get involved.
- Maintain your car.
- Keep excitement in your life.
- Be grateful.
Never in my life have I ever used the word “rejoice,” other than as a Christmas carol or hymn lyric. It hasn’t been in my vocabulary. Yet, when I stepped into the shower yesterday and the water temperature was ideal, when my skin, which had been completely drenched in sweat during a 75 minute hot yoga class then cooled to a chilly dry in the fresh air, practically sighed in bliss, it was the first word that flew to my lips: rejoice.
I started thinking of all things that have recently created a response in me that can only be expressed with that word, rejoice, and realized again what a wonderful life I have. Here are a few of the experiences and impressions that have moved me just this June.
- The rain that fell during Sunday’s run. It was the perfect density, starting as a haphazard spit growing to a steady, light drizzle. Exactly what I needed to propel me forward.
- Two moments at my son’s commencement. The first when my youngest son expressed that he identified with the tall graduate who walked on to the stage to accept his history award. “There’s me,” he said. Goal set. The second, when the young woman, whose situation I know nothing of other than she typically doesn’t seem to walk, walked across the stage with support at each elbow, to receive her diploma. Her accomplishment earned the day’s loudest applause. Humanity affirming.
- The smell of fresh strawberries, basil and tomatoes.
- Watching the photos from my phone load into my iTunes like a slideshow of my life and being blown away by all the smiling faces, scenery and memories.
- Listening to the birds chirp their appreciation for being fed.
Maybe I’m simple for finding so much joy in such seemingly trivial places. That’s ok. I like feeling simply happy.
They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family, however that hasn’t been my experience. When you don’t meet your first relative (other than your mother and brother) until you’re 22 years-old, having family is very much a choice. With complete honesty, I can say that finding and getting to know my family has been without exception the most personally gratifying and fulfilling decision I have ever made. I think that’s why I’m so devastated by the loss of my uncle, the man I’ll always think of as the burgermeister
From the very first time we met, me an undergraduate student and the daughter of one of his oldest sisters kicking around Europe, he, in his midthirties and a father to two young children, he always made me know I was family. There was never an instant that wasn’t apparent in the subsequent years and the times we shared.
Between that initial introduction and his recent death we probably were together on a dozen different occasions. He and his wife visited Albany, we met in NYC on the very day my own cancer was determined to require additional treatment, we traveled together in Europe. Three of my last four trips to Europe involved spending time with him and those are some memories that I’ll take out and shine until they gleam gold.
We stayed in the town where he lived twice in recent years and it was truly wonderful to witness the affection with which he was greeted everywhere we went. It was so obvious that he was a beloved member of his community – from the bakery to the Italian restaurant where he still occasionally worked when they needed a hand, he was met with humor and warmth and I was honored to claim him as my uncle. I always felt safe with him and I’m convinced there was nothing in this world with which he couldn’t contend. Except cancer.
As I was proud of him, he was proud of the life he had created. He had been a competitive athlete representing his country in the biathlon. Since learning that part of his history, I’ve loved cross country skiing even more, like it’s our family’s sport. During our visit in April he shared the medals he had won and his unabating love for winter sports was apparent. His home actually overlooks a ski jump used in international competitions, (which he helped with, of course) and we toured a local museum dedicated to the history of Nordic skiing.
My uncle, the unofficial burgermeister, was a great man and the loss of him, despite the thousands of miles between us, feels almost unbearable. How incredibly lucky was I to have seen him so recently? How kind of the universe to have cooperated by putting so much of my family in one place to celebrate Easter just two months ago. I know the ache in my heart will dull and the tears will dry but I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him. As the marker on his final resting place states, he was a gift from Heaven.
Hug your dads, uncles, husbands and sons and know how fortunate you are.