Have a reservoir 

I took this picture at noon today near the reservoir in Central Park. I love working in a place where I can step outside and be surrounded by beauty in an instant.

I sat on a bench for 15 minutes. I set aside my smartphone and looked around.

Beside me, there was a young woman, an older woman in a wheelchair, and a middle aged woman. The middle aged woman had a Caribbean accent and she kept telling the woman in the wheelchair, “Your granddaughter is here. She came to see you.”

And the two, the caregiver and the granddaughter, both stroked the older woman’s hair. The woman in the wheelchair was unresponsive. But the two were undaunted. They were loving. They kept talking to the grandmother, caressing her.

Noticing their affection feeds my soul, makes me realize that people are basically good. And ultimately, love wins.

The reservoir in Central Park is a popular tourist spot. It is so vast. And seems, almost an anomaly. Maybe even obsolete. But the reservoir in the middle of a city park is necessary — a place to rest or glance across.

A place for ordinary kindness. So needed. So natural. So true.

 

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Wonder Women

wonder-womanThis year the United Nations celebrates Wonder Woman’s 75th birthday by making her an honorary ambassador for empowering women and girls. In 1998, Winnie the Pooh was an icon for the year of friendship.

Women need friendships like Pooh and Piglet’s. We need to rely on our superpowers — especially during this election season. There is so much vitriol from the Republican camp; it sickens my soul and my heart.

We need to uplift one another. We need to tell our stories. The writer Kelly Oxford launched the hashtag #notokay on Twitter for women to share their stories of inappropriate touch, harassment, abuse. Tens of millions of women are adding their stories. The flood of women’s reports shows that we are hungry to be heard. We have rights. And the women who tell their stories — especially those women who report having been assaulted by the Republican nominee — are courageous and exemplary women.

One of Wonder Woman’s driving force is her search for truth. We need Wonder Women like that.

We also need Pooh.

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As much as the message, I have always loved the artwork of the Pooh stories.

Your style may be slow, sweet, and gentle like Pooh or righteous, authentic, and athletic like Wonder Woman. But be you. Use your personal style for good. Know that you do not have to be passive about the political scene. Participate. Tell your story.

For my part, I have made some calls, attended some events, and donated some cash for Hillary. I am looking forward to celebrating my Wonder Women and Hillary after the election. I celebrate all who tell their true stories.

In my recent quest for happiness, I came upon a blog that said usefulness is intrinsic to happiness. Agreed. Be useful. It will make you happy.

4th of July Picnics

 

 

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What ever happened to our picnic table in Riverside Park?
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A while back, with my sister in law Nicole
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Last year with my nephew G, H, JCJ

There is nothing like a picnic in Riverside Park. The green on an early July evening. Central Park is for tourists, but Riverside is for New Yorkers.

For 20 years, my backyard has been the grassy slope in Riverside Park. We used to spend endless hours in the Elephant Playground. Then, the path between 79th and 96th, riding our bikes around that loop and taking in the garden near the Hippo Playground.

Although our recreation spots have changed, our picnicking spot has not. This field.

The girls are at camp. I miss them, but I console myself with friends and family. And picnics in the park.

For picnic recipes and to meet my Nicole, check out My Delicious Blog.

last night

The Sunday Paper

I used to love going to get the Sunday Times on Saturday night. Sometimes the papers were not yet delivered. So I’d hang out at the newsstand and take one fresh off the truck. Well, after the guy put it together. And still, as I turned and walked away, I’d check to see that I had all the sections. Checking for all the sections was part of the ritual.

Not that I read all the sections. It’s like baseball. I love it in theory. Love that the Cubs and Mets – my favorite teams — are in the playoffs. But I get bored, watching a whole baseball game, reading the whole paper.

The waiting for the paper, securing the paper, checking the paper, reading the paper – this was my sacred Saturday night ritual. Now half of the paper gets delivered on Sunday morning; the other half delivered on Saturday morning, including the magazine, which I love so much.

This week, the profile piece on Nicki Manaj, the self-proclaimed ‘boss bitch,’ was awesome. The writer Vanessa Grigordiadis, shares her vulnerability and her own stupidity at the end, describing how she asked Nicki if she thrived on “drama,” a question she immediately regretted. Manaj calls her out on it, saying you wouldn’t ask that question to a man. So right. But good for Grigordiadis for sharing her foible, her regret.

In the front section, I like to read the long cover article, and debrief with coworkers or friends about the story – the wages of nail salon workers or the greed of landlords for the homeless. The NYTimes still runs great long investigative pieces. But not everyone reads the paper. I don’t read like I used to.

I might even discontinue delivery service, just so I can resume the ritual of hanging out at the newsstand again on a Saturday night, waiting for the truck.

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Communicate Happiness

I was off and running and wanted everyone to do exactly what I said. Wait. Pause. I downshifted. I sat in my favorite chair and read the New York Times.

I have tried this gear shifting, simply letting others be, this whole week. With my son Hayden around the house only for another couple of days before college, I have thought, Screw it! Don’t pester him to load or unload the dishwasher. Let him “beach out,” as he calls it.

Beach out.

Let go.

Quit trying so hard, I tell myself. Life is not a contest. It doesn’t matter who works the hardest or struggles the most.

Make yourself a simple life.

Although.

My three children had been planted in front of televisions, laptops, iphones, screens for HOURS! I finally said, That’s it! Outside! I threw a big bouncey ball at them. They took the frisbee.

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We never had so much fun as we did on the nearby field of Riverside Park. We played Monkey in the Middle and the Witch in the Well and yes, Tag.

I hope that when they look back at their childhoods they remember playing in the field of grass. I hope I too remember laying in the grass and staring at the blue blue sky.

A few days ago, when I met my bf Jolain in Central Park, I could not get two words out of my head – Ample. Sunshine.

Last month when I was in Dublin for ten days, I had a beautiful time, but I never had days upon days of ample sunshine. Many days we had a bright blue sky with white-grey clouds. And a sprinkling of rain.

Now I have days and days of sunshine. That’s New York for you.

Growing up in Chicago, it was more like Dublin. I remember the winters — if it was grey, it was grey the whole day. When I was Hayden’s age, I moved to New York for college. I could not believe the light. Growing up in the suburbs I needed more light.

In the Presbyterian faith, churches that support the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, trans, bi families and partnerships are called more light churches. I like that.

Yesterday I was looking through my TimeHop app which captures my tweets, posts, updates from my past. I read something I had written a year ago.

Praise more. Complain less.

I think I had been inspired by skimming a book called A Complaint-Free World. I vowed to live complaint-free for one day.

Today, too, I vow to beach out, let go, have fun, find the places of ample sunshine, more light.

So far, so good.

Incidentally, a wave of joy and pride has come over me about my son heading off to college on Tuesday this week. I do not feel sad, I feel happy for him and for us as a family.

We have had a good week, shopping for his dorm room, going to Coney Island, being extras in a Greg Kinnear film. We are making memories. And we are beaching out.

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This post was written at the Ecumenical Library Writing Group. We were asked by Regina to meditate on two words, Communicate and Happiness. Then we sat silently for one minute silently as if we were in the midst of Lectio Divina, a spiritual practice of deep connection with the word. Our writing group meets next on September 14th at the Interchurch Center for 45 minutes at lunch time.  

The Spiritual Path

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I walked at the Stormont Estate in Belfast. Very pretty.

At the airport  gate, I chatted with an older woman who had just walked the Camino in Spain. I’m not really sure where the Camino is. I’m too jetlagged from my Ireland trip to google it. But I think it’s a pilgrimage following in the footsteps of some beloved saint.

The 70ish woman carried only a small backpack. Her feet were tired she said but her boots were sturdy. She lifted a boot to show me.

“Nice,” I said although they were just plain old hiking shoes, not attractive at all. I guess hiking boots are not supposed to be attractive. “They look functional.”

“Some people do hike the Camino in sneakers, but I think you need these.”

“I am going to do that – a spiritual journey,” I nodded.

“Any walk can be a spiritual walk,” she said. “Like you told me you’re from New York. You could walk the Hudson River?”

“Really?” I said. “What’s spiritual about the Hudson?”

“I don’t know. Maybe do Vermont then,” she said.

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This is a path Dan Wakefield and I walked at the Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat in Pennsylvania.

I am attracted to the idea of long walks like the Camino, wherever that is, or the Appalachian Trail. Yes, the AT’s cool. You start in the spring in the south and end in the fall in New England. But do you sleep in a cozy bed? I don’t think so. I love a bed and breakfast where someone – not me – makes me coffee.

Maybe I should consider the wise woman’s advice and see the Hudson as a spiritual path. I could blog about it. I might call the new blog, Hiking the Hudson, A Spiritual Journey. Oh, I like the sound of that. The Hudson is beautiful in the fall. Maybe I’ll do the hike this fall when my darlings go back to school.

Wait. The Hudson is too ordinary. I want to do an extraordinary hike — Mount Kilimanjaro or K2 — a climb that will make me famous. Or at least make me feel alive. I might encounter rattlesnakes, freeze to death, stare down a wild boar. But will I sleep in a soft place? I don’t think so. Maybe I should stick with the Hudson and then I can head home every night to my cozy bed on the Upper West Side.

Maybe every walk can be a spiritual walk, just like the elder pilgrim said. Every journey can spark lofty thoughts, philosophical ponderings and celebrations of God.

I believe God is found in nature and in chance encounters on the daily  journey. Maybe God even resides in the ordinary river that I pass every day.

Maybe I don’t have to make a pilgrimage to some distant land and blog about it to find my spiritual path.

I wrote this post at the Ecumenical Library lunchtime writing group at the Interchurch Center led by Tracey Del Duca. The next God Box writing group meets on Aug. 10 and 24. 

5th of July

 

 

Give yourself away. I’ve been thinking about the freedom of having less and doing more. When Cate came back from kayaking in Alaska, she said she had very little — like two changes of lightweight clothes, but that she was given so much — whales breaching, bears lumbering, sea otters playing. If you have a lot, give it away, and you will have more. But it will be given to you in experiences, not things.

Any way, this is my hope for my summer decluttering journey. I want to give it all away. You can’t take  your stuff and your bank account to the grave. You can’t take anything. So make memories.

Yesterday, I intentionally dialed down my social media use. And I’ve planned a few days in the next month when I can be off the grid.

New York City is a perfect place to immerse yourself in experiences. My nephew’s visiting from Chicago-land. We started at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and ended up across the Brooklyn Bridge. We passed through Chelsea, the Village, SoHo, Chinatown, the Courts.

We hopped on bikes and rode. We used Citibikes. I have a yearly pass, but I purchased a daily pass for the boys. You get the bikes for increments of 30 minutes in the one-day pass (45 minutes in the yearly pass.) When you stop, you can slam them into the stand and walk away.

Citibike is coming north to the Upper West Side, I hope, this summer.

We ended our 4th of July on the West side, too wiped out to head East and South for the fireworks. But we saw fireworks at the end of the path and across the Hudson in New Jersey. It was quiet.

And getting quiet, turning off the chatter, was pretty nice.

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Fireworks south of us, as we took a walk along the Hudson River.
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I love this store, Muji, and the boys loved their bean bag chairs after all of our bike riding and shopping.
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We biked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
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We shopped at uniqlo.
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We got caught in the rain, in the Village, during a small street fair.
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St. Patrick’s Church is going through some repairs. The boys imagined climbing on the scaffolding.
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Rockefeller Center
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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

This is what we did yesterday.