My Commute: Bordering on Joy

Commuting by bike to the Upper East Side from the Upper West Side is a pleasure. Last year at this time, I was working two part-time jobs and commuting between Morningside Heights and the Financial District. I spent way too much time on the subway. I tried to remain centered and calm despite the subway crowds. I tried to follow a path of mindfulness.

I’m not alone. I dig this story from today’s New York Times on how to meditate on your commute by Jonathan Wolfe:

Can you listen without attributing a positive or negative emotion to the sound?

Take it one step further, Mr. Gelles said: Practice metta, or lovingkindness, meditation by silently wishing well to the people around you.

Sometimes the subway’s too hot; people get cranky. My daily bike commute, riding through Central Park, is just lovely. No one’s in a bad mood.

I try to practice lovingkindness from my bike. I mentally say “Good for you” to the people I pass. (Or the lycra-clad bicyclists who pass me!) I find it especially easy to say ‘Good for you!’ to the birders, the children walking with their parents, or the old people.

And occasionally I hit a solitary patch on my ride, especially if I ride through the Ramble. It is totally quiet and peaceful. It is as if I am in the country woods, not in the center of the hustling bustling city.

Ladies, if you want to start Citibiking, you can link to Women’s Bike Month for a free ride. Once you try commuting by bike in the city, it’s hard to stop. But sometimes it’s hard to start and you need a nudge. Take it from me. When December and January roll around, I will not be so lucky to ride so much. Until then, I’m enjoying every minute.

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via Daily Prompt: Border

Small Things Make a Big Difference

Little things, like eyelash extensions, make my day.

I’m not ready for Botox or even a night-time moisturizer, but I do like a little something something now and then.

Small acts of kindness — to yourself, to others — make a difference.

And small acts of beauty are good for the soul.

I treated Charlotte to the eyelashes, too, and the technician kept saying, playfully, to my daughter, “You’re so spoiled.”

“It’s true. It’s true. She’s so spoiled. All of my kids are. I blame their parents.”

I’ve been dealing with some family members’ health issues lately. And I am not in the mood to apologize for indulging myself. Although, at times, I do feel I should focus on solely on others and never myself. Yet I work hard for the family. I am the main breadwinner.

If little things, like eyelashes, please you, too, then go for it. The only downside? After a couple of weeks, it begins to feel like a caterpillar is crawling over your eyelids. That’s when I switch back to mascara. Or plan to get myself a mani-pedi or a massage? How do you indulge yourself today?

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Blessing of the Animals

Last Sunday I went to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis. It was so peaceful even though there were so many animals in the sanctuary. The music of Paul Winter filled the immense Gothic cavern with the sounds of whales and wolves.

A restless set of boys and dogs in the row in front of us left before it was over so they missed the exotic animals as they paraded (processed) down the center aisle.

The procession of animals was lovely and mind-blowing. You can see a rat carried proudly by preteen girl. I loved the humility of the goats and sheep, made all majestic by a wreath of flowers around their necks! There is beauty in the humility of animals. There was a pig and my favorite, a kangaroo. On the way out, a yak!

I so dug the anomaly of animals in church – the sacredness of animals. That which is ordinary became extraordinary.

I am not really an animal-lover, but I appreciate their lack of subtext.

I left the cathedral, oddly, filled with reverence. There is a variety to life — a vastness of our ecosystems and our living relations that is truly awesome. I can only imagine there must be a creator when you see the variety in God’s creation (and in the crazy matrix of evolution).

Here are some pics I snapped at the service. Thanks to Joanna Parson for getting me to St. John the Divine this year, something I have always wanted to do and now have done! I recommend you experience this beauty too!

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Yes pets resemble their owners. A lot of dogs, cats, hamsters exist peaceably in the sanctuary.
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The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
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Restless kids with hamsters and dogs, waiting for the blessing of the pets.
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The communion line with dogs.
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llama
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pig in church
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Glorious turtle
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This parrot loves NY
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little pony in the sactuary
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white goose
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my favorite, a kangaroo!
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I have no idea what this animal is
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All this beauty in the largest Gothic cathedral in the U.S.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred . . . let me sow love. Where there is injury . . . pardon. Where there is doubt . . . faith. Where there is despair . . . hope. Where there is darkness . . . light. Where there is sadness . . . joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled . . . as to console, To be understood . . . as to understand; To be loved . . . as to love, For It is in giving . . . that we receive. It is in pardoning . . . that we are pardoned, It is in dying . . . that we are born to eternal life.” – St. Francis (c. 1181 – 1226)

In other words: Today, let me get out of my way. Let me find beauty in my ordinary world. Let me hear the music of nature. Let me be someone who goes with the flow. Let me not judge people harshly. Let me be kind and generous. Just for today.

Spring Has Sprung?

Words really can’t describe how beautiful my bike trip to work is. So I will let my pictures show you. Every day I ride 45 blocks to work in New York City. I never stop. I ride through Riverside Park. I don’t pass any commercial establishments. I ride along the Hudson River. There is beauty all around.

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Riding my bike to work makes me very happy.

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Vanity or Confidence?

I can’t disengage my thoughts on loving myself — including my own body — from a feminist perspective. When a woman engages in positive feelings about her own body I think we eye her suspiciously.

I admit I’ve raised an arched eyebrow at a colleague who I saw applying make up at her desk. But a man who straightens his tie and kisses the mirror? I’m likely to applaud his self esteem. For men, we call it confidence. For women? vanity.

The other day a colleague ran into my office to grab a note pad. I noticed that she noticed my curling iron on the floor.

“I am taking appointments,” I said. “Need a blow out? or an Up do? I can give you an appointment 10 am.” We giggled. (This is my way — deflect my embarrassment with humor!)

I wanted to launch into a diatribe about how I can barely get my teeth brushed in the mornig before launching my kids and myself out the door. Of course I curl my hair at my desk! But I resisted. I’m grateful I can get my teeth brushed at home and then have time first thing at work to brush my hair.

The curling iron is a symbol of how my self care (and grooming!) spills over into my work life (And when I check work emails from home on the weekend, that’s a symbol of how work life spills into my home life!)

I don’t have the answers, I’m just raising the questions.

I hope this Valentine’s Day, I do feel good about myself and my body. I hope that I can curl my hair at home before I get to work. (And since I’m not shampooing every day, I do need a lift!)

Oh, better yet, just lump it. Go into the morning meeting with straight hair, but first — kiss the mirror, straighten the tie and call it confidence.

me in the mirror

So, on this year’s Valentine’s Day, join me as I cultivate self-love (and not self loath!).

Send yourself flowers, chocolates. Or hold your own hand and take yourself out for a candlelight dinner. Whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Take a picture of yourself in the mirror. Then kiss your reflection. The mirror might feel a little cold, but dig the lipstick mark that you leave behind.