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.
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.
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.
I don’t think anyone took a bad picture in Central Park today. The beauty of the changing leaves. The sudden sunshine after a grey morning. Reasons to feel grateful. Alive one more day.
I had a ton of chores and work assignments to dedicate myself to this afternoon. But why? Why? Really? My friend called and invited me out to Chamomile Tea near the Sheep’s Meadow. We sat on a tall rock and chatted. Percussionist drumming. Rollerskaters’ disco beat pulsing.
Leaves falling like snowballs.
Riding my bike out of the park on 72nd. Guitarists sit near the Imagine memorial, strum, “All You Need is Love.” Strawberry Fields behind me. Sunset ahead of me.
Sit for a minute on life’s journey to assess where you are and how far you’ve come.
Maybe like me, your June is a shifting kaleidoscope.
My son graduated from high school, got a job, wants to buy a car — all in less than a week.
My mother came and went, visiting from Chicago. We walked and talked. She offered unasked-for advice. She also offered unasked-for love. We picnicked in Riverside Park, walked the High Line, wandered in Central Park, took in a Broadway Show (“An Act of God with Jim Parsons).
One of my 15-year old daughters set off for 12 days of kayaking in Alaska last night.
The other daughter came home at 1 am last night, causing me to worry with a heart attack. (She was repentant. Blamed the West Side Highway traffic!)
Chris gathered some of his friends from First Grade for a reunion dinner party at our house last night. It was lovely. When I first met Chris, I was deeply attracted to his friends and the way he loved them. Funny, isn’t it? This is such a lovable quality — having nice friends. But Chris is slowing down a lot. Because of his Parkinson’s, he seems older or frailer than his friends.
When? Why? How did we all grow older? Why did my kids grow up? I told them not to! I said Stay Little! They were the cutest little darlings. Does all this mean I am ageing too?
The life coaching call reminds me to embrace the memories; celebrate the moment; choose joy; stay true; stay present. We make mistakes; we make amends. We hang in there. We have a family motto, “Jones Kids never give up.”
In the midst of my busy family life, the life coaching call is a breath — a slowing down — to take it in. Celebrate this moment. We have so much. Gratitude wins. Love wins.
I jot down my thoughts and dreams and hopes for my family. I send them like messages in a bottle. Hope they reach the shore. Hope my daughters and son (husband, mother, extended family, friends) know I love them. Believe that love is enough.
Saw tit mice, blue jays, cardinals, nut hatches, woodpeckers, maybe a goldfinch. Of course, pigeons, sparrows, grackle.
Love the elegance of the Bow Bridge. And the turn of this cardinal’s head. “You lookin’ at me?”
No one is lounging on the bench. But a pigeon flew into my frame.
Is the San Remo the most beautiful apartment building in the world? I think so.
And when I walk into the park around Strawberry Field, it is like walking into church. I question faith and death and life’s uncertainties. And there’s always some dude strumming John Lennon, even in the cold.
In the summer, you don’t notice Central Park South in the Park because of all the foliage.
And you may not notice all the birds either.
I went birding with this hearty crew. We dubbed ourselves Charlie’s Angels. If you know Charles (Chessler), you know he has a great zest for life.
He invited us birding through a Facebook post.
I asked Charles how he stays so friendly. Like, during his winter street fair experience – he was selling his work in December. He said he talks with people “without agenda, expectation, or judgment.” Pretty cool. I aim to do that too.
And yay, it was pretty cold today too! I’ve been warming my hands against the heater all day.
Incidentally, I took all of these pics with my new phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. (I did not use filter, or edit any of these pics!)
Joined hundreds of thousands on Sunday after church to march.
These ladies from Code Pink were there — looking awesome and fiesty femininsty gorgeous. Their message? War is not green. Yes. And tons of kids. And patient parents. We had to wait on 72nd Street for about an hour before we could feed in to the march. Here we are passing by Columbus Circle. It felt like the march opened up here and we could look around. All the humanity. I like their sign that said, “We have solutions.” It wasn’t just a march where people pointed out the problems. Although there was some of that. Vegans educated us on the reality that cows are a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. There was a lot of music. But, as in any march, my favorite is “We shall overcome!” I melt when I hear that at a march.
There were a lot of young people. We all walked for hours. So fun.
I played football in fifth grade. I was the only girl on the team, the Vikings. I dropped out before we played a game, but I made the cut. I liked flag (or was it touch) football in college too. We played in Central Park a few times. It was always a great work out.
I am so sick of what I am hearing about football these days.
A few weeks ago, I heard the first disturbing fact: that 30 percent of professional football players will have some kind of early onset dementia.
The other disheartening news — the uber aggressive nature of the sport. I can’t watch it without wincing or groaning. My son, friends and students are in fantasy football leagues so I hear about teams and players. And you can’t help but hear about the players’ aggressive playing. On and off the field. And aggression is different than violence.
The excessive violence of the players — and the way it spills over into their personal lives — is disturbing. Are you kidding me? It’s 2014 and some huge professional athlete beats his little kid with a switch? This is fricken’ nuts. A football player beats his wife and before it’s revealed, he’s suspended for only two games? Ugh.
But at least we’re hearing about it. We’re talking about it. Maybe that’s good. Domestic violence is too quickly shoved under the rug.
We care too much about professional athletes.
I wish people cared as much about actors and artists as much as athletes. I wish we cared about teachers. I wish we valued public servants and sanitation workers. Nurses. Bus drivers. Astronauts. I don’t know. Anyone.
It is so crazy the amount of money that these professional athletes, teams, managers, leagues make.
It’s also this brotherhood thing — that women cannot play. It’s a closed society. I found it creepy when the whole Penn State scandal was uncovered. Male fraternal organizations and any male-dominated groups (churches, boards) creep me out.
There’s a meme going around: “This is me not caring about football.” The thing is, I used to care about football. Growing up in Chicago-area, you had to love the Bears. Plus I liked playing. I liked being a part of a team.
A few years ago, I met this Ph.D. candidate — a friend of a friend’s at a party. She was a coach at UVM. She did a study surveying collegiate athletes — to find out if they were more aggressive than other students. They were. She was surprised — perhaps, she was hoping to find more examples of teamwork and positive group dynamics in sports. Me, too. We can do better.
As a girl who played football, I know the sport can be fun and a great work out. But, let’s face it, I’m not going to be playing any more.
I wrote this from today’s prompt at the Daily Post:Today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.
I was in Central Park on a snowy Saturday morning with my friend Charles Chessler. He had rallied several of his friends to go birding and photographing birds through a Facebook invitation.
I love walking or riding my bike in Central Park.
Charlie has great charisma. People and birds just love to stop, chat, and pose for him.
I’d gone out birding with Charles a few times before. On this trip we were searching for some rare long-eared owl in the pine trees near the Angel of the Waters. But instead, on that branch, we spotted a fat and still-hungry hawk. We spotted a lot more than that too.
Here’s what we saw:
Baltimore Oriole (male and female)
Dark eyed junco
Downy woodpecker (male and female)
Yellow bellied sap sucker
Northern cardinal (male and female)
Maybe yellow warbler
Yellow rump warbler
Louisiana water thrush
Black and white warbler
Red wing blackbird
Black birded green
We go birding in Central Park behind the cafe, across the Bow Bridge, by the Ramble.
For the record, I could not identify any of these birds (except maybe the cardinals and blue jays) without help from Charlie and fellow birders and photographers Dan Lane Williams and Amanda Bielskas. On previous birding jaunts, we met Birding Bob and friend Andy Gershon.
Although I don’t really know about birds, I know about the beauty of birds. As Emily Dickinson wrote:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
Going out for a walk with birders reminds me to slow down, take in the beauty, stop time with a photo, even if it’s cold and snowy — especially then! There’s beauty and hope all around. You just have to look for it.
If you like the beautiful photography of Charles Chessler, (and who doesn’t?) I have a request. Chessler is entered in a photo contest. If he wins, he gets a trip to a safari in Namibia. He is less than one thousand votes away. He needs 212 Votes to pop into 4th place!
Charlie and I are friends from the NYU Stella Adler acting school in the ’80s. He’s a fitness trainer with a specialty for keeping senior citizens active.
If Charlie won the trip, think about the great pics he’d share with us! Vote at BandH Photo Contest. He might even just even invite all of us along — at least on his Facebook stream! 😉
But if I had to live on an deserted island, I know I’d have to take one more thing — sunscreen. Because my dermatologist would yell at me more than she already does if I showed up at my twice-yearly appointment with even more sunspots.
In terms of non-things on my island, (in addition to my immediate family, of course), I’d also want to take my book club and my writing class because we never seem to run out of things to say about what we write or read.
I’d also like to take Manhattan to my desert island because it is a treasure trove of beauty, especially on a foggy day like today.
Man, today was bea-ut-i-ful — so perfect for a bike ride through Central Park. Scroll down for a few more pics.
On a writerly note, I was going to post a memoir piece about my Norwegian grandmother that I wrote in the my Monday night writing group, but suddenly it felt too personal. Any way, come to a writing workshop if you want more personal writing. Check out the workshops at: http://www.bootcamp4writers.com/