So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions – I’ve written about that before – but it is a reflective time of year, and lately I’ve been thinking.  A lot.  Some would say overthinking.  The end result of all this thinking?

A want list.  A very personal, very selfish want list.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

1.  Health, or the semblance thereof.  Many of my Bikram Yoga teachers will say, as we are in savasana, to “visualize yourself in perfect health”.  I want that.

2.  Staying with a theme…I have noticed that almost all my Bikram teachers compliment the same things about my practice every time I see them (and I basically see the same teachers every week).   And for whatever reason, those things are the ones that come a bit more easily to me.  In the meantime, I’m over here all like “hey, did you notice I didn’t fall over even ONCE in the balancing series?”  Or “I stayed in Rabbit despite being so far into it that my cleavage inhibited my breathing”!  Crazy, I know.  I want them to notice the things that are so hard for me that I am surprised.

3.  I’ve been thinking a lot about love.  I would like to know that there is someone – maybe more than one – that loves me (whatever love means, anyway) without it being an assumed condition of our relationship.  (For example, I love my family, even when I don’t like them.  Would I love them if they weren’t my family?  Well, some of them, sure.  Would they love me if I weren’t family?  Well, some of them, I think.)  Love, offered with no conditions, is something I want and want to give.  And I think everyone deserves it.  (And before you say it, no, I am not talking about a romance.  Sigh.)

4.  One thing I want I completely control.  2016 will be the year I get the weight back off.  I won’t say “get back to my goal weight” as I’m not sure what that is anymore, but I will be at the right weight for me in the new year.

5.  I also completely control my reactions to the bad behavior of others, and I want to stop letting others’ bad behavior get to me.  Both friends and strangers, in fact.  I may want to talk about it, but it is not going to upset me any more.

6.  I want to remember to be nicer to my cats.  And myself.

And, oh, World Peace.

May your 2016 be the year of getting just what you want.

Not (necessarily) what you deserve. 



Change Is Good

12049463_1057710290928526_4212117911408893238_nThis post is about my hair.  No, really.  My hair.  Yesterday, I walked into my salon and told Maria, the best stylist ever (david ryan salon in Manhattan – just sayin’), that I wanted change.  So we did.

Now, my hair has changed pretty dramatically many times over the years, but for whatever reason, this one feels different.  First off, I’ve always thought I should be a redhead.  It works for my personality, but not necessarily my skin tone.  So we’ve eased into change over years…a lighter brown.  Reddish highlights.  Blonde highlights on a reddish brown.  And yesterday – bright.  Really bright.

My hair has been curly, straight, short, long, symmetrical and non-, and many different colors (including some purple once courtesy of Vidal Sassoon London in the 80s).

And I feel empowered.  The reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and tomorrow, I’ll go to the office and see if that’s true there as well.  But in a very real way, it doesn’t matter.  Sure, it would have been disappointing had I posted my process photos (I made a whole album!) and gotten poor reactions.  Still, it’s my hair.  Mine.  For many years, I felt like it was one of the few things I could control.  We wore (truly bad) uniforms at school, and I was always fat.  But hey, much of the time I had great hair.

It’s almost a feminist moment.  Please, don’t tell me that caring about my looks is not something a feminist should do, because I’m a feminist and I care.  So what makes this moment a feminist one?  Because while I care how I look, for one of the first (if not the only) times in my life, it’s all about me and how it makes me feel, not what anyone might think when they see me.

I could go into a long analysis of how taking risks, even with hair, can help prepare you for risks in life, and that practicing change makes it easier, and blah, blah, blah.  But I think you already know that.

And wow, do I have great hair!



Be Kind, Or At The Very Least, Be Silent

I have a friend who makes it their business to comment (privately) with “constructive” criticism on photos I post of myself on Facebook.  I’ve gotten several about how the photo would look better if more of my neck showed (most recently “you’re prettier with a neck  everyone is” [sic]), and at other times, comments like “do you really think your hair looking like that is to your best advantage?”.  You get the idea.  (And before you ask, I did tell that friend I was going to blog about this.)

The last time but one, I returned the comment with something like “thanks, but I’m fine with the picture the way it is” (in response to an offer to “fix” it), but the most recent time, I kind of lost my temper.  Politely, I hope.   The details aren’t important – as much as I kind of want to share the entire Facebook message thread, that would actually be doing the opposite of what I’m trying to do – but the thoughts following that conversation are.

To put this in context, I have another friend who had called me out one time for commenting negatively “all the time” on their posts – and those were not even personal photos.  While I did not completely agree, I stepped back, and gave it some thought.  That situation came to mind in this more recent conversation.

What is it about social media that undermines common courtesy?  When did being kind rather than bluntly honest (especially about looks, FFS), become okay?  I often see photos of my friends that I think are less than flattering, but so what?  Who am I to say it’s not a great photo for some other reason than looks?   I generally assume they want to share a moment they were enjoying, and who can argue with that?


It’s probably unsurprising to y’all that comments on my looks are upsetting to me; I’ve certainly written about my issues with looks and body image more than once.  But even if I were not so reactive, does that make it okay?  No, I’ve decided, no, it does not.

So, I’m going to stop, and think, and think again, before commenting publicly or privately on anyone’s looks.  For me, at least, it’s time to return to that old adage “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  I’m going to try kindness.  Who’s with me?

But don’t worry, I’m only talking about looks.  Your opinions (and your clothing choices) are still fair game.

I Got Nothin’

Actually, I’ve got a lot.  I have so much to say that I am unable to say it. I am tongue tied. When I start trying to explain, I stutter with the urgency of what I need to say. And then I just fall silent.

IMG_0504Right now, I am sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas. I’ve been up for hours, due to the time difference, and unable to do much due to pain from a recurring injury. So, I’m watching Law & Order (thank God), reading, playing on the iPad, and trying to form coherent thoughts. No, not simultaneously.

And the final task evades me. I am overwhelmed with the volume of my racing thoughts, and none of them are settling into coherence. Incoherence is more like it.

So, while my scrabbling monkey mind is in ascendance, some random thoughts for your amusement:

-I can almost understand people who purge. My breakfast sucked. But then, saying that is probably both offensive and insensitive. Still, it’s what I was thinking.

-Why is so hard to verbalize feelings? I think it is in part because the words we use to describe them are so weighted with cultural context. “Love”, for example, has a whole set of meanings that society places on it, and while you might feel it, saying it is a whole ‘nother ball game.

-Why does WordPress not have an effective app for the iPad, and at the same time make working from Safari so annoying?

-If my first post of 2015 is this trivial, what does that say about the upcoming year?

-Why isn’t it lunch time (or even better, bedtime) yet?




MY “Hollaback”

Someone just repeated to me the old line that the greatest compliment a man can pay a woman is an erection.

No, really, they did.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I was still speechless.  I mean, erections are nice.  Fun, even.  And sure, complimentary.  In context.

Lately, there’s been a lot of chatter and a lot of articles about the video created of a woman walking down the street, recording (they said) all the catcalls.  It’s since come out that the video was edited, and whether intentionally or not, edited in a way that is offensive to many.  {I’m not going to link to the video, or the responses.  Search “catcall video” and you’ll see them all.}

I get catcalled my “fair” share.  And followed.  And groped.  I won’t even get on a subway that’s too crowded – not because I don’t want to stand, but because the alertness required is just.too.much.  But I also get compliments.  And one of the many things I hated about that video was the assumption that every time a man says something to a strange woman on the street, that can be classified as inappropriate, or even threatening.  Living in a big city, I believe you have to take the time to tell the difference.  can-stock-photo_csp4784026I walk down the street with my head up.  I meet people’s eyes – yes (gasp) even men.  And whether I smile or not (and frankly, the telling me to smile thing is ALWAYS annoying), I find that I get more than my “fair” share of positive responses.

Before you say it, it is NEVER okay for a person to behave in a way that makes another person uncomfortable, or makes them feel threatened.  And you cannot be sure what someone else’s threshold is just by looking at them.  But, folks, it is okay to smile at someone, or say something nice in a pleasant way, and then…move on.  (Note that I said person.  While the problem the video addresses (badly) is almost always gender-linked, “almost’ is the key word.)

And here is what is probably the most controversial statement I will make here (though I expect some of my other points might get a few negative reactions):  I think that women should take their share of the responsibility for what happens to them – which is not excusing or condoning bad behavior against women, but I am saying that we have more control than we are often led to believe.  So grab it with both hands and walk on, head held high.  But only smile if you want to.


P.S.  And to go back to the comment that started this…what do YOU think are the best compliments?




I Love The Song, But…

Lately my Facebook feed is filled with versions of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”, especially the original, which I understand to be a “reaction” to big girl comments:

I admit it, I love the song, but I hate the video.  For something that is supposed to provide a positive message on body image, I think it actually panders to convention.  Let’s start with the fact that Ms. Trainor is entirely average sized.   And also, adorable.  (Though there may need to be a whole second post on the little-girl imagery expressed in the adult costuming.)  The women she surrounds herself with are also average sized (except those who are the “skinny” examples), and adorable.  The one truly “big” person in the video is the man.  Even the young girls (who I guess are meant to represent Ms. Trainor and her friends as children) are actually quite slender.  What about any of them would cause a mother to tell one of them not to worry about her size?!?

What are we telling women with this video, especially tied to the lyrics?  That average is too.damn.big, unless you’re male.  There,  I said it.  My loyal readers will know this is something I think about a lot.  As a woman who has always been considered big, even after getting to a weight that even my doctor said was “enough already”, media examples of what’s right and wrong about size have impacted my self-image my whole life.  If my feelings on this are new to you, read this.  I’ll wait for you.

So, are we now on the same page?  If you’re going to set yourself up as a role model on a particular issue, in this case, body image as it relates to size, PLEASE be careful how you do so.  If I had seen this video at my heaviest, it would simply have been yet one more example of how I could never reach the ideal for a woman’s body.  After all, if Ms. Trainor is too heavy, what did that make me?  At my best weight, she’s smaller than I, especially given her (in some ways) less than rounded body.

But in the end, it’s a really cool song…so enjoy it in this version, that is quite fabulous, includes not only Ms. Trainor but Jimmy Fallon & the Roots, AND lets you hear the lyrics, which actually do send that great message that I think was the intention:

You’re welcome.

Seven Things You Might Not Know About Yoga

Yes, I'm laughing as  I come out of my imperfect triangle with my imperfect body.  But, oh, what fun!

Yes, I’m laughing as I come out of my imperfect triangle with my imperfect body. But, oh, what fun!

Yes, seven.  Though I did not number them, as numbering implies prioritizing and I did not want to do that.  So there.  And so here, in no particular order, seven things:

  • Yogis come in all shapes and sizes.

Yes, despite what you see in Yoga Journal, or in commercials, or modeling yoga clothes, yogis vary.  A lot.  And the “perfect” body may not always indicate the “perfect” practice.  Someday, I hope advertisers and editorial staff (I’m talking to you, Yoga Journal) figure this out and start using photos of real bodies having real fun.

So, that first bullet leads directly to my second (though, still, you know, no particular order…)

  •  It’s as much mental as it is physical.

Okay, you probably did know this, at least if you practice yoga.  But it bears repeating.  It’s easy to spend your class practicing the physical postures, without remembering you’re also there for the mental practice.

  •  Breathing is hard.

Right now, you’re probably laughing.  “Breathing’s not hard.  After all, we all do it without thinking about it!”  But it is hard.  Hard to keep your breathing calm, and to use it correctly, while you’re once again falling over (DAMN IT!) or when the frustrations of your daily life interrupt your concentration and the “fight or flight” kicks in during Rabbit… or even during Savasana.

  • Savasana is even harder than breathing.

I’ll just point you at this post…because you know, this is hard for me.

  • Not all yogis are “earthy crunchy”.

Not that there is anything wrong with being an organic vegan tree-hugger… No, but seriously, the idea that in order to practice yoga, I had to give up, to offer just one example, booze, kept me away from it for a long time.  I don’t mean to say that I think those who choose to be what I call, for lack of a better phrase, “earthy crunchy”, are wrong.  It’s just not me.  And I’ve discovered over my years of practice, that it’s not a lot of us.

  • Teachers have bad days too.

Yes, we all have bad days.  And sometimes, your teacher may not be able to hide the fact that she’s having one of those… so cut her a break.  How many times have you come into the studio grumpy, and used her positive energy to help change your mood?  Return the favor!

  • Yes, it is all about you.

Your yoga practice may be the one thing in your life that is only and solely about YOU.  What YOU want, what YOU need, what makes YOU better (whatever better means for YOU).  Glory in it.  And you’ll soon find that letting it be all about you ends in it being all about those around you.



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