An object at rest…

…tends to become one giant muscle spasm.  Isn’t that how that goes?  No?  Well, someone needs to tell that to my back.

About seven years ago I worked very hard to reform my sedentary lifestyle and in the process I lost a lot of weight.  I felt better, I looked better, I slept better, win win win.  Keeping active has been a struggle, keeping the weight off has been a struggle, eating well has been a struggle, and there have been lots of ups and downs.  However, living in the city and commuting to work has always provided a minimum baseline of activity that meant there was at least a little bit of movement built into my day.

Now, though, in my hermetic existence, without required comings and goings, I’ve become the couch potato I always knew I could be. Yay me (boo hiss).  Nine months of inactivity has caught up with me in a lot of ways.  I’ve long since left cardiovascular fitness behind.  But that’s really only the beginning of the problem.  I had a back injury a few years ago and while it generally hasn’t been an issue, one of the things that’s helped keep it in check is keeping loose and in relatively good shape.  So, that went down the crapper.  Plus, carrying extra weight is the enemy of a weak back.  And if you’ve ever met me, you understand that the way in which I carry my weight (think boobage) means war on my lower back.

As if I needed a reminder, I just returned from picking up my stuff from the pottery sale (I did pretty well, especially for such small effort), and just packing up my table at the sale sent my back into a wave of spasms.  So, I whimpered my way back across the street and now I’m on my back again.  Which is exactly where I shouldn’t be.  Vicious cycle.

Latest theory?  Movement creates lack of pain.  New exercise regimen begins on Monday.   Until then, handfuls of pain reliever and lots of whining…


An Honest Day’s Work or Something Like It…

So, today was one of the most active and productive days I’ve had in a while.  The Artworks holiday sale at the YMCA started yesterday and I felt it was a good sign that I sold a bracelet before it ever started, on Wednesday night while I was setting up.  And when I walked in this morning to work my shift, someone was paying for one of my new necklaces.  Not so bad as these things go.  I worked the morning shift and then went home to finish assembling a dozen new pairs of earrings that I wanted to add to my inventory this afternoon.

The proof of the fact that I operate at my best and most efficient when I’m scheduled and structured is that I had a two and a half hour window from the time I left the sale at 12:30pm to when I had to be back for my next shift at 3pm.  In that time I had to finish putting together those earrings, create stickers for the back of the earring cards that provided information I refer to as “care and feeding of your wearable art,” card the earrings and get back to work again.  And I did it, just under the wire.  I literally live across the street from the Y, so I had just about the full amount of time, but still, cutting it close.

So, back at the sale, priced my earrings and added them to my display, spent the next two and a half hours working the sale, then down to the studio to makes sure the piece that I’ve been working on but haven’t laid eyes on in about four weeks, is still workable (it was, just sprayed it up with a bunch of water).

Once that was done it was back upstairs for the opening reception.  Lots and lots of people (yay).  Lots of yummy food (yay).  Shmoozing with a couple of buyers, selling some of my new earrings and getting some interest and positive feedback on my work in general (yay yay yay).  Then it was back downstairs where my work in progress (above) awaited, asking me to actually make some progress on it.

I forgot to take pictures before I left (usually I’m better about it), but it got painted and silkscreened and scruffed up and is now sitting on the shelf waiting to go into the kiln.  I had time to catch up with my classmates and teacher (some of my favorite people in the world) and to really feel like myself for a few hours on a regular (yet extraordinary) Friday evening, at the end of a wonderful (FULL being the operative word here) day.

And now I am home, updating Holidailies, the most consecutive days of posts I’ve had in (possibly) years.  My back is killing me, I’m utterly exhausted, but I’m feeling elated and inspired, in a way I haven’t in a very long time.

Keep getting shit done…

P.S.  Still haven’t managed to go grocery shopping this week.  Good thing there were delicious things to eat at the reception tonight…

Perspective and Inspiration…

It’s always made me happy when people I know and love have successes and are recognized for the things they do well.  And it’s fantastic to have been a witness to someone’s “before” — to their humble beginnings or their gawky teenage years or their life on the precipice of something huge.  And I’ve been fortunate to have met and been friends with all kinds of amazing people who’ve had all manner of success, large and small, in their lives.  And that’s a cool  thing.

I’ve never thought of myself as wanting greatness in the macro way, in the “everyone knows who you are” way or the “I can’t walk down the street without being trampled by autograph seekers” way (well, maybe when I was a kid and determined to win a Tony Award by the time I was 12) or in the “I’ve found the cure for cancer” way.  I’ve mostly been happy with the things I’ve done in my life.  Especially those things about which I’ve been truly passionate and cared deeply.  I’ve had my successes and had once in a lifetime experiences that I wouldn’t trade for even five minutes of fame or fortune.  That said, when you’ve been at a down point for a while (as this prolonged unemployment has been), it’s hard not to compare where you are in your life with where your friends and peers are in theirs.

So, on my way in tonight, I reached in the mail box and out came my alumni magazine with the trendsetting mug of my college friend, Jay Adelson, on the cover, with the words “The Next BIG Thing” writ large.  And for a moment I had a small pang of “I don’t even have a job and here Jay is as the shining example of success for our college.” And then I shut up that voice and started to laugh.

I laughed because it’s an impish picture of Jay that captures him perfectly, and because I’d already seen it in the email that the alumni office sent out last week, but didn’t expect to see staring up at me on a Thursday evening on my way in from running errands.  I laughed because I remember what we were like in college, how goofy, and geeky and mostly unsure of everything.  And I still think of us that way (myself mostly).  Sure, we’re 20+ years older and had to deal with 20 years of life’s ups and downs.  And Jay’s a husband and a dad, and he’s sort of changed the world in some pretty significant ways, and Time Magazine thinks he’s influential and when I mentioned that we went to college together last year, one of my former colleagues reacted as though I knew The Beatles (even though she’s way too young to really KNOW the Beatles).

But, in the few and far between moments when I’m lucky enough to talk to Jay or share a meal with him, he’s still the same wonderful guy he’s always been.  He’s smart and funny and kind and passionate and gives a shit about stuff.  Lots of stuff.  And so I watched the commencement address Jay gave at our alma mater this past May, where his words no doubt inspired a class of scared 21-22 year olds to do the things that they were passionate about.  And watching it I was reminded that passion is truly the most important ingredient for finding meaning.  And that although I’ve been struggling to find a job, the best version of me knows that as long as I’m pursuing the stuff I truly give a shit about, it’s all going to be fine.  And my gut instinct about the stuff I’m pursuing right now is the right way to go.

So, thanks Jay.  For being you.  And for reminding me that being me is the only thing I really need to do well to get to where I want to go.  And that I can’t get there unless I continue to put one foot in front of the other…

Best Laid Plans…

So, all that stuff I had on my list to get done today?  It didn’t quite happen the way I’d intended.  As a result of the (un)intentional napping yesterday, I didn’t fall asleep until somewhere around 6am this morning.  However, that time awake was put to relatively good use.  I applied for about ten more jobs (it’s either feast or famine around here).  More importantly, though, I realized at some point in the middle of the night that the holiday sale at the pottery studio is this week and I hadn’t signed up to participate yet.  Oops!

So, a 4am email and I had committed to get my shit together to sell my wares from Thursday through Saturday.  Most of my ceramic pieces were stored in bags and ready to go, but my jewelry needed to be pulled together to go.  I also set about today to make some new earrings, which are still in progress and will be assembled when I finish writing this post.

So, to recap: No exercise today (tomorrow, I promise!) No groceries (ditto!) However, I did get some job search done and I did make some new jewelry for sale.  I also set up my table and priced everything.  Hopefully I’ll get some more of those earrings done and get them up online for sale before the week is out.  Baby needs some scratch!

Oh, and I almost forgot!  That job I was hoping to get an interview for?  The really creative one?  It’s scheduled for next week.  So, I guess getting shit done is continuing, even though it may not be all the shit and it may not be happening in exactly the way I’d expected.  It still counts, though, right?

And before I go, a picture of what my table currently looks like at the pottery sale.  Need to make some room for the new earrings…

And on Tuesday, she rested…

The trouble with napping is, it’s way too easy, and it can devour your whole day.  This forward momentum thing is not as straightforward as it seems.  The path isn’t as clear as you might think, what with pebbles and boulders and oil slicks and parked cars (or in my case, the couch, the TV, the fact that I felt crappy when I woke up this morning, and my old nemesis, inertia).

So, today was mostly a wash.  No groceries were procured.  No library books were returned (or picked up). No exercising was endeavored. No apartment straightening was accomplished.  But there was quite a bit of semi-comatose napping.  The kind of napping where you have trouble waking up and feel like you are emerging from the bottom of the ocean, with a great deal of effort.  While I am a big fan of napping and make use of my copious free time to take naps, if they become the primary focus of your day, they tend to completely fuck up your sleep.  Damn.

And while I’m still feeling a little crappy (it’s a girl thing), I did get an email about a phone interview I had last week that seems to be moving to the next step.  And from what I can tell, it’s a really cool job, one that uses not just my writing, editing, and marketing skills, but also my photography and design skills.  However, it doesn’t mean that I’ll let another day slip by just napping.

Tomorrow will be for exercising and grocery shopping and library visiting (the first Walking Dead graphic novel awaits pick up) and job searching and jewelry making (this is a big one, I hope to have some new stuff up for sale before the week is out!)

So, not letting speed bumps (or coma/naps) get in the way of my progress any more.  Today was just a pause.

Movement creates movement…

So, my dear friend Anita came up from rural Virginia a few weeks back and spent the weekend with me.  She was my housemate when I was 22 years old, her son was 7, and she was in her 30s, and she quickly became a den mother of sorts to a merry band of misfits I called my friends, who traipsed through our house at all hours of the day or night.  She’s seen me at my best and at my worst (definitely at my worst), nursed me through illness and heartbreak, scared off bad boyfriends, or at least tried, attempted to set me up with her idea of the perfect guy (and utterly failed), fiercely protected me when I needed protecting, and helped me grow up to be the person I am today, in the best possible way.  I love her for it.  She’s family.

Anita is a prenatal ultrasound technician, a doula, a birth coach.  She creates gorgeous, wonderful soaps with amazing essential oils that nurture the skin and soothe the soul.  She’s also into all kinds of holistic healing and new age stuff that makes me roll my eyes (I can be judgmental). She is definitely not a city person, and when she comes to visit New York, she moves like she’s strolling down a country lane, to hilarious effect.  She does love Gray’s Papaya, though, and can eat an extraordinary amount of hot dogs for such a small person.  The two of us couldn’t be more different if we tried (except for that hot dog thing).

As much as I am a dreamer, I’m not a new agey, woo woo kind of girl.  I’m disinclined to listen to any and all of it and immediately discount anything that sounds just this side of groovy.  I’ve also been known to mock on occasion.  Well, often. I’m big on mocking — though mostly gently to those friends, like Anita, who believe in such things.  That said, sometimes it’s worth listening.

While Anita was here she said something to me about “movement creating movement,” explaining it in her own inimitable Anita way, and I quickly discounted it.  But in the last week or so, and particularly the last few days, things feel like they are starting to happen.  And not in a woo woo kind of way, but in a “do shit and more shit will happen” kind of way.  I’m starting (slowly but surely), to exercise again, and I feel better.  I’m writing for Holidailies and my head feels clearer.  The job search is picking up and today’s interview went well.  Other bits and bites in the job search saga have started to materialize, and I’m slogging through and doing more.

I don’t know, maybe “do shit and more shit will happen” is precisely what Anita meant, but when she explained it to me, it felt all mystical and ethereal, and I thought “yeah, yeah, yeah…now all I need is my magic wand.”  I’m willing to admit that this is likely a flaw in my character more than anything else.

So, today’s lesson is: Listen to the people who love you.  They know what you need to hear, even if you aren’t currently paying attention…



Being Kind to Myself…

So, I did something today that I haven’t done in a really long time.  I went shopping for clothes…at the mall.  There aren’t many malls in the city, so it required a trip across the Hudson to Jersey City, New Jersey.  Not really what you would call suburban, but it’s close enough. To the mall I went.

But let me step back a minute.

Last week I had a phone interview with a local start up.  They called me less than an hour after I sent in my resume, and after a short conversation, they invited me to come in for an interview on Monday.  That felt pretty good.  I’m not sure what to expect or whether they can even afford me, but I should be excited that I have an interview.  Opportunity, right?  Instead, I found myself dreading it.  Why?  Because I didn’t have anything to wear that I feel good in.  Nothing seems to fit me anymore.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve gained some weight while I’ve been unemployed.  Living in the city and commuting via subway provides a minimum amount of physical activity each day.  Not a huge amount, but compared to those living in car cultures, the base line is higher.  It helps at least to maintain my weight.  So, without a job, and without working out regularly, no exercise to speak of.  Add to that eating from stress, boredom, or any other fun reason, and it’s the perfect storm for weight gain.  A lot of weight.  So, here I find myself.

Rather than spending the weekend stewing, or lamenting the many articles of clothing in my closet that don’t fit, I decided to actually do something about it.  It doesn’t seem like a big step, but it is.  I didn’t punish myself for my current predicament, I instead spent the day finding something that makes me feel confident, so I can spend my interview talking about what I can do for this company and why they should hire me, rather than worrying if my pants are too tight.

Not miraculous.  Not revolutionary.  Just a tiny little step (and an inexpensive one at that) forward.

Next stop, back to the gym…oh, and also that interview.  I’ll keep you posted.





It’s a Small World (and not the ride at Disney)

 I have Harmony and Selila to thank for this.

I have been a spotty contributor to Holidailies for years.  And by spotty, I mean damn inconsistent.  I wasn’t going to participate at all this year, because I felt that I really had nothing to contribute.  And tonight, I said as much to the aforementioned as a neat way of backing out of a regular writing commitment for the month of December (NaNoWriMo once again having eluded me in November.)

Ostensibly, my excuse for not participating was that nine months of unemployment was boring.  And truly, it is.  I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there who manage to keep a full schedule and do all kinds of great things while not working.  Who keep up routines,  are constantly productive, and enjoying the hell out of all of their free time.  I am not one of those people.

Here’s the ugly truth: I’m bad with unstructured time.  And I’m not much better at artificially creating structure that I can sustain.  Besides the cash (which is much needed right now), the rigors of a job are good for me.  They keep me honest.  They keep me well scheduled and on my toes.  Because I have less free time, I use it much better.  I manage to get stuff done.  Unemployment has made me soft (and I don’t just mean physically, though that’s been a problem too).

I keep thinking about how small my life has become in the last nine months.  How I live in this great city, full of amazing stuff to do, wonderful people in my life, and the fact that I’ve disappeared from most of them, most of the time.  And certainly, the lack of income has had an effect on my ability to go out and do the things I’m fond of doing, but that’s only part of it.  Because, I’ll be the first one to tell you that there are a million things to take advantage of here that are free or cheap.  I live across the street from Central Park.  And down the block from Lincoln Center.  And walking distance from a bunch of museums (a couple where I still hold memberships).  And I can look out my window at the YMCA, which houses both my gym and the pottery studio.  Somehow, though, without the external pressure of structure, it’s become very easy to not participate.

Sustaining a schedule of activity has become agonizing.  I have folded into myself and become a shut in.  And it’s surprised no one as much as me.  It’s truly against my nature.  I’m an extrovert.  I love people, I love being around them and talking to them and interacting with them.  And I love this city more than I could begin to express.  More than it’s even cool to admit.  But,  I do.  And right now, I could be living almost anywhere and it wouldn’t really matter.  Because I feel like the world is passing me by.

Sure, I have been trying to maintain my creative impulses, with, again, somewhat spotty success (latest results can be sampled at Girl vs. Inertia).  But, my jewelry, that side business I’ve been so keen to build up?  Pretty well stalled.  I have endless days to fill where I could be producing and promoting.  Selling and making money and finding fulfillment from something that I know makes me happy.  And yet, mostly, not so much.  Sure I’ve been looking for a job, but no matter how intense that job search, it doesn’t fill up all my days.  So, what have I been doing?

I’ve watched a lot of TV.  A lot of movies on Netflix.  Lots of documentaries.  I’ve read a lot of books.  The New York Public Library and I have renewed our friendship, which is not a bad thing.  I’ve begun to teach myself the ukulele, having learned about six chords so far, though, quite predictably, I’ve not maintained a regular practice schedule and still have delicate, callous free fingers.  My political geekiness has been on great display over the course of the election and I’ve voraciously consumed (and commented on) the ridiculous circus that our democracy has become.   I’ve spent ever more time reading about topics that I find fascinating (like the train wreck that is Scientology).

I’m an omnipresent fixture on Facebook, which I sometimes kick myself for, but truthfully, it’s kept me sane.  When I just can’t manage to interact with the real world, I still manage to participate virtually.  It’s kept my mind sharp at least.  It’s kept my reading varied and my banter witty and my laughter loud (my neighbor can attest to that).  But, it’s not the same in so many important ways.  And so tonight, when Selila said to me “unemployment can’t define you,” it hit a nerve.

I realized that I’ve let this temporary state (and I have to believe it’s temporary…oh please oh please oh please) define everything.  And I’ve been punishing myself for not having a job and taken it out on myself for not doing more, being more, having more.  Rather than seeing the time as a blessing, I’ve seen it as a burden.  Rather than using it wisely, I’ve been throwing it away.  And beating myself up for all of it.  Rather than living, I’ve been waiting.

So, December is a new start.  And Holidailies is where I’m planting my flag.  I don’t have much right now, but I have the gift of time, and I need to start looking at it that way.  And I’m using this space to create that structure and keep me honest, to spur me on, to keep up forward momentum, and not just sit waiting for something (anything) to happen.

It might not be pretty, it might not even be interesting to any one but (or including) me, but it will be active.

Happy Holidailies…


Gimme that old time religion or not…

I’m not a religious person, but I am one who loves the rituals of Judaism.  So, I love to light the candles during Chanukah.  It keeps me connected to my family, to my childhood, to thousands of years of tradition.  And there’s nothing more serene than candles burning in a menorah.  And it’s pretty!

It’s also a good way to be reminded of what this time of year is actually about.  Everyone is running around, trying to get everything done, buying gifts, making travel arrangements, fulfilling obligations, running, running, running.  We get so caught up in the frenetic activity that we rarely ever stop and think about what we are doing.  Whether you are religious or not, whether you believe in a deity (or many) or not, I’ve always thought that this time of year is important, but in a far different way than we’ve come to relate to it.

It’s about giving, but it doesn’t have to be about spending.  It’s about family and friends, but it doesn’t have to be about obligation.  It’s about enjoying oneself, but not about forced merriment. It’s about the turning of the season and the renewal of a brand new year, but it shouldn’t be the only time we reflect or make changes in our lives for the better.   Celebrating the season should be about all of those things that so easily roll off the tongue when we think about this time — joy and peace on earth and good will towards men and miracles — but we should think about what those things truly mean, rather than the cliche of them.

I write this as much as a reminder to myself as anything else.  And with that reminder, I’m trying to take each day of this holiday season to reflect and enjoy and to be open to the possibilities of the new year…

Taking the Guilt out of Guilty Pleasures…


Theoretically, I have many guilty pleasures:

The thing is that none of them make me feel guilty.  I find joy in small things and I like that I can find it in things that are pedestrian, cheesy, and sappy, not just in those things that are intellectual and cultured.  It makes me a more well-rounded person.  It also makes me better in trivia contests!

When it comes to guilty pleasures, I’d say that the only ones that actually give me any guilt feelings at all are my junk food indulgences — Taco Bell’s Soft Taco Supreme, Burger King’s Whopper with Cheese, Tim Horton’s Timbits.  But this has nothing to do with my unsophisticated choice of cuisine, but my feelings about food and weight in general. It’s bad for me, it’s unhealthy, but it tastes delicious, so I eat it anyway.  I really just need to separate out the guilt from the pleasure.  If I only indulge once in a while, there’s no reason to feel badly.

The lesson for me is that guilt is overrated.  Life’s short.  Indulge (even if only occasionally) in the things that make you happy!