This is of course a battle I often lose, so let me preface this post, by clarifying; I’m absolutely incapable of doing nothing. This very challenging task of course brought up the idea to place myself in a battle of the wills, and force myself to do nothing.
I failed miserably.
As we all know forcing anything is still the act of doing something.
I decided to take another stab at it this weekend. I started by taking a walk, with no particular route in mind and just walk. Even though I had a particular map in my head about where I would end up; I kept my mind on just walking and breathing.
This has probably been the most difficult thing I’ve ever undertaken. I’m not known for being able to stay idle and even on my days off I always find something to do. (even writing this post I had to set aside for anther day)
Living in a city that never sleeps, one often finds that it’s almost never silent. Given the task of not doing anything and being in as much silence as possible; my path took me to one of my favorite parts of New York.
Prospect Park, in Brooklyn has long been my sanctuary from the craziness of New York. Other than walking along a beach front anywhere in the world, the Park has become my “do nothing sanctuary.” There is where my mind relaxes it’s right grip and just IS. Finding that connection and being able to just exist with out a task or project in mind has been very difficult to even fathom, but as my body became more vulnerable to stress and exhaustion from overworking, this idea of non action has been a necessary remedy.
Everyday find a moment where you are task-less and quiet. Bring yourself the gift of doing absolutely nothing.
This is somewhat a departure from previous commentary and posts because it is as much a self reflection as an observation of others.
About a month ago I started a social experiment and a personal challenge.
After realizing how much time I spend on my phone (thanks to that pesky new “oh look you loser you spent a total of 8 hours on your phone today” reminder on my device), I decided to make a point of leaving my phone in my bag while I was on the subway, in public places, while walking on the street, and whenever I had the urge to “check” my social media. Something that would seem rather obvious and self explanatory became a “task” or a personal project. The reason being;
I was constantly on my phone, and apparently I’m not the only one.
Before arriving in New York six years ago from Athens, I would say I had a relatively “healthy” relationship with my now constant companion. As technology changed, so did my relationship with my phone. (yes relationship – and everyone else I’ve seen seems to have the same one too). In sharp contrast to the past, my relationships consisted of close uninterrupted conversations with friends on a regular phone, arranged face to face meetings with people I had not seen in a long time and many many long emails with my loved ones who were far away. Now at the click of a button I’m connected at any moment, I get instant responses to my pictures, writing, comments, and observations. I’m constantly reachable; even when I don’t want to be.
All these characteristics of technology are not a mystery or shockingly new to any of us who use our phones as personal assistants, friends, connecting devices, social media giants etc. What did give me a rude awakening is that nearly ALL of the people I encounter on the street, in the subway, in their cars, with their friends at a dinner table; is that the phone is starting to become an extra appendage. EVERYONE is on their phone, ALL the time, and not when they are alone; but walking, eating, getting their hair done, waiting for the train, waiting for their friend to arrive, sitting at home watching a movie, eating at home while on their phones. ALL THE TIME.
The reason I gave myself this task of unhinging my every moment from my phone is purely to walk the walk as I talk the talk to my students about mindfulness and being present.
The absence of “having something to do” at every single second of the day is becoming something of a necessity as our time becomes more and more overwhelmed with technology, social media (the sewage of the internet as was so aptly put by Lady Gaga in a recent interview) and the idea that idle time with your mind focused on just being quiet and present is seen as laziness. For the next few weeks I challenge you all as I did myself; to get off your phones for the better part of your day and see what you notice. Take pictures, read a book, get off twitter, and enjoy a fine meal without looking at your facebook profile. ENJOY.
Till then here are some pictures I took today while I was walking around noticing the world around me instead of being glued to my phone.
I encourage you all to do the same. Take a moment to look up.
How to deal with an aging body- not just an aging face.
Age ain’t a number at all. The changes we undergo on the surface like the wrinkles, the grey hair, the change of our outer “look”; is only part of the complex and quite revealing aging story. I’m not talking about getting old, because we all grow older; that’s inevitably what occurs to our cells after our bodies reach their apex; but building awareness, and becoming wiser, not only mentally but also in terms of how our body works or doesn’t; alludes us.
The folly of youth affords us the illusion that the body is going to last and carry us forever; on the other hand the wisdom of age brings with it the understanding that the body will carry us as far as it’s able, and as far as WE carry it.
As we age, we have to contend with a whole new set of rules; mentally, emotionally and physically. As our body undergoes the slow and then rapid process of aging, we can’t afford to be aloof and callous; so we have to find ways to understand and communicate with our bodies in ways we may not have imagined. As a young athlete and practitioner of yoga; I did pretty much everything my body allowed me to do, and whatever it didn’t do naturally, heavy handed adjustments took place. I loved them. I loved being pulled placed, and adjusted. Over the years I found that deep adjustments needed superior knowledge and listening abilities from the teacher as well as the student. Having been in, and as I continue to explore both of those roles; I’ve started to approach my personal practice and teaching in much more well rounded approach.
knowing what our limitations are is key to aging well versus growing old.
Our Bodies tell us things all the time. They change temperature when fighting the common cold, pain and how we react to it plays a vital role to understanding our nervous system, and hormones play a very important role in how we feel and react to the inside and outside world. What happens when the muscles start to fail us, or when old injuries we had long forgotten come back to haunt us? Our bodies take many beatings over the years; it’s no surprise that the well oiled machine we may have relied on in our youth, is taking its sweet old time in middle, and in old age. Yet with all the “limitations” our bodies face as we get older, and the time we need to recover and heal may be far longer; with that comes a deeper knowledge of how to cope, manage pain, create space for our bones and muscles to become stronger and live a life based on quality not quantity.
Folly gives way to wisdom and communication is key.
These are some of my go to “body listening” techniques that have helped over the past few years.
Meditation- I can’t say enough good things about it. Quieting the mind and connecting with our breath is probably the most important tool for aging, stress, anxiety and a host of ailments that come with an aging body.
Exercise- Endorphins rule. Weight training, yoga, stretching, swimming and any body activity that doesn’t cause further damage. As much as I love more physically demanding exercise regimes (and I’ve participated in a lot of them) some of them do more harm than good, and knowing when to stop is probably the hardest lesson to learn when you’re physically active.
Change of diet. This is probably one of the most important aspects to understanding aging and the body. Anyone who wants to slow down, and or manage aging and pain has to take nutrition very seriously. Diet and super food fads aside (no more KALE!) a proper nutrition consultation is key to managing and caring for our aging bodies. Diner consisting of four dry martinis and a pizza isn’t really a healthy meal.
Body work, acupuncture, pilates, yoga ( again).
Change is never easy and witnessing our bodies as they age can be a very difficult reality to compute. I for one plan to keep this engine running for many years to come; but knowing what our limitations are is key to aging well versus growing old.
Στην υγεία μας.
What have you noticed about your body over the years and what have you done to adjust, manage and live with its many changes over the years?
Looking back at the inception of this online writing platform 6 years ago; there was no predicting where it would take me. While reflecting upon the sixth consecutive year of writing online, I was reminded of my sixth anniversary living in New York. One absolutely undeniable thing I’ve realized about this city is :
New York doesn’t give a fuck what you think of her. (Sorry Sex and the City- New York is no boyfriend) Shes a badass, loudmouthed, Italian, Latino, black, Jewish, Irish, Dominican, African, Indian, Pakistani, Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Korean, Russian, Romanian, Chilean, Israeli, Palestinian, Ukrainian, Brazilian, Armenian, Syrian (I could go on and on) and every other American Woman.
I realized early last year; January 2018 to be exact, that speaking my truth, expressing my writing and poetry honestly and conveying my point of view without reservations, is my greatest challenge and biggest goal for the years to come. (Yes I stole a little attitude from one of my writing heroes and badass traveler, advocate, explorer and all around truth teller Mr. Anthony Bourdain). For the first time after starting this writing project; I don’t give a fuck with people think. I’ve spent countless years, (as many women do) side stepping, avoiding, cleaning up, self editing in order to fit a particular mold or idea of how I should express myself publicly or privately. I’m not trying to grab or hold anyone’s attention. If you follow my writing and care to share your point of view with me, It is welcome. If you don’t care for what I’m writing about, and think its shit, make a valid point, and give your point of view.
On January 1st 2018, at about 6 am, on a very cold bright morning; It hit me: Nothing of who I am and what I’ve done so far with my life fits any ,constructs or ideas of what a woman my age living, loving creating, and writing in 2018 should be like, look like or act like. I was never one to submit to conformity. Whenever I tried to fit in, my life would always swerve away from it, one way or another. Should have been, should have had, should have accomplished, often slaps me around from time to time.
We all go through moments where we are faced with the stories other people like to tell about us. Inevitably as we get older (not necessarily wiser as I’ve come to discover), some of us find our own true voice, allowing us to be exactly who we want and can be. Others predictably, stay stuck within the confines of an identity formed by others, society, parents, or heritage; forming an idea of themselves with personas or masks that really don’t quite fit. More still never really take the risk to flourish into something far more beautiful and unique that may not quite fit the narrative we’ve been fed.
Time has shown me that spending more time alone, with myself has given me ample opportunities to really know who I am, shed any prét a porter personalities and embrace how I want to live my life. Yet every year that closes, I spend a few moments wondering what would have been if I took a different path.
The shoulds- A list
On the eve of a new year, I narrow down the list of shoulds that apply to where someone like me should be according to society, my own made up standards, and how very famously stated in Greece, according to what “people say”.
Here’s my top 5 so I don’t go to crazy down the rabbit hole.
1. I should have had kids by now. Well to be fair I almost did, and although I do think about that possibility often, I’m thankful everyday I decided against it. It’s been a strange feeling to know I came close.
2. I should have my own business by now. I did at some point and for a good 10 years, I did run my own business as a yoga teacher and massage therapist. I’ve taken a detour so the possibility is still there.
3. I should be settled somewhere and have a beautiful home. I also had that at one point in my life, but the Greek crisis forced many of us to leave the life we knew and the home we had along with all its comforts; and find new paths in new counties. Now and for however it lasts, New York is home.
4. I should be more successful in my career and make more money. Well this is only up to my efforts so stay tuned 😉
5. I should drop everything I’m doing here in New York and move back to Greece… Well this one I left for last because it’s as complicated and simple as all the others on the list. For the simple reason that I’m not someone who likes to drop something in the middle before I’ve seen in through; staying in New York although a difficult journey, has and still does inspire me. My writing and poetry has developed over the years here, and the same would not have occurred in Athens. So I take the inspiration and wherever it takes me I’m willing to go. All the risks we take lead us somewhere magical.
we live in this endless dystopia… we’ve been groomed again and again to endure crisis after crisis after crisis and with that; have forgotten the joy of life.
We live in strife
And we never pause to enjoy life
It’s little hidden beauties it’s endless flirtation it’s burning desire.
Το μεδούλι we say.
we let others dictate… our inspiration our connections our determination. Yet after all that, we find courage to live life, fall in love, write beautiful music, build incredible buildings, carve beautiful statues, build incredible grand ships that take us from sea to sea, and discover our limits anew each time becoming better versions of ourselves.
we delve deep into beauty and reap the benefits of true joy.
Each boy and girl each female and male becoming, growing, revealing their most true selves.
It’s no mystery we are all made of stars….
Yet we bicker and fight and cause strife. Spending lifetimes hating each other.
Demeaning each other
what a waste….
To not want to taste life’s bounties.
To not want to share in its boundless beauty.
Our curiosity for self destruction is a unique human trait, but so is survival.
No not religious kind, but true faith, in ourselves in each other. No no we’re not the only ones but were unique, no we’re not one of a kind but we have been given infinite possibilities…
Έχει ταλαιπωρηθεί λίγο τα τελευταία 8 χρόνια. Έχει υποστεί τραύματα που δύσκολα επουλώνονται, αλλά ακόμα παλεύει. Παλεύει γιατί είναι πόλη που έχει περάσει και χειρότερα.
Παλεύει για τα ιδεώδη, και την αρμονία, τη τέχνη και το κάλλος. Ως Πηνελόπη που περιμένει τον Οδυσσέα της… αλλά καλά κρατάει και δεν δέχεται κανέναν πάνω στο σπαθί της.
Έχει ραγίσει η καρδιά της αλλά είναι ηρωίδα, είναι πολεμίστρα είναι γυναικάρα.
Το έπαιξα τουριστάκι, στη πόλη μου. Σχεδίαζα βόλτες και περιπάτους, και την άφησα να με πάρει μαζί της. Γελούσαμε σα μικρά κορίτσια και τρώγαμε μαζί παγωτό. Πέρασα από την Πρωτογένους και διέσχισα την Αθηνάς και βρέθηκα στο Μοναστηράκι να παρατηρώ τη παλιά αρχιτεκτονική μαζί με το χάος της νεόδμητης πλατείας.
Βρήκα καινούργια στοιχεία στην Αθήνα που αφήνουν μια ευχάριστη γεύση στο στόμα. Σίγουρα έχει αλλάξει, έχει κουραστεί από τα τελευταία χρόνια των μεταρρυθμίσεων, της οικονομικής κρίσης, της συναισθηματικής κρίσης, αλλά έχει επίσης δώσει πνοή σε καινούργιες φιγούρες, σε καινούργιες τέχνες, σε μια νέα φωνή.
Υπάρχει οργή ακόμα. Τη νιώθεις στα σπασμένα πεζοδρόμια. Υπάρχει στεναχώρια. Τη βλέπεις στα πρόσωπα των φθαρμένων πολιτών της. Υπάρχει αγανάκτηση, την αισθάνεσαι στους τοίχους, αλλά… σιγά σιγά, δειλά όμως… ξεπροβάλλει μια Αθήνα πιο δυνατή απ ότι θα έλεγαν οι πολιτικοί, οι παλιοί, οι βολεμένοι, η κομπάρσοι, οι περιστασιακοί γκόμενοι της πόλης. Αυτοί που πραγματικά δεν την αγαπούν… τη χρησιμοποιούν όπως οι μνηστήρες… ως διέξοδο, ως πουτάνα.
Αλλά η Αθήνα είναι κυρία… με λίγο φθαρμένα ρούχα, με λίγο χαλασμένο το μακιγιάζ… είναι όμως κυρία.
Η Αθήνα δε μασάει. Μου ψιθύρισε ότι γουστάρει τη νεολαία που την αγάπησε ξανά. Μου έδειξε ότι η τέχνη είναι στους τοίχους της, οι γεύσεις στα πεζοδρόμια της, τα αρώματα καινούργια, πρόσωπα με χαμόγελο. Μια νέα δύναμη τη στηρίζει σιγά σιγά όλο και πιο πολύ.
Θέλει χρόνο όμως. Θέλει υπομονή γιατί είναι ακόμα φοβισμένη. Δεν εμπιστεύεται εύκολα τον κάθε κόλακα και ομορφάντρα που θα τη πλησιάσει… έχει ακόμα δρόμο μπροστά της να φανεί η ομορφιά της. Αλλά οι μνηστήρες βαρέθηκαν και σιγά σιγά αποχωρούν.
Τα αγόρια και τα κορίτσια της γειτονιάς την υπερασπίζονται είναι με το μέρος της, την ακούν.
I wrote a poem about 3 years ago, and It’s the first one I ever performed live at an event called First Time Out, in New York at a cool performance/bar space called Pete’s Candy Store.
I was a very nervous, and shaky first time performer back in November 2016, but I took a chance with an art form and a stage that I had never even dreamed I would ever approach, let alone at the “ripe” age of 38.
This piece is close to my heart because I wrote it for someone I deeply care about, who I can now call a dear friend. We went through our ups and downs in life and we ended up floating instead of sinking so I’m dedicating this to my dear friend P. Life has a very strange way of colliding people together who may on the surface seem incongruous.
The more I travel, the more people I collide with. Old friends remain true friends, others fade away, some remain there for a lifetime, through thick and thin, some betray you, some you betray. It’s a never ending cycle of attraction, connection, and sometimes a rare blossoming.
LET ME SAY THIS
Let me tell you a story about leaving home, about struggling to find a place of your own, Let me tell you about walking miles every day in this crazy city, and asking yourself over and over again is this all there is? Let me tell you about loving and heartbreak, about standing on your own two feet, about flirtation about opening your heart again about loneliness about doubt and fear, let me tell you about sitting alone at night thinking… There must be more than life to this. Let me tell you about rejoicing in knowing you have friends who love you and you love them. Let me tell you about poetry and listening to father analyse over and over the importance of poetry…. because talking about your motherland falling apart isn’t that pleasant. Let me tell you about mother and how she is my best friend. Let me tell you about laughter in the middle of the street, till your guts hurt and not caring how loud you are cause that shit was so damn funny! Let me tell you about sex, and passion, lack of intimacy or truth, let me tell you about excuses and mistreatment and unfulfilled embraces, let me tell you about pain. Let me tell you about not wanting to live again. “let me tell you about sitting alone at night thinking, there must be more than life to this…” Let me tell you about falling in love and going out of your mind, let me show you loss and tears. Let me tell you about walking alone, and sleeping alone and crying alone and feeling alone even though your not. Let me tell you about countless early mornings sitting in silence breathing and hoping it will all get better. Let me tell you about waking up with sun in your eyes and smelling the island breeze and wishing you were here with me, diving deeper and deeper into the deep blue sea. Let me tell you about missing my home, my people, my sun kissed balcony, the aromas of fresh baked bread from the village bakery salt on my skin the sound of hundreds of cicadas
drowning the air with their numbing rhythm. Let me tell you about music and dancing, and embracing friends who are far away, and letting your hair down cause… that’s what life is all about. Let me show you what I see, what I hear let me share with you my story, and I want you to tell me yours. Tell me about you, tell me about your dreams and struggles your life and goals, your fears. are you sitting up at night thinking is this all there is? Eat with me, drink with me, laugh with me, cry with me, look into my eyes and see there is nothing more beautiful than sitting in silence and knowing, understanding one another and realizing…. Yes that this is ALL there is.
I’ll call this new chapter of my writing frenzy the 30 day random questions challenge.This is a way to engage more with my few and trusted readers. I have in the past and attempt to engage with more of you out there. Recently to my dismay I have caught myself becoming quite a recluse lately with my writing; so this is an attempt to change.
I have promised time and time again that if I am going to write at all, I’ll write honestly, truthfully and from the heart to whoever is out there reading my musings.
Or else shut this whole operation down.
So here is my first random question- prefaced by some background.
We find ourselves in the era of social media, 24 hour news programming, blogs (yes like mine), articles written on any subject under the sun; on more free article writing sites than our brains can handle, and more newspapers and more free press than we know how to do decipher; yet most or all of what we read is someone’s personal opinion, point of view, or account of things. Our personal perception on any and all things, is being shaped, changed, skewed and solidified by other people’s opinions rather than our own personal experience. For example:
Horrible movie review of an indie film by 3 people sends crowds to the one everyone raves about, determining not only the quality of something, but also its worth based on public opinion and popularity, rather than merit.
Art (this includes, music, film, dance, visual and performing arts)
Public figures of all kinds
You get it. Everything we seem to partake in seems to be there because and strongly based on the opinion makers and holders, regardless of what we may actually decide for ourselves. In short:
why do we allow these individuals with the power to advertise their opinions louder than anyone else, to determine our taste, where we go for vacation, what we like for food, what we should dress like, how we should love, how we should express ourselves and for all intents and purposes how to live our lives.
There seems to be a cacophony of chatter but really absolutely nothing personal is actually shared. We are all forced to use recycled ideas, and opinions while following lifestyle gurus instead of being encouraged to question, discover, risk, and figure out shit for ourselves. It doesn’t bode well for free societies, to be so lead by the nose…
Is randomness, spontaneity and personal exploration losing its mojo?
If you would like to share your thoughts, I would love to hear from you!