Archive for December, 2009

Considering a New Year: 10 Resolutions

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about new year’s resolutions. Maybe because last years’ were unexpectedly potent. Over Christmas dinner last week (at a table surrounded by friends), I remembered one of them: “Be better friends with the friends I already have.” Huh, it worked. I also made some new friends. How great is that? (I raise a toast.)

The other was to start a meditation practice. After 20 years of attempts, I finally did it. Sitting every day! (Thanks for the method, Alan. Thanks for the prodding, Vanessa. Thanks for the company, Tim.)

So, here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week for the coming year. Take it or leave it—it’s free. Here’s to a happy new year—and an inspired decade.

1. Keep a small notebook-–a small one that fits in my pocket. Write down ideas, events and thoughts of the moment, lists, words overheard, sights overseen. I started this in November at the suggestion of a writing teacher (thank you, Victoria) and it has blazed some interesting new trails. How much was I censoring myself? A lot.

2. Break out of the routine for one hour every week—even if it means walking down a new block (which in fact I love to do). In 2010, I’d like to shake things up; keep the brain and spirit fresh. Visit new parks, museums, bookstores etc. Cheaper than a ticket to Rio de Janeiro, too.

3. Use a key phrase for comfort.  Sometimes I have a mantra from my meditation teacher and then I forget to say it. But it could also be a phrase someone—anyone—has said that was moving. Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, for new year’s 2006, said, “one of the most moving experiences I have had was when one of my teachers said it to me – “Whatever happens, you can handle it.” Another good one is from ad exec, Paul Arden: “Start being wrong and suddenly anything is possible. You’re no longer trying to be infallible.”

4. Take on a reasonable amount—and no more. This week I set out to do a reasonable number of tasks each day instead of a superhuman number. It’s been fantastic. Lo-and-behold, I’ve been getting more done and feeling friendlier, too. (It sure helps to get to work at noon.)

5. Check in weekly to see where I am and what’s ahead. My own personal 1:1 staff meeting. I’ve set Friday afternoons for this weekly accounting. It’s actually pretty fun, and it helps manage the overwhelm. Another good idea from Victoria.

6. Use iCal on my laptop and on my iPhone. Getting my schedule out of my head and onto “paper” clears some space…. for all those thoughts that I need to get down in my notebook! (See #1.)

7. … also it’s *really* interesting to see how much junk I’m carrying around in my head. I would like that junk to stop jabbing me in meditation, so I’m excited to put it down somewhere. (The creative company Behance has all kinds of strategies, apps, and stationary to help with this very thing—thank you, Jocelyn Glei!)

8. Inbox zero! Again: inbox zero!

9. Annoying people and situations (hello, crowded subway) offer a chance to learn and grown—I know, I know, SUCH a cliche! But there’s a catch: they are opportunities only if I can stay vulnerable. It is challenging not go into habit—and so, interesting. Heart forward!

10. Open your eyes. For one minute every day, see who and what is around you. This summer I noticed an overgrown corner lot at S1 and Driggs. I’ve lived one block from it for probably 10 years: in July it was lush vines, weeds, morning glories, and leafy tree branches spilling over the fence. It was wonderful to walk past. I found myself taking detours to stroke the cat-tails, smell the flowers, inhale the green. Even if you’ve seen your local spot or your trusted people a 1,000,000 times, see them again. Recall the native greeting in Avatar, “I see you.”

It’s great to open your eyes.

Stubdog: Half-Price Yoga?

According to the ad copy on Flavorpill’s “thehookup,” Stubdog offers half price tickets on music, comedy, dance, special parties—and YOGA.

Is that yoga classes, yoga events, yoga fashion trunk shows? Not clear. A quick search of the site turned up zero offerings in any of their cities currently (Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas/Ft Worth, New York).

But a half-price anything is worth it these days. So I pass it along to you, dear reader. Maybe while you’re waiting for a yoga class to pop onto the list you’ll catch an Afro-Cuban extravaganza or the next Eddie Izzard?

Stubdog for Event Tickets – Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas/Ft Worth

Bollywood 101

Bollywood 101, a great film series, has been happening this fall at the Ossining, NY, Public Library. The last screening is this Saturday at 4pm. Don’t miss it!

It’s run by my friend and colleague, former punk rock East Village 80s bartender chick, grammarian supreme, and all around excellent person, Carolyn Lengel.

With her husband Mike Enright, and daughter Harriet, they not only curate the film series, they make these great YouTube videos as promos, interviewing themselves (here Harriet delivers her commentary while hanging laundry) and Bollywood experts while showing clips from the featured film.

From Carolyn’s message:

Escape to the Ossining Public Library at 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, for the grand finale of the “Bollywood 101” film series, LAGE RAHO MUNNA BHAI (2006), a completely charming movie about a Mumbai gangster who falls in love and begins to see visions of Gandhi.

What better way to get in a holiday mood?

Even if you can’t make it to Ossining, you can join in the fun from the sidelines. Watch theYouTube videos and join Bollywood 101 on Facebook. Stay tuned!

Eating Meat–or Not?

It’s true that I eat meat: the humanely raised, grass-fed kind. I have been surprised by how many restaurants offer it. There’s even a full on BBQ place that’s all organic near where I live.

In fact, to eat good meat that’s not full of hormones, antibiotics and that won’t contribute to any being’s misery has been my New Year’s resolution for a few years running. (Sometime towards the end of the year I find myself at a dinner party or in Chinatown breaking it, hence the need for a re-up.)

With the end of the year approaching there comes a slew of help from the New York Times, and, of course, literary star, Jonathan Safran Foer whose recent book is Eating Animals, and why we shouldn’t.

Mitchell Feinberg for the NYTimes

Mitchell Feinberg for the NYTimes

I have to confess that these days I eat mostly vegan anyway. No dairy, no sugar, no meat, no wheat (not that vegans avoid gluten). It’s not quite a question of ethics, but what is easier to digest. And what will keep me healthier now that it’s plague season. (The subway: H1N1 incubator?)

According to the Times, 1% of Americans in 2009 are vegan, and it’s getting easier and easier to find vegan food. Not just at ethnic resautrants such as Indian and Thai, but in mainstream America. A 17-year old Long Island boy—a vegan—managed to instigate a slew of vegan fare at his father’s pizzeria where he works. It attracted a vegan crowd.

Moo-Cluck Bakery on Long Island sells retail and wholesale. And it’s not just the vegans who like their cakes: the bakery owners, “took a box of several dozen Moo-Cluck cookies to a family Christmas party of 30 people last year, intending it for a vegan relative.

“The vegan arrived too late to enjoy the gift. Half an hour after Ms. Cummings brought them into the house, the cookies were gone, she said. “All the nonvegans ate them.”

If cutting out meat, dairy, and sugar seems dire to you, consider this: vegans eat cookies like everyone else.

Here’s a cookbook to prove it: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Treats by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (Da Capo).

That’s sounds like holiday fun (though the reviewer of her sister’s vegan cookies in this article thought they tasted “like homework.”)

Decide for yourself. Make your own resolution.