Starting Out

Will you sign my petition to move New York to the south? If you live wherever the temps have barely been above freezing these past three months, chances are, like me, you are “seasonally fatigued”–exhausted from relentless snow and frozen limbs, perhaps traipsing to twenty-seven stores in the unsuccessful hunt for suburban gold: a measly bag of rock salt.
 
I unequivocally do not do well in the cold. I wear gloves indoors. The early darkness depresses me, and the cold plucks everyone off the streets making suburbia’s isolation worse than I think it already is. Sure, the winter season can be pretty for about an hour and a half. After that, temps under 45 degrees get old fast.  For my own good, I need constant assurance that the mercury will rise.
 
 Luckily, while I’m waiting for nature to correct itself, flower arranging has come to my rescue. My interest in flower design has bloomed this past year. I’ve taken a couple of classes where I’ve learned how to cut and care for these beauties, placement techniques, and how to match containers to certain types of blossoms. I created my design gradually, building it layer upon flowered layer.  The transformation was quick and yielded beautiful results.
 
I read up a bit on my new hobby and began to pay more attention to creating small arrangements at home.  I try to work on one or two bunches a week, placing them around the house where they’ll be in my frequent line of vision. The flower’s various colors and textures have a soothing, happy effect on me and can be an effective stand-in until spring arrives.
 
What do you do to remind yourself that spring is just around the corner?
 
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
―  A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
 
X, S
 
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My Neck Feels Bad About Me

I’ve been thinking about my neck lately. Not quite in the same way the late Nora Ephron did when she wrote about beauty and aging in her book I Feel Bad About My Neck but because mine has put me in physical therapy three times a week for the next month. After feeling sore for a couple of weeks and a visit to the orthopedist, PT was recommended. Improper posture, especially while at my laptop, caused me to overwork my neck (I’ve since swapped to an ergonomic keyboard and mouse).

But thinking metaphorically as I tend to do, I ask myself if my neck is telling me something. There are so many “neck” idioms. To name a few: Pain in the neck, albatross around my neck, sticking your neck out, neck on the line, be up to one’s neck in, get it in the neck–you get the idea.

All but one I’ve found–necking, as in going at it with your honey—have negative emotional connotations. There is apparently something about our necks that tends to make its way into our everyday expressions.

I’ll take a stab (not in the neck) at why: Our necks define a separation between our body and brain; our actions and our minds. Though preferable, it’s not necessary for our minds and bodies to be in agreement for us to follow through. However, though the neck separates, it also connects us (thank goodness!). When the body and mind are in sync we are able to feel whole. When we “put our neck on the line” or “stick our necks out” we open ourselves up to the possibility of pain, either physical or emotional. Our neck is the quintessential symbol of vulnerability. Let’s face it, we’d really be nothing without our necks.

We know that life’s strains and stresses can take a toll on us. Our bodies may manifest our spiritual hurts with physical reminders.

So here I am. Yes, my neck pain reminds me to take care of my physical self but most important, it reminds me to just chill. The “pain in the neck” moments in my daily life are usually not earth shattering but added together can, at times, become overwhelming. If I “stick my neck out,” however minimally, for someone but receive no appreciation or acknowledgment in return, I will make sure from then on to focus only on those with whom I have a positive reciprocal relationship.

I hope pain relief comes at break-neck speed, keeping in mind the strong connection between emotional and physical health, between mind and body.

(Grew up in Little Neck now living in Teaneck. Is there any hidden meaning in that? It could be a stretch but hey, that’s what my neck needs right now).

X, S

Lonely? You’re in Good Company

Surfing TV channels this evening I stumbled upon Piers Morgan’s program. Gayle King and Sanjay Gupta-with a bit of Oprah-joined him in discussing their new “Just Say Hello” campaign. This campaign wants to help combat day-to-day loneliness, foster civility and simple acts of friendly decency. And who knows; real friends may actually be made. Wish I thought of it.

Over the years I have phrased it as a question to myself: “Why the #$% can’t people just say hello?”.  Gosh, Gayle, Sanjay and Oprah, you have struck a sensitive chord not only with me but, if response on Twitter is any indication, with so many others.

But here’s the thing: I’d like to know why saying hello is so difficult. Yes, social media is no doubt a part of the alienation we are dishing out and receiving–let’s face it, techie developments may have exacerbated the problem–but unfriendliness has existed since biblical times. The psychology behind it, I think, is human insecurity. No, I don’t have any studies to point to right now. This is just my gut speaking. We all harbor the need to belong (at all costs?), we fear being judged, wrongly or otherwise; we are possessive, competitive and suspect others so we attack first.

If what I’m guessing is true, that much of this is personal insecurity, then there are a lot of people in pain out there.  Our insecurities perhaps surface on a larger scale in society as prejudice and discrimination. The human implications can be huge.

For goodness sake, just say hello.