Sunday, October 26, 2014

I Did It!

Finally got my tush back to the gym and let me tell you, it was no easy feat.

I am the queen of excuses.  Day after day, I justified my gym-less routine:  I'm helping my mom move (so that's enough of a workout); I'm helping David to clean the leaves off our lawn (so I did my share of exercise); I'm working late (so I'll be way too tired after I come home first to have dinner); I walked Shea Doggy one extra time today (so there's no need to do anything else); and my personal favorite:   I just don't feel like it.

I've been shamelessly talking myself OUT of going to the gym for so long that when I thought about returning the other night, I actually waited a minute for my alter ego to chime in, once again telling me not tonight.  When that didn't occur, I gave it another minute, then an extra minute, until finally, I gave up.  I got in the car and headed for the gym.

This scenario has happened before, when I've had good intentions but ended up at Chico's (women's clothing) instead.  On this particular night, however, I was determined to not just entertain the thought of going but to actually go.   

It was 8 pm when I left my house and the gym closes at 9.  So now in addition to returning after a prolonged absence, I was on a tight timetable, which made the whole experience feel too compelling to pass up.       

I was so busy thinking how proud of myself I was to get back to business that I forgot where I needed to turn in to the gym parking lot from the main road and so I missed it, requiring me to drive an extra 30 seconds to the next entrance.  I looked at the clock:  hmmmm...what time does Chico's close?

Not enough time to have any fun there, I told myself.   

The walk from the car to the front door of the gym felt good.  I still didn't feel like going in, but I was excited to get back to the routine I once knew and loved (positive thinking, obviously).

Then I went inside and W-O-A.  Had I entered a time warp?  The machines were much bigger than I remembered, and facing all different directions.  I couldn't tell if they were really old or really new, but then I realized that they were shiny, so  But when did all this happen?  Just how long had I been away?

I didn't have time to figure it all out.  It was now about 8:20. I only had 30 minutes left before they would get ready to close and I would be expected to leave.  I had better do something other than ruminate about doing something. 

I found my familiar bike and did that for 20 minutes, even working up a sweat.  But the bigger sweat was earned when I sat on an unfamiliar piece of equipment and looked up to read the instructions to confirm that I was positioned correctly, only to see all the letters blur together.  Yikes!  

Now I need glasses at the gym too?!?!  How am I going to carry those around?  I have never seen anyone take out a pair of glasses when sitting on a Leg Curl.

Thank goodness for this blog, because I wanted to end it saying I went to the gym a second time this weekend.

Yep, I did it. I went a second time.   

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Don't say Cheese!

Imagine that you are a supermarket manager. 

 A shopper comes up to the Customer Service Desk holding a block of cheese in a Ziploc bag and says, "I believe this cheese gave my husband food poisoning." 

What would you say?   

a - So sorry, that must have been awful!
b -  When did this happen?  How is your husband doing now?
c - Rest assured that we are going to look into this further to prevent others from getting sick.
d - None of the above
e - All of the above

The shopper was me, and this is what the store manager said:    
"Give me your husband's name... Now don't tell me what happened; write it down on the form - I will copy it from there...Do you two have the same last name?...Do you live at the same address?... Did he go to a doctor? No?  I wouldn't go either....OK, we're done here."

Let's just say his empathy was not mind blowing.  He looked like he was about my son's age.  I couldn't help myself.  I automatically put on my Mom hat.

I waited until he stepped out of the customer service area and asked if I could talk to him a minute. I'm sure he was thinking,  Isn't that what we just did? 

"I wish you had asked how my husband is doing and showed some compassion not only as the manager but person to person."

First, he looked shocked. Then he said he was sorry, he is usually different and that he doesn't know why he reacted as he did.        

When I left the store, I called David to tell him about my experience, expecting for us to be in agreement that the manager's attitude fell short of what seemed appropriate.    

David didn't say anything negative about the guy, so I interpreted that to mean that he thought I was hypersensitive.  (However, upon reading this, he explained that just talking about the cheese was grossing him out).     

Nonetheless, I told David that I let the boy know that I didn't appreciate his reaction.  

"Did you really feel the need to mother him?" David asked. 

Yes, I did. 

I realized I was probably hard on him, but I still found myself hoping that my kids would've handled the situation better.    

I also began thinking I may need to find a new supermarket.

The next day, I got a call.

"This is Judith from Quality Assurance.  I'm responding to the claim regarding David Minches.  Is he your husband?"  Yes, I answered.

"I just heard what happened.  I am so sorry!" she said. "We pride ourselves on taking care of our customers. Is your husband OK?"   

She apologized a half dozen times, offered to send us a gift card and thanked me for stopping in to let them know our concerns.  She ended the conversation with one last "I'm so sorry your husband had to go through this."

I'm sure I'll go back with the gift card, but I'm rather doubtful that I'll ever buy cheese for David again.  I can't see him taking another bite of what he always liked snacking on BFP (before food poisoning).   

That Judith provided admirable customer service!  No wonder, with a name like that (although I'm Judy, not Judith)!  In fact, I asked her if she worked at the store near our home.  If the answer had been yes, I would've gone in to thank her in person for her most welcomed approach.

Oh yea - several days later, David's starting to feel better.   

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Peanut Butter

Shea Doggy has a lot of pleasing attributes. He is quite entertaining and fun to watch.  He's loving and peaceful most of the time (when he's not freaking out at a truck or its driver).   I never feel alone or lonely when we're home together.   I know most of us love our doggies just like this.         

However, there is much more to say about him.  A most outstanding and unexpected perk of living with this furry creature that I want to bring to your attention is that he keeps me on the straight and narrow. This is beyond anything I could have hoped for.

I've never heard anyone brag that their doggy protects them from their own sweet tooth, but I'm here to tell you that my doggy does this for me.   

If I want a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, for example, which at times I do have stashed away at home, I know better than to assume I could enjoy one in a leisurely manner unless I first address the fact that peanut butter is my doggy's number one obsession.

Even if he's in another room or on a different floor, the acuity of his senses is right on.  All he has to do is hear me tear open one of the wrappers or get a whiff of this delicious treat and he'll go absolutely C-R-A-Z-Y, each and every time. Sometimes to distract him, I'll run the water or the garbage disposal but still...he finds me, getting ready to take that first bite.  This I can count on.

The simple truth is that I too am predictable to Shea.  He knows that I'll give him his own peanut butter treat before I enjoy mine.

Most importantly, this little game has been quite effective.  Instead of devouring that peanut butter cup, I now - at times - reach for fruit or something else of no interest to him (or me, for that matter), although he often does get the snack he yearns for, regardless.,,What can I say?  I am a sucker for his charismatic ways. 

Since Shea Doggy's presence so strongly  influences my behavior, I have him to thank for my reduced intake of sweets, not to mention that a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter cups lasts a lot longer in our house now than it used to.  

Now if I could only bring him to work...  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Yom Kippur

I made 2 meaningful revelations this Yom Kippur. 

For many years, I had believed that on this holy day - the Day of Atonement, which was a 24-hour period ending last night at sundown  - my role was to 1 - Admit to sins of the past year and 2 - Through prayer, ask for G-d's forgiveness. 

I'm not adverse to taking a good, hard look at myself, but I am adverse to asking for G-d's forgiveness.  Why, you ask?  It's rather simple:  I don't think I believe in G-d. 

Since I didn't want my status as a non-believer to make me feel like I was a bad Jew - or more pleasantly stated a non-observant Jew - at Yom Kippur, I'd do my best to follow the general rule of the holiday by fasting, year after year, while skipping the parts I wasn't as comfortable with.  And even though I kind of came to terms with my own style of Judaism, I always felt a tinge of guilt in the fact that on Yom Kippur, I'd do some reflecting, some fasting, but no praying.

It wasn't until my 21 year- old daughter Amy asked my mom and me what the connection is between fasting and repenting, that I had given this struggle of mine any thought.

Good question, I said, realizing that after all these years of exposure to the rituals, culture and traditions of the religion, I really had no idea. 

"Let's Google it,"  Amy said. 

Rabbis weighed in on the question of the connection between fasting and repenting.  Seems the bottom line is that the essence of Yom Kippur is to make us better people going forward, and this is accomplished with a multi-pronged process that takes a full day's worth of energy and commitment.  

First, we are to think about our wrongful words, thoughts and actions over the past year - not superfluously, but with our heart and soul.  This exercise will be further intensified if simultaneously practicing self-denial, such as fasting from food and drink. Experiencing the discomfort of hunger as a symbol of our commitment to follow through on our personal improvement plan will create a far more effective partnership in the mission to create a better world, person by person.   
This was the first revelation:  that in an effort to avoid prayer, I glossed over my own behavior and role in society, past and future, thereby gypping myself of the true intention of the holiday.  In other words, I fasted, but that was about it.  

The second revelation became clear when it was my mom's turn to answer the question about the connection between fasting and repenting.  She said her usual couple of words, packed with punch. The reason we fast and repent together is because "it's tradition."      

While I love the tradition of family gatherings, lox and bagels, and playing Jewish geography, I always feel distressed when the tradition calls on the role of prayer which automatically brings G-d into the equation. 

Years ago, in desperate times, with medical intervention failing, I had nothing else to do but pray for my stepson Matthew during his battle with cancer.  I was told by others who knew of  my issue that it'd be better to pray JUST IN CASE, so I did. I also added an apology in my prayers for not believing, JUST IN CASE. 

These prayers produced nothing.  The fact that I prayed, day after day, along with lots of others from every religion imaginable also praying, day after day, further confirmed my skepticism in prayer.  Why did we all do it and for so long and with such heart, for our cries for help to go unanswered?   

What is the point of prayer if not to protect our children, to heal the sick, to keep us whole?  Is there anyone listening and able to do anything, on the other end?  How could G-d or any higher power have let this happen to such a good boy? 

Once Matthew passed, my potential openness to prayer dissolved for years, but this Yom Kippur as I gave it another try, I realized the second revelation.  I'm still not sure what the purpose is of prayer, whether there is a G-d listening or how exactly I feel about all of this, but I am now aware that I will always have a complicated and forever evolving relationship with Judaism.

I am at peace with that.  It is better, for me, than not having a relationship at all.