Pool rhymes with fool. Coincidence?

20 Nov
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Photo by Sabrina Schulz from Pexels

The year I turned 40, I celebrated by logging over 100 miles in a pool. Not all at once, but over the course of the year. (I know, not nearly as impressive, but c’mon – when did YOU last swim 100 miles?!) I wasn’t a daily swimmer, so I’d hit the pool twice a week and knock out a mile each time. I enjoyed the routine because it was both a form of meditation and reflection and it kept my waistline in check without much effort.

So when’s the last time I swam a mile? Um, probably the year I turned 40. Sadly, I abandoned the habit shortly after I hit 100 miles. I can’t remember the TOP reason I stopped, but I do know it was some combination of the following:

  • I stopped my gym membership to rejoin a yoga studio.
  • I started growing my hair out and was tired of it breaking in my cap and getting discolored from the chlorine.
  • I heard a story about how much pee is likely in a public swimming pool.
  • And then I saw a study that said most people getting in a pool have a nickel-sized dollop of poop on them. Yeah.

Actually, now that I review this list, I’m pretty confident that the final bullet point was the catalyst for my abandoning the pool. I mean, I kind of just dry-gagged just typing it.

And yet – I decided to get back in the pool last week. Maybe I’ve gotten more comfortable with human waste (I haven’t) or maybe it’s that my clothes are fitting too tightly (they are), but for whatever reason, I decided to get back in the pool. 

So here are my observations after a 5+ year hiatus: 

  • I can no longer swim a mile without stopping. That shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. A good reminder that if I want to be able to do something at 90, I better not stop doing it now!
  • Miraculously, my suit still fit, but I think that’s mainly because the elastic is shot. While doing the breaststroke I had to look down to make sure I wasn’t *literally* doing the breaststroke – the top of my suit was so loose it felt like I was swimming topless.
  • I still managed to lap someone (who even got in the water after I did!), which made me wonder when she had last been in a pool.
  • Someone had spilled Chewy Mini SweetTarts in the pool and:
    • It was recently enough that they still retained their color;
    • They were on the bottom of the pool – I was surprised they don’t float; and
    • It was a confirmation that children regularly (and recently) use the pool and don’t respect the rules, which means they are probably ALSO peeing in it and NOT showering the nickel-sized dollop of poop off their butts before entering.

So now I’m at a crossroads:

  • Do I go all Sheryl Sandberg and “lean in,” knowing that this form of exercise likely entails ingesting poop? (And yes, this metaphor actually works on a lot of levels – she’s currently defending Facebook for not taking measures to prevent election interference, so…)
  • Or do I throw in the towel on swimming?

Stay tuned.

Go on, sniff my hair – it’s delicious!

10 Nov
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From the LUSH website.

When I travel, I take a bar of LUSH shampoo with me. That way I don’t need to use the hotel shampoo, which keeps one piece of single use plastic out of a landfill or – just as likely – the ocean. The added bonus is that LUSH products smell delicious and lather up like a beast. The only (potential) problem? The shampoo bar I like has all kinds of seeds and fibers imbedded in it. I’m not sure exactly what purpose they serve, but…

…When I rinse my hair it often looks as if I’ve just used my hands to toss a quinoa bowl, which isn’t exactly what you’re looking for out of a shower. Kitchen? Yes. Shower? No.

…I fear that if I don’t rinse my hair well, I’ll become a walking bird feeder, doomed to a fate similar to Tippi Hedren’s. I imagine having to windmill my arms to fend off a flock of hungry sparrows.

…I wonder if I’m clogging up the plumbing by sending these seeds down the drain. And for the seeds that end up in the bottom of the shower and don’t go down the drain – what does the housekeeping staff think?

…On the positive side, in a survival scenario, I’m 80% confident I could eat my shampoo for the nutrients.

Are you sold?

 

Observations from the Road

6 Nov

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Editor’s Note: I recently “quit” Facebook, so I expect I’ll be writing here more frequently since those thoughts need to go somewhere. As a result, you can expect my posts here to be shorter, less structured, and even more narcissistic than they may have been in the past. You’re welcome?!

Since leaving full-time employment three years ago, I’ve tried to really dial-back my travel and reduce my carbon footprint. I’ve gone from flying monthly – or more – to only 1-2 times per year for work. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress. I consider it a badge of honor that I’ve lost my “elite” status with airlines’ rewards programs.

That said, this week is one of those times: I’m in LA to facilitate a client’s annual offsite meeting for a team of 25 people. I’m staying at the Loews Hotel in Hollywood, which literally backs up to the terribly tourist block that has Mann’s Chinese Theatre (home of the Oscars), the star-lined sidewalk, and dozens of guys in superhero costumes, trying to persuade you to take a photo with them for cash.

Last night, eager to get my steps in after spending six hours on a plane, I set out for a walk in the neighborhood behind the Magic Castle. The homes there are nice, and many of them have large privacy hedges lining the front walk. I sometimes bring shame to my naturalist father because I get a bit skittish about critters in nature. Had he been with me, last night would’ve been one of those times.

I kept hearing crazy rustling noises in the bushes as I walked. In DC, I would’ve dismissed them as rats. But because I’m in California? The obvious conclusion: a bobcat. Never mind that I’m in the heart of LA. And because I don’t have it in me to be like that guy who killed an attacking bobcat with his bare hands, my solution was to walk in the middle of the street where I could see it coming.

Of course, it didn’t come to that, and it probably WAS a rat. Or a lizard or something. But it definitely got my heartrate up – which is, you might note, the purpose of exercise anyway. Mission accomplished.

 

 

Not quite how I imagined it.

3 Aug
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What I thought I’d look like. (Clearly NOT me.)

I tried aerial yoga for the first time this week. I’ve been practicing regular yoga for almost 15 years, so I didn’t spare a thought for how challenging aerial yoga might be. It’s especially easy to under-estimate because the prop basically looks like a hammock. I envisioned myself doing a few Cirque du Soleil tricks, then basically taking a 45 minute nap, swaddled in the folds of silk.

Alas. I couldn’t have had it more wrong.

For starters, it’s PAINFUL. With the exception of when you’re in corpse pose (when you actually ARE all cocooned in it), your silk is almost always gathered up so it functions more like a rope than a hammock. And since you’re hanging from it, climbing up it, or twisted in it, that rope feels like a boa constrictor, hungry for its next meal. In fact, the day after my first class, I woke to find a series of purple bruises across my hips and around my shoulders.

Also? If you’re not precise in following instructions, there is a good chance you will end up toppling to the floor, breaking your nose or knocking out your teeth – or at least that’s what I kept imagining. The instructor would take us through these complex maneuvers to ensure we had the silk wrapped around our arms and legs in a way that would lock us in, then tell us to basically let go and topple face-first toward the floor. It felt like bungee jumping with a rig that had been prepped by a carnival worker.

I never quite trusted that I’d gotten the wraps correct, so I’d cautiously lower myself into position, despite the instructor’s admonishments to, “Let go and fly like Peter Pan” or “hang like a bumblebee!” But then, even if I did it correctly, the scarves would be cutting into my legs/arms/hips to such an extent that I’d try to walk myself back up to a place where I wasn’t in pain – but exiting the pose was often more complicated than entering, so you could probably characterize that portion of my effort as “general flailing.”

In fact, that’s probably the best way to summarize my foray into aerial yoga: general flailing. Had it been a Cirque du Soleil performance, they might not have had to issue refunds to the audience, but they may have had to offer counseling after.

So of course I’m going again.

At least one of us is thoughtful…

4 May

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Alan and I are in California for a friend’s wedding. On the flight out this morning, we started talking about flight attendants and what perks come with seniority. In the midst of this discussion, Alan said, “We should pick up something for our flight attendant on the way home.”

“Like a gift?” I asked.

“Just a little something – like a chocolate bar or something. I read an article that talked about how something like that goes a long way toward brightening their day. You know, something where you say, I was thinking of you!”

My cynical response was, “Because that’s not creepy at all. That comes across like, ‘I’ve been anticipating this flight and thinking about you,’” (at this point I was kind of rubbing my arms in a pervy kind of way), “’and I decided to bring you a chocolate bar.’”

Alan, seeing how his thoughtfulness could be misconstrued, latched on to the idea. “And instead of a chocolate bar, I’ll just bring her a single latex glove.”

At which point we both completely lost it. I’m not sure if we reached consensus on the whole gift thing for our return flight, or if I’m going to need to take my window seat and pretend I don’t know him.