Tuesday, September 28, 2010

OK maybe my previous RANT was a bit over the top, but...

I am so sick of being bullied, watching kids get bullied, and watching as the world acts as if the victims of such attacks were asking for it, as if they provoked others with their quirkiness, as if their uniqueness was the ultimate catalyst. Why must the world be so cruel? Does everything have to be survival of the fittest? The sad part is that this trait continues on. It doesn't end with childhood. Misconceptions about behavioral norms often let the bullying play out well into adulthood before it is looked at as poor behavior.

I listened to this podcast yesterday on the the 7th Avenue Project . The episode was called Planet Walker the Pilgrimage of John Francis (August 22). John Francis is someone who gave up riding in motorized vehicles and took a 17 year vow of silence in the name of the environment. I shared this podcast with 3 groups of students, all but one, were glued to the essence of the message that was being delivered. We can learn a great deal from listening. Not talking also gives us fewer opportunities to boast about ourselves, which in turn allows others to get to know the "real" person. In response to the podcast I ordered a copy of John Francis's book Planet Walker. I will let you know more after I read.
What if we all took turns and stoped talking, even for a few days. Would we change our views about the persons we feel compelled to attack?

Then again, self promotion has its merits in the line of persistent determination. Today on Fresh Air, Terence Winter explained how his efforts of self promotion actually got him noticed. He talked about what he needed to do to get noticed, which included opening his own agency, backed by a lawyer friend who by a fluke in a previous case was bonded as an agent. Terence Winter promised him 10% of any signings and basically did all the leg work, including playing delivery boy himself. My roomate Linda and I did this once when we were living in Bayside trying to find work in the city. We would dress as bike messengers and deliver each other's CV's to prospective companies. I was amazed at how important documents became when they were hand delievered.
What if we had a friend hand deliver communication to the people who otherwise pay us no mind? Would we open up an opportunity? Maybe give things a fresh outlook?
I write this as I am about to embark on communication with a pretty mouthy bunch. If I stop talking for the next hour will they hear me?

Monday, September 27, 2010


I haven't posted for awhile and after last night's speedskating meeting, where I was berated mercilessly by a bully parent in front of the whole club, I felt that it was time I spoke out.

First off, speedskating is an inherantly dangerous sport. You obviously heard us, figured that part out well, because you criticized the drill I was doing with YOUR KID. To minimize the danger, we have rules and a very specific TRACK ETIQUETE that is followed BY EVERY COACH and CLUB IN THE COUNTRY! Skaters have to have the permission of a coach to exit the ice and skating against traffic is certainly NOT allowed, EVER. If you need your kid off the ice, notify the coach. Don't call out to your kid, instructing him when to cross. As you said, he is 5 and has NEVER crossed the street by himself, why then would you want him to cross a skating track that has 45 mph traffic on it unassisted? This was what we were trying to explain last night before you so rudely inturrupted and refered to me in the THIRD person even though I was standing right in front of you.
What I don't understand is how your son could not IDENTIFY me on the ice. I had just spent a solid 90 minutes with him in a small group, smaller even than his class at school I am sure. I was WEARING a US Speedskating Jacket with 2 identifying markers on it, a FLAG on the lapel and a LOGO on the back. Stickers on my helmet? HMMMM, I have those too, ONE right across the front that says COACH in BIG BOLD LETTERS, and the number 292. You want me to wear a scarf? You did say I was already pushing the limits of your childs safety and that I should NEVER be allowed to coach children. A scarf would only make for more of a hazard. I don't ever allow open zippers on the ice because of the danger of fly away clothing, I am ceratinly NOT going to jeaprodize safety by wearing a scarf.
As for teaching skating, I have done it for 10 years now, and I am confident that I have learned from the best. I continue to learn. I continue to revise. If you feel you know so much about balance drills and speedskating and can do a much better job, well, then, you come out on the ice and teach them to the dozen. I worked hard to get to where I am and I am not afraid to observe better ways of doing things.
If you are not happy, that is fine. Its your right. My only wish is that you spoke to the example you want your kid to follow. He is in kindergarten. He is learning far more from the actions of adults than he is from their directions. He will grow up to be just like you. His teachers will be afraid to open up to him and he will miss out on a lot that they have to offer as they will fear the FAMILY's wrath. I wonder if you will be the bully parent that writes his HS AP teachers at 2 in the morning? The one that gets all the negative attention from the school district. You do realize that the public forum is cracking down on this type of behavior don't you? I only wish you would GIVE YOUR KID A BREAK. Consider taking your anger out in a healthy way!
Flag laddened #292, the COACH

Today's earthquake? I actually averted one in my school hallway. We are in the midst of this anti-bullying campaign. It has come to the attention of all of us that often times teachers do not stand up for the students that are being bullied, or at the very least they are oblivious. I caught this group of kids taunting this girl as she walked by them. To my dismay there were a few in that group that were former students. I called them on their remarks. I think they were shocked.

With that said, to all those who have been BULLIED in the last 24 hours here is recipe for your own EARTHQUAKE!

1 cup of coconut
1 cup of almonds
(1 chocolate cake mix)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 bananas mashed and mixed in
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powderd sugar
3/4 cup chips (I mixed dark chocolate and white)

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a cake pan (I used a spring form and cooked it longer even though it called for a 13X9) .
Place coconut and nuts on bottom.
Cover with cake mix.
Cream butter, cream cheese (I used greek yogurt), vanilla and sugar together.
Drop by spoonfuls over cake batter.
Sprinkle with chips.
Bake in oven for 50 minutes.

This recipe courtesy can be found in Always on Sunday (Ostman )and the chocolate cake recipe (NYT cookbook) both of which have been modified a bit.

Happy gooeyness!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sculpting ...

The term has so many meanings. Think about it. It could refer to artwork, which I am sure is what comes to mind the minute you read that on my page. It could refer to body building. It could be a metaphor for teaching young minds... I could come up with a innumerable other thoughts about the meaning of this particular verb.

I have spent the past few weeks reframing my coaching role. It has been an interesting journey. Last year, by the end of the season, I had grown so exhausted of the stress that I gave up all of it, save overseeing Chris's training. Even that had become increasingly difficult to stomach, despite the intense focus and drive he had. I am guessing that I was just completely burnt. I think I was also a bit out of sorts as well, being bluntly told that no one likes me from a colleague was really hard to stomach, especially when my heart and soul was securely woven into the fabric. I finally gave up, lost my taste for anything and everything that was speedskating. I was however grateful for people like Ryan who encouraged me to keep at it, despite not knowing my feelings, or the politics. Then there was Bob, who believes whole heartedly in Chris and has taught me that there is no room at the top for such nonsense and afforded me the break I needed. So onward I plodded not sure what was in store for this season.

The past few weeks have been different. Maybe its because Chris is working hard on advocating for himself and I don't feel the immediate need to fight tooth and nail for him anymore. Maybe I have just grown up. Korea seemed to change something in me. Made me much more confident. I think seeing my work in a museum made me understand a great deal about persistence? Everything has changed, my teaching, my coaching, my outlook.

I spent 3 hours on the ice this weekend working in two different capacities: mentor and coach. I had 12 little kids trailing after me last night and managed one BINGO moment. I encouraged a kid to relax and glide. I discussed complex workout strategies with Chris and the nuances of wood kilns with Julia (who is 12). I realized that my love of speedskating is ingrained in my being as much as teaching or my own studio work is. I saw that glimmer over and over this weekend and I am better for it. I can't wait to see this season unfold!

See you on the ice! Remember HAMSTERS are COOL!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Haunted by that place ONCE again...

I have a great deal of history in New Bedford. I found my head wandering there again. I find myself dwelling on the spirits of the place when my work changes. I always wonder what that means when I have a firing to be a part of. I am not sure why, but it seems that my life has managed to create this huge circle that keeps passing through New Bedford and it is overlapped by many other circles that somehow relate.

My parents were friends with this couple who had 8 kids, they moved to New Bedford when I was in grade school. We kept in touch and I spent a great deal of time hanging out in that whaling port. I loved the city life. It was so different from home. Not to mention all those different relationships in one place...but there was something else. New Bedford has a spirit about it that is hard to shake, not a spirit in the sense of a personality, but a spirit in the sense of the paranormal. You can feel its ancestry. It almost hangs in the air like a really thick blue gray fog even on the sunniest of days. This life seems to be connected to past lives like a cord that cannot be cut.

When I was 17 I ran away from home with my friend Cary. I ended up in the North End. I stayed with Denise and her husband. Cary and I had grande plans. We wanted to find work, get an apartment, have a bottle of wine in the fridge, go to art school. The most interesting thing was that the school I would have gladly attended was Swain. This was back when Swain was this tiny no name art school, not yet a part of Boston University. UMASS Dartmouth was still called Southern Mass University. The Starr store was still a place one went for clothing and handbags and the Northend was so sketchy it was hard to find a cabby that would drop the two of us off without someone answering the door of the house we were going to. I ended up going home after a week and a half stay, my mother and I reconciling to some degree. A semester later I headed out on my own adventures in New Paltz and started to hang out with a bunch of grad students who made their way there from Boston University. Now, 25 years later, I am firing with the former department head at UMass Dartmouth who came to the school from BU's school of Artistanry which took over Swain and the Starr Store where they built its studios in the early 90's. Do you see connections yet?

One time when I was working preparing for a firing I was asked to remove hundreds of nails from this creosote soaked wood that came from a 100 year old mill that had burned down. It was a mill that I had remembered as a kid and I was told it went up in a firestorm one night. I felt like I needed to take those nails and do something everlasting with them. I took a handful home and fastened them into a basket form, weaving the rustiness together with silver, gold, and black and white akoya pearls. The resulting basket has the appearance of a spider web. I called that piece Buzzard's Bay, and to this day feel a connection to that particular work that is hard to shake. I speak about this because each firing seems to have some energy or event attached to it that makes a mark in my own personal history. It was during this firing that I had an encounter with a few ghosts in a dream and that haunting lasted well into the next day of kiln loading. It has me freaked out to this day. It was also a firing where my work had made a step forward.

One day...I would like to walk the routes I used to walk with Denise, just to see what it feels like now. Start on Cottage and walk to West beach, or to the state pier, or to Buttonwood Park, or even all the way to Bishop Stang HS in Dartmouth. Heck, I would even love to take the ferry to Martha's Vineyard and walk to Edgartown. As I sit and reminisce, trying to understand why it has such a hold on me. I think about how much I used to walk while I was there, no wonder there is a connection to the past. I have seen the past written on its walls and in its streets and I have experienced things that could only have only seen on foot. When you walk you are part of the environment, not just existing in it.

My work this time is connected to a woodcarver that I met in Korea. He carves his soul in and around his Buddhist life. The past with all of its spirit rises to meet him. It inspires him to continue. It drives him. He is as much a part of that ancestry as it is a part of him. I think about my last series, which was driven by my trip to London, it was driven by my faith, or the questions about it. This new work seems to be taking hold in similar means. I spent years in New Bedford running away from my home life. It was an escape, a place to contemplate my faith in the world. Now? I am all grown up, still working on the faith questions, using my artwork along with personal locomotion to find the answers. I find it more than remarkable that New Bedford is still in that equation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I went to see the ASS man...

TMI? Rolling your eyes? Well, stop and consider this, colon cancer screening is better done earlier rather than later . Given Hanna's predicament, my age and my grandfather's death from the disease, I decided that sooner was better. I was told that my colon was "spectacular". THANKS MOM for insisting on a fiber rich diet since I was about five or so. Everyone said the hardest part was the preparation, well, the hardest part of the prep for me was avoiding fruits and veggies for three days. OK enough about my insides.

I am stuck at home for the rest of the day, warned that if I drove and got pulled over within 18 hours after being under sedation I would be given a DUI. I am a bit light-headed, feel like I have been drinking all morning without the gastronomic effects of alcohol. So I am sitting here, too tired to work in my studio, too tired to do much of anything. Though I did put in a peach pie a few minutes ago (recipe below). I had a half a bushel of peaches from the orchard that were very ripe and my post the other day has had me longing for a fruit pie. SO, I made this easy prep version of peach pie:

In the processor:
2 cups of Honey Nut Cheerios
2 tbs Almond Butter
1 tsp cinnamon
Process until almond butter coats the cheerio crumbs (you will have a fine meal)
Press into pie pan

For the filling:
peel and slice 15 or so peaches
1 6oz container of PLAIN GREEK YOGURT with the following mixed in:
2 tbs Honey
1/4 tsp each of cardamom, nutmeg, cloves
1/2 tsp ginger

Layer the 1/2 the peaches in the pan, coat with the yogurt/honey/spice mixture, pile the rest of the peaches on top

Bake in 425 degree oven until bubbly

Considering this recipe is experimental, I didn't have graham cracker crumbs or a suitable oil to bind them... I used cereal instead. I also didn't have sour cream so I used yogurt. I used honey because its better for you than sugar. SO, I will let you know. It sounds good in my head? Unfortunately, though it still is very high in calories so a few bites will be all I am tasting.

OK, enough computer time. I am off to do some errands with Kenny. Its nice to spend the time with him.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Ice it Back! The Ice is BACK! the ice is back? the ice is BACK!!!

I spoke a few days ago about how my role in coaching speedskating has changed this season and how I had welcomed the new direction. Tonight though, I embraced a new season with open arms and spent the better part of 90 minutes coaching a dozen new kids on the ice. Every single one of them seemed to have fun, and the words one of my friends uttered, "once a teacher... resonated in slow motion across my evening. I close my eyes and see this awesome group of kids, smiling, laughing and enjoying their time on the ice. I went to tonight's session with the thought of skating myself and found myself engrossed in teaching. I fell in love again. I wonder if it s my change of attitude towards life?
My day started with Chris waking up 1/2 hour before he needed to be at my brother's telling me that I needed to take him in 15 minutes. The only problem is that I didn't have access to the car. As we waited for Kenny to come home from the gym I got my day going. I took him over, and was rewarded by the find of the bloggers century. An AROUND THE WORLD court set up by my ten year old nephew that included chalk drawings of 7 countries: Japan, China, Italy, Egypt, Brazil, Mexico and Home. I found myself so excited that my nephew had picked these countries. I wish I had had the opportunity to ask him why but he was not home. SO, that leaves me to wonder why those countries? Are those future travel plans? He has been to Mexico, England and France in his short lifetime. Are the rest of these on his list? Are they ones he is the most curious about? I remember being so curious about ALL of the AFRICAN countries when I was his age.
I spent some time at Starbucks sketching... OK did you know if you bring your own mug a cup of coffee is only 1.50? I once got a gift card from a student, I registered it and I recharge it so now I get free refills too. SO, when I sit in Starbucks and drink 3 cups coffee out of my own mug for 1.50 it seems worth it. I took a seat in one of the cushy seats, sketching people's faces as they were in line. It was worth the hour and money I spent. It was a prelude to the studio time I spent in the studio when I got home. The kicker was that somehow I found myself blasting Soundhiem COVERS while playing with clay. Its amazing for self esteem.

Today was almost a blur with some really excited smiling faces mixed in and it was enough to get me pumped for the season!!!

I started the week with...

I started last week with 70lbs to loose. I spent a fair amount of time putting that number into perspective, soul searching even, trying to get to the bottom of WHY I insist on being prepared with a fair amount of portable padding. While I know that I will be asking that question for a long time to come, I don't see any positive purpose of "dwelling", so I have chosen not to.
I spent the week both in school, with an awesome group of students and at home with an awesome family. I walked, I skated, I wrote and I created. I even had some nostalgic moments.
An incident this week helped me see just how important learning self advocacy is. I have such an intense personality that in 46 years I have been trying to learn this lesson it has occurred in bits and pieces. I hope that those of you that know me are not rolling your eyes and committing the "bull in a china shop" to memory. This week's lesson was about choices. I was screamed at by a colleague, and regardless of how unprofessional it was, I chose to keep that on his side of the fence. I didn't react, I actually thought it was in my best interest not to react. Instead, I chose to excuse myself from the situation with a polite but poignant comment of "I do not appreciate this confrontation" and walked away. That was it, it was over, no fall out to deal with. Score one for me not embarrassing myself.
The incident came with the usual period of self-reflection. In the past few months I have been trying to understand myself and my sources of stress. I have always wanted to be a people pleaser, that comes with the need to feel loved. This is a left-over from growing up in an alcoholic home. My father could never be trusted to be himself. His affection was never predictable. My mom, while always very affectionate towards us, was over-taxed dealing with trying to protect us from the stresses imposed by my father's addictive behavior. If any of my family is reading this, I'm not airing not dirty laundry, that white elephant was discovered years ago. What I am doing now is trying to GET the damn thing off my dining room table! Now BACK to MY STORY... In my need to people please, I think I let myself take a lot of grief, I over commit myself to tasks, and I tend to not know how to react to situations and I take things way too seriously. I also tend to be a perfectionist. Things have to be done well. This causes me to be overtaxed and cranky, the reverse of a people pleaser. With this stress, I gain weight, or at the very least have trouble loosing it.
If you are reading this an worry that you have asked me to help with something and now think that maybe I have said yes, but really didn't have the time to commit to it, DON'T. For the last 3 to 4 months I have been working on my OWN ability to say NO. I realize that saying NO is a possibility. Coaching myself back into a healthy state is going to take more than a week of revelations and I have been working on preparing myself for this climb up my own personal EVEREST ever since my friend asked me about the padding. Today I can say that I think I have started my accent towards base camp.
I started this week with 70 lbs to loose... I ended it with 64. I can't wait to see what next week brings

Thursday, September 9, 2010

To Tell the Truth Thursday

I often look forward to this challenge, maybe its a leftover of the sleep-over games we used to play at Denise's? Those were some interesting times, summer stays in New Bedford. I say interesting because I am really not quite sure how I survived them. We used to sleep on the wrap around porch so that we could sneak off it in the middle of the night. There was a city wide curfew if you were under 18 and so getting from point A to point B without detection was the challenge, as was staying up all night. Most of the time we just went down to Timmy's house on Arnold St or maybe Lisa's. This was an even greater challenge because we had to negotiate getting across Union Street and down about 4 blocks. Union Street is a major thoroughfare. Sometimes though we would pull of a more major stunt, like going all the way down to the wharf. There was a building that was burned out and had become a hangout spot. If we could survive that without being caught... or KILLED. Its funny, I remember spotting that gorgeous stone building, still abandoned, when I went to Eric Kao's MFA show. I was stunned to see that some things never change/.

Before I get myself into too much trouble though I will post this week's question:

What is your favorite food/best recipe??

This is a difficult question. I am not sure I have a favorite food, though ice cream seems to be my trigger food. I love altering recipes, which is probably why I can never get any of my ceramic glazes to come out the same twice. I have to resist the temptation to do this in the studio, and its a MAJOR ordeal to do so. My favorite recipe to ALTER is any pie recipe. I have always felt like pies never have ENOUGH fruit in them, and I cannot stand the sugary sweet fillings. Often I will make an apple pie, double the apples called for and 1/4 the sugar, or eliminate it all together. I will pile the apples into a peak until they start to fall down on each other (I do this with peaches too). This is the ONLY way to ensure you will have enough filling when the fruit shrinks. I also like making things that have a sense of nostalgia and there are two favorites, my babci's pierogies (I never met her so I always felt that this was a way of connecting ever since my Cioci Mary gave me the recipe) and my great grandmother's (NaNa) peach cake.

For pierogies: (makes about 25-30)

3 or 4 potatoes boiled with 1 onion (reserve the water)
8 oz farmer or pot cheese

3-4 cups of flour
2 eggs
about 1.5 cups of sour cream

A stick of butter
scallions or chopped onion

Bowl the potatoes and onion in a LARGE pot until done, remove from the water so that the water can be reserved.
Mash together with cheese. Allow to cool.

Fill the pot with more water if needed and bring to a boil. (the onion/potato water is reserved to add more flavor. Most times I have to add a considerable amount more to fill the pot) If you are making soup that day too- then start with fresh water and use the potato water for your soup.

Place the flour salt and pepper into a mixing bowl and make a well for the eggs and 1 cup of the SC. Start mixing in the eggs and cream until you get a stiff roll-able dough, add more sour cream if needed.

On a pastry board or other floured surface roll out the dough and cut into rounds using a drinking glass or coffee cup, or a boring old biscuit cutter.

Place a tablespoon or so of the filling on each of the rounds and fold over and seal with a wet finger and pinching. You should have crescent shape dough pockets (looks sort of like large ravioli). Continue until done. (freeze any pierogi that you are not using at this step - unless they are for a party - then continue to next step)

Drop these 5 at a time into boiling water until they float. Drain and place in a buttered pan (if the pierogi is all going to be used at once, ie. its for a party, then the pan should be an oven proof one - I use a 13x9 glass pyrex that has a lid- as you add the boiled pierogi add butter and scallions or chopped onions. When all the pierogi are boiled place the pan in a 350 degree oven and bake until golden brown. (you can freeze at this step too-before baking them)

If you are only cooking a few- boil them until they float, then transfer to a frying pan with butter and onion and fry until brown.

Peach Cake?
I am thinking this was a depression era cake, or at least one that was used during lean times. Sometimes my Grandma would use other fruit, like plums or blueberries.

Try this:
grease a small square pan and layer it with peaches, sprinkle with a cinnamon and sugar to taste, place your FAVORITE biscuit dough on top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown and tests done.

OK - now for some serious time in my studio...
I am hoping my kids don't tell me their crazy heart stopping stories anytime soon, or if they ever do it will be before I am too old and decrepit to handle it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

May your stove stay together...its Rosh Hashanah

When I married into the Jewish family I call my own, my cousin Michael sent me a pineapple for the New Year with a note that read may your stove stay together and your house stay sweet... blessings for the New Year. Leave it to Mike to be the philosopher, as he always seems to have the perfect toast or specific cultural wedding customs down. He was a teacher moonlighting as a caterer. I never really mentioned this but I have always treasured that gesture, even now 23 years later.

I grew up in an ethnically Polish Catholic extended family who were not to accepting at first of the fact that I was marrying a Jewish man, despite loving him all most as much as I did. The fact that I had a cousin who took it upon himself to wish me a sweet and happy new life on the Holidays was like an olive branch being extended from Heaven. It was wonderful.

Its 23 years later, 2 kids are in college and couldn't make it home, one kid is in the throws of a new job and will join us tomorrow. Chris, fearing that he will have to brave a holiday dinner alone has done the next best thing, invited some friends for dinner. The chicken is roasting, the kugel and tzimmes are baking and I am contemplating what it means to have a fairly empty nest. What I marvel at is how my kids seem to understand that sharing is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and each other. So whether the house is filled with friends who are just an extension of the family or there is a phone call for a kugel recipe so it can be shared with friends at school it shows me just how blessed we are?

Tomorrow I will send out my holiday wishes in the form of jelly to some friends ( a bit late). I have been meaning to get them out all week. This too is based on a memory of my first holiday with my husband, when my husband's grandmother sent me a package that contained a large container of Strawberry preserves for a sweet new year (and life).

So to all of you - dip your bread in honey tonight, slow down and enjoy your family... drink some wine and recall all the great things in your life that have happened this year (and beyond) and share them.

Kenny's Grandmother's Kugel recipe:

Grate 5-7 potatoes and one large onion
Salt and pepper
i clove of garlic
2 eggs
1/4 cup matza meal (bread crumbs will work too)
2 TBS of chicken fat (or oil)

place in greased pie plate and bake at 350 for about an hour (or until Golden)

***don't tell anyone, now that I am working full time I use the food processor with the grating blade to do all the shredding. I don't even peel the potatoes. It takes minutes.

שנה טובה shana tova!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

IMaGe is ... (everything?)

I am going to cut to the chase here, I broke down and decided to invest in myself, and started a weight watchers program. I figured since I knew at least 10 people just starting their journey's I could possibly piggyback on some of their enthusiasm and commiserate with their grief. My avenue is to handle things online, no meetings, just meetings with friends. I have started a blog within my membership profile, and have gotten to read some of the spectacular commentary of others.

Today I am contemplating this one thought (and of course looking for the study)
" I once read an interesting study about body image. There was a direct correlation between how far people thought their car was (either parked next to another car or driving next to another car) and how large they thought they were."
Hmmm...on one hand, I always have issues judging parking spaces, but when in motion I always think I have more room than I probably do. Does this mean I am conflicted about my size. I admitted yesterday that I have always felt like I was much smaller than I am when I am heavy and much larger than I am when I am not heavy. It would be interesting if I could just come to terms with the thought that I am something "OTHER" than FAT or THIN and just be...creative, witty, helpful, even possibly attractive? My whole self worth seems to be tied up to a number on a scale, and with that so does my confidence and my motivation. Why do I think people care so much? Why do I care what other people think?

A few years ago, when I was bordering on being a thin person, getting to within 10lbs of where I really wanted to be, thinking that if I could just loose that 10 lbs people would treat me normally. In the past 25 years I have gone from a young bulimic athlete with 4% body fat (and thought I was the size of a house) to a severely overweight and depressed housewife who was the size of a house (but retained the athlete mentality) to a moderately thin healthy athletic artist/mom/wife, to an overweight stressed out artist/teacher/mom/wife and let me tell you something I have noticed from being on BOTH sides of that fence... THE WORLD IS MEAN TO FAT PEOPLE!!! They are treated differently. There seems to be this culture that associates "intelligence" with weight, beauty with weight, etc. The lower the number on the scale the more bright and beautiful and BELIEVABLE someone is. I saw my own attitudes change when I approached that acceptable weight. To my own surprise, I was just as cynical as they come and to this day I am embarrassed about my shortcomings.

When I was in Korea, I was confronted on a daily basis about my weight. There was no "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS" I had to endure hearing how heavy I was on a regular basis. At first the words stung like a hot salted knife. I was even told that the key to all my problems was exercise, HAH, if they only knew how much grief that action has caused me. I have exercised ALL my life. Most of which has been to EXCESS and at the EXPENSE of relationships. If I wasn't puking up what I ate, I was trying to work it off. I am lucky I married a guy who doesn't associate my weight with his self worth. I am sure that the consequences of that would have been grave. If only they knew how PAINFUL life can be... there is no "quick fix" and if you spent a day in MY shoes...or my head for that matter.

Not too long ago I had friend ask me why I felt the need to carry padding around with me... I was shocked that someone would confront me in this manner. I have thought about that question for the past 6 months...why do I need to carry padding around with me? Am I afraid that I will need a comfortable place to rest? Am I afraid that people with not like me so I give them a reason not to? I am still working on the answer. It must be my own personal enigma?

Image is everything... I guess the one in my head is still a work in progress... Thanks for viewing my sketchbook.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Chris comes home today...

I feel like I really haven't seen Chris since the middle of July when I went to Maine. Sure, I spent a week at home afterwards before heading to Korea, but he and Mikey were upstate at my mom's for half of it. When I returned from Korea, he left almost right away for a training camp in Salt Lake City. I know that his time there has been well spent. I am excited to hear all about it. I am so grateful to Bob for spending the time coaching him and Rich and Megan for hosting him.

This brings me to my current thoughts about being involved in the sport of speedskating. While my coaching role has been redefined several times over the past two years, I have not really noticed it until this year, when my pace (figuratively)is as quick as Chris's, but spinning in a different direction. I will spend time this fall helping with certification and hopefully I will have the time to get some skating in myself. I would really like to revisit skating the marathon circuit (eventually). Because of my exhibition and firing schedule I will be missing most of Chris's major Long Track meets. This has me a little melancholy, as I really enjoy the people I have gotten to see at least once a month for half of the year. I find myself wondering if this is part of the letting go I will have to do two years from now?

I think about this as well. I wonder where Chris will go to school. Will his choices be dictated by his desire to succeed in the sport? I guess only time will tell.

Kenny was up to cooking again today, enough for the usual army and then some. We had company, my brother's family, Dan and Mary, Justin, Haley, Andrew...There were two engineers, that were not just our brothers talking shop, actually engaged in a free air-conditioning challenge that Dan had proposed. There were curried mustard greens, chick peas, BBQ ribs, burgers, salads, zucchini pie and cookies to be had. Most importantly, there was the family I have come to know over the past 20 years in Somers, plus or minus a few members sharing in a meal. It was the perfect end to a wonderful summer.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Shamai was right and I should have listened...

I have just finished up 5 hours in the studio, which was a bit more frustrating than I had anticipated. The importance of good quality tools is ringing loud and clear. I bought two sets of carving tools in Korea, both the same price, one is worth 4 times what I paid and the other is ready for the scrap heap, I wouldn't even bring them to school. I felt like my time was spent in flux, a period that works and a period of conflict. I kept wanting to believe that the crapping tools would work. I even spent time contemplating how to correct the problem, then I realized it was not worth it. Shamai had warned me about them, I should have listened.

As I returned upstairs my friend Sandee had posted an uplifting video on her facebook page:

Its a 15 minute long lesson on positive thinking. Its so Sandee. It was also so worth the fifteen minutes I relaxed to watch it. It made me smile.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Yesterday I shared some personal information with my students. I have spent the past few days on Prednisone. I know from experience that this could be a recipe for disaster when building a new relationship, so I shared that with them. I asked them to understand that today might be the day that I completely dismantle my emotions and not to take it personally. This year's group of kids are wonderful. I am so excited to be sharing a community with them. So what happened today? First it was my attitude, I decided to approach the day completely relaxed. After all, half the battle to dealing with stress is to chill out. The next thing was that I went with the teachable moments, I seemed to average 1 per class period today. What was incredible was that I ended my day learning about this graffiti artist named BLU. I came up with a BRILLIANT idea for my upcoming exhibition with the help of a group of students who seemed completely bored and up to no good (there will always be a few). You'll have to wait and see. I learned that sometimes the "textbook lesson" that involves sitting yourself in the midst of a group holding court and getting ready to perform a mutiny that will unravel the morale of everyone within a mile actually works to diffuse the plan. This time I hit the jackpot in the process.I am off to hide in my studio as soon as I fetch Kenny from the train.

Here is the BLU video that started my fascination:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Recollections of the Rack

I have always, always, always been both a very light sleeper and a morning person. That is about all I am going to contribute to today's Tell the Truth Thursday entry other than as I have gotten older it has been harder and harder to justify the 5AM despite that being my FAVORITE time of day. It has also been hard to go to STAY up past 11 and get to bed before 10 on school nights. I am in my glory when there is no TV to distract me and when I am forced to live by the sun, which made this summer's Adventures with Pete even more incredible. I loved waking up to Lobster boats as the sun came up and having coffee on the rock in that gray of dawn until the sun actually gathered HEAT (8AM).
Yesterday as I was finishing up the post from the previous day, and reminiscing about the ICE CREAM MAN when I see this post on Facebook by a former fellow New Paltz swimmer (Stro) about "the Rack". All these male team members were commenting on the posting with their recollections. I found myself intimidated about commenting. There was a time in my Sophomore year that I saw the dungeon and the rack. It was when I was recovering from both a broken nose that I suffered in a triangle I had resolved but had no business being in and a serious case of mycoplasma pneumonia that I had pretty much let fester for a good month before allowing anyone to know I was sick. I remember thinking that I was being let in on a secret society as Tommy and Javier showed me how to use the coolest rag tag, watch your fingers, makeshift BUT sports specific equipment in a room complete with its variety of pin-ups and the very same posted poem located below the bleachers in the pool. I remember Perri being with me to keep me company and listening to Van Halen as the rest of my team swam their workout above. I also remember how my shoulders felt the next day. I felt like I had swam from NY to FLA and BACK all because of that "Rack". I felt honored that I had the experience.
I loved my time on that team, and looking back, I wish my head was as into it and appreciative of the training I was committing to. I say this as I watch my youngest train towards the lofty goal that involves 5 rings and lots of countries with the focus that I am in awe of. He lights up the ice on the 400M oval and works hard because he has learned persistence at an early age. I have learned through him that the 10,000 hour rule exists.
As I think about making my way back to New Paltz for the reunion weekend, what I remember the most about my swimming days was the camaraderie I felt by being a part of a community that represented my school. I was elated to hear that the guys team from 1981 was inducted into the Hawk Hall of Fame. To this day I still feel that bond. I owe a lot of my current character and coaching abilities to what I learned from the team I was part of and the alum that stuck around and supported them, to Coach Stockin, and especially to Tommy and Nancy Gillin who were tireless in their efforts to make us believe we were the best team in the world ( I am sure you are both awesome teachers!).
CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ALL and maybe I'll see you in October!