Skiing is easy. Stopping is hard.

Skiing is easy, it’s stopping that’s hard.

It’s something I’ve been saying since I first attempted to learn to ski at New York’s Hunter Mountain over 30 years ago.

I could ski without a problem.  But when I tried to stop, I couldn’t, and had to resort to purposely falling down on my ass to keep from running over women, small children and anything unfortunate enough to be in my path.

It’s become the story of my life.   It’s exactly what’s happening to me now.

After years of going, going, going, ignoring the signs of exhaustion, I literally fell on my ass and was forced to stop.

A spiritual crisis, disguised as a knee injury (the spirit and the body often conspire to guide us to our purpose), has once again shown me how difficult it is to stop.

I know it’s a blessing in disguise, but I have to keep reminding myself that this too shall pass.

The hard part is not giving in to the feelings that I am destined to live the rest of my life, not as the fit person I’ve always taken pride in being, but a lard-ass sloth whose main purpose is alternating between potato chips and pancakes while watching endless reruns of “I Love Lucy” on the DVR.

To remain positive and do positive things, rather than doing what I’ve done in the past — work out and run — seems almost impossible.  I feel like I’ll go insane.

Insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Well, if you put it that way, I guess I already am insane.

“Your body needed a rest,” a friend of mine told me yesterday.  “Relax and give it what it wants.”

In addition to my passion for fitness, I’ve been trying to attain a goal of spiritual fitness.  But I’ve tried too hard, always putting the physical before the spiritual.  My physical workout always came before the spiritual one.  But then I was too exhausted or distracted to do anything spiritual.

Working out is my meditation, I’d say to justify my actions.  But deep down inside, I knew that wasn’t enough, that I was postponing the inevitable hard work of spiritual fitness.

I was trying to attain spiritual fitness by not doing the very thing that’s required … stopping.

But now my body (or perhaps my spirit) won’t have that anymore.

My spiritual journey began in my teens.  Many of the melancholy feelings I am feeling now were present then.  But now I can look back with the hindsight of 40+ years of wisdom to know that this too shall pass.

Sure, I have moments of frustration.  But then I think back at how things turned out for me in the past and am comforted to know that this time around a great awakening awaits.

The second journey is more fulfilling than the first.

Perhaps I’ll finally learn to stop without having to fall on my ass to do it.

The Holy injury

Sometimes what you need is exactly the opposite of what you want.

Thank God for a Universe that knows and understands that.

So just as we moved into our new home, just as I was ready to begin my spiritual quest anew, an interesting thing happened … I injured myself on the very treadmill that was supposed to be my comeback to the fitness that means so much to me … the physical fitness that is both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing because it keeps me physically fit … a curse because it holds me back from the spiritual journey I keep postponing.  Time given to the physical is time taken from contemplation and the spiritual.

And so, is it an accident that I had an accident?  I don’t think so.

My spiritual self knows what I need to obtain the balance and joy I seek … even if the answer is completely the opposite of what I planned

Getting off the treadmill, slowing down, is the only way to realize and enjoy that which we seek.

New beginnings …

It began as a kitchen remodel.

A little over a year ago, my partner and I decided it was time to do some remodeling to our home.  Although the house  in which we lived was not our dream home, we had done quite a bit to it and had invested a lot of money to make it more than just comfortable.  We also had very little left on our mortgage.  But there were parts of the house that needed upgrading … such as the kitchen, bathrooms, floors and well, just about everything.

After doing the math, we realized that rather than putting money into a house that didn’t meet the two main criteria that we desired — a single story and a water view — we should start looking for a new place,

There was absolutely no pressure.  We were in no rush.

But as “luck” would have it, the housing market was about to switch in a way that would tremendously work in our favor.

Interest rates were at an all-time low and since inventory was low, when it came to sell our current home, we could get top dollar for it.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  We moved into our new home, were on the verge of selling our old home to a wonderful couple who were referred to us by an old friend who was doing work in our new home.  (We didn’t even list the old property.  That’s how easy the sale went.)

I was about to begin my new routine in my new, wonderful home.  I got on the treadmill and twenty minutes into the run, a sharp searing pain left me on the floor, unable to get up.

Since then, I have been depressed, in pain, and moody.  Lack of exercise has a lot to do with it.  But that’s not the entire cause of what’s happening.

For starters, I am amazed at how much energy stuff has.  I am not a pack rat by any means, but finding and handling during the move, things I have held onto for years, conjured up emotions I thought were long buried.  Many times I found myself getting angry at the things.  Clearly I had not let go of the emotions I’d attached to them in the past.

I  was also impressed at how easy it was to let go of the old house … a house I’d lived in longer than any other in my life.  At first I was hesitant, but then as things started to progress with the purchase of the new house, I slowly let go of the old.  To the point where I closed the door to the house the last time and said my goodbyes without any regret.

The injury to  my leg is a blessing in disguise, a lesson that there are things more important than working out in order for me to be truly happy.

Health and happiness are not just about the physical.  They are so much about the spiritual.

During the past few months, the spiritual readings I’ve been doing have all spoken to the guidance I’d been receiving.  That’s most of the reason why things felt so right.  Each day it was as if the reading was speaking to my situation.

Balance is the key to happiness.  When our bodies are out of whack, it’s an indication that our lives are out of whack.  I vow to whack myself back into balance.

How about you?

Dear Broward County: Bite Me

Kisses from Brandie

I met a vicious dog last week. 

Her name is Brandie and she’s currently on Broward County, Florida’s “Doggy Death Row.”

That’s because the county deemed this 10-year-old Siberian Husky a dangerous dog.  And because of the county’s dangerous dog ordinance, this old gal awaits her fate while her human pet parents — Lon and Beth Lipsky — put their lives on hold and do everything in their power so this four-legged member of their family isn’t put to death.

In case you’re wondering how Brandie ended up on Doggy Death Row, I’ve already shared those details in a previous article:

After weeks of  corresponding with Beth and Lon, I finally had the pleasure of meeting the family in person — all of them, human and furry — at the veterinary hospital where a compassionate judge who believes in innocent before proven guilty, allowed Brandie to be moved from the dog pound where the county had originally taken her when she was seized.

Before I get sidetracked telling you about Lon and Beth Lipsky and their beautiful 2-year-old daughter Rayna whose smile lights up a room the minute she steps inside, let me tell you about their vicious dog.

Based on my meeting with Brandie, this is Broward County’s description of a dangerous dog:

It wags its tail the minute you walk into the room.  It wags it so viciously that you have to walk out of the way just to avoid getting knocked down by the love the dog is communicating.

Then there are the kisses … There are so many of them,  you have to continuously wipe your face so that you can look like a grownup when another grownup is taking a picture of you.

Then there’s that sense of confusion.  The dog is so happy to see everyone in the room, that she literally dances in circles trying to figure out who to pay attention to first.

Then there’s the crying and pooping.  And I’m not talking about the dog.

Anyone who has ever known a 2-year-old, or even heard that 2-year-old children exist on our planet, knows that poop is a very important part of a child’s life.

And so, when daddy Lon leaves the room to change Rayna’s dirty diaper, Brandie — who in case you’ve forgotten, Broward County deemed a dangerous dog — stands by the door and refuses to pay attention to anything else, until her human dad and sister return.

Then there’s that sense of peace.  A peace so complete that even though you’ve been taken away from the family and surroundings you’ve known and loved all your life, the minute they walk into the room, you fall into a deep sleep.

That is Broward County, Florida’s definition of a dangerous dog.

And then there’s the family behind the dog — Lon and Beth Lipsky and their baby girl Rayna.

Brandie could not be in better hands.

The Lipskys have vowed to fight for Brandie and for justice — not just for their dog, but for every dog whose family isn’t even aware that their pet can be seized from them, no questions asked.

As the pet parent of a Broward County dog, I am honored to have Lon and Beth fighting for my four-legged family member.

I hope you are too.

Fragile Fifties? Not!

When I was 10 years old, a basketball coach for the team for which I was trying out told my mother I was very fragile.

At the time I didn’t really understand the meaning of fragile but I sensed by my mom’s reaction that it wasn’t a good thing to be.

As I grew older, and learned the meaning of the word, I understood my mom’s reaction.  Fragile was bad … not just on a basketball court, but in life in general.

Thankfully, my subconscious saw fragileness (is that even a word?) as something that I could overcome.

Soon after being labeled fragile, fitness became a priority for me.

Forty two years later, this once fragile 10-year-old can leg press over twice her body weight.  Granted, I don’t weigh that much (109 pounds on a 5 foot-2 inch body), but it’s all about ratio.

“How do you stay so thin?” people ask.

My answer always amuses them.

“I always eat what I want and I never diet,” I respond.

The key is eating what I want.  And what I want isn’t always cake, ice-cream, cookies and things that go straight to my hips.

While I never deny myself the foods I love, I know when to say when.

I thank my parents and my grandmother for instilling this bit of wisdom into my psyche back when I was a fragile 10-year-old.

While there was always a supply of Twinkies and Hostess cupcakes at our house, there were also plums, peaches, bananas and whatever seasonal fruit could be found in the markets of our Brooklyn neighborhood.  We also ate salad at every meal.

It was no big deal.  It was just the way things were — and still are.

As for diets …  The first three letters in the word diet are DIE.  So, I never diet.

Diets also imply there’s a time when the diet will end and we will magically be able to eat the way that got us fat in the first place without gaining weight.

News alert:  This ain’t gonna work, folks.  (At least not unless you’re an extra in a Meryl Streep, Albert Brooks movie.)

The secret to staying healthy and strong and within a healthy weight is to stop dieting and start learning how to feed yourself for life.

It’s all about balance.   Eat right as much as you can, don’t serve guilt with the foods you love, and eventually your weight will take care of itself.

Instead of dieting,  focus on eating right as often  as you can and don’t beat yourself up when you eat things that have absolutely no nutritional value but sure do taste good.

We always want more of what we can’t have.  By not depriving yourself of a piece of cake or ice-cream, you’ll find you don’t want them as much as if you ate lettuce when you felt like having a piece of cake.

In less time than you think, fatty foods will lose their appeal.  Instead of reaching for a soda, you’ll reach for water with a slice of lemon.

If you start feeling fragile, don’t fear.  It’s all part of the process.

Take it from a “fragile” 50+ kid.  The most fragile lemons make the best lemonade.

Just like the most fragile kids, grow up to be the strongest people.

The Cool Kids

I was anything but a cool kid.

I was a shy, introverted, only child — the product of an overprotective mother.

The cool kids mocked me while I tried everything to get their love and attention.  The more I tried, the less cool I became — in their eyes.

Yet deep down inside, I knew — when I ran back to the sanctuary of the things and people I  loved — that the cool kids weren’t really very cool.

Even at a young age, I sensed that there’s a difference between thinking you’re cool, knowing you’re cool, and being cool.

But it took me years to realize the people who thought they were cool — those who the world defined as cool — were just as scared as me.  Their coolness persona was just a mask they hid behind.

I realized that keeping up a cool facade was just as exhausting as trying to be cool.

In time I also learned that even the cool kids had their own “cool kids” — their own demons — with which they battled.

And as I got to know them better, I felt less helpless, less intimidated by them.

Then the unexpected happened … a cool kid fell in love with me and we joined our lives.

As we faced our fears together, the masks we hid behind came down and our loved for each other canceled out the fears.

If judged by the world’s definition of cool, I guess you could say I became more cool, while my partner became less cool.

Yet even today — even when I know the cool kids are just scared and pretending to be cool — there are times when I fall under the “I want to be a cool kid, too” spell.

At 52, I sometimes still feel like I’m in the middle of a schoolyard, a scared 6-year-old waiting to be rescued.

Thankfully, I am old enough — experienced enough — to know that it’s not the cool kids who are intimidating, but the fear of what they represent to me.

They are just the symbol, the scapegoat, the face of my fears.

Today I look at pictures on Facebook of the people I once considered cool kids and see old people looking back at me.  Tired, old cool kids.

“That woman looks like she could be your mother,” a colleague said to me when I showed her a photo of a former high school cool kid classmate.

Universal payback perhaps.

Who’s cool now?

Save Brandie And Gigi

They say the pen is mightier than the sword.

They sometimes mistake kindness for weakness.

They say you can measure the value of a society by the way they treat their animals.

They also say Karma is a bitch.

And although they might think I’m free-associating, by the end of this article, I hope you will see that if you take all these seemingly unrelated things into consideration, there’s only one logical conclusion.

As I write this, two dogs that have become the poster pets for Broward County’s “One Bite and You’re Out” law sit on “Doggie Death Row.”

Their owners have filed appeals from a justice system that lets human killers go free with a slap on the wrist but demands the death penalty for four-legged citizens who don’t have a voice of their own.

Florida’s Broward County — a county that has drawn national attention for holding up a presidential election, a county that based on my totally unscientific experience has one of the most corrupt politicians per capita than any other county in the nation — is now in the spotlight for having an ordinance that kills animals for being … well, animals.

Here’s the bottom line.

If your dog bites and kills another dog in Broward County, and that attack is unprovoked, the county has the right to destroy your furry friend.  No questions asked.

It’s a law that sneaked onto the books a few years ago during a county commission meeting.  I can point fingers, place blame and play armchair analyst as to why that law passed, but that will waste time getting to the main points I want to make.

The law has been on the books for a few years.  Dogs have died as a result.

But Brandie and Gigi, the two dogs that have recently brought it into the spotlight have also put the corrupt politicians who drafted the law under a microscope.

And it turns out that the same people who passed the law, also made sure that every dog that killed another dog — provoked or not — would be sentenced to die.

For example, the “objective” magistrate whose job it is to decide whether a dog lives or dies, works for the county.

Am I the only one who sees a conflict of interest here?

But lets get back to Brandie and Gigi.

The reason these two dogs are so special is that their owners are using the magic weapon of the internet to rally support to save their pets’ lives.   By doing so, they are potentially saving the lives of hundreds of Broward County dogs that could be sentenced to death because of a law that no one bothered to question.

A few short weeks ago, Lon and Beth Lipsky had a beautiful family that included a miracle 2-year-old daughter and a sweet 10-year-old husky named Brandie.

Then fate stepped in to make Brandie famous.  Right about that time, fate also called on Tom Austin’s 10-year-old Labrador mix, Gigi.

Both dogs were being walked on leashes — like Broward County law demands — when two smaller dogs — a Yorkie and a toy Poodle  —  approached in what records show is a provocative manner.

In both instances, Brandie and Gigi, reacted like animals are conditioned to react.   They protected their pack — the people who were walking them — and took preventive measures.

Sadly, the small dogs died.

It’s what happens when irresponsible dog owners let their pets roam free.  Nature kicks in and they must suffer the consequences.

We can argue and analyze what happend forever.  But at the end of the day, Brandie and Gigi’s owners were following the law — their dogs were leashed.

Yet Brandie and Gigi were sentenced to die.

Now, I’m going to wander off topic just a bit to get your attention … in case I haven’t already gotten it.

I’m the proud pet mom of an 11-year-old miniature Dachshund named Queenie.  I love my dog.  My dog loves me.  But my dog doesn’t know she’s a dog.  Therefore, she loves people.  Other dogs?  Not so much.

So, when I walk my Doxie, she’s not only leashed, she’s on a very short leash.  If another dog approaches, I scoop her up, make eye contact with the other dog and its owner and we walk away.

Why didn’t the owners of the dogs in the Brandie and Gigi incidents do the same?

Look, if you’re a pet parent, you love your furry friend.  I know that the families who lost their dogs are feeling pain.  And I don’t mean to make light of that.

But you know what?  Nothing can bring those dogs back.  And putting two other dogs to death will only make things worse.

The only thing we can do is celebrate life.  Two dogs are still alive.

The Lipsky’s 2-year-old daughter loves and misses Brandie.   Letting Brandie come home will make her happy.  Making a 2-year-old happy goes a long way toward healing an injustice.

As for Gigi, she’s a senior girl too.  Killing her does nothing but increase the sadness that animals are put on this earth to heal.

As a writer, it’s my responsibility to inform you about the injustice in Broward County’s “One Bite and You’re Out” ordinance.

As someone who has gotten to know Lon and Beth Lipsky and their unending quest to save the 10-year-old husky that is a part of their family, I can assure you, their kindness is one of the strongest examples of love I have ever seen.  And when it comes to setting an example for their daughter, the Lipskys wrote the textbook on how to teach your children the difference between right and wrong.

As for measuring our society by the way we treat our animals … Broward County is pathetic.

And as for Karma … she always wins.

So, let Brandie and Gigi go home before you piss Karma off any more than she already is.

New Year’s Eve 2008 Revisited

It’s amazing what you find when you decide to de-clutter the top right drawer of your home office desk.

Those little scraps of paper with words of wisdom you meant to turn into articles, have all the answers and wisdom you’re now seeking.

Here’s what I found this morning from something I wrote on New Year’s Eve 2008 … 18 months ago.

Happiness is being invited to a New Year’s Eve party, getting all dressed up, and having your partner say at 6 p.m. …  “Is it OK if we stay home tonight?”

Happiness is kissing your dog and your partner (um, not necessarily in that order) at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and calling your parents to wish them a happy new year too.

2008 was the year of being blessed.  It was the year of being thankful for seeing how great my life is and realizing that the secret of staying together in a relationship in never being naive enough to think you’ll never break up.

If you believe the financial news, 2008 was a horrible year.  For me, it was the year I got a raise and made peace with money.

2008 was a horrible year for retailers.  But was that really so bad?

What’s so bad about not buying stuff and just giving the only thing you have left … yourself.

2008 was the year I turned 50.

Am I a grownup?  No way!

It’s the year I stopped caring about age and started taking responsibility for the impact I could have by just being me and being wise.

2008 was the year I stopped being the old me.

I realized my parents weren’t immortal and I faced that fear … almost.

It’s the year my mom started sounding like my grandmother.

2008 was the year I realized politics and news at face value are bullshit.  But news is my chosen profession.

So I was quite thankful that it was also the year I realized how to really make a difference in news.

I love my life.  I love my God.  I love everyone and everything I have attracted to myself.

I have so much more to find.

May I get what I want in 2009.

Did I get what I wanted?

I guess I did … because here I am.

It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Just Another Article …

To me, the words “just” and “dog” should never be used in the same sentence.

So imagine my disdain when someone I consider a friend uttered the forbidden phrase out loud a few weeks ago.

“But she’s just a dog,” he said to me as he watched me suffer while my beloved mini Doxie went through a battery of tests to determine the source of her chronic runny nose.

Queenie has had a snot problem since she was a puppy.  But on our most recent visit to the vet, the doctor discovered a “mass” on my 12-year-old puppy’s palate.

The vet leaned back, crossed her arms and said it was her responsibility to “tell me the mass could be nothing, or it could be cancer.”

I pretended to be the responsible grownup and left her office asking all the right clinical questions and scheduling all the right followup tests.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I held Queenie just a little bit tighter than usual and choked back tears as I rushed home to Google every word that had come out of the vet’s mouth.

But she’s just a dog.

Using the word ‘just’ to downplay the importance of a situation, says a lot about you and your outlook on life.  It can also ruin friendships.

But we do it all the time.

It’s just a cold.  It’s just a couple of hours.  It’s just another day at the office.  It’s just … well, you get it.  It’s just about anything.

The implication being … man up!  Stop being a baby.  It could be a lot worse.

Yes,  it could be a lot worse to you, but to use “just” to try to make someone feel better — or to get them to stop what you consider whining — well, it just doesn’t work.

A few weeks, a battery of tests and a couple of bills equal to two mortgage payments later, Queenie is fine, but my friendship with my coworker remains distant.

Finding out Queenie’s runny nose is benign cost and arm and a leg.  But it was a small price to pay to find out who my real friends are.

“Just” can also wreak havoc on someone’s self-esteem.

“It’s just spelling, for crying out loud!”  I overheard a frustrated mother tell her son while she tried to help him with his homework during a mid-afternoon visit to Starbucks.

Translation in the child’s mind:  It’s just spelling and you’re just stupid.

Sometimes the self-esteem you ruin is your own.

God gifted me with a passion for words and a curiosity that had “journalist” written all over it from the time I was old enough to speak.

I am fortunate enough to get paid to go to work at a television station each day and manage its Web site.  My friends tell me I get to play on the Internet all day.

They’re right.

While my job as a local news online journalist can seem trivial compared to doctors who are looking for a cure for cancer or people who are working toward world peace, on a cellular level, neither the doctor nor the world peace worker could impact the number of people they impact without people like me spreading the word.

And so, that’s why I’m baffled when someone in the industry trashes it.

“It’s just television news, a colleague recently said to me.  I’m not a rocket scientist.”

I wonder what a rocket scientist would say.

“It’s not rocket science.  Oh, wait, yes it is!”

As for the advice in this article, you can just take it or leave it … it’s just another article.