Monday, October 31, 2005

HALLOWEEN SUCKS

This was the most awful night...and it makes me wonder how mothers of kids with A.D.D. don't lose their minds on a regular basis.

It all started out with the best of intentions. I took Lewis to the dog run early so that he wouldn't need a walk right after I picked the kids up from school, the point being that this was going to be a very nice, organized, non-chaotic day. (Yeah. And then she woke up.)
We were going to go to Tae Kwon Do practice and then return home at 5:30 to meet Maclyn (Adam's friend) and Brett (Brian's friend) and trick or treat in my building as well as receive some trick or treaters on the tail end.

As always, I dressed for the occasion. This year, I was Willie Wonka, complete with brown dandy suit, velvet top hat and auburn pageboy wig. Lewis dressed as Darth Vader, complete with black cape, which quickly got peed on and went into the trash. I picked the kids up from school at approximately 3:00 p.m., which is when all hell began to break loose.

Complication Number One: At first grade pickup, Maclyn appeared by our side, sans nanny, sans mom. It seems that there had been some confusion, and Maclyn was going to spend the ENTIRE day with us. And what could I do about it? Oh well, there went our plans to go to Tae Kwon Do. Instead, we all went back to my apartment, whereupon Kelly, Maclyn's mom called and said that she needed Maclyn home to do his homework before he could go trick or treating. OK, so...then why did she write a note to the teacher saying that he should go home from school with us?

Anyway, Kelly picked up Maclyn, and Adam and I sat down to do homework (since a first grader cannot be relied upon to do his homework himself). Brian went into the playroom to watch TV since he was given no homework, other than to come in tomorrow with a piece of candy for his teacher (and thank GOD for that. Brian has at least an hour of homework a day, and I am responsible for making sure that it all gets done properly, which can be quite a trial at times). I soon realized that Adam had somehow helped himself to a LOT of the candy that we had sitting around waiting for trick or treaters, and Adam was quickly morphing into a wild beast, a la Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.

Right about the time that we were done with homework, Brett arrived. Shortly after that Maclyn came as well. Maclyn and Adam became VERY silly. Brett and Brian are fairly mature and quite well-behaved. But still, it's Halloween. And it degenerates pretty quickly into little voices screaming "Gimme candy...OK bye..." followed by motherly shrieks of "Say thankyou! Stop running! Stop screaming in the hallway!"

It didn't take all that long to get through the entire building, since there were only about three participating apartments on each of our fifteen floors. But no worries, each of the boys managed to fill up their jackolantern buckets to the point of overflowing. When we arrived home, the silliness and the craziness continued uninterrupted. Only now, Lewis the Beagle wanted to get in on the act. He is essentially a puppy after all, only bigger. And he is every bit a boy.

Did I mention that my boys went as baseball players? That was fairly simple. The complication was that Adam insisted on being a DEAD baseball player, and that meant covering his face in white, black and red theatrical makeup. And that meant that there were makeup smudges all over my apartment and a six year old covered in warpaint who needed to be cleaned up before he went to bed.

So, there we were: Brett, Brian and Maclyn playing pretty wildly, Lewis the Beagle running around in circles, me desperately trying to clean makeup off the walls, a la Lady MacBeth, never seeming to be able to get rid of that last spot, and Adam endlessly soaping up in a very messy shower without being able to remove much makeup at all. Eventually, I had to intervene with some Ponds cold cream (why do I even HAVE Ponds cold cream??), which meant that the entire bathroom ended up being rained upon. Adam's clothes lay in a wet pile on the floor.

Finally I managed to get Adam clean and quarantined on one side of the apartment (so that his continuing sugar-induced mania would not influence any of the more well-behaved kids). That's when Brett started screaming that Lewis had taken hold of his shirt and wouldn't let go. I got Lewis to release the shirt, but not without leaving two giant canine-teeth-sized holes on the bottom hem. I promised to sew them up, right after I finished cleaning all the Adam-smudges off of all of my walls and all the water off of the bathroom floor.

You get the point. And I simply can't write anything coherent at this point.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, Sir noticed that my breath was deeper today and that my practice was much improved for it. Interesting, because I was VERY late to practice because I attempted (for the LAST TIME) to drive downtown. It may work in the summer, but it sure as hell does not work now that everyone is back from the Hamptons. It took me 65 minutes to get from 79th Street down to Shala X. Amazingly, I just stayed calm and committed to getting to Shala X and not turning back. I decided that whatever time I got there, I would practice, and I would practice until time was up, and that was that, no drama, no rushing. And that is what I did. I didn't even finish Standing Series. But it was good.

YC

Lessons from First Grade

I'm sitting here with Adam, helping him get his homework done before we begin our night of trick-or-treating (Brian's teacher, mercifully, did not give out homework today...), and it occurs to me that there are some good lessons to be learned in first grade...lessons that resonate for the duration of your life. Among them:

  1. Finish what you start before you start something else.
  2. Put away your toys when you're done playing with them.
  3. Don't rush.
  4. Give yourself enough space.
  5. Too much junk food makes you feel not so good.
  6. Not enough sleep makes you feel cranky.
  7. Don't tease.
  8. Corollary to Rule Number 7: Don't tease the dog.
  9. Be nice to your friends.
  10. Listen to your mom.


YC

Friday, October 28, 2005

AWOL today

From Ashtanga, that is....

Jill, my sister-in-law, convinced me to go to a Bikram class with her today. Well, in truth, it didn't take much convincing. I fully admit to actually really wanting to go. I had a wonderful Ashtanga practice with Erika yesterday after my morning vinyasa class - I don't remember if I mentioned it yesterday, but there were only three of us in class, which meant that I got LOTS of attention, and I really enjoyed it! That being said, my back muscles are TIRED from the hard work I am doing in Ashtanga, my chest muscles are exhausted from each and every day being asked to open wide and allow me to do what I want to do in order to get through Primary, not to mention that I felt like it wouldn't hurt to take a day off from my regular dose of forty or fifty chatturangas (how many chatturangas ARE there in half primary anyway?). My arms are already so freakin' freakishly strong for a girl of my size that even Sir has commented on it (well, he didn't call it freakish, but he did mention that my arm strength could potentially be one of the reasons I am so tight in the shoulders).

Most importantly, Jill kept talking about how the intense sweat of a Bikram practice makes her feel cleansed afterward, and I really longed to get that feeling....so, on impulse, I decided to join her at a noon class at Bikram on 72nd and Broadway.

When I got there, I was happy to see that George DeLancey was the teacher. I know George pretty well, since I used to work at the desk at Bikram Yoga midtown and take his class after my shifts. That's right...I WORKED at Bikram! Have I ever mentioned that before? It's true. After a year or so of being home and not working, I got kind of antsy, but I didn't want to go back to being a lawyer. I wasn't qualified to teach yoga yet, so I figured I would do the next best thing...hang out at a yoga studio for money, or free classes, or both. Anyway, I digress. George is hysterically funny and adorable. He reminds me of what Will (of Will and Grace) would be like if he were a real person. Unapologetically gay, totally committed to his boyfriend and kid, serious about his work.

I have to admit, while I felt very very bendy, and all in all, it was a wonderfully hot, sweaty experience, the heat really beat the crap out of me.

Here is where I pause to note that, as anyone knows who has ever taken a Bikram field trip, the Bikram sequence takes much from Ashtanga in terms of structure. It begins with breath awareness and warming up the body from the inside (yes, the INSIDE) and then saluting...in this case, the moon....then moving onto a standing series that includes one-legged balancing and half lotus variations and a posture that is in effect a cross between triangle and extended side angle and then moving to the floor. In between the floor poses, there are situps, rather than vinyasas. And the floor series takes a lot from the backbending aspects of Second Series in Ashtanga. But all in all, it definitely brought to mind the logic and discipline of Ashtanga.

And it made me miss Asthanga, or at least some of it. After class, I felt compelled to run through the Marichi's, which are no longer the "dreaded" Marichis....I actually missed them. And I bound. No surprise there, considering that my body was heated up to somewhere around 105 degrees. I see it as a sort of "mini" fever, induced artificially, and I hope that it has the effect of burning out the toxins in my body. At least that is why I am drawn to it on an on-again, off-again basis.

Since Shala X is not so sweaty now that winter is coming (it is not exactly cold and drafty either, in all fairness), I am thinking that maybe one of my six yoga practices per week can be Bikram for now. I am really really desperate for structure, it seems. Each week, I try to come up with a solid structure that I can consistently follow. Unfortunately, something always breaks it up.

Like today, I had a pumpkin-painting party in Brian's classroom. We created this devilishly frightening looking Count Dracula pumpkin, painting on a scary-mean face and then gluing on big, white fangs, bushy pipe-cleaner eyebrows, and grey thumbtack pupils in the eyes. Then we added a black felt hood lined with red felt and added a white collar and blood-red tie below his chin. SCARY, man.

But all of that cost a lot of time, and Shala X was long since done with their morning sessions. Soooo, my choice was led at Sutra, self-practice, or Bikram. Oh, and the fact that I was able to even have those choices was made possible by the fact that my noon gig at the NYC Lab School was cancelled for the day due to an early dismissal.

But I really really really desperately crave some structure. I feel like my life has become quite chaotic, and I am never comfortable with chaos. I keep trying to figure out why the chaos. But every time I realize that the addition of the dog has gotten me bogged down, I can't internalize it. I have trouble accepting it. I love Lewis the Beagle, and he's here to stay. So are my obligations to him as the canine member of my family: taking him out for long (two hour) walks or dog-run excursions at least a few times a week. So is teaching yoga. So is practicing yoga. So is getting my kids to Tae Kwon Do, Hebrew School and playdates. So is going to my kids' parties at school and going on field trips when my kids ask me to. So is spending Tuesday afternoons in Adam's classroom, because his teacher encourages parents to spend time in the classroom. So is having SOMEWHAT of a social life with my urban mom friends (like having a pedicure with Abby today) and a few assorted non-mom friends that I have managed to keep in my life (hi Stacey!!! I miss you!!!) despite the difficulties in making time for one another.

Lately, I have been losing things. A LOT. A scary lot. Not counting my stolen cell phone (stolen right out of my car outside of Temple Shaaray Tefila), I have lost my wallet three times in the past two months. Luckily, I have gotten it back each and every time. But the circumstances are DAMN SCARY...they make me wonder if I am totally losing my mind, or what....

Last night, as I went to pay the cab driver who had taken me to Yoga Sutra, I discovered I had no wallet. I knew immediately what had happened...I had left it at home, near my computer, since I had bought something online right before leaving to teach my Breast Cancer Survivors class. But when I called home, my babysitter told me it wasn't there. Twenty minutes later, she called again to tell me that it was there after all. But that was an upsetting twenty minutes....not to mention the fact that I was with my breast cancer survivor students, who were waiting and watching to see how I would handle this crisis...I PROMISED them that teaching yoga to them would help me to put it out of my mind, and it was almost disappointing to find out right before we began class that the wallet had been located and challenging-crisis has been averted.

Scratch that. It's a good thing.

Today, at Bikram, I asked the desk manager to watch my handbag while I practiced since said purse is made of fur (bad, Yoga Chickie...I know) and wouldn't survive 90 minutes in a 105 degree room. When I was leaving the studio, she was walking into the next class and handed me my handbag. Into a cab I climbed, only to discover my purse did NOT have my wallet in it. OH NO!!! NOT AGAIN! But I knew that I had it at Bikram, because I actually paid cash for class.

I went to call the studio, only to find I did not have my cell phone...it was at home...I remembered slamming it shut and leaving it on my dresser at home after a fruitless, time-sucking phone call with the Geek Squad at Best Buy (regarding my iTunes, which I am RELOADING at present...talk about time-sucking). More stress, obviously. Jill lent me her cell phone, and the desk manager who answered the phone was unsympathetic and very resistent to the idea of looking around for my walled. According to him, "If it had been found, it would be in a safe, and it is not there, so we don't have it." It didn't matter that I told him the story of how I paid and put my wallet away in my bag and handed the bag to Jenny-the-desk-manager. He just wasnt going to help me.

Since it was already time to pick up the kids from school, I was lucky enough to have Jill there to do the picking-up for me (including taking Lewis on his afternoon walk), and I booked on over to the West side, back to Bikram, where I had to wait for Jenny to get out of class. When she got out of class, here was her response to my wallet-inquiry: "OH yeah...your wallet fell out of your purse when I put it on a shelf. Check behind the garbage can. It should be there."

And it was.

GRRRRR.

But it's all good...I did get my wallet back.

So, what is the answer? Going waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy slower? I suppose. I mean, Sir told me that, just the other day. But MUST my life be one wake-up call after another? Or is there a better way to look at it...am I damn lucky to have so many lessons virtually spoon-fed to me each and every day of my life?

This has gotten way too long. If you are still reading, bravo. Now go get a copy of War and Peace, and make better use of your time!

YC

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Life is good

Here are some really nice things that are adding up to make me feel really happy today...

1. After I taught my 10 a.m. vinyasa class, I took Erika Hildebrandt's 1/2 primary led class, and I felt great. I really enjoyed the "discipline" of having to get into the poses without procrastination.

2. I bought Lewis a "Gentle Lead" "head collar", which helps him to heel better. My biceps and back muscles were getting way too much of a workout from having to pulling back using a simple choke collar. Lewis the Beagle is a WAY exhuberant puppy, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE him. But dude needs to heel. And the Gentle Lead works like a charm...whenever Lewis pulls, it causes him to HAVE to turn back and look at me, which stops him in his tracks. After about 10 minutes, he got the message that pulling is just not worth the trouble.

3. My house is nice and quiet for the next two nights....the Husband is on a business trip, and the quiet and "being my own boss" thing are really really delicious. DELICIOUS, I tell you!!!

4. I got word that I am teaching another class at the Lab School - this one on Mondays at 1:10. It is a PERFECT time...doesn't interfere with my practice. I love Bent on Learning....such a great organization.

5. I ran into a former student of mine from New York Yoga, who was relieved to see me...she didn't know where I had been and wanted to know where she could find me. Hopefully I will see her at Yoga Sutra one of these days. Always nice to know that you are missed...

6. My 10:00 a.m. vinyasa class at Yoga Sutra was really really nice today. My new friend Cynthia came, as well as two others I have taught before. The music was delightful, as I went back to using my iPod again (I don't know why I ever stopped, actually...it makes a huge difference in the whole vibe of the class).

7. Ran into a teacher from New York Yoga whom I had not seen in months...April P....a delightful person and a fabulous teacher. I used to teach a class right after her, so we always used to see each other on Fridays. We were both on the 6 train in the same car...it was a crowded train, but we eventually saw each other, just as she was getting off...five minutes later, my phone rang...it was April with news..she is getting married this weekend!!!! Mazel Tov April!!!! I love stuff like that.

8. My sister-in-law, a/k/a Aunt Jill got her old job back!! GO JILL! You know how awful it is when you leave a good job only to end up at a place that doesn't feel quite right? Well, how awesome it is when you can get the old job back....:)

9. My new Dyson vaccuum cleaner is the most AMAZING vaccuum cleaner I have ever seen. It is pulling up dust that must have been lingering in my apartment for the past four years...and it still keeps on pulling up more dust. It is unfortunate that these amazing machines are so expensive ($500 plus), but I wish for all of you that you can have one.

10. I feel healthy finally...after a week of a bad cold and a hoarse voice (NOT sexy...just annoying to me!).

11. My dad is feeling healthy...lung cancer remission...almost an oxymoron, but not quite. Thank god for the not quite.

12. My kids are the yummiest human beings I have ever known, and I am going to pick them up now from their after school activities.

Has Yoga Chickie gone soft? I don't thinks so...I'm just feeling all good inside today!

YC

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wish me luck

I am giving Lewis the Beagle a bath. He is finally done with healing from his surgery (neutering...shhhhhh....he's very sensitive about it), and now I get to see how bright and white his lovely fur really is.

THEN I am going to do a late afternoon practice.

It has been quite a busy week, much of it devoted to the annoying and arduous job of configuring this new computer (I want those hours back!!!!) and keeping Lewis from developing some bad habits in my house. Also, with the new dog, I have had this incredible nesting instinct, so I have been doing a lot of shopping for housewares...bought a brand new toaster, a new set of glasses at Fishs Eddy (cool store!!), a new set of cereal bowls, also at Fishs Eddy and a brand new Dyson "Animal" vaccuum cleaner for all that lovely beagle fur that seems to be piling up everywere Lewis sits.

Mostly, I am just craving a return to normalcy in my house, and I need to give myself a break for missing a few practices at Shala X (I am still practicing at home, but I do feel like I am missing something important when I don't show up at the shala) while I am training a new dog (he is housebroken and trained, but he needs those teachings reinforced in my my house, especially now that he is growing comfortable here) and getting used to my fall teaching schedule.

Anyway, I have three little boys (two sons and a playdate) and a smelly beagle/bassett to contend with, so I must go. Time to bathe the pup.

YC

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Simchat Torah Rocks!!

Last night was my synagogue's celebration of Simchat Torah. Simchat Torah is a VERY festive holiday. It marks the finishing up of an entire year's reading of the Torah (the story of the Jews, begining with Genesis and ending with the death of Moses, and a litany of Jewish laws, including how to build a temple) and the beginning of the cyle anew. Jews gather at their synagogue, and there's singing and dancing, and children running around all over the place, and finally the "big finish" is the unscrolling of the Torah and the reminiscing of the stories that were told over the course of the year by way of daily Torah readings. The Torah is unscrolled only once in the entire year, and it's actually very exciting, not just for the kids but for everyone.

For the past seven years, I was a member of a conservative synagogue, not just "conservative" in its affiliation ("Conservative" refers to a particular sect of Judaism that adheres strictly to a great many Jewish traditions, but that doesn't go so far as "Orthodox" Judaism, which follows Jewish tradition to the letter, in general, including separating men from women during services), but conservative in its spirit and its dress code. This year, my family moved to a synagogue that belongs to the Reform movement. I had trepidations about this - the Hebrew education is far less complete. For example, my older son is reading Hebrew in third grade, while his friends at the Reform synagogue are just starting to learn the Hebrew alphabet. But I was also excited to worship in a place where a lot of the worship is in my own language, English, rather than in Hebrew, and where the prayers are chanted in what I consider to be a more melodic, less minor-key form (I have no idea why that is...it just IS).

I really enjoyed the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Services, but the Simchat Torah service really drove it home for me: this is the place. I absolutely LOVE the vibe at Shaaray Tefila. It was pouring rain out last night, and the vast majority of the congregants wore jeans. That was a SHOCK for me, and a HAPPY one at that. Way back when I first joined Park Avenue Synagogue, I remember arriving to drop Brian off for nursery school in the middle of a Noreaster; I was wearing jeans and Timberlands and my hair was in a ponytail. To my dismay, all the other moms were well-dressed and well-coiffed. What was their secret? Car services. And in some cases, personal drivers. I am psyched that the people at Temple Shaaray Tefila let down their hair a bit more. I mean, who cares what you wear to temple as long as you get yourself there? In addition, TST has a much younger vibe than PAS. My favorite cantor there, Cantor Singer is at least 10 years younger than me, by the looks of him, and he plays a mean guitar, and my kids adore him.

Bottom line, it feels right there, and I am so glad we finally made our way there. Makes sense too given that it is a block away from my apartment.

Off to practice....with aching back and bags under my eyes (didn't get the kids to bed until 10 because of the festivities, which meant that I didn't get to bed, myself until after midnight....)

YC

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lewis the Beagle introduces me to all the cool people...

I had no idea there was this whole dog community out there - like the yoga community, like the mom community. Lewis, Adam and I were out for a walk to Central Park yesterday, and Lewis got very excited to see a little Malti-poo walking down the street. Malti-poo's name turned out to be Poptart, and his mom turned out to be very cool AND an Ashtangi to boot AND a pretty accomplished travel writer.

Today, I bound Mari C on my good side with Sir watching over me, for the first time. I've bound before, as I have talked about ad nauseum. But never with Sir there to see it. Not that he seems impressed or even excited for me. You see, Sir and I talked today, in between Mari C sides. Turns out that Sir doesn't really even focus on the physical accomplishments of my practice - the fact that I jump through sometimes, the fact that my asanas and vinyasas are quite graceful (albeit usually not on the same days...I have my "vinyasa" days and my "asana" days....today was more of an asana day) or that I have good posture or have memorized the series, blah blah blah. The thing with me, it seems, is that I am excessively "go go go" and my breath is excessively shallow. It seems that I can bend...but can I do yoga?

It was EXCEEDINGLY difficult for me to hear this from Sir. Yeah, I know, some of my readers here, many of you in fact, have pointed out this very thing to me, without ever having even seen my practice or heard my breathing. I don't know how it is that everyone can observe this about me, even those who have never ACTUALLY observed me in person, and yet I am completely unaware. I am struggling to open myself up to the notion that my Type-A-ness is messing with my yoga practice, so that I can do something about it.

I asked Sir, what, SPECIFICALLY, can I do...you see I understand the concept, abstractly, but I don't know how to put changes into action on a concrete, real-life basis. Sir's suggestions: (1) Try to come to practice in a calm state (ha! right after I drop my kids off at school, finish walking Lewis, get my SUV from the garage, barrel down the FDR drive and hunt for a parking space on the street...as Sir says, we all have our challenges), (2) Breathe trhough the nose, exclusively, all the time, not just in the shala, but all the time and (c) Talk less (now THAT is perhaps the most challenging, although I have to say, since I have been practicing Ashtanga, I am way LESS talkative, which may be due to sheer exhaustion) so that I can keep my breath moving in and out through the nose. I wonder if talking less would also help to calm the chitta vritti's...less "seeds" for mental action. I assume that the corollary is to write less as well, although we didn't discuss my blogging.

Sometimes when it is pointed out to me that my "go go go" tendency interferes with my yoga practice, I get defensive. I feel picked-on. I often blame it on externals like, "Well, that person KNOWS that I used to be a lawyer" or "I TOLD that person that I am Type A". But in this case, I have to admit: Sir knows nothing of me as a person outside of the shala. NOTHING. So everything he observes is purely based on everything he observes. No hearsay (that I know of). No history. Just me, my breath and the way I carry myself.

Sometimes I feel like Sir doesn't like me very much, particularly when he is struggling to get my tense muscles to relax (like in Prasarita Pado C, which now is no longer a problem, and in Parvritta Parsvakonasana, which Sir really had to struggle mightily in order to get me to loosen up so that I could do as he asked). But I have heard others say that about him as well. I can't decide if that matters. I know that my physical practice is improving. I will have to see what I can do about my meditative practice. And I suppose that for now, as long as I am continuing to get to the shala and do my practice, it really doesn't matter if I feel "liked".

YC

Sunday, October 23, 2005

50 percent risk reduction in 20 percent of women

ABC News and host of other news outlets reported recently (or re-reported, it seems to me) that studies are showing that herceptin is a revolutionary cancer drug in the fight against breast cancer, promising a 50 percent risk in the reduction of a relapse in 20 percent of women with breast cancer.

If you're still with me at all, I'm wondering whether you find this reporting to be as confusing as I do.

First, what is a 50 percent risk in the reduction of relapse? In order to answer that question, I guess you have to know what the risk of relapse is in the first place. Then, you divide it by 50 percent. In my case, WITHOUT chemo and JUST surgery, my risk of a relapse would have been about 40 percent. WITH chemo, that risk went down to about 25 to 30 percent. With the addition of radiation, that risk went down further to somewhere in the low 20's, let's say 22 percent. None of that accounts for cancers that are either hormone-driven or not. Hormone-driven cancers (cancers which use estrogen or progesterone, or both, as a growth factor) tend to have better outcomes, although I have never heard any "hard" numbers on this. Further, the MORE hormone-driven a cancer is (again, measured by a percentage), the better the outcome (this may be because hormone-driven cancers respond to hormone therapy, or it may be due to other factors, such as WHO gets hormone-driven cancers in the first place). But let's give me a few percentage points on that, for good measure, since my cancer was estrogen and progesterone "positive" (up to 65%, whatever that actually means). So, let's say my risk of relapse was 18 percent.

Now...here is where the tricky part comes in (because all of the above is not tricky at all, no). Herceptin is said to reduce the risk of relapse by 50 percent in 20 percent of women with breast cancer. For me, that would reduce my risk of relapse to less than 10 percent. I'll take it (arm raised, hand waving furiously)!!!!!

But who is the 20 percent that Herceptin will benefit? Am I part of that 20 percent? The news reports don't really explain this little and yet entirely significant bit of detail. But I might be able to shed some light, based on disussions I have had with my doctors. Before I do, remember, I'm just Yoga Chickie, not Yoga Chickie, M.D., so this is not intended to replace the advice and counsel of your doctor (as if).

What the news reports don't tell you is that some percentage of all breast cancer patients are designated as "positive" for the "her2neu" growth factor. Pre-Herceptin, this was very very very bad news. The day I found out I was her2neu positive, I cried bitter tears. I was standing outside the Herbert Irving Cancer Pavillion at Columbia, talking on the phone to my oncologist (I have no idea why I was on the phone with her when her office was right upstairs), and she told me that on both available tests for the her2neu factor, my cancer had proven to be "triple positive" or "+3" or "her2neu+++". I burst into tears - worse than when I first found out that I had breast cancer. And I cried all the way up to her office, at the security guard's desk, in the elevator, at the receptionist's desk. It was a bad scene. It may be that I was simply tired of getting bad news. It may be that I had started to get my hopes up when I had found out earlier that week that my cancer was "highly" hormonally positive (good news, remember). Or it may be that I knew from anecdotal evidence how so many women whose cancers were found to be her2neu+++ were sick...really sick...and how so many of those women weren't surviving.

But fairly early on in the course of my treatment (late 2002), news was starting to come out...very early news...that suggested that a drug called Herceptin, when added to the existing breast cancer chemotherapy protocol, could vastly reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring....BUT this was only true in women who were HIGHLY her2neu positive - triple positive - like me. And what percentage of women with breast cancer are her2neu+++?

I believe it is 30 percent. So, knocking out all of the women who can't benefit from Herceptin in the first place, we are starting out with 30 percent. In order for 20 percent of all women with breast cancer to benefit from Herceptin, wouldn't 2/3 of the women who take Herceptin have to benefit from Herceptin? And if that is the case, what does it mean "to benefit" from Herceptin? Don't we either relapse or not? I mean, what difference does it make if I have a 9 percent chance of recurring or an 18 percent chance of recurring, when either I will or I won't?

It's been a long time since I have been called upon to do any sort of complicated math, and it is entirely possible that my math is off. And even if it isn't, none of this is clear to me anyway. I wish I had a better grasp of what the news reporting is actually saying. But I do know that the news is good. Herceptin is helping a lot of women to stay disease free - including me, it seems, knock wood, kinahura, puh-puh-puh.

And I guess that has to be good enough for me.

YC

OK, well...maybe he's not the BEST dog in the world...

since I missed my morning Mysore practice at Shala X due to the fact that Lewis the Beagle had an accident (the solid kind) on my living room rug, and I had to spend a half hour cleaning it, thus leaving me not enough time to get down there and back up to bring the kids to Hebrew School. There is always self-practice later....or perhaps I will pop in at Yoga Sutra for the Sunday morning session. I am not sure who is teaching, as Christopher is on a leave of absence for the time being, unfortunately.

The Great One Oh Eight was not so "great" in that only three people (!!!!) showed. Where was everyone?!! That being said, the five of us had a great time (thanks Kathy Uno, by the way, for coming after the Asana and Meditation workshop). The last 12, we all did together, in silence, and then Michele led us all through some much needed spinal twisting. So, not great in number, but still a great practice.

I am really excited to begin teaching next week at Yahoo Hot Jobs, care of
Jiva Wellness. Tiffany and Mark, of Jiva, are really great, and I can't wait to meet the students. So, starting in December, I will be teaching on four out of five days of the week - Mondays, I will be teaching seventh graders at NYC Lab, Tuesdays at Yahoo Hot Jobs, Wednesdays I am off, so I will be spending a couple of hours at my own kids' school, helping out in the classroom, Thursdays is morning vinyasa at Yoga Sutra and evening Yoga For Breast Cancer Survivors and Fridays is 12th graders at NYC Lab. It feels like a plan. I like plans, although I understand as well as anyone, perhaps even moreso, that plans are just a starting point and the unexpected is what either wakes us up or closes us off....

YC

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Careful what you wish for...

Who hasn't wished that their tummy would shrink down so that it became difficult to overeat? Indeed, isn't that why people who need to lose significant weight get gastric bypass surgery?

I know that I always had a HUGE appetite. I used to run marathons, and in order to maintain my weight, I was eating like a truck driver. Things changed, of course, after the whole breast cancer thing, because my metabolism converted into that of a woman of about sixty. My appetite decreased, although it wasn't hard to overeat if I set my mind to it.

Well, all of that has changed once again, since my abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery in August. The surgery wasn't JUST to remove excess, stretched-out skin around my middle. It was also to repair my abdominal diastasis...the tear between the two vertical halves of my abdominal wall, which might have given rise to a hernia over time, and which was currently allowing my stomach (the organ) to stretch and expand beyond its otherwise normal capacity everytime I ate or drank something (because the abdominal wall tented out at the slightest application of pressure from within). Anyway, long story short, now, as soon as I eat or drink ANYTHING, I feel my stomach (the organ) pressing HARD against my abdominal wall (the muscles), and it is VERY uncomfortable. Back in the summer, when the muscles were newly tightened, I occasionally projectile vomited after eating (but I am sure that some of this was due to the lingering effects of anesthesia).

I am not unhappy about the weight loss I have experienced. I am down around 15 pounds from where I started in June, and my body feels "right" again. I feel like "me" again, and my clothes feel the way they should on me again. It's not so much of a vanity thing as a "comfort" thing. It's as if I had a body transplant, and my system was rejecting it. But today, I really, really, really wanted to eat the top of a bran muffin, to dip it into my nice, hot Dunkin Donuts Toasted Almond coffee and to savor the delicious, warm flavors on this cold, damp, dreary day. Trouble was, I had already had a half cup of cottage cheese for breakfast and a 16 oz bottle of Diet Peach Snapple (my looooong term obsession....it's been 10 years of pure, unwavering love of that beverage now...it saw me through both pregnancies, in moderation of course, and when my friends and family came to visit me and my babies in the hospital, they all brought...cases of Diet Peach Snapple....because now I was free to drink as much as I wanted...ah....). And I was FULL.

Adam and I had trudged through the rain to Dunkin Donuts to pick up Team Snack for his Westside Soccer League game, which had not been cancelled, despite the rain (well, actually it HAD been cancelled, but then it had been UNcancelled). We bought a Box O' Hot Chocolate, 15 glazed donuts and 14 muffins, including raisin brain, corn and chocolate chip. And then my cell phone lit up with the Team Parent's phone number, for the third time this morning. The game that had been cancelled and then uncancelled, was now cancelled again.

So, Adam and I sat down to enjoy some of the booty. What else was there to do? Which leads me to where I try to drink my coffee and dip my muffin-top....and feel all out of sorts because even when I WANT to be "bad", I really can't anymore.

Oh, and while Adam and I sat there at Dunkin Donuts, Team Parent called me no less than six more times to change her mind, back and forth, about whether the team should come to the field and kick the ball around despite the game cancellation. You know those people who have a really sweet voice, but there is a teeny, tiny touch of shrillness behind it such that you know that if you crossed them, they would snap you like a twig?

Well, that's Team Parent.

I decided it was safest to stop answering my phone.

Stay warm and dry like Lewis the Beagle, who is the BEST dog in the world because he only wants to go out in the rain for the sole purpose of relieving himself and then he sniffs his trail back home....LOVE that dog!

YC

What to do, what to do...

On a miserable, rainy day in New York City...what to do?

I know! How about joining the GREAT ONE-OH-EIGHT YOGATHON, which is going on all over the world on this "fine" fall day, to benefit the American Society for International Shanti. In New York City, the host is Yoga Sutra NYC, and Michele Sonier and I will be leading the "mala" of 108 Sun Salutations.

For more info, and for the significance of the number 108, check out Yoga For Hope. For me, the number has become particularly auspicious because Lewis the Beagle came home on the 18th of this month, and 108 is not only divisible by 18 but also numerologically adds up to 18.

We begin at 5:30, and the theme of our adventure will be "Karma"....

Hope to see you!

YC

Friday, October 21, 2005

As goes Mari C....

So goes Mari D. I was too pressed for time today to go to Shala X, so I did my home practice (as I did yesterday, which I will get to in a moment). Mari C is reliably bound on both sides now. And I decided to venture into Mari D territory. On my "bad side" (the first side, which requires my right arm - the one that was radiated back when i was in treatment, and therefore has suffered some degree of muscular damage, which includes contracture and numbness - to reach around the back of my body to be gripped by my left hand (the "wrapper" being the "grabber"), I gripped my fingertips together like little hooks. On my "good side", I did a total bind. Now, mind you, it was four o'clock in the afternoon and I had taken a hot bath before practicing. But it's there. It is definitely happening. I never thought I would see the day. And of course, the twisting binds are now my favorites. I RELISH C and D, as well as a bound Ardha Matsyandrasana (NOT part of my Ashtanga practice, of course, but rather part of my bath routine....a little R&D for me).

This morning, I was busy taking Lewis the Beagle for a long walk and then writing a long letter initiating legal action against Pets on Lex for selling sick animals to unwitting customers and further defrauding those customers by strong-arming them into taking said sick animals to their contractual veterinarians, who invariably say that the sick animals are actually healthy. And by "strong-arming", I mean that Pets on Lex offers a "Health Warranty" on all of their animals, provided that you use THEIR designated vet. For a former-practicing attorney, Yoga Chickie can be quite naive when she wants to be.

Anyway, if I haven't said so before, I now believe that ANYONE who wants a pet should visit Animal Control first, just so that they can see all of the beautiful and amazing, fully-trained animals available before they go and patronize a pet store. I am so sorry that I did not do this, myself. Lewis the Beagle is fully house-trained AND partially obedience-trained. He reliably "sits" and "stays" on command, fairly reliably "heels" on command, comes when he is called (he learned his name within two days, partly because I asked Animal Control to refer to him as "Lou" during the lag-time from when I picked him out until when I was able to walk out the door with him), NEVER jumps up on anyone except for me (and that is because I invite him to) and assumes the "submissive pose" for many dogs that he meets on the street. He is quite the perfect and handsome creature. I cannot imagine having had to do all of that training, myself, and it is hard to imagine that I would have ever accepted a pet store puppy if I had met the Lewis's of the world first.

PLUS, Animal Control provides a HEAP of information about housing and training your adopted pet. They walk you through the licensing process and do the neutering for you. They help you pick out the proper collar and leash, and they microchip the animal for you, for like 10 bucks. You walk out with tags, a license, and a complete "user's manual". By contrast, at Pets on Lex (and perhaps all or most pet shopsZ), you walk out with an animal, a Paris-Hilton-style handbag-carrier and, essentially, no clue.

But I digress. After my dog-walking and letter-writing, I looked at my watch and found that time had warped, and suddenly it was time for me to rush down to the NYC Lab School to co-teach my yoga class for high school seniors (arranged through Jennifer Ford's Bent on Learning). I have to be honest - I have felt VERY uninspired lately when it comes to teaching. Perhaps it is because I have a bit of laryngitis from the cold I had last week, or perhaps I just feel a bit of sophomore slump. But last night, I let Michele teach my Yoga For Breast Cancer Survivors class (I assisted with the hands-on-adjustments), and I really, really, really dreaded going down to the Lab School today.

Surprise, surprise, it was an incredible experience down at the Lab School. Naomi, my teaching partner at Lab (assigned by Jennifer Ford) was leading (again, I was really not into teaching with my voice and preferred to give adjustments instead), and these kids were like exhuberent, if a bit oppositional, puppies. Some of them refused to take their socks off. Some of them complained of bad backs (HA!!!!!!! Wait til they get to be my age!!!). One of them has a heart condition (seriously). One of them had surgery for scoliosis). A couple of them were extremely overweight. There were also a couple who were totally game for yoga. The rest fell somewhere in between.

One of the boys reminded me so much of my older son, Brian. He was tall and skinny and super-bendy and deadly serious about everything Naomi said. At one point, she said that it really helps if you smile. And he asked her, not in a sassy way, "How do I keep my mouth closed while I smile?"

Naomi seemed to have a bit of trouble controlling the group, not that I think that I will be better at it. I think it is going to be incredibly challenging. But I learned a bit by watching the dynamics today, and I plan to use what I learned when it's my turn to lead next week.

1. NO MUSIC. These kids are TOO distractable.

2. I am going to assign them to spaces...thus avoiding the kicking and tickling that was going on today.

3. I am going to spread them out throughout the room, taking almost no space for myself and Naomi at the head of the class. I mean, what do we need space for? I walk around when I teach anyway.

4. I am going to teach each element of the vinyasa, and I am NOT going to teach knees, chest, chin (ashtang pranam), as it really bears NO relationship whatsoever to chatturanga. I don't get what the point of knees, chest, chin is, other than as its own sort of back-bending preparation. It really is NOT a proper substitute for chatturanga. In my mind, the only appropriate substitute for chatturanga is "lower all the way to the floor". Or MAYBE "drop your knees to the ground", but I am not even so sure about that one. These kids really struggled to figure out what the hell Surya Namaskar was, and they were desperate to have Naomi demonstrate it several times (she was willing to demonstrate it once, but not repeatedly, which I agree with, in essence, although I don't agree with not teaching each element of the vinyasa really, really slowly when it is a class full of self-conscious beginners).

5. I am going to be REALLY firm - like the way Adam's Tae Kwon Do teacher is. I am not going to take any bullshit. I noticed that Naomi was "asking" them to stop talking ("Can you PLEEEASE stop the chatter?" and "I can't teach if you won't listen...."), and I really think they need a stronger set of instructions. I am going to use "Samasthiti" (which I did today before class) to get their attention. It seems to work. Let's hope.

6. NO CHANTING before class!!! These kids just came from lunch. They are all silly and self-conscious. It is going to take the entire class (all 70 minutes of it) for them to not feel like dorks when asked to say "Om". I think a lot of GROWNUPS feel that way, or so I am told - so I can only imagine what it is like for the kids.

7. I am going to translate everything I say in Sanskrit. These are real brainiac kids, for the most part. NYC Lab is a "T & G" program - talented and gifted. These kids, as obnoxious as they can be, are bright stars who crave learning.

As soon as we finished, I walked over to a really cool Chelsea coffee bar, had a nice cup of toasted praline coffee, and wrote up next week's class plan. I am psyched! And now I am psyched to get started with Yahoo Hot Jobs as well. Michele and I are co-teaching a two-day a week program there, starting next week, by way of Jiva Wellness. We were pumped for it anyway, but now I feel really inspired. Thanks kids!

As for yesterday, my class at Yoga Sutra was attended by...NO ONE. Bummer. Ten a.m. is a tough time, and Yoga Sutra was generally quiet all day yesterday (no one came to the early morning class either, and the Mysore room was unusually empty as well). But having a no-show really got me down. But lemons into lemonade, I did my own practice in the Mysore room, and at the end, none other than Regina "Sistashree" came in to sub the lunchtime led half-primary class. She came over and gave me the BEST, BEST adjustment I have EVER had in Supta K. It was an honor to meet her, and wow...lady can adjust! As I was finishing my practice, I heard her teaching the lunchtime class...and her voice is amazing. Just amazing.

Wow. That was a mouthful. And here I thought that I was losing my inspiration to write. I guess I am just surprising myself all over the place today.

YC

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Mari C by my fingertips! In class!

Well, it finally happened. I actually bound Mari C on my BAD SIDE (the first side), by my fingertips hooking together, in CLASS today, on my FIRST TRY...

Backing up a bit, I didn't end up taking a led class yesterday. I ended up going down to Shala X for the late Mysore session. I was the ONLY person there until a half an hour into the session. Since it was evening, it was one of the most awesomely bendy practices I have ever had. I felt like a human rubber band, and I bound Mari C on both sides with my fingers....Mademoiselle helped me get deeper. She expressed glee, as did I!

I asked her if I was crazy to plan on being back in the morning, and she said, "If that's what your schedule is requiring then, no." Well, given that the delightful Lewis the Beagle does not let me leave his side, and that if I have to leave the apartment, he cries bitter doggie tears (and if you have ever been around a beagle or a bassett hound, you will know that they are VERY expressive with their vocalizations...often sounding almost human...which is one of the reasons I have been obsessively looking for one to call my own...I just find that delightful). I knhow that this will pass. But for now, my time is not exactly my own.

In any event, I didn't think I would be able to get up and lather, rinse, repeat all over again, but at 9:15, after taking Lewis out for (1) his morning walk and (2) a gratuitous walk to school with my boys, I finally hopped in my car and high tailed it down to Shala X, where I had 45 minutes to get to Mari C, which is EXACTLY enough time. EXACTLY. To the nanosecond.

I didn't feel even one moment of soreness or fatigue. I simply practiced. I found that my vinyasas are getting stronger, along with my asanas, ever since I have been "held" at Mari C. Today, my legs flew through my hands a couple of times in jump-throughs...WITHOUT sliding on the floor. But I am not sure exactly how I did it, although I did notice that my best jump-throughs happen when my down dogs are really long-bodied.

Have to run. I am using the world's lamest laptop at the moment, but at least I am plugged in again.

Don't forget about Saturday's Yoga For Hope to benefit "Operation Shanti", at Yoga Sutra. And for that matter, I would LOVE to see some of you at my Thursday 10:00 A.M. vinyasa class at Yoga Sutra one of these days...if anyone reading this practices vinyasa. I try to adhere to the basic structure of an Ashtanga class. But it is vinyasa, nevertheless. I DO play some really cool tunes though...

Catcha later...

YC

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lewis the Beagle is home

I spent the entire day at Animal Control, but it was really nice and smooth today. Lewis was released from the "lost animal" list and I was able to adopt him at 10:29 a.m. He is sleeping in a corner of my living room right now with my blanket over him. He seems to be fully housetrained and mostly obedience-trained, but we shall see....it's only been four hours.

No time for Mysore practice today. Will there be time for led later? And if so, what will that do to my Mysore practice tomorrow? Must think....

YC

Monday, October 17, 2005

Yoga Chickie: Unplugged

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

First my computer crashed. That was Friday night. I managed to get plugged in again on Saturday afternoon on a borrowed laptop for a brief time, brief enough to post about adopting Baby the Beagle and then losing Baby the Beagle. And then my cell phone got stolen out of my car. While I was parked outside of my SYNAGOGUE! There must be a special place in hell for people who steal cell phones from moms dropping their kids off at Hebrew School. Of course, hell could simply be a place where thieves are too stupid to bother to steal the charger for the phone, which was nearly dead anyway. Or to hot wire the car, for that matter. In any event, as a result, I had to run out and purchase a brand new phone at the non-contract cost, and even worse, I lost my ENTIRE contact list, so if you're reading this, and I'm not calling you, now you know why.

At least I am managing to blog though, because damnnit, the shakes and the sweats were really starting to get to me. I had no idea how addicted I am to this mode of communication. Thank God for Kinkos. I feel like I am in college again as I sit here in a cube in the wee hours (wee for me, at least), typing away on a public computer, a cute guy in a baseball cap typing away to my right, a cup of black coffee to my leftt. Of course back then, email was a novelty, and blogging was merely a twinkle in the eye of some geek (and by "geek", I mean millionaire with a trophy wife, a fleet of Porsches, a ski house in Aspen and, hopefully, a penchant for charitable giving).

Anyway, I won't bore you with the details of my dogged dog-dogging. I will merely say that I have been the Animal Control every day since last week, and every day, I have found another amazingly lovable and wonderful dog that I wished to adopt, and every day, after standing in line for at least an hour, the bureaucrat at the desk informed me that for one reason or another, the dog that I wished to adopt was not adoptable that day. That is correct. Four dogs later, and I am still dogless.

The good news is that each dog I fall in love with is more deliciously adorable than the one before. The bad news is that I am quickly souring on this experience. I mean, wouldn't you, if you found an incredibly friendly, waggy, licking, smiling six-month-old 35-pound shepherd mix and you were JUST ABOUT to walk out the door with him when the desk clerk screams "STOP!! THIS DOG CAN'T BE ADOPTED! We promised the media we would hold him for photographing purposes until October 24!"

HELLO?! Animal welfare? Whose interests are at stake here?

The clerk was apologetic, but brusk. She gave me the name of her supervisor to whom I could make my plea in the morning. So, tomorrow is another day. And as tired of this as I am, the reality is, let's face it...Yoga Chickie is pretty obstinate. And eternally optimistic. So, I would imagine that the dog of my dreams is still in my future. It's just going to take some work.

Oh, and if you're in NYC on Saturday, please consider joining Michele Sonier and me, Christopher Hildebrandt and the rest of the folks at Yoga Sutra for another round of 108 Sun Salutations, this time to benefit the International Society for International Shanti. For more information, go to Yoga For Hope.

YC

P.S. The cute guy in the baseball cap just walked out with his younger, blonde girlfriend. See what I mean? JUST like college.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

OH GOD NO!

No sooner did I hit "publish" then the phone rang. It was Animal Control, telling me that Baby is sick with kennel cough (not a big deal), can't be neutered because of his age (adding up to a big deal) and has cataracts (adding up to no deal). I am beside myself, mainly because my kids had their hopes up. The dog will be fine - the person who called me with the news told me that a Rescue Organization wants to take him. But this is too crazy. Too much. How can the news be bad every single time? Do we ever get a break?

YC

Introducing...Mr. Baby (or Lou.2)

Yesterday, we have adopted a beautiful, adorable 8-year old beagle from the New York City Animal Care and Control Center (i.e. Animal Control), which is, essentially, the Port Authority for all abandoned, lost and otherwise homeless animals in New York City. It seems that most, if not all, of the displaced animals in NYC (including chickens, ducks, snakes and iguanas!) are taken in at Animal Control at the outset. At Animal Control, they are observed for illnesses for a period of 10 days and then are ultimately (a) adopted, (b) taken by "scouts" from other shelters such as the ASPCA, Bide-a-Wee and the Humane Society, (c) taken by independent animal rescuers or one of the various smaller, independent rescue organizations (for example, "Paws All Around".

You see, Animal Control is the "kill-shelter". The unlucky animals end up staying there until there's no more room for them, and then they are euthenized (other animals are euthenized there as well, such as dogs that have bitten and old/ill dogs that are brought in by their owners who don't have the means by which to have their own veterinarian to do the job). Luckier animals get spotted by the non-kill organizations and taken in by them (or by foster parents) until they find a "forever" home.

After the whole terrible Lou the Beagle ordeal, we were "entitled" to a new dog from Pets on Lex. However, I just couldn't bring myself to go that route. I had already begun to investigate the various rescue organizations in and around the city, and what I learned was that the rescue organizations generally pick and choose the most likely-to-be-adopted animals from the NYCACC and find them homes (and foster homes in the meantime). But what about the ones who were not so obviously "easily adopted"? The thought of those animals being euthanized simply because they were no longer so young or not so "perfect" looking really tore at me.

On the other hand, I kept saying to myself, but why can't I have the "perfect" animal"? And why do I have to be the one to save the ones no one really would want?

Well, the answer came on Yom Kippur. After a long day in synagogue, I decided to cap off the day with a trip to the NYCACC, just to see what we were talking about. I had a couple of dogs in mind (I had viewed them on the Animal Control website). But when I got there, I was told that these dogs were already taken by rescue organizations. At first, I tried to get one of them out of the "rescue loop", but I could see that the red tape was daunting, and the Animal Control/Rescue Organization liason was a very bitchy, difficult-to-work-with, sourpuss, so I ended up walking through the adoption wards.

Sadly, Animal Control looks very much like jail for animals. On the other hand, the "wardens" were incredibly nice and helpful. Most of the "inmates" were pit bulls and pit bull mixes. The party line at Animal Control is that pit bulls are not deadly aggressive born-fighters, but rather, sweet, affectionate and exhuberant domestic companions. Petey-the-dog from The Little Rascals was a pit bull, after all. From what I could SEE, this was absolutely true. These were sweet, friendly animals that just wanted to lick your face and jump in your arms (actually, this jumping-thing is really a sign of poor obedience training, but it sure was cute to see these dogs placing their paws on my thighs and trying to bring their faces close to my face). Unfortunately, the muscularity of the pit bull is reminiscent of Ahnuld. Thus, a simple kiss from a one-year old pit-bull-labrador mix knocked me flat on my back, and when I tried to walk her on a leash, she basically tore me around the place until I had to let go of her lease for fear of falling flat on my face. And the unspoken question: what happens if your pit bull turns on you? Or your children? Or a friend of your children? So...cute and friendly as they are, pit bulls weren't happening for me.

And then I saw Baby. Baby was quietly waiting in his cage, looking out with sad, black-rimmed beagle eyes. His "card" said that he was believed to be a full-bred 8-year old beagle. He had been found on the street without tags. His temperment was described in one word: "MILD". I opened his cage, and he came out, tentatively, shaking a bit (I get the feeling that these dogs somehow "know" intuitively what could be in store for them at Animal Control...dogs aren't stupid, even the blonde ones...golden retriever joke...).

One of the "wardens" helped me to leash him, and I began walking him around. His body was in great shape...slim but not skinny. I could just barely feel his ribs (an indication of a good body weight in a beagle). His fur was spectacularly shiny and free of visible dander. His walk was a happy little trot. And then when he saw a bench, he immediately jumped up on it and made himself comfortable. I could picture Baby jumping up on the living room sofa in his former home, wherever that was, and I couldn't help but wonder how his owner could have either abandoned this perfect little pet or allowed him to go tagless and leashless (beagles should NEVER EVER go leashless, in the park, in your backyard or ANYWHERE as they are sniffing hounds and will follow an interesting scent...and follow...and follow...and get hopelessly lost....hence, there are always beagles at Animal Control).

I held Baby in my arms, and he began shaking, which concerned me. After a moment or two, I let him down, and he immediately went to a quiet corner to relieve himself, both ways. Ahhhh. I see....Baby was also well-trained. Don't pee on the people. Don't pee on the furniture. Don't pee in your cage/kennel/crate/carrier.

I had brought Adam (6 year old) with me, and he was in love (in all fairness, he pretty much falls in love with every animal he meets. But I wasn't sure about this. This was not a young dog. Baby is the equivalent of a middle-aged man. However, his eyes are clear, and he has an energetic gait. Confusion set in. We went home.

All night long, I tossed and turned, thinking about Baby. Was Baby going to be euthenized the next day (he had been at Animal Control for close to two weeks, although some of that time was Health-Department-mandated quarantine time)? I had spoken to Robin from Paws All Around that evening, and she assured me that Baby was not on the list. But the mild-compulsive in me did not feel reassured. I knew that I was going to have to show up first thing in the morning and get him out of there.

And so I did. My friend Stacy came with me (after we practiced at Shala X - it was her first time, although she has a proficient Primary Series practice). I was sick as a "dog", with a cold and a disgusting cough, too sick to really do much in my practice and too sick to teach my lunchtime class. But Stacy helped me motivate, and we got ourselves to Animal Control and signed Baby out of there.

My kids want to call him Louis (pronounced "Lewis"), but he's Baby to me, or Mr. Baby. We shall see. We didn't actually bring him home yesterday because he needs to be neutered before he can leave (Lord knows why his previous owner hadn't neutered him...I wonder if Baby has a flock of his own babies running around the city). He will be ready tomorrow, and we will be ready for him, partially because Animal Control provided us with tons of literature about how to care for him, how to train him, and how much we are supposed to love him and make him a part of our family.

I really can't believe that I ever was going to deal with a pet store. I am horrified. Everything about the process at the pet store seems wrong now. There was no information, no code of ethics to which we had to agree, no evaluation of OUR fitness to take home a dog. I made a mistake. I hope that anyone who ever is considering a pet-store dog will visit Animal Control first, just to make sure that they know what they are doing and what they are NOT doing by participating in the pet store travesty. I wish I had. But at least I know better now....

YC

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A very shana tova to all

I loved what Rachel wrote about Yom Kippur yesterday - so personal and thoughtful. I figured what else could I add other than a nice "quick and dirty" explanation from what I believe to be a reliable web source, Holidays.net:

"Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most sacred of the Jewish holidays, the "Sabbath of Sabbaths."

By Yom Kippur the 40 days of repentance, that begin with the first of Elul, have passed. On Rosh Hashanah G-d has judged most of mankind and has recorded his judgement in the Book of Life. But he has given a 10 day reprieve.

On Yom Kippur the Book of Life is closed and sealed. Those that have repented for their sins are granted a good and happy New Year.

Since Yom Kippur is the day to ask forgiveness for promises broken to G-d, the day before is reserved for asking forgiveness for broken promises between people, as G-d cannot forgive broken promises between people.

Yom Kippur is a day of "NOT" doing. The is no blowing of the Shofar and Jews may not eat or drink, as fasting is the rule. It is believed that to fast on Yom Kippur is to emulate the angels in heaven, who do not eat, drink, or wash.

The Five Prohibitions of Yom Kippur:
  1. Eating and drinking
  2. Anointing with perfumes or lotions
  3. Marital relations
  4. Washing
  5. Wearing leather shoes

While Yom Kippur is devoted to fasting, the day before is devoted to eating. According to the The Talmud the person "who eats on the ninth of Tishri (and fasts on the tenth) , it is as if he had fasted both the ninth and tenth." Prayer is also down played so that Jews can concentrate on eating and preparing for the fast.

On the eve of Yom Kippur the community joins at the synagogue. Men put on prayer shawls (not usually worn in the evenings). Then as the night falls the cantor begins the "Kol Nidre", it is repeated 3 times, each time in a louder voice. The Kol Nidre emphasizes the importance in keeping vows, as violating an oath is one of the worst sins.

An important part of the Yom Kippur service is the "Vidui" (Viduy) or confession. The confessions serve to help reflect on ones misdeeds and to confess them verbally is part of the formal repentance in asking G-d's forgiveness. Because community and unity are an important part of Jewish Life, the confessions are said in the plural (We are guilty).

As Yom Kippur ends, at the last hour a service called "Ne'ila" (Neilah) offers a final opportunity for repentance. It is the only service of the year during which the doors to the Ark (where the Torah scrolls are stored) remain open from the beginning to end of the service, signifying that the gates of Heaven are open at this time.

The service closes with the verse, said 7 times, "The L-rd is our G-d." The Shofar is sounded once and the congregation proclaims - "Next year in Jerusalem."


Oh yeah, and we eat apples and honey and a sweet cake called "Teglach", which is basically soup nuts drowned in honey and spices, with some minced fruit and possibly some sprinkles and raisins thrown in for extra sweetness. This is to symbolize a "sweet year".

And here is a Yom Kippur song, that I think all the Yogis out there will appreciate, in Hebrew, and with an English translation:

SHANA TOVA
A GOOD YEAR

Al hadesheh tal vageshem veshana tova
Uvadelet or utchelet shel hayom haba
Min haru'ach daf shaluach chadashot tovot
Magiot al knaf haruach el halevavot.

Ulai im hashana tihye tova
Nishkach darchey madon ve'achzava
Beyachad litzliley hashir haba nirkod kulanu
Ulai nishlach bracha ulai gluya
Ulai bichlal nashir haleluya
Mipney shehashana hazot
tluya be'etzem banu.

Lo shachahchti ech halachti bedarchey achzav
Mechapeset chen vachesed
bitchilat hastav

Mitrageshet ufogeshet anashim vataf
Uvona itam beyachad bayit meshutaf

Ulai....

Al hadeshe tal vageshem veshana tova.

On the grass there is dew and rain and a good year
Light and light blue of the next day stands in the door
Good news comes on a sheet of paper that came on the wind's wing
Straight into our hearts.

Maybe if the year will be good
we will forget the ways of quarrel and
disappointment
And to the tune of the next song we will dance together
May be we will send a card or a greeting
or we will sing Haleluya

Because what will happen in this year
basically depends on us.

I did not forget how I walked in deceptive ways
Looking for grace and goodness
in the beginning of the Autumn

I was excited meeting grown ups and children
Building a house together with them.

Maybe....

On the grass there is dew and rain and a good year.....

Notification of Bequest...

or "Funds Transfer" or the hearth-wrenching, "PLEASE HELP!!"

Sometimes days, even weeks, go by without a word from these long-lost "friends" from places like Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, who somehow find our email addresses and decide that they can trust us with their fortunes and their lives. And then one day, the inbox has a whole series of urgent, heart-felt letters from them, asking for our help, promising that if we could just give out some simple, albeit VERY personal and confidential information, then great fortunes will be ours in return.

You know what I'm talking about, right? Here's one:

"FROM MISS Fatu Bali ; ABIDJAN COTE D IVOIRE

My Dearest Beloved ,

Thanks for your reply ,based on your profile i am happy to request for your assistance and also to go into business partnership with you, i believe that you will not betrayed my trust which i am going to lay on you.

I am Miss Fatu Bali ,21years old and the only daughter of my late parents MR. and MRS MUSTAPHA Bali My father was a highly reputable business magnet-(a cocoa merchant)who operated in the capital of Ivory coast during his days. It is sad to say that he passed away mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad year 12th.Febuary 2004.Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been masterminded by an uncle of his who travelled with him at that time.

But God knows the truth! My mother died when I was just 4 years old, and since then my father took me so special. Before his death on February 12th 2004 he called the secretary who accompanied him to the hospital and told him that he has the sum of Ten Million United State Dollars.(USD$10 000 000) left in a security company in a metallic trunk box, but the security company didn't know the content because it was registered as family valuables personal for security reasons.

I am just 21 years old and a university undergraduate and really don't know what to do. This is because I have suffered a lot of set backs as a result of incessant political crisis here in Ivory coast. The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life. Sir, I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards. Your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded. Now permit me to ask these few questions:-

1. Can I completely trust you?

2. What percentage of the total amount in question will be good for you?

Consider this and get back to me as soon as possible.

Thank you so much.

My sincere regards,

MISS Fatu Bali




Does anyone really fall for this stuff? My God, I hope not. But judging by the sheer volume of ridiculous emails I get every day from well-meaning friends who forward things such silly stuff as "Warning: Antiperspirant causes breast cancer" and "The "CA-125 test for Ovarian Cancer MUST be mandated as part of a well-woman visit, and that to allow it not to be as such is tantamount to governmental mysogeny", truly believing in the veracity of what they are sending around into the ether...well, I fear that there must be some sorry folks who do give out their social and bank acount info to strangers on the web bearing false promises....indeed.

YC

Quickies

1. To answer REW's question on the Madonna post, I don't know if the prohibition on using the Rabbi's name/story for profit has an intent element (unlike, say, Murder 1). I am thinking it's more like statutory rape - if you did it, you're guilty, doesn't matter if you were ignorant of the law, ignorant of the facts or ignorant of the crime. What does Hockey Chick say?

2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the rain in NYC. It makes it really hard to walk down the street - umbrellas SUCK big time. But I have my awesome Miu Miu "Paddington Hat", which is essentially a red patent leather "Urban Sombrero", which I bought three years ago when I was going to have chemo, and I thought that great hats were the best revenge (on top of great wigs, of course). The rain makes my Ashtanga practice particularly juicy and soft.

3. Speaking of my Ashtanga practice, I got to Shala X 15 minutes late today because the FDR Drive was flooded, and the cars were moving at a glacial pace , so my last adjustment from Sir was a super-deep Mari A adjustment, drawing my elbows closer together behind my back, making it possible for me to really grab onto my wrists. I was on my own for B and C, because by then Sir was out of the classroom, and everyone else, including Mrs. Sir was finishing or already in Savasana. B was nice. Nothing special. But I got my fingers together on BOTH sides of C. And then I went home and took a hot bath, came out, dried off and just COMPLETELY bound on BOTH SIDES. YAY! Prohibitions on speaking of the practice aside, I feel like this signifies something major in my practice - an opening up of my chest, a validation for my surrendering to the teachings, a sign that my body might be keeping its promises to me if I keep my promises to my body. Yoga=yuj=yoke=connection. I feel it happening.

4. R&D: Sir saw me on the way out, and I breathlessly told him about my progress in Mari C. His face was a mask. I felt like an imbecile. But then he went on to tell me that bound parsvakonasana....(see below)

is a great way to open up my shoulders as an R&D pose (my language, R&D). If you notice in the photo (taken more than a year ago), I am BARELY binding in back. Now, I can grab my wrist on each side, but as Sir says, "It's not the bind that matters - it's the opening up of the chest and shoulders."

Cool. I think that Gomukhasana also helps, and I see that as I progress in Mari C, my Gomukhasana arms are improving on a parallel pace...my good side improving on par with my good side, my not-as-good-side improving on a slower par with my not-as-good side.

I am rushing. So I hope that was clear!

4. OK, this is going to sound horrible and egotistical, but I have to say it. I am SO happy that I have lost more than 10 pounds since I began practicing Mysore style Ashtanga. I was ALWAYS slim. I was ALWAYS between 102 and 108. AlWAYS. It was only after I started getting sick (in the year prior to my diagnosis, I began to put on some weight, probably because I was tired from unknowingly fighting off a beast, and looking for extra energy) that new weight began piling on. I don't know where it peaked, but I can only imagine I was up toward 130 by the time I was done with chemo, what with all the fluid they pumped into me and the steroids. Anyway, over the past two years since chemo ended, I have been slowly coming down. But this summer, when I began my practice at Shala X, the weight just started to peel off...to shed, like skin that no longer fit. I feel so much better now. I weigh 109, so I am not even at my skinniest. But I am right there in my range, and I just FEEL GOOD. It's not just that I can more easily wear my own clothing. It's just that I feel like I am in my own body again.

5. We are looking into rescue dogs. I have called about 10 different agencies and organizations and have talked to a bunch of different people. I need to get The Husband on board with going this route. But I can't believe that I didn't do this in the first place. Those dogs need homes. Perhaps I can "foster" some dogs at first and then move toward adoption and do an even bigger good deed. We shall see. The negotiations (between me and The Husband) go on....

6. Tonight begins Yom Kippur. REW's blog has a great piece on Yom Kippur. I will probably weigh in later when I have a moment. Right now, making a brisket with lots of earthy root vegetables, matzoh ball soup with lots of dill and running around buying gefilte fish (we love it so much so much, we have it at as many holidays as possible), wine and other stuff. For tomorrow we fast (well, actually, I don't...not good for my body...and health is paramount for Jews...I will cite an interesting article from the New York Times on that topic a bit later....

Right now, off goes the Yoga Chickie....

YC

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Nevermind the lawsuit, she answers to a higher power....

Well, Madonna (or, as she prefers to be called, "Esther") has really gone and done it now. Apparently, her new album, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," scheduled to drop November 15, includes a track called "Isaac", a musical tribute to Yitzhak Luria, a 16th century Jewish mystic and Kabbalah scholar. The trouble is, according to Rabbi Rafael Cohen, who heads a seminary named for Yitzhak Luria: "Jewish law forbids the use of the name of the holy rabbi for profit." Cohen decries Madonna's actions as "simply unacceptable". "I can only sympathize for her," he states further, "because of the punishment that she is going to receive from the heavens." (emphasis added)

YC


Monday, October 10, 2005

The gift of the BRCAs

Goddamned National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From the time I became cognizant of the fact that maybe one day I might get breast cancer (sometime around my thirtieth birthday, which also coincided with my preparing to become a first-time mother) until the year I was actually diagnosed, I used to count the days until October was over. Here I was wanting to forget about this awful disease that killed my dad's mom before her fiftieth birthay, this horrendous disease which too often seemed to strike young women, especially young Ashkenazik (eastern European) Jewish women...and I couldn't pick up a freakin' Glamour or Self without being forced to acknowledge the whole ugly breast cancer thing. There it was in black and white and glossy color: breast cancer survivors, young breast cancer survivors, pregnant breast cancer survivors, breast-feeding breast cancer survivors, breast cancer sob stories, breast cancer self-examination, breast cancer detection, breast cancer risk, breast cancer blah blah blah. I couldn't go near Central Park on the weekends in October without seeing throngs of people, mainly women, gathering for the various races and fun runs and walks that support breast cancer charities. Pink visors, pink t-shirts, pink ribbons, everything the color of Pepto Bismal. And it all made me want to throw up. Each year, I would sign up for the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure, throw in an extra hundred bucks donation, and then on the day of the race stay as far away from Central Park as possible. I simply couldn't bear to be around all that cancer.

Not that I would admit that to myself. There was always "something" that kept me from the Komen race. There was always some "reason" why I never got around to reading the saga of the model who got breast cancer and died, leaving behind a four-year old daughter. I remember talking to my sister about it, gingerly padding around the notion that the whole breast cancer awareness thing might be doing not much more than raising anxiety levels amongs "women". Not me, of course. Because what was there to be afraid of? I could never get breast cancer.

I mean, hell, it was my FATHER'S mother who died young of breast cancer. Oh yeah, and her sister too. And that doesn't count, right? Well, at least that is what my former OB/GYN (a very well-loved, highly respected OB/GYN, by the way) told me when I quietly, almost apologetically asked her about my risk. And it was my father's brother who died of colon cancer when he was 39. My mom's family had none of that stuff going on. And I was thin, and I worked out, and sometimes I even skipped my period, which indicated that my estrogen levels were low, which seemed like a really good idea, given that estrogen was known to fuel breast cancer. Right? So, it's not that I was "afraid" of breast cancer. It's just that I found all the endless talk about breast cancer to be...well...just rather unpleasant. Simple as that. Yeah. That's it.

In the course of that aforementioned conversation with Dr. B, I brought up the possibility of taking the test for the "breast cancer gene", which is really two genes, at least at this moment in scientific time. I was 35 by this time, and the mother of two young sons, and my dad had recently been diagnosed with his first adenocarcinoma (science-lingo for cancer that originates in a gland)...prostate cancer (his next cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, would be diagnosed seven years later...harsh, considering that Dad is a non-smoker). But according to Dr. B, "Although they are both adenocarcinomas, prostate cancer is not linked to breast cancer. They have nothing to do with one another." We now know this to be untrue, but let's just give Dr. B the benefit of the doubt and assume that the scientists had not yet made the connection between breast and prostate cancers, or between breast and colon cancer either.

In any event, Dr. B did not recommend the test for me. In her view, there simply was not a familial link between all the cancers on my dad's side of the family. She recommended that I have a colonoscopy (which I did) and a mammogram (which I did). All was clean. All was well. But every time I let my mind wander to my rather checkered paternal health history, it shook me to my core. So most of the time, I just tried not to think about it. Hence, October = blech.

To this day, I don't understand what the harm would have been in testing for the gene, even if the family history didn't quite add up. Sure, it would have been pretty difficult to go through a prophylactic double mastectomy and oophorectomy (ovary removal), but I think that if I had the facts in front of me...the fact of a positive test result on the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene, and what that all means...well, I would have gotten on board with the idea of surgery pretty quickly.

So, what does it mean to be BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive? Well, for starters, according to breastcancer.org, women who have an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have up to an 85% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70. Women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 abnormalities are also at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. The lifetime risk is about 55% for women with BRCA1 mutations and about 25% for women with BRCA2 mutations.

But it gets worse. According to the National Cancer Institute, as well as numerous other sources, women who are "BRCA positive" tend to be diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age. Cancerhelp.org.uk reports that HALF of all women who are BRCA positive will have developed breast cancer by the time they are 50 years old. That is WICKED scary.

If you are lucky enough to find out that you have an abnormal BRCA gene, you have choices. You can get your prophylactic mastectomy. You can begin to think about planning your family sooner rather than later so that you can have your ovaries removed before you turn 40 (the age at which ovarian cancer risks starts to climb more rapidly). At the very least, you can practice VERY watchful waiting, like one woman I know is doing.

Frankly, I am of the opinion that this woman, J, is playing with fire. See, the most surefire way to survive breast cancer is to never get it at all. The thing about breast cancer that is so insidious (and which so many of the "breast cancer awareness" progagandizers don't tell you), is that breast cancer can metastasize EVEN if you catch it at a very early stage. Generally speaking, you only die from breast cancer if the cancer metastasizes. Thus, whereas "early detection" will spell "cure" in the case of some cancers (malignant melanoma and prostate cancer, for example), it does NOT spell "cure" in the case of breast cancer. Once you have had a breast cancer diagnosis, however small your tumor was, regardless of whether or not it has spread to the lymph nodes, you can never be considered "cured". The best that you can hope for is a nice remission that lasts your entire life. Thus, breast cancer AVOIDANCE is the first prong of a good attack plan. Early detection is a distant SECOND.

In addition, if you are a young woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer, however small, however early, regardless of whether you opt for a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, it is more than likely that you will have to go through a three to six-month protocol of chemotherapy. And the chemo that is typically given to young women with breast cancer is among the awfulest of the awfuls (while there is a less harsh chemo protocol for breast cancer called "CMF", it is seldom given to young women because it doesn't seem to work as well in young women). They don't call it the "Red Devil" for nothing.

After chemotherapy, if you are lucky enough to have had a cancer that is hormone-responsive (i.e., the cancer feeds on estrogen and/or progesterone; this type of breast cancer is known to have a better survival rate than non-hormone-responsive breast cancer), then you may spend the next five years (or more) on hormone therapy, such as Tamoxifen (which is known to cause significant weight gain) or one of the Aromatase Inhibitors (which you can't take unless you are post-menopausal, which can be induced through surgery to remove the ovaries or which may have ALREADY been induced by the chemotherapy). Aromatase Inhibitors work on the adrenal gland to suppress the body's manufacture of estrogen from outside of the ovaries (fat cells are a source of estrogen-manufacture, which goes a long way toward explaining why women tend to gain weight after menopause: without the ovaries producing estrogen, the body is struggling to conserve its other estrogen resources).

So, here's the million dollar question. If you knew that your chances of getting breast cancer before you are 50 years old are basically no better than a coin toss, would you really want to wait and see if you got it? J, who is doing just that, does not want to lose her breasts, but she has other issues as well, namely that her greatest fear is ovarian cancer (her mother died from it). Therefore, she feels that she has to deal with her ovaries first and foremost, and until she knows what she is going to be doing about her ovaries, she is paralyzed as far as her breasts go.

Look, I understand.... it's not easy to give up your breasts. I really liked mine. It's not easy to give up your ovaries if you dream of having more children or you hate the idea of dealing with hot flashes and battling weight gain around your middle. But when you have the facts in front of you, at least you get to make your own choices. I didn't have those choices because I didn't have the testing. Or, rather, I didn't have the testing until AFTER I already got my breast cancer diagnosis and had already had my breasts and ovaries removed.

And guess what?

I tested negative.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got the news. And good news it was. VERY good news. It means that I don't have to have additional surgery to remove my fallopian tubes. It means that I am not at any known high risk for ovarian cancer, colon cancer or pancreatic cancer. It means that I can't have passed the gene to my two sons or to any of their children or children's children.

But it's not such good news for my sister. Since I don't carry the mutated gene, then there is no point in testing her at all. Because what is there to test her for? But that does not leave her risk-free. See, Vanessa and I still have a significant family breast cancer history. And just because we don't carry either of the identified BRCA mutations doesn't mean that we don't carry SOME OTHER as-yet-unidentified genetic mutation that carries with it, for example, a risk of breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer (not to mention Hodgkin's, which my father's niece, the daughter of his brother who died of colon cancer in his thirties, had in her mid- twenties).

Here's how my genetic counselor explained it. If my breast cancer was caused by some unidentified genetic mutation, then there is a 50 percent chance that my sister inherited the same mutation. If that mutation is anything like the BRCA mutations, then IF Vanessa inherited it, she would have an 85 percent chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. So, we're talking about a fifty percent chance of having an 85 percent chance. Toss a coin, get the wrong side and you've got a pretty good chance of getting a pretty bad disease.

The trouble is, who knows? Easy for me to say, "Vanessa, go and get yourself a double mastectomy, just in case." But I can only imagine how unreasonable that might sound to her. If only I tested BRCA-positive, then we might know what kind of risk my sister is looking at.

Thus, as shitty as it is, testing BRCA-positive can truly be viewed as a gift. The gift of knowledge. The gift of choice.

For more information about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and the BRCA genes, check out FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.

YC

How would I work?

How could I possibly work? As it is, I have no time for anything.

And by work, I mean a real, honest to goodness, red-blooded American, 40-plus hours per week job someplace outside of my home. I am NOT talking about teaching a yoga class here, a yoga class there, which is something I do primarily for the sheer pleasure of it.

When Brian (my firstborn) was born, I switched from a heavy-hitting, partnership-track, macho, deal-making job as a senior associate in a large Manhattan law firm to a paper-pushing, cog-in-the-wheel, heavily beaurocratic, slow-paced job as an "assistant counsel" at New York Life Insurance Company's 100-lawyer Office of the General Counsel. Even with a baby at home, the New York Life job was cake, what with four weeks of vacation and half-day Fridays in the summer and an on-site day-care center that I used liberally so that I could spend my commuting time with Brian. It wasn't mentally taxing, even when I took on management of the entire catalogue of New York Life-owned trademarks. It eventually BECAME mentally taxing when I was pregnant with Adam and beset with minor but annoying health problems, and my boss, who apparently never heard of Anti-Discrimination laws, demoted me from Keeper of the Intellectual Property to Trainee in Variable Insurance Products because, as he said, "What with the pregnancy and my due date, it would just work out better."

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah...in spite of all of that, it was still relatively easy to work AND be a mom. Adam hadn't been born yet. Brian wasn't in school yet, so when I got home from work at 6 p.m., I could take him to the park (whether and daylight savings time permitting) and swing on the swings and have him in bed by 10 p.m. I also had a wonderful nanny, Ella, whom I nanny-cammed from time to time, just to set my guilty-mom mind at ease. These were the salad days of "having it all".

After Adam was born, I took a longer maternity leave than I had with Brian (I took five months), breast fed exclusively and quite happily, and looked for another job, one where my superiors would be more inspiring AND more mindful of the laws that protect women from getting screwed over because they dared to become pregnant and mess up their boss's calendar. I answered an ad in the New York Law Journal for a full-time position at a large firm job where a major client was a media giant. It turned out that the media giant was News Corp., the law firm was Squadron Ellenoff, which was so eager to hire me that they were willing to take me at FOUR DAYS PER WEEK!!! EIGHT HOURS PER DAY!!! (In the world of large Manhattan law firms, this is GOOD). It was an incredible coup, and I joyfully trudged to work in the mornings, now dropping Brian off at nursery school on my way and pumping breast milk in the office to feed to Adam when I got home.

It worked. It really worked. I don't know how. But it did. Brian was going to sleep more like 9 p.m., rather than 10, but I still felt like I had enough time with my kids, mainly because I had every Wednesday off, and no one I worked with at Squadron EVER called me on a Wednesday unless something MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR was happening. I carved out a really nice niche for myself in the technology area, and continued to prove to myself that I could "have it all".

Somehow, I managed during all of this to schedule playdates, rather than pawn this task off onto my nanny (a new nanny, Norma, because Ella wanted to work with an only-child, but it turned out that Norma was also a Godsend), to attend every school event at Brian's pre-school, to be a class-parent, to schedule Adam for music and gym classes to which Norma would take him, to bake homemade cookies and to take part in a Tuesday-evening working-mom's playgroup (with a group of women I still consider to be some of my best friends).

By the time Adam was entering nursery school - three years had now gone by - I was diagnosed with breast cancer and took some time off, always intending to go back. At this point, I had yet another nanny, this time a wonderful, compassionate, energetic, sports-loving 25-year old named Teresa, and it would have been easy to trust her to keep my kids busy and happy during the workday. In fact, while I was sick, she basically completely took over for me (and I will always be grateful for that because I never had a doubt in my mind that my kids were happy and well-cared for, as I sat like a lump on my sofa for, I don't know, nine months or so). But I digress....I was so goshdarned tired during treatment and in the year following my treatment, it didn't even seem like a remote possibility. Two years after my diagnosis, Adam was entering kindergarten, and I suppose I wasn't nearly as tired anymore, at least on the face of things, but the thought of working and mothering seemed to be beyond daunting for me.

Class trips, homework (which starts full swing in kindergarten nowadays), committees, my yoga practice and ultimately my yoga teaching...how in God's name do working moms do it? I am seriously in AWE of moms who are able to get up early in the morning, get dressed for work, make their kids' lunches, get their kids off to school, go be productive at work and then at the end of a long workday, hurry home for dinnertime, homework and the whole bedtime routine, all of which is HARD and often physical labor (imagine wrestling an alligator into a bath and a set of pajamas, and you'll have some idea of what I am talking about).

I can barely read to my kids at night WITHOUT having the pressure of a dayjob. Is it just me? Have I lost my mojo completely? Or does it really take a village to raise a child (and a working mom comprises the entire village, herself, like an actor who plays every role in a play, or like Eddie Murphy in Coming to America)?

Susan, Julie, Paula, Lesley, Dana, Shannon...you guys rock. I bow to YOU.

YC

Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.

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