My friend, Pneumonia, is loyal and dedicated. He’s always with me, gently reminding me of his presence like my childhood dog who followed me everywhere. He also has given me some great gifts: a legitimate excuse reason to nap at any time, 8 lbs. of weight lost without setting foot in a gym, and a deep sympathy and compassion for people with chronic lung problems…
But Pneumonia doesn’t treat me very well. He makes me feel weak and incompetent. He is hurtful. He tricks me into thinking everything is okay between us, only to slam me to the ground the next day with dizzy spells, intense fatigue, and heart palpitations.
Now that I’m thinking about it, Pneumonia is a jerk.
But all the mean things Pneumonia has done to me really stem from the same issue: He has robbed me of my breath.
Breathing is the key to life. I don’t just mean that breathing is the key to not dying. But through breathing you live life. Oxygen fuels every cell in the body. We need it just like food and water to be able to move and think. Good breathing gets toxins out of our bodies, affects our hormones, and can calm and quiet us.
We also communicate through our breathing patterns. We send unconscious signals to each other continually about whether or not we feel threatened or safe, inadequate or capable, weak or powerful.
Yet most of us have no clue when or how we breathe. Continue reading: “Meet My Friend, Pneumonia”
The Sochi Olympics opening ceremony is this Friday. I love the olympics. Every two years I force Kevin to sit through the parade of countries, even though it takes HOURS just to get to Finland. (For readers new to these parts, I’m 100% Finn.)
One of my favorite events to watch is the biathlon. If you’re not familiar with the sport, it involves cross country skiing and shooting. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once joked that it seemed like a strange combination. In his words, “It’s like combining swimming and strangle a guy. Why don’t we have that? That makes absolutely as much sense to me.”
The biathlon does make sense, really, as it played an integral part in military life in Scandinavia as early as the 1700′s. “Ski-runners” armed with rifles patrolled the borders, and in the famous Winter War in the late 1930′s, the Finnish army, outnumbered 10 – 1, defended their border successfully against the Russians.
Here are the basic rules of a biathlon: after cross country skiing between 3 -5 kilometers with a .22 caliber rifle strapped on their back, competitors reach a firing range and must shoot five targets placed at 50 meters away. For each missed target, the competitor must ski around a 150 meter penalty loop.
If you’ve ever cross country skied, you know how difficult it is. Imagine skiing for 5 kilometers, fingers cold from the outdoors, heart pounding, and dropping to your stomach and taking five shots. Which brings me to the most fascinating part of the biathlon: a technique called “easing in.” The skier knows he or she must hit as many targets as possible or risk having to ski a penalty loop. But this is incredibly difficult when your heart is pounding and you’re struggling to get enough oxygen into your lungs. So instead of racing into the shooting range, Continue reading: “Easing In”
At the gym this morning, I was huffing away on the elliptical, puzzling over Matt Lauer’s choice of facial hair when a man on the other side of the gym caught my attention. He was wearing a bright red shirt with the word “trainer” on the back, but that’s not why I looked over. As he moved about the gym, he would “sidle” up to someone on an exercise machine and strike up a conversation. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it was so nonverbally obvious that the person working out did -not- want to be interrupted.
As I continued to watch it became clear that what this guy was trying to do was sell his personal training services by offering free workout advice. And it was also clear he was having absolutely no luck.
He was in good shape, and it is January, the time people usually sign up for personal training. Assuming his workout advice was sound, why was he striking out?
Simple. He had no permission. Continue reading: “Do NOT approach me on the street. Or the gym. Or…”
My sister is a high school teacher down in Southern California. Recently she was in the middle of teaching class when fifteen people from the school district filed into her classroom to observe her.
“I just froze,” she told me. “I absolutely choked.”
Now my sister is a pro. She’s been teaching for over 15 years, has mentored new teachers throughout her career and the school she works in often sends new or struggling teachers to observe her in action. But they usually let her know in advance, she explained, and it’s never more than a few people.
After a few minutes however, she was able to pull it together and continue her lesson.
Later that evening, she ran into her principal at a high school football game. “I was mortified,” she said, “I didn’t know what to say.” So after a bit of small talk she said, “Wow, I really choked this afternoon.”
His reply? “Yes you really did!”
Which brings us to the question: was his response rude or honest? The answer: It depends. Continue reading: “Rude or Honest? Depends…”
As we walked into the building the woman behind the counter called out a cheerful hello. The other woman looked down at my sister’s shoes and said, “Cute boots!” I shot Sirpa a look that said, “Are you kidding me?”
Now, I’m the first one to admit that I can be a bit grouchy. I mean, what’s wrong with people attempting to be nice? But here’s the rub: it was 4:30 in the morning, the building we had just entered was the emergency room, and my mother was seriously ill.
Funny how context changes everything.
A cheerful greeting in most other circumstances would be appropriate. (Although I consider it a personal win if I can get out of the gym without the person behind the front counter calling out a perky “Have a nice day!” But that’s just me.) And as you’ve heard me say before, there is no such thing as “negative” body language. All (ok, most) body language is appropriate somewhere.
But there is such a thing as bad timing, and boy did our week in the hospital clearly spell that out. Continue reading: “Forced Fruitcake”