My Sister is a Rock Star

My sister lives in North Dakota. She teaches high school and has coached the girl’s volleyball team there for 20 years. I know that every year her team makes it to the state finals and that she often not only wins the state tournaments, but has also many times been named coach of the year for North Dakota.

500 wins

Now, I am not an athlete and I’ve never understood much about her world and what she does. She was always great at sports, I struck out each and every time I got to bat in the one year I spent in softball.

I went to her house last week for Thanksgiving. She was gracious enough to host our entire family. My brother in law called me a few days before I left to tell me that some of her players and their parents were planning a surprise celebration for her because she had just won her 500th game. Even I know that winning 500 games must be a pretty big deal but I had no idea what kind of an impact she has made on her players and her community.

I am so incredibly grateful that my flights were on time so that I could witness this celebration first hand. We arrived at her school to find over a hundred people waiting to honor her. There were tearful speeches. There was cake. The local news station sent out a camera and a reporter.

What stuck me though, was not the number of people in the room or the fact that she’d be on the news that night. I realized that for the first time in my life I was seeing my sister as she really is, at her best, in her element.

I saw the reverence that each and every current and former player brought to her as they waited patiently in line to shake her hand and congratulate her. I saw the tears in their eyes as they told my sister how she had impacted them and their lives. I saw my sister accepting these words with grace and elegance. I saw her not as the younger sibling I used to boss around, but as an accomplished woman who each and every day brought the best of herself to the work that she does. I saw how much she’s invested in all the girls she’s coached; I saw the generosity she’s shown to her entire community.

I saw her as the rock star that she is in her world. I’d never thought of her like that before. I think of another sister as a rock star, she’s a world-class mountaineer. I know that some people see me as a rock star simply because I’ve had a certain amount of success in my fashion career but seeing my sister this way made me stop to think- maybe everyone is a rock star in their own way. None of us can know, just by looking at someone else, how they’ve impacted the people in their lives.

Beyond the quantifiable markers of my sisters success, the 500 wins or the number of times she’s won Coach of the Year, I see now that the way she worked with the hundreds of girls who played for her is the real reason I see her as a rock star. In addition to being incredibly proud of her, I’m grateful that I finally was able to see her as she really is.

I am inspired by her grace and her humility and her honor.

What a gift, to discover the true nature of someone I thought I knew.

Safe

When I think about the word SAFE I first think about baseball, with a player sliding into one of the bases and an umpire in a striped uniform spreading his arms wide and yelling, “SAFE”.

But the word SAFE has so many different meanings and connotations for everyone. A few weeks ago I was asked to think about a time in my past where I felt isolated and alone. I wasn’t asked to think about a time where I didn’t feel safe but the incident that came up for me was certainly linked to a lack of safety.

I went back to my late twenties when I was living in Maui with a man I knew I didn’t love. I spent two years with him hoping that I could learn to love him but I eventually came to the painful realization that it just wouldn’t work between us. I broke up with him and made plans to move back to the mainland. I had to move out of the condo we shared right on the ocean and I moved in with a girl for a few months to ease my transition. She had a bird that lived in the bathroom and attacked me almost every day in the shower. She also did laundry in my bedroom and would come in at all hours of the night to put her clothes in the dryer. I realize now, of course, that all of this was ridiculous but at twenty-something I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I worked in a restaurant at the time so I had many restaurant friends who would drink with me until all hours of the night and commiserate about how difficult my situation was, but I knew when I left the island I wouldn’t keep in touch with any of them.

Then a specific incident came up for me. Halfway through my time in Maui my mother shipped my sewing machine to me so I could start fashion school at Maui Community College. I came home after a shift at the restaurant to find the box torn apart in the middle of the living room floor and I woke the boyfriend up to have a fit because he ruined my box. I knew, of course, that I would be shipping that sewing machine again and that I would need a box to do that. I am sure he didn’t even consider the concept that I would ever need that box again. I was angry. He was tired. We fought. He threw me against a wall to shut me up. My blood went cold. I had never felt so isolated or alone in my life. I spent the entire night pacing the floor and trying to find a justification not to immediately leave him. I had principles. I had standards. Being thrown against a wall was a deal breaker for me. I felt like I was in danger. What would be next? I didn’t sleep. In the morning I called my family and told them I had to leave. My sister offered to fly out to pack me up and get me out of there.

Here’s the thing- it took me another year to actually leave. He never did actually hit me, and he didn’t throw me against a wall again but I began to notice the subtle violence in the way he would talk to me. I agonized over the fact that I didn’t immediately leave. I violated my personal code of ethics with myself. I felt like I made the decision to stay with him out of weakness and fear.

It is only in revisiting this incident much later, in thinking about what that isolation and that fear meant to me that I had a powerful realization. Throughout my entire body I felt the warmth and the confidence of safety. I fully know that I AM SAFE.

I have always been safe. I was safe in that moment and I am safe now. I am safe inside myself, I am safe in my heart, my soul, the essence of me is safe. Regardless of what happens on the outside, the fingers and the toes, the me within me is safe.

I grew up believing that the world is fraught with danger. Don’t talk to strangers. Be careful. There is danger around every corner.

What if instead there is safety everywhere? What if I start living my life believing that I am inherently safe rather than constantly in danger? How can my life be different?

I’m ready to find out.

Cancerversary

It’s my cancerversary.

7 years ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. My sister sent me a message this afternoon reminding me of this fact. This took my by surprise. I don’t automatically recognize the date as being significant anymore. I took a moment when I saw the message from her to reflect.

I thought about how different my life is now than it was before my diagnosis. Before my diagnosis I was sure that I had to do everything myself. I knew that people were unreliable; if I trusted anyone I was sure I would be let down.

Cancer forced me to re-examine this principle. First of all, hospitals don’t let patients go to chemo by themselves. I had to step outside my comfort zone and not only ask the people in my life for help, but also to actually accept help when it was offered.

I don’t write about this very much, but today, on my cancerversary, I do want to share a few things that 7 years later I know that I am grateful for-

I AM GRATEFUL for the casual friends who were with me on the beach in Maui the day I was diagnosed. They are no longer casual friends; they are, unequivocally, family.

I AM GRATEFUL for my friend from another state who showed up in the waiting room after my surgery, he knew that I needed support but that I didn’t have the courage to ask for it.

I AM GRATEFUL for my work friend who held my hand when they put the needle in my arm during my first chemo treatment.

I AM GRATEFUL for my beauty school drop-out friend who shaved my head and took me wig shopping the day my hair started falling out by the handful.

I AM GRATEFUL for my friend the photographer who took portraits of me and my bald head with respect and grace. It may seem like a small gesture, but he helped me take my power back, he helped me to feel in control of my situation.

I AM GRATEFUL that my best friends are no longer Ativan and Ambien, but Grace and Ease.

I AM GRATEFUL for the spin instructors who stood at the front of my bike and pushed me just like any other rider, skull cap and all.

I AM GRATEFUL for the doctors and the nurses who took the time to connect with me as a human being and cared for me with compassion and kindness.

I AM GRATEFUL for my family who came to my rescue each and every day of treatment and beyond.

I AM GRATEFUL that cancer, rather than taking my life, taught me what it looks like and feels like to really live.

I realize that the lessons I learned from cancer are simple- I learned that relationships and connections with human beings are more powerful and significant than any other marker of success that I could have.

So, happy cancerversary to me. Here’s to another year.

Grace and Ease

One of my yoga teachers often uses the phrase- “with Grace and Ease”. He’s passionate about guiding his students to add this phrase whenever they speak about something they want. For instance, someone can wish for a certain amount of money but if they don’t add- “with Grace and Ease”, they could be involved in an accident and be awarded a large sum of money but be disabled for life.

I’ve listened to him speak about this with stars in my eyes. Yes! I want that! I want more Grace and Ease in my life! IF ONLY– I knew how to get it.

I’m happy to say that in the last month I’ve seen Grace and Ease in action. However, it didn’t look at all like I thought it would. Let me explain.

Car

I was in a small car accident about a month ago. I pulled out into the street in front of my house and ran right into another car. I just didn’t see them. It was loud. It was disruptive. It was shocking and unnatural and upsetting. Immediately after our cars settled I ran over to the couple in the other car and started apologizing profusely.

They were calm. They wanted to be sure that I was OK. They were OK. We were all OK.

They had just bought a new car. They had much more damage than I had. They could have been furious. They could have screamed and yelled and waved their hands around in the air. They didn’t do any of that. Their main concern is that I wasn’t injured. Most of the cars that drove by stopped to make sure that we were all OK. People walking down the street stopped to check on us. I realized that I have an entire community in my own neighborhood, in the neighborhood I drive in and out of without stopping to talk to anyone expect the occasional next-door neighbor. As surreal and uncomfortable as the situation was, it was eye opening for me to see the opportunity I have for connection in my own backyard.

More than anything, I was blown away by the incredible kindness and generosity of the couple in the car I hit. A situation that had the potential for ugliness was filled with Grace and Ease because of the way they reacted.

We both called our insurance companies, mine sent a tow truck and arranged a rental car and promised me that they would take good care of the people in the other car. I was overwhelmed with gratitude when they said that, I chose wisely, my insurance company is honorable and the people who had been so nice to me would be treated in kind.

When their tow truck came we all said an awkward farewell in the middle of the street. I wanted more than anything to hug both of them, to make sure they knew that I was truly sorry and that their kindness had touched me in a profound and beautiful way. I didn’t hug them, we waved and they were gone.

It took a month for the body shop to fix my car. Every couple of days they would call and promise to be done by that afternoon but something would come up and they would need to fix something else. Eventually I was turned over to the manager of the shop because he felt so terrible that they couldn’t manage to finish my car. I went in last week to pick it up and waited for an hour before they told me they needed more time and put me back in a rental for the weekend.

The manager of the body shop was astounded that I didn’t have a fit. He praised me over and over again for my patience. He offered to waive the majority of my deductible. He offered to rent a Mercedes for me for the weekend. He insisted that I give him a hug before I left. He couldn’t believe that I was not upset.

I thought about this, I know that most people would have yelled and screamed and made demands. Certainly it was inconvenient for me to not know day by day when my car would be done. I live in South Pasadena, where I had to go every couple of days and pay $2.00 a night to park in front of my house. I spent an inordinate amount of time at gas stations doing the math to determine how much gas I needed to put in the car to make it a few more days so I wouldn’t be charged refueling charges by the rental company. But none of it was terrible. Certainly it was inconvenient but terrible? No.

I finally picked up my car yesterday. Unfortunately it’s not as glamorous and new as the cars I’ve been driving for the last month, but it’s mine and it’s fixed and I only had to pay a little portion of my deductible.

So, what’s this all about, this sudden influx of Grace and Ease that I’m witnessing in my life? Should I attribute it to the fact that I’ve recommitted myself to my morning yoga and meditation? Or is this the way the universe is rewarding me for all the good things I’ve done, is this karma coming back to me?

Or is it about something else entirely? I realize that I didn’t play the victim in either circumstance. Did the car accident HAPPEN TO ME? Was the body shop delaying my car because these kinds of things always HAPPEN TO ME?

No.

I immediately saw my role and responsibility in the car accident. I accepted that I made a mistake and was grateful for the kindness and compassion I received from the couple in the other car. I understood that the people at the body shop were doing the best they could do. I, in turn, treated them with the kindness and respect that I have been shown in so many instances in my life. I didn’t give my power away by attributing any of these situations to an outside force manipulating my life. I saw my role in both situations and reacted in a way that was honest and true for me in both cases.

My reward has been to dance with my new best friends Grace and Ease. I welcome my new friends. Take your shoes off, Grace and Ease. Stay awhile.

Gratuitous Tipping

I worked as a server in restaurants for almost 20 years. I started in a coffee shop in the middle of North Dakota and ended in one of the highest profile fine dining restaurants in the fabulously sophisticated food-centric San Francisco.

A few months ago I stopped for breakfast at a diner in Landers, CA on my way back from an all night gong concert in the desert. (Yes- I regularly attend all-night gong concerts in the desert.) I went to the type of place that has endless breakfast variations, most of which include multiple types of breakfast meat.

Sunday mornings in any restaurant are a swirl of activity- from families in their Sunday best going out after church to groups of college students wearing dark sunglasses gleefully consuming large quantities of grease and caffeine to assuage their hangovers. In addition to the usual Sunday morning suspects I noticed a man on a scooter and his wife treating their pastor to a plate of eggs. It was delightful and exciting to be so far outside of my comfortable bubble in Los Angeles. Needless to say, fresh cold-pressed green juice was not on the menu.

It took almost 15 minutes for my waitress to approach my table. In that time a busboy brought me coffee and a hostess took my order. I could see that my waitress was harried. One table wanted ketchup, another table was missing their French fries and everyone wanted more coffee. When she finally reached me I told her someone else had taken my order and she seemed relieved. She called me hon. I love it when women call me hon. It’s familiar in a small town kind of way without seeming condescending or confrontational.

My breakfast came without her, the busboy dutifully filled up my coffee, and the hostess checked in to make sure I was enjoying my mediocre hash browns and slightly overcooked eggs. I didn’t see my waitress until she dropped the check after the busboy cleared my plate.

I knew her situation. I’ve been in her situation. I remember my first waitress job in a truck stop in Jamestown, North Dakota. I used to bring home a Styrofoam cup full of change at the end of a shift, all the while envious of the far more experienced blonde waitress who raked in dollar bills instead of change. It took years for the restaurant nightmares to end after I left the restaurant business. Waiting tables is one of the most stressful jobs in America. Even though the waitress this day hardly engaged with me I identified with her in a very real way. I saw her.

As I was going to the cashier to pay the check I found her by the coffee station and slipped her a 20-dollar bill. I said simply,

Thank you for your service.

I wanted her to know that the work she does every day is seen and appreciated. Without looking at the money I handed her she smiled and said, “Thank you.”

As I was paying the cashier she found me again with tears in her eyes. She touched me and looked into my eyes and thanked me again. I know this wasn’t about the money. I sincerely doubt that a 20-dollar bill could or would change her life. I think this was about the fact that she truly felt like she was seen. For the bargain basement price of 20 dollars I had given another human being proof that she had value. Proof that the work she does every day is significant. When I looked up at her to acknowledge her thanks I felt like I could see into her soul. For a brief moment she wasn’t a waitress and I wasn’t a city girl with extra cash in her wallet, for a couple of seconds we were two souls seeing the essence of each other and the grace and generosity of the universe.

It has been said that the greatest gift you can impart to anyone is the gift of showing them that they are seen and that whey they say and do matters. For the bargain basement price of 20 dollars I saw this powerful truth in action. Worth every penny.

Spirituality vs. My Mechanic

A few days ago I posted about how lucky I am. The “Check Transmission” light came on in my car 7 miles before my maintenance package expired. What incredibly good fortune, to know that whatever was wrong with my car would be taken care of.

So why then, yesterday, did I find myself at the dealership in the service manager’s office crying? Not loud uncontrollable crying, but soft little tears as I tried to tell him how I didn’t feel like I had been taken care of by his staff.

I’m working on practicing gratitude this year and part of this process is being grateful for the big fantastic things and being grateful for the small difficult lessons that come into my life as well. I could have walked out of the service manager’s office embarrassed and immediately forced the entire incident out of my mind but I know that this is an opportunity for me to get beneath the surface and figure out why I had so much sadness surrounding the way I was handled.

My usual contact at the dealership was out of the office when I brought my car into the shop the other night so I ended up working with someone else. The next day there were several phone calls back and forth and it seemed to me that he wasn’t really trying to address any underlying problems with the car. He was flippant and kept telling me that the car was fine and that I should come pick it up. I confronted him in a calm manner. I used full sentences. I asked what I thought were reasonable and insightful questions.

Finally he said, “I can’t find anything wrong with your car and I can’t be responsible for what happens to the transmission when you drive it off our lot. Look, you have a good car. ”

I was dumbfounded. This man was patting me on the head telling me that I shouldn’t be so difficult; I should just blindly accept his opinion that my car is a good car. How could I have the audacity to question his judgment?

All my life I’ve had men patronize me in this way- especially around “man” things they think I don’t know a lot about- Cars, the Army, Mathematics. Well, I don’t know anything about cars but I spent 6 years in the Army National Guard and I have a college degree in Mathematics.

I was irritated but not sad. There were no tears. I was frustrated that I would have to prepare myself to play hardball, that I would have to get forceful, that I shouldn’t have to be put in a position where I have to be bitchy to get not just what I want, but what is fair. I told him to check it again.

The next day I called the service contact I usually deal with to talk with him about the situation. I’ve been working with him for 4 years. He’s earned my trust. After researching my situation he assured me that they would do everything they could to take care of me and explained exactly what was going on with my car. It was then that the tears came. I was able to let my guard down and accept help from someone I trusted. He didn’t condescend to me. He was fair and honest and graceful.

I made sure that the manager would be available to talk to me when I picked up the car. I knew that I had two choices when I talked to him. I could work myself up and use my anger to get him to admit that I wasn’t treated well. Or I could go in and just let him know that I was disappointed in their service. I knew that if I picked the second option that it was highly likely that I would cry.

I decided to be honest and show up as myself. I also promised myself that if I did cry that I wouldn’t fall all over myself apologizing for showing emotion. Being treated with such condescension was emotional for me. I decided that he would just have to deal with it. And he did. He calmly sat there and listened to me with his hands clasped in his lap. He didn’t cover up what I was saying. He didn’t tell me to calm down. He didn’t diminish my feelings. He just listened. He acknowledged everything I said, apologized for the way I was spoken to and explained in detail every issue surrounding my car. He assured me that the dealership would do everything within their power to make sure I was taken care of if there are any further issues.

The fact that he just sat and held the space, that he had the elegance to let me have my feelings in a way that was necessary for me allowed me to calm down and hear everything he had to say.

This is really all I wanted, to be apprised of the actual details of what went wrong with my car and to be assured that they will do everything they can in the future to take care of me.

So, I cried at the Acura dealer. So what.

At least it was honest. I’m learning to not automatically see tears as a sign of weakness. Tears really are just a sign of being human. Sometimes being human is hard and messy and uncomfortable. In really listening to me yesterday that service manager gave me a tremendous gift. For that I am grateful.

Lucky Girl

IMG_4472The Check Transmission light came on in my car yesterday in the middle of Hollywood. My odometer reading was 99,993. My extended maintenance package expires at 100,000 miles.

If this had happened to me 5 years ago I would probably have started hyperventilating and crying. I may or may not have called my father hysterically, hoping that he would be able to tell me over the phone that everything would be OK. I would have thought over and over again in my mind, “How could this happen to ME?”

Instead I pulled over and thought a few minutes about my situation. First I had to let go of the fact that I wasn’t going to make it to my favorite weekly spin class. I didn’t have enough miles left to do that. I called my dealer and explained the situation. The service manager just kept saying, “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.” Which I think indicated that he was impressed with my unique and rare situation.

I checked the mileage to the dealer- 4.7 miles. I had just enough time to make it there in traffic before they closed. I drove to the dealer, suspiciously eyeing the odometer the entire time. I pulled in just as the odometer passed 99,997.

Those 3 remaining miles could literally save me thousands of dollars. Lucky.

I live in the sleepy little town of South Pasadena, CA. They do everything possible to keep any and all cars from parking on their wide beautiful streets. Overnight parking requires a permit. Since my permit is in my car and they aren’t hip or progressive enough to issue guest permits (which has instigated quite a few jokes among people who visit about putting permit machines in the one and only bar we have in South Pasadena) I had to stop at the police station to get a permit for my rental car. I took a photo of the license plate in case I needed it to buy a permit and left my phone sitting on top of the permit machine.

I realized a couple of hours later that I didn’t have my phone. Thankfully someone had turned it in at the police station and it was a simple matter to go pick it up the moment I realized it was gone. Someone was honorable enough to turn in a total stranger’s phone. Lucky.

Last night there was a blood moon- a total eclipse of the full moon that caused it to appear red. A friend texted me as it was happening or I would have totally forgotten about it. My youngest sister is staying with me so we ran outside and stood in the middle of the street peering through palm trees to see a rare and unique moon. It was nice to share such a beautiful moment with someone I love. Lucky.

So, 3 lucky things happened on the same day.

As a student of the University of Santa Monica I had to write an affirmation for myself for the year. Mine is this-

I am GRATEFUL for the gifts of ABUNDANCE that come into my life with grace and ease; I wholeheartedly share these gifts with others.

I’ve added this affirmation to the end of my (slightly inconsistent) morning meditation.

So yesterday I really thought about these three lucky things that happened to me on the same day. Was this karma- did the universe reward me for being a good person? Or was this totally random- these lucky things coming all at once?

OR is this the way life works? By consciously focusing on the relationship between abundance and gratitude have I pulled luck into my life? Is it possible that by changing my attitude with my words and my intention that I am altering my own destiny? Are we all capable of “making our own luck”? I certainly plan on finding out.

Stage Fright

Stage Fright

Last weekend I got up in front of 200 people and led a guided meditation that I created as part of my final exam for the graduate program I’m in at the University of Santa Monica.

I consider myself a seasoned presenter. I’m a fashion designer and in my job I have to present to literally hundreds of people every couple of months. However, I only present to 20 or so at a time. I realized that it’s a whole different experience to present to 200 people at once.

At first I was only scheduled to present to 20 of my fellow classmates. Even this seemed a little daunting for me. I can talk for hours about handbags and fashion, where I consider myself an expert, but leading a guided meditation that I wrote myself was outside my comfort zone. I did well enough in my small group that they nominated me to represent them to the whole class.

I’ve wanted for some time to challenge myself and speak to a large crowd. I offered to speak at the World Domination Summit last year about my experiences in Africa with my non-profit but they politely declined. I knew that even though this really scared me that I needed to do it for myself. I needed to challenge myself, to step outside my comfort zone, and to take a chance.

13 of us were chosen to present to the whole class, I was scheduled to be 12th. Second to last. So I watched 11 other people get up in front of the class and give everything they had to entertain and delight their fellow students. As my time got closer and closer I realized that I was really nervous. I adjusted my scarf over and over again. Surely if my scarf was perfectly arranged I would be fine on stage.

Finally I was handed a microphone and gently pushed on stage. My name was announced and the class started uproariously clapping for me. I hesitated before stepping towards my chair. I had a small moment of clarity. I had asked for this, for this moment, for this opportunity to present itself to me. It had arrived. It was my time.

I took my seat, made a small joke, and had them all close their eyes to begin the meditation. I wasn’t reading from a script, I was reading from my heart, I had rehearsed this multiple times but every time was a little bit different. The words flowed easily from me. I felt the support and love of everyone in the room. I saw tears in the audience as I led them through my material. I saw a few of my friends in the room open their eyes at different times and look at me. I realized that they were sending me their support but I also saw that they were seeing me in a different light, in a different way.

I ended quietly in a space of grace and peace. Then, just as they had done for all the other presenters, the entire room leaped to their feet to enthusiastically applaud. When faced with his situation in the past, I have bowed my head and dismissed applause; I’ve never been comfortable associating myself with this kind of appreciation. But I had the intention when I went on stage that I would stand there as myself and accept with grace that applause, that appreciation, that gratitude. So I stood there for a couple of seconds and looked out at the crowd and really received the applause. It shook me to the core in that moment, to be seen and appreciated by so many as my true self.

On my way out of the room after all the presentations were over a classmate grabbed my arm to talk to me. She told me that I probably didn’t realize that I have an incredible gift. I stammered something about how I talked too fast and that it was really next to impossible to do a guided meditation in such a limited amount of time. She agreed that I had gone too fast but looked me dead in the eye and again reiterated that I have a gift. She could see it, she knew.

Throughout the rest of the day I had so many people come up to me to touch my arm and tell me how much they enjoyed the meditation. People told me how they had cried, how deeply they were touched. 3 or 4 people emphasized how they thought I have a gift. I had people wanting to know where I teach, offering to be my first followers.

I realize now that the reason the day felt so foreign to me, the reason that all the praise was uncomfortable and surreal was because this may have been the first time in my life that I received such outrageous praise for really truly being myself. Just me. Just Laura. I didn’t pretend to be anyone else on that stage. I went up on that stage and opened up the most vulnerable part of myself and shared it with everyone in the room. And instead of the ridicule or the embarrassment I’d always assumed I would receive if I dared to do something so reckless as show my true self to hundreds of people, I received nothing but praise and appreciation.

Is it really this easy? Do I really just have to be myself to be truly seen and accepted by other people? Right now, today, I’m going to believe that it is.

My Precarious Hipster Status

Chemex

A few weeks ago I was in San Francisco for less than 24 hours. In that time I ordered coffee from two of the hippest coffee houses in the entire bay area, Blue Bottle Coffee and Sightglass coffee. Neither had drip coffee served from a large carafe as the mainstream coffee shops like Starbucks. Ordering a drip coffee meant that they handcrafted your coffee to order with a glass vial and a filter painstakingly pouring hot water from a gooseneck teapot. Both places had a line of hipsters out the door and carefully curated open industrial décor.

Of course, we have plenty of fancy coffee shops in LA that do the same thing but going to one of them would require finding parking and having time to wait behind a long line of agents and actors and app developers who have 45 minutes to invest in a great cup of coffee. It was much less of a commitment just to wander in on foot to both trendy coffee shops in San Francisco.

When I got home I sadly noticed my limited coffee brewing options. The first time I used a French press I made freshly ground Kona macadamia nut coffee in a fine dining restaurant in Hawaii. I thought the French press must be the ultimate in luxury. In a busy restaurant anything that takes more than 60 seconds to execute for a server can seem like an extreme indulgence. I’m no longer a big fan of macadamia nut coffee and I realize that I really hate my French press. I don’t like silt in my coffee and it makes such a mess. I also own a drip coffee maker but I never use it because I am a bit of a clean freak and after I’ve seen the water reservoir stained brown I just don’t believe that it can ever be sanitary again.

I’ve been understandably reticent to buy into a pod system because I like fresh beans and I don’t like the idea of being chained to any coffee company and their individual expensive tiny canisters of coffee. Plus the whole pod system, which once was exotic and cool now seems really mainstream and generic. I find that when I see anything at Target that isn’t a collaboration with a hot young designer it immediately seems overdone and dated.

So I diligently researched and purchased a Chemex coffee maker for myself. It is beautiful and I find that it makes an incredible cup of coffee. I’ve posted before about my fascination with being a member of the Cool Club, about being seen as having a modicum of hipster status. Did acquiring the latest greatest coffee brewing system buy me a little hipster currency? It may have but sadly it didn’t last long. I’m pretty sure the powers that be in the Cool Club revoked my hipster status yesterday based on the fact that I spent last night in the desert at an all night gong concert. It was good while it lasted.

To CrossFit or Not to CrossFit?

I have been reticent to try this whole CrossFit phenomenon. I am a self-confessed cardio junkie. I’ve been spinning for almost 20 years. Before spinning it was step aerobics and before step aerobics it was something called high impact aerobics. Before that I was content to laze around on weekends eating chips and drinking full calorie sodas. Clearly the chips and soda option is no longer on the table.

A year ago I stopped making time to lift weights at the gym. I reasoned that the yoga pushups I do in class a couple of times a week would make up for any and all bicep curls. Sadly this has not been the case. I moved a few months ago and haven’t been able to drag myself down to the local YMCA to become a member so that I have a new place to meander from machine to machine to make myself feel like I’m doing everything I possibly can to take charge of my fitness level.

Tonight I found myself in my first of 6 intro classes to CrossFit. I have different sets of friends who LOVE CrossFit. They get very animated when they talk about their “Box” and their “Olympic Lifts” and their “Pull-up Clinics”. So a couple of weeks ago when I caught a glimpse of my now non-existent biceps in the mirror in yoga I decided it might be worth just trying it to see if I might like it enough to avoid joining the YMCA 6 blocks from my house.

Last week I went to a free session to see what it’s all about. I showed up at 8 am on a Saturday apprehensive but optimistic. There ended up being a dozen 20-somethings, a couple of kids still in high school, and me. I felt a little out of my element, but I know that I’m in pretty good shape so I jumped right in with everyone else

Now, I assume that I’m in fantastic shape. I do 5 spin classes a week. I am really, really close to perfecting a yoga pushup. Half a block into a warm-up jog I realized that I was in trouble. I don’t do well running and this was pretty difficult for me. All the spinning in the world didn’t prepare me for a simple 15-minute jog. Half a block in I started wheezing. I was floundering. It wasn’t pretty. I did finish and I did sort-of run the whole way thanks to an incredibly kind trainer who jogged along beside me the entire time so I wasn’t bringing up the rear all by myself. I am especially grateful because he pretended that he was still running even though I know he could have started walking and kept pace with me at any time.

After that they took us through a workout routine that included jumping rope, deep squats, sit-ups, and pushups. That’s it. It really is just basic high school P.E. I did OK with the squats and the sit-ups, and they let us do the push-ups on our knees, but the jumping rope threw me over the edge. I haven’t held a jump rope in my hands since grade school. It wasn’t just that I had to figure out how to use a jump rope all over again, the really horrifying thing is that when I was using said jump rope I discovered that my stomach seemed to move independently of the rest of my body. I have no idea when or how that happened but that alone was a big bold sign that I need to switch up my fitness routine.

The good news is that I was a rock-star tonight in my newbie Cross-fit training class. There is a timed section where everyone does 3 sets of the same exercises and I came in second. In fact, I was only 10 seconds behind a pretty fit 20-something boy. To be fair, though, the 20-something girls tonight didn’t look like they’d EVER exercised, and the 20-something boy took a break to get water from his car.

The bad news is that I’m not sure I’ll be able to walk tomorrow. I also had to cancel the spin class I thought I could go to after CrossFit as I was sure there wouldn’t be enough cardio tonight for me.

I AM open to the fact that when it comes to exercise I still have a lot to learn.