Saturday, May 30, 2015


It's morning. I drag myself out the door. I don't particularly want to go jogging but I don't hate it either. Once I get moving with a slow run mixed in with some sprinting I'll want to keep going. Once I'm stretched and showered I'll feel like a million bucks. That and sheer willpower carry me my first few steps.

Running is repetitive. So is cleaning. Laundry, waiting rooms, commuting here and there. Food prep with its chopping, mincing, rinsing and sautéing. I know Target like the back of my hand and I shop systematically. Folding, filing, putting away. There is comfort in the familiar.

I could be bored but I'm not. Some of the time I entertain myself with podcasts. Other people's voices fill my head, elevating the dish soap, the dryer sheets, the file cabinet and the vinegar and water mixed with peppermint oil.

Other times, I have company. My daughter's voice laughing or touchy depending on the day. Split second pauses in my activity to advise, exclaim, or gaze at her. I smooth down the rainbow of tee shirts. I'll be right back, I tell her. I say I'm a lousy multitasker, but I do myself a disservice.

Then there are the other times. I'm not listening to anything. I'm not conversing with anyone. I'm doing mundane stuff without a soundtrack.

I don't like to be listening to anything while I'm running. It's better to remain alert. Sometimes I'm waiting for a delivery and don't want to listen to a podcast because I might miss the doorbell. Other times, I'm not actually talking or listening but want to seem available and welcoming. I know how I feel when I interrupt someone listening to a book or podcast. I don't want Jeremy or the kids to feel this way.

Often after I've listened to a few podcasts, I'll take a break to process what I've heard.

In other words, sometimes it’s just the dishes and me.

The kind of work I am talking about can be done without much thought. There are few surprises.  Before I know it, my thinking goes off the grid.

The washing, sweeping or pounding of the pavement inspire reflection. The sheer banality serves a dual purpose. I'm getting in my cardio. I'm putting clean sheets on the beds. I'm cleaning up after lunch.

If someone were to observe me they'd think that was all I was doing. But there’s a simulcast happening.

I might be thinking about strategies for helping one of my kids. I might get an idea for a new photography series. Quick, uncensored home-based business plans come, then go. One or two stick and get put in the hopper.

I've had epiphanies when previously I've been stuck in a behavior or habit. I've re-grouped, re-thought and pivoted as a result of vacuuming the rug or stretching. These seemingly ordinary activities are compost for my brain.

All of this happens automatically and has for as long as I can remember. If it isn't happening for you, I'll bet you could cultivate it.

Maybe you don't exercise. Maybe you don't clean your own house. In that case, I say roll up your sleeves. Some high- minded thinking can happen once you get off the high horse.  You could try some other repetitive things I haven't mentioned. Paint the second bedroom. Garden.

I set aside some time just for blogging.  My iPad in hand, I wrote this piece. After all the cleaning, working out and unpacking I did, it practically wrote itself.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

If I Am 80

I won't wither and scorn
Nor kindle and break
This crinkle smile, my rare currency
I practice now so I know what to do

You're welcome here
Those not buried, those younger than me, those yet to be born, those who still can.
I may reminisce but make no mistake.
The blood coursing through these veins is current
I'll mix with you, serve spanking fresh smart with my brand new food
1963 wasn't the goddamned depression after all

You'll come back again on your own accord
My face won't shoo you away with cracks and furrows made bruised and bullied from years of grousing
Soft white linen is what I want
Oft laundered, smoothed by hand, gentle creases, parchment or birch
Look at the texture! You'll exclaim
Or maybe that will be me.

My mornings will look like this.
I'll wake up and rise.
Tricking 20 lost years back into whatever my limbs are now
The task of being upright achieved I make my way out the door
Somebody will hold it open, or I'll wait
Thank you. I'll  say
To you, to all, to life, to no one in particular.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kleenex Boxes

I never really thought much about Kleenex boxes until recently. Jeremy and I are always careful to keep them in stock. We are a family who needs a lot of facial tissues.

When it comes to shopping for facial tissues, we are extremely brand conscious. We will only buy Kleenex. We get the plain 2 ply ones without lotion added. This is the brand we have always used. Unless they go out of business, it is the brand we will always use.

I have not taken on sponsors or advertising for my blog. The Kleenex people aren't paying me to write this. They are not sending me free facial tissues.

The Kleenex boxes are in almost every room of our home. Some rooms have two boxes. In spite of the fact that there are Kleenex boxes virtually everywhere, we've never bothered getting those decorative wicker boxes to dress up or cover up the boxes. It seems too fussy for this family. We are not a family that feels afraid of a little cardboard.

That said, Kleenex boxes looked very boring for quite some time.

There were these two designs I remember from not long ago. One was this foiled look. I remember that it came in a silvery looking foil motif and a golden bronze. I never liked this. It seemed both glitzy and old person-ish in a bad way.

Then there was this blurry, water-color design that was around forever. It looked like faded wallpaper or photography. It was vaguely romantic. It was not my style. Anemic is a word that comes to mind for that collection. You could choose from wishy-washy pink, beige and blue.

The best thing I can say is that the boxes became invisible after a time.

Very recently, Kleenex boxes became noteworthy. I am a person who notices and likes certain repeating patterns on fabrics, wallpaper, throw pillows and rugs. Sometimes I look at repeating patterns just for the sake of looking at them. I love the aesthetics.  I started to feel the same way about the new Kleenex boxes.

Kleenex box design got an upgrade. Kleenex boxes are having a renaissance.

I noticed that new Kleenex boxes looked great in our newly renovated apartment. They were suddenly modern, whimsical and warm. When selecting Kleenex in a store, I became mindful of coordinating the boxes with certain rooms.

I started to study the phenomenon of cool Kleenex boxes and went to a variety of stores to look at the stock. I did not confine myself to admiring only Kleenex brand boxes. Puffs, Target, Rite Aid and other store brands have gotten in on the action.

It seems like facial tissue box designers are having some fun. One of my dreams is to use my own artistic side and love of patterns to pursue fabric or wallpaper design. But if the facial tissue people are looking for the next big thing, I'd be happy to throw my hat in the ring.

This Kleenex box looks entirely at home in our living room with a West Elm accent pillow.

Perfect for an artistic teenaged girl's new room

Puffs, Rite-Aid, Target and Walgreens have gotten in on the action.

Here's a blast from the past with some vintage Kleenex and Puffs  boxes.

Pucci inspired designs from my early childhood.

Mix and match to your heart's content.

Note: All vintage photographs are courtesy of and

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Beauty of the In-Between

There are before pictures of renovated spaces. There are after pictures. There are people who document the process of renovation on TV. They always find something bad in the walls or ceiling that they didn't anticipate.

There's always a big reveal. It's like Cinderella, only it's a house.

This is my version of a renovation piece. It's the quiet part of the story.

This is not the big reveal. I will do my version of that some other time. At a later date I will show you my IKEA hack, my fetchingly arranged binders and my pretty bed. I might even show you the inside of my closets once they are finished. I will definitely photograph details of the placemats. Of that you can be sure.

I already posted The Beauty of The Before. You might want to have a look.

I keep thinking about the day I took these photographs. This is what it was like.

The painters had already finished their jobs. Some of the custom shelving was installed. I was waiting for the mattress and the carpet to be delivered. I was waiting for my nephew and his friend to come over and assemble IKEA. I was waiting for the guys to come and finish installing the shelves.

In an hour my apartment would be buzzing with activity. But for now, there was a monastery like silence punctuated by the sound of people walking. My apartment was so empty that I could hear every little thing in the building.

My apartment looked sort of like it did before and sort of like what it would eventually look like. In this state it also looked like neither of these things. Over the next days and weeks it would transition to being ours again.  But when I took these pictures, it was in a nether land.

Later that evening, when I was alone again, I called a friend to come over. I needed some company in there. I needed her presence to remind me that yes, this was indeed my apartment. I also wanted to show her our new things.

I sat on these pictures until I felt motivated to share them. At this point, I'm grateful I took some photographs. I think I would be starting to forget if I hadn't.

A beautiful mallet sits upon our unfinished shelves

This leftover rope caught the even morning light with calm elegance. I shot a close up of a closet hinge. The closet was painted White Wisp while the wall flanking it was transformed by Horizon. The near empty space highlighted the graceful lines of our art deco bannister.

The backside of a small shelving unit. These shelves have been in my husband’s family since his childhood. They are now enjoying a third act in our nephew’s apartment. We decided that we liked our floors the way they are. No re-finishing, no polyurethane.

Jeremy’s parents bought a lot of their furniture in the 1950’s. We took apart this gorgeous end table and stacked it out the way. It was one of the first items moved into place once our bed was set up.

Loads of cleaning going on in our dusty residence. Here is a detail of our flat rolling cart. It has proven indispensable for several moves.

Jeremy had to box up these liquor bottles during the paint job. They’re waiting for a good dusting before the transfer back to their swanky home.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Stressor Is A Stressor Is A Stressor

There is a list for everything. Life stressors are no exception. There are lists of life stressors. Life stressors are ranked.

A quick Google search located several of these lists. There are differences between the lists. Everyone can agree that divorce, moving and job loss are major sources of stress, even if their place on the list can vary from list to list.

But there is one life stressor that everyone can agree on. The number one life stressor, according to people who compile such things, is the death of a spouse. The death of a spouse sounds like something so terrible that I never want to experience it. Unless your spouse is someone you really can't stand, then this is going to be tragic.

The missing stressor on the vast majority of lists is the death of a child. This is a glaring omission. The best explanation I can come up with is that no one wanted to think about it so they didn't put it on the list.  It was as if this possibility was too much of a downer for anyone to consider.

I did not do an exhaustive search for a list with the death of a child on it. But I did find the following statement on a website called be happy 101. Quite, honestly it did actually make me happy to read this.

"I noticed (as maybe you have) that there is nothing on this list about the death of one of your children as one of life's most stressful events - which I would consider as THE most stressful event imaginable. I have experienced this in my family (not me thankfully, but two of my family members have had their children die in accidents). This, I believe, would rate even higher than 100 on the stress score (which is the rating for the death of a spouse). And while the death of a spouse would certainly be unbelievably traumatic (i.e., stressful and deserving of a '100' score) the death of my child would be at least as painful/stressful. I'm not sure why the psychologist(s) who created this list left that off the list. In any case, if you've experienced this terrible event, rate it at whatever level you feel is appropriate."

The death of a child is the life stressor to end all life stressors. Many other life stressors can at least be re-framed and organized. The loss of this job might open new doors that wouldn't have been possible at the old job. Maybe you can see, even in the heat of the moment, that divorce is in fact the best thing. Maybe in retrospect if you weren't able to do that at the time.

The death of a child defies this. Your child dying has no silver lining. Excuse my language. Your child dying is royally fucked up.

Jeremy and I experienced the death of our son Jacob. In the days, weeks and months following the loss, I had the following, seemingly opposing feelings with frequency.

Since I was still alive after childhood cancer treatment and the death of my child, this implied I would be able to endure anything or any stressor.

Since I was forced to endure the death of my child, this implied that I would not be able to tolerate any more stressors.

In general, I had no patience with other people's stressors unless that stressor was the death of a child.

Over time, these feelings tempered and became more nuanced. I realized I was able to sustain other life stressors as long as none of my other children died. I could listen patiently while people complained about the weather, the grocery store line or whatever.

Losing a child does a lot of things. One of the things it did was put everything else into perspective. Being up all night with a child with croup was a privilege because I knew a steamy shower followed by a 3:00 AM walk in the brisk air  would cure my child. Sure, it was scary. But I was in control. If I could see one child through hospice, I could certainly handle croup.

Same with the NYC public school application process, various non-cancerous medical emergencies, crappy clients, neuropsychological labels, PTSD and indignities of all kinds.

It took me a bit longer to admit that I wasn't superhuman. For the most part, it took me until about three years ago to realize some of that. The rest happened sometime last week.

Here is what I figured out. It's great to have perspective. It's awesome to know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Using grief and loss to help other people infuses what could seem senseless with meaning.

It turns out that the death of my child eclipsed all other life stressors. I was able to eventually develop the capacity to support other people with their problems. I was able to listen with empathy and compassion. But when it came to extending that same kind of understanding to myself, I often fell short.

In accurately recognizing that home renovation, Christmas, an ambiguous medical test or an unexpected financial expense were not as stressful as losing a child, I failed to recognize them as stressors at all. It's hard to accommodate something you don't recognize.

It was time to stop ignoring my lessor stressors.

I don't have any big answers yet. So far, I am just naming them stressors. I'm not looking to get rid of stressors. I am looking to calmly take care of myself when things come up.

Soon there will be college applications, financial aid packages and tours.  We are planning to re-do our closets. My son keeps outgrowing everything. The prices of everything have gone up. The holidays will be here before we know it.  The anniversary of Jacob's death is soon upon us.

I will need accommodations when it comes to these things. I will need to ask for help. The first thing I'm doing is admitting that they are stressors. In recognizing that this makes me just like everybody else, I'm already feeling better.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

30 Minutes A Day

I've been feeling stressed. Quite a bit more than usual. Then things took on a slightly grayish cast. I took that seriously.

I upped my consumption of powerhouse foods, I continued to exercise. I prioritized sleep. These lifestyle changes have helped.

I visited my doctor for a physical. I am in superior health, but we are keeping an eye on the stuff I mentioned earlier. He is monitoring me. I am monitoring myself.

When I am working hard on various things, I work breaks into my schedule. I drink iced coffee, have a snack, and check out my newsfeed. Then I get back to work.

On a whim one day, I took a half hour walk outside. That was my break. This turned out to be an excellent idea. I decided to implement these walks on a regular basis to see what happens.

These are walks that are not primarily for exercise. That is a separate activity. These walks are completely different in tenor from walking to the subway, or running errands. I make sure to take the walks alone.  There is no purpose to the walks other than taking a walk.

I keep track of my time and keep it to the 30 minutes. I was worried that this would be too big a break if I have so much work to do. This did not turn out to be the case.

Once I return from my walks I feel refreshed. The fresh air, the light and change of scenery are a re-boot. I'm then smarter and better at whatever I'm working on. There’s a big influx of focus.

Another benefit is that I look forward to the walks and use them as a reward for good, sustained and effective work habits.

One of the things I noticed about this particular spring here in NYC is that it seems more explosive, riotously colorful and glorious than ever before. I wondered if the long winter made me just notice or appreciate the trees and flowers more. I don't think it's that. Jeremy and I think that the delay in warm temperatures made everything more intense when things finally bloomed. It isn't just me. He noticed it too.

Here's what it's like for me.

I go outside and the thirty minutes stretches out expansively. It makes me feel rich with time.

I walk slowly and meander. This is not the usual way I am. There's a certain liberation to doing that. It seems to slow time down. It feels like I am out for longer than a half hour.

Since I'm not going anywhere in particular, I stop whenever I want.  I have my iPhone camera with me and often something will strike my fancy. I've taken a lot of photographs during these walks.

I am very literal about the time and manage it well. I stay out for 30 minutes, no more, no less. Once the 30 minutes are up, I feel ready to go inside again.

Here's what I'm doing. I'm going to keep this up. I'll to post about my experience once a season. I consider this my spring post.

Since this spring is audaciously, in your face beautiful, I'm sharing some photographs to accompany this post. I took all of these pictures during my 30-minute walk today.

Taking a walk is not a miracle mental health intervention. Optimizing my outlook and resilience is a multi-tiered process. But these 30-minute walks are a part of my toolbox. A bit of fresh air without an agenda never hurt anyone.

I was attracted to the filmy delicacy of these two plants. The cloudy day cast a lovely, even light that brought out their saturated pastel coloration.

These two photographs make nice new additions to some series I am working on.

I am exploring the beauty intrinsic in old, dying and decomposing plants and blooms.

I first photographed these flowers at the beginning of my walk but was unable to capture anything I liked due to a large bee buzzing uncomfortably  close. At the end of my walk I was able to spend more uninterrupted time and realized my artistic vision.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Hat I Didn't Donate

I've been working hard lately on my living space. We have been editing and organizing our belongings. The things we are keeping are lovingly displayed, put away mindfully and stored in ways that make sense.

Many items have lost their relevance. If they are in good enough condition, we've donated them to family members, the farmer’s market fabric recycling or the Salvation Army.

We've been able to throw away lots of old financial records and stuff in poor condition that is just taking up what I like to call valuable real estate. We live in NYC. We have big closets, but no attic or basement. We don't even have a junk room.

It's been quite mind-clearing and liberating.

Recently I opened a huge, beat up Rubbermaid box where we've been keeping our off -season items for as long as I can remember. In the spring and then the fall, there is an activity I call switching the closets and drawers. It's exactly what it sounds like. Because I have growing children, it also means editing out outgrown clothes and incorporating the larger things I've saved.

I started sorting things. I came across a winter hat. This is a hat that is no longer worn. My first instinct was to put it in the rapidly growing donate pile. The pile with the bathing suits that no longer fit, the tee shirts that are deemed too babyish and the shorts that one child wore that would certainly be too scratchy for the other.

The idea of donating this hat felt suddenly devastating. So I stopped and listened. Because I have successfully given away so many things without a trace of heartache or hesitation gave me special credibility in my own mind. It looked as though I needed to keep this hat.

This hat did not belong to my son that died. It belonged to the living, breathing, growth spurting boy, bustling about with his size 11 feet, taking up his fair share of space, both mental and physical.

This hat wasn't one from his babyhood, sweetly placed on that tiny head when I brought him home from the hospital in December of 2000.

This hat is more recent that that.

The hat was either a Christmas gift or a birthday gift from my mother. She has a knack for figuring out what this child needs to wear when. The hat was a big hit with him. It's soft and velvety on the outside and fluffy and plush on the inside. It had flaps to keep his ears covered. Ever since he was a newborn, this kid has hated any kind of wind.

He wore this hat for three winters straight, from 6th through 8th grade. This hat kept him warm and comfortable that whole time.

I could list all of the things that my boy and I experienced together while he was wearing the hat. Suffice it to say I will never forget these times. Three winters is a long time in a boy's life. A lot of growing happened and a lot of making me proud.

The hat became a signature piece for my boy. Until it wasn't anymore.

In December of last year, my son surprised me by wanting to browse with me at a craft fair. He suddenly had the bandwidth for this activity. He selected a brand new hat out of the blue. It was an updated classic. When he tried it on, he looked like a combination of a GQ model and a hipster.

He wore this hat every day until he misplaced it, and then located it again in the lost and found box at school. I finally put it away in the off-season drawer. Our renovation affords us the luxury of getting rid of the banged up, cracked Rubbermaid box.

This was the new signature piece. It was the 9th grade hat. Time will tell if it is also a winter of 10th grade hat or not. I suspect it will. He was pretty happy to see it once he laid his hands on it again.

There are times when I feel no need to keep an object. I'll remember the Pokémon pajamas in my heart. I have pictures of him wearing the threadbare Little Miss Spider shirt he was so attached to when he was five.

But this hat is different. My son has moved on to a new hat. It's only right. Growing up is his job. I'm glad to see him do this. Especially after what transpired before, with his brother.

It was his hat for so long that I cannot imagine anyone else wearing it. It's like Patrick Ewing and the number 33 jersey. Number 33 is his number. And this is my son's hat.

There is a small pile of precious clothing at the bottom of the Rubbermaid box. These are the items that I didn't let go of. The baby stuff is somewhere else with the baby stuff. This is different.

The purple sweater my son wore day in day out in nursery school will be kept. There are other signature pieces too. They won't live in the Rubbermaid box anymore. I'm getting something nice for them from The Container Store.

I'm keeping this hat for the rest of my life.

I'll be 75 years old someday, god willing. I'll have my box on an accessible shelf. I'll take it down and run my fingers over the soft clothes. They're all soft because that's all this child will wear.

I'll remember the fit he pitched on a busy sidewalk one day and how he recovered and then devoured some pizza. I'll remember how he survived croup like nothing ever happened. I'll remember the extraordinary two year old who said please put me to bed mommy when it looked like I might be too busy socializing to remember that it was past his bedtime.

The other day my son and I were having a conversation. He was having a craving for his Dad's brownies. Let's ask dad to make some, I said.

What will happen when I grow up and I don't live with you anymore, he asked? Will dad send me some brownies? He seemed to need some reassurance.

Of course he will, I said. Dad could also use your kitchen to do some baking for you when we come to visit.  Would you like us to visit? He nodded yes.

I thought about the idea that my son could grow up to be a baker like his dad. Maybe he'll make his own brownies and invent his own recipe. I decided not to mention that yet. At this juncture I like thinking about the first scenario better.

Here is the hat I will be keeping for the rest of my life.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Spontaneous Appreciation and Encouragement

When I get a new haircut or a new outfit, I'm expecting some compliments. I don't have to fish for them. They come naturally. It's all very nice. But I'm not surprised by any of it.

Today, I'm writing about the times that are unexpected. Most of what I'm referring to has taken place over time at my husband's family's country house.

When people live in NYC, if they are fortunate, blessed, hard working, wealthy, lucky or some combination, they might have a second residence that is not in the city. This second residence is out in the middle of nature. It is called a country house.

Friends of mine who are not members of my husband's family like to point out that husband's family's country house is quite a mouthful. They'll ask me what I'm doing over the weekend. If they are a new friend, I'll explain that my husband's family has a place in the country. If they are an old friend, I'll just say we are going to the country.

Some people ask why I don't just say our country house. That would simplify things. Yes, I’ve been visiting this country house since I was 19 years old. I am now aged 52. You may do the math.

I like to say husband's family's country house because it feels more accurate. This is not my country house.

When it comes to our two-bedroom apartment, otherwise known as our primary residence I take full ownership in conversation by calling it our apartment.

When it comes to the country house, I like to maintain a little distance with it. A little distance between this country house and myself is a good thing. This is true even while I am physically present at the country house.

Last Christmas, our nuclear family spent Christmas at the country house. Members of Jeremy's extended family spent the actual holiday with members of their extended family who are not members of our extended family. Then after spending a few days with these other family members, Jeremy's extended family came to the country house.

Several hours before they were due to arrive, it was time for us to prepare. This preparation was a multi-tiered process.

First, my teenagers had to vacate the rooms they were staying in and move to different rooms. We had managed to spread ourselves out quite nicely when we had the country house to ourselves. It was now time to consolidate our family into a different configuration.

First, we had to wake the teenagers up. Then the teenagers had to physically leave their respective rooms. The teenager’s belongings, which were strewn about each room had to be taken to the new quarters.

Once this was accomplished and the teenagers were either skiing or gaming, it was time for me to do my thing.

When teenagers have occupied a room for several days, there are certain niceties that I like to extend to the next extended family members who occupy the rooms. This involves some work because when teenagers settle into a room, they really settle in.

I do some dusting and straightening. I change the sheets and launder the sheets. When I am finished with that, I will clean and disinfect the bathrooms adjacent to the rooms the teens have been occupying.

The teenagers have been neat and respectful in the bathrooms, but much primping, hair brushing and bathing goes on in there.

You may ask me why the teenagers are not doing this themselves. That is a fair question. Quite frankly, I'd rather they ski, game, or do their holiday break homework packets. I'd rather they go on Tumblr, watch Buzzfeed, or sleep in their new quarters.

The reason for this is selfish. I need some peace and quiet. I need a bit of me time. I need the peace and quiet that I normally experience when my children are at school. I need to create a sort of peace and quiet bank for when extended families come to the country house. I save up the peace and quiet for later. I accomplish this peace and quiet by cleaning areas of the country house my children have occupied.

The next morning I greeted extended family members who arrived in the wee hours the night before. I was bustling about the dining area, facilitating breakfast for the teenagers.

My sister in law, who is also a friend of mine, made a general inquiry to the extended family members who had gathered and began to occupy the dining area. She wanted to know who made up the beds upstairs.

I indicated that I made the beds. She and her husband, my brother in law, exchanged what I took to be positive, married people-type knowing glances. Then my sister in law extended some unexpected and spontaneous appreciation.

She told me that my bed making made the bed exceedingly comfortable. Additionally, my brother in law added that it was quite cozy.

I have already mentioned that I had made these beds for selfish reasons. But the fact that two people were very positive about it and thought to mention it made the entire activity a win-win.

Months later, I sometimes still think about the unexpected compliments and feel warmly toward these individuals.

During a different visit to the country house, I was engaging in another selfish activity. I was occupying a large portion of the floor in one of the common areas and monopolizing the TV. I was using this television to broadcast Energy Flow, one of my exercise DVDs.

I had already apologized in advance for the peaceful and meditative music coming from the DVD. I commenced moving this way and that. It's mostly yoga with some hybrid Pilates mixed in.

As I endeavored to strengthen my core and enhance my flexibility my brother in law walked into the room. This is a different brother in law from the one I mentioned earlier. This brother in law is a physical therapist.

The Physical Therapist said something very softly almost to himself, as if not to disturb me. I don't remember precisely what it was. I can tell you that is was complimentary about my workout. He did not stay very long as he was primarily using the room as a thoroughfare rather than occupying it.

A compliment is always appreciated no matter who gives it to you. However, there are some compliments that hold more weight because of the person giving it and what their specialty is.

Having a Physical Therapist who is also fit compliment your workout is one such time. I compare it to this. Say I am PTA Secretary like I was one year while my kids were in elementary school. Then imagine Barack Obama making a surprise visit to Hamilton Heights School. He watches the proceedings. Then when it's almost over, he compliments me on my leadership skills.

Sometimes I'll be working out and inwardly complaining that I wish the workout was over. Some days take more discipline than others getting started. That’s when the offhand words of the physical therapist/brother in law pop into my head. Then I have a little extra to give to the current workout. I also feel warmly toward this individual.

There have been many such times. Here is one other time that really sticks out. This compliment was from a complete stranger.

It was the day after we had returned to our primary residence from the country house. I had just finished some cardio on the treadmill. I was on the floor doing some stretches.

One of the compliments I give myself frequently is about my flexibility. Because I value my flexibility, I take care of it by stretching.

The doorbell rang. Jeremy opened the door for the FedEx man. As Jeremy signed for the package, the fit FedEx man noticed our treadmill. He noticed me stretching in front of it. He accurately put two and two together.

First he said that it was nice to see people who really use the treadmill. Jeremy said that we also utilize the treadmill for drying clothes but only when we are not exercising on it.

The fit FedEx man then began a short conversation with me about working out. I felt complimented because it was a serious workout conversation initiated by someone who obviously works out a lot where he was assuming I work out a lot. It implied that he thought of me as another fit individual. I am not as fit as him. But he thought he and I were in the same general category.

It was a very pleasant exchange.

If we still had our treadmill I'd say that I think of this spontaneous encouragement every time I use it. But we got rid of it due to space issues during our apartment renovation. But I still do think about it at random times.

When I see something complimentary about another person, I don't hold it in. I give out the compliment. It's not just getting encouragement that makes me feel warmly. Giving it out also makes me feel warmly toward that person. Much more warmly than if I didn't say anything.