Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Just Another Winter Day

No Black Friday Tasing or Pepper Spray was used in the making of my peaceful winter Sunday. It is merely the 25th of December to me.

I'm not a Christian so it makes no more sense for me to celebrate Christmas than it would for me to celebrate Hanukkah, not being Jewish. Do I wish everyone I meet on the street Happy Hanukkah? Do you? Does every greeter at Wall-Mart? The only significance to this particular day to me is an outworn convention I can't shake kinda like a tick. I get a call from an old friend and we trade holiday well wishes. I guess it's harmless. The best thing about the 25th of December is the lengthening of the days.

But I can't leave the subject of the birth of Jesus Christ without wondering what he'd think of the way Christians celebrate his birthday. What's up with the Pagan "Christmas Tree" and the Black Friday shopping stampedes that result in trampling of children, of guns and tasers and pepper spray being pulled and used by shoppers bent on being the first to get at that X, Y, Or X bargain worth sleeping out over night for, worth nearly dying for, worth nearly killing for? It all seems awfully far from the spirit of Christianity.

The best stories of the season have been the ones of people helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, sheltering others from the cold and sharing what little we have in times of scarcity. The Occupy movement has embodied this impulse to share. The riot police with their billy clubs and rubber bullets, their pepper spray and the relish with which they use it have represented the power of the one percent. It kind of looks like Christ in humble clothing on one side and the power of a hostile state with all its money and might on the other. "Dirty hippies" on one side and the Police and Wall Street and Mayor Bloomberg on the other. Who could imagine from this tiny band of dirty hippies a national movement would grow?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Walk Like a Model

I used to do these exercises when I was a kid to get in shape for ski season, so I never understood how hard they were for the teenaged girls I tried to teach to walk like a model. They were second nature for me. Stand against a wall with your back pressed from upper spine to tailbone into the wall.  Then slowly walk your feet out from the wall, keeping your spine pressed to the wall so that there is no space from shoulders to tailbone, as you make yourself the shape of a kitchen chair without the kitchen chair beneath you.  Then hold it until you feel the burn. Keep your spine pressed into the wall all the way down and your stomach flat. Keep your shoulders back and down. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it....

The easy version of this is to lie on the floor with your legs bent, roll your pelvis forward, press your spine into the floor from just below shoulder blades to tailbone, tighten your stomach muscles, then slowly lower your legs to a straight position while keeping your spine pressed into the floor and your stomach muscles tight. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it until you think you can't another second. Sounds so easy doesn't it.  Then repeat several times. And do it several times a day for days on end until it's second nature and you can do it standing against the wall and you can do it walking. Then that's the way you always walk.  Keep your neck long, shoulders back and down, back straight, pelvis rolled forward, stomach flat, lead with the hips...

If you do yoga it probably is easy. If you ski it probably is. If you model it probably is. It's why at fifteen modeling was so easy for me and was into my fifties.  But a couple of bad sports injuries and one backyard fall in my mid-fifties plus taking care of my mother put me out of my profession permanently and now my back is killing me.

I have Lumbar Stenosis. Now the exercises I have to do at physical therapy are some of the same exercises I used to give to teenagers who wanted to learn to walk like a model. And every muscle in my lower back, inner thighs, and stomach is screaming in pain. It never occurred to me that the poor little girls were in agony trying to roll their pelvises forward enough to get their spines flat against the floor to hold that posture long enough to strengthen their gut muscles enough to hold that posture in an upright position.  I have the advantage in that my body has the sense memory of this posture.  I know how to roll my pelvis forward, straighten my spine, hold my gut in, and walk like a model. I never realized before how hard it is. God it hurts.