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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Merrily I (try to) roll along

My postings have been slow to come these days, as the ideas have been dry and my time has been taken up with dramas, work and social activities lately. The drama is not really that dramatic, just some unusual things happening with a few friends. One friend was hospitalized with a case of nerve damage in her hand and arm - it happened while she was enroute on a plane from LA to Philly. Liz and I had to go to the airport to retrieve her luggage while she was whisked off the plane and taken to the hospital. I spent a few hours in the ER with the friend, and then took a taxi to her house to get her settled. Said friend is mostly and hopefully fine, but it was a late night out with lots of text messages and errands for a few days. Another friend is staying with us for a while; Liz and I are playing mother hen's to our wayward "baby" chick, helping her to find her wings and her own nest in which to roost. We've been going out and about, hanging out with friends, hitting a few holiday parties and soirées, and enjoying a few cocktails. Then there's the extra shifts I've been working at Williams-Sonoma and a few catering, cooking and mitzvah things I'm doing here there and everywhere. Cooking for City Food Tours Holiday Party and making a meal for Winter shelter at 22nd and Spruce Street. As for ideas for the blog, I am low in the reserves of inspiration or recipes to share. Yikes.

Of course, there are a few topics I want to explore, one of which is about biking. As it is now winter, in all of its cold and dreariness, I find I am not biking much at all, other than my daily commute to work. Between the cold, wind, early darkness and my lack of free time, I don't have the inclination to bike much these days. I rode the clunky beach cruiser on Saturday around town, to do errands and then took an impromptu ride around the River Drives with Susan Hill. Not my first choice of biking "vehicles", but it's what I had to ride and we had the time and energy. I'm sure I looked a sight moseying up Kelly Drive, huffing and puffing my way on a one speed clunker. I felt like it was my first time biking, sort of like how I felt riding a year or so ago, not sure if I had the stamina to make it up one side of the river. It was more to do with the heaviness of the bike and not my ass this time and the cold wind blowing into my face more than my lung capacity. It was a good ride and made me realize that while biking more than 10 miles on the cruiser isn't ideal, I can do it. I also found that without a strong wind, riding in the winter isn't so bad. What I also discovered, which is more interesting to me, is that when I bike with someone else, especially my close riding partners, like Susan Hill and Sue S., I feel a profound connection with them. I wonder if other cyclists feel this? The right and left brain engagement, the moving forward and sharing a communal act of biking. Taking in the scenery and witnessing the changing seasons, morning sun rises and the light at dusk. You are free to allow your brain to either free associate and feel the stresses and tensions fall away, opening yourself up to being uninhibited and unencumbered by social constraints. The thoughts and conversation flow effortlessly. My riding partners and I have had some of our best conversations while biking. The same is true about people I've only just met while riding, like Jim, Itza, and Susan Brooks, folks with whom I met while on a long bike trek.

The physical motion of propelling yourself forward allows my mind just goes into some happy groove, an exercise induced euphoria that makes me feel free and light. When I bike with my friends the connection we share makes me feel a part of something greater.



I've also noticed this happy groove when I cook. There's something about the repetitive motions of cutting and chopping, of finding the culinary rhythm of prep work. I'd forgotten about this feeling and then, last night, I rediscovered it during my Mitzvah Cooking project for Winter Shelter. We prepared over 10 quarts of hearty Lentil Vegetable and Kale Soup and 5 half hotel pans of baked ziti with vegetables and mozzarella cheese. For the first hour or so, I was alone in the BZBI kitchen, working in silence and organizing myself. There was a moment when I thought I would be completely alone cooking this massive amount of food, but instead of getting panicked and overwhelmed, I felt at ease. Cooking on a mass scale is easy for me having worked at Whole Foods and other large catering venues. Anyway, I felt in charge and content. The calm paid off; two volunteer assistants came about an hour later and we worked as a small team cranking out the food in record time - 2 hours!


There are studies, books and theories abound regarding feelings of happiness and contentedness that develop in us when we volunteer or do altruistic deeds. Nice to know that biking, cooking, exercising and volunteering have been a part of my over-all wellbeing.

1 comment:

  1. Just stumbled across your blog. I like bikes and I like food--nice combination. And, it seems that even in your unmotivated state, you ride more than a lot of folks--keep it up!
    ---
    www.singlespeedrevolution.com
    Ride One or Ride None!

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