Stressed out. Sleepless nights. Undefinable cause for shoulder and back ache. Refused pain killers, but knew I needed help. A natural form of pain relief.

Physical therapy. Cold packs followed by hot packs didn’t work.

Walking eased the pain short term, but expended time yielded little return.

Zumba stopped being fun once summer days turned into long nights and I found myself sitting in front of the television set devouring a tub of popcorn instead of meeting friends for class.

So I found a Yoga class at the local Adult School.

Deep breathing. Stretching. Meditation.

Now that sounded promising.

Flipped through pages of the school catalog.

– Affordable price. Check.

– No need to purchase equipment. I already had a mat and strap from a former Yoga class. Check.

– Convenient hours and location. Check. Check!

– Online registration. Fast and easy. Check.

A year has passed. I’m taking PiYo (Pilates and Yoga) classes four days a week. Pilates, especially plank pose, has taught me to build a stronger core . . . working towards the enviable six pack. And Yoga is just what I expected – controlled breathing, strengthening muscles using proven techniques and meditation to quiet the mind.

Downward facing dog continues to elude me, and though I can only muster a basic tree pose, I’ve never felt better or been happier with any other exercise routine. And this comes from a former runner, aerobics enthusiast, and Jazzercise aficionado.

Flexibility. Sitting cross legged used to hurt, now it’s a breeze.

Posture. Pulling my shoulders back when I walk across a room, imagining the string on top of my head straightening my spine has become second nature.

Control. Holding a warrior two pose for minutes challenges the arm muscles. So I zone out and think about fun times with the grandson. Seems to do the trick.

Relaxation. The final cool down is ample reward for every boat, pigeon and chair pose.

No more back ache, sleepless nights, or pain pills.

Haven’t given up the tub of popcorn. I just don’t feel guilty when I eat it ’cause I know I’ll work it off in the morning.


CNN’s 2016 Republican Presidential Debate – the front runners

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Seems too early to think about the 2016 Presidential Election. But with all the controversy stirred up by building-developer Donald Trump, well, maybe it’s not too early at all.

Trump is more jester than politician. More scrap fighter and name caller than poised debater. Just when you think he’s in it to stir controversy and get the public’s attention, he insults or alienates a large group of people, while his poll numbers continue to rise.

Cameras follow him closely. Everyone wants to know what he’s thinking.

Comfortable in the boardroom, where his minions probably do the majority of research, he’s out of his element on the stump. In last night’s debate he bantered, sometimes mean-spiritedly with Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, accusing her of running that company into the ground before being “brutally fired.” He virtually called Rand Paul ugly when Paul chastised him about attacking Fiorina’s looks in a Rolling Stone’s magazine interview. Trump even accused Jeb Bush of being too low energy to be president. When Bush invited Trump to apologize to his wife for incendiary remarks he made about her in the press, Trump flatly refused. And that all happened in about two minutes of the 3-hour event.

Other debaters – pediatric surgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Mike Huckabee – came to the arena with facts, ideas of what their presidency would look like.

Trump used words like “fantastic people,” no specific names of folks who’d populate his administration. “Talented people,” who’d be appointed to what committees? He did say he’d build a solid wall across the Mexican/American border. He’d deport all illegal aliens, then screen and fingerprint anyone who wants to get back into America. That will take a LOT of man-power and time. Do we have enough money to support such a venture? And why just the Mexican border? What about illegals who cross our other borders? Won’t those who really want to get in find another route?

When Rand Paul talked about the need for diplomacy . . . the need to talk to all leaders even Russian President Vladimir Putin, KIM Jong Un of North Korea, and Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, Trump said he didn’t have time to learn all those foreign names. And his goal as president is to bring respect back to America? Don’t you have to give respect to get respect. Learning a world-leader’s name would be a good place to start.

To me, Trump is the ugly American . . . all bluster and vibrato. His sharp tongue strikes when he feels threatened. When challenged or questioned, he hits back harder. He’s definitely the antithesis of Barack Obama.

Rand Paul said he didn’t trust president Trump with the nuclear weapon button. Would you? When fellow debaters were asked if they agreed with Paul, Fioria said “the American people would decide” and Jeb Bush evaded the question.

If Trump’s what America wants, that’s who they’ll vote for in 2016.

Politics has strange bedfellows. It’s possible the Donald Show is designed to wake up America. Get us to listen to the issues. Know what we’re voting for.

If not, the joke will be on us if Donald Trump is sitting in the White House in 2016.

Isaac Caldiero WINS American Ninja Warrior 2015

ANW_shield_Wordpress Heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS to Isaac Caldiero on becoming the first, in seven seasons of competition, American Ninja Warrior. What a terrific group of athletes, many of whom give their all, year after year, for this race.

Mountain climber Caldiero won $1million and bragging rights for being the 1st to successfully traverse the entire course. In the final leg, a rope climb, he edged out Geoff Britten, who was virtually new to ANW.

Way to go, Isaac Caldiero. Enjoy the win. You deserve it.

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CORRECTION: Geoff Britten completed the course first. Caldiero followed on the final rope challenge and beat Britten’s time by 3 seconds.

Holding Hands

IMG_5360 Recently changed healthcare providers. When I visit one of their facilities it’s all new to me so I enjoy learning about the mechanics by watching other, more seasoned patients.

Last week I had a follow-up visit with my physician to discuss recent labs.

Walking from the parking lot to the building I watched a couple coming from the opposite direction. The elderly man used a cane, moved cautiously, guided by a 30 something young woman. They paused a second so he could adjust his balance, then carefully continued the journey.

I noted we’d reach the front door at the same time, but they took a different set of doors. We met at the elevator. I stepped aside so they’d enter the ‘vator before me. Others inside held the mechanical door for us so we’d all have time to get in.

“Thank you,” she apologized, “we’re late for our appointment.” Everyone smiled understanding how that goes. We’ve all been late to a doctor’s appointment from time to time. Not the most pleasurable of meetings when you might be prodded, poked, punctured or given bad news.

We exited on the same floor. I followed them to the check-in line. Slowly she guided him to a seat while she announced his arrival. Directed to the appropriate waiting room, she sat him close to his doctor’s door.

A few minutes later I joined them, and a couple of other patients, in the same room. Several doctors share a common waiting area.

“I’m going downstairs to drop off your refill.” She held up the bottle to show him the medication she was requesting. “Be right back, Dad.” He barely acknowledged her comment.

I pulled out my cellphone to send a text to my daughter.

A door opened.

“Mr. Pride,” the nurse called.

Out of the corner of my eye, I detected swift movement of the elderly man standing up and hurrying to the nurse’s call.

“Good morning, Mr. Pride,” she greeted him. “Nice to see you.” The door closed behind them.

The difference in his demeanor totally tickled me. Without his daughter’s hovering he seemed well able to navigate on his own, at least for a few minutes. Go, Dad!

Minutes later the daughter returned, talking with someone on the cellphone.

“I just dropped off his refill at the pharmacy. Came back and he’s gone.” She knocked on the his doctor’s door. Someone opened the door and she, too, disappeared into the cavernous office. “My dad’s here . . . ” Her voice trailed off as the door closed behind her.

I doubt Mr. Pride could have driven himself to the doctor’s appointment or made his way to the office comfortably. We all need help from time to time. Having his daughter’s assistance must have been comforting, and knowing he was late for his appointment must have encouraged him to move faster once called.

Care-taking is a delicate balance of mutual support whether you’re the caregiver or the recipient.

Domino Toppler

Last spring I entered the 3rd Annual ABC Adult School Film Festival.

I’d been busy with other pursuits. No time for class. And little time to pull together a video. And I struggled with a theme.

In my peripheral vision I’d been watching Jake gravitate from puppeteering to domino building.

He’d spend hours building them then toppling walls of dominos – pyramids, rectangles, even circular towers. Whatever he found on YouTube, he’d try with his own dominos. Consequently he collected larger quantities of dominos – some with traditional numerical dots, others plain. Some clear, others opaque. Some had rounded corners, while others 90 degree angles. Sometimes he mixed them up, other times he’d use old toys in combination with the dominos to build unique structures.

Jake ascribes to Rube Goldberg style using complicated gadgets to topple his towers. So, of course, he sets them up ensuring the first domino will lead to demolition of the entire structure or a series of linked structures.

We’d watch him painstakingly, and steadfastly stack them one on top of the other ’til the structure was complete. Then he’d gleefully knock them down. Rarely would a building fall from his hand or hip brushing against his work. A few times his shirt sleeve would cause an accident. He started building shirtless until he learned to wear snugger fitting clothes.

He filmed himself.  His parents filmed him.  I filmed him.  Finally we had enough footage to create a short movie detailing his accomplishments, hence, my entry in the 2015 film festival. This is a sample of his earliest work. They continue to get more stunningly complicated and intriguing.

Double Digit Dichotomy

Nine years old today.

Yes, today is Jacob’s ninth birthday. The last year that he’ll be a single digit. Next year he’ll enter the thrilling world of double digits.

He can’t contain the joy, which escapes his body in predictable ways. It’s in his walk, in the spontaneous lift of his shoulders as he suppresses a giggle, and the glint in his eyes.

He’s growing up. He’s being assigned chores like taking out the trash, sweeping the kitchen floor, helping put away groceries.

In his smaller world he’s now responsible for his clothes going into, not around, the clothes hamper; picking up toys when he’s finished playing; and flashing his ID card at the amusement park.

Of course, on this auspicious transition into young boyhood, I reflect on the baby, the toddler he was only a few years ago, but every year I like the new Jacob with his maturing vocabulary, advanced thoughts and questions, his “I can do it” independence.

So Happy Birthday, Jacob. Enjoy this last year of single digit wonder. And know we, your grands, are enjoying the journey with you.

Power of Ohana

IMG_5483_smallThe Hawaiian word for “family” is ohana. To people from Hawaii, family isn’t limited to blood relations. Ohana extends to long-time intimate associates, family friends, cousins of cousins of cousins of cousins. Ohana is revered, cherished, treasured.

If you’re lucky enough to be part of someone’s ohana you have a bond for life.

Earlier this year my cousin died. A young man, barely 50, his untimely passing rattled the ohana. Well-educated, career focused, hard working, his death made no sense. In that confusion the wound of loss slowly heals.

Six months after his death, his mother arranged a Celebration of Life to honor her son, a chance for the ohana to remember him fondly, then say goodbye.

Plumeria and maile leaf leis lined a table filled with placards of his accomplishments. Photos of Cousin with his father, his mother, his brother. Remembrances of happier days gone by.

Prayers. Hymns. Hulas. The large auditorium was filled with table after table after table of ohana dressed in Aloha attire – a communion of souls in attendance to commemorate his life.

While his Uncle delivered the eulogy pictures flashed in my mind of the babe-in-arms attending my wedding forty something years ago; the toddler bouncing in his crib, refusing to go to sleep when company came to call (such a fun-loving, cute kid); the baseball player in his high school production of Damn Yankees; the dinner companion at a family gathering offering me a tasty sushi because he knew I loved them. Those moments that happen in all our lives . . . that we don’t notice . . . that we take for granted . . . that we don’t realize passes like vapors through our days and knits the fabric of a relationship with those we love.

A chorus of Aloha O’e (Farewell to Thee) ended official proceedings.

Lunch was served.

Photos taken.

In the words of Uncle Wil: “Aloha nui loa (we love you very much), dear Cousin,” ’til we meet again.