Summer Sessions continues this week with eight new things – and two female musicians – I’m into now.
1. My Wedding Anniversary
This week, my husband, Charlie, and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.
My own parents were married for 49 years before my mom passed away last fall and my in-laws are celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary this year, so by comparison, 14 years isn’t very impressive. But staying married and having a happy marriage are by no means synonymous and, as anyone who is married knows, happy marriages don’t happen by accident; happy marriages take work.
This summer, thanks to what we’ve learned from the Enneagram, Charlie and I have discovered some new ways to be more loving, more communicative, and better partners to each other that have been extremely helpful and enlightening.
I love Charlie for a hundred different reasons, not the least of which is that being married to him makes me a better person. This is not always easy! Nothing exposes my ugliest, darkest impulses and thoughts like marriage and sometimes I want to look away (or for him to look away) when all that ugliness comes out of the shadows into the light. But I wouldn’t want to be building this big, important thing – our marriage, our life together, our collective contribution to each other, our kids, and our community – with anybody else.
Cheers to learning how to love one year at a time!
2. Beach Houses
I spent a lot of time on Balboa Island and the Newport Beach peninsula recently and I’m always drawn to how perfectly charming so many of the homes are there, especially during the summer months.
Whether you like old or new homes, quaint cottages or contemporary digs, wrap-around porches or rooftop patios, it’s all available in spades in Newport Beach.
Ever since my daughter’s Luau-themed birthday party in May, I’ve been keeping a fresh batch of coleslaw in the fridge at all times.
I like my coleslaw crisp, tart, and cold. It makes a refreshing and delicious snack on a hot day, tastes great on sandwiches, is super easy to make, and a great way to get my kids (and me) some extra veggies.
You can cut the cabbage yourself, of course, but I like to use the pre-cut, 16 oz. packages from my local market. I make the dressing by combining 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1-1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice,1 tablespoon of apple cider or rice vinegar, 1/2 a teaspoon of celery seed, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Naked Nails
To be clear, Naked Nails makes the list because I’m really, really into having one less thing to worry about this summer.
I love a good manicure and a gorgeous, shiny layer of lacquer on my fingertips, but I’m too impatient to sit in the nail salon, waiting for my nails dry. Also, I like to USE my hands and don’t like having to worry about chipping my polish. My solution to this is to do my own nails at home. That way, I can let them dry while living my life and if they chip, I can fix it myself.
But this summer, I haven’t even wanted to do that. The last time I painted my nails was at the end of June.
They don’t look great, I admit, and I’ll probably start painting them again when summer is over. But in the meantime, I’m not entirely unhappy about how my nails look and I love diverting the time I’d spend on my nails to other things.
5. Low-Maintenance Hair
I’m into low-maintenance hair for the same reasons I’m into naked nails this summer: it lets me spend more time doing things that are more valuable to me this summer.
I’m still keeping my regular appointments at the hair salon – I’m not yet that un-vain – but when it comes to everyday styling, my routine is down to the bare minimum. I wash it twice a week, at the most, and even let it air dry (although, when I do, I usually use a round brush on the crown to give my hair some height at the top.) When I’m not pulling my hair back into a bun or covering it with a hat, I wear it down and use some texturizing spray like Moroccan Oil Texturizing Spray.
Like my nails, this routine may end when summer does, but for now, I’m loving easy, no-fuss hair.
6. Wim Hof’s Breathing Techniques
I learned about Wim Hof from a podcast he did with The Joe Rogan Experience and have become fascinated by his outrageous claim that, with the right breathing techniques, we can actualize the potential of our bodies in near-superhuman ways.
Also know as The Ice Man, Wim Hof is a Dutch adventurer and self-appointed Wise Man who is completing incredible feats by employing The Wim Hof Method: breathing techniques rooted in Tummo Meditation and yogic breathing, which he teaches to people all over the world, claiming they can help us cure our own diseases, control our hormones, eliminate toxic waste from our bodies, combat stress, and more.
Hof holds 26 world records including taking the longest ice bath in history (1 hour, 13 minutes, and 48 seconds). He completed a marathon above the arctic circle in below-zero temperatures – barefoot and wearing nothing but a pair of shorts – in roughly five and a half hours, climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in two days (again, in shorts and shoeless), and voluntarily allowed scientists to inject him with e-coli, inducing endotoxemia, so that they could study how his breathing techniques enabled him to fight off the bacteria. (He eliminated the bacteria from his body in fifteen minutes.)
I am only scratching the surface of what he’s teaching and I don’t know if everything he says and believes is backed up by scientific data, but his own experiments and what he’s able to do is extremely compelling. His breathing techniques are available all over the internet for free (from Hof personally and others who’ve learned and practice his methods) and easily done at home.
Check out this quick video for a brief tutorial on how to get started (and skip ahead to about the 1:25 minute mark if you’re impatient):
I’ve completed this twice this week. The entire process from the first inhale to the final, 15 second-held inhale takes about five minutes. Each time, I repeated it four times, so with the one-minute ice bath, it took a little more than 20 minutes.
The effects are really interesting, physiologically and mentally (not emotionally, for me – I did not cry). I was also shocked by how long I could wait before inhaling after the exhale and hold – just over two minutes – and was surprised by how tense my body was when I first stopped breathing, especially in my lower back and jaw (which might help explain #8 on this list). When I finally inhaled and held it for 15 seconds, as instructed, I didn’t just feel lightheaded, I felt lightBODIED, as if my whole body were barely touching the floor, followed by an almost euphoric, giddy feeling. It’s kind of amazing!
Thankfully, I’m not fighting any acute diseases, so I can’t report on how the breathing is impacting my physical health, per se, and I did not feel stronger, as the video suggested I would. Also, the water in my house is more tepid than cold and the ice melts really quickly, so my “ice baths” have been simply cold, not icy cold (and refreshing on a hot summer day). But the process from start to finish is not at all unpleasant to do and I could see it having some positive mental and stress-management implications with practice, so I just might keep this up and see where it goes.
It’s hard to believe, but my boys have begun their grueling, sweaty, hot football practices every afternoon, so football is part of my life for the rest of this summer and the next four months.
Normally, football is something I would not be into this time of year because it signals the end of summer is coming and as far as I’m concerned, I want summer to last forever. But my boys are so excited to be playing – especially my six year old who is playing flag football for the first time ever – which is really fun for me since it makes them so happy.
As my sister-in-law says, a mom is only as happy as her least happy child, and since my daughter is just as happy to not be playing football (or anything else at the moment), I have very little to complain about.
8. Hip and Lower Back Stretches
Piriformis, tensor fascia latae, ischial tuberosity…. If these words have any meaning for you, you’re probably a runner and you probably have tight hip and lower back muscles.
After seeing an accupuncturist, two chiropractors, and a physical therapist for my chronic left hip pain and getting no relief, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever find a solution.
In the meantime, I’m trying to be more diligent about doing daily stretches that target those muscles. There are a lot of really goofy-looking stretches, which only proves how desperate some of us are to get relief, but these are my go-tos.
9. Amy the Movie
I remember hearing music giants rave about Amy Winehouse’s transcendent talent after she passed away tragically in 2011, but besides Rehab and Back to Black, I didn’t know her music at all and, in all honesty, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Mostly, I knew her to be a very ill-seeming train wreck of a girl with a beehive that seemed to grow bigger in direct proportion to her withering frame.
In 2015, when I heard about the movie, Amy, which documents her short life from the age of twelve until her untimely death at the age of 27, I was curious to see it, but forgot all about it until I came upon the movie in my On Demand catalog the other night. I decided to watch it.
Other than the fact that I had to put the subtitles on because I had a hard time understanding everyone’s accents (and the film graciously does this anyway for a good part of the movie), I was entranced. I had no idea she was as gifted a musician, singer, and songwriter as she was or that she had such a magnetic personality.
Amy paints a portrait of an incredibly gifted, electric, and deeply disquieted young woman without a savior, besides her music. She was the quintessential tortured artist with far fewer people in her life wanting to help her than parasites who wanted to keep the gravy train running full steam ahead at all costs (including Amy’s despicable father.) Although sad, it’s an excellent movie and worth watching.
When it comes to gossip – celebrity or otherwise – I tend to be the last person to know and, quite frankly, I like it that way.
Despite the fact that the media has been reporting on Kesha’s lawsuit with her former producer, Dr. Luke for several years now, I learned about it only recently after hearing Kesha’s new song, Praying, and wondering what the lyrics were about.
I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a fan, but I’ve been intrigued by Kesha ever since I heard she was an accomplished songwriter, having written a number of songs for other successful artists. When it comes to my taste in music, if there’s anything I’m a sucker for, it’s a catchy pop song and, paradoxically, great song lyrics. Those two things don’t often go together, but Kesha seems to have a genuine talent for both.
Sometimes the best art comes from tremendous and heartbreaking adversity (as illustrated in #9). I don’t know if Kesha’s side of the story is true or if she will win her law suit, but her anger in Praying is powerfully palpable and you can’t help but feel compassion for whatever she went through to create such a potent, moving song.
Thanks for reading!