The Sanctity Of The Sauna

Sauna in Pančevo, Serbia

Sauna in Pančevo, Serbia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We tiptoe in, mostly we avoid eye contact but if we make it we acknowledge it quickly with a nod of our heads; dressed in white towels, the room is absolutely silent. Nobody breaks these unwritten rules either, you just know them. No talking in the sauna. Not one word. Someone leaves, they don’t say “good-bye and have a nice weekend,” that would be against the rules. ” She exits silently, closes the door quickly behind her and disappears into the locker room.

We know the procedure, even if it is our first time, we know what to do and what not to do. Is it in our genes? How else would we know? Perhaps it’s passed down from our mothers?  I have seen the occasional aberration from the norm, but mostly one evil look, or two, will silence the uneducated. Oh, they will get the message.  Don’t do this again, if you want to chat, go to Starbucks.

I go after a swim, where I feel that I am getting some of the chemicals out of my body, making my body glow naturally with heat. I can only stay inside for about five minutes, there are no watches or clocks, you need to know your own body and your body tells you when it’s time to leave. Don’t fool around with that. Drink a bottle of water right away to hydrate your body. It’s your own, private club, or at least that’s what you pretend. Other women work painstakingly with their hair and hair dryers for a long time trying to straighten their hair, but once I’ve showered I’m relieved to go out into the sunshine where my hair will curl naturally by the sun. I should pay more attention to make-up and clothing and accessories, I know, but to me, a little lipstick is all I do. It’s all I care to do.

Maybe the sauna takes us back to a place where there are no phones, no meetings, nothing to do in today’s ever so quick, changing lives. I admit, I have a cell phone but only use it for my children, it is usually turned off. Perhaps the sauna brings me back to the quiet, to the way things used to be, before the latest technology. I like it there.

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What I Can’t Leave Home Without

Lipstick in application

Image via Wikipedia

Pretty Lips, Clean Hands And Me

I could be boring and say the usual expected things: keys, ID, driver’s license, credit card but those are things I assume I am bringing (at least I thoroughly hope so, especially if I’m driving.) The definitive answer to this question “what can’t I leave home without?” would be lipstick. “Lipstick? You say?” Yes! Having lipstick on or in my handbag makes me feel more secure (how do you spell OCD?!) I USED to have to put lipstick on before I drove, but now I am (a little) more flexible. I have driven without lipstick but I don’t like the feeling. I could go through many years of psychoanalysis to find out the reason, but it’s so much easier to keep a lipstick, or two, in my bag. You know, just in case……My back up answer would be Purell, the hand sanitizer, because IF I can get rid of some germs, I do. Having an auto-immune disease makes me conscious of those things and even if washing my hands is 100 times more effective, I don’t care. I feel reassured with my little bottle of Purell at my side or rather in my bag. I actually LOVE PURELL so much I could be their spokesperson.
Call me crazy, but it is a frightening world out there and if lipstick and Purell are going to make me feel just a tiny bit better and a little more in control? So be it!

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The Joy Of A Lovely Cup Of Tea

It's Teatime!

Image by The Infatuated via Flickr

I’ve always been an avid coffee drinker, super Starbucks strength. I have a cup of strong coffee every morning, without fail, made the same exact way, with Fat Free Half and Half and one packet of Truvia. I’m hooked on coffee in the morning but only drink that one cup a day, which I am sure is equivalent to 3 cups of coffee if made by anyone else.

Why is that you can have a “good” cup of coffee but a “nice” cup of tea?  The only time I used to drink tea was when I had a stomach ache and then I would begrudgingly drag out the tea tin. Stomach ache = peppermint tea. A cold= Lipton tea with lemon juice and sugar or honey. That was it. I never enjoyed it, it was like a prescription for an illness or ache.

Just recently my son received a goody box from England filled with all types of delicious Cadbury chocolate and a small plastic bag with tea. He offered me the te so I decided to try it and made myself a cup. It was strong, earthy, bold. I didn’t use milk, or honey or sugar. I sipped it with delight. After that, I dove in the cupboard and reached all the way in to the back shelf to get the old container of tea which housed my own collection. I was pleased to find that I had an assortment of tea:  Lipton, Peppermint, Lemon, Orange Pekoe, Chai, Chamomile, Green and Black tea, Sleepytime tea and my new personal favorite, Jasmine tea. The scent alone of Jasmine tea is enough to ensure a great, big, smile of relaxation and a deep, soothing breath.

I find coffee drinking a sociable act but a cup of tea for me in the afternoon is quite solitary yet peaceful. It has become my new afternoon ritual. It gives me the opportunity to gather the day’s events together and gives me time to rethink and relax before  making dinner.

I still  use the one of the same mugs I use for coffee  but it doesn’t feel right. Tea requires a more dainty,  pretty cup. I need to buy one, a pristine, flowery tea-cup, perhaps one found in a thrift shop where I can imagine it was owned by a gracious older lady.  I drink tea differently too. While I happily slurp my morning cup of coffee, I sip tea, gently, lovingly and with more respect.

Now I have two things to look forward to each day, one in the morning when I am barely awake and one in the afternoon when I could use a break.  I sniff the scent of the tea container smelling rose, fruit,  nuttiness, a soothing peppermint. It can match my mood, it can comfort my soul.

In this world, that is scary and unpredictable, it’s comforting to have a new routine that gives me pleasure. We all need to make nice things happen for ourselves and appreciate them. I put my troubles aside, I sit down in a comfortable chair and I quietly sip my tea. It’s like sipping a little piece of meditation.

That Scar of Mine: When We Were Young (Kew Gardens’ Kids)

Kew Gardens’ Kids

Chocolate Egg Cream

In my childhood I grew up with three best friends, Claudine, Roger and Glen. We were together every single day while our moms sat on an old red brick and concrete wall, called ” the moyishen” German for little wall.  Our moms sat next to each other, each and every day, laughing, talking and dreaming together. There was comfort in our everyday ritual: Frankie and the Good Humor ice cream truck, our daily trek to Gussie’s old, dark candy store. Our only decision back then was whether to order a chocolate egg cream, vanilla water, or an ice cream soda; an ice cream sandwich, an eclair, or ice pops. We skateboarded down the hill, we played handball, we jumped rope, and we went rollerskating together. One particular afternoon, while we was on roller skates, I fell down hard on the pavement seriously cutting up both knees, bleeding heavily. I remember the pain of the antiseptic and rough tissues that Glen’s mother, Lotti, carried with her. She was always the most prepared of the moms. I remember the stiffness of both knees once large bandages were attached, layers and layers of white bandages. I still have those scars on my knees but I don’t mind them. They remind me of a happy childhood, an innocent childhood, where we always had someone to play with and our moms were just a hop, skip and jump away.

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