Of course I’ve failed at my resolutions for the new year. Making wholesale changes in your life is very, very difficult, even when you know how much better things will be if you can manage to make those changes.
One of those resolutions was, of course, to improve my diet but, to the contrary, I’ve been eating a ridiculous amount of food lately. I don’t think it’s a “winter hibernation” thing, because after the blizzard of a few weekends ago, the weather has been unseasonably mild. It’s been well into the 50s both days in February so far, and it’s supposed to go up to a rainy 60 degrees tomorrow (although they’re saying a chill will follow). [An aside: I remember when we lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, there would be a tease of spring in February (although a final cold snap would inevitably sneak through in March, chilling all the budding trees and early spring flowers), and I would actually start to feel less SAD (not “sad”, although that’s sometimes how I feel, but SAD – that is, seasonal affective disorder, some of the symptoms of which are feeling logy, lethargic, lazy, sleepy and just generally unenthused about life).]
The other day I ate so much – and so much CRAP – that I literally felt sick to my stomach, like a little kid who’d eaten too much Halloween candy in a single sitting. I definitely need to get back on nutritional track: adding protein, cutting carbs. And I also need to start a walking regime. With the weather so temperate, I have no excuses (even though I COULD use some better footwear . . .). Although I must say, the other day I created something scrumptious: a Thomas’ Maple French Toast English Muffin topped with crunchy peanut butter and a sliced banana and drizzled with honey. Oh, man, that was good! But what happened as soon as I was done? I found myself in the fridge, looking for MORE FOOD. It wasn’t that I was hungry; I just wanted the TASTE to continue. Someone needs to channel Willy Wonka and create a gum or mint that mimics delicious food so that you don’t actually have to EAT it to experience the taste (without turning purple like Violet Beauregarde).
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Any time I want to avoid work or some other unpleasantness, my worst procrastination tendency involves getting up from my desk and walking into the kitchen on a mission to find something to eat. Maybe, instead of eating, every time I get up I should pet and play with the “kids”: fewer calories, more comfort and joy. One or another of the beasts is looking for attention at any given moment, so it’ll be a win-win situation for everyone.
Which reminds me, one thing I HAVE been able to do in the new year is to keep a daily “joybook” in which, before I go to sleep, I write at least one thing that gave me joy that day. I also say a quick prayer every night to the non-denominational Higher Power to give thanks for all those things I am grateful for in my life: my comfy bed, the roof over our heads, enough money in the bank to pay the bills, my companion creatures, my daughter safe and sound away at school, and my reasonably good health are usually what comprise my nightly litany of gratitude, but I’ll occasionally add something specific from the day just passed: a pleasant visit with a friend, a successful blog post, a good Ranger game. I see it as a way to project positive thoughts and feelings out into the universe before heading off to dreamland. It certainly doesn’t hurt.
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Hockey returns tonight after a brief mid-winter break to accommodate the 2016 All-Star Game festivities, held this season in Nashville, Tennessee (a “non-traditional hockey market” that turned out to be a fantastic forum for the event). What had become a boring, trite advertiser showcase was actually a lot of fun this year, in no small part due to the fan-vote campaign to get John Scott – behemoth, pugilist and “great in the room” fourth-liner who was at the time a member of the Arizona Coyotes but was then traded to Montreal and sent down to the minors (some say as the result of a shady league conspiracy) – into the game. The greatest thing about “The John Scott Incident” was that the guy had a smile on his face THE WHOLE WEEKEND. He clearly had the time of his life, and so did his wife (hugely pregnant with twins), and his two adorable little girls (in their ‘Yotes jerseys and pink tutus and tights), and his buddies (of which there were many, and even more now after they got to know him better in Nashville). Despite his goonish reputation, I still consider John Scott an elite athlete, a professional who gets paid well to play a game for a living. But in a way, he is more like US, and his experience at the ASG was more like if Herman Q. Beer League went to the All-Star Game and was allowed to play with the “big boys,” sort of akin to how excited my chiropractor gets when he plays pick-up hockey with a journeyman NHL-er like Arron Asham (who had the distinction of playing for every team in the erstwhile Atlantic Division before it was morphed into the Metropolitan Division following the league’s realignment in 2012). There wasn’t a single camera shot of the guy where he didn’t have a huge grin on his face, and we were all able to experience his enjoyment vicariously.
So, even though I was looking forward to the resumption of the regular season for nearly a week, it didn’t take long (one game) for me to have my hopes dashed for a Rangers return to form post-All-Star break. All season long they have had a maddening tendency to squander their opportunities. Chance after chance – BLOWN. For starters, their special teams have been uniformly awful. The key to success in a game like hockey, especially as they move into the post-season where there’s less and less separating the teams, is to take advantage of the other team’s mistakes, so special teams play and making opponents pay for their defensive errors become vital. But I can’t tell you how many times in a typical Ranger game they fail to capitalize not only on their man-advantage opportunities but also two-on-ones, breakaways and wide open nets. Tonight’s game against the Devils was a case in point. Captain Ryan McDonagh made a great steal at the blue line and had a short-handed breakaway, which he somehow missed (I guess you could give the Devils’ goalie some credit), and then his teammates give up a power play goal with 5 seconds left in the penalty they were trying to kill – the second power play goal they let up in the game, as compared to an 0-for-4 performance on their own power play. When will they develop the necessary sense of urgency, that killer instinct? When they’re completely out of a playoff spot? That situation is alarmingly close at hand. I do not enjoy watching hockey when it’s this frustrating. And yet I’ll be there in front of the TV again on Thursday, full of hopeful anticipation: Will tonight be the night they finally get their shit together?
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January ended much the way it began – with the death of a dear friend, this one I actually knew (unlike my “friend” David Bowie). She was way too young (i.e., my age) and succumbed after a valiant battle with a recurrent, insidious cancer. The world lost a special person, a loving mother, wife, nurse and friend. Although I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked due to time and distance, I will miss her beautiful, always-smiling face. Rest in peace, Rhonda Caputo Speranza.
The death of someone your age brings it home more intensely that you have to live every day with a purpose. I often think about why we’re here on this planet, why we’ve been given these lives to live. It can’t be just to perpetuate the species biologically; it must involve, somehow, our intellectual and spiritual evolution as a civilization as well (although I’m DEFINITELY not talking about organized religion, but that’s another post for another day). I mean, look at everything we’ve done in the past few thousand years, let’s say from the time of the Romans (who were remarkably advanced in their day) until today. Our technological breakthroughs have been exponential. We are able to do and create things that people who lived thousands of years ago could not have even imagined (except for maybe Leonardo da Vinci). But we continue to pollute with no consideration of our limited resources or our fellow humans, quite as badly as (if not even worse than) our ancestors, who didn’t know any better what consequences their waste and pillage of the earth would have. And of course we still make war with regularity and otherwise find ways to steal from and kill each other. That’s something that doesn’t seem to change about human nature. But while that kind of thinking just makes me feel impotent and insignificant, I often wonder what I role I could possibly have in furthering mankind’s development. I brought a child into the world, so there’s my basic biological imperative satisfied; but on a deeper level, what can I, Nancy Lucas – I and only I – do to make the world a better place? What gifts have I been given that I must use to fulfill my purpose in life? A friend recently posted something (without attribution, I’m afraid) on Facebook that I liked. It said: “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” But why is my heart keeping that desire such a well-hidden secret? After 56 years, you would have thought my heart would have spoken by now (or, if it’s been speaking all along, that I’d finally be able to hear it).