Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer


December 2013

Laying Low

th3I had it all planned out. This week’s post was going to be New Year’s related. About fresh starts and new routines. About sticking to diets and exercise plans. It was going to be very motivational. And then it rained.

Trouble is, now (and you should read this as a whine) I don’t feel like it.

I love “bad” weather. There’s no pressure to be doing something outside or productive. There’s no pressure to be doing … well, anything. And so, I’m not. And neither are the animals. And just in case you’re feeling motivated to do something this weekend — let these quotes talk you out of it. It’s still the holidays.131228_0006

The best kind of rain, of course, is a cozy rain.  This is the kind the anonymous medieval poet makes me remember, the rain that falls on a day when you’d just as soon stay in bed a little longer, write letters or read a good book by the fire, take early tea with hot scones and jam and look out the streaked window with complacency.

  ~Susan Allen Toth

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.  ~Author Unknown

There’s always a period of curious fear between the first sweet-smelling breeze and the time when the rain comes cracking down.  ~Don Delillo

I like people who smile when it’s raining. ~Author Unknown

All was silent as before —All silent save the dripping rain.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Beginning Again

beddhaMy mother has accused me of not practicing what I preach.

Two Sundays ago, when my post on meditating came out, I rolled into the kitchen all sleepy-eyed and looking for coffee at eight a.m. and she asked, “Did you meditate this morning?” knowing full well I hadn’t.

When I think about it, there are lots of things I’ve stressed the importance of doing that I don’t necessarily do on a regular basis. In fact sometimes, I’m just laying around on the couch, not exercising, eating right or being positive, but watching lots of bad TV and languishing in resentment. Then, right before I succumbed to feeling like a total fraud, my friend Rhonda said something I hold on to. She said it was enough to inspire others to meditate and that I would succeed in developing my practice when I was ready. How very Buddhist of her, no?

So Rhonda and I began texting each other as encouragement to try and complete 10 days straight of meditation. Another friend commented on the original post that anything done for two years straight becomes a lifetime habit. Two years?!  What happened to 30 days? 30 days seems possible, but two years is completely unrealistic. And I’m not even trying for 30 until I can master 10. So far, Rhonda and I have been texting back and forth a lot of 2/10’s. Until a few days ago, I got a 4/10 text from her. For all I know she’s almost there. Meanwhile, I’ve stalled out altogether. But even with my half-hearted attempts, I’ve been meditating two to three times a week during the holidays. Not bad, right? A for effort.

The point is, you can always begin again. Another friend observed, trying to meditate during the holidays is like trying to diet — you’re fighting a losing battle. Maybe. But who knows? Maybe I’ve managed to take a little stress out of the equation this month, too. And I’m that much closer to keeping those New Year’s resolutions when the time comes. And, perhaps most satisfying, I’m more likely to be able to say I’ve meditated when questioned by my mother. Although, meditating for spite is probably defeating the purpose. So, don’t feel you have to wait till the beginning of the year, first of the month, or a Monday. Start now. You can always start over.

Let Her Eat Cake

hb2I’ve always hated my December birthday. Combo gifts, birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper and a general “two birds with one stone” approach to what was supposed to be My Special Day always left me feeling gypped.

I never got this treatment from my family, mind you, but from those people a kid cares about most from the onset of school straight through to graduation — other kids.  Actually, it wasn’t so much that they celebrated my birthday with Christmas in so much as they ignored it altogether. Kids born during summer months might have experienced the same thing. Question: If a birthday falls during a school vacation, does it exist? Answer: Not really.

There are gripes as an adult, too. You can’t have a party because everyone’s out of town. That or your party falls on the same night as some holiday affair or other. In general, everyone’s partied out. And they’re too full, hungover, stressed out or broke to come to your party, so don’t even try.

As you can tell, I’ve had some time to think about my opinion on the matter. My whole life, in fact. But this year, I’m changing my mind. I’ve decided to embrace my December birthday and all the years that come with it.

So, if you too were born on this month, there are several reasons to be happy about it.

For starters, you can and should eat whatever you want. The diet’s been blown since Thanksgiving anyway. And the holidays are just naturally chocked full of goodies. In what other month would you have chocolate rum balls in the fridge? Or a box of Russell Stover’s on hand — just in case somebody drops by?

As the years add on and “what I’m doing for my birthday” becomes less and less important, December is a great month full of activities. Instead of lamenting about spending another quiet night at home, there are plenty of holiday invites to choose from. The fact that it just so happens to be my birthday means there’s double the reason to celebrate.

I know of no other month with such great potential for goofing off. Three-day weekends, personal time and half-days galore. The 40-hour work week doesn’t stand a chance. And maybe it’s just because I’m a homebody, but the short days of December work for me too. I know I risk ridicule for saying this, but I like being curled up in my pajamas by five o’clock on a cold, rainy night. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this on a cold, rainy night and it’s 4:53 so I’ve got some changing to do. I’ll end with a quote that sums it up for my new, favorite month and great time to have a birthday.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

~Hamilton Wright Mabie

My Bathroom, My Temple

med2Hot on the heels of my post about how I wasn’t getting any sleep, comes some practical advice on how to get some. Meditate.

I know, I know. You’ve heard it before. But maybe it’s always seemed (to borrow a term) a little “woo-woo” to you. Like you have to start drinking wheatgrass, growing your body hair and raising chickens to be any good at it. (Apologies to friends of mine who do these things.) But research shows the benefits are undeniable.

Meditation can help improve your ability to focus, sleep and fight infection. It’s also been shown to reduce cases of stress, anxiety, depression and addiction. Wait. Addiction? This last one got me. How on earth can meditation help with addiction, you ask? The answer made sense.

Take the example of food addiction, which is a good one for me because I love food and am always trying to watch my weight. (It’s probably a good example for everyone since we are smack in the middle of the gluttonous holidays.) Meditation can make you more able to notice cravings so you can stop before you succumb. It strengthens the muscles of attention, making it easier to let go of the “good-at-the-time” idea of consuming Hershey’s Kisses, french fries or an entire bag of Oreos. And meditation makes it easier to cope with stress, thus making it easier to avoid using the pleasure of a gallon of Rum Raisin ice cream as a crutch in the first place.

I think we can all agree it’s good for us and we probably should be doing it. So let’s take the mysticism out of it. No one’s asking you to have an out of body experience – just close your eyes! And try not to think about anything. Ahh, the catch. It’s this last part that’s hard. I find it helpful to focus on my breathing. Or try a guided meditation.

And yes, believe it or not, there’s an app for that. At you can sign up to receive daily guided meditations on your phone or lap top. And the best part is you can start easy – just ten minutes a day! Who can’t carve out ten minutes?

After I had committed mentally to doing it, I realized my problem wasn’t an issue of time. It was more location related. I needed to find a quiet place where I wouldn’t be interrupted. And then it came to me. The bathroom. People are always commenting on how relaxing and spacious it is. If I do it first thing in the morning, everyone’s still asleep – even Frankie! And there’s a perfect corner cabinet that doubles as a “shrine” or place to put things like a timer or incense. So, I’m shooting for ten minutes a day, for ten days. Beyond that, I can’t commit. I’m really not ready for chickens.131208_0003

Mistaken Identity

Peke2044817113391_orig-e1329437743193As I watched the National Dog Show this past Thursday (you know, the one after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?) I had one recurring thought. Frankie is not a Pekingese.

I mean, c’mon! Do you see any resemblence between these two dogs? And before you answer, the correct response is no. Absolutely not.

This ridiculous creature, Rodger, won Best in Group and was competing for Best in Show before he was (thankfully) edged out by a dog that actually looked like a dog, the American Foxhound. Until then, I was having flashbacks to Malachy, the 2012 winner of Best in Show at Westminster. Then I was reluctant to admit Frankie’s breed for weeks. Now I’m denying it all together.

Of course, it would only be fitting to have a comical dog win the whole thing, since the event is so ripe for comedy anyway. I can never watch a dog show without thinking of the hysterical 2000 comedy film Best in Show. And when the commentator is J. Peterman from Seinfeld! Well, I’d tune in for amusement’s sake alone, even if I didn’t love dogs.

But back to Frankie’s identity crisis.

Since he was adopted from Petco (sorry, but I think it’s crazy to be buying and selling dogs in a world where so many are euthanized), it’s certainly possible that Frankie is a mix and his lineage somewhat less than accurate. Mom and I scanned the breeds for sight of more respectable would-be parents.

lg_artwork2The French Bulldog remains a front runner because of Frankie’s size (they get up to 25 lbs. as opposed to the pipsqueak Pekingese, who’s only allowed to max out at 14 the ring). And Frankie’s got that bulldog temperament. If you don’t think he’s stubborn, just see how long he’ll stare at you for something he wants before huffing at you in disgust and walking away.

lg_artworkThen I spotted the adorable Tibetan Spaniel and declared him another possibility. We also can’t deny the recognition on some former Pekingese owner’s faces. This leads me to believe that the show variety and the street variety are, quite literally, two different animals.

But the truth remains a mystery that only Frankie’s mother and father know the answer to. Well, them and modern science.

You see, for just $59.99 you can have your doggy’s DNA tested. Call us crazy. We’re going to do it. A simple swab of the cheek at home will tell us everything we want to know. I can just hear my friend Michele’s disdain for the idea and realize some people will find this ludicrous. “They must have money to burn,” Michele is thinking.

Not quite. But it is a luxury, I realize. What can I say? We’ve become like millions of besotted pet owners, though we haven’t sat for a pet portrait and don’t plan to. But, we can’t wait to find out. We’re clearing up the mystery once and for all. Just please don’t let him be pure Pekingese.

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