Better Than a Kick to the Dick

The other day, I had the neighbor kids over for a playdate. There are actually 4 kids belonging to this particular neighbor, but on this day, I just had 2 of them in the playroom; 3-year-old Lily and 6-year-old Jake.

As is typical, an argument erupted within minutes of their arrival. Jake, in his carelessness, had somehow bumped Lily. She was incredibly pissed about it and was headed back home so she could report the offense to their mom who was folding laundry one house over.

In response, Jake initiated threat level orange apology tactics. When he realized he just didn’t have the apology that was going to come between Lily and tattling to their Mom, he went all in.

Fortunately, or not so fortunately for Jake, Lily was in the mood to negotiate and it went like this:

“Lily, I will let you kick me in the dick if you don’t tell Mom.”
“I want to kick you in the dick two times,” Lily countered.
“No, Lily, please, one time, and you have to promise you won’t tell Mom anyway.”
“How hard do I get to kick you in the dick?”
“As hard a you want, but you can only kick my dick one time and you can’t tell mom what happened.”
“I’m going to kick you in the dick two times and I won’t tell Mom.”
“Okay, that’s fine, hurry up.”

So I realize that I could make this story be about a few different things:

It did not escape my notice that Lily is one hell of a negotiator. I could turn this into a whole big thing about women and just when and how it is that we lose the ability to advocate for ourselves with conviction. But I won’t; that’s not my bag of dicks and there are a lot of amazing women marching around in pussy hats making that point much better than I ever could.

I could also make this a story about family values and opine on how exactly dick kicking becomes a viable form of currency in a household. I could post my judgement to the Internet and proclaim that under no circumstances will there be dicks kicked on my watch because I’m obviously a better parent than one that allows dick kicking.

But I won’t and you have yoga to thank for that.

Yoga teaches observation without judgement; to experience something without applying your own personal filters to it. To let a thing be what it is instead of what you make it (yoga nerds, that’s Satya I’m talking about).

So this is just going to be one of those “kids say the darndest things” stories. I’m going to laugh as a write it.

And that is better than a kick in the dick.

The names in the story have be changed to protect the innocent.
This story originally published on www.groundingup.com

Instagram and the Yoga Selfie

I don’t know very many people who are willing to admit that they love social media; even as people are scrolling their social media feeds, they are talking about how they never go to their social feeds because it is an obscene waste of time and completely contrived.

And to that argument, I will say “oh for sure, that shit is a complete time suck and much of it is a fabricated representation of everyday life.”

But I will also tell you that I absolutely love social media and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Social media helps me feel connected to friends and family who live far away or that I don’t see on a regular basis because I don’t have much free time and I use it to keep current on local and worldwide news.

Also, most of my yoga education comes from my studio or from the Internet; social media is how I find those resources. Which brings me to the point of this post and it is this:

My social media streams (mostly Instagram) are full of pictures of professional yogis doing complicated yoga poses perfectly. Where is the stream for the 40-something working mother of two who might have time to take a picture of herself if her kids take a nap? How do I get that person in my social media feed? Where are HER pictures?

So this morning, I decided I would post a picture of whatever pose popped up in my Instagram feed first and it was this one:

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Camel Pose, Ustrasana, if you care about sanskrit. This is what mine looks like and I’ve been doing yoga for 7 years:

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I took this while my toddler napped. I didn’t have time to shower or change out of my jeans. I am pretty excited about the backdrop though as I have been looking for a good use for the shipping crates that our speakers came in. 

From time to time, I think I will do this as a public service to anyone out there who thinks they can’t do yoga because they aren’t fit or flexible enough or might be worried about looking like an ass.

Most real life yoga looks like mine, not what you see on social media and yes, I could spend my social media time meditating or calling my mom, but, first, let me take a selfie.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

How To “Do” Yoga On The Rocks

I don’t remember how I first heard about Yoga On The Rocks. Maybe my sister, who lives in Denver told me or maybe I read about it in Yoga Journal; that seems like something they would cover.  Regardless, once I learned about the outdoor yoga event, held in the spectacularly beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, it went directly to the top of my ever-growing “Yoga Bucket List.”

Yoga Bucket List (a sampling)
Start a yoga blog ✅
Write a kids yoga book
Attend international yoga retreat ✅
Yoga at Giants Stadium
. . .

The list goes on, but you get the idea. So this was finally my summer for Yoga On The Rocks. The event is just as amazing as Yoga Journal (or my sister) said it was. And, as a public service to all the yogi’s out there, I’m going to offer you my unsolicited advice (my specialty) for having the best Yoga On The Rocks experience.

Unsolicited Advice Starts Here:

Arrive early

The Red Rocks Amphitheater seats 9,525 people; however, to accommodate space for yoga mats, the venue sells out at about 2,000 yogis for this event. You’ll buy your tickets online but if you want to have the best mat placement, plan to arrive at your seats at least 30 minutes before the instruction starts.

Parking is no problem as the venue is designed for far more people than can be ticketed for this yoga event.

Wear layers

Colorado mornings are chilly, even in the summer. Wear warm layers. The venue seating faces east, so once the sun warms you, you won’t need the extra clothes.

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Pack snacks

There are event sponsors in attendance at the top of the amphitheater; however, don’t plan on much in the way of food vending. Caribou Coffee was there with a cart and Silk was there with a yogurt station for the vegans or the really hungry carnivores. Propel was there with water. And randomly, Chipotle was there with chips and guacamole (this just made me sad I couldn’t get a breakfast burrito).

Remember your sun protection

Like I said earlier, the sun hits you from the east, which happens to be the direction you’ll need to face the stage and the instructor, so sunscreen and sunglasses are highly recommended.

Print your ticket

They were’t set up to check your cellphones for your ticket, so print it out so they can scan it with their scanner guns. Also, I’m not sure what the Will Call situation is, but it is removed from the venue by a decent distance and it seems like a major pain to try to go that route if you even can.

Bring your “festival” yoga mat–

The smell of stale beer that hit me as I approached the amphitheater served as a not so gentle reminder that this is a concert venue at 6:30 AM and that just a few hours before I placed my mat in row 50, an inebriated Widespread Panic fan was dancing and spilling his or her drink, food, and who knows what else in the exact same spot. Actually, a few of those fans were still in the parking lot, grilling their breakfast, nursing their hangovers, and gearing up for another show that night. They had breakfast burritos.

The venue has obviously been cleaned since the concert, but still, bring that old mat you haven’t gotten around to recycling yet instead of your brand new Manduka. This can its practice.

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Prepare for instructor du jour

Ironically, yogis can be extremely inflexible when it comes to accepting different teaching styles and philosophies. It is unlikely that you will have received instruction from the instructor teaching at Red Rocks the day you attend as they rotate through the summer. Our practice was lead by Samy Mattei, who is a teacher at The River yoga studio in Denver.

The sequence was an easy 60 minute vinyasa flow appropriate for all levels. There is a big screen showing demo yogis working their way through the practice, so if you need a point of reference, you can look there.

The River yoga studio seems to subscribe to a “you are beautiful” philosophy and I found the fluffy “we are all just really really beautiful and special on the inside” pep talk a bit much. I know I’m not alone in that and I wish that instructors would consider their audience before they roll out the woo woo.

The other thing I noticed was the fact that we didn’t OM anywhere in the practice. I’m not sure if this was an intentional omission or if the instructor just forgot, but if ever there was a time for an OM it would be with 2000 people on a beautiful summer morning in one of the world’s greatest acoustical venues. I feel robbed. I want my OM dammit.

Plan a post-practice hike or picnic

While finding a parking spot is easy enough, traffic leaving the event venue is a little slow. I recommend taking a hike in the stunning red rocks near the vicinity. There are several great hiking trails and loops that start and end right at Red Rocks. So, take a hike rather than sitting in traffic.

Relax and have fun–

Attending this event is incredibly easy. It is essentially hassle-free. And even if you don’t have a great time, the price of entry is only $14. It’s not like you just paid $500 to see Widespread Panic or something.

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

 

My Year in the Blogosphere

Sometimes, people ask me if my BLOG makes a lot of money. When I am finished laughing, I explain to them that since launching GroundingUp last year, I’ve published 61 posts, and have had thousands of readers from all over the world (I see you Swaziland). Then, I like to disappoint them with the news that this BLOG has made exactly $0.00.

Fortunately, financial gain was not the founding principle of this BLOG. Yes, there are BLOGs out there designed specifically to generate online advertising revenue or drive a social media following, but this is not that kind of BLOG.

So what is it?

The insurance industry executive in me often demands to know what the business case looks like for this Internet property. It wants to talk about content strategies, click-through, and content marketing plans. That voice wants to know who in the hell is responsible for Quality Control around here and just what our ROI looks like.

And, until recently, I haven’t had an answer.

But, a few weeks ago, I attended a Q&A session with the comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Buried in the typical list of audience-generated questions about Jerry’s creative process was a question about his view on failure. And to this he said,

“So what, you told a joke, it bombed, move on, so what?”–Jerry Seinfeld.

I was immediately struck by two things about this statement.

1–Holy shit, Jerry Seinfeld is a yogi

Jerry Seinfeld is famously aloof. Even before he had “Fuck You” money, he was often considered detached and oblivious to situations around him. And yogis are all about detachment, or aparigraha.

In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.–The Law Of Detachment, The Chopra Center

2–It’s okay to have an aimless BLOG about nothing in particular.

Seinfeld ran for 9 seasons and often received criticism and praise for the simple fact that it wasn’t really about anything. That didn’t make it any less amazing.

It’s extremely difficult to find clear headspace for a creative endeavor when you are frantically trying to nurture a family and a career; where the stakes are so high you can’t risk even a moment of detachment.

But here, it really can just be about creativity, trying something out, and letting people see an authentic version of me–with typos and grammar mistakes. Here, there are no stakes. It’s going to be fine if site traffic is down for the month of July or if I never find a viable way to monetize this content. And maybe, all this will ever be is yet another sketchy corner of the Internet.

To that I say, so what?

This article originally published on http://www.groundingup.com

Studio Review–Indigo Yoga

Last Wednesday, I attended the 9AM class at the Indigo Yoga Studio in Davenport, IA.

I moved away from Iowa long before I began practicing yoga and before yoga had hit Iowa’s radar. So obviously, since I was back in the state visiting the family, I was compelled to check out the local yoga scene.

My primary finding was that the Quad Cities, area could benefit from a little more variety in practice styles. In general, if you wanted a yoga studio experience, Hot Yoga was your only option. Gyms, fitness centers, and the YMCA offered a wider selection but then you are missing the studio environment.

I’m not exactly sure why the studios are primarily hot yoga. Maybe there is something about the business model that I’m missing or maybe it appeals to Iowans during the long cold winter. But I suspect hot yoga was the yoga that got there first and that was that.

Since studio yoga is my thing and hot yoga was my only option, I went to hot yoga at Indigo Yoga.

The Facility

The class I attended was located in their studio at 5161 Utica Ridge Road. Indigo Yoga has several studios throughout the Quad Cities Area and offers massage services in addition to yoga classes.

The Davenport studio I visited was clean and tastefully decorated in a modern and minimalist fashion. I was slightly unsettled by the mirrored front wall in the studio as I’m not accustomed to practicing in a mirrored space. The room most likely was a dance studio before yoga came to town and the studio just kept the mirror.

The room can comfortably accommodate 30 yogis.

I rented a mat from the studio since I was traveling and hadn’t brought mine. The mat selection was a little grim.

The Instructor

My class was taught by Shannon Moran, a co-owner/co-founder of the studio. He is a 200 hour RYT with a background in Ashtanga yoga, but is really great and combining different forms of vinyasa together for a creative practice.

How to bury a horse.

My first horse was a Shetland pony, which is basically a miniature draft horse. He was short and round and had wild, orange-blonde hair. His name was Candy and he was a complete asshole.

At the time of my birth, my mom, a horse enthusiast, had a pasture full of horses. Depending on who you ask, the actual number of horses ranges from just a few (Mom) to at least two dozen (Dad). Since I was small and Candy was small, he and I were more or less assigned to each other. Candy became my horse and we both deeply resented the arrangement.

On more than one occasion, Candy tried to scrape me off of his back by walking under a low tree limb or the upper board of a fence. He would surprise me with quick little jukes left or right hoping to dump me sideways. And, in the event I was feeling brave and generous and offered him a carrot, there was a 50/50 chance that little bastard was going to bite me.

Candy lived to be 16 years old. When his time came, we had the local large animal vet euthanize him. Burying a pet horse is similar to burying the family cat, but it involves a backhoe and a small bulldozer instead of a shoe box and a shovel. Fortunately, we had a large parcel of land in which to bury our horses. My dad, who owned a construction company had access to plenty of excavation equipment and was more than happy to dig the hole.

We laid Candy to rest next to his friend Jubilee, an old Buckskin gelding who had passed a year or two before.

My second horse was a young gray Arabian horse named Saracus. I received her as a gift for my 8th or 9th birthday. I didn’t have a horse on my birthday wishlist and I thought it was fairly obvious that horses really weren’t my jam,  so I was a little surprised when my mother presented me with one. My mother was beaming with enthusiasm at her well found gift for me so I tried my best to play along. Needless to say, my relationship with Saracus was even more complicated than what I had going with Candy.

Saracus was a big horse and she was green (not very well trained). I spent the entirety of my years with Saracus trying to convince my mom that I really just didn’t want to be involved with horses, which was something she couldn’t accept.

The final straw came when Saracus and I were riding in some sort of 4-H or rodeo exhibition in Granby, Colorado. It was hot and windy and we were riding in formation behind a rider with an American flag. That horse decided right then and there to lay down in the dirt and roll, with me still on top of her and in front of a stadium full of rodeo-goers. When she was finished rolling in the dirt, I took her to the horse trailer where mom was waiting for me and I said that was it.

I have no idea what happened to Saracus after that. I don’t know if my mom sold her or kept her. I was done.

I haven’t thought about my equestrian years in a long time; mostly because they were so unpleasant. But those years recently came rushing back to me as I tended to my mother, who had been thrown from her 17 year old thoroughbred sustaining a broken hip, a brain bleed, and various cuts, bruises and scrapes.

When I tell people this, I invariably get two responses:

  1. How old is your mother? Seventy? And she is still riding horses? That seems a little risky don’t you think?
  2. How old is your mother? Seventy? And she is still riding horses? Well good for her for pursuing her passion and for staying so fit!

I don’t have any particular preference for one response or the other as they are both extremely valid points. Yes, equestrian eventing is a dangerous sport at any age, and yes, good for her for staying true to her passion.

I have resented my mom’s obsession with horses my entire life. Every aspect of our family life was dictated by the fact that we had horses. But that resentment looks a little different to me now. As a 40 year old woman with a family and a career, I can see that it’s important to have something for yourself that isn’t work or family. But I struggle with knowing how much is too much.

At what point is my thing, which is yoga, negatively impacting my relationships? I’m a better wife, mother, and employee because of yoga, but where is the tipping point?

And what about Mom? When that hip heals, does she head back out to the barn to saddle up? I’d like to say no, because she will inevitably continue to get hurt as she ages. But then what, there will never be a replacement for what she gets from horses.

And it kind of seems like a shame for her to quit now, kind of like dropping out of a marathon 1 mile from the finish line. So I guess she needs to keep riding, it’s not rational, but to be a true horse person is to let go of all sense of reason and follow your passion.

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

 

Studio Review: This yoga is so hot

I know I’m not alone in liking my yoga warm, hot even by some people’s standards, but believe me when I tell you that some yoga can indeed be too hot. Unfortunately, is seems impossible for the yoga industry to agree on what constitutes “too hot”.

Heat is used in yoga as a tool for creating change, both physically and intellectually.  It also softens tissues and muscles, and is thought to release toxins through sweat. Science says you are really just sweating out water and salt, but if you want to believe that you are sweating out vodka tonics and champagne, that’s fine. I certainly do.

Many modern yoga styles call for practice temperatures between 85 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit with Bikram Yoga being the exception, prescribing a temperature of 105 degrees F and 40% humidity.

So if being warm is the ideal, why in the HELL is it so hot in here??

  • To some extent, yoga instructors are at the mercy of the heating system in place at the studios where they teach. Certain heating systems can be hard to control and ventilation, or a lack of it, can be the difference between an excellent yoga experience and a horrific one.
  • Some teachers seem to forget about the temperature all together once they get rolling and only notice when the bodies start dropping.
  • Some instructors are weirdly competitive about how hot they like their yoga to be; however, there are no trophies in yoga, so cool it.
  • And then there is the personal climate preference of each and every yoga student in the room, which largely must be ignored or the yoga will never happen.

I bring all this up because I recently visited Dancing Dogs Yoga Greensboro for a power vinyasa class. I was in town for a leadership workshop and needed a yoga field trip. Dancing Dogs Yoga Greensboro is one of four Baptiste Affiliate Yoga Studios in the southeast part of the US. The other three are in Savannah, GA, Atlanta, GA, and Bluffton, SC.

But anyway, back to my yoga field trip to the Greensboro studio. Here is my Review.

The Class and Instructor

I consider myself fortunate to have visited Dancing Dogs Yoga on a day when Earl Wheeler was teaching. He is an obvious studio favorite and his class was at maximum capacity. He taught a creative and challenging power vinyasa class in the Baptiste style. Heat seems to be Earl’s “thing”; he likes it hot and humid. So, if that is a concern for you, I recommend checking with the studio before choosing your class.

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Earl Wheeler

The Studio Space

This is a beautiful studio featuring two practice rooms, showers, water filtration, and retail (but not too much retail if ya know what I mean). The staff is welcoming, knowledgable, and everyone has a great attitude.

But about the heat. In my opinion, their heating system is overwhelming for the size of the practice room and the number of students in it. I realize that infrared studio heat is popular because it is thought to be healthier and more environmentally friendly, but in this case, it may need some fine tuning.

Baptiste Yoga prescribes a room temperature between 90 and 95 degrees F, but we were easily at 105-110 by the middle of the practice. I was praying for the amazing ceiling fan to come on and stay on, but it never did.

The Savanna, GA Dancing Dogs Yoga studio has a juice bar and I have to suggest that the Greensboro studio add one. A smoothie was all I could think about during the last half of Earl’s class.

The Take Away

I love to visit other yoga studios because variation in your practice is essential and it always feels so good to get back home to your studio.

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

 

Meatless Meatballs Recipe: Deliscious and a complete pain in the ass.

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A few days ago, I posted this photo to my instagram feed. It is a picture of meatless meatballs for which I found the recipe in the New York Times Cooking section. I said I would try them and report back as I wasn’t sure how they could be tasty or even pretend to be meatballs given what was in them.

Here is a simple Q and A to help you decide if these meatless meatballs are for you:

Q: How did they taste?
A:  Just like meatballs, so great.

Q:  Are they easy to make?
A:  Absolutely not.

Q:  Did the kids eat them?
A:  No way.

Q:  Would you make them again?
A:  Yes, but I would chop the mushrooms smaller or run the whole business through the food processor. I would double the batch while I was at it since they are time consuming and a little bit messy. I would freeze the extra batch for a future date when I needed meatless meatballs but didn’t want to go through the production of making them.

Q:  How did you serve them?
A: On homemade fettuccine noodles with red sauce and salad. Also, because the kids wouldn’t eat them and the batch was huge, my husband and I ate them on salads all week.

Q:  Where can I find the recipe?
A:  Right here,  Veggie Balls Recipe – NYT Cooking

 

Grind your own flour, or don’t, whatever.

A few weeks ago, I posted a video of my son and I grinding our own flour with our Kitchenaid stand mixer. I got a lot of questions about how and why I do this rather than just buying flour.

For us it all started last May when my husband gave me this article from the Wall Street Journal.  The article addressed the need for healthier wheat processing and bread production in the US as a way to change the conversation about gluten in the American diet. In summary: commercially processed white flour is bad, small batch, fresh whole wheat flour is good.

And because we are who we are, we decided that we would become people who grind their own flour. Here is how we did it.

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First, you’ll need to choose a grain mill. One of the reasons we purchased a massive Kitchenaid stand mixer is because it comes with a lot of food processing attachments, including a grain mill. We also have a meat grinder and a juicer. 
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Once you have your grain mill attachment, just secure it to the attachment hub (read your user’s manual, people). Counter surfing toddlers will love to “help”.
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Hit up the bulk bins at your local health food store. We usually buy wheat berries, but I think that is barley pictured above. I buy and grind 4 pounds of grain in a batch because that is what fits in my storage container. Because whole grain flour is not really shelf-stable, you’ll want to use it immediately, or store it in the freezer. 
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Fill the grain hopper (ignore the adorable toddler) set the dial to a medium grind and grind at a medium-high speed. Don’t worry about John’s fingers, there is a safety grate on the hopper, and I’m a good mom;-)
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I have found with the Kithenaid mill that you need to send your grains through twice in order to get a fine enough flour for general baking. That is kind of a bummer, but not the end of the world as it only takes about 5 minutes. The picture above is the grain after one pass through the mill on a very course grind setting.
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Fill the hopper for a second round and set it to the finest grind. Run it through again. 
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Viola! 
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Store your freshly ground flour in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month. 

This originally published on grounding.com.

Wednesday Night is Trash Night

Nine years ago, my friend Mary and her husband, James, were fine dining in Buckhead, GA when James had “the most disappointing salad of his life.”

According to Mary, “James has been bitching about this shitty $16 salad for nine years; every time salad is mentioned, actually.”

According to James, he “hasn’t complained about that salad since the incident occurred nine years ago, but it really was a terrible salad, by the way.”

And there it is, folks–marriage.

I mention this because, from time to time, I consult one of those new-age psycho-therapists. His name is “Dr. Neil, PhD”, he lives in LA (of course), and was referred to me by a close friend (also from LA).

Our meetings are conducted by telephone and I tend to call Dr. Neil PhD when I need a non-biased opinion regarding some critical aspect of my life. Since I’ve never met him in person, it’s entirely possible that he also moonlights as a fortune teller or a stripper. But that’s neither here nor there, I guess, as he provides excellent insights and has a soothing Kiwi-accented voice that can talk me off of whatever ledge I’m teetering on.

It was during one of these consultations that Dr. Neil PhD informed me that, as a spouse, it was my job to field my husband’s complaints. He called it “taking out the trash,” and said that I needed to provide a safe and open channel of communication through which my husband could express his frustrations about whatever happens to be frustrating him.

My role was to do intake on that information and promptly dispose of it—not solve it, not internalize it, not analyze it, just toss it. And in turn, my husband would take out my trash. I could have suggested to Dr. Neil PhD that I was paying him, a THERAPIST, to take out the trash, but that didn’t seem to occur to him and it didn’t feel like the best time to bring it up.

However, I can’t help but wonder what sage advice Dr. Neil PhD would give to James and Mary should he overhear the “salad exchange”. And this all leaves me wondering what qualifies as trash versus say, toxic waste. If a salad complaint is “trash” then I must be a Super Fund Site.

Wednesday night is trash night in our neighborhood. Every Wednesday, my husband carefully moves through the house collecting garbage cans and methodically sorting their contents into recyclables and actual trash; a handsome banker in slacks and a button down, dutifully dragging the cans to the curb.

He does this in much the same way that he disposes of my “trash”–dutifully, with care, and without complaint.

This originally published on groundingup.com.