Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spotlight On... Gowanus Canal Conservancy

By Nicole Caldwell

The Gowanus Canal has a logic-defying reputation for being as repulsive as it is enchanting. Tagged with nicknames such as Lavender Lake and Perfume Creek (neither due to lovely hues or pleasant smells), you wouldn’t think much could live in or near this dirty little estuary, which stretches from Gowanus Bay on the New York Harbor to Gowanus, an industrial neighborhood in Brooklyn a mile and a half east.

Yet against all odds, this purple-hued water—Gowanus Canal Conservancyused as a virtual toxic dumping ground for industry along it well into the 1960s and beyond—has stolen the hearts and imaginations of people intent on saving it. New developments and shopping centers seem to spring up overnight along the canal. Property values climb despite debates over whether the pollution in this Brooklyn waterway causes asthma. There are documented accounts of fishermen catching striped bass and Atlantic silversides in the murky, badly polluted canal.

Read the rest of this article here.

[Originally published in the September 2009 issue of The Leaflet]

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting There

“Everything you are against weakens you.

Everything you are for empowers you.”—fortune cookie

A few months ago, I read The Bell Jar and felt relieved that, at least, I was in better shape than Sylvia Plath’s character. A crazed electro-shock patient: This was my litmus test for sanity and coping.

Then, the veils began to lift (they really do always lift, as annoying as that adage about “giving it time” is). Drives in convertibles. Beach-sitting. Boardwalk-strolling. A sunburn that makes your flesh tingle. Writing again. The feeling that some part of you is waking up from a very long slumber. Expansion, expansion, expansion. Kayaks on lakes that look like mirrors. Carnivals. Parades. The Better Theory. Bonfires.

The biggest challenge I faced: learning to extricate myself from these attachments I form. It is so hard to let go—to grieve as you would over a death. Why usher that in?

Because, silly girl. If you get yourself healthy, health will follow.

But it’s a bear to figure out. It’s thinking with your heart and then trying to apply logic to it. It’s no longer making excuses ("Change! Outlined goals! The problem’s been recognized!”) and seeing your subtext when you speak (“Come back! Come back!”). It’s learning all of that, and seeing where there is disease, and figuring out a way to move forward without anger or hostility or resentment. Everything—and everyone—I am for, empowers me. So, I decide to root for those who would hurt me. I wish them the best, I blow them kisses, I throw them flowers and smile and say, simply, “I love you. And I have done all I can.”

True empathy—true love—is knowing when someone is better off without you.

The sense of being strong and doing what is right felt good; even as it became increasingly difficult. That knot in my belly! My growing disconnect. A burdensome sense that I’m too far ahead now; these last months reconnected me to the woman I always wanted to be: independent, unafraid, giggly, excited all the time. I’d been so worried; made timid by the possibility of sliding backward. Unhinged by all these dreams.

I did all this for you, and you still __________.

I made these changes like you asked, and you turned around and __________.

The scorecard perpetuated itself (most behaviors are quite easy to predict). And then, silence (but not always).

Travel opened up. Nigerian headpieces in church vestibules with empty wine bottles and giggling girls. Hotel bars shaped like living rooms with fishing bait available behind the counter. Speed boats down creeks. A Chevy truck on the open highway. The north, the south, the sensation of seeing something completely new.

I stop sometimes and whisper to myself, “Thank goodness it’s you. I really missed you a whole lot.”

I may actually be realizing the life I have always longed for.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Daring to Bare: Your Big Apple guide to naked New York

By Nicole Caldwell

The New York Post last July covered a recent surge in New York City's nudist culture. It seems that beyond the city's vast repertoire of adult novelty stores, gentlemen's clubs, and mature entertainment, there's an increasingly mainstream undercurrent of people who just assume less really is more—at least, when it comes to clothing.

Whether you've perfected the art of changing in public without a speck of skin showing; or drop trow anytime you're in a sauna or locker room, you may want to turn your adventurous side over to the nude events happening in and around New York City every day.

For as long as summer lasts, head over to Geocities for a comprehensive list of nude beaches in the area. Or, if you're into meditation and relaxation, pay a visit to Naked Yoga NYC in Midtown. You can also get a listing of non-sexual naked yoga classes throughout the week from Yahoo Groups.

If you’re more into being the voyeur, check out Naked Comedy Showcase on the first Saturday of every month at The People's Improv Theatre in New York (click here for tickets).

Those of you who will spring on any opportunity to let it all hang out with relish a Clothing-Optional Dinner. And if you don't mind sweating without any, ahem, support, have a go at naked hiking. Just promise to pack some bugspray.

[Originally published at Examiner.com]

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to Give Yourself a Massage

Nothing beats a great massage with a reputable therapist. But there’s also nothing saying you can’t give yourself a little pick-me-up anytime you’re stressed or sore.

The next time worldly stresses, exercise, or an uncomfortable night’s sleep catch up with you, here are some basic ways you can unwind on your own.

*First, set up your room for your massage. Turn the lights down, light a candle, and make sure distractions are kept to a minimum.

*Sit on the floor with your legs crossed on a carpet, rug, or mat for padding.
As with any stretching or yoga position, breathe deeply. Start out by taking 10 very slow, long breaths. In through your nose, hold for a few seconds, then out slowly through your mouth. As you do this, take mental inventory of where you feel tense or sore.

*Your feet, which together have a whopping 14,000 nerve endings, are a great place to start. Apply pressure to the soles with your thumbs, then rub hard with your palms. After the bottoms of your feet feel looser, go back to applying pressure along the arch of your foot and at the tips of each of your toes.

Read the rest of this blog here.

[Originally published on Massage Williamsburg's blog.]