How you say?

The first time is at MacDonald’s in Greenwich, NY. Dee and I are heading to Saratoga for some higher state taxed shopping. We pull in for a cup of joe.

“You have to use an accent when ordering” she commands. The challenge reaches deep into my soul, the soul of a secret agent.

Quickly I run through possibilities, Miss Jane Hathaway from “The Beverly Hillbillies”, the Swedish chef from the Muppets, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne? So many options. I play it safe as a Pepe Le Peu. “Pleazzze, donnez-moi, Errrrr, how you say coffee garcon.” Mission obviously accomplished as Dee tries not to wet her pants laughing.

A few years later while shopping in a town with lower tax rates, Dee requires a coke with crushed ice. As I pull up to the intercom she instructs, “Use an accent.”

Like Jason Bourne or James Bond, there are some assignments you can’t turn down. It’s in our blood.

My brain goes into tactic mode. A foreign person or tv star? Relative or people we know? I opt for the voice of an Irish woman who spent the last 20 years in the Italian part of Scotland.

Gosh I’m good.

Mission is successful as I notice Dee squirming not to laugh. She presses the dollar bill and dime on my leg.

“You have to keep it going” she says while trying to regain control.

“Hey, I’m a professional” I whisper back.

As we pull up to the window a sweet, cherub faced boy says “Here is your drink”. He gives me a look that says “You don’t sound like me, you are from elsewhere, I’m going to make you feel AOK.” His evident kindness causes me to drop my guard and the dime.

“Ach and begorrah mien leibchen”, I say moving to the German side of my beloved Scotland.

“Just leave it, don’t worry, it happens all the time” he says.

“Nay I’ll find the wee coin” I reply followed by “Ow f*ck”, in an undeniable Vermont accent as I hit my head against the door. Cherub boy looks slightly confused. I should have said “feck”.

“You broke character” Dee says, unnecessarily as we drive away. Like I didn’t know.

Using accents at the drive through is like practicing arm balances in yoga class. It’s setting an intention, focusing, and giving it all you’ve got. It’s accepting a challenge. Sometimes you nail it and sometimes you don’t.

Life is filled with challenges, ones we ask of ourselves, ones asked by others and some that just appear. The remedy is to do our best, be kind to ourselves and to others, be forgiving. Find delight and laughter in all of our experiences.

A botched or aborted mission doesn’t equate to failure. It is a source of information for the next assignment. Focus and attention take practice on and off the mat. Sometimes you need to imagine yourself balancing with ease or speaking in someone else’s native tongue. It’s setting an intention. Keep at it.

Namaste- this post will self destruct in 30 seconds eh?

Wheels on the bike go round and round.

I consider myself athletic and I’m not the only one, the catalogs I get in the mail think so too. They are ready to outfit me for most every outdoor adventure under the sun.

Once I get a bit more serious at golf and quit practicing headstands while Honeybun tees off, I’ll purchase more appropriate attire. That’s bound to happen about the same time I buy a real biking outfit.

Dee and I rode on the rail trail today. My 10 speed (or is it a 12 speed) girls bike hasn’t been off the garage wall for years and the dense cobwebs left behind are proof. My helmet is quite comfortable considering mice removed all the interior padding. The seat seems a little high but then again aren’t you supposed to be on tiptoes when pedaling?

Earlier this week it was suggested that I practice mindfulness. I have a few too many tennis balls bouncing around in my head these days. An easy bike ride would be the perfect thing to do, be mindful, focus on this moment, this experience; enjoy the steady rhythm of the movement.

Because my helmet is basically a large bowl strapped to my head I can’t look behind me without it dropping over my eyes. Is something following me? I’m pretty good at scaring myself, especially if I’m not wearing glasses. Rabid dogs, stalking mountain lions and monsters could be behind me. Best not to dwell on the past (or what you never saw). Are my wheels completely attached?

I can’t look too far ahead because as wide as the track is, the illusion of it narrowing makes my arms and hands tingle. “Hey Dee, doesn’t it look like the track is a tightrope? What if it were? I’d be falling off left and right.” I veer from side to side feigning exaggeration as she moves on ahead.

No choice left but to slow down the breath and focus on the sensations of the two wheels under me.

“Wow dance sneakers slip off pedals pretty easily. Yoga shorts have zippo padding. This wide seat isn’t wide enough. These brakes sure are loud. If Dee points out one more ‘spooky’ thing I’m heading back.”

Eventually I end my soliloquy and spent the next 3 minutes in mindful bliss until I ride into Dee’s back wheel.

“I can’t believe you ran into me,” she yells. “We are barely moving!”

She’s right about that. It’s a slow motion collision. It’s not like I don’t see her, I just misjudge the stopping distance. For my own amusement I will be replaying that scene for decades.

“Remember the last time we rode bikes down that hill near your apartment in Somewhereville?” I ask.

“Yeah, your chain fell off three times” she replies.

“Is biking fun?” I ask rhetorically.

“Remember when we went mountain biking and I thought I could jump a log? Frankly I’m pretty sure I hate bikes. Do your handlebars face in a different direction than your front wheel? Maybe my bike is just for riding in circles. Can you imagine if we were on a tandem bike?”

“Stop talking right now or I will wet my pants” she replies.

Note to self: “This is what makes biking fun!”

On the return trip I find a steady pace nothing spooky behind me, no death defying obstacles ahead. “We’re almost back to the truck that took no time at all!” I feel happy, comfortable, calm, satisfied.

“Do you want to keep going?” Dee asks as she pulls ahead.

“No” I yell at her back.

“Oh thank God” she adds unnecessarily.

Mindfulness is just like riding a bike. At first it seems impossible without permanent training wheels. Once we have it down, time goes by and we leave it hanging on the wall too long and forget it’s an option. Brush off the cobwebs and we are soon sailing along again.

Time to find the old catchers mitt.

Namaste- anyone up for a game of croquet?