Bouncing for Health, College Prep and an Amazing Shopping “Spree”
by Joan Brunwasser, Voting Integrity Editor, OpEdNews March 8, 2007
I’m taking a short break from the daily grind of voting integrity advocacy. (It can get a little intense.) Just long enough to tell you about the interesting developments in my life over the last few weeks. Then, it’s back to the trenches.
Also on my plate as of last week is the arduous, seemingly never-ending task of helping my son – a high school junior – define and reach his goals for college. I spent all weekend reading a terrific book called Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond by Marilee Jones, Dean of Admissions at MIT, and pediatrician Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg. This volume is addressed as much to the parents as the student, and adopts a much more humane approach to the college-bound teen. My saintly son put up with innumerable interruptions - “Just one more thing, I promise” - as I would read aloud sections of the book which were just too hilarious to keep to myself.
Does anyone remember the 1987 movie “Baby Boom” about the career woman who suddenly inherits an orphaned baby? Several scenes are indelibly etched in my mind. There were the over-the-top parents counseling new mom Diane Keaton at the playground. Advice ranged from signing up your child for prep school while still in utero (Sigh, “Too late for you, honey”). One woman used flashcards to help coax her baby’s brain cells into full-blown genius. While that may be cinematic hyperbole, Dean Jones’s personal experience demonstrates that far too many parents need to back off and chill out. It’s true that I’ve been through all this before. In fact, I survived “twice the fun” college applications for my twin girls. But, it was an awfully long time ago and the whole process is as overwhelming as before, if not worse. More students – thanks to membership in the “children of the Baby Boom” club – fighting for the same number of spaces means fiercer competition. It’s quite daunting, no two ways about it. My learning to chill out could help to preserve my own sanity and that of at least two of my immediate family members.
I’ve now read the book (twice), gone online to examine various college options, and watched a student-created DVD called The U: Sneak Preview – Go Behind the Scenes at the 50 Most Popular Colleges. What’s up with that? Literally three minutes per college? But, when your son invites you to watch with him, what can you do? My head is still reeling. Even after taking notes, everything is blurring together. Truthfully, the only thing I got out of it so far is that every school stresses how much fun they have. Subtext – big party school with heavy drinking. Is this supposed to thrill and enthrall me? And this is only week one of this harrowing long-term project!
So, I’m sure you can understand the temptation to think about other, more benign topics. What with non-stop activism on the one hand and college prep on the other, I can hardly appreciate that the grueling basketball season has finally ground to a halt. If I had the time, I’d be grateful. Is it my imagination or does one major time commitment begin just as another is winding down? “Where’s the down time?” she asked plaintively.
Let’s change the channel and talk about one amazing day I had nearly two weeks ago. After work, but before carpool, I had several errands to run – standard operating procedure for weekday afternoons. First stop was Costco, my favorite big box store. As anyone who shops there knows, you have two choices: cash or American Express. I was notified in December to watch for my February credit card bill because there would be a nice rebate check that could be spent only at Costco. Free money! At my favorite store! What could be better? The check was for a little over $50. Needless to say, I checked my mail every day until the statement with the accompanying rebate arrived. I did my shopping and went to check out. First, of course, I had to go back out to the car because I had left the rebate check in my Filofax for safe-keeping. But when I finally checked out, the rebate had cancelled out my cartload of purchases and I owed the cashier a grand total of 54 cents. Way to go!
Next stop was “The Runners’ Edge” where I returned a pair of strapless nose plugs. (How the heck were they supposed to stay on? Am I the only one with a slippery shnozola?) Back they went and I swapped them for a new set of foam cushions for my Barracuda goggles (that recycling wonder referred to in previous articles). My bill came to 24 cents. What can you buy nowadays for 24 cents? Virtually nothing. Again, clearly win-win. I was on a roll. On to the Chalet, a local nursery and gardening paradise with housewares and a pet department thrown in. Great place to browse. I buy my crazy dog Emma’s food there: Wellness by Old Mother Hubbard. Just take a look at the ingredients, listed in order (like for humans): deboned chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, ground barley, ground brown rice, tomato pomace*, rye flour, canola oil – a natural source of vitamin E, tomatoes, rice bran – from brown rice, whitefish, natural chicken flavor, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, flaxseed, ground millet, plus nine minerals and even more vitamins. Yum!
*I don’t know about you but I wasn’t familiar with that word (pomace) so I looked it up. It’s the “pulpy material remaining after the juice has been pressed from fruit, such as apples.” So, we have just learned something and expanded our vocabularies at the same time.
You know how you periodically see on TV how some of the city’s poor are forced to buy cat food to survive? Well, I’m definitely not making light of poverty and the indignity of being forced to eat food not fit for humans. But it’s interesting to note that many Americans of all economic levels would greatly improve the nutritional value of their diets by eating this dog food. If my son eats half this well when he goes away to college, I’ll be thrilled.
But back to my frugal shopping spree. The Chalet keeps track of how many bags of dog food each customer buys. When you hit the magic number – 11 or so – the next bag is free. It would have been infinitely more dramatic if, on top of all my other bargains, I were also entitled to a free bag of yummy Wellness dog food. But the next best thing happened. My purchase entitled me to a free bag next time, which will save me over $40!
Although it might seem that all I need when I go shopping is my change purse, that’s not true. You just caught me on a good day. I want to tell you about my recent major purchase. I had heard about a not-so-new but greatly underrated sport called rebounding, which uses mini-trampolines. It’s actually been used by NASA for over three decades. Since astronauts spending two weeks or more in space suffer from major bone density loss, they use the rebounders to offset this serious side-effect of space travel.
Rebounding has so many health benefits that I hesitate to list them all because it will sound unbelievable. Apparently, there’s something extremely therapeutic about working against gravity, and rebounding is one of the only exercises that does this. (Jumping rope is another, and using a pogo stick, I suppose, would qualify as well.) The mat cushions the joints so that even injured, former joggers can get the same benefits as they did from running, but without any of the risks. Rebounding is the only form of exercise that works on every one of your kazillion cells. It stimulates the lymphatic system and helps it to rid the body of toxins. It’s good for circulation, arthritis, osteoporosis, the cardiovascular system, reduces stress, tones and firms, and can aid weight loss. It can be used by virtually anyone. An injured or infirm person can sit on the rebounder while a partner gently bounces and both of them receive the same health benefits. You have to read the material; it really is revolutionary.
I forgot to mention, it’s also incredibly fun! I remember jumping on a big, white matted trampoline when I was a kid at camp. A family in the neighborhood had a big trampoline in their backyard and, in good weather, we would all gather there after school and wait patiently to take a turn on the 'tramp'. There’s something very exhilarating about it. Must be all those endorphins circulating like crazy.
I like to exercise with music. Not just any music, but specific music. Many years ago, we inherited a stationary bike from my father. It was one of those impulsive purchases that sounded better than it was. If he used it half a dozen times in the years he had it, I’d be surprised. When he finally admitted defeat, we took it home with us and put it downstairs in our family room. Pretty regularly, I’d put on Bonnie Raitt ratcheted up high, and I’d pedal as she sang. I can’t hear any of the songs on that album to this day without unconsciously getting into bike mode. And while cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, I like to bop to the Bee Gees. We have had many an impromptu get-together/sockhop in my kitchen with various family members alternating cooking, cleaning, dancing and singing. Good times.