Monthly Archives: March 2016

When You’re Going on a #Cruise #Travel 


My family and I went on a cruise last week from NYC to Cape Canaveral to Nassau, Bahamas. We were supposed to also spend a day on a private island owned by Norwegian Cruise Line, but the 8′ swells prohibited use of the tender boats (read: small ferries) because risk of maiming or dismembering people as they anything’d anywhere near the anything off the anypart of the ship. Think of it this way: trying to get onboard a bar of soap bobbing about in a community pool from the third-floor balcony of a parking garage. So we didn’t sink our toes in the pristine white sands of Great Stirrup Cay or spend time with sea rays or anything at all that day. We stayed on the ship.

The sun was out and the island was very inviting. From our balcony doorway. But I’m getting off course already.

Get used to it.

I just wrote the subheads for this post. Knowing me and my tendency to be verbose, they could each be their own post. I will see how things go and if it’s too massive, I’ll break them out into smaller posts and you all can read as you choose. Or simply ignore me.


We woke very early and departed our home to drive to NYC in hopes that we would have plenty of time to park and settle in. There was a half-marathon that day in the city, so let’s just say we were really lucky we left when we did. We spent an hour in traffic from exit 9A to get off the GW Bridge to the parking ramp on W. 79th Street.

If you can tolerate Alec Baldwin and his tendency to rudely interrupt his interviewees with his own droll stories, I highly recommend subscribing to “Here’s The Thing” podcasts as Baldwin has some really interesting guests. We listened to almost two podcasts while sitting in traffic.

Once you get out of your car, unload your luggage and descend the depths of the cruise ship / customs area, prepare to stand in line among the people corral ropes. That will take another hour. Then you will have your photo taken which will NOT show on your keycard but will display upon a screen everywhere you use it on the ship or at ports. (Hint: if you have a lanyard, bring it. More later.)

Then you will go through customs.

Then you will be funneled to an area where you stand in front of a sheet for your family photo. I did not even bother to look at it — I’d JUST been in line for sixteen years, standing with people who all lied on their “have you sneezed since the Reagan administration?” forms. I simply wanted to get on the ship.

Walk down another hallway, take a right, up the gangway and FINALLY! On the ship.

I have to say this was delightful. Everyone reminded me of Bruno Mars or Jennifer Lopez and they were smiling and happy and dancing to loudish nightclub music as they welcomed you aboard. That was a welcome relief. It really was a party atmosphere. But not a dark and seamy scary Studio 54 party; a safe fun and exciting party. They are also totally ready with the hand sanitizer. It was everywhere.

We entered an area with a GLEAMing and sparkly black floor and then found our way to our rooms. The lines for the elevators reached back to the GW Bridge, so we opted for the steps. Because we booked late, my kids were on the interior port aft of the ship and my husband and I were on the forward starboard balcony side two decks down from them. I had decided before we left home, that this whole thing was going to be an adventrure. So finding their room was a little like discovering Narnia after stepping into the wardrobe.

Our rooms were ample. The shower was strong, the hot water was hot, the tap water was totally potable. The beds were slightly higher than you’re accustomed to so you can stow your luggage beneath them. How big do you need your room to be? You’re going to be out and about on the ship, taking advantage of its shopping mall cum Times Square ambience. People are everywhere all the time at all hours walking around with a beer, a drink, or a sandwich. There is no “living room” rule like when you were a kid: you can eat anywhere you want.

The hangers in the closet: they sway. So make sure you close the door to the closet every night or you will hear the swaying and knocking while you sleep. Or, if it still bugs you, take a towel and wrap the hangers together with it so you don’t have to listen to them swing independently. Or drink so much you pass out and you hear nothing.

Speaking of sleeping, the beds were very comfortable. I give them a B+. The towels were soft, the soaps were not drying. The blow dryer was like standing in the mouth of Hades.

So when you board and settle into your rooms, you realize you’re hungry, because it’s after 3:30 or so. And the last thing you ate was a BelVita bar in the car with a cup of Keurig coffee. Six hours ago.

So it’s time to eat… DON’T DO THIS: Do NOT go up to the 15th deck and expect things to be calm and orderly and to have a table available.

Do NOT plan on sitting INSIDE. Do NOT expect to find eating utensils if you manage to claim a table somewhat near the door, in hopes that the heat from the interior area of the cafe will occasionally blast your way as you shiver and watch your herbal tea frost over.

Here is my position: it’s day 1. It’s a shitstorm. A clusterfuck of humanity on the 15th deck. Everyone is hungry. There are no tables. The silverware is hard to locate. The food is fresh… it will be there… It’s going to be OK. But we are talking about all walks of life from all sorts of places with all kinds of manners or lack thereof. You’re going to be offended. You just are. It’s not like Pensylvania Dutch “family style” dining however (if you want to see my head come off, put me at a table with a bunch of perfect strangers who ask me to pass the taters and the catsup while I’m at it, “will ya Hun?”). You will eventually have your own table. On the ship, you won’t have to scoop food off a common serving plate and pass it to someone named Elvira who’s sitting to your whatever. (I realize that buffets are just like standing next to Elvira…)

My advice: either wait it out for an hour in your cabin, or simply bring food back to your cabin after you grab a few rolls of silverware in wrapped in napkins. Eat in your room as the sea flows by. Nothing is worth that chaos. But do get the bread and some lots of butter, because come on, you’re on a cruise. Indulge.

While in these eating areas — even the basic restaurants, the automatic hand sanitizer stations are every 10 feet. Should you prefer the non-cyborg treatment, a crisply dressed, professional human stands at every entrance with a spray bottle loaded with rubbing alcohol or vodka who will look you Right In The Eye and will say, in a strange sing-songy way, “Washy washy…?” And then you, like the good little Oompa Loompa you are, will open your palms for the spray. And then you will rub your hands together and proceed to the buffet station. The hand sanitizers are also in the elevators lobbies; if you use basic hygienic common sense, you won’t get sick on an NCL cruise.

Desserts are everywhere all the time. There is a 24/7 soft serve (and swirl) ice cream dispenser on every corner of the cafeteria. The food, excepting the burgers, is outstanding even in the cafe lines. The burgers are disgusting. Everything I ate though is very tasty and the sites are very clean. I had a seafood salad with dill dressing on shrimp and steamed calamari that was heavenly. Steak or chicken (or hell, both! Mix it UP!) fajitas as far as the eye could see. A tub of guacamole. Embarrassing amounts of food.

I realize I’m saying all this while people are starving in Syria, bring driven out of their homes and enduring other nameless atrocities. I realize I sound like a jerk. But this is the context I’m writing about, and will likely continue to write about for the next several posts, so … deal.

After you eat, you will either be people’d out (like I was) or curious and you will mill around the ship, realizing you won’t ever get “lost” but you could get disoriented. No worries: On this ship, there is about one staffer for every three passengers. You will find your way to your room if you need assistance. My husband and kids milled around the ship. I sat on our balcony and read a book, A Little Life: A Novel by Hanya Yanagihara — big, dense and intense.

All this said, if I owned NCL I would do this: meet guests in a lobby with small cucumber sandwiches, petit quiches, California rolls, spring rolls, a cheese plate and fruit kebab or small spare ribs…. Adults would be offered champagne and that would quell the nerves. Kids would be offered little snacks of the above or their interest such as chicken tenders, small hot dogs, fruit and cheese, and their drink could be fruit punch laced with negligible amounts of Valium. All kidding aside, I do feel NCL blew it with the lack of welcome food / take-the-edge-off moment upon boarding.

It’s really hard to describe the magnitude of The Norwegian Breakaway in words. Here are some stats: It’s three times the size of the Titanic; it berths 3,969 people, and the crew of 1,651 lives onboard as well. It has 16 decks; so yeah: it’s like at least 200′ tall. It has a soccer / basketball court on it. It has two pools and two massive water slides. It has two huge movie-theater-sized screens (one inside and the other outside). It has a 300-seat theater / stage. It has at least a dozen “specialty” restaurants. A casino. A video arcade with ath air hockey tables. Three fitness studios. A cardio room. A spa and sauna. They offer acupuncture! BOTOX even! A barber shop! A salon (of course!). A large jewelry store, a mediocre gift shop, a liquor store, a clinic, a library about the size of most 1970s living rooms.  It was built in 2013 and it was valued at $870 million then. You’ll never see your kids (if they’re over 12).

Here are some photos to attempt to give perspective.



This is from the snorkeling boat while in Nassau. Shown is the starboard side (my side) of the ship. The hull is painted by Peter Max; well, let me rephrase that — Peter Max designed the painting / image  on the bow… he didn’t actually DO it… his minions did.





Here we are, me and my sons, begging for this photo to be over so we can get the heck out of the cold and onto the gangway which was a mere 65-minutes-to-go away. Don’t we look intrepid? So… Interestingly, this is the ship’s 7th deck immediately behind us at our eye level. That area with the wooden columns and giant windows is what’s called, the “waterfront” — it’s a quarter-mile long… This is the port side of the Breakaway, but two floors / decks above the 7th is our deck, the 9th, and so this photo gives you an idea of how our room was situated.





This is the soccer / basketball court. My kids spent a lot of time up there. In the background, that yellow and red beam-like structure, is the “ropes course” — more on that later.






This is our balcony. It was really nice to have one. In the background, are the lifeboats. They learned a thing or two after Titanic and made them covered. (And of Fiberglas…)




This is standard harbor security as we left NYC. That USCG boat was armed, hence that giant gun on the tripod on the bow. The helicopter circled us the entire time until we crossed beneath the Verranzano Narrows Bridge. We had another USCG patrol boat on the other side of the ship. Each port had different protocols, but New York’s seemed the most aggressive and standardized.





This is when we had to not go to the NCL island, Great Stirrup Cay, because the swells were too high. The island (or part of it), is on the left. Doesn’t it look nice…? It was quite large…  That boat in the foreground is one of the four NCL tender boats that would’ve ferried people back and forth. That cruise ship in the background is a Royal Carribean liner. Note to self… Royal Carribean went to its island…



This is a better perspective of the water that day. As you can see, those tender boats are out of there… Their skippers can’t wait to get the hell back in the bay.


This is the day we didn’t go to the island. As you can see, the decks were crowded. This photo was taken at 2pm. Yikes is right. This is the port side of the ship. (The bow is behind me.) On the starboard side is a similar deck, a pool and a mini-golf course. That giant pink and yellow swirling structure in the background is one of two water slides. Farther behind that is the same ropes course from the soccer court photo above. Directly behind me is the “Spice H20” area for adults only. That’s where one of the giant screens is. They showed “E.T.” There the final night — kids were allowed.

So far, on Day 2 back at home, I still feel as though I’m on the ship — a little imbalanced. Teaching yoga last night and then taking it earlier today was interesting. I’m at about 80% operating  capacity.

The following headlines are proposed post titles.










reserving deck chairs and the assholes who do that









ENTERTAINMENT / Looney Tunes?!

NASSAU itself

Conch shells and the lying liars who sell them / DON’T BRING SAND









Thank you.

Ps — Next post is right here!

Pilot Light of Patience #Parenting


We were on our daily walk to school this morning. He was quiet. Noticeably so. He almost forgot his backpack, he was so distracted. About halfway down our driveway, I asked him, “You’re quiet, you alright?”

“No.” He said.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Art. I don’t want to do it. We have a stupid assignment using stupid scratch paper.”

“What’s the assignment?” I asked.

“Abstract art. We have to make something out of nothing. I hate abstract art. I hate scratch paper. It’s all so stupid.”

I suggested that he draw a dog. He loves our dogs.

“No. I stink at drawing dogs.” He said, his voice becoming more pressed and uneven by the syllable; each step we took got us closer to his school. His breathing was shallow. He was in the art room, with the scratch paper, his heart speeding up, his face beginning to pinch in places so it wouldn’t betray his feelings of failure.

Failure before he even began.

Failure before we were even in the school.

Failure before he even considered it.

I could feel my own body tense up. My walls were going up. My brain started down its familiar path of “Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Can’t do this. Can’t do this. He’s going to get emotional. He’s going to get emotional. Must stop him from crying… I CAN’T HANDLE HIS DISTRESS….” I started to fail him.

I began to fail him before I even spoke.

I began to fail him before I even got in touch with my own feelings of failure and the fear of disappointment.

I began to fail him because I couldn’t face myself and those sticky places in the heart where we feel absolutely worthless.

I said, “Nooooo, you’re GREAT at drawing dogs… why that cat you drew from those books you love… that turned out GREAT! You can DRAW a DOG….”

But before I even finished … I knew that was wrong. I was dismissing his pain. I was failing, even though I had heard him, I was still failing him.

I realized, I had to go back to my first days on the couch. I had to mirror him. Quick, I had to do something that told him I heard him, that I felt what he was going through, that it was OK, and that he was safe. That’s all we need, to feel safe expressing ourselves.

I had to access my pilot light. Somehow, I remembered my pilot light.

I told him to take a breath and I could feel my own body do the same.

“Let it out slow this time… Can you breathe in 3-2-1…?” I suggested as we continued our walk. “Let it out 4-3-2-1…” My body relaxing as I unconsciously (mostly) joined along. I needed to come down from the wall I was building.

We were almost at school. Quietly talking and quietly breathing together.

As we crested the hill, where all the student patrols gathered, and the sun was shining, no longer obscured by the leafless tall trees surrounding our path, I realized: He doesn’t want to fail this assignment. He doesn’t want to disappoint me. He wants to please his teacher, me, his father… his bubble of society.

I stopped us in our walk and I put my hands on his shoulders, gently pulling down to help him unfurl himself.

“Look at me.” I told him.

“Ok.” He sniffled.

“You’re feeling pressure right now. You’re feeling like you have to get this right. Perfect even. Abstract art is not at ALL about perfection. It’s about your perception: how YOU see things in a different way…. There is no RIGHT or WRONG.” I said.

“Mmmmk, but our teacher says we can’t…” He started, and his voice began to tremble again. Fast and shallow breaths fighting their way out his mouth.

I had to think of something else. Another tack. Pilot light… Deep breath. Feel him.

“Ok. I want you to understand something. I don’t care what your final art looks like. I don’t care if your teacher says you’ve failed it or not. I don’t care. You’re twelve. You have a whole life ahead of you. I want you to NOT CARE about this assignment and to JUST get something down. Just start it, and you will be on your way. Can you do that? Can you NOT care about it? I love you no matter what…” I said, defiant. I wanted to protect him.

“Ok. So you think I can just use shapes to make my drawing? That it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t LOOK like what it’s supposed to?” He asked.

“Yes. Remember when we studied Jackson Pollack… That dude DID NOT CARE about ANYONE’S opinion, and people loved it. He was fierce in his art. Be like that. Own your art. Who cares what anyone else thinks?” I said.

“Ok.” He said, standing taller and his eyes a little brighter.

“High five. Fist bump. Be bad.” I said.

I almost blew it. I almost sent him to school with this knot in his belly and a sense of woe and failure before the day began. I almost checked out. It was a balance. I had to check in. I had to hear him, all of him, to help him. In the end he helped me.

We do this all the time, forgetting to check in and remember what it feels like to feel small, worthless, fearful, and so alone. If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not a parent, try to remember those feelings and honor them: checking in is the way out.

Thank you.


Missives from the Mat 19: Here’s a Catchy Mindfulness Ditty for Kids (and Adults)


I’ve been trying to come up with a song to begin my kids’ yoga classes.

We have one at the end, and it’s all well and good, but I need something to set the tone in the beginning. The more kids I teach and the longer I’ve taught them, I’m learning that they don’t have a CLUE about what it means to be mindful.

So here is what I came up with “When I’m Being Mindful” — sung to the tune of “On Top of Old Smokey” (or “On Top of Spaghetti”) — teach it to your kids and sing it to yourself.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 2.40.49 PM

It will help. I promise.

When I’m being mindful
My voice is so kind
My body is stable
My breathing is calm

(breathe in / breathe out)

Mindfulness helps me
Be aware of my tone
Feelings in my body,
Its muscles and bones

(breathe in / breathe out)

From the top of my being
Right down to my toes
My body’s relaxing
My eyes don’t have to close

(breathe in / breathe out)

I’m aware of my breathing
And the things that I do
Mindfulness helps me
Be good to me and to you

(breathe in / breathe out
breathe in / breathe out
breathe in / breathe out)

(c) Molly Field 2016

Thank you.

Missives From the Mat 18: When Kids Don’t Like Yoga…


Below is an actual letter I wrote to a supervisor of an after-school program.  All identifying content has been edited.

For reference, I have the kids bow and say “namaste” to one another for kindnesses AND interruptions; it helps to bring awareness to the habits and personal responsibility for behaviors and it also helps us not hold grudges; it helps us all see that we are connected and we can still be together even if we are disruptive.

This interrupting namaste practice is akin to “careful what you wish for” — in the words of Jerry Seinfeld during a Q&A after “I’m Telling You For The Last Time” who was interrupted by a shout from the crowd, what kind of attention do you want? … It went like this:

Jerry: Oh… Well, happy birthday… Which birthday is it?
Voice: I’m not saying.

Jerry: Oh, ok. So you want attention, but not too much attention.

The interrupting namaste bow draws attention and personal accountability to the interrupter in a way that the interrupter might not like. It’s having a positive effect for the most part.

However, if you as an adult JUST LOOOOOVE your yoga, it’s changed your life, and you think it’s what your kid needs, please pay attention to your child, please accept that your child is NOT you and if you still don’t get it, read this first:

“Dear Bipsy,

Disruption prevention initiatives at XYZ school are moving along, but we are at a point where parental intervention is necessary.

All of the children at LMNOP school yoga are wonderful and bright.

As you know, I’ve tried various interventions to bring a sense of personal responsibility and mindful behavior to all my classes, ABC school in particular with mixed results. The sniffing essential oils on the cotton puffs is very popular for most of the kids; they really enjoy it during final relaxation.

Before class at Saturn (Thursday) I went to a craft store to look for more Mandala posters to color. The kids have been working on a poster while we wait for our room to be ready, and it’s coming along. I also wanted to get something to incentivize Bandersnatch and Clementine to lessen their disruptions. I found a rubber hand stamp, a “Sun” for Bandersnatch — so that when she raises his hand (instead of blurting out, shoving students and shouting), the “sun will come up and shine on us all.”

When Bandersnatch walked into the cafeteria to check in, he was energized and defensive, and said in a sing-songy yet robotic way, “Hi. I don’t want to be here.” I suspect it was because she got so upset in the prior class for my mentioning his earning 14 “namaste” bows for interrupting. I showed him the sun stamp and told it I selected it for him, especially. I showed her the other stamps the other kiddos could have — cat, dog, paw, or bee — for their hands. Bandersnatch seemed genuinely enthused about it. She *briefly* joined in the coloring, got interested in something else, and then it was time to line up.

He dashed ahead of everyone and then marched into the room, resuming her defensiveness from 5 minutes prior, and grew agitated and excited chanting “I don’t want to be here… I don’t want to be here… I don’t want to be here…” with increasing intensity again and again and again as she was unrolling her mat. Other kids started to join in. It almost became a mob cry. One time, Bandersnatch hit me in the face with his paw as she was flapping the mat around saying what she was saying; then she RAN to another child’s mat to “help” it with its mat, even though Bandersnatch was not asked.

I get it. She was acting out. But it was verging on dangerous for the other kids and unacceptable in terms of decorum.

I had to stop Bandersnatch, placing my hands on her shoulders and asked him to look at me. “What do you do when you hit someone in the face?”

Bandersnatch said, “Say you’re sorry.”

I said, “Bandersnatch, you hit me in the face when you were flapping your mat around…”

Bandersnatch said, “Sorry.”

I said, “Just like thanking someone for what they’ve done for you, you need to apologize for what you did to someone else; you say, ‘I’m sorry I hit you in the face, it was an accident,’” and so he nodded but didn’t say that and went back to buzzing around like a dragonfly.

I had to look for my chimes, which were a bit hard to find because it all happened so fast, and loudly rang them five times. When Bandersnatch became quiet and we were in circle, she said “I want my mother.” I think he was really afraid of what would happen in class again; that I would count all his interrupting namaste bows like I did last week (when he got to 14) and that upset him. But I promised myself I wouldn’t let that happen again. But Bandersnatch does not like being held accountable.

It’s my impression that Bandersnatch seems to REALLY not like the idea of yoga. Sitting still for him is antithetical to who she is, at this point in his development. But I also get that kids are kids, so I do lots of moving around, but when we do that, she gets very animated and ends up losing his balance / sense of space and her body, intentionally as in “isn’t this fun, let’s fall down! watch me fall down!” way and it’s not good. Her friend Minerva is in the yoga class too, and Minerva is disturbed by Bandersnatch’s disruptions.

Bandersnatch told me his parent meditates and that he wants to meditate too, but his parent says she needs to learn yoga first before meditating. Just so you know, no, that’s not necessary. It’s Bandersnatch’s parent’s preference and likely a learned appreciation based on the fact that yoga was invented as exercise before sitting in meditation … 3,000 years ago. But no, you don’t need yoga to meditate. Some kids just know, and they crave sitting in the quiet.

With the sun stamp, which he was proud of when I placed it on her hand, Bandersnatch was very self-aware and raised its hand. I would smile and high-five him for raising her hand.

Bandersnatch’s “interrupting namaste” score has usually been in the low teens; this particular day, it was at 8, so it’s getting better. It stayed at 4, for about 20 minutes, and then Bandersnatch went a little loopy and blew it… It’s ok, the count stayed at 8 and beat last week’s count by 6, so that’s good.

Clementine is very active and Bandersnatch doesn’t like how she’s very twitchy and makes sounds, regularly gets off his mat, rolls it up, does somersaults when no one else is, and touches / bumps kids and doesn’t pay attention and doesn’t hold poses and simply checks out, so I decided to move Clementine next to Bandersnatch so they can sort of “train” each other. They are mirrors of each other. It sort of works, and so I’ll keep at it. Clementine is sitting next to Percival also, who is very rules oriented, so it’s a peer pressure type of energy.

Clementine’s reaction to the namaste interruption count is laughter. It’s anxiety and I get it. She’s a sweet, optimistic and cheerful child; he wants to have positive social experiences. That said, she makes lots of noises: buzzes, tweets, squeaks, he rocks, he just *won’t* do the poses. He racked up 14 “namastes” on Thursday. During savasana, she made seagull noises (I was doing a visual meditation — they were on a beach) and it scared Teensy, the kindergartener. Then Clementine put her feet in Bandersnatch’s face, so I made him sit up against the wall cross-legged. He’s very compliant, she wants to please, but she’s very animated. Just can’t figure it out.

So the disruption count on Thursday, for a 50-minute class, was 22. Twenty-two times that the behavior was so disruptive that I decided I had to stop what I was doing, lose my train of thought, and had to correct them; 22 times that 6 other kids had to endure.

I apologize for the length of this, but I wanted to give you detail and ask you to step in and communicate on my behalf with Clementine’s and Bandersnatch’s parents to encourage them to sit down with their children, talk to them, and explain to them that their behavior in yoga is unacceptable and that it has to stop. I will text Voldemort the next time it happens and I will ask her to remove the kids; it’s not fair to everyone else.

Thanks for your help,


Dear reader: If this letter has helped you see that maybe your child isn’t into yoga yet, your kid, its friends, and a children’s yoga teacher somewhere is thanking you.

Thank you.