Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spice Up Your Life this Autumn!

One of the benefits of living in New Jersey is having four Seasons...and that distinct feeling of change that comes with each one. What a great loss it would be to not take advantage and experience your life in a slightly different manor, and really live your life through different eyes every three months. For if you never expand your awareness beyond your daily routine, you will never experience the abundance the world has to offer.
I personally feel the strongest changes, both emotionally and physiologically as we enter Autumn and Spring. It's only three weeks into the Fall season and I have instantly transformed from Cindy Lee to "Sara Lee", although at this point in time Rachel Ray would be a more appropriate analogy. I practically starve myself all during the "summer" season because it's bikini season and I feel the pressure of having to be in good shape. But the first chilly day...I can't wait to put my clothes back on and find a new recipe to make! I put on my favorite cooking music(soundtrack from Chocolat, Practical Magic or City of Angels), light my candles, open a bottle of wine, and and spend hours in the kitchen.I don't even know who's going to eat it all, but I don't even care!
For some people, the cooler weather means they can now participate in more outdoor activities without getting heat stroke. I personally have no problem running outside when it's 90 degrees; and although I do prefer doing it when it's in the
70's, once I feel a slight chill on my ears, it's back to the treadmill I go. For sports fans, the fall means getting out of the hot sun of the baseball games and getting ready for hours of tailgating at football games...Go Giants!
I'm not thrilled with the "Back to School" displays of September, but I love the festivities of October...Halloween Costumes, pumpkin picking, and the scent of spiced candles. Even breweries take advantage of the Autumn Season to put out their "Harvest Blend" beer. I'm not a beer drinker, but I will take advantage of this time of year to have some cider jack if the occasion should arrise...Octoberfest!
Even if you're oblivious to all of these changes, you can't ignore the fall falliage! Unless you you never leave New York City (which is still no excuse because Central Park is beautiful right now!), or you only drive the NJ Turnpike exits 12through 16, you can't avoid seeing the many different colors of the leaves on the trees. There's even a difference in the air...a cool, more crisp feeling when you take a breathe. Get out and take a walk, or go sit on a park bench and do nothing...just notice the change and enjoy!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Surviving Bellydance Bootcamp

I know it sounds rediculous to think that anyone would NOT survive a weeklong bellydance workshop. Considering I normally run to 4 different places teaching about 12 classes a week of any mixture of kickbox, powersculpt, spinning, cardio-step aerobics, urban rebounder, and beginner bellydance, plus train some clients in between; it's safe to say I'm not a lazy person. Add to that the 20 hours running around at the hospital lifting and moving patients, or teaching CPR classes, flying home to drop off or pick up or cook for one of my three kids, and then run errands and clean the house...oh yeah, and don't forget the never-ending classes at school I'm STILL taking...I love pushing myself to the limit!
Ever since I took Suhaila Salimpour's 3-day level 1 Workshop last August in Arlington, VA, and got level 1 certified, I knew I was hooked! After 24 years of teaching and/or taking almost every new trend of fitness classes available, I have finally found something that challenges me both physically and mentally. Don't get me hour long class at L A Boxing, punching and kicking the hell out of a heavy bag with multiple sets of push ups and sit ups intermittingly or teaching an hour long spin class are both enough to make me hypertentilate and want to through up. Then there was the half marathon I ran 2 years ago in 1 hr. 58 mins. after only starting to run again for 3 months, which of course gave me a cramp in my hamstrings that lasted 2 months. These too, are challenges I welcome!
There is another element to Suhaila's workshops that for me added to the mental challenge I experienced and that is unfamiliarity. There's a difference between knowing how to do something and pushing it to your physical limit, which takes mental discipline and determination. It's a whole other thing trying to do something you're totally unable to do at first while you're watching other people in the same class doing that same thing you're struggling with, 4 times faster, plus two other things at the same time. Talk about frustrating!!!! Now, if you're a "type A" person in one of these's enough to make you cry.
Ok, so I didn't cry, but that's only because I'm not one to cry very easily. But I almost didn't go back to class after lunch on the second day of class. Of course being a "type A" person, that would be absolutely unacceptable, so instead I just got depressed and dragged my ass back to class. I can't say the second half was any better. Actually, it was worse! We learned choreography, which is probably not that big of a deal to a dancer, but that's not my background. On a positive note, I did keep up with every single push up, all 300 abdominal exercises (with a bruise on my spine to prove it), the lunges, splits, and glute squeezes for the hour-long warm up everyday, though!
What's so difficult? Moving my pelvic area clockwise for hip squares (marking 4 points) at 1/4 time or 1/2 time was nothing. Trying to do chest rolls (undulations) up to down or down to up was ok, too. Putting them together is a bit challenging for me, but attainable. It's when I try to do alternating glute squeezes full time while moving with rib cage slides in any direction at a different speed and try to remember what's coming up next that gets me totally frazzled. And that's just the beginning!
Day three arrives and I have no ambition to get out of bed and get to class. The thought of not being able to remember the choreography and do it all correctly was making me sick to my stomach. I had to remind myself that I traveled to the other side of the United States and paid a lot of money for this whole trip, and I would hate my own guts if I didn't finish what I started. So off I walked to the train.
The warm-up was even harder, but I was able to still do the whole thing, which made me feel better. We learned some new drills that for some reason, I actually seemed to pick up quicker than usual. Suddenly I was starting to detect a bit of self-esteem again! The choreography still kicked my ass mentally, but "holy shit...I think I'm going to make it after all"!
The fourth night I ran into one of the girls from class in the lobby of the hotel I was staying in. I had no idea that two of them was staying in the room right across the hall from me. I walked out at the same time with them the next day and realized I could've been taking the bus instead of the train, which would've been much easier and quicker. Finally, it's all coming together. Everyone is starting to bond a little bit, the drills are coming to me easier, and suddenly I don't want to leave...go figure!
So for any of you who have taken you first step-aerobics class, or started taking a dance class, or just hired a trainer and want to kill her already...don't give up, and know that "I feel for"!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Do Over

I've heard many people say, "If only I could do it over". This implies that they'd do things differently if given another chance. If you had the chance to go back in time and change something you did, would you?
Having all circumstances exactly the same as they were back then, what makes you think you'd make a different decision? Wasn't the choice you made at the time right for you at that time? And if you knew at the time you were making a "mistake", what factors drove you to take that path anyway? I think of those factors as curve balls the universe throws at us to guide us down certain paths.
Think of one of the most painful experiences you ever had that was due to a choice you made. Can you find ANY good that came out of that experience? Maybe an important lesson learned that prevented you or someone else from future pain? Or maybe this decision made you stronger in some way or more understanding of others? If you think of all the events that occurred in your life following that experience imagine they never existed...would you still want to undo that so called "mistake"?
Isn't it true that when we lose something, we gain something else? There have been times in the past when some "great" opportunities slipped out from under me and I was very disappointed. Almost every time though, an even better opportunity emerged. So why is it that we sometimes struggle when faced with difficult decisions with fear of regret or worry about making a "mistake"? Often the clouds are infront of the sun so we can't see it...but it is there and will shine again.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, regardless of how long it takes to realize what that reason is. These "forks in the roads" are essential to our growth as spiritually and emotionally fulfilled human beings. Would you really want a "DO OVER" and miss out on these great learning lessons in life?
I dedicate this to my biggest so called "mistake" I made in my life that took a very long time to stop regretting and appreciate what I now have instead. "The Five People You meet in Heaven", by Mitch Albom is a great book to read if you agree with my thoughts on this matter.