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Wrapping up Joy

Today I completed Week 2 Day 3 of my 4 week routine. Like Wednesday I opted to do 1 round instead of 2. I am confident 2 would have been more aligned with my fitness goals, I am looking for ways to have more time at home for family and fun. It only takes a few more minutes to do the second set of exercises, I want those minutes for other things! Next week I’m probably going to just write about my week’s workout once in order to have more time and more life balance. As much as I fantasize about stability, order and routine, I really value flexibility when I look at my actual life.

My final thoughts on this week’s affirmation, I focus on the joy of living my life and helping others where I can:

This mini-phase in my life is about recovery. Both getting back on my feet physically and emotionally. I realized this week that I spend a LOT of time being concerned with whether or not I’m perceived as being mean. Any time someone tells me they don’t like the way I’m doing something (and this happens a LOT when you work with young people), I am quite ready to re-evaluate everything I’ve been doing to look for the problem. I spend a ton of time thinking about what I did wrong, which makes for one unhappy me. I’ve been reading a teacher training book in my spare time called Love and Logic. This is a teaching philosophy I was mentored under, so I already use the philosophy, but I’m interested in getting even better at it because it’s all about helping people solve their own problems through empathy and the encouragement of thinking. As opposed to, you know, taking on other people’s problems.

Why am I talking about teaching? Because I take on more problems than I own across all the most important areas of my life and it’s hard to be happy when you’re carrying around other people’s problems for them. I’m glad that next week’s affirmation is all about acknowledging the positive, caring traits in myself. I think it will be just the right kind of challenge.

“Let us cultivate our garden.” – Voltaire, Candide

I started working out because I wanted to change the way I looked. Not drastically, but to head off some of the body changes that inevitably happen with age and childbearing (old school vocab for the win!). I also wanted to get some of my strength and endurance back so that I could do some of the things I love to do well. Thankfully, what I have learned is that I am much happier and healthier feeling when I work out regularly. There is a real and noticeable difference in my outlook and the consistency of my moods. And writing this blog is like my meditation time where I consider how things are going and allow my thoughts to settle.

What do you do to cultivate your garden?

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Acceptance for Change

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I’m plugging along after the break, staying on schedule while I can in between shows. Tonight I did Week 2 Day 2 of my 4 Week Plan.

The workout for today is a balance workout. I do a lot of strength building workouts, many of which incorporate balance exercises. But core strength and balance are great things to bring to a higher focus, as they will help your physical health as you age. Strong core muscles now will help prevent injuries, from the mundane to the serious later. So I figured why not. Plus it’s a good intesity for a mid-week workout.

Tonight I chose to do only one of the two sets to complete the workout, because I had dinner with my mother. In this last week off before rehearsals start back up I’m working on my life balance as well as my body balance. Having dinner with my mom is always nice, but family seems a little extra important these days and we need each other a little more. I really enjoyed dinner and we talked for a long time after eating. I did not start my workout until 8:30, so I chose to do only one rep because I know from experience that I don’t sleep well if I exercise after 9:00 p.m. Practical solutions!

I want to check back in about this week’s affirmation, I focus on the joy of living my life and helping others where I can, and specifically my challenge to myself to help others with their health challenges. I really haven’t had much of an opportunity to do this yet, except with my students who always need a reminder about taking care of their bodies. But you know how you often get back from life what you put into it? I had a lovely surprise message from an old theatre acquaintance from high school who helped me by giving me some suggestions for workouts I might enjoy. She said many other kind things that I couldn’t repeat without sounding like I’m bragging. It was an uplifting surprise. Joyful support comes when you aren’t looking. And by the way, thanks to all of my dear friends who regularly support me with their kind words. Remember to do this for each other!

I have been making a conscious effort to focus on slowing down and taking care of this moment. I know it will get so much harder once rehearsal for my teaching gig and then rehearsal for my professional gig start up, so I’m taking advantage of the peace I can create now. I figure any practice I can get is good. 🙂

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” – Albert Einstein

Just breath and accept where you are right now. There will be a new moment soon.

Joy – My Best Me is Here, Now

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We went out of town for a week over the Holidays! I took workout clothes, my interval timer and my hand weights and did…. nothing! Actually, what I did was eat lots of food prepared by my grandmothers and sit around chatting. It was lovely and I don’t feel the least bit daunted about picking up where I left off. Whatever frivolities you indulged in over the break should not keep you from picking up right where you want to be today.

Today I’m picking up with Week 2, Day 1 of my 4 Week Workout Plan. That week 1 workout made me so sore I could barely walk for about 4 days. I hope this week will kick just as much booty. It wasn’t too brutal. I’m still a n00b when it comes to getting a good ab workout. However, once I got to the last exercise, the Reclined Oblique Twists, I did get a good laugh at myself. Do you ever get to a point in your workout where you’ve gotten in position to start an exercise and you look down at yourself and realize there is no way you are going to be able to do this? At least you can laugh!

This week’s affirmation is:

I focus on the joy of living my life and helping others where I can.

I tend to be a workaholic. I spend long hours with my work kiddos, then go to rehearsal, then come home to projects. It’s always a wonder my family doesn’t fire me for negligence. I like to feel productive, but unfortunately, more often than not this translates into me being a taskmaster with myself where getting things done is the highest goal. It’s a vicious cycle because once those things are done, I feel empty and start looking for the next thing to “get done.” So this week I am planning on focusing on enjoying each thing I am doing, instead of rushing it to completion. If it’s sitting with my family, being present for my ride/drive to work, cleaning the dishes, et cetera, I will strive to enjoy each moment for what it is: the most important time.

And now on to the other half of that statement, helping others. I really enjoy my healthy life journey and have even fantasized about being a health coach. While I don’t see that in my immediate future, I will focus this week on being more health-helpful to my friends, family and coworkers by listening to their problems and helping find ideas that could for change.

And today’s progress quote:

“Make the most of yourself… for that is all there is of you.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think it would be easy to see this quote and think, “Oh, I better get out there and kick booty as fast as I can.” But I read this and think slow down!! Take care of yourself! When I read the words, “for that is all there is of you” I am reminded of how this life I am living, for all its similarities and commonalities, is singular and unrepeatable. Your life can be crafted and cared for like a work of art that you share with each and every person you come in contact with every day. But to craft your life, you must become both a master and a student. The greatest sculptor has obviously mastered many things, including technique and discipline, but even a master sculptor must be humble enough to listen to the uncarved block of marble. There are many mistakes to be made in life, but if I want to learn from them and become stronger I cannot try to avoid them by rushing forward.

What will you choose to focus on this week?

I want to tie all this together here for a moment. Finding Joy, Helping Others, Making the Most of You – I can’t tell you what these look like for you. I only write about what they look like for me in hopes that my ideas can inspire others to do for themselves. BUT I can tell you what these things are NOT. I titled this post “My Best Me is Here, Now” because of a need to honor myself today. How often do we look at a magazine cover and see the words: Be a _______ (better, stronger, skinnier, sexier) you in 14 days? Goals are GREAT because they help you figure out how to successfully implement big changes, but remember that the better, skinnier, stronger, healthier you that you may be in the future is already here, now.

Changing Your Mind Instead of Your Jeans

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Those of you who have achieved advanced states of DIY, de-stuffing and re-purposing enlightenment will be able to chuckle at my childishness. I have patched some jeans! I haven’t worn patched jeans since I actually was a child and destroyed my jeans before I outgrew them. I’ve been getting rid of them and buying new ones!

A couple of things happened to inspire this. When I thought we were going to be having a baby, I purchased a pair of stretchy, skinny jeans with really cute holes all over them. The holes were patched when I bought the jeans. I don’t know if it’s a sign of my age, being a parent or working with minors, but I no longer want to show off my upper thigh through a hole in my jeans. I do, however, think distressed jeans are cute and will buy them if the holes are reinforced well. These jeans were not and the patches they came with pulled out after the first wash. Bummer.hole

Next, when I went through the Big Little One’s clothes for winter, I found a pair of jeans, also distressed, also with a hole. I think this is a theme! They had this cute patched/sewn area on the knee and one of the seams had ripped straight open. Can’t wear those to school! Also, mom loves these jeans and wants them to last as long as possible. Also, patches are cheaper than new jeans.

Finally, we were going through our end of the year donations (we donate everything we de-stuff) and itemizing. Some of this stuff had been sitting in our garage for months! Since then I have changed jobs and now need to be able to keep my tattoos fully covered at work, so I pulled a few items out of the donations pile. On a side note, bagging and setting aside your donations is a great way to stress test whether you can really do without them. In this case, I just felt like I gave myself my own Christmas gift and it didn’t cost me anything. In addition to some shirts with mandarin collars and a business jacket, I found my old pair of Lucky Jeans. I wore this until the knee split open. I don’t really need another pair of jeans in my closet right now, but pulling these out of the donation pile inspired me to finally patch those other jeans, because I really wanted to wear these again!

I can sew, but I went with a simple solution for all of these repair jobs. I purchased Singer’s Iron-On Patchettes. You can get these anywhere from Target to CVS for a few bucks a pack and they come in a variety of colors and sizes. They are meant to go over the hole right on the front and I’m pretty sure that’s how my mom patched my jeans when I was wee, but I patched everything from the inside.

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 For the Big Little One’s jeans, I made sure the rip was completely closed and patched it from the inside. Because there had not been any fraying, you cannot see the repair from the outside.

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For my Lucky’s which are hopelessly destroyed at the knee, (working from the inside) I cut a piece of iron-on patch to roughly the same size as the hole and placed it pretty side down over the directly over the hole. Then I cut a larger piece of iron-on patch and placed it sticky side down over the smaller patch, making sure it would make contact with the jeans all the way around the smaller patch.

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You can still see the giant hole in the knee, but when I sit down you see you jean fabric instead of skin and they shouldn’t rip any further. Ultimately, I’d like to find a funky swatch of fabric to stitch over the hole.

patchstretchI patched the stretchy, skinny jeans in three different, very experimental ways. All three resulted in successful patches (for now) that maintained the distressed design, but reinforced the peeling patches between your eyes and my thigh. 😉 We’ll see how these work.

And that, my friends, is how the grasshopper takes tiny steps.

Recovery

And I am, in fact, back.

After six months, both my booty and my spirit are in serious need of recovery. And I am finally ready to walk that path.

This past week The Big Little One. started pressuring me to come home and work out with him each day. Wake up call! I don’t know if he meant it like this, but I felt like it was him telling me he wants to see me taking care of my physical wellness better. So two days ago I sat down and thought about what has kept me from working out the past 4 months or so. I came up with two things: my spirit needs repair as much as booty does and I am now on a schedule where I am regularly busy. I no longer have time to sit down a day at a time to map out what workout I am doing that day. I spent the morning coming up with a 4 week workout plan that includes affirmations and quotes for inspiration so that I can focus on body and spirit/mind without spending extra time each day trying to figure out what I’m doing.

I did my first workout yesterday and I am nice and sore! And satisfied. My quote for the workout:

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” -Ernest Hemingway

You know those times when you say to yourself, “I’m going to try to ______,” but even as you say it you know you are probably going to fail. This isn’t one of those times. As I wrote my schedule for the next 4 weeks I knew I was going to do it. I started yesterday and I feel really good, like I’m back in the saddle. Only time will tell, but I’ve got the right attitude about what I can and will do.

Recovery is possible after acceptance and as long as you take it one step at a time.

It Always Comes Back to This

It has been a LONG time.

Really, about six months.

I didn’t even say goodbye and for that I am not even sorry.

I want to talk about why I haven’t written and what happened, but it’s so personal.

Let’s go backwards.

I worked out. Once. This week. It REALLY kicked my butt. I didn’t break a sweat, but I couldn’t walk the next day. I was ecstatic. And then I felt a little guilty. I’d made this commitment to be here and blog and share. Should I feel guilty about this? No!

Before that, I ran a couple times, but it’s really been impossible what with this crazy rehearsal schedule.

I got a new job and I have been in rehearsals CONSTANTLY. I love this new job. I went back to teaching, which is one of the things I am whole-heartedly passionate about and inspired by. Altogether a good move, but it’s been messing up my work out schedule. Or you could say it’s allowed me to further put off getting back into any sort of a fitness routine.

I didn’t work out all summer because I was really miserable. I mean, sit on the couch and eat and watch tv and cry every day miserable. It’s been a long time since anything has gotten me feeling like that. To top off the miserable end of that summer, in the space of about 1 week I found out my boss was fired, learned my department was being restructured, decided to look for another job, received a communication from a loved one that let me know exactly how they felt about me (and let me tell you, it was not so pretty), had surgery to remove a failed pregnancy that wasn’t coming out on its own, lost a job opportunity I thought I was going to get to someone I know in a horrifying twist of fate, and hit absolute emotional rock bottom. Immediately afterwards, I went out of town for work and was hired for a new job that I LOVE on that trip.

Most of that you can’t work backwards from. It just sort of showed up one day. But the surgery, that button was pushed weeks earlier. In some ways it started and in some ways it ended with the words, “I’m sorry,” from the sonogram tech.

To celebrate the recovery of my father (or maybe just thankfully my father recovered so we could take the trip we planned to take) I took my family to Costa Rica where I got horribly ill. This is not a joke. I’m not a fearful person, perhaps sometimes to an idiotic fault, but I had to get an I.V. inserted in an emergency care facility in the middle of nowhere Costa Rica. Don’t tell my family, but I was  scared. Just a little. This trip is when I stopped getting morning sickness. But not due to the I.V. That was later and it was one of the best I.V.s I have ever had thanks to my, ironically, Costa Rican OB nurse.

I spent 2 weeks visiting my father in the hospital watching his diagnosis go from bad to better to great, thank goodness. During that time, we found out we were pregnant and did not tell my family. Also thank goodness.

At the beginning of the summer I received an unintelligible, frantic call from my mother. I am proud to say that some instinct kicked in almost instantly and I not only figured out that she was headed to the hospital with my dad in an ambulance, but I grasped that it was my job to get there and put on the next accessory of my adulthood: support of my parents when they were falling apart.

This year did not start off on the right foot, even before the madness.

I am now a woman who has stood in the hallway of my home and shamelessly wept for minutes that seemed endless while my family, including my 2 small children held me and told me it’s going to be okay and that they love me. I am now a woman that knows better what her friends are good for and what loyalty means. I am now a woman who knows about secrets for the sake of privacy, because some things are too delicate to be handled by everyone, at least at first. I am now a woman with a more bittersweet taste of loss.

wish that this post was going to end with a, “but see, it’s all better now?” kind of message. Frankly, it kind of is all better. Remember? Great new job that makes me feel happy and fulfilled? I’ve also been doing some improv work with my troupe and been called (as in, didn’t have to go to an audition) for a couple of little acting projects. Oh yeah, and I worked out this week. That seems to be a sign of life balance for me for the past couple years. Maybe because healthy is as healthy does and this is how I be who I mean. Buuuuuut, this post is not about how I pulled the band-aid off and the wound was gone. It is about getting back on the horse even though your leg is still broken and you’ve been trying to conceal your limp. It is not about sympathy, but it is about the next step.

Talking.

Sharing.

It is about not disappearing without a trace.

Right now, I am not sure if I am going to continue writing on this blog. When life slows down a little, I find that I am still sad and even a little lost. I’m busy keeping my family in focus right now and a little less enchanted by the horizon. However, this moment of tell-all confessional is necessary if this is going to be something I pick back up in the future. Because that’s just the kind of gal I am and this is just the kind of blog it is – deeply and irrevocably personal.

Race

The Fourth Wall

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If you work up monologues for rehearsal and performance, you know that you have to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. That’s the whole point of this 20 monologue challenge – to have 20 well-rehearsed, well-prepared monologues ready to go at the drop of a hat. There is, of course, merit in being to pull a monologue out of the blue at the last minute when you have to, but that’s not what you’re going for most of the time. Rehearsal takes your performance from raw and bumpy to a true demonstration of both your live prowess, and demonstrates your ability to prepare a part. Blah, blah, blah, rehearsal’s important, blah, blah, blah.

In addition to all those hours of rehearsal, you have got to work your piece in front of an audience. You need the confidence to know that you’ve done this monologue in front of live human beings before without wetting yourself. When you practice at home in your room with only your cats watching (wait, is that just me?), you are in a whole different world. You can completely invest in the world of the play, everything can go your way and it will seem like smooth sailing. When you put an audience in front of you, you have now introduced the magic fourth wall and everything changes.

The fourth wall is where things get wonky and that’s theatre. Now on one level you’ve got the world of the play you have got to see in front of you: who you are talking to, where you are, etc. On the other hand, there are living, breathing people who have nothing to do with your character and everything to do with you the actor sitting in your fourth wall, staring at you. Your craft is to marry these two worlds with charm, wit and grace. Ha!

You have to practice with an audience, because they will show you where you’ve made bad stitches in the fourth wall. When you get your monologue in front of an audience, it will become apparent which parts are not working. You’ll feel where your flow is dead and where your audience gets bored. You’ll feel all the good stuff, too, but it’s the bad parts that need your love and are the whole reason you’re here, working your butt off. You don’t put your work up in front of a test audience just so you can see what a great job you’ve done so far. You put your work up so you can see the holes you still have and work on them.

Back up. Rephrase. You can’t just put your work in front of an “audience.” Showing mom your monologue is probably not going to work out for you if she’s smiling and laughing at all your jokes because she loves you. You need someone who will sit there with a blank look on their face if it’s not doing anything for them, who will laugh annoyingly if you tickle them and will bite their nails if they are bored out of their mind. Find friends and colleagues who are willing to be a little critical. They don’t have to provide feedback afterwards (because, honestly, if they don’t know what they are talking about you don’t want them to direct you), they just need to be willing to listen without pretense.

And fast forward back to “What now?” You’ve done plenty of practice runs in front of real people and now you know that the beginning is too slow and doesn’t grab anyone and the end where there is a huge beat change that you’ve been standing still during is WRONG!!! Some of the problems that present themselves will be easy to solve. The beat change just needs movement. In this example, the problem and the solution are wrapped up together. Staying in the same place, in the same posture, with the same focus is wrong, so you need to do the opposite. It still may take a little playing to find the move that you ultimately choose, but the answer is there. The beginning being flat is a whole ‘nother bag. There are so many solutions to this problem. It may be re-cutting, it may be changing your transition into the beginning, it may be adjusting objectives or just making some simple technical changes to your voice and body. You have to play with your performance until you’ve got something new you think solves the problem and then…. back to your audience!

This is a lot of extra time and commitment, no lie. It’s also the difference between good and great work. I certainly know people who can put good work out there and get along, but the people I know who are consistently rewarded for their efforts are the ones who put out great work.

With Lots of Heart,
Race!

This blog post brought to you by a monologue I thought was ready until I performed it for an audition and realized what large eyes…. issues it had.