Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Humble pie... tasty

Humble pie, two servings, one fork, please! While the deload was full of lessons, it seems my education has just begun. Thank goodness for patient coaches and loud music.

This week the strength training begins in earnest. In an effort to get it kicked off right, I took the opportunity to indulge my curiosity about the power factor. For the few folks that don't know what this little gizmo is, it is a tool to measure the speed at which you move the implement. The trick is to move it at a meter per second. This may not sound particularly fast, until you try it. Gave this a go on pulls and pushes and discovered numerous flaws, both with my perceptions and my lifting form. Getting those corrected was serving one of humble pie. Thanks Duncan! Not sure if it was generosity or his sadistic side that prompted Duncs to loan me this toy until I get the feel of proper speed, but it is set up in the garage awaiting tonight's lifts. Weee!

The whip cream on that particular serving of humble pie: attempting to learn to do pull-ups. Having never done a single dead-hang pull-up in my life, this was more than a touch hilarious. (yet another exercise that is not aided by my laughing at my failures) Still haven't managed it, hooray for being bottom heavy, but now have the tools I need to get there. Bonus: lots of my pulling has been done with my back of late, and it shows.

Second serving of tasty humility came last night when the Doctore prescribed some large sets to max for squats. To say this is below expectations would be a WILD (like lions on the savannah, wild) understatement. I am ganna call this fuel for the fire and just get down to it from here on out. The amount of clanging, banging and swearing did prompt a minor rearrangement of gear in the gym, so future sessions should be a bit more down to business and less tripping over my own feet. Time to meet the coach's goals and mine.

The carmel drizzle on this piece of mortification munchies: an hour of barre work and partner stretching at the dance studio, followed by thirty minutes of floor work (leaps, jumps, turns, spins, tucks ...) Evil dance instructor remains the Queen of all things Surprisingly and Subtly Painful. Today I am singing her praises, as I am not presently a single block of ache.

Much to be done before next season.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Learning from gorillas...


With all the kindness of a typical 400lb gorilla, several of my training partners informed me that I needed a break. It may have been implied that if I didn't take one they might just have to give me one, though the choice was mine on which arm. Thus, there was a deload. That particular word remains something of a mystery to me, since it seems to imply something different to everyone. My take? A pause in all training for a brief period.

Day to day I changed my mind on how I felt about it. Started my "Deload" on Saturday the 17th. It was odd trying to find out what to do with all my time, until my body decided for me. Sleep was the answer, lots of sleep and right now, if you please. Falling asleep at the merest mention of a soft surface was a new experience that lasted for the first 3-4 days. Between sleep and naps (one particularly memorable unplanned nap in the tub) I was clocking about 10-11 hours of sleep a day.  Clearly the gorillas had been right, and I needed some rest.

What else was I to do with all this spare time once the narcolepsy passed? Oh, let's see if I still like trashy food. Pizza? Nope. Enchiladas? Nope. Queso? Nope. Frou-frou coffee? Nope. Found myself longing for salad and fish, perhaps a grapefruit. Huh, odd, you mean to say that my brain has been lying to me all this time telling me how much I miss this trashy stuff, but now it tastes awful, or worse bland?  Sheesh, the gorillas were right again!

Follow that up with a Thanksgiving full of family, friends, feasting and folderol.  By the weekend I was chomping at the bit for something to do, so decided to try a few lifts with some of the kids from Full Throttle who were prepping for a strong man. Having not gone heavy in the gym since the summer off season, I was sure this would be more of a laughable hang out session than a true work session.  A sudden onset of giggles while under the yoke was the only laughable situation all day. As it turns out that I matched my PRs in a few lifts for reps, and still rode my bike home. You guessed it, gorillas 3, short-stack 0.

Lesson learned! No chest thumping necessary, my gorillas, deloads will become a regular part of the program. It seems that all-go-no-quit made for a very cranky and mostly useless me. This break offered me the clarity and rest to reset some goals and expectations, and start afresh. Now, to go get my calluses back!

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

Friday, November 2, 2012

This decorating diva demands!

This decorating diva demands more decore for Thanksgiving.

As one of the MAJOR holidays of the year I feel we skimp on jazzing it up for this special day. Certainly a great deal of fall stuff can ride out the season from September 1st through November 30th. Pumpkins, fall garlands, acorns, squirrels, and the like can grace my mantels, shelves and counters for the entire season. This lends the entire season a beautiful orange and brown palette to


We all know that Halloween gets a lot of love from the craft stores, as it should with all the gory glory it has to offer. As much as anyone else I enjoy my jack-o-lanterns, witches, skulls (some of the sugar variety), ghosts, goblins and ghouls, and do deck out every flat surface just shy of the stove top. However, the day after Halloween all those grisly goodies get tucked away in their bubble wrap and color themed tubs.

Playing dress up is second nature for this theatre kid, so why am I so very ready to tuck away the trimmings for this holiday? To answer that let us look at the way we celebrate these holidays. Halloween is a giddy free-for-all of quick sugary bites and glimpses of strangers in masks. Games played only in the dark, and full of anonymity. Glitz, glamor and gone in a flash, that is Halloween to me. I love this herald of the fall festivities and will never be too old for trick-or-treating.

Thanksgiving is full of rich warm scents and orange tinted memories of being only oven window tall. It is a day spent in my kitchen, draped in an apron, surrounded by my family and friends. Sharing foods we all enjoy, or in the case of my three-bean casserole that they endure so I can enjoy! Breakfast is always something sweet to get you moving, the coffee will be on all day long. Though we no longer do our turkey with a buttered towel cover that must be minded and moistened hourly, all praise to the oven bag, we do still spend hours rotating dishes in and out of the oven and stove top.

Dinner means pulling the tables together, even with the leaves in one table is never enough space, using patio furniture when the doorbell rings just one more time for late comers, a blessing said for another trip round the sun in good company, and the soft silence that descends when everyone's plates and hearts are full.

More than Halloween, more than Christmas, this humble holiday full of simple joys is my favorite of the season, for just that reason, it is humble. It is a time of sharing what you have with those you love in a place that is comfortable.

All I am asking for is a couple of cornicopias and some Thanksgiving themed table runners, I don't think I am shooting the moon here, dammit!!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

On This St. Crispian's Day

 
 


Highland Games is a small community, international though it may be. Tight knit and foul mouthed, we share something that was best described by The Bard, and best preformed by Kenneth Branagh more than a score of years past as Henry V in his St. Cripsin's Day speech.

The entirety of the speech is littered with historical and battle field references, but it is the few below that speak most strongly of what I am attempting to define for the uninitiated.

"The fewer men, the greater share of honour."

Not everyone can we do what we do, and many hold themselves back for fear of failure, or worse still for fear of looking foolish. Donning a kilt to throw sticks and rocks will never carry a lot of glory to those that haven't done it, for those that have medaling at one of the Big Shows is an honour.


“He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”

Should we ever get old and grey enough to throw no longer, some never do, we will have some stories to tell of the crazy goings on with the Iron Thistle, the stupid stone and that one time at Pleasanton. Names that will forever make you smile in fond memory when they fall off your tongue to tell some new kid about the occasion when...

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.

Callused hands, iced backs, ART bills may fade, but the memory and limps remains. Experience will temper our humor, and allow us to smile when the “Next Big Deal” comes in full of swagger. Shared looks of understanding will pass round and slow grins of old age and treachery will abound.


We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

Coming from a large family, and a small school, a sense of belonging is paramount to me. No community has been so warm and welcoming as the Gamers I have encountered. Distance and language have been no barrier, fellowship has been extended at every turn. Graciously accepting me as one of the family since day one, folks have opened their homes and ,most importantly, their vast wealth of information without reservation. Much talk has been had while much iron has been moved, and though we may not have solved all the world’s ills we built something. Hours on the field are never wasted, no matter how many blisters and calluses they bring. Clan has a whole new meaning for me these days.


This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Damn right.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oh, look, a rabbit hole, wonder what's down there...




Alice chased her rabbit into a world full of confusing and confounding new experiences. Perhaps that is just what I am doing by agreeing to join the blogging community of StrongAndFar.com? Joining the realm of the strength athlete is a cross between WonderLand and NeverLand - places where I either don't know all the rules or no rules apply! Not to mention all the characters you will meet along the way.

Caterpillar: Who... are... you?
Alice: Why, I hardly know, sir. I've changed so much since this morning, you see...

Who am I? A mouthy short stack from Texas full of puns and obscure references with a strong desire to be more than I was the day before. Having come late to the athlete party by not showing up until my 30s, and only then as a seriously overweight noob, I am making up for lost time!  


Tripped over highland games by way of the local renaissance faire, and decided it was the thing to do. Bit of training up by the “Old Man of the Mountain” here in Texas, Mark Cooper, and I tried out a few games. A local gamer, with a Cheshire Cat grin, advised me that should I “actually try” I might be “not awful” at highland games. That was my invitation to the Mad Hatter’s tea party that is this sport I love so dear. It was a lot of passed tea cups and move down a seat while the boys showed me the real deal on the games. Four years later, thousands of traveled miles and 80lbs lighter, you get the current incarnation of me. 




Mad Hatter: Why is a raven like a writing desk?
Alice: Riddles? Now let me see... why is a raven like a writing desk?

Riddles, indeed! As the off season for games kicks off it is time to retool the machine, and get things in proper working order for goal setting, both as an athlete and a member of the TCAA (Texas Celtic Athletic Association). This will be the place to see the progress I make aa  thrower, recruiter, coach and host for the highland games. Having earned my stripes with sweat and laughter, this promises to be an adventure through the looking glass. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Choices...

Sadly, I am smart enough now to be aware just how much a mess my relationship with food is, and always has been.

At times it is like a separate personality, the foolish defiant teenage angst you should be done with by now, that piece of you that wants instant gratification. The rebellious slice that demands you throw societal convention into the wall and do what you damn well please, they can get bent; you don't need their approval anyway...right? That is the lie we tell while we binge on the foods we know are our personal undoing. Mine? Chips and dip. This little bit of kryptonite should never be allowed within the walls of my Fortress of Solitude.

Food never says no, or talks back, or ignores you, or judges you. This may well be why so many people in this country full of needy, self-indulgent, media addicted, non-communicators are obese and unhealthy. (says the girl blogging about her issues, first world problems, baby) Comfort food, the name says it all, we find our comforts from the familiar tastes that drive sense memory to the past and give us that scrap of nostalgic joy of something not quite remembered. We do this because it is simple, easy, attainable and in lieu of creating new memories full of happiness.

It is looking at what you are "supposed to be" and knowing that is never going to happen that drives so many cars for Big Macs. That defeated sense of why bother, where we forget that perfection differs person to person. Magazines and Hollywood don't hold the keys to good looks (most of the shows I watch are filmed in Montreal, thank you SyFy, but you get my point!) and certainly not to healthy attitudes. I suppose the trick must be finding a way to use an internal sense of self to establish your ideal you, rather than allowing the constant barrage of external sources for Health/Beauty/Value. Neat trick if you can manage it without rolling right back around to the Teenage-Angst-Beast previously discussed.
Realizing, repeatedly, that no amount of exterior help or support can make the choice for you. Knowing that even with all the right tools readily available, you can still opt out on yourself. The golden moments (plural, it will happen over and over) when you recognize your failures, values, strengths and pick your health over all the noise of the blaring world.


Willpower can't be bought or sold or found, only made.
Made through an unending series of choices.
Choose wisely.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Should You Ever Need Us...

The movie Labyrinth is a favorite of mine, full of silliness, muppets, Froud Fairies, fantasy fears and ,most importantly, friendships. Helping, guiding and letting each of the cast of characters grow into who they are meant to be, all in less than two hours! The children of the 80s and their parents can name them for you and quote the lines, or in my house - sing the songs and dance the dances. The one that always sticks with me is when Sarah leaves the Labyrinth with the truest friends she is likely to ever find in her fictional life, and they let her go with the phrase "Should you ever need us."


No matter how many shiney things you trade with Hoggle, that isn't why you are friends.




Friendships cannot be weighed or measured in things or stuff, but in moments and memories. So many of the cliches are true, the best of friends are those with whom you can fall into comfortable silences and pick up conversations as if no time had passed. Where you can simply be at peace, without a need to fill the silences and space. Folks that have held your hand, your hair and your heart at some point in your life, and are always welcome to the extra place at dinner.

There are times when a hug from your Ludo will set the whole world right again, and remind you that you are perfectly capable of dealing with whatever comes.




Not everyone that rolls into your life will be such, we are lucky when we have a handful. Some newer folks in my world have questioned associations of long standing with quizzical faces. The answers are never what they expect, it isn't simple tolerance of quirks and poor habits. It isn't that I don't see them, or get annoyed by them, it is the embracing of those things making my friends who they have ever been. Those cherished folks that have seen me at my worst and still loved me best, who will get to live forever in the clear and get a pass for their foibles. That is what love is - knowing someone, all of them, and wanting them in your life just as they are all the time, because they know you and want you around too, just as you are.




Jareth swathed in tight pants, pretty promises and seeming magic can't hold a candle to the bumbling Sir Didymus on his trusty fluffy steed, Ambrosius.





There will be Labryinths, misleading door knockers,lonesome oubliettes, unhelpful hands, bogs of eternal stench, trixy firey goblins, junk ladies who try to pull you back to the past, and all manner of unmentionable hardship. All of which can be overcome, surmounted, or simply endured with the right friends should you ever need them.

 Just as Sarah said to her Hoggle "I don't know why, but every now and again in my life, for no reason at all, I need you. All of you."  All of you, and a bit of dance magic, dance.


You haven't lived until...


Living in Texas this phrase usually preempts some deeply silly stories, just this once I am ganna break the mold. You haven't lived until you have spent a day coaching the next generation that wants to explore something you are passionate about. Being neither a coach or teacher by trade or training, it is a rare privilege to be allowed the opportunity to be on the other side of this equation. For the second year in a row the Oklahoma Scottish Festival has allowed me to run the juniors division of highland games. This gives me a group of kids ages 7-14 that want to give the games a try, and in some cases they really do give it their all.

Joe giving the breamar stone his first attempt.


The enthusiasm of youth puts a whole new shine on an old routine. Watching up-tilted faces with an earnest desire to learn something they believe you have the keys to is both intimidating and inspiring. From those that are ever ready to do the next toss, to shrinking violets who tuck themselves behind their kilts with shy smiles, these kids will light up your day. Soon enough some of them will be chasing our field records and we will be forced to employ all the tricks we know to keep up. And that is as it should be!

Many thanks to Matt Thompson and all the parents for trusting me with the kids, helps me get my head on straight for the off season and reminds me why we do this.

Photo Credit: Larry Ventress - http://pioneerphotography.photoreflect.com/store/thumbpage.aspx?e=8680061

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Want It More

Sorry for the extended radio silence, could give any number of excuses, but that is exactly what they would be.

Today's topic is never an easy one, and with any luck this will be the last time I have to address it from  this particular angle. Precisely how to find a way past the self sabotaging habits and back sliding comforts to be able to move on to the next progression.

Want It More is a phrase I picked up from my throws coach a while back, and now need to implement beyond the trig.

  • To want my health more than I want trashy comforting quick fix foods
  • To want my fitness more than my ass groove on the sofa
  • To want a clean and calming environment more than my over lengthy lazy times
  • To want better for myself, my family and my team rather than continuing with the same old routine
The trick to WIM, is finding the drive, the motivators to get from your currently level to the next. For me that means getting past the ideas of being a fat kid, a non-athlete, a not-a-home-maker, a not-a-cook and doing all those things for myself. All the tools are there, and I have the support I need to do all these things. There will be guidance, don't think I could shake my coaches with the help of the Witness Protection Program, but it is well past time for me to WIM. 

Here we go. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

That time of year...


The time has come, when the sweltering heat of summer gives way to the crisp mornings of fall. When the morning's dew on the grass lasts well past the rising of the sun. When the rich greens fade into warm browns, orange and red. 

Autumn is my season. Full of rich foods, warm spiced drinks, hearth smoke, sweaters, tall boots, Friday Night Lights and reasons to snuggle down beneath soft throw blankets and wear fuzzy socks, it draws me home. The first cold snap inevitably brings out all my deeply rooted Southern Girl traits, the desire to bake, write hand written letters and clean everything before decking it out in holiday finery. The entire season is about going below the surface and finding strength, shoring up weak spots and storing what is needed for a later date.
My home and office get decked out just as quick as I can get away with it by social standards. This means Fall decorations can go up in mid September, Halloween on Oct 1st, Thanksgiving on Nov 1st, and Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. Trust that my fingers are itching to toss garlands, floral arrangements, brick-a-brack and holiday trees across every available surface with a maniacal glee. 





The traditional meal of roasted tomato soup and crab meat fritters is shared with friends and family during the Texas State Fair in early October. A simple and deliciously hearty meal done time and again, just once a year and always a treat. 

Holiday cards are nearly always hand written, though there have been a few years when picture cards went out instead. There is something soothing to me about pen to paper, so much more personal than typewritten communication. The feel of good paper-stock and a well crafted pen are tactile pleasures. Knowing that just seeing the colorful envelope mixed in with daily junk-mail and bills will cause the recipient to smile before they even open the card inside makes me smile in turn. 
In the land of personal traditions there are the movies of each season, Harry Potter for October, West Wing in November and Lord of the Rings in December. Movies that have become the sound track of those holidays for me over the years, they play while I decorate and bake, background noise for meal preparations. The stories intertwined with our holiday tales.

Fall is my season, and I am glad it is finally here. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

It can't all be unicorns and rainbows...

This morning our story's hero discovered that some days are not all unicorns and rainbows. On this day she found it was full of trolls and dark forests. Surrounded by doubts in her abilities and fears of failure, the internal struggle for courage to do the right thing was fierce and bloody.

In other words, dear readers, I had a serious case of The Insecure Fat Kid. The phrases of childhood and images of magazines danced in my head, reminding me of all the things I will never be. It became a game of the Why Bothers vs. the Fuck That Noise. Despite all the hard work, the changes to life style, the clear improvements of health and fitness - some days I am still just a fighting to take the first step out the door. It never gets any easier to do these things for myself, there are simply days in which I don't allow myself to think about it before I begin. 

As I so often tell my Sweat Angels, getting your ass off the sofa is the victory, the rest is easy. Once out the door, be it on the road or the mats, that is mindless doing. The choice to begin is hardest. Sleep or workout, give in or get up. This went on for a solid fifteen minutes this morning nearly as long as my morning run route would take to accomplish, before I pulled on my big girl panties and my running shoes. Yep, you heard me, I hauled my cookies outta my comfy spot to do what I like least - run. Not as a punishment, but to remind myself that some day I won't be able to, so it would be foolish to squander the moments when I can. 

My run this morning rewarded me with starlit skies, howling coyotes and the ever elusive friendly neighbor (guy was out watering his lawn and turned his sprinklers off so I could run by without getting soaked or having to get off the sidewalk into the busy street). It was worth doing, it didn't cost me anything but a bit of time, and I will feel better all day for having done it. 

Defeating the Trolls to make a mad dash through the Dark Forest doesn't always yield heroic tales and winning the hand of the maiden fair, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't do it anyway. 

Tomorrow the fight continues. 



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hyacinth Hippo Does Water Ballet

Whilst doing my floundering impression of a half drowning purple clad hippo, in an oxygen deprived moment of clarity I realized, "Here is the one place where nothing else matters. Where the world falls away and all that I need to concern myself with is this moment, this action."

Only this moment...

A beautiful concept; to allow yourself to be fully contained within the single moment in which you currently reside. No desire to reach back or forward, but to simply enjoy the current. To unburden yourself of the pressures of the outside world, real or imagined. To release worry along with anticipation for yourself and those to whom you are irrevocably connected. Simply to do the thing you have committed to for the moment as fully as possible.

Perhaps this epiphany came due to a distinct lack of oxygen, or perhaps due to the sensory deprivation of floating weightless to only the sounds of my own labored breathing. Workout complete, I floated there staring up at the skylights I allowed my mind to wander back and try to remember if I had ever felt that lightness of purpose before. The fog of time seemed to part around other such occasions, both recent and distant, in which that clarity had been present. Each was tied directly to a task that ,at the time, seemed to require my full effort to complete, varied as the tasks were, they had that in common - applied effort and force of will.

In a world full of distractions, multi tasking and instant information, solitude seems to be something I do not allow myself enough of. Truly to focus on a single task without permitting myself to check just one more website, chore, or to reorganize my priorities once more to put that sense of peace off for another day. If I am able seek solitude and solidarity of purpose for those moments of lightness, I might just get lucky and trip over enlightenment.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Feet


We each of us have our quirks, the little things that are odd, but make your friends smile to know about you. As an introduction to my many quirks, let us begin with a big one - I love feet. Powerful, beautiful, unique and expressive. Bare or divinely dressed, they have an allure  that cannot be denied. The smallest of chubby baby digits to the tissue paper thin skinned nearly bird like claws of the well worn, the appeal of the stories untold draws me. 


From the tip of my minuscule pinkie toe to the cracks in my heel, I love my imperfect feet. Though small ( size 6 and 1/2) they carry a world of fascination for me. In all that I do they have been my constant companions. The calluses and curves mark the abuses I put them through, and show the work required of those tiny platforms. They lift me off the ground, brace me to hold others, allow me to move with purpose and speed, sure and steady they carry me through all the trials and joys of my life. 



Your hands tell a story, but your hands are so very expressive and visible that they can lie. Your feet never lie, the stories written there are 100% truth.  Polished toes, with callused pads - that's me. Every toe has been broken, the tops are scared, my calluses are deep. High heels, dance and sports have done their damage, and will continue to for years to come. Every attempt is made to maintain a level of civility with my hardworking paws, that they may be presentable in public despite the blue collar nature of the work they do.  My best friend has threatened for years, and has on occasion actually done this, to take a cheese grater to my feet in vain effort to keep them under control. Pedicures and lotions are liberally applied with regularity. Yet...yet, they remain not quite tamed in appearance. As I said, they cannot lie, no matter the window dressing. 




Being a native of a hot land with an extended summer feet are often found bare or wrapped in only the merest wisp of the idea of a proper shoe. This leaves a great deal of observable material for my ever earth bound eye to espy. The horrid and the exquisite are on display at least eight months of the year, flashing their stories with each step. They are our method of exploration in the natural world. The feel of sand or fresh cut grass under your feet, hot pavement in the summer, chilly tile floors, lush carpet and even the odd Lego. It is a sign of comfort, and trust, to go barefoot in someone else's home. To feel relaxed enough in their domain to allow yourself that mild intimacy.



So, there ya have it, my little bit of oddity in rambling tumble of words. Feet - glorious, wonderful, hard working, dirty, and ever so very honest. In closing I give you another picture of the feet in my life - mine, and my baby brother's. Though drastically different sizes and shapes, both sets are heavily abused due to the active lives we lead. What stories they could tell...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rock among Clouds

As Chaucer was the lily among thorns, it is my place to be the rock among clouds. My life is gloriously full of expansive minds, driven souls and big ideas on two feet. To be surrounded by so many empassioned thinkers, those who seek greater impact in the world through their own unique venues is a wonderful place to be. The continual whirlwind of creativity and exploration of the inner workings of human expression is a beautiful thing to behold. Though, I wonder, how did I get here? Among these people? These minds? These hands that are shaping lives and the world around them? How lucky am I to get to be a part, however small and steady.
 
Please do not misunderstand, this is not a lament, it is a wonderment. I am gratful to be a part of this ...these multifaceted communities. Full of juxtapositions of callused hands and big ideas, young bodies with old souls, old bodies that will never cease to have a child's wonder. You see, I am a simple creature, with simple dreams and desires. Happy with my life, and content with the progress I am making towards my goals. A slow grower, if you will, in a garden full of Jack's bean stalks. You know there is gold at the top, giants to slay, harps to be rescued, and I am an avid listener of the tales that are told. Pleased to be the audience for the bards. In their world, but not of it.
 
Or so I thought...
 
Until one of my whirlwinds reminded me that wind doesn't make a sound without a rock to blow over.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Suffer to Succeed


There is an age old adage, "You must suffer to succeed" which was taken to the next level with the phrase "The more you suffer, the more you succeed." While this particular reference was in regard to sports, it is easily applicable to so many areas of our lives. Well, perhaps just my life, where I tend to over indulge in the things I find pleasurable and forget to manage the things that keep the wheels on this crazy bus. 

How do you choose to suffer? 

How do you set aside those easy things and choose the harder path, strewn with the rubble of those who didn't reach their mountain top? Knowing that there is hard going ahead do you grant your every whim until the starting gun? Do you start small and conquer mole hills before mountains? Do you do the odious tasks first, then get to the ones that seem less awful? In my ever so limited experience, I don't believe it matters HOW, just that you do choose. 

We suffer to succeed, because we want more than we are. As parents have said since the first protozoa left for Single Celled Organism University- "we want more for you."  It is the nature of the evolving human to desire the best of and for themselves. The truly enlightened seek it spiritually. Perhaps someday I will travel to the Zen Mountain Range and make that particular journey, at present I am seeking more temporal rewards - greater strength, longer throws, better household management, more well trained animals etc. 

Am I prepared to suffer to get what I want? Willing to set aside my desire for the perfect pair of heels that looks just like five other pairs in my closet so I can pay off more of my never ending student loan debt? Willing to get up before the sun to sweat it out in the gym? Willing to forgo whatever television show I am currently obsessed with to do tedious chores that never seem to stay done? Willing to suffer to succeed? Most days the answer is yes. 

On the days when I run far enough to catch a runner's high, or we all fall exhausted on the mats in the Junkyard, or when Tukko and Remi (my beloved beast hounds) actually sit and shake before coming in the door, or when debts disappear off the monthly roster, the suffering is worth it. 

How do you choose to suffer? How can you not, when you want to succeed? 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Do More To Be More


Loving both sports and travel, it was only a matter of time before I tripped over the TV show Dhani Jones Tackles the Globe. Veteran NFL player spends a week learning a new sport in a new country, then competes to see how he fairs, all while exploring the country and culture is the basic premise of the show. Sounds like a blast, right? Through the infinite powers of the Internet I discovered a book by Dhani on the show, Dhani Jones: The Sportsman. To say I enjoyed this book would be a wild understatement. This book made me laugh, think and reevaluate some of my choices and options for future paths, in my sports and else where. Give it a read if you are so inclined. However, that fabulous little piece of nonfiction isn't the topic of today's post, just the source, as it will be for several additional posts.

"The more you do, the more your become."

Think about that for a moment.

The more you do, the more you become. Simple, true and mildly profound. The more you choose to experience, the more you are. The more you explore the greater opportunity to discover your strengths and weaknesses. By allowing yourself to adventure, the greater chance of finding your passion or purpose.

Eight plain words that advise us to go forth and experience more of the world than our small sphere of existence. A consequence laid out in barest terms for how to get beyond your garden gate.

While not all of us are millionaire TV personalities with the backing of a private television network, we can explore. Adventure can be had if only you know where to look. The sheer number of local festivals, historical sites and museums could fill the roster of even an experienced traveler.  The chances to test your physical boundaries are too numerous to catalogue.  Being so spoiled for choices the real trick is figuring out where to start!

Of late I have taken a slew of different style dance classes, and toyed with exploring the circus arts. Learning how to do some of my own home repair has been a real kick in the pants. I now know for sure a few things I am not cut out for, and it was fun to try! In some cases it is as simple as reading books outside my normal realm of fluff and fantasy (see above). Next on the list is fully exploring the city I live in, there is bound to be culture here somewhere, right?

What will you do to discover what you will become?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Comfortable Silence

The space between words can be a cavernous expanse, the width of which can drown you in your own fears. Halting steps from one vocalization to the next can as you to trip over your mental shoelaces. A driving need to fill this void can be seen in our daily lives, the amount of media we consume and allow to consume us. The meaningless mouth noise made to avoid the dreaded gap. Inability to pause, and enjoy the silence.

On a rare occasion, silence can also be as easy as breathing. As suited to you as your favorite jeans, smooth over the knees and fitted to the curves. When paired with the right partner the need for words vanishes and you settle into a calm understanding of enjoying one another without the need for verbalization. The clamor of the exterior world slides out of your skin, leaving only you within. A sense of peace, not easily achieved alone, and to be savored when shared with someone you trust enough to allow yourselves that uncommon familiarity.

We constantly crave peace, but actively seek it jumping from one thing to the next, rather than permitting ourselves to enjoy it once found. Learn to recognize that gift of trust. Embrace the silence, the peace that comes with shared existence without the continual flow of information. The quietude will grant you better insight than all the research and jacked-in technology you could hope for.


"Words like violence, Break the silence, Come crashing in, Into my little world, Painful to me
Pierce right through me" - Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Never Again

As we trip along in life we collect and create so many bad habits and self damaging mental traps. Below you will find a short list of things I have picked up and it is time to shed, like funky gym socks after a Texas Summer run. There are also concepts that I have already ditched that I am vowing to never pick back up, no second helpings on these little pity pies. 



  • Sit down and eat a whole pizza again/pint of icecream/double bacon Whataburger
  • Wear a 2XL shirt again
  • Have a pants size that starts with a digit higher than 1
  • Be 'smoking drunk'
  • Dispair that my strong legs won't fit in skinny jeans
  • Grumble that my powerfully built ass won't allow me to wear a pencil skirt
  • Attempt to fulfill other people's ideals for my body image
  • Have a body weight that starts with a digit higher than a 1
  • Allow other people's negative lifestyle to change mine
  • Disparage someone's efforts to improve themselves just because it isn't the path I would take



Monday, August 13, 2012

Mental Mirror

In the latest incarnation of our ever evolving B I discovered something that has to go - the negative. The continue whine and bitch fest of my internal monologue is now done. We will get glad in the same damn pants we got mad in. (Thank you, Tommy, for that little gem of a colloquialism)

This means rather than fussing about the dishes, I will remember the wholesome meals I shared with the folks that helped me create that pile of mess.  Instead of moaning about the unceasing routine laundry, I will endeavor to recall the hot Texas Summer moments that created the need for so many dirty socks. As opposed to lamenting the arduous parts of animal care and maintenance (cat box cleaning and pooper scoopering the back yard etc), grinning at the antics of my pets and celebrating puppy nose art on the back door.

In addition to flipping those items around in my mental mirror, I will also use those fun house mirrors to show folks what I see in them. Translation, more positive outward displays. From more verbalization to people that make the daily difference in my world, to reaching out to those that may think I have forgotten how important they are.

Simple stuff, right? It should be, so I choose that it will be. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The little things

The little things...
As children we collect little things, in our pockets, in jars, in shoe boxes under the bed. These treasures are the ones that caught our eye, that our roaving fingers couldn't leave out there, that we wanted to see again, so we stock piled them. Buttons, rocks, leaves, bits of string, pressed flowers, the occassional fallen birds nest, the tiny animal bones that nature sometimes leaves behind. Avid explorers of the three feet closest to the earth we tucked them away in our secret places. Innumerable such items met unfortunate ends in our washing machines, only to be washed away with soap bubbles.

Our love of the little things never really goes away. It may morph into other particulars: dishes, linens, thank you notes, good pens, wind chimes, charms, scrapbooking stickers. The concept remains the same, small things that make us smile. The items that fit in your hands and make you smile each time you see them. They draw a fascination or memory to the fore front of your mind that gives you back your sense of wonderment for just a moment.

Take a moment to explore the world closer to your feet than your head, remember where you left your shoe box full of pretty acorns, and never let go of the little thngs.

Ways Remi is Like His Mama

In March of this year we decided to adopt a second dog to round out our fur baby family. Tukko, our alpha pup, helped us with the selection process by coming along and playing with new possible pack mates. It didn't take long to find our new family member, he was of a size, age, weight and temperament with Tukko, and was pretty much an instant cuddle-bug with the humans of our house.

Once we had him home we discovered that our good looking new boy was a bit shy and skittish. He would require a softer hand and much coaxing to be comfortable with us. Time has passed and he has found his niche with us. While he was finding his place with us, the number of ways in which this pup reminds me of traits I see in myself grew and grew. Now we have a silly series of self comparisons that I call "Ways Remi is Like his Mama!" It is an on going list, but here is what I have thus far, ENJOY. 

  • When it is time to nap the best space to do so is right in the middle of the bed, making it impossible to share the bed unless someone can move your dead weight butt to wiggle in with ya.
  • Once he has an idea in his head of what he wants to do, very little will dislodge it. (I would try starting with bacon, were I you)
  • There is a morning routine, and when things are done out of order he gets bumfuzzled.
  • His attitude is greatly improved by increased exercise.
  • He is always very interested in what you are hiding behind your back.
  • He may be smaller, but he will claim more than his fair share of the bed!
  • He is a tongue thinker!
  • Once wounded, if you aren't taking him to the vet, then just let him tend it himself. Your help is not viewed as helpful. (Remi is fine, he busted his toe nail off, and doesn't care for our help much)
  • Ways Remi is like his Mama: While capable of napping just about anywhere, the best place is his spot on the bed. Once asleep in said spot, moving him takes a forklift.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Juxtaposition

Like an infant I am occasionally fascinated by my hands enough to sit and stare at them a while. The most clear outward display of the things I want to be, for myself and for others. Allow me trippingly try to tell you what I see when I get lost in the lines and creases I carry with me daily.

One of the many juxtapositions of me: my hands. While small they carry heavy weight, callused palms matched with brightly polished nails, scarred and yet well maintained. They tell many stories about my life, and display for all the world the basic tenants of my personality.

My Mimi was one well dressed woman, she never left the house without being put together from shoes to hair. This was a process of many steps, and much routine. She taught me the value of skin care and accessorizing. She passed from my life long before I would need either lesson at the age of twelve, however they have stayed a part of my daily life. An over flowing jewelry armoire and bathroom counters can attest to my  dedication to both traits.

Memories of my maternal grandmother lead me to believe she would have supported me in anything I chose for myself, but I know she would have preferred something less violent?masculine? rough? Yes, rough is the word I want. It is her influence in my youth that draws me to design my games day outfits with a softer touch, in more feminine colors. Pink was my predominate pallet for years, now I wear purple. Just because I play a rowdy game of explosive strength doesn't mean I can't look like a girl while doing it. (see ex:  frilly bloomers, matching hair accessories, socks and lip gloss)


"I don't mind living in a man's world, as long as I can be a woman in it." ~ Marilyn Monroe

This picture hangs in my sitting room, mixed with antique milk glass and a black crystal chandelier, because to me this is class.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Putting silk on a goat...

"Put silk on a goat, and it is still a goat." ~ Irish Proverb


Wrapped in a cocoon of indigo silk with gentle music playing and a bit of sunlight peeping through the ends I allowed my mind to wander over the last hour...

Vertical Fitness was once again the host of today's adventure, but today I had a comrade in the ever intrepid Dana! We arrived in time to watch our instructor affix the apparatuses to the ceiling in a colorful array of hammocks.  We were guided to two of the slings lower to the ground, being that neither of us is much more than 5 foot tall. Not being the most coordinated creature on two feet this meant I had less distance to fall, as I was certain I would at some point due to the nature of the exercise.

Much like traditional yoga classes our mentor of the day, Stephanie, began class with an brief introduction and a comforting promise to adjust all poses to fit our level of proficiency. After a brief warm up it was time to begin using the bright fabrics dangling before us. With a gentle tone, soft smile and repeated guidance, Stephanie led us through a series of poses with one foot through the loop of cloth, and one on the floor. Following this was a series of floor abdominal actions with both feet elevated in the material and torso on the ground. Then it was time to hoist ourselves up into the silks. Simply standing in the crook of the silks set them swinging, which we were soothingly assured was normal and would abate in short order.

While the class settled in to our new heights Stephanie informed us that we would experience pressure where the silks supported our weight. For the heavy of body and those bearing busted feet, be aware, she wasn't whistling Dixie here, she means - your weight is being supported by the fabric, and it will let you know by pushing back. This can also be a bonus, in that it is much like using a lacrosse ball/foam roller to do a bit of myofascial release, again, not comfortable, but useful. The swaying motion was strangely soothing, and suited the general genial mood of the class and teacher. Lots of smiles and encouragements as the new comers jounced and wobbled through the poses. The one inversion we did was spectacularly fun, head down, hands free, I felt like a tree frog for a few minutes. Full of giggles for me, and it looked ever so lovely on some of the long and lean students with their hair trailing the floor.

As in so many yoga or pilates classes the hour rounds out with some gentle relaxation techniques. We sat in them like a swing, and then slowly expanded the silks to their full widths, and lay in them like hammocks. Though that isn't really the word I want to use here, it is considerably more comfortable and comforting than any backyard hammock. You are cradled in a swath of silk from your head to your feet, and for us Shire-kin shorties we have fabric to spare and are totally encapsulated but for the errant sunbeam. Guided through a series of structured relaxation exercises while weightlessly floating in a monochrome world, I did indeed feel the peace that yoga classes are meant to impart to participants. When we once more exposed ourselves to the world, it was a heartfelt and thankful "Namaste" that I delivered to our aerial instructor.

The poses I enjoyed most were the suspended bridges, both those fully and partially supported by the silks. The inversion was easily the most fun, and the cocoon at the end the most relaxing.  It was a well done class, that even a beginner like myself could enjoy.

Putting silk on a goat, may mean it is still a goat, but it is now a FABULOUS goat wrapped in purple silk, so hush up and let it prance about a bit. <--- My take on aerial yoga, from your earth bound B!

Not having a vast knowledge of yoga I cheated and looked these up online after class, the poses we covered were as follows: warrior, tree, half moon, bridge, triangle, planks, forward fold, cobra.






Friday, August 3, 2012

Popping...

As instructed by my loving Trash Heap, I sought out to explore new expressive pursuits. The first of which, a Booty Popping dance class, I expected to be well within my wheelhouse, having a considerable amount of booty to pop. Adventures never go as we first imagine, now do they? 

Vertical Fitness Dallas (http://www.verticalfitnessdallas.com/) offers a number of classes full of unusual names and risque concepts. Sounds like my kinda place. I strolled in on a Thursday night, with no real idea what to expect other than a sore backside the next day. The studio is mirror lined and wood floored, there are fixtures in the ceiling to attach various apparatuses for vertical work(poles, silks, TXR handles). Shoes, no shoes? Your call. 

Our instructor was a petite purple haired skater pixie who ran the hour long class with adorable enthusiasm. Worth attending just for Cassie's personality alone, to say nothing of her ability to help a room full of folks explore multiple ways to "shake that jelly" (her words, not mine, hand on the Bible). For the uninitiated,  there are numerous methods of Booty movement - popping, shaking, vibrating, clapping, the list goes on.  Through demonstration and extensive breakdown of basic movement styles an hour passed as we learned, or in my case ATTEMPTED to learn, the fine art of shaking dat' ass (you got that this was at a pole dance studio, right?).  The funniest line of the night, which also happened to be some of the best instruction,  was delivered by the ever effervescent Cassie while showing us how to clap. "Go home, like Dorothy out of Oz. Click your heels, women."

Let me list for you the places that hurt after this hilarious hour of humility on hard wood flooring: glutes (max and min, for those wondering), hamstrings, quads, and the lower head of the spinal erectors. Booty Popping is not for the weak! 

The music was kicking, the class was informative, the moves were tough, the folks were friendly.All in all - fun was had! Three more classes at Vertical fitness. Aerial Yoga is on tomorrow's menu. Wee!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creativity

What does it mean to be creative?

Today in my living room, while still red faces and short of breath from our evening workout, this was the topic of discussion had by three folks who each considered the others to be creative. At points became circular. There was no agreed answer. For the dancer/singer performance of her chosen arts made her creative. For the singer/actor/painter/writer he felt his spark was missing, that feeling of creation. It had been, by his definition, some time since he had been creative. For me, it means creating something wholly my own - not following instructions to reach an end.

I wonder just how all those beautiful creative creatures, talented artists and wondering wanderers in my life to define it for themselves...

Enjoyment

What follows is an analogy that for me describes what it is to enjoy a thing, without being of that thing. 


I love the feel of a good cigar shop, the texture of the wooden boxes, the ceremony of the cutting and soaking of cigars, the glass cases glittering in soft light, the smoke filled air curling around in visible eddies. Oddly akin to a library in that it is full of mysteries I know nothing of and have only ever so tentatively explored, to discover while I enjoy the place and the feel, I am not one of those folks that smokes cigars.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Freakishly Fun


As a veteran viewer of the Jim Rose Circus Side Show, Ringling Brothers, and Cirque the phrase Circus Freak has a beautiful pallet of meanings to me. The Kids and Kine of Creative Motion that host Open Stage by the moniker of Circus Freaks do not disappoint. This is a new playground for a number of my friends. Reading about their comfort and enjoyment of the venue prompted my desire to explore it with them. The enthusiasm and passion with which they gushed about the event certainly meant it had to be a good place to while away an evening.


Let's start with the venue - House of Poets. Talk about your throw back to a simpler time and vibe kinda joint. Cushions on the dance floor, bar stools at the rails, comfy couches and chairs to sink into surrounding the stage. Lighting, which you will come to discover is a weakness of mine, is a divine hodgepodge of chandlers, street lamps and traditional stage lighting, leaving the audience in a gentle glow of warm light. The stage itself is beautifully built and appointed, and man-alive does the tech crew treat it well.


Improve and talent meet in a glorious riot in the house band, full of talented and witty musicians. Quick on a pick up or tag line, these guys had no qualms riffing on the MC all night long. Intro and extro music for the acts seemed to mesh well with the feel, if not out right continue to work just displayed. Humor and harmony, who could ask for more? Be ready to get more with DJ TJ running the fun during the play time between acts. The floor was never empty of dancers, spinners and hoopers.


Wearing their signature bowlers the crew and staff of Open Stage are a friendly lot, and hands on with their audience. From the greeting at the door, to the hollered welcome at the curtain, to drop by check ins from the Emcee, the new folks are welcomed well and heartily. 


The show itself comes in three stages - Main Show, Play Time, The Dregs. The Main show runs about an hour or so, and begins promptly at 8. Everyone is instructed to be positive and participator during the show. Snark is strictly taboo, and counter productive to feel and flow of Open Stage as a whole. What this leaves you with is a rowdy crowd who wants to see the performers succeed. This week's offerings included traditional vocals, dubstepped vocals, dance, instrumentals and a very memorable burlesque of Princess Peach, the One Up Star was very cheeky!


Play Time offers the opportunity to meet and greet on and off the performance/practice space. Some folks are kind enough to bring extra gear to share. This is where freaklings can work out new tricks on Monday nights. It is a visual treat for those more of the spectating variety. Flowing streams of light from hoops, poi, staves and flags create a kaleidoscope of every changing color. This is what passes for intermission, and is when some folks who observe traditional work/school hours may have to make a break for it, as the next session starts somewhat late. 


Roughly 1030-11PM sees the start of The Dregs. Consider this your ope mic night on a whole new level. All manner of self expression and art takes place during this session. You can sign up on their website to get your time slot, 5 mins or less, to do your thing. Some sexy spoken word from Cypher. A hooper who displayed some entrancing choreography with dynamic level, speed and rotational shifts. The last act I was able to enjoy before I finally had to admit it was pumpkin time was someones first time on stage. Bravery is a shaky voice finding the mic for the first time. Beauty was the crowd reaction when her tremulous voice silenced and her trembling hands folded up her notes. To say the crowd went wild would be an understatement of vast proportion, and a disservice to the spirit of the Freaks.


In one night I was instructed by an Empress, hugged by a Monkey, encouraged by a Ukulele playing photographer, and entertained to the gills. Thanks for openly sharing your corner of tent, Circus Freaks. Special thanks to Ryan for continuing to ask me to come see his new playground.


For a better write up of the Open Stage experience see Megan's entry - http://whostheminionhere.blogspot.com/2012/03/my-night-with-circus-freaks.html