Archive for October, 2008

Adventures in Zumba– apparently, my hips DO lie.

It has recently become glaringly apparent to me that blogging, unfortunately, is not a cardio-vascular activity.

Imagine my chagrin. In fact, not only does writing not get your heart rate up and whittle your waistline, it appears that it can actually give you a big ol’ blogger’s butt.

Or so I’ve heard.

So, after taking a couple of years few months off from having any kind of regular exercise regime, I recently decided it was time to get the aforementioned rear end in gear and start working out again. I used to take a great Pilates class with some friends of mine which was really fun (or as ‘fun’ as exercise can be.) But it kind of petered out, and then we moved to the ‘burbs and well, you know how that goes. But the other day a couple of friends of mine were talking excitedly about this new exercise class at the Y that they just LOVED, and on a whim I decided I’d give it a shot. It’s called Zumba and according to their website it’s the latest fitness craze sweeping the country. Whatever. It was invented by some South American aerobics guy (who looks like he came straight from one of those Spanish Channel soap operas) and it’s kind of like Jazzercise, but more hip-wiggly and pelvic thrust-y. So, of course you know I was interested.

I showed up for class in my (well-worn and slightly tighter than I remembered) yoga pants and tank top, ready to get my groove on. It was a very diverse group of ladies, lots of shapes and sizes, and not completely filled with teensy little twenty-somethings, which was encouraging. I staked out my place on the back row, and tentatively started doing a little preliminary stretching. Oh lordy. AM STIFF. Undeterred, I jumped into the first couple of songs with both feet–literally–and though they were throwing a lot of choreography around, I managed to keep up. But before I could get too self-congratulatory, the cute little 90 lb. teacher in the hip-hop cargo pants cranked up some salsa/merengue music and things took an ugly turn. By the end of that song, I was wheezing, sweating, guzzling water and staring unbelievingly at the big clock on the wall that was telling me I still had about 50 minutes to go. Just when I was seriously considering faking a heart attack so I could SIT DOWN, the siren lure of a Shakira song came out of the speakers. Ahhhhh…. bellydancing! My forte! I took bellydancing lessons in my 20’s and then again about a year or so ago, with Madi. This I could do. Get ready, you flat-bellied, midriff-baring, taut-skinned little Brentwood hussies– Mama’s gonna show you how it’s done!

Oh, I danced, dear readers. I shimmied, I shook, I whirled dervishly. There were so many women in the class that I rarely got a clear view of myself in the mirror, but that didn’t matter; I was one with the music, baby, I was feeling it. Then, out of the corner of my eye as I was busting a particularly spectacular move, I caught a glimpse of myself. Holy crap on a cracker. I did  not see a Shakira lookalike, with flying hair and my-hips-don’t-lie sass. What I saw bore a startling resemblance to a booty-shaking Mrs. Doubtfire– I almost had a REAL heart-attack!

It’s now been two weeks and three more classes since I came face to face with reality. I have progressed to the point that I don’t think I’m going to die until about the last fifteen minutes of the class instead of the second song. I am keeping up better with the choreography and there are even a couple of numbers that I almost have memorized. I try to get there at least five minutes early so I can warm up, which will further reduce my chances of, you know, falling down and breaking a hip or something. *sigh* I am making peace with the fact that though my inner Smokin’ Hot Bellydancing Babe is alive and well, she is now residing inside the body of a 52 year old suburban wife and mother. I know. I’m just as surprised as she is.

**OK, this will give you an idea of what I’m talking about (this was the very Shakira song I butchered. I mean, danced the snot out of):

Check out the teacher in the front in the green bra-top thingy and what appears to be a dickie of some kind. Then look over to the left side in the back at the woman who inexplicably appears to be wearing Kabuki makeup and a kimono. Yeah. I’m shooting for something in between.

**EDITED TO ADD:** OK, watch the video again, and keep your eye on the Kabuki/kimono woman (man?) on the left, starting around the 1:00 mark, but REALLY around the 1:50 mark on. At about 2:00, you will be spitting your coffee out. I think I love her/him…

Gratitude Monday! Tuesday!

At the risk of sounding smarmy, I just have to tell you guys I am kind of brimming full of gratitude these days. And at the risk of over-sharing, I’ll tell you why.

We lived through some very difficult times last year. It seems so far away now, but actually it wasn’t terribly long ago. It was, to paraphrase Queen Elizabeth, my “annus horribilis.” (That is Latin for “horrible year’, but when I typed it out just now it looked more like ‘horrible anus’, which kind of skews the meaning, so let’s just call it ‘The Year of the Great Tsunami of Suckage’.) Life is just ridiculously hard sometimes, for all kinds of reasons, and we all have our stuff to deal with. But last year just felt a little excessive, ya know?! There were plenty of opportunities for despair and I would be lying if I said I didn’t give in to it now and again. It was one of those times where the rubber meets the road as far as faith is concerned. Do I really believe what I have always said I believe? Is there any tangible evidence that I am not in this alone, that there truly is a power greater than myself that is going to come through for me? Will my faith hold up– and hold me up? The answer to all of those questions was a resounding yes. It wasn’t always pretty, and we didn’t do it all perfectly, but we made it through. Limping maybe, but here!

This past week I have watched some friends of ours go through hell. Actually, they’re still going through it. I am hurting for them, and worried about them and it brought back a lot of those feelings that I experienced last year. It has made me realize how fragile our happiness is, how temporal and subject to change. And while my heart is full of empathy and compassion as I watch them trying to find their way through their own particular dark night of the soul, I am also full of immeasurable gratitude for the hard-fought love and renewal and redemption that my family has found is still in the process of finding. I am so grateful that when my faith was tested, it was real and palpable and strong, and it didn’t fail me. Even though I bitched and moaned and raged at my circumstances, I was never abandoned, never left alone in my fear and pain. I would just as soon have learned that lesson in a nice, comfortable, non-horribilis way, but apparently that is rarely how faith works. Dang it.

These days my prayers contain more “Thank you’s” than “Help me’s”. I’m not an idiot– I know that life will inevitably take me down again. But I also know, through the crucible of experience, that I will get up again. And again. So I’m choosing to stay in that place of gratitude. It allows me to get out of my own way and opens me up to all kinds of possibilities. I like myself better that way than when I am completely obsessed with my own life and my own pain and my own blah blah blah…

And now I want to give you guys a chance to express a little gratitude of your own. You don’t have to spill your guts or write an epic– just take a minute, even just a sentence if you want, to express something or someone you are grateful for today. It can be a sainted grandmother or a cup of coffee– no rules!

(By the way, this would be a PRIME OPPORTUNITY for all of you silent readers out there to join the conversation! Yes I am talking to you, unnamed-family-members and friends-who-have-told-me-they-don’t-have-the-nerve-to-comment… and yes, even YOU, Jess Darnell! Come on, de-lurk and gimme some love!)

 I’ll start with three of my biggest reasons to be grateful

OK– your turn!

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