Monkey on my back

Daily Prompt-Understanding

“What the hell are you thinking?”

I’ve wanted to say this so many times. No, shout it. “How can you possibly tell me you are not eating carbs and not drinking wine! Look at you!” My mouth is shut; my mind is not.

I love what I do, and I’m good at it. My clients and I have a mutual respect and appreciation for each other. But there are moments, thankfully brief. . .

“Just stop! Stop! You are going to kill yourself.” If you would just let me take that dumbbell from you and not drop it.

My Buddhist guru calls this Monkey Mind. “Let the monkey out for a few seconds,” he tells me, “then let it go. He will destroy your serenity.” I breathe.monkey on back

I think I’m mellowing out. “This is hard for you, but you’re getting it.”

Ugh, here he comes again.  “Listen to me. I have more experience. I have more education.” I particularly like this one because, after all, I have a PhD and eight personal training certifications.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, now I remember. I was so caught up in myself that I forgot what I wanted you to do.

Get off my back, you hairy monkey. AmScray. “Didn’t you hear me?” my mind shouts. “Pull the bar down easily; don’t yank it.” Monkey mind, monkey mind.

The monkey is leaving. I sigh in relief.  “Yes?” I exclaim. “Your form is perfect. Your shoulders are back; your chest is out.”

Here he comes. AmScray. Get off my back you hairy monkey. “I am the trainer. You pay me to be right.” do what your trainer tells you

I wave farewell to the monkey. “You’ve got it! Perfect!” I say aloud. My client beams.

Sneaky little thing. Ten seconds. Ten seconds. That’s all you got today, you furry intruder!

“You are so patient and understanding,” my client says to me. “I appreciate you so much. I never thought I could do this.”

I breathe. I smile. “You’re doing great! You work hard and pay attention. This was a hard workout.”

Take that, you obnoxious primate. You can never say anything that will make me hurt my client or dislike my job. Ten seconds! That’s all you get.


A Wrinkle in Time–Self Portrait

“Thank god,” I thought as I pulled into the gym parking lot. “It’s not busy.”  Alisha, my workout partner, has agreed to take some pictures of me writing on my laptop in the gym to post on my blog. If I could ever figure out how to take a selfie without looking like I used a fish-eye lens, I would do it myself.

I’ve never mastered the art of the selfie, which is a little strange since I’m a personal trainer in a gym—the mecca of selfie-takers. Where do you point the camera, where do you look, should you tilt the phone? If you are looking in a mirror how do you keep the phone from hiding your face? Selfie-takers in the gym make it look easy.

JB Tonette Alisha Jaz_3
Selfie of The Fabulous Four, most awesome workout buddies of all time


Sometimes I think I’m the only person in the gym who doesn’t take selfies during every workout. Of course that’s not true, but selfie-takers stand out. They need more space to pose, and they occupy that space, sometimes for quite a while. I’ve come between selfie-takers and their mirror more than once—not the way to make friends in a gym. At least they’re not setting up an easel and doing a self-portrait in oil or repositioning a tripod to get the best angle.

Who are these selfie-takers? From what I’ve seen, they’re mostly young women with nicely toned muscles. Guys take selfies too, but not as frequently. Senior citizens don’t take selfies—at least not that I’ve observed. Workout partners, regardless of age, take selfies. I’m definitely a senior with low selfie-taking skills. But I do appear in selfies taken by my frequently younger workout buddies.

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Alisha and me

I do take pictures in the gym but mostly of my clients. A picture is more convincing than anything I can say. Here is solid evidence of progress. Yes, that’s a muscle! Even when clients are somewhat embarrassed when I take pictures, most of them smile when they take a look.

Any photo, whether it is a selfie or taken by a photographer, is in some ways a definition of who we are. I realize as I sit on a stability ball in front of some aerobic steps holding my laptop, I am defining myself as a physically fit writer. Or perhaps I’m a struggling blogger with a need to work out. Or perhaps I’m a neurotic, multi-tasking gym rat. Have to think about that.

I see gym members on the treadmills and on the weight benches while Alisha circles around me snapping pictures from different angles. What is my problem with pictures of myself, selfie or otherwise? Ah, there it is—In a sea of twenty-somethings, I am a wrinkle-in-time.jb writing gym2

Change is coming

Tjb writing gym2oday is the beginning of the new me. Me the writer. Me the chronicler of all things extraordinarily ordinary happening in my life. My stomach is queasy acknowledging that this is me taking a dive into the unknown. This is me being fearless.

Can I do it? Can I observe my life, describe the “event” and –this is the big one—say something? You notice I didn’t say “have something to say.” No more equivocating. I have something to say and will welcome the joy of experimentation and herald my emergence as a writer.

The following pseudo interview with WP

WP:       Your current blog is called “Life Your Life Not Your Age.” Will you be keeping that name?

Me:       That’s a great question, especially to my few, wonderful followers. The new title will be “An Extraordinary Ordinary Life.”

WP:       Does this change in title reflect a change in theme or content?

Me:       There isn’t a one-word answer for that, WP. My life is about health and fitness. I am, after all, a personal trainer. I will continue to share my experiences and expertise in those areas. What will change is the purpose or my blog and my style of writing.

“An Extraordinary Ordinary Life” will be a diary of sorts and a venue for me to develop my writing. Because I practically live in a gym, health and fitness will be reflected in my journaling.

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Me getting in some writing at the gym


WP:       Will you…

Me:       Let me just interrupt now. One of my goals is to keep my posts short and to post regularly. Plus, my new personal style will require more reflection. So, dear blog followers and readers, I have to get to it! Please stay with me during this period of growth. Share your comments with me. Point out blogs you think will inspire and teach me. I will continue to read your blogs which have lead me here. Thank you.



Epically Awesome Award for Epic Awesomeness

Epically Awesome Award for Epic Awesomeness

Thank you Shayla at DisappearFromReality for nominating me. And thanks for reading the posts on my blog. Answering the questions for this response has helped me have a clearer direction on what I want to do with my blog. So, an especially big thanks for helping me think.

Hopefully, I’ve figured out the process for completing the rules, which are:

Display the Award in your post, mention your nominator, link back to them, answer 5 questions and nominate 5-10 people. 

especially awesom

  1. What made you choose WP as your blogging platform?

When I mentioned to a friend, my guru of all things intellectual, that I wanted to start writing, he suggested I start a blog and recommended WP. It took me a year of starting and stopping before I published Live Your Life Not Your Age.

The technicalities of WP are challenging for me. I am constantly updating my blogging skills by visiting other sites and taking the courses through the Blogging University. It has taken me hours to figure out how to create the links, ping backs, etc. as well as write my responses to this post.

  1. Introduce yourself and tell us about your blog

My goal when I started blogging, Live Your Life Not Your Age, was to create a source of information for my personal training clients on health, fitness and nutrition. It is important to me to contribute to the quality of life of my clients as well as blog readers. I am a very senior citizen and know that, while not unique, I am also not the average senior. I am strong, lean and fit and my workouts rival or exceed the intensity of most 30-year-olds.

My clients range in age from 16 to 83, but it is training women over age 40 that brings me the most joy.

The message I want to share is that getting older doesn’t preclude getting better. In fact, if we find the right combination of exercise and diet for our bodies and minds, we can be healthier every year. My personal experiences and the changes I’ve made in my health routine are testimony that age is just a number and that we can make our lives better every year with proper exercise and nutrition.

inspire quote

As a result of responding to the daily prompts and reading other blogs, I want to expand my writing to other topics and am considering publishing a second blog that isn’t connected to my profession. If anyone has any suggestions or comments on maintaining a second blog, please share them with me.

  1. Are you a once in a while blogger or a daily one?

I’ve been blogging for about four months and haven’t been consistent with posting. I want to blog more than “once in a while” but am not sure if I can commit to daily blogging. Sometimes I have posted my blogs too quickly without enough editing or re-reading, so right now I don’t generate something to post daily. If I take the time to read aloud, I am happier with the results, but this takes time, time, and more time. It takes me longer than I anticipated to write something I’m happy with.

  1. Do you wish to publish and if so, what type of book?

Publishing is not important to me right now. My current goal is to improve my writing and find my “voice.” Now that I’ve read and follow some totally amazing writers, I want what I post to be interesting enough to attract followers so I can benefit from their writing experience. From what I’ve written so far and what I think about writing, I would probably write memoir, short stories, or essays.

  1. What is your favorite thing to do besides write?

That’s an interesting assumption. I don’t think writing is my favorite thing to do-yet, but I want it to be my favorite thing.

When I was growing up I wrote every day and had so much to say and so many stories to tell. That’s what I yearn for now—to be passionate about writing and identify myself as a writer. I have to remind myself that I have good ideas that other people will enjoy reading about.

So while writing is moving up on my favorite “to do” list, health and fitness is pretty much what I do. It consumes a huge part of my day-not just physically but mentally as well. I love working out and eating healthy, but it doesn’t come easy so I’m constantly working on it. I love planning workouts for myself and clients. What I like most about working with others is helping them overcome the challenges of aging, disease, injury or lifestyle changes.


Spiritual Dragonfly


JibberJabber with Sue



Yeah! I hope this fulfills all the requirements. It was a lot of fun putting together. So, again, Shayla, thank you.


Chalk It Up to Holding My Tongue

Smooth – Daily Prompt

Chalk It Up to Holding My Tongue

            Irene is only a few inches over five-feet tall. She stepped into the squat rack and lifted the barbell onto her traps. The bar weighs 45 pounds and was loaded with 45 pound-plates on either end. One hundred thirty-five pounds, probably her body weight. Her movements were so smooth, it made the bar appear weightless.  Her face showed no emotion, and her form was precise. I tried not to stare.

            In a gym where egos and physical prowess reign supreme, she defies the stereotype. She didn’t look around to see who was watching her or unnecessarily flex her muscles. At the bottom of her squat, she was mere inches from the floor. Undeniably impressive.


            I stood only a few feet away from her and when she racked her bar, commented, “very nice. Your form is awesome.  Your workout changes are paying off.”

            Irene beamed. “I’ve been trying.” She gave me the details of her newest workout modifications. This is my favorite type of conversation with members—sharing and learning from each other. But this gym friendship almost didn’t happen, and I thought back to when I first saw Irene.

            I noticed her because she always left a trail of white chalk dust. If your palms are sweaty, dusting with chalk improves your grip, but it is messy. Our gym didn’t have a “no chalk use” policy, primarily because we are not a gym that heavy weight lifters use. Irene was one of the only members who used chalk. When we posted a sign asking chalk users to clean up after themselves, nothing changed. Chalk users either didn’t see the sign or ignored it. The dust remained. Her behavior irritated me.

            Walking through the chalk and dusting it off my clothes was aggravating, but there was an underlying resentment that kept me from speaking to her. The chalk dust was representative of what I consider a sense of entitlement. There are some gym members who feel entitled to do whatever they want in a gym regardless of how it affects other members. When I am irritated, I often sound overly critical and have found that it is better for me to say nothing than to say something and alienate a member.

            While at the gym, I speak to as many members as I can or at least give them a friendly nod. I never spoke or nodded to Irene. It was the chalk. Whenever I sat or put my hands on the floor, they would be covered in white chalk dust. My gym attire is black yoga pants and black tee emblazoned with “personal trainer” on the back. White chalk on black—not a professional look.

For over two years I held my tongue while really wanting to tell her there were clean alternatives —wear weight-lifting gloves or employ hand wraps, but I didn’t.  I hoped someone would say something to her or that she would finally see the sign and realize she was guilty.

Then one day I quit seeing the chalk dust. I thought maybe Irene started going to another gym. Maybe one that allowed weight-lifting chalk. I didn’t care. The chalk dust was gone. But not long after that I saw her; she was wearing weight-lifting gloves.

Without the chalk dust clouding my judgment, I realized what an amazing athlete she is, and I starting paying attention to her. She works out almost every day, varies her workouts and challenges herself.

I began making short comments to Irene which evolved into longer conversations. She was knowledgeable and disciplined. I liked her.

At first I chided myself for my petty resentment about the chalk that had kept me from talking with her, but then realized it is not petty to want people to be considerate of others and follow the rules. Instead I am grateful that I held my tongue, and I look forward to sharing workout tips with my new gym friend.