Crafty Friends

Daily Prompt: Craft

When I look at who my friends are, I am often surprised. The women I spend the most time with are between the ages of 20 and 40. I am almost 69.  I never even noticed that my friends were so much younger than me, or at least that so many of them were, until recently. I’m not sure what changed, but I’m glad it did.

 

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Me, Lucy, Jasmine and Alisha hiking Grays Mountain

I am a personal trainer at a local gym and, well not to brag but it does make me darn proud, there aren’t many women my age who can keep up with me.  Even though I don’t seek out young women to work out with, we seem to find each other.

 

Working out together is in some ways an intimate experience. We help each other with our form, which means looking at each other’s physical strengths and weaknesses. We know what makes each other sweat, laugh, and cry. Forty year’s difference in age doesn’t seem like much; fitness is a great equalizer.

Last night I had three of my young workout partners over for dinner. I wasn’t paying much attention to their conversation as I was clearing the table, but I heard them talking about someone who had made such a positive difference in their lives, inspired them to go college, and was proof that obstacles were just challenges in disguise. “Who are ya’ll talking about?” They started laughing, almost hysterically. “What’s so funny?”

 

portabello

 

“We’re talking about you!”

“You guys are embarrassing me.”

That’s when I saw it clearly for the first time. I could be mother or grandmother to these women, but instead they are my best friends. When they started telling me the ways I had inspired them, it was my turn to laugh.

 

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Jasmine, Alisha and me working at Bucklin Park

Yes, I inspire them, but they do the same for me–and they motivate me. They keep me focused on giving my best in a workout, they are interested in my life and never me old—well not much!  They respect my education, my fitness, and what they call “wisdom.” I call it survival strategies. If I didn’t work in a gym, I can’t imagine how our lives would have ever crossed. I love my job, and like many of you, feel it is my craft. These young women have been my inspiration to refine my craft, continue to improve, and learn. Because of them, I am the top trainer in our club. They have helped me better at almost everything I do. Because of them, I really feel that I have turned my job into a craft and look forward to going to work everyday.

 

One size fits. . . me

Today I’m wearing a cute pair of NYDJ and a vibrant red tee with candy-striped cuffs. Big deal, you might say!

Au contraire, mon Pierre! It’s  a reminder, and proof, that one of my wildest fantasies has come true! (Look out. Selfie alert.) What is this fantasy, you ask? You won’t believe this, but all the clothes in my closet are the same size and they fit! Now this is not say I’m happy with body. Who is? In fact, reading “I’m On My Fitness Journey”   inspired this post. Thank you Lashes and Lunges.

So yes, I still want to tighten and tone, etc. But really having everything in my closet fit—it’s a dream come true. I never realized it until I began the “wear it or share it” (with a thrift store) project.

For the last ten years, my workday attire has pretty much been a uniform. Black yoga pants and black Nike shirt with “Personal Trainer” emblazoned on the back.( I’m going for professional and classic, not always easy in a gym.)  That’s all I wear. Oh, that didn’t sound good—I don’t mean like commando style or anything.  Sadly, my uniform is also perfectly acceptable attire for running errands. What does this have to do with the cute jeans and tee-shirt you say? Everything.

Red tee and jeans
First time out of the closet in at least 6 months!

 

I have a closet full of clothes I never wear. My social life is nil. Even if I had a more outgoing life, I live in a small farming community where getting dressed up is, well, not very “up.” In other words, what color boots and plaid cowboy shirt are you wearing tonight?

If I followed the often heard advice to throw it away if you haven’t worn it in a year, I’d be looking at an empty closet.

Then I had an epiphany. Not really, more like a vague memory of an Oprah episode. Reverse the direction of all the hangers. When you wear something, return the item to the closet with the hanger in the correct position. Doesn’t that sound like the smartest thing ever? I’m applying this same principle to clothes that are folded—reverse the order of the pile.

You get it now, right? I am amazed. I have some cute, comfie clothes, some with tags still attached—I’m wearing those first. But the best part of this whole project is that I found out that all my clothes, at least so far, fit. They’re all the same size—no skinny/fat sections.

I owe it all to the uniform! I work at a gym. I work five days a week. Therefore, dear Socrates, I work out five days a week. Maybe that’s not a precise syllogism, but you get the idea. I dreamed of this day. I fantasized about the day I would not have to change clothes five times because something made me look fat or I couldn’t squeeze into it. Oh yeah, baby. Happy dance!

Tomorrow maybe those spectacular beige linen pants with the sage, scooped neck top. Or maybe the brown stripe? So many choices.

PS: Linking the blog that inspired this post is an assignment in the Fundamentals of Blogging course. That course is paying big dividends. I would never have thought of that myself. Even more amazing–I figured out how to do it.

 

The New and Improved “About Me”

Today’s “Fundamentals of Blogging” is to revise/re-write my blog’s “About.” According to the lesson plan, I needed less of a list and more of a story; more of what the blog is about and not so much about me; more of what I want to accomplish with this blog and not so much about what I’ve already accomplished. 

If you have time would you read my old “About” and let me know if you think I should change it to the new one? (Gotta say I’m pretty impressed with myself for being able to figure out how to create a link to my “about” page. This course is amazing.)

Here’s my new “About”

I blamed my dislike for all things physical on gym suits.  They were baggy and disgustingly ugly. Did I say they were one piece? No one, not even the really pretty girls, looked good in them. I became a professional at devising ways not to “dress out” for PE.

Then I met a guy. He liked to run—all the time. So I started running. I don’t even remember his name. But after he was gone, I kept running. Then I wanted to run better so I started going to the gym and, well one thing lead to another, and I became a fitness junkie. I was obnoxious about it—all I wanted to do was workout, run, swim, bike, play racquetball o! r talk about doing something physical. Like I said obnoxious. Screenshot (22).png

I’ve done a lot of other things—got a Phd, run marathons, raised a remarkable son, had good jobs, lost good jobs, made some good decisions and some seriously bad ones. As a result I’ve  re-invented my life many times. My friends say that I’m an inspiration. I say, “Really?” But I’m still here, and that certainly says something.

That’s what this blog is about—re-inventing life, rising above circumstances and situations, becoming a better person. I’d like to think that what I write about can inspire you, or someone you know, to do things you never thought you could.

Today, at age 68, I’m a personal trainer. Can you believe it! And I’m good at it.  The girl who never went to PE now spends her entire day doing PE. Wow. Can it get any stranger than this?

Parts of my life are great, maybe even better than great. But then there are the other parts. There is always work to do, and I want inspiration. That’s why I need you.

Tell me (in 50 or words or less—just kidding) how did you do it? How did you transform yourself, turn things around, make lemonade—you know what I mean?

Drop me a line.

Who are you, anyway?

My ideal reader–Who are you, anyway?

When I told some friends that I was writing a blog, their first response was, “are you making any money yet?”

“Money?” I thought. “Blogs are for making money?” But I didn’t say that because I figured they must know more about blogging than I did. Heck, almost anyone knows more about blogging than I do. That won’t be the case for long though. In case you haven’t noticed, this “Fundamentals of Blogging Course” is actually paying off. Go figure, huh?

Sadly, but not surprisingly, none of my friends asked to read my blog or even where they could find it. Good thing I’m not counting on them to buy anything!

One of my co-workers asked me if I was going to be published. “Published? Well, I’m publishing posts when I can remember how.” That was the end of that conversation.

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My workout gal pals: Jasmine, 25; Alisha, 37; me, 68; Tonette, 50. The Fab Four

 

I’m still no closer to finding my ideal reader, but I know you’re not a shopper or a publisher.

In real life, meaning physical not virtual, who are my friends? If you are my friend, there’s an almost 100% probability that you are fit and healthy or that you want to be. That’s what I do almost all day every day. I am a personal trainer. I work out, and I eat healthy most of the time.

If clubbing is one of your main weekend activities, chances are we’ve never met.

I also do yoga. This is probable is not surprising—fitness and all. But yoga ceased to be merely a physical activity for me several years ago. Yoga is part of my spiritual life now, and, yeah, I have spiritual friends.

Now we’re making progress—a physically healthy, spiritual person who doesn’t live a party lifestyle.

What else? Oh yeah, the age thing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know age is just a number and old is a state of mind. But I’m 68. While that may not be interesting in and of itself, it is a big attraction for the event called “JB”—that is me. I never intended to be old, but hey, if I’m going to be old, I’m going to be the best old person out here. Old people like me; I inspire them. Young people like me because they think I’m proof that getting old may not suck. For whatever reason, many of my friends think their age or my age or anything about age is important.

Making big strides here: my ideal reader is a healthy, spiritual person who doesn’t party and is mindful of aging.

But enough about me! Who are you! Finding our who you are has got to be the most unexpected benefit of blogging. I had no idea you were there. I’m excited about getting to know you. And if you’ve even read this far—well, I’m not sure we can be friends. Most of my friends have shorter attention spans than I do, and I can read blogs of about 500 words before …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Little Face Paint

Daily Post: Paint

Yesterday my friend, Alisha, along with “Big John,” the makeover consultant at Lancôme Cosmetics, convinced me to have a makeover. How bad could it be, I thought. After one and half hours perched on a stool holding a hand mirror and trying not to fidget, I remembered why I have a pretty minimal make-up routine.

For one thing, the enthusiasm and absolute glee that these two beauty mavens exhibited wore me out.  Big John’s mantra was “blend, blend, blend.” In a dramatic voice, flourishing one of his many brushes, he would look at Alisha and say, “blending creates that perfect gradation so skin looks supple, smooth and never streaky. Don’t you agree?” Alisha was nodding, holding out other products and asking way too many questions. Who talks like that? And if I ever took over 15 minutes for my entire morning routine, my schedule would be wrecked and my anxiety level would be out the roof.

There were entirely too many steps in this process which is another reason I’ve never really gotten into the whole makeup thing—it’s complicated. I have many other complicated things to think about. Then I look in the mirror, “hey, where did the bags under my eyes go? John, that’s amazing!” Maybe I can hang in there a little longer after all.

But about the time I thought he was done, he picked up another brush. “We’ll use,” and then he said some French word that I didn’t understand, “and start at the apples of the cheeks and blend upwards and towards your temple for a natural look.” Thank God for that, I thought. Natural, that’s good.FullSizeRender2

 “John, you’ve lost me. What did you say that was?”

Alisha steps over, “It’s just a blush.” She’s probably never worn “just a blush” in her life. Alisha is what I consider one of “those” women. Women who are gorgeous without makeup, swear they aren’t, and can spend hours in front of the mirror and emerge looking like they belong on the cover of a fashion magazine. That is not me.

But probably the biggest reason I’m conservative with makeup is that my mom didn’t wear any. She was beautiful and didn’t need it, but I honestly don’t think it ever occurred to her to use cosmetics. She had a few things on the top of her dresser like Tussy Deodorant, Jergens Lotion, Tweed perfume, and Revlon lipstick in Fire Engine Red, which to this day really surprises me. But there was no eyeshadow, powder, foundation or blush.

My sister and I were pretty much on our own. We spent hours poring over copies of Teen and Seventeen Magazines trying to look like Sandra Dee. We spent our entire allowance on Tangee lipstick and Maybelline eyeshadow. The best sleepovers were at friends who had older sisters with makeup experience.

It’s been over fifty years since I graduated high school and my make-up skills are quite good now, if I do say so myself. But after seeing the results of the hours spent with Big John and Alisha, I think I’ll spend a little more time and be a bit more adventurous. 

Lonely Girl

 

When I look at my day now as a personal trainer, there are times when I can’t believe it is me. I pretty much work out all day or help others workout. I am not a natural athlete, but somewhere along the way things changed.

I never liked to go outside and play. I had an awkward walk, was uncoordinated and had no balance. Recess was painful. I was usually the last one picked for any team sport.  I don’t think Charlie Brown existed when I was growing up, but he and I have a lot in common.

Other kids watched the clock waiting to hear the recess bell. They would be bouncing off their seats as the teacher said, “Wait. Put your books in your desk. Then you can go.” It was a stampede to see who could get out the door the fastest.

If the recess game was softball, I knew my name would not get called. The rules were the team captain picked one boy then one girl, and everyone had to play. When I was the only one left, the captain would sigh and wave me over and say, “Okay, we’ll take her.” Like he had a choice, but hearing those words. Well, it made it worse.

girl on playground
“Lonely Girl”

 

Three outs happened fast, and I usually didn’t have to go to bat. When I did walk to the plate, bat in hand I knew what to expect. Taunts from the team in the field: “Easy out! Easy out!”  My teammates would groan loudly. It couldn’t get much worse than this.

When the recess game was dodge ball, I thought I might actually have a chance to stay in the game. I mean dodge ball, come on. Just don’t get hit by the frigging ball. How hard is that! But I was like a fence post cemented in the dirt. A target. The person with the ball always went for me because I was, once again, an easy out.

The other kids made it look so easy. Running. Laughing. Weaving in and out around each other’s sweating bodies. I was dizzy watching all the activity. It was like I was the maypole, the flag pole and everyone and everything else whirled around me.

My brain was busier than my body. “Run right, run left!” I would start to move, or at least I thought I was starting to move, and then the blonde girl with the perky pony tail would run in front of me. Giggling, she was always giggling. The cute boy holding the red dimpled dodge ball aimed for her, fully intending to miss. The ball hit me instead. I didn’t groan or squeal or make any of the noises the other kids made when they were “out.” I just turned and walked out of the circle.

Usually, I didn’t have to go outside for recess. When I said I needed to finish my homework or was writing a story or reading a book and wanted to stay inside, I think the teachers felt sorry for me. It was such a relief to escape the horrors of the playground.

In the sixth grade I read the poem “Outwitted” by Edwin Markham. The words gave me hope. I don’t know why because I certainly wasn’t going to make my fellow dodge ball players think any more highly of me. But I read and re-read the poem, imagining myself in a more inclusive future.

“He drew a circle that shut me out- Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle and took him In!”