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.

 

I can’t do squat!

 

Daily Prompt – Sidewalk

I can’t do squat! And I mean that literally. The older I get, the less cooperative my knees are and the lower I can squat. This is probably the biggest reason my backside is flat as a pancake. Well, maybe not literally but pretty close. And every year, especially now that I’m closer to 70 than 60, what little rear end I have droops lower and lower. It’s been years since anyone told me that I squat “ass to the grass.”

jb plank
Seriously, who needs a butt when they can do an extended plank like this!

 

When I ask a potential female client what her goals are, nine times out of ten, it involves her booty.  For many women, working out is all about the butt. Harder, firmer, higher, rounder, smaller, less jiggly, ad infinitum. And the squat, of which there are hundreds of variations, is the all-time glute day favorite.

There are some girls (and by that I mean women under 40) who do glute work every day. I call them the “Queens of Squat,” and they love it when I bestow the title upon them. When I see one of the queens working out, I can’t help it, my mind starts reciting my pet gym mantra, “we must, we must, we must improve our butt.”

While my caboose may not be high and tight, it’s not too flabby either. And I owe my somewhat fit, tiny hiney to an exercise I lovingly call the “side walk” or “penguin walk.” My clients call it the walk from hell. There are several variations. If you are suffering with knee pain, choose a style that doesn’t require you to bend your knees. Remember, if there’s pain, you must abstain.

I like using a resistance band, but the “side walk” can be just as effective with your body weight, sans equipment.  If you tightly squeeze your gluteus muscles during this exercise, you will feel the burn. When a client tells me she thought of me every time she went to the potty, I know I’m doing my best work.

Here are the basics.

  • Position your feel shoulder width apart. The band should be taunt but not stretched. You can place the band above your knees or closer to your ankles. If you have a resistance tube, step on the tube and hold the handles to create resistance.
  • Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to activate the gluteus muscles.
  • Keeping your feet in line with your shoulders, step sideways to the right keeping the band tensed. Without releasing the band’s tension, continuing side stepping for 10 reps.
  • Repeat to the left for ten reps.

Trust me, you’ll be thinking about me tomorrow.

Let them eat cake!

Daily Post: Jeopardize

Don’t tell anyone. You have to swear to keep this a secret. For breakfast I ate two pieces of berry crumb coffee cake and a large, very large piece of birthday cake. In addition to wanting to throw up, I want to hide my head in shame. Why would I want to jeopardize all the hard word I do at the gym every day? I don’t know. I don’t know. Guilt overwhelms me.

It’s my friend’s fault. She made me do it. Last night was her birthday party. As I was leaving she wrapped up the birthday and coffee cake. “No, no. Really, I don’t want any.” “Yes. Here. Take some home.” “No, no. Really.” The plate was already in my hand.

Even if I hated it, which I didn’t, I would have had to take the cake. It’s only polite.

However, politeness had nothing to do with eating three pieces of carb hell for breakfast. Why didn’t I stop after one piece? Compulsive sugar binge. There’s no other way to describe it. Self will run riot. Total loss of control. Can’t anyone stop me?alisha birthday cake

I can’t put all the blame on my friend. I do have to accept responsibility for my part in this debauchery. I was in charge of the cake.  I bought the most decadent birthday cake available—buttercream frosting, cheesecake filling, and probably some other evil sugar loaded ingredient. I wouldn’t want my friend to think I scrimped on the cake for her special day.

And, drum roll please—birthday girl is my workout buddy. Why would she do this to me? Really, though, can I blame her. It’s only fair. After all I brought the cake. I was planning my sugar overload when I ordered the cake and again when I picked it up. This sugar binge didn’t happen by accident. Nope, it was planned. “It’s just one day,” we said to each other. Permission granted. Go ahead.

It’s over now though. The cake is gone. I now own all the calories—probably in the neighborhood of 3,000. But what’s done is done.

It’s been 8 hours since breakfast. I don’t think I can eat anything. I really feel sick. But when I do, it won’t be cake.

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.

 

Look up! Look down!

Daily Prompt: Eyes

“Really. What do you think about this dress?”

No! No! Don’t ask me that, girlfriend. You’re doing good on your diet, but you still have at least 15 pounds to lose. And you have a big butt, which actually I’m actually a little envious of, but it does make the back of the dress hike up a little bit. And you’re my best friend. I love you. Please, please, don’t ask me this question. I’m groaning inside.

Woman with big round butt in tight blue pants walkingflat butt

“Does it look good on me?” She’s eyeing herself in the mirror and making eye-contact with me at the same time in her reflection. God I hate that. All hairdressers should be flogged for inventing that move. Maybe if I move to the other side of the dressing room. Not working. The dressing room is the size of a bathroom on an airplane.

I remind myself that I’m the girlfriend. No matter what! She cannot buy that dress. Okay. Think. Think. Okay. Got it!

“It looks okay, (lie) but the blue one looks better (truth). It’s a little bit longer (true) and makes your legs look longer (half truth).” I could ask her to try the blue one on again. But I’m so tired and my feet hurt. No. Not going to do that.

Yikes. Was I looking up and to the right? Is that the direction that means I’m lying? Maybe the lying direction is to the left. Dammit! Just look her right in the eye and smile.

“Come on, girlfriend. Let’s keep shopping! We can do better!” That’s the truth, so it doesn’t matter which way I look.

Inside I’m screaming. Not only do I not like to shop, but we’ve been at the mall for two hours and we’re no closer to finding a dress than we started. Maybe I can talk her into slacks. Yes. That’s the way to go. I can do it.

It’s like I’m a kid all over again. Look up, look down, look all around! Remember that game? Probably not. It’s a pretty old game. The leader shouts, “look up” or “look down.” I never could figure out exactly what the rules were, but screaming was involved and I always got eliminated early because I screamed when I wasn’t looking at someone, and I guess that wasn’t right.

“Oh, hey, look. Starbucks! Let’s get a coffee and decide where we’re going next.”

“By the way, those jeans look really good on you (truth). Did we get them the last time we were at the mall? Maybe we should think about slacks (truth)? What do you think?”

 

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.

JB Tonette Alisha Jaz_3
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 …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where have all the bloggers gone?

 

It’s just not working! First of all, this whole blogging thing is hard, time consuming and frustrating. I thought I would write about health and fitness. Then I realized I wanted to write about other things too. Somewhere along the way I got lost.

What tags to use on my posts? What did I want to write about? How to find other people’s posts? How to use the information in the area that provides tags and categories. Half the time I can’t remember how to get to that page on the blog customizer. This was so frustrating, I wanted to quit.

But, I’m not a quitter. In fact, I’m known for my discipline and perseverance, i.e. graduate degrees, marathons, etc.

At first I didn’t make the connection between my decision to write about something other than fitness with my disillusionment with blogging in general. My whole life is about fitness. Hey, I’m a personal trainer. Yes, there are other things I can write about, and that’s ok. Enter Fundamentals of Blogging.Screenshot (21).png

The course is working! The assignment for today is to find other blogs to follow. I had been wondering where you went. It’s not your fault. I know that now. I just took a detour and never found my way back.

Now, I get it. Click on one of the tags I’ve entered and all the posts with that tag appear on the right side of the page! How simple is that. I have to wonder how I got through grad school.

Voila! There you are! You’re back. Now I just have to remember how I got here. And guess what? I love you. You’re inspiring me. I already have a million, zillion ideas—well maybe not that many—for topics to write about on my blog.

Not only was I over-thinking almost everything, I was making it so black and white. Duh! I can write on anything I want and I don’t have to give up writing on health/fitness/nutrition. All or nothing thinking is a habit I definitely need to break. Best of all, I can find you—great writers, fitness enthusiasts, healthy eaters, and on and on. I am one happy blogger.

How will I tag this post? I’m thinking “blogging,” “fundamentalsofblogging,” “fitness.” “Lost in cyber space”—that’s probably not a tag.

I think I’m going to like blogging after all.

 

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!”