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.

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.

 

Tagline exposed. . .

 

Writing a blog is much harder than I thought. Not that I expected it to be easy, but I thought I would get better at it faster. When I’ve hit roadblocks in other areas of my life, it has always helped me to get back to basics. So, I’m taking the “Learning the Fundamentals” at the Blogging U for the second time.

My first title was “Live Your Life Not Your Age.” I’m a 68-year-old personal trainer, and my plan was to write about health, fitness and nutrition-especially as they relate to people over age 50. But you know what they say about making a plan. And God (either with upper or lower case, I’m not sure where I stand on that today) is laughing a lot right now. And then there’s that phrase, “a lot.” When I was a college professor, about three lifetimes ago, I would have drawn a big red circle around those words and probably added an even bigger question mark.jbwriting cable

Which brings to my second blogging goal:  to improve my writing. I do not remember writing being this challenging or this time consuming. Admittedly, I haven’t written anything other than academic papers, grants and FaceBook posts for twenty years. I’m educated, articulate and sometimes funny, or so I’ve been told. And I used to think I was a good writer. Blogging should be a no-brainer.

When I realized I wanted to write about something besides health and fitness, I changed the title of my blog to “An Extraordinary Ordinary Life.” I’m not even sure what that means, but when I thought of it…well it felt “right.” Health and fitness will always be a top priority because it is my struggles to live healthy (among other things) that have made me extraordinary, at least that’s what my friends and clients tell me.  How were they defining “extraordinary”? Odd, unusual, unexpected, accomplished? Umm. Have to think about that.

This week’s “Learning the Fundamentals” assignment is to write a tagline. Well, I’m stumped. The tagline is supposed to provide context for the blog’s content. Content–like I have a clue. But here goes:

An Extraordinary Ordinary Life

A woman’s search for meaning by writing about how her adventures with exercise, nutrition and spirituality have changed her life from ordinary to extraordinary.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

 

In Praise of Public Speaking

In Praise of Public Speaking

Today was the first day of class. My first day as an instructor for Public Speaking 101.  I was nervous, but I figured in about ten minutes, I was not going to be the most nervous person in the room.

I stood behind the lectern placed on the scarred wooden table and deliberately recalled some of my most frightening and nauseating public speaking experiences. I wished there weren’t so many. Would any of my students have similar memories?  I knew there would be experienced and eloquent speakers in the class, at least I hoped there would be. But I also knew there would be at least one person, and maybe more, whose worst fear became real when they saw that Public Speaking 101 was a requirement for graduation.

As part of the course, I wanted my students to learn research skills, how to organize their ideas and how to “show not tell.” But more than that I wanted them to not dread talking in front of a group of people. Maybe not enjoy it, but not let fear squeeze their insides, impede their career advancement, or cripple them socially. public speaking.png

My goal was to make a specific, positive and self-affirming comment to each student when they gave a speech. At the same time, I had to teach and help each student improve and grow as a speaker. There could be no empty praise or vacuous compliments. What stood out, what was memorable, colorful, engaging? Where could a better phrase, analogy or vocal inflection be enhanced?

How could I ever do this? Would I even be able to do this? Would I even know if I wounded a student’s psyche? Sometimes I was most excellent, and sometimes I wanted to slice the tongue right out of my mouth.

But no one dropped the class. No one cried or threw up or, at least from my perspective, embarrassed themselves. The last day of class each student shared how taking a public speaking class helped them or was going to help them as a person and a student. Most of their comments weren’t directed at me or at what a great teacher I was, but about the confidence and self-esteem that resulted from speaking in front of a group of people.  Several students said giving a speech was the most courageous thing they had ever done.

I was proud of me and of them. I was part of something important in their lives. They might not remember me or my name. I don’t remember them by name. But I remember them as a group. I remember how they made me feel. I’m proud of myself, not as a teacher but as a person. I can be very critical in many areas of my life, but in that classroom, I found something specific and positive and real  to say about every speech and every student. It was more than praise. It was a marvelous self-affirmation for all of us.

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.

jbwriting cable
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.