I’VE MOVED!!!

Hey Guys!

I’ve finally moved to my new fitness and nutrition site- Tall Bean. Okay, here’s the situation…

While I was thinking of ways that I can add value to the world (in general) and you guys (in particular), I happened upon the fact that everyone wants to be in good health. It turns out, I’m pretty knowledgeable about how to accomplish this goal. Therefore, I can help you.

Introducing….

TALL BEAN!

Here is one of my latest posts about farting in yoga class.

As you can see, the content will be just as fun as it has been at AnthroNegra. The only difference is that it will be about YOU not ME.

Let’s face it, reading about me can get pretty boring and repetitive, right? I find you guys MUCH more interesting.

Sooo…

Come on over to Tall Bean and leave me a few comments. I’d love to hear from you! BTW, we’re also going to put out fitness videos for you to follow at home. Let me know if there are any specific issues or areas you want me to address.

Thanks for making the switch to Tall Bean. Remember to like, comment, subscribe and share!

Ciao!

Advertisements

5 Reasons I Failed

clear bulb beside white notepad on white surface
Photo by Burak K on Pexels.com

Entrepreneurs have become notorious for embracing the “fail fast, fail often” mentality. The idea is to erase the fear of failure by embracing the consequences (good and bad) of innovation. Don’t be afraid to try something new, because no one fails as long as lessons are learned and the venture pushes forward. Along those lines, I have decided to restructure my blog. Okay, here’s the situation…

When I first decided to turn my passion for writing into my paid profession, I had no idea where to start. Umm…writing, duh! Of course, I understood that I had to first develop the habit of sitting at my desk every work day to type out a few thoughts. Outside of that, I had no clue how to actually make money writing a blog. It turns out, there are a lot of people who do. I learned from them exactly what I was doing wrong, and, more importantly, how to improve.

Fail Fast

From the onset, I knew that my blog would look vastly different when it reached success than it did when I began. Like I said, I just wanted to get started to develop the habit of working for myself. I am not one to procrastinate, so I jumped in with both feet. I figured that I would discover my voice through practice over time.

Thankfully, I did just that. At the same time, I also looked at trends and studied the market I wanted to reach. I recognized my posts that received the most and least engagement and noticed the audience I was drawing. I didn’t have a huge audience, so I really felt confident that I could restructure my blog to serve my followers better and attract more attention. It took less than a month for me to develop the discipline to write daily and hone in on my niche.

Finding a Niche

During the week, I jotted down notes and turned those ideas into blog posts, all while trying to get a feel for my niche. On the weekends, I stalked other bloggers that were earning a comfortable living doing what I wanted to do. The most important advice they gave was to target a niche. Who were my peeps? What was my purpose.

Obviously, I wanted to use my words to help my fellow sisters. Unfortunately, this idea was entirely too vague. What did I want to help them do exactly? What do they want? What do they need? After doing a little research, I found that women around my age are searching for simple ways to live healthier lives. To be quite honest, I was in search of the same thing. Why not take them along on my journey of getting back in shape? Eureka! I discovered my niche– fast and fun fitness for women over forty.

Lifestyle Blogger

The third mistake I realized was that my blog was not living up to my intention. I wanted to help women with everyday concerns by detailing how I managed certain circumstances. Unfortunately, my absolutely unremarkable life is not suited for a lifestyle blog. While I love sipping green tea and chatting for hours with friends, a transcript of those conversations is, frankly, not that interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. It’s just not adventurous or dramatic enough to continue to attract an interested audience. My husband is amazing. My children are great. We have fun every day together. Nothing to tell. If I had a more universally appealing sense of humor, I could spin those everyday tales into comic gold. Alas, it’s like my niece reminds me. I’m funny like a teacher. I think I’m hilarious, but that opinion is not shared by all. I’d better leave the lifestyle niche to the more fascinating and exciting bloggers.

We All Have the Same 24 Hours

I can write every day. That is not a problem. However, I found it difficult to write interesting text, edit, publish, cook, clean, be a mother to Lil Sweetie, be a partner to Honey, and take care of myself within 24 hours. I woke up each morning at 5:00 am and did not get to bed some nights until 1:00 am, and still was not able to get everything done. Burning the candle from both ends was not healthy nor sustainable. Finally, I had succumb to the stress and spent Friday morning sick in bed. I typed up a mediocre post and published from underneath my comforter.

Over the weekend, I decided to devise a schedule that would allow me time to do the things I enjoy, like going to the gym, while working and taking care of my other responsibilities. Incorporating my personal health and fitness into my profession allows me to consolidate two of the most time consuming aspects and takes some of the stress out of getting everything else done.

Time for Growth and Development

In addition to needing time to do all of the tasks I set for myself every day, I also required time to actually learn to blog. I needed to learn from the masters, so I can also be successful. I was so exhausted by the end of the week that I did not want to spend the necessary time learning to perfect my craft. Following your passion is supposed to feel invigorating, not life draining. I knew that I was on the right train but not the right track. Instead of coming up with new posts for this week, I overdosed on “how to blog” videos and blog posts. I learned that I need at least a week off to study more about this wonderful world of blogging.

abstract blackboard bulb chalk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Conclusion

There you have it, Friend. My latest light bulb moment. I am feeling back to 100 and ready to jump into phase two of my career. That was fast! I’m so happy and thankful that you have decided to join me for this spectacular journey. I hate to switch it up on you, but I hope you will continue to follow me into the next adventure.

I have decided that it is more sustainable to do two posts per week. At the same time, I intend to incorporate one or two YouTube videos per week as well. My main focus will be on fitness at 40 and beyond. Wish me luck!

Ciao!

 

THE FREEDOM IN NOT GIVING A DAMN

me36

Hey Friend! I have to share this secret with you. People are not thinking about you. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s just that they have to devote most of their time tending to their own lives. They simply cannot dedicate a substantial amount of brain space thinking about you. That’s great news! Oh, you’re not convinced? Let me explain. Okay, here’s the situation…

Do you remember when I told you that I discovered the blissful release of going bananas? Well, I may have overdone it a little. Okay, a lot. I overturned a desk in the classroom because two points were deducted from my grade and not my friend’s (who actually cheated off my paper and had the exact same answer). I overturned a mattress at cheerleading camp, because I overheard the varsity squad saying they feared I’d be “difficult to work with”. I became argumentative, temperamental, obstinate and just plain sucky. I really did not like the person I had devolved into, so I decided to change.
After becoming a wife and mother, it was easier to hide my rage. However, having no other form of release, I adopted the habit of crying in the closet. Or the shower. Or in the middle of the night when everyone else was asleep. I could not point to any particular reason for my unhappiness. I just knew that I was not good. During that time, I did not think I could turn to anyone. People were accepting of my fits. They even found them slightly amusing. But crying? Nah. I had to keep all of that crying nonsense to myself. Nobody wanted to see the pain behind my rage.

After I decided to leave my husband, I went through several life changes. I stumbled upon the realization that people were too busy living their own lives to give too much time and consideration to mine. In short, people really didn’t give a damn. It’s not that they didn’t love and care about me. It is that managing their lives was their full time responsibility. Include factors like spouses, children, careers, bills, pets, and entertainment and you see why it was impossible for them to dedicate time to governing mine (except those who want to legally regulate how other people live, but that’s a discussion for another day).

This realization sounds depressing, but, in fact, it was the most freeing recognition of my life. Think about it. If people can only dedicate one-tenth of their day (probably less than that) to study us, why do we waste so much energy caring what other people think? Not only was this the most liberating light bulb moment of my life to that point, it was also empowering.

If you let your child eat Chipotle every night while Honey is on a business trip, no one cares. If you dance to the music in your earbuds, people may look, but they don’t give a damn. If you pick your nose while you’re driving, eww. That’s gross. I can see you. Get a tissue. Aside from me (and do you really care what I think of your car hygiene?), no one is giving your every move a second thought.

Why, then, do we become embarrassed by the idea of standing out in the crowd? Why do we prefer to dedicate so much time trying to blend into our surroundings instead of living our authentic lives? I don’t have the answer for you, Friend. You’ll have to search your psyche to find out for your self. I can tell you that not giving a damn is the most freeing feeling.

Imagine who you would be if you weren’t trying to be who you’re supposed to be. Imagine it so often and vividly that you become that. Be that version of you that makes you wake up excited to get out of bed each morning. I’ll be here rooting for you.

Ciao!

JOURNEY FROM FLABBY TO FIT

woman measuring her waist

Friend, have you ever needed to take a break from being healthy? Binge watch K-dramas on Netflix, eat popcorn for breakfast and cake for dinner, skip the gym for like a month…or nine? I feel you. But eventually you’ll have to come to terms with that out-of-shape body of yours or drag your saggy butt back into the gym. Okay, here’s the situation…

I have come to the conclusion that Honey is better than me. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s true. If we listed our best qualities side by side, Honey’s list would look like an epic poem and mine would look like a haiku. Before I explain, let me give you a visual.

White Sands 009This is Honey. Not a model. This is my actual husband. He’s freaking gorgeous! I mean, look at him. It’s not fair.

Not only is he so pretty you wanna lick his teeth, he’s also a great guy. He cooks dinner for the kids, while I’m fumbling through take-out menus. He planned my 40th birthday surprise party for months, while I bought him a pair of socks on his. He works with math symbols that I’ve never seen, while I’m proud that I still remember “a squared plus b squared equals c squared”. He’s the guy everyone seeks out in a crowd, while I’m the weirdo following people around saying “please talk to me”. The difference between us is like eating canned tuna in your basement and dining on tuna steaks in Japan. That’s right. I’m the canned tuna.

I’m okay with that. I understand my role in this relationship. I’m the reacher. He’s the settler (don’t tell him, he’s smug enough). I’m cool with it, because I know that I have redeeming qualities. Though he’s the statistician, I’m better with finances. Though he’s a billion times stronger, I’m the handywoman in the family. Though people naturally gravitate to his charm, I am the one they turn to when they need a sympathetic ear or shoulder on which to cry. Though he has a flawless face, my body is ROCKING.

Fitness

My body was rocking (past tense). I was born with the genetic disposition to have a naturally athletic and toned physique. I have always been effortlessly fit. Well, that is not entirely true. Yes, I have been blessed with great genes that predispose me to maintain long, lean muscles. However, I have been actively sculpting my body since I was a teenager and making healthier food choices since my mid-twenties. Just like everybody else, I can get fat and unhealthy if I quit taking care of myself.

That’s exactly what happened over the summer. I stopped working out, because I was involved in remodeling our new 1950’s (oxymoron hehe) home. I had a six-pack like whoa! My shoulders and arms looked like they’d been chiseled out of clay. No matter how much I ate, I kept losing fat and gaining muscle.

Then, the renovations stopped…but I kept eating. I was scarfing down donuts, pies, cookies, brownies, chips, candy and all types of junk I hadn’t eaten in years. I was downing a pint of ice cream daily (lactose intolerance be damned!). I even started drinking sugary juices, which I don’t really like. At the same time, I made these giant salads under the pretense that I’d eat something healthy later. Yeah, right!

I kept fooling myself into believing that I could easily get back on track. Meanwhile, my heart raced when I climbed the stairs. My walking pace slowed to that of a tortoise. I couldn’t even stand up for ten minutes without needing to find a wall to support my weight. I was too afraid of stepping on the scale to confirm what I already knew. I had gotten a little fat.

Life has a way of making you face facts sooner or later. My moment of reckoning came on an unseasonably cool day in early September. I had to grab a pair of pants to go out with friends. All summer I tricked my brain into thinking I was fit by wearing loose skirts or dresses and yoga pants. Clinging to my state of denial, I put my leg into a pair of khakis that usually fit loosely over my hips and thighs and snugly at the waist.

When I finally squeezed all of my meatiness into the pants, I looked Like a lumpy, beige water balloon. My ass created stretchy creases in the back. My thighs were two chubby kindergartens fighting to be first in line. My hips looked like two slabs of dough somebody punched in the middle while the rest spilled out over the top and down my pants legs. No matter how much I held my breath, my tummy kept making the waist band flip over. I looked a hot mess.

Butt dance.gif

The worst revelation wasn’t until after I peeled the pants off. I took a long stare at my butt. When had it started melting down my thighs? What the heck was up with the potholes and mounds? It used to bounce when I poked it. Why was it soft and squishy and jiggly around my touch? My booty was the best part of me, and it had transformed into a hideous monster. It was big, but not in a good way. If my ass were a movie, it had morphed from a fun, 3-D flick into a panoramic horror story. I wanted to cry.

Another way that Honey is better than me is that he has the annoying ability to look past my flaws. It’s a quality most women appreciate. I’m not most women. I was pissed at him for not telling me that I was harboring an alien on my backside. Would I have been mad at him for pointing it out? Probably. But I’m sure there is a tactful way of telling your wife that her butt is dragging to her knees, right? TBH, I think he was trying to sabotage me, so he could add another victory to his side of the list.

I started lifting weights with Honey. There was no way I was admitting defeat without a fight. He had me pushing more weight than I had lifted in decades. After a week, I was bigger than I was when I started. Oh, heck no. After the second week, I wanted to quit. Dude, what’s going on!? I would have stopped except that I noticed the lift in my booty. By the end of week three, I peeped Honey’s plan. He was trying to make me thicker by coercing me into low reps with heavy weights! Aww, hell no! Saboteur!

several rogue gym plates

I blame myself. I already know how to condition my body, because I’ve been getting great results for years. High reps, low weights. Why did I listen to his malarkey advice that was obviously intended to throw me off my game? It’s because I’m more honest and trustworthy than him. Add that to my side of the list.

I’m back into the swing of things now, but it is not easy. I still get tired climbing stairs and speed walking through stores. I keep going back for the torture, because I have to. I’m not about to give that smug, beautiful man another reason to think he’s better than me. Wish me luck. I’ll send pictures soon.

Ciao!

WOMEN UNITED

woman falling in line holding each other
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

Ladies, how much longer are we supposed to sit around pretending that men are doing a good job running the majority of the world? Seriously, look around. Crime, pollution, drug abuse, corruption, war, genocide and diseases have plagued our societies for centuries. Lately, we cannot even expect elected officials to be civil to one another. It’s past time for the fairer sex to get involved in governing our lands. Okay, here’s the situation…

After graduating high school, I moved to upstate New York. I was married with a toddler when I found out that my birth control pills had failed. I did not think I was emotionally ready to handle being a mother of two young children. My daughter, as sweet as she was, took up all of my free time. I couldn’t imagine adding more responsibility to my overwhelmed schedule. Besides, I still had hopes of enrolling in college when she went to preschool. Adding another baby would push that date back at least three more years.

adult age elderly enjoyment
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I sought the counsel of Christian women who had lived my predicament. I joined a support group of mothers with several children. Did I say several? I meant armies. They had armies of kids.

Mary was a 38 year old mother of 21 kiddos. Yes, you read that correctly. She had given birth NINETEEN times in twenty years. Her oldest was nearly 21 and her youngest was 10 months old when I met her. Mary and her husband, Dave, owned the horse ranch where the group congregated. Colleen was in her late twenties and had 9 children under the age of ten. Chastity was very soft spoken, and I do not recall whether or not she offered her age. However, I do remember that she had 14 children. Finally, Lorelei was closest in age to me (early 20s). She had two babies and was very pregnant with her third.

silhouette of four people against sun background
Photo by Dennis Magati on Pexels.com

Lorelei and I became fast friends. I found out that she’d had many complications with her second child and eventually had to have a cesarean section to take him early. She feared that she would not survive her third pregnancy, so she joined the church affiliated group for moral support. Lorelei was married to Peter, a farmer twice her age, who would not allow her access to birth control (he went to all of her doctor’s appointments) and refused to use condoms. Regardless of the fact that her life was at stake, Peter thought that a wife’s duty was to bear her husband as many children as he could support. If she died as a result, it was “God’s will”.

As expected, Lorelei’s labor had to be induced, and she nearly lost her uterus. Peter would not allow the doctors to perform the life-saving hysterectomy even though his wife was losing blood faster than they could replace it. After several hours, they were able to stabilize her and save her uterus, but she had a lengthy recovery as a result. Her miraculous survival gave Peter proof (by his words) that the doctors were lying about the hysterectomy in order to stop them from repopulating America with white babies. Yeah.

three women wearing turbands
Photo by Dazzle Jam on Pexels.com

By the time Lorelei and her son were released, I was in my third trimester. She surprised me with a trip to Syracuse about two months after she came home from the hospital. She wanted to take me and my daughter with her and her kids to a children’s museum before I gave birth. At least that’s the story she told me and Peter. Even though Peter didn’t like me, he allowed her to go as repayment for my frequent hospital visits and babysitting favors.

During the 45 minute drive from my Watertown apartment, Lorelei confessed that we were going to an abortion clinic. She was pregnant for the fourth time and terrified for her life. After hearing her doctor explain what had occurred while she was unconscious and bleeding out, she knew that her well-being was not her husband’s priority. Between apologies and sobs, Lorelei confided that Peter callously teased that he planned to marry their 17 year-old neighbor if she died during childbirth. Lorelei secretly thought that he was trying to kill her in order to enact his plan. The worst part of this story was that I had known her for six months, and I was the only person she believed would advocate for her.

six women wearing dress leaning on bridge rail
Photo by Zun Zun on Pexels.com

Lorelei is the reason I changed my views on abortion. When faced with an actual case in which terminating a pregnancy saved my friend’s life, I chose to drive her home in her van and hold her hand while she cried. I chose to keep her secret and comfort her through her shame. I chose to advocate for her right to live to see her three children grow into adults. I chose her life.

Woman does it

It is easy for people who don’t know Lorelei to judge her. They do not understand the helplessness she felt when her mother signed her over to Peter at the age of 16. They do not know the isolation of being on a rural farm with the closest neighbors a mile apart and no telephone (in the 1990s!). They cannot fathom the courage she had to muster to have that abortion and arrange for a hysterectomy without her husband’s knowledge. Yes, I was complicit in her deceit, and I’d do it all over again.

pexels-photo-776615-e1539186279368.jpeg
Photo by Marily Torres on Pexels.com

I love my sisters. I champion them and fight for their rights. I try not to judge my other sisters who support misogyny and the institutions, which subjugate women. I do not know their stories and have not walked their paths. They may have been enculturated to believe in the unchallenged superiority of the man and innate inferiority of the woman. It is possible that, like my friend Mary, they are completely happy being subservient to their loving husbands who provide handsomely for their wellbeing. It is also possible that, like my friend Lorelei, they are deathly afraid of the repercussions they’d face if they questioned the authority of the men in their lives.

people sitting beside brown wooden desk near flat screen tv
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

The latter group is the reason those of us women who are in a position to speak out, must do so. We must defend the rights of our sisters who feel defenseless. We must support new laws and policies that encourage female growth and development in our society. We must patronize women-owned businesses, music, art, and seek female professionals when we need their services. We must become leaders in our communities and campaign for other women who have the courage to represent us in our government.

Women United

We no longer have the luxury of bickering amongst ourselves and tearing competent women down. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to all of the policies these men are trying to push into law, which bolster their power at our detriment, simply because they support a single issue. We must join our sisters, regardless of political affiliation, and devise proposals that will serve the majority rather than minority. We can do this ladies! The fate of our world depends on us.

Ciao!

 

LOVE LANGUAGE

What's your love language

It took a long time for me to believe that Honey loved me like I love him. Actually, that’s part of the problem. He doesn’t. He can’t love me like I love him, because he is him and I am me. Get it? No? Okay, here’s the situation…

Gary Chapman wrote a book, The Five Love Languages, that describes how humans communicate affection with their partners. According to Chapman, most people feel love through physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts and quality time. The author contends that people want their partners to express love in the same way they prefer to receive love and that we generally have a primary and secondary love language.

acts of service

Contrary to popular opinion, not all women need or want gifts. Likewise, not all men crave constant physical contact. As I was contemplating (stalling) what I would write for today’s post, I reread some notes in my old journals. I came across a song I wrote over ten years ago. It was penned in response to a Sting video that tugged at my heart strings. “Why can’t my husband love me like that?” I whined. As per usual, I wrote my feelings. Not only did I write it, I sang the song into a tape recorder. Yes, I found the original audio too. Hahaha!

words of affirmation

If I had to guess, I would say that Honey’s primary love language is acts of service with physical touch as his secondary. He could spend the entire day under the same roof as me but in another room. As long as I do something to show him that I’m thinking of him, and find him for an occasional hug, he feels appreciated.

Gift

Meanwhile, I’m on the other side of the wall with fumes shooting from my ears, because he’s been merrily watching tv and scrolling through his phone for hours. My love language is primarily spending quality time. Words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch are tied for second. I’m greedy like that.

physical touch

For years, I was convinced Honey didn’t love me as much as I love him. He did not need my constant attention, therefore he did not want to be with me, therefore we should not be married. I thought we could both find people with whom we were better suited. I pushed him away constantly and second-guessed his love and devotion, mostly out of fear that he would eventually leave. *Sigh* I have to hand it to the guy, he put in a lot of work to stay with me.

love language

Many arguments could have been avoided if one of us had realized sooner that we were speaking different love languages. As years passed, I understood that Honey’s aloofness was not an indication of his love for me but a symptom of his geeky manboy imagination. If I made him a sandwich and allowed him space to play in his own head, he felt loved. He also grew to understand that I did not need physical affection as much as I desired to have his undivided attention. As long as he sought me out for a ten minute chat, I was good.

quality time

It’s funny looking at life retrospectively. We pass judgement on the younger versions of ourselves, because, frankly, those kids were stupid. Seriously, me now rolls my eyes at the bratty childishness of me then. I would advise younger Honey to cut his losses. Man, that crazy chick is not worth the trouble. Of course, he wouldn’t listen. He actually loved that little weirdo. He just didn’t speak Tonyanese yet.

If you and your mate are lost in translation, TAKE THE QUIZ! It may save your relationship. Or at least save you the headache of miscommunication.

Ciao!

P.S. I’m thinking of uploading a video of me singing the song. Hmmm…

 

 

 

INTROVERTED EXTROVERT?

Introvert extrovert 1Weekends these days are a time for rest and rejuvenation. As I mentioned in a previous post, writing as a career has proven to be mentally and physically exhausting. This weekend I stumbled upon the reason. Okay, here’s the situation…

I always fancied myself an introvert. I was that loner girl who melted into the background like a lizard in camouflage around strangers. At home, I was the dorky, sickly middle child who laughed too much and couldn’t be cool if you swaddled me in a blanket of ice cubes, though my three siblings were both cool and popular. At school I was the brainy, oversharer who tried too hard to get everyone to like me while not allowing them to actually know me (yes, it’s weird). I never felt at home in my own skin, so I didn’t think anyone else would accept me for me. As a result, I developed an intense interest in how other people experienced life in their skins. I enjoyed getting to know people through one-on-one conversations and preferred to be alone with my thoughts. I was an introvert.

 

As I grew into my teen years, I was labeled “shy”. “Introvert” was the word my guidance counselor used during a class presentation. She separated us into two groups based on our answers to a personality evaluation. I was in the group with Trevor, the booger eater, sad Sarah, crazy Keith, silent Elijah and my best friend, Karen. I looked across the room at all of the other kids that everyone liked, all of the kids that made the teacher light up. They were popular and happy. They walked through the world like their poop didn’t stink. They were all labelled “extroverts”. Why couldn’t I be in that group? More importantly, what were my and Karen’s mean nicknames?

Introvert Extrovert2

I wanted to be like them, the extroverts. I didn’t want to be thrust into the same category as Trevor, the booger eater. Studying people came naturally to me, so I devised a plan. I would simply copy the behaviors of the most popular extroverts, and I would magically be inducted into the group. Voila!

For a time, life seemed to be as simple as that. I became the captain of the cheerleading squad. In a gym of 1200 people, all eyes were on me. I both relished the attention and wanted to escape behind the bleachers. I buzzed with energy when I went to fairs or amusement parks with friends but dreaded being in the same places by myself. At parties or clubs or any situation in which I actively participated, I felt enlivened. However, at sporting events or any place where I was a passive spectator, I was sapped of energy. I was confused. Had I actually become an extrovert, or were my true introverted colors hidden behind a façade?

As an adult, I accepted the nuisances of personality. Just because people could relate to characteristics of “this” did not preclude them from also identifying with “that”. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator reinforced this truth when my grad school cohort participated in the assessment (find a truncated version here). The MBTI is supposed to identify a preference between extraversion and introversion, sensing and intuiting, thinking and feeling, perceiving and judging. I was an ENTJ (the commander). Then, I was an ENFP. At the end of the course, I was another combination of the four that I do not remember.

How was that possible? I did not lie during the assessment. What would be the point in that? I truly wanted to gain a better insight into how I interact and learn, so I could optimize my educational experience. Yet, I could not even get a clear answer about my behavioral tendencies. I must have broken the test.

I took the truncated version of the assessment this morning in preparation for this post. Again, I was classified as an ENTJ-T (turbulent commander…yikes).

 

Introvert Extrovert3

 

As much as I like to imagine that I am fully self-aware, I still stumble upon obvious character traits that an amateur psychologist would notice within minutes of meeting me. For example, I started dozing off as I read a book on the stationary cycle at the gym. I decided to continue reading in my car where I could comfortably snooze while my daughter finished her training session. On my way out to the parking lot, I met a friend. She asked a question which led into a spiraling conversation. An hour later, I was completely renewed and energized.

Hold on a minute. If I’m an introvert, why do I feel drained when I am alone and invigorated around other people? Before this weekend, I did not see the correlation between isolation and my recent fatigue. Because I am alone all day in my office, I do not interact with another soul. I don’t take phone calls, and I stopped going to my gym classes, which provided the bulk of my socialization during the week. I have been lethargic, because I have stopped participating in all of the activities that energized me.

Here’s the deal, we all have tendencies and preferences that vary according to our circumstances. There is no harm in taking a personality assessment to gain a better understanding of how we operate. These tests only become dangerous if we allow the results to limit us or rely on them as definitive proof of our capabilities (or lack thereof).

Knowing myself, I would agree that I tend to be more of an extrovert. Though I enjoy my alone time, too much of it can leave me feeling wiped out. I now realize that, growing up, I used solitude as a cloak to hide my insecurities while simultaneously craving the limelight. Though I loved attention, I feared everyone would turn on me if they found out who I really was– a dorky nobody pretending to be someone special.

Now that I have learned to embrace my dorkiness, I am working toward trusting others enough to let them see me as I am. I hope that you also find the courage to be your amazing, spectacular, incredible, unique self, regardless of what some silly test tells you. Cheers to the journey!

Ciao!

 

ZUMBA: FROM FRIEND ZONE TO BAE

Zumba Jump

I’ve had an off-again-on-again relationship with Zumba since 2010. Just when I think it’s going to go the distance, we take a break. I hadn’t seen Zumba since mid April. Then, he appeared yesterday morning to punish me for not visiting him all these months. Okay, here’s the situation…

Back in 2010, I was in my 30’s and running half marathons regularly. I was effortlessly fit, because I had been athletic and active throughout my life. When I was introduced to Zumba, I laughed. I liked to dance just as much as the next person, but I didn’t classify the latest fitness craze as exercise. It was a good time with a few fellow gym mates. Zumba was the dependable male friend whose platonic company I enjoyed while rebounding from heartache or searching for my next lover.

 

Zumba GirlWhen I moved to the DMV in 2013, I added three Zumba classes into my fitness regimen. One was high intensity like a kickboxing class, so I could get a good sweat going. The other two were lower intensity, but I loved the overall energy of one instructor and the music and choreography of the other. Though the classes weren’t extremely challenging, I formed friendships with some of the attendees. It felt more like a lively visit with the ladies than like exercise. For the first time, I started to see possibility in Zumba.

Unfortunately, the fun lasted a little less than two years. The high intensity instructor and two of my friends moved away. Our daughter was outgrowing the kid’s club, but was still too young to be added onto our membership. Our son was leaving for college, so we no longer required the type of equipment that particular club offered. We moved farther away and the club kept changing the fitness class schedule every three months. I got tired of trekking out there to find the classes canceled or times shuffled around again. All of the ingredients combined to result in our decision to change clubs. Zumba and I took a break.

Zumba

By this time, I was knocking on the door to 40. Running outside was not a sustainable option, because 1. pounding on pavement became too jarring for my joints; and 2. NOVA weather is completely uncooperative. When it’s not too hot or too cold, we have pollen that attack my orifices like a million murderous leeches. I turned to fitness classes as my main means of exercise. The new Zumba was no longer my side piece. He still didn’t get my blood pressure up or make my heart race like the other guys, but he was consistent, dependable and always showed me a good time. The more I got to know him, the more attractive Zumba became.

After a while, though, I grew bored with the routine of our relationship. I kept seeing the same faces at the same times dancing to the same choreography with the same music. Sure, he’d spice it up a little here and there, but the overwhelming sameness of it all made me want to take a break. It’s not you, Zumba, it’s me. I just need some space. I think we should see other people.

Ailey Zumba

Meanwhile, I passed 40. Whenever older loved ones warned me that my body would begin a steady decline as soon as I hit 40, I scoffed. “Just wait and see. You won’t move the same way you once did,” they cautioned. I disagreed with them then and now. It’s not that my body changed drastically. It’s that my mindset did. First of all, we have been conditioned to believe that 40 is old when it isn’t. Our beliefs about our bodies’ capabilities evolve, so we decrease our activity levels according. Secondly, the 40’s bring a self-acceptance that is both liberating and unhealthy if not kept in check. “I like myself just as I am” can quickly morph into an excuse for poor eating and lack of physical activity. That’s what happened to me. I stopped the exercising and the good eating habits that maintained my 20 year old physique under the disguise of “embracing 40”. My body rewarded me with a pudge I hadn’t seen since pregnancy and complete lack of energy.

Back to Zumba. After taking a nine month vacation (the longest I have ever gone without regular strenuous exercise) I went back. I had to. Four months of house hunting left me so stressed that my appetite disappeared. I lost weight but visited Zumba a couple of times. After we bought our home, I spent four months actively renovating it. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I could. I regained my weight and looked svelte, due to the muscles I had built from the demanding labor. After the major remodeling was completed, I continued to eat whatever I wanted. And I continued to gain weight. So, yes, I went crawling back to my dependable, loveable Zumba.

Hey Zumba

Hey Zumba, it’s me. He took me back, but he was mad. He decided that he would show me his worth. My heart raced. My chest pounded. I could barely breathe trying to keep up with him. One of my (slightly) older friends remarked that I must really be out of shape, because I was struggling while she hadn’t broken a sweat. She was right. As I bent over clutching my knees between songs, she did jumping jacks and pressed weights overhead to keep her heart rate up.

tired

I get it, Zumba. I used to think I was too good to settle for you. In reality, you were always good enough for me. You have been there for me, waiting for me to realize your value. Maybe I am finally wise enough to appreciate your stable presence…or maybe I’m just old. Whatever the case, Zumba is my number one…at least until I get back in shape and need a new bae to challenge me.

Ciao!

 

 

I’M A CREEP?

Creepy Momma

I totally understand why my daughter thinks I’m a creep. I go out of my way to be a weirdo to her, because her reactions are hilarious. At the beginning of this weekend, though, my creepiness made a kid cry. Okay, here’s the situation…

Once upon a time, I was a volunteer teacher’s assistant at my daughter’s small Lutheran elementary school. It was Christmastime, so I had been planning her classroom party. I asked her opinion about music and dancing. I didn’t want to embarrass her in front of her friends. A sentiment to which she replied “Don’t worry. I’m unembarrassable”.

Oh really? Challenge accepted.

I have done everything imaginable to turn her cheeks red or make her walk away in shame. I sit inches from her in restaurant booths and stare at her face while we are eating. I call out inappropriate things like “hey little girl, you wanna pet my puppy” when I pick her up from the kiss-and-ride lane at school. I walk with my fingers interlocked between hers when we are in large crowds. I pretend she farted and make a scene about the stench in quiet spaces like the library or Barnes and Noble. Whenever I walk by, I bury my nose in her hair and take a big whiff to remind her of a very strange boy who used to be infatuated with her. Finally, I gave up trying to embarrass Lil Sweetie at last year’s 6th grade graduation party. If flailing around like a maniac to Abba’s “Dancing Queen” didn’t make her disown me, nothing would.

I Fart

Come to think of it, my antics have made our relationship much more fun. Instead of withdrawing in those restaurant booths, she’ll link her arm around mine while giving me the rundown about school, friends, art, basketball or BTS. At pick-up time her usual retort is “Stop it, Mom, you’re scaring the little children,” as she laughingly gets into the car. Rather than retracting her hand from mine, she has developed the habit of reaching for me first…even in the MALL! She waves her tooshie in front of me and exaggeratedly wafts fake fart gas to my nose like a deranged mime. When her friends laughed (and danced) with me at their graduation, her response was “Isn’t my mom the best?!” The only thing that gets under her skin is the hair smelling joke. Of course, I do it as much as possible now.

That’s the nature of our relationship. I am perpetually trying to get a rise out of her. She, in turn, does her best to minimize her response while simultaneously attempting to make me laugh so hard that I snort. The end result is that both of us have become public nuisances and are somewhat oblivious to the watchful glares we receive.

In my defense, I have had so many strangers open up to me like I’m their long lost bestie, that I don’t consider people strangers anymore. They are friends I haven’t met yet or potential homies. Therefore, I approach everyone with that attitude. Let’s just say that some are more receptive than others.

Hi FriendFriday afternoon we came across a young mother and her three children sitting inside our favorite Korean bakery. The bakery is located in the busiest mall in America (hyperbole). Seriously, this place is packed on a random Tuesday morning at 10:00 am. You can imagine how much foot traffic it receives on a Friday afternoon. The mother was sitting at the table closest to the storefront with her two young sons and her sleeping baby girl in the stroller. I gushed at how cute they were as we entered. No biggie.

After we ordered Honey’s birthday cake and Lil Sweetie’s yaki soba, we took a seat to wait for the food to be prepared. There was only enough space for us to sit across from each other. My back was to the young family. At some point, Lil Sweetie, who has become infatuated with Hallyu (South Korean pop culture), showed me a Pinterest picture of a kid who looked very similar to the youngest little boy. I turned to get a better perspective.

When the kid spotted me watching him, I waved. He smiled and dipped his head shyly. Our cake was ready, so I went to the counter to retrieve it. On the way back, both of the little boys were looking at me. I made a funny face and they giggled. I was the only dark-skinned patron (Lil Sweetie looks Blasian). I figured I was the most interesting person for them to study. Their mom was preoccupied with her phone, so I didn’t want to rile them up too much. I took my seat and waited again for the yaki soba.

Crying Kid

Meanwhile, the mom went back to order something more and left the boys at the table with their napping sister. I turned to wave again and twisted my face in ridiculous ways to make them laugh. Without the protection of their mother, I think they may have gotten a little spooked. The oldest brother widened his eyes and pulled his chin into his neck. He gave me a sidelong stare with a face that was begging to become a meme. I did NOT take his picture, even though I really wanted to. Lil Sweetie and I were laughing so hard our eyes watered.

A few minutes later, after we had turned away from the boys, the oldest must have gone to get his mother. His little brother started wailing.

Mom, you made him cry!” my daughter scolded.

What? I had done no such thing. But the young mother thought I had, because she and her oldest son were glaring at me. In fact, some of the other patrons had followed her eyeline and landed on my face. I didn’t even do anything! I had stopped paying attention to those kids at least three minutes ago. What did they think I was gonna do– kidnap a 3 year-old in the middle of a crowded mall in broad daylight? Absurd!

Thankfully, the yaki soba came out not long after that. As we were leaving, I stopped at the young mother’s table and told her that her children were adorable. She smiled and thanked me. As I turned to walk away, I caught her furl her brow and tic-toc her eyes like an old-fashioned Cheshire cat clock. Ooo-kaay, I guess complimenting strangers isn’t a thing anymore.

snaughling

My daughter summed up the whole scene with one sentence. “You mean well, Mom, but you’re a little creepy.”

I laughed so hard, I almost doubled over. I staggered past people on my way to the parking garage, probably making a spectacle of myself. When I reached the mall exit, which is only about 100 feet from the bakery storefront, I leaned against the wall and let out a series of snaughles.

Well played little one. Well played.

Ciao!

GRATITUDE

I am always taken aback by the outpouring of empathy I receive after I post something extremely personal from my past. My friends are the best humans on the planet, so I’m not surprised by their support. It’s when strangers reach out to me that I am pleasantly surprised. Okay, here’s the situation…

Let me start by saying that I appreciate all of the love and encouragement that I receive from those that I care about who are closest to me. I hope they understand that I am perfectly fine now. I am able to share those stories, because I no longer feel attached to them. It’s not me that I am writing about. It’s an old friend that I once knew and loved. I share her stories to help others see that they don’t have to let their traumas define their identities.

In this case, someone was impressed by one of my stories and reached out to me personally. I was touched by her gratitude and praise, though I do not feel particularly courageous. This remarkable woman suffered atrocities I could not imagine enduring, yet she thanked me for my bravery. No, Friend, thank you. Seriously. I am honored that I have the opportunity to meet incredible, strong, brilliant, beautiful people like you.

People like you reaffirm my faith in the innate goodness in humanity. People like you make me reflect on my actions to gauge whether or not I am doing enough to make the world a better place. People like you, with your kind and loving hearts, inspire people like me to be the best versions of ourselves. People like you give me a reason to pray for a harmonious world and believe that we will live to see it come to pass.

Thank you, Friend. I love you too.

Ciao.