A Matter of Balance: A Woman's Quest for Health, Harmony & Kick-ass Heels

Saturday, December 29, 2012

We've moved

You can now find us at www.interplayhealth.com/blog

Come on over!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Use your words!

The leftovers have been gobbled up, the Black Friday crush has thinned and folks are immersed in Cyber Monday surfing. We SAY we should keep the spirit of gratitude alive all year long, now as Nike says "Just do it."

I have actually been thinking about this for a few weeks now and have been jotting down lots of random things that come to my mind. These are things I always THINK of doing, but don't necessarily take time to make them happen.   Now I am slowly but surely taking action each day. 

Over the weekend I heard my sister-in-law say to my little nephew "use your words!"  And I thought, hmm, that's not such as bad idea!I I have always believed the old adage that 'actions speak louder than words,' and while I still agree, your words hold power too.

So when something I like or appreciate or am grateful for strikes me, I chose to take deliberate action. Turns out it takes practically no time at all!

For example here are a few of my efforts the last few days:
  • Tweeted to a producer about one of his movies I'd just seen (and how much I loved it).
  • Submitted a restaurant review on Trip Advisor of a place we enjoy having dinner
  • Wrote an email to an author whose book I just finished to thank her
  • Dropped a line to someone who inspires me with her example

My intention is to put more goodness and gratitude out into the world.   By no means do I wish or need any thanks or acknowledgement.  Expecting that would be a contradiction.  But, sure enough, when you put good stuff out there, it comes back tenfold. 

I received a beautiful reply today from someone I had emailed...and the last line speaks volumes:

 "Thank you, again, Kristen, words matter - and yours just made my day!"

Use your words.  They matter.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What's on my list this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Eve hanging with my buddy

Today is a day for giving thanks.  Though I believe every day should be a day of thanks.   In the US we gather for stuffing and cranberry sauce and football.  (Although the Steelers aren't playing today, I'll be most grateful if they get rid of those god-awful uniforms!) 

It's one of my favorite holidays since it's all about family and food.

In my newsletter this week I issued a challenge.  Make a list of 100 things you are grateful for (no doubt there's more, but write down 100).  Then take a deep long breath.  I made my list yesterday. 

Today also marks the beginning of week eight of my recovery from some unexpected and extremely intense surgery.  I have tried to practice gratitude through the process and have also had a few mega meltdowns along the way.

I am, however, especially grateful for two of the many gifts that have come from this experience.

Surrender and support.

It has been a challenge to practice surrender during this process. But I find when there's a lesson to be learned, life has a funny way of making sure we learn it.  

Also over the past weeks, the gift of support from family, friends, associates, customers, acquaintances and even strangers has been overwhelming and humbling. 

So on this day of thanks, on my 100 list (which just scratches the surface), I give thanks for the gifts of surrender and support.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What are you waiting for?

Last night I caught a glimpse of my husband putting a bottle of wine in the frig. Not an unusual sight. He does his best to ensure there's always a chilled bottle on hand.

We generally stick with low budget vintages, but this one was a bit pricier, purchased for a special event dinner a year ago, then set aside when guests brought bottles we chose to open instead. So I placed it back in the rack for the next special occasion.

It's kind of like the bottle of scented lotion I received as a gift from my dad on what turned out to be his last Christmas. I was saving it for a special occasion. Not that I can really think of a special occasion for moisturizing. I recently tossed it after nineteen years. The bottle was pretty darn dusty and the lotion....well not so good. 
Have you worn your nice lace undies lately? Served dinner on the 'good china' ? Dabbed on your luxurious perfume?

Are you waiting to start living?

As hubby nestled the wine bottle into the door of the frig,  I said " hey isn't that the special wine?" 

"Yes," he answered, "don't you deserve special?" 

I paused considering what a particularly rough day it had been.  Hell yeah, I thought!

"I guess so," I answered.
"Then what are you waiting for?" he asked.

Good question.

In fact, a random Tuesday night just might BE the special occasion!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

4 Questions to get 2013 off to a roaring start

When I read Pamela Slim's latest blog, I was immediately exited to begin thinking about 2013.  Maybe some of you share the sentiment that I'm ready to put 2012 behind me!  I heard Pam speak a few years ago and was inspired by her energy and point of view.  

She graciously agreed that I could share her blog here.   I'm going to begin reflecting on these questions and invite you to do so as well.  Thanks for the food for thought Pam!

From Pinterest, originally found on charlestongirlblog.com

4 Questions to get 2013 off to a roaring start
 Pamela Slim, Cubicle Nation 

I love planning.

It could be a Virgo thing, since the smell of flip chart paper and new pens is almost as sweet as fresh leaves on a Fall day.

With November at our feet, it is a great time to start to plant some seeds for your 2013 career and business plans.

(You can read Pamela's blog, plus check out her newsletter and additional video here)

To do this exercise, I suggest getting nice and comfortable, and grabbing a paper and pen. Answer these questions:

I am at my very best when ...
What conditions bring out your very best work? What kind of work are you doing when you are kicking major bootie? What people bring out your best work? Without overthinking it too much, brainstorm the factors that bring out your best work.

From this list, circle one thing that you will AMPLIFY in 2013.

These things drove me crazy in 2012 ...
Have you been spinning around with the same annoying patterns in your head? Do you have any people in your life that make you nuts? Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? Brainstorm the things that have really made you batty this year.

From this list, circle one thing that you will ELIMINATE in 2013*
*If this thing is a person, I am not suggesting homicide. Maybe something less dramatic like unfriending on Facebook.

I really want to make/do this in 2013 ...
Is there an experience you are dying to have next year? Do you want to run your first marathon, write your first book, have your first baby or make your first product? Brainstorm the things or experiences that you would love to accomplish next year.

From this list, circle one thing that you will CREATE in 2013*

*If "making a baby" is on your list, the homework is really fun.

Even during tough times this year, I appreciated ...
Even the most optimistic life coaches have really crappy days. Life can be hard sometimes. If you had a whopper of a year, what are some things that you appreciated as the proverbial doo doo was hitting the fan? Brainstorm the big and small things that kept you grounded in 2012.

From this list, circle one thing that you want to APPRECIATE in 2013*
*Since one of the things I have appreciated in 2012 is a plant, I am going to make sure to send waves of gratitude. I think plants have feelings, but you be the judge. 


With these four key elements you want to bring forward into 2013, now you can start to work on the nuts and bolts of planning your career or business. Stay tuned for more video updates on the topic, although I can't promise a musical intro to each one. Unless you request them, at which time I will be happy to comply.

Have fun!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

"Restoration WILL take time"

Taken from the window pre-Sandy as we began to batten down the hatches

These were the words said by our Mayor on one of the many voice mails left to keep us informed of the happenings of our City as Sandy left her mark. 

How true.  The devastation is unimaginable.  My heart and prayers go out to those who have lost and those who are still dealing with the many challenges brought by Sandy's aftermath. 

Amazing how it gives you some perspective.  No internet, or a few days of playing "Little House on the Prairie" are mere inconveniences compared to what many are facing. 

When I played the Mayor's message update for my husband, I said to him, I think he might be talking to me.

Restoration WILL take time. 

Today is a month since I've begun recovering from surgery and there's still a long way to go.  My doctor says it will be another two months until I can expect to get 'back to normal' whatever that is.   I had begun to get a bit discouraged with this lengthy healing process, but then I remember, it's all a mere inconvenience....restoration WILL take time.

Blessings to all those who are beginning the recovery and restoration process!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention

Breakfast time!
The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention

- Oscar Wilde 

This quote landed in my inbox this morning.  While recouping from surgery I tend to peruse emails and news feeds in bed while I'm having breakfast.   I know, breakfast in bed sounds like such a luxury, and it most definitely IS.  However some of the cache of this treat is diminished when it's pain that's keeping you in bed             
The past three weeks I've been the recipient of endless acts of kindess big and small.  Thanks to my mother, my house has never been cleaner and laundry more neatly folded.

My hubby has assumed so many of the other tasks and has done so in his calm and patient fashion.  This has included bringing my breakfast (along with the daily meds) every morning. 

A small act of kindness...perhaps....but it seems pretty grand to me!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Making the best of it and picking up lessons along the way

Took this in San Diego in 2010...sidewalk inspirational art

There sure is a lot of time to think when you're at home recovering.  People have asked if I've been watching a lot of T.V., but in fact I've watched very little.  I don't want to become too attached to Honey Boo Boo or something I can't sustain once I return to "normal" activities. 

I have however decided that by the time this recovery period comes to an end, I'm going to be very organized, at least with those things that I can do seated - like going through my countless computer documents, saved emails and web bookmarks.  Thank heavens for the iPad so that I can do much of this on the couch and don't even have to venture to my office chair.   I sure save a lot of information, useless and otherwise.  I came across this in my computer.  No idea where it came from or who to attribute it to, so my apologizes to the author.  But it speaks volumes....many lessons to ponder, especially my current lesson,  "practice the art of doing nothing."

Life is sacred.
Live on purpose
be intoxicated with this world and
astonished with the world you imagine
growth is a journey...
success doesn't require arrival
want what you already hold
give no place to public opinion
delight in your friends
practice the art of doing nothing
embrace moments of grace
give the child in you a wide sky
that laughter
is prayer

There is not point in waiting until we are perfect in what we do in life before opening ourselves to what we are capable of doing now.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The four words you DON'T want to start your week off with

Sporting a little bit of bling on my way to the hospital

"You have an extremely large mass and it has to be removed immediately."

Four words leapt as my doctor was giving me the results of my CATSCAN on what had started out to be a typical Monday. I had been experiencing persistent and intense pain in my abdomen and back for about ten days when I finally dragged myself to the doctor, having waiting for the most convenient time to fit it into my busy schedule.

I was trying to practice what I preach and listen to my body, yet still intent on sandwiching it between classes, meetings, radio show and the things that always feel like the take precedence in our lives.

Another day of appointments and tests confirmed that the mass was suspicious, surgery was a must, and that time was of the essence. One doctor even mistook it for my uterus (sorry pal, Elvis has left the building, that no longer resides here anymore!)

On the eve before surgery was scheduled to take place, I realized I had a choice to make. I could either go down the dark hole of 'what if's', lamenting why me, and feeling sorry for myself. No doubt this would result in a lot of tossing and turning throughout the night. Or I could celebrate the moment and hope for the best, drawing on everything I know to stay positive and hopeful.

I cracked open a bottle of wine, cranked my favorite inspirational and upbeat tunes (think Kelly Clarkson "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger"), and danced. And danced. And danced.

I think my husband was slightly baffled by my enthusiastic dance party, but even acquiesced threw in his standard dance move a few times.

Then while taking a dance break and perusing FaceBook, I saw a post mentioning how awesome the moon looked that evening. I immediately danced out to the driveway to take a look, but it's position, coupled with our trees made it impossible to see.

Rich suggested we take a ride to find it. So clad in pj's we hopped in the car and went moon chasing.  When we found a good viewing spot, we parked and simply took it in in silence.

When life hands you lemons, put on some music and dance...or perhaps chase the moon. It makes for much better memories no matter what lies ahead.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Just ask.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

This lesson was reinforced to me again last week. I was busy researching, confirming, and booking guests for my radio show and was working on a particular topic I thought could be valuable for people - preparing for and recovering from surgery. It was a very important topic for me this year, and I thought others might benefit from some sound information on the subject.

A potential guest popped into my head, Peggy Huddleston, a renowned expert in the field . I knew about her work, had read her book, and had listened to her meditation CDs to prepare for my own surgery. Then the negative tapes began playing in my head... nah, I'm sure she's too busy to consider my show...who am I kidding, what do I think I'm Katie Couric now?

Since I'm trying to work on the energy I'm putting out into the universe, I stopped those negative tapes, and on a whim decided to google her, found a general informational email for her office and fired off an email.

Within five minutes my cell phone rang. Lo and behold it was Ms. Huddleston herself. We had a wonderful chat. I told her how much her work had helped me. She was more than happy to participate in the show, and then preceded to suggest other experts that she could get to call in as well.

What the heck? Even better than I expected!

Change the tape and then just ask.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Make time for the people you love

It's been almost a week since my last blog and I just haven't had much time or a clear idea of what to write. Then a college friend of mine posted this on Facebook (thanks Frank) and bingo, that says it all.

It's a continuous journey to create balance in our lives and keep our eye on what really matters.

Sometimes I get buried by the mundane, the administrative, and the domestic. I forgo what matters with what I think I "should" be doing and what "needs" to be done, but is that where my priorities really lie?

It's been a jam packed week, and since my work day is generally about eleven hours, there's nothing I look forward to more than snuggling up in my sweats on the couch, maybe with a glass of wine and a good book or something from the DVR Que.

There were several opportunities that arose which would tempt me away from my comfy couch:    Meeting Tracy's baby girl Eliza, surprising Peg for her 50th Birthday with a backyard flash mob, dancing with Pina to celebrate her 10 year Jazzer-anniversary, and enjoying delicious Indian food, wine and three hours of soul sister conversation with Sandra. 

THESE were the things that really mattered this week.  Teaching classes, prepping for radio shows, tackling the laundry....it all needs to get done.  But NOT at the expense of making the people that matter a priority.

The couch will still be there.  And so will the laundry.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nobody has enough money to buy time

After my grandmother (Dolly to most who knew her) passed away I found this post it note among her things. It was actually one of hundreds of post its, she was a bit of a hoarder when it came to small scraps of paper, always capturing random thoughts which ranged from "send Krissy Rachel Ray's spaghetti carbonara recipe" (yes, I'm the Krissy in question), to "gold chain purchased in Rome 1985."

From the looks of it, she heard the line listening to one of her financial talk radio programs. My grandmother could hang with the best of Wall Street's day traders. As a child, I recall that this 'skill' was directed more towards 'playing the numbers.' Like many Italian grandmothers you could find Dolly in the kitchen on Saturday stirring a big pot of sauce, (or gravy for the true Italianos) the scene made slightly askew with the pile of Dream Books (used to decipher your dreams into numerical bets) on the kitchen table and her bookie arriving at the side door.

She eventually transferred that passion into the stock market and until she died continued to rue the day she sold her Dell stock.

But back to the quote. The note was written several years before learning she had cancer, however the impact of its' message is just as strong.

No one has enough money to buy time.

It is a fact of being human, and we get to choose what we do with that reality.

For me faith, family, and fitness are paramount.

I consider my family to extend beyond my biological family and fitness isn't just my daily workout, but fitness of my mind, body and spirit encompassing many aspects of my life.

We can't buy more time. We must make the most of what we have each day.

I keep the post it to remind me.

Dolly would have been 89 yesterday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Where the magic happens

I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "Do something that scares you everyday." Or maybe I just saw it on a LuLu Lemon shopping bag.

As this photo above suggests, that's where the magic happens.

I'm all for adventure (perhaps you've read the K and P adventure blog posts), and I love exploring new things, relishing unfamiliar experiences.

But do I truly do things that scare me? Not so much.

This summer I tackled the canopy walk in a rainforest in Africa. I loved it, but to be honest, even though I'm not totally thrilled with heights, I can't say it scared me.

Rainforest in Ghana

Over the past week I decided to take some steps outside of my comfort zone. Admittedly they are only baby steps right now, and I'll save the details until I see where it begins to take me. Perhaps these actions will conjure up some magic dust for my future, and even if it doesn't, Mrs. Roosevelt would be proud.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back to basics

For over twenty five years I've had back issues.  Sometimes it's been pretty bad!

It was a series of unfortunate mishaps from a few cheerleading stunts gone astray (thought those guys were supposed to CATCH you!), to a bad sledding accident that landed me in the hospital (the call no mother wants to get after sending their kid off to school, however I'm proud to say I was, in fact, wearing clean underwear just like mom always warned.)

My first job out of college was a desk job and at times I could barely stay in my seat. I often had the feeling of wanting to crawl out of my skin.

I saw sports doctors, orthopedists, chiropractors, and endured multiple tests.  I was told it's just something I'll have to live with.

Despite the pain, I decided to join my mother at Jazzercise.  Though I had always been active, Jazzercise classes included a specific strength training section complete with targeted ab work.  Lo and behold...it worked! The stronger the abs, the better the back.

I learned a few lessons through that experience.

  • Don't settle for "you'll just have to live with it."   Keep looking for solutions.
  • Keep moving in whatever way you can.  It was hard for me to keep it low impact when I started as a Jazzercise customer, the music just made me want to jump up and shake my groove thang (whatever that is.)
  • Listen to your body and heed the signs when it's time to slow down (as well as to pick up the pace) I'm not going to let anything keep me from living fully and staying active.

Lately this problem has reared it's ugly head in a big way.  I know if I'm patient, the solution will come and I'll be sure to be grateful for being pain free (funny how you don't think much about it UNTIL there's a problem).

In the meantime, I can walk through my Jazzercise classes, make sure I don't over do it, visit my awesome soft tissues chiropractor, do a little extra yoga, and wear clean underwear - just in case.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This morning I have so many scenes running through my head:

  • The face of the Delta pilot before he shared the news
  • The sound of a fellow passenger proclaiming that planes were being shot down every ten minutes
  • The  hockey rink in Newfoundland where thousands of us waited for news and prayed
  • The Naval Base I slept at that week
  • The bar of soap from the Canadian Red Cross that I carefully protected in my pocket all week since we weren't permitted to bring anything off of the plane
  • And finally the sight of the American flag when we returned to the US the following week.

I have run  the post below for the past two years and I believe it is always worth re-posting.

Written September 2010

Everyone will at some point will remember where they were, what they were doing, who they called first, who they hugged first.  We will remember and reflect and pray in our own different ways.

At the the time I was fortunate to be part of an international team at DaimlerChrysler Financial. Belonging to an international team added a perspective to this event and provided a sense of support beyond the boundaries of my own country.

I was also fortunate that  my company did everything possible to bring me home safely that week. A long trip from Prague, to Germany to Paris, became even longer when I heard the news while in flight heading to New York. 

There was a uniqueness being on an international flight and sharing this experience with so many non-Americans.  We were also initially removed from the horrific pictures and news accounts, as we remained on the plane until 9/12 and ultimately in the care of the Canadian Red Cross and Navy for several days following. 

 While reflecting, I pulled out a folder of emails I received the days following from my colleagues from around the world.

This line came from my boss Stephen Jepsen of Berlin, Germany...

"So far as I see, nobody was able to go back to work today without the feeling that something fundamental had changed in our western world in seconds yesterday. ..and  that these buildings, symbols for freedom and pride, don't exist anymore."

9/11/01  From the plane window in St. John's Newfoundland

Sept. 11, 2001

Yes, something fundamental did change that day.  I hope that what we hold on to is the reminder of what's really important in life.  I believe that we can keep the kindness and courage that was shown during that time alive in our words and actions every day. 

The moment that will forever be burned in my memory is finally reaching US soil and seeing the American flag, the true symbol of our freedom and pride, flying brightly.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A Last Supper of Sorts.....

The dishwasher is full and Rich and Megan are off to Staples for the last of the supplies needed for college.

We had a Mexican feast tonight (Meg's fave and Rich's speciality), thelast threesome dinner before the college send off. Her trimester co-op schedule requires a later start date than most schools, so I've had plenty to time to listen to the the tales of the empty nesters lately.

It will be different for us I suppose, since Megan doesn't live under this roof 100% of the time, but I don't think that makes it any easier. It will be an adjustment.

Just as the unfamiliar territory of step-parenting was a new world to explore almost nine years ago. It required adjustment, patience, and flexibility, (and still does), as will this new chapter.

But like with all major life changes, it will be an adventure for all of us.

Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Blue Moon and my Ferris Bueller Day

I decided to declare Friday 'Kristen Self-Care Day," sort of like Ferris Bueller, but without as much craziness.

When Rich and Megan scheduled an overnight father/daughter outing, it seemed like it was the perfect time to spend a day alone, focused on what I needed. It's so easy for me to slide into burnout without even realizing it until I crash.

Rich even left me a note that morning which said Happy Kristen Day.

Admittedly, it was a bit of a challenge to make myself the priority. I kept straying towards chores and business tasks.  

I started the day at the beach with my coffee, meditating, journaling and enjoying the view.

Then I headed to a wonderful  yoga class followed by lunch at The Stand. This photo taken by one of my fellow yogi pals who ended up joining me for a tasty vegan lunch and a wonderful chat with the owner.

After a fabulous massage at Aetheria Spa (loved their new renovations!)  I broke out the paint and markers and did some art playing as well as list making for the rest of the year - things I want to do like workshops I want to take, entertaining I'd like to do, friends I'd like to get together with..JUST personal life stuff.

It was VERY hard not to fall into business lists. 

In the evening I attended a fabulous Drum Circle and bonfire with my friend Michelle at wonderful home of Jessica and Jim. It was an exceptional group of people and a beautiful and moving way to celebrate the Blue Moon. Many say the Blue Moon is very auspicious, so it was an appropriate day I suppose to take time to renew and recharge.

I understand then next Blue Moon is in 2015, so I've decided I'm not going to wait until the next one for another Kristen Day. 

Much too more important to do once in a blue moon......

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tuning into synchronicity & what shocked the heck out of me yesterday

Did you ever notice how connected things in our lives can be?

I think the phrase "everything happens in our lives for a reason" is getting a bit overplayed. However, I do see examples of interconnected experiences in my life, WHEN I let myself be open to it. Sometimes the reason is not clear right away and other times it hits me over the head.

I came home Thursday night having had a challenging week thus far, and my husband suggested I call of friend of mine to get together the following day. She's always up for something fun, he reminded me, and her positive attitude may be just what you need to finish up the week.

Sure, I said. But didn't do anything about it.

The following morning I ran in to her, and another friend, getting ready to have breakfast. They invited me to join them and it was the perfect serendipitous encounter and exactly the mood booster I needed.

Two days later I was thinking ALOT about an old friend whom I had spoken to in years (a long and complicated story). I'm not sure what brought that on, but I began to wonder if I should find a way to get in touch.

A few hours later my phone rang with an unfamiliar number on the display. I was floored to answer to find that very friend on the other end of the line which began an hour long conversation to catch up.

Intuition? Serendipity? Synchronicity? I'm not sure.

Sometimes events seem to be random occurrences, coincidence.

But upon a closer look, synchronous happenings can reveal to us that there is a greater connectedness at play and the universe gives us exactly what we need when we open ourselves to receive.

This requires that we begin to pay attention, listen and trust.

Who knows what will happen next? Maybe I should buy a lotto ticket today!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Empty Pickle Jar

I can't believe it's already hump day and I have yet to post a blog this week.  Had some big stuff going on, but perhaps my pickle jar was just a little too full and I have to remind myself not to sweat the small stuff (and it's mostly small stuff). 

Thanks to one of my beautiful customers for sharing this....
The Empty Pickle Jar

What an important reminder!

 You can also check out my friend Kevin Briody sharing a similar message with his song Walnuts and Rice

Remember it's mostly small stuff.......and maybe have pickles and walnuts for lunch!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A magnificent life is all in your perspective

Yesterday during my morning email exchange with one of my best pals she mentioned a few things that had happened that morning (and BTW I learned this morning that her day went from bad to worse). If I had been having the same kind of day I might have been inclined to get back in bed and pull the covers over my head.

Don't you just wanna do that sometimes?

When I said as much to her she replied:

The sun is shining and I have a magnificent life.  Those were mere inconveniences.

As always she inspires me and I try to learn by her example.

Another friend is going through an extremely rough time.  His terminally ill child has taken a turn for the worse.  Yet he has still taken the time to text me to welcome me home and inquire about my trip.  I often wonder how he gets through each day with such a positive outlook, knowing the reality he is living.

He is also choosing a magnificent life.

I'm lucky to have so much inspiration around me.  You do too, just took around. 


Monday, August 13, 2012

Dance is univeral. Dance is Joy.

I've been dancing as long as I've been walking.

My long time friend Beth & I before a dance recital

I performed the entire score of A Chorus Line (among many other musicals) nightly in my bedroom throughout my high school years.

So it's no surprise that my choice for fitness is Jazzercise, a dance based fitness program, or that I've been teaching it for twenty-two years.

Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching dance (with a mix of Jazzericse) in Yamaronsa, a village in Ghana Africa with the Yale Alumni Service Corp.  My class even had the opportunity to dance for the King on our final day celebration.   Last year I participated with the same group in rural China.  While a markedly different experience, dance was once again a unifying force, transcending our different languages. 

Dancing gives me joy.  I've watched it do the same for people of all ages, backgrounds, all shapes and sizes.

The children I danced with last week have little by our standards. Things we take for granted like electricity, hot water (or any water somtimes), shoes...are not daily staples in their lives.

Yet put on the music and they LOVE to dance.  They get lost in the music. They are rich in enthusiasm and they are content. While I initially found that same contentment difficult to access without a hot shower and a place to charge my iPhone.

These children are full of joy and smiles, unaware of what they lack, but fully present in what they have.

The clip above captures some of my beautiful students demonstrating their own moves (I'm partial to the adorable creature in pink sequins, she was always a standout!)

And upon my return I received the clip below from my friend and customer Sandra.  It makes me smile every time I watch it.

Dance is universal.

Dance is joy.


Friday, August 03, 2012

Connecting and disconnecting

One thing about being away, especially traveling to a third world country, is that you become very disconnected to what's happening at home. I text and email occasionally, but I'm completely removed from the day to day. No longer checking my email every ten minutes, a sparse quick moment on Facebook to post a pic or two, that's IF I'm able to get on the Internet at all. Some days it's just not possible.

We adjust easily because frankly there's really very little time leftover and it doesn't always coincide with the WiFi cooperating when there is a window of time.

But it's not a bad thing to disconnect. It's actually kind of freeing,

As disconnected as we might be away from home, the more connected we become with the people here, both those whom we are traveling with and those we are serving.

During our cultural orientation we learned the first value of importance here is communality. Here there is a mindset to commune rather than separate and a belief in social capital, what goes around comes around.

In fact, chatting with some of the business team yesterday, they encountered some resistance trying to show how the merchants can differentiate themselves to sell more, or to have a customer choose their Kenke stand over their neighbors. But why, they wonder, we are a community.

Disconnecting to connect.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A new meaning to the order 'low maintenance'

Shop near my hut

My closet

I could really go for a hot shower right now. But I didn't order any hot water this morning. It's as simple as placing a call and it will be delivered to my room in a bucket. Not quite what we're accustomed to in the states, but this is a five star hotel in Ghana and that's how they roll here.

It gives a new meaning of low maintenance. Forget the hair dryer or the flat iron (what the heck was I thinking ?). DEET has become the new fragrance and a bottle of Purell the most fashionable accessory.

I've always considered myself to be low maintenance. I've worked in Appalachia where showers could not be taken daily, and pitched my tent on top of ants while rafting down the Colorado River.

I'm not a stranger to roughing it, but this is truly an eye opening experience. When you see the devastating level of poverty people live at on a daily basis somehow the flat iron looses its importance.

Yesterday's tour of two slave castles was humbling, numbing, and draining. Perspective. Reflection. Discussion. We absorbed it all.

Still I may just order that bucket of water for later.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Open your mind and go with the flow

My home away from home

One of the important things about traveling is being able to change up your routine. Travel always requires flexibility. It's what makes it a less stressful and more enjoyable experience.

Sampling the local cuisine, for example, is essential to the travel experience. Although I hear 'possum on a stick' and other road kill may be on the menu at some point so I reserve the right to change my mind on that. I've also been warned about the 'grass cutters' which sound an awful lot like large rodents and I'm just hoping that's not on the breakfast menu tomorrow. Those who know me well will chuckle to learn that hot dogs were one of the items on this morning's menu (nope, couldn't do it).

A finicky eater as a child, I now practice the 'when in Rome' approach, or should I say 'when in Ghana' 'mostly thanks to my travels with dad and his encouragement. I distinctly remember an evening on the Champs élysées when I insisted on going to Burger King (I know surprising, but I was in High School at the time).

There have already been quite a few twists and turns on this journey and it's just begun. And to be honest, I'm not sure I was prepared for some of what I've seen so far, but more on that another time.

In terms of going with the flow, it would be easy to get frustrated because things are always changing, or because something doesn't work like it does at home. Open your mind and adapt a flexible perspective and you will soak in the sights of a lifetime.....

Here are a few from today.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Packing in progress.....

Some of the important stuff for my carry on

I actually kind of like packing.  It's the UNpacking I'm not particularly fond of. Maybe because it involves lists.  As you might expect an avid list maker such as myself makes quite a few lists before traveling.  I sort of took over the spare bedroom a few weeks ago in preparation for my trip.

Here are some of my favorite things to bring in flight:

  • Good head phones (not just the ear buds. Love these pink ones in the pic above)
  • Gum
  • Snacks - almonds and Luna Bars
  • Pashmina - no matter what climate I'm traveling to, always bring one and it always comes in handy
  • Rose water spray - this is an old bottle in the pic, but I keep making my own and refilling.  Great way to freshen up!
  • Clarins Beauty Flash Balm - awesome stuff for a long flight. A little pricier than I usually spend on cosmetics (probably around $32 on Amazon), but I save it for traveling.   
  • Hand sanitizer - I don't usually like to get crazy with the sanitizers, but good to have on the plan
  • Journal & book - but then again I don't go anywhere without those items
  • iPad - of course!  Gonna fill it up with good books and movies tonight

What's in your carry on?

Bon voyage!

Paperwork is in order

You can get travel size ANYTHING at Harmon's

There IS a method to the madness
Travel yoga mat, umbrella & Yale tote.  Three musts for me!