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

Friday, December 31, 2010

In 2010 I....

I'm waiting for my husband to get back from his walk and then we'll launch into our (now annual) New Year's Eve tradition - a movie marathon with Thai take out and of course champagne.
While I wait I am reflecting on the year.  I've been thinking about all I've experienced in 2010 and the lessons and memories which have made their mark.  

In no particular order...
In 2010  I.....

  • Tasted my first beignet in New Orleans 
  • Enjoyed several wonderful Broadyway shows in NYC
  • Sang a Lady Gaga song at Karoke
  • Heard Judi Shepard Missett give an incredibly nspirational speech
  • Rode in the car with my step daughter driving for the first time
  • Developed several new friendships with very special people
  • Volunteered regularly at the Soup Kitchen
  • Shared a 'low country boil' with my family while visiting them in Virginia
  • Said good bye to some fantastic instructors who moved away and mentored a new one
  • Played an awesome round of golf in Aruba
  • Began giving regular Reiki sessions each month and broadening my reiki practice
  • Made ravioli from scratch
  • Attended a wonderfully moving fundraiser for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission
  • Suffered a painful and challenging injury that kept me out of work for several weeks
  • Traveled to San Diego and met my oldest friend for a margarita(oh and went to the zoo)
  • Hosted the Sixth Annual Girl's Night In and ended up with some cool accessories
  • Biked 42 miles in the Five Boro Bike Tour
  • Created a vision board
  • Tried a lot of new wines
  • Celebrated 20 year of teaching Jazzercise and danced with Tim Roberts
  • Got a henna tattoo
  • Received successful  results after 3 stressful weeks of a possible bone cancer diagnosis
  • Retreated to Kirpalu for some bliss
  • Treated my staff to a evening at a spa
  • Helped a friend going through a tragic & heartbreaking experience which tested my faith.
  • Read 50 books
  • Went zip lining and tree climbing
  • FlambĂ©ed a dish for the first time
  • Cultivated a more regular yoga practice and added yoga to our studio schedule
  • Created a logo for my new business
  • Hosted a summer cookout for my long time friends

It was a year of milestones, challenges, celebrations and pure gratitude.

Looking forward to the wild abundance of 2011. 
Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mini adventures....are still adventures

November and December passed quickly without much time for Pina & I to plan our monthly adventure, so I made some mini adventures.  I say mini because they weren't totally new experiences, but at least it kept the spirit of adventure going.

In November, while in Aruba I went on a snorkeling adventure, and while I've been snorkeling before, this particular excursion was fun firstly because we explored a shipwreck, which was new.. But also because we brought slices of watermelon underwater and let the fish eat from our hands (which was sort of cool).

In December I went on a solo mini adventure to NYC.  Now I've been to NYC hundreds of times and have gone alone often, but never without a purpose.  I wasn't there to see a show or attend an event, and I didn't even go to shop. . In fact I had no agenda at all.   I spent the day wandering, people watching, and absorbing the Christmas spirit.

Ice skaters at Bryant Park

And so that we didn't totally lose our momentum, Pina and I planned a mini adventure (now becoming an annual outing) to see the Christmas lights at Paul Tudor Jones' home in Greenwich.   This year we were joined by Pina's daughter Danielle and Danielle's friend Ashley.  Pina was in charge of the hot chocolate and we had a great time with the girls. 

So even though we weren't zip lining through the sky, the spirit of adventure is still alive. 

What will January bring our way? If you've got suggestions, we'd like to hear them!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Love the message in my inbox this morning

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes."

- Charles R. Swindoll 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

“Trust that perfection is all around you right now.”

I can just hear Lorin Beller Blake's voice in my head as I type that line.  I've worked with Lorin as my business coach and when she wrote about this concept in her blog last week, the message was just what I needed to hear and one Lorin and I have been exploring in our work together.

This year has definitely been full of interesting changes and opportunities.  At times I might have described it as full of challenges, but in working with Lorin, I realize that all of the changes have actually been perfect.
Even though I was initially resistant or disappointed by some of the changes, they have opened up ideas and possibilities and a very exciting path for 2011.   As I continue to expand my vision and think bigger (hope you heard that Lorin!) more and more wonderful things have come my way.

I have begun to eliminate negative people and drama from  my life, and new partnerships and friendships have emerged.  It's exhilarating when you surround yourself with such strong positive energy.

The photo above expresses one of my favorite sayings and serendipitously I came across it painted on a sidewalk in San Diego this summer where I snapped the photo. 

As we approach that time of year when we reflect back "trust that perfection is all around your right now."  

And when in doubt Let Go, Let God!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It only takes a few minutes to unplug

I'm working on getting better at finding a few minutes to unplug every day.  I typically work 10-12 hours per day and find it hard to unplug - especially thanks to Steve Jobs and the iPhone.  I can have instant communication at my fingertips 24/7.

I am finding that keeping it simple is my best bet.

Recently in the midst of a busy  which included driving from Norwalk to Stamford to Bridgeport to Stamford back to Norwalk (not unusual in a typical day), I stopped at the new Whole Foods in Darien.  

I got a mini chipwich (isn't it cute?) and my first green tea latte.  I opened my book (I always have a book in my bag) and took a 20 minute snack break to read.  Just like the good ol' kindergarten days.  It was a little slice of heaven.  Although I confess next time I'm opting for regular green tea, which I love, 'cause the latte tasted and smelled like grass.  

But nevertheless to be "unplugged" is priceless!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rainbow Reflection

This blog post was 11/16/10  written while on vacation in Aruba.

This morning while walking on the beach in Aruba I saw the most magnificent rainbow.  Walking on the beach is one of my favorite past times and my morning ritual when I'm here.  I generally walk at least an hour each morning, stopping at the end of my walk to get my morning coffee, then enjoying it on the beach.

Aside from the $2 for coffee and my condo key, I usually have my ipod in hand, listening to podcasts or  favorite tunes. 

As I stepped on the beach today I saw a rainbow that took my breath away.  My first though was "OMG how beautiful!" Which was followed immediately by "I wish I had my carmera or my phone to snap a picture.  Should I go back and get it?" 

What?? Is that crazy?

There I was, rather than taking total delight  in the scene before me, I was wondering how I can capture it rather than just enjoying it.   

My grandmother was always the life of every party (many of you know her as Dolly).  She was also obsessed with capturing it all on film and video tape.  Smile for the camera. Hold that pose. And recreate the moment if necessary.

And while I appreciate having those tangible memories now (although I didn't like posing so much back then) I wonder if she every really enjoyed the moment. 

The memory struck me as I stood and took in the perfection of the rainbow.

In today's age of instant information where our lives are chronicled on Facebook and Twitter and our every action can be broadcast on You Tube, it's refreshing to stand in the sand, breath the salt air and enjoy a rainbow moment.


Addendum    Three days later I was taking a walk specifically to take some pictures of the scenery and find some interesting shots and lo and behold --- another rainbow!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sharpening the saw

A few vacation scenes

Do you remember the parable about the woodcutter who had become totally exhausted by his work? He chopped furiously, unwilling to stop for a moment, in a frenzy to meet his quotas.

One day a stranger stopped and observed this frantic pace.  After a few moments, he asked the woodcutter if he could inspect his ax.  The stranger ran his finger along the dull blade and raised his eyebrows.  

"If you take a few minutes to sharpen your ax," he told the chaotic woodcutter, "the work will go much more quickly and easily."
"I can't," the agitated woodutter replied.  "I just don't have the time."

Sound familiar?

Are you cutting wood with a dull ax?  Could you move through your day with more efficiency and grace if you just took time to sharpen the ax?  

I was fortunate enough to take a vacation last week and as I return to my regular routine I'm reminded that sharpening our ax doesn't have to be a week away (how often do we get that luxury?).  It can be through exercise, meditation, healthy food choices or simply ten minutes a day of quiet.  Although I have a busy day today, I am planning to take a break a little later to read and enjoy a cup of tea this afternoon before I start my  Juniors class. Believe me, that 20 minute break can be a lifesaver!

Making time to sharphen the ax daily will hel pyou stay balanced and at ease no matter what your day may bring.

When we take time to do things which center and balance us on the inside the things on the outside flow much more easily. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shake what your mama gave you

After our zip lining adventure in September, Pina and I decided to bring it indoors for an adventure of a different type.  We headed to Xenia for an evening of Mediterranean food and Belly Dancing by the beautiful Tava.

I've taken Tava's Belly Dancing classes before so I knew were were in for a good show.

We sampled many different types of food (I even tried lamb for the first time believe it or not!) and we were swept away by the beauty and abandon of the dancing.  During the performance Tava pulled several women up to dance.  Even our waitress (who had also taken Tava's classes) joined in the fun.

Even though these women may not have had Tava's blingy costume (or her abs for that matter), they danced with confidence and grace.  They were not self conscious.  They were proud and simply inspiring. 

It was such a great reminder to "shake what your mama gave you!"

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

“Choose your attitude and your actions and boldy act!”

What keeps you from getting stuck in the mud?  Our Big Fish community is blogging about this topic this week. 

I love Lorin Beller's perspective - "The most frustrated people I know are not in action.  When we get stuck, we often try to think our way into action, but that just gets us even more stuck."  Yep, we've all been there!

Yesterday I spoke to the students at the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy about what it's like to own a business.  At the end one of the students posed this question: " If you had everything  you ever knew about business erased from my mind and could only keep one thought, what would it be?"

Tough one!  

My answer was that you need to have passion to be an entrepreneur but you also must plan, plan, plan and be flexible enough to change the plan as needed. 

For me, planning helps keep me in motion. It is the first step to getting out of my head and taking action.  It keeps me engaged in Lorin's four steps for acting boldly:

DECIDE to act. 
DEFINE my goals. 
DEFY my fears. 
DO it.

Without planning  these steps would not be possible and I spend a lot less time spinning my wheels!

What keeps you out of the mud?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A look back - 20 years of dancing....and a whole lot more

This week I'm celebrating my 20th anniversary of becoming a Jazzercise instructor and franchise owner.  I never thought at age 24 that this choice would have become such an instrumental part of my life.

As I reflect back there are SO memories, but the legacy for me is all of the lives that have been impacted, in big and small ways.

Obviously sometimes it's an improvement in health or weight loss but many times it's an emotional transformation. Our bodies are a reflection of the life and attitude we create for ourselves and the biggest change is  when a person becomes confident in her body, and realizes all that she is capable of in every aspect of her life.  I am blessed to have witnessed all of these changes thousands of times over the years.

Just like I couldn't put just one class together of my favorite routines, I could never compile 20 years of memories in one simple list.  Yet, I felt an "anniversary blog" was in order.  So here are 20 highlights that come to mind ( in no particular order).

  1. Taking my first Jazzercise class with my mom at the Ridgefield Boy's Club with my first instructor Jill
  2. Teaching my very first class at the Fairfield Grace Methodist Church to a packed room.
  3. Opening Day of the Jazzercise Fitness Center of Stamford on Hope Street
  4. Teaching at the Tres Jazz Convention in New Orleans, as well as twice at the Providence Convention .What an honor to be chosen not to mention how much fun it is to be on the BIG stage!
  5. Hosting Tim Roberts at my Center (twice!)
  6. Traveling to Jazzercise conventions in Boston, Providence, Miami, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, New Orleans to dance and sweat with hundreds of other like-minded women (and men).  Truly exhilarating!
  7. Being mentored by the fabulous Donna Duris and Chris Melfi Damon who taught me how to rock the stage.  No one better to learn from than these two!
  8. Hosting a fundraiser for 22 families of firemen lost in September 11th.  In addition to the money we raised, having one of the Fire Chiefs who had lost several of his men attended the event in honor of his crew was a real highlight.  Plus a live performance by my friend Kevin Briody singing, The Parade,  with all of the instructors doing the final stretch which I choreographed  to his music.Not a dry eye in the house!
  9. My impromptu Bachelorette party (organized by Kara) in Vegas.  A lot of firsts that night, but as you know what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
  10. Spending an afternoon and evening in Kansas City with Jazzercise founder, Judi Shepard Missett (completely by accident!), including a little shopping, dinner and then having a drink while listening to jazz (her favorite of course!). 
  11. Our Holiday performance show which featured the ladies from the Senior Center in Stamford, my elementary school Juniors, my  pre-teen class and a performance from our instructors.  Truly rewarding to see that joy through dance and movement IS for EVERYBODY.
  12. Mentoring women (probably almost 20 over the years) to become instructors and to realize their potential, achieve a goal and overcome doubts about how great they can really be.  Watching THEM teach is the real gift for me.
  13. Our first Susan Komen Fundraiser in 2000 with instructors from all over the area (Alicia, Lynn, Shannon, John, Mary, Deb, Chris, Donna...and who else?).  We raised over $17,000 that night for Breast Cancer.
  14. Being inspired by Judi's keynote speech at the Elite Instructor Convention this spring, as well as watching 20 years of her visionary leadership.
  15. Participating in countless community events, warm ups for charity walks, health fairs, fundraisers, auctions,
  16. Appearing on T.V. on  12 on Health twice as the guest fitness expert (twice!).
  17. Having my business story featured in Sixteen Weeks to Your Dream Business.
  18. Most recently, being selected as a cover model for Healthy Life magazine in 2011
  19. Working with my mom.  What could be better? She's funny, wields a mean Swiffer and is my best friend.   
  20. Above all, the relationships created  through this experience have been the biggest blessing of my life.   Not only the friendships I have made, but the friendships I witness being made each day. We have seen each other through marriages, divorces, untimely deaths, health challenges, births, bad hair days and much more.   We are always there to share a hug or shake a hip. And that's what keeps me going.

How about you?  If you have a Jazz-er memory we shared (even if you weren't taking a class, but just remember something about the Jazzer-journey), please add your comment below.

As the cliche goes...... thanks for the memories!

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Lessons among the trees

    Just over a month ago, my pal Pina & I decided to adventure into the world of zip lining and outdoor adventure sports. 

    We headed to Empower Leadership Sports & Adventure Center http://leadershipsports.com

    Here we spent the afternoon traversing suspension bridges 40 feet in the air, climbing cargo nets up into the tree tops and zipping from tree to tree.

     As the name suggests, it was truly an empowering experience..

    I definitely learned a few things whilst up in the trees during my zip lining adventure:

    1) It's good to be spontaneous.  Pina & I did this on somewhat of a whim.  There wasn't too much advance planning, we saw the ad, acted and went.  Glad I didn't have too much time to think about it!

    2) It's healthy to take positive risks.  All too often we get stuck in our comfort zone and it's important to take that leap (in this case literally) to get out of that trap.

    3) It's important to challenge yourself physically. I learned that even despite my injuries and health issues over the past year, I am probably in better shape at age 44 than ever. 

     4) As the folks at Nike say....Just Do It. If I thought too much (or looked down too often), I wouldn't have gotten very far. 

    Can you find me in the trees?

     5) Sometimes fears is more about what's in your head. If you had asked me beforehand, I probably would have said I'm afraid of heights.  But to be honest, I don't even really know if that's true.  It's just what's in my head.  We've all heard it before - fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Face your fear and you may find it's easier than you thought.

    6) I have more strength and confidence than I think.   There are plenty of days when I doubt it, but our adventure showed me I am capable of even more than I thought. 

    We did it!

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    What matters more – being kind or being right?

    In terms of communicating and negotiating with a spouse or partner, kind will almost always serve you well. If my husband and I disagree, which thankfully doesn't happen too often, it's a case of "pick your battles."   Kindess usually wins.

    However, as a step-mother of a 16 years old, choosing right is often necessary, for everyone's sake.

    But what about in business?

    This is the question Lorin Beller Blake of Big Fish Nation posed in her blog this week.

    "I believe the most powerful person in the room is the one who can see all perspectives as possibilities rather than threats – the person who acts first to be kind rather than to be right.  Which person are you?? "

    Yesterday I had lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She is also a successful entrepreneur (twice).  We were discussing this topic and she pointed out that our job in business is really to make the customer right.  Being kind is how you accept and honor another opinion.  And ultimately isn't that the kindest thing we can do for our customer and our business.  Besides, it is more fun to be kind. It is more fun to make other people feel validated rather than inferior. 

    Let's be in the business of making the customer right. Who doesn't want that validation?  In fact, it just might bring you repeat business (or even better - referrals).  Then no only have I been kind, but I'm also happy.

    And THAT feels RIGHT!

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Why thank you.....

    These flowers were a thank you from the beautiful Susanah 
    Over the past several weeks I have received some special compliments.  Maybe the planets are aligning in my favor or maybe I've decided to pay closer attention, to actually listen to them, appreciate them, savor them.

    Usually if I have ten  positive things and one negative event or comment during the course of my day I go to bed dwelling on the one negative.

    Anyone else do that?

    So I'm making a conscious effort to change that.  And is that ever a work in progress!!

    Reflecting back on these compliments brings a real smile to my face.  I'm not talking about run of the mill compliments on our outfit or shoes (although those are appreciated), but the things that really touch upon what's important to me.  Like how I am supportive as a friend (that was a very special conversation) and  how I have impacted lives through my business.  I am grateful to have recently received three beautiful cards from instructors I work with and several emails or conversations with customers which all touched my heart.  I even heard from two people recently how I have inspired someone through this blog (believe it or not) and one of those people I don't even know.  

    I invited you to really listen to what is said to you today and hold on more tightly to the good stuff and loosen your grip on the rest.  And while you're at it, throw as many positive compliments out into the universe as possible.

    Only good can come of it!

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Standing together

    I wanted to share this beautiful letter from our lovely customer, Susanah. I share it not only because I hope that those who are local will consider joining us on Saturday, but also as a testimonial to courage, strength and the power of community. 

    As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and on Saturday, October 2nd from 10:30 - Noon scores of Breast Cancer Survivors alongside their friends and families will stand in solidarity for those who have struggled with this disease that affects 1 in 8 women in America.  Mayor Michael Pavia and WABC-TV news commentator Bill Evans will be there as well.

    Last year, we fell just a wee bit short in completing the Mile.  I am hoping to make "The Mile" (if not more) in 2010.

    The event is taking place (right after Saturday's class) at Veterans Park, Atlantic Street, Stamford.

    In addition to being an organizing member on the Paint The Town Pink Committee with the Bennett Cancer Center of Stamford Hospital, I am also a survivor and Jazzerciser.  My battle with cancer took place just a year ago and I am keenly aware of the many benefits I've reaped from attending Jazzercise:  The gradual strength that came back over time (my ability to graduate to a 7-lb. weight when the baby 1 lb. pink weights proved difficult last year) and the joy and solidarity that I've always felt being surrounded by "Real Women".  You have all touched me in ways large and small. 

    Kristen, you know that we have our share of Breast Cancer Survivors in our Jazzercise classes.  Too many.

    I want to dedicate this year's Mile Of Pink to one of "Our" members:  May Marie.

    If anyone is unable to attend the Mile of Pink Event on Saturday due to prior commitments, I urge them to purchase a T-Shirt in the effort to help eradicate this disease from our community.  Wear the T-Shirt around Town during October.

    Stand in the Mile Of Pink for Jazzercise.

    Stand in the Mile of Pink for May Marie.



    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Mums the word....


    This lovely fall photo is from Carrie Leber from Bloomalicious.  I love getting her email newsletter because it's always full of juicy beautiful photos.   So I'm 'borrowing' this one, giving her the credit, and using it to kick off the spirit of fall which is right around the corner.

    While I hate to see summer fade, I'm getting ready for fall stuff - like a bunch of mums for my front porch, pumpkin coffee,  golden leaves & cozy sweaters.  Fall is one of my absolute favorite things about living in New England.    My hubby even made this deliciously healthy soup today with butternut squash (another fall fave). Yum!

    I'm reflecting on what my intentions and goals for fall.  In fact, I'm happy to report that my earlier post on personal September goals a few weeks ago is almost complete, as is my business list (which I didn't post.)    Although I'm still working on that visit with my nephew...

    What are your favorite things about fall?  Time to get into the spirit!

    Friday, September 10, 2010


    Everyone will at some point tomorrow 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...

    "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.