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

Friday, December 30, 2011

The big & the small: In 2011 I.....

A few  moments in 2011

This is the weekend everyone reflects on the highlights of the year.  Many of us have our year end rituals.  We celebrate the highs, vow to move past the lows and look with promise to a fresh start.

This morning while journaling, I began a list of 100 things I am grateful for in 2011 (a tip from Fabienne Fredrickson in one of her recent e-zines)  I'm still working on it and plan to finish the list tomorrow.

When I ponder the pieces that created the sum of my year, more than the adventures and events, I ask myself about the people woven throughout my year.  Have I been a good friend?  A decent boss?  A loving spouse?  A supportive step mother?  

In addition to nurturing my current relationships, I always wonder if I've made any new friendships during the year.

This year the answer was a resounding yes.  My life changing adventure to China this summer with the Yale Alumni Services Corp brought countless special people into my life.  From my 200 fellow travelers, to over 1300 students, to the countless others we met along the way, 

While it's unlikely I'll ever see any of the children again, there are without a doubt a few special people who I will always call friends.  And for that I'm especially grateful. 

The big and the small, here are a few things that shaped 2011 for me.

(in NO particular order)

  • Started wearing mascara
  • Climbed the Great Wall of China
  • Welcomed a new nephew into the world 
  • Made jam for the first time (blueberry) 
  • Tried my hand at fencing 
  • Mourned the loss of an amazing inspirational woman
  • Learned how to eat with chopsticks 
  • Skyped for the first time
  • Sipped tea at The Plaza 
  •  Watched my lovely stepdaughter go to the Prom
  • Went horseback riding
  • Read 50 books 
  • Performed at half time at the Big East tournament
  • Took the summer off from golf due to an elbow injury 
  • Went on National T.V. wearing a sports bra 
  • Met an incredible group of people from Yale 
  • Took a pizza making class 
  • Was a guest on a radio show (twice) 
  • Hosted a Little Black Dress party
  • Took Belly Dancing 
  • Dined by candlelight during Hurricane Irene
  • Was in a car accident (thankfully not my fault!)
  • Mentored a new instructor and said good bye to a few others
  • Became an OpZomist :)
  • Corresponded with two student pen pals from China 
  • Biked 42 miles in the Five Boro Bike Tour
  • Did yoga on the beach in Aruba
  • Launched a new website 
  • Received an iPad from my hubby and got hooked 
  • Got a great chair and ottoman for my office and finally ditched the old loveseat 
  • Started a regular meditation practice 
  • Tried Laughter Yoga during my annual retreat to Kripalu
  • Bought my own Reiki table 
  • Was on the cover of a magazine 

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
- Oprah Winfrey 

Cheers indeed!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tell others you care about them:

From Pinterest

I am sitting at my desk right now listening to the press conference about the horrific tragedy that occurred in our area on Christmas morning.  Everyone is talking about it, yet there are no words. 

It is almost impossible to scrape up any goodness from this.

All I can say is this.....

Too often we just assume that others know how we feel about them, but are you sure they know? 

Or perhaps we rush out the door and don't take the time to give a kiss good-bye and tell someone we love them. 

There's no harm in telling them as often as you can how you feel again and again.

It never gets old. 

And if by chance you never get another chance you'll be happy that you did.

Go hug someone and tell them you care.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How big can the regret be?

Yesterday I enjoyed a lovely lunch in Manhattan with three super classy, smart women. I met them in the mid 90's when our paths intersected professionally, and I have been mentored by them (whether they realized it or not) both professionally and personally, and looked to them as role models ever since. 

While individually we may see one another more often, it's been ten years since all four of us have sat down together. 

Of course given the rarity of the occasion, the nature of the season, and the fact that at least three of us were off that day, Cindy suggested a glass of wine, and Rose and I quickly gave our seal of approval. 

Polly debated (she was not the one going back to work, and for the record, neither was I ), not sure if a glass of wine in the middle of the day would make her too tired. 

Rose immediately asked, " How big could the regret be?"

Well, that sold Polly on a glass of wine, and it really stuck with me. 

How often do I hem and haw about something, wasting precious time and energy? Sure some decisions require careful deliberation, because the regret could potentially be significant. I'm weighting one of those types of decisions right now in fact.

But a lot of decisions are given far more mental energy and pondering than necessary. I'm going to make that question a regular part of my decision making and thought process. 

Why just this morning my mind is whirling with the usual dilemmas. Take time to go to yoga or not? Serve salmon on Christmas Eve or a different fish? Pick up the bread today or wait until the craziness of tomorrow morning? And the mind chatter continues to roll. 

As I traveled home from this beautiful gathering, I realized once again being in the presence of these women inspires and teaches me. 

And the only big regret, we all agreed, would be not making time to get together more often. - 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Passion & purpose: A true legacy

My mom & I with MayMarie in her prized garden

A few months ago, we lost an amazing and inspirational woman, MayMarie Conte.  She was a long time customer, a friend, and over the years had become an avid pen pal with my grandmother.  They had met and hit it off sometime in the mid 90's and kept up an ongoing correspondence for years.

At the time, some people asked if I was going to write a blog about her. Seems that all major life events are commemorated in social media these days, as if the cyber world brings us some closure.

I didn't write anything.  My choice was to mourn quietly.

This week I had the honor of being invited by two of MayMarie's friends to come over to her home before the last of her belongings were to be taken away.  An estate sale had been held earlier this fall, but again, I opted not to attend, preferring my memories to any trinkets I could have purchased from her life.

I was grateful when her friend Barbara gave me a few of her beautiful belongings to remember her by, but more than that I was struck by something Barbara shared.

She said MayMarie had been cremated wearing her scrubs and a Jazzercise Breast Cancer Fundraiser t-shirt.

The first thing that came to my mind were the words.... Passion & Purpose.
As in life, her choice at the end was to go forth with passion & purpose.

MayMarie was the consummate nurse.  It was her vocation, but it was also her passion.  Nursing was her purpose on this earth.

She was also a breast cancer survivor. Maintaining her health was paramount and she exercised regularly, which included fifteen years of Jazzercise workouts.  Jazzercise was one of her many passions and she no doubt did it with purpose, even when it was clear that it took painstaking effort just to get up the stairs to our studio.

She was a woman who lived her life with passion & purpose in every way.

This Christmas when I set my table with MayMarie's beautiful Irish linens and napkins, I will  give thanks for her beautiful legacy, and I will step in the New Year with as much passion & purpose as I can muster.  

And maybe a tiara and a bit of red lipstick too.

A much appreciated visit to celebrate my 20th Jazzercise Anniversary

My Big Bang Theory

I've always said that if you don't slow down and take care, the universe will put something in your path to force you to.  Guess that's what the woman in the Toyota Camry who rear ended me yesterday was up to.

To be honest, I think I've been handling this Christmas season with fairly little stress and had been having a very productive, albeit, busy week.   Until the Camry.

 I could be frustrated that I have to stay home from work,  have a back and neck that is super sore  (not ideal when you have a physical job),  a muffler dragging along the pavement, insurance paperwork, claims adjusters, rental cars and the like to deal with today.

Could be much worse. So I actually find myself in a place of gratitude. If it's all in how you frame it (as I always say), then it's a happy accident.

I got to lie on the couch last night with no agenda.  Plus my hubby brought home some chocolate and pretzel crisps, two essential elements when confined to the couch.

I get to sit in my home office and sort through my inbox this morning (a task that's been nagging me for awhile).

I'm going to see the fab Beth Leas at the TLC Center for some healing Reiki ater.

I am surrounded by amazing  family, friends, staff and customers who have been sending me lots of love today.

All in all, it's a pretty good day. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"It's not so much how busy you are...

      Love this quilt given to us by a friend

"It's not so much how busy you aret why you are busy.  The bee is praised'; the mosquito is swatted."
(quote by Marie O'Conner)

Ah, so true.

With the countdown to Christmas on, things seemed to be moving at a more rapid pace. As I sit here planning the week ahead and deciding how to spend what's left of the weekend I'm going to reflect on this quote and focus on the  WHY in my time.

Yesterday was filled with work (which for me fortunately includes working out), volunteering, and then curling up with the family to enjoy a Christmas favorite, Elf. Other than watching my hubby put the lights on the tree (Meg and I were a rapt audience, but lent little assistance other than supervisory direction), not a lot of tasks were accomplished.  

Rather than volunteering yesterday I could have tackled gift wrapping and there's a bit more shopping that could be done. Instead of watching a movie, I could have faced the laundry  which is piling up. But I decided that until I am seeing eye to eye with it, I'm not going to stress too much.  

But going back to the why, I'd like to think that the time was spent wisely.

Take a look at how you're spending your time this season and ask yourself just exactly what you're busy with.....better to be the bee!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Christmas traditions: old & new

The holidays are a time where we bring out the traditions.  Things we've done since we were little, traditions that were born as a result of a marriage or having children, and then new traditions that emerge, sometimes accidentally.

Last night was a wonderful evening which included a fairly new tradition.  First I enjoyed a delish dinner at the Abbazia's (cooked by the big guy, Frankie himself).  After dinner we went on to what is becoming an annual event,  a drive to see the light show at the home of Paul Tudor Jones.  

This is the third year Pina & I have ventured out, hot chocolate in hand, to soak in the holiday ambiance (and the second year her wonderful daughter Danielle has joined us).  If you haven't seen it ,here's a glimpse at last year's display  but I think this year's is even better.

There's always great conversation such as Danielle's creative ideas for inventions, fashion, and  last night  veered into the topic of our favorite (and least favorite) Christmas carols.

I shared that one of my favorites is  "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" was written in October 1962 with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker .  The pair were married at the time, and wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
One of my favorite old traditions was heading to the Elms Inn in Ridgefield every Christmas season to hear Noël sing his classic song. For years my musical theater pals and I frequented the Elms to sip a drink and to sing along side Noel as he tickled the ivories.  

He always played our favorite show tunes and let us take the spotlight,  but at Christmastime,  when it came to the song made famous by Bing Crosby, it was his turn to shine.  He was known more for his piano prowess than his vocal stylings, but somehow this one was all his.

I get chills thinking back on it now.   

Christmas traditions old and new....it's all good!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Go ahead, sing along. 

Yes, it is looking like Christmas around here, and even smelling like Christmas too, as we picked up our tree today. We're giving it a chance to settle and will be decorating it later in the week. In our attempt to create as stress free a holiday as possible, we're keeping the decorating simple.  

We are contemplating doing something different to decorate the tree this year rather than our usual ornaments, and when I say 'we' I mean me.   I think it'd be fun to get a little creative, but Rich tends to prefer the status quo.  At the moment I don't have any brilliant ideas (please pass any along !) so the jury's still out on that one.

However you do it, just be sure to enjoy the process.....


Friday, December 02, 2011

One for you....one for me....

Ever get into that mode when you're doing your Holiday shopping? Spot a great gift  for mom, and hey look over there - something just right for ME!

Is it me? Or is it hard not to fall into that trap?  

But this is the season of GIVING, 'tis it not?
Mid-year I made a choice not to buy anything for myself for the second half of the year, with the exception of while traveling in Beijing (there's gotta be an exception to every rule right?).

For the most part, I've been consistent and successful, but sometimes a girl needs just a little sparkle for the Holidays.

In my shopping travels of late, I picked up these festive sparkly earrings (with the Kohl's sale + coupon they were less than $10).  So don't beat yourself up about wanting to give a little to yourself as well.  You were good this year, right?  It doesn't have to be extravagant or big.  An inexpensive bit of holiday cheer may be just what your festive outfit needs.