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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

To thine own self be true - a lesson from Hamlet this week

I don't really care for Shakespeare. I try. I want to love it. I think I should. But I don't.

And you know what, that's ok. I give myself permission not to like it.

This topic was discussed in last year's Happiness Project Book Club. Not The Bard in particular, but all of us had been in situations where several people had told us we'd love a book, movie, restaurant, you name it. But we didn't. And we kept trying, because we felt we should. 

Sometimes we have to give permission to be true to ourselves. Sounds like something Polonius declared around Act Two.

This week I went to see a production of Hamlet in Brooklyn. The actors were exceptional, the venue unique, and I went to support a friend. While I much prefer a rousing Rogers and Hammerstein musical, I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

I will always support my friends, and with my theater friends that's meant sitting through a helluva a lot of community productions over the years. I will continue to cheer them on from the audience, and they have done the same for me.

I know the time, commitment, and effort it takes to step on to that stage (and in this case memorizing Shakespeare no less!). It would be easy at this stage in our lives to forgo the opportunity and choose the couch and Ryan Seacrest, rather than take the risk to stretch yourself. That takes courage.

I'm glad I went, but I won't be diving into King Lear anytime soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


It's been one heck of a week. As much as I try to practice what I preach, sometimes I need to be reminded to stop and take a breath.

Fortunately, I am surrounded by beautiful beings who remind me to do just this. Exceptional friends and an incredible mother provide a strong support system that I gladly lean on. And then of course, there's my hubby, who sent me these lovely flowers yesterday, with a note that says it all.

Sometimes that's all there is to say.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A K & P adventure of a different sort: Breaking the pattern

Pina & I in the lobby of Feinstein's

In our quest for adventure, Pina and I have tackled  the heights of zip lining, the waves of surfing, the spotlight at halftime at the Big East Tournament, but this month we decided on an adventure of a different sort. 

Our parameters are broad.  It could be something we've never done, a place we've never been, it doesn't really matter as long it provides a new experience.  After all isn't life simply a collection of experiences?

So last night we headed to Park Avenue in NYC  to Michael Feinstein's swanky Loews Regency Night Club.

Now I've never been there, so that makes it an adventure already.   In fact, I'm sure I've never been to anything remotely resembling the description on their website  -  "next generation of great supper clubs."

But hey it was a chance  to dress up, sip wine, enjoy scrumptious appetizers (the flat bread was heaven!!) and listen to the beautiful sounds of Caroline Jones. You can check out her music here.  The evening was just lovely (and complements of Mr. Paul Tudor Jones I should add.  Thank you Mr. Jones!). 

The real adventure however, involved breaking a pattern.  You see, this event didn't even start until 8:30 pm.  In New York City.  On a Sunday night.   Not only is a late night like that way past my bed time, but on a school night to boot!   

By 8:30 pm on Sunday nights I'm tucked into my flannel pj's, buried in the Sunday paper, or maybe a basket of laundry.  But putting on my party shoes and heading to Manhattan.  Uh, no.

How many times do we label ourselves, our habits?  Like, "I don't go out on Sunday nights."    Someone in fact used that very line when I mentioned where I was headed.   

What's your label?   What is the pattern that you wouldn't consider breaking.  I challenge you to reconsider.  

Then break the pattern.  Maybe not all the time, but just once. 

I'm glad I broke the pattern and went out on school night for a bit of an adventure, even if it means I  may need a second cup of coffee this afternoon.  New venue, new artist (buying her CD today!), new friends, and did I mention the flat bread?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Learning to Sit Alone, in a Quiet Empty Room

On this chilly snowy morning, I find my mind making lists of how to spend the first snow day of the year.  As I wander through the time suck known as the internet, I came across this insightful article by Leo Babuata from Zen Habits.  He's always got something thought provoking to share.

 His words strike a chord with me.  While I always rated high on "plays well with others," the idea of sitting alone doesn't sit well with me.  It's a habit I'm trying to cultivate, even if just through my simple ten minute morning meditations.

Perhaps today is the time to carve out some nothing time.  Being, not doing.

My favorite spot in my office.  Perfect for some solitude.

‘All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.’
 ~Blaise Pascal

Post written by Leo Babauta.
Think about some of the problems of our daily lives, and how many of them would be eased if we could learn to sit alone, in a quiet empty room, with contentment.

If you’re content to sit alone quietly, you don’t need to eat junk food, to shop on impulse, to buy the latest gadget, to be on social media to see what everyone else is talking about or doing, to compare yourself to others, to make more money to keep up with the Joneses, to achieve glory or power, to conquer other lands or wage war, to be rude or violent to others, to be selfish or greedy, to be constantly busy or productive.

You are content, and need nothing else. It solves a lot of problems.

Can you sit alone in an empty room? Can you enjoy the joy of quiet?

Most of us have trouble sitting alone, quietly, doing nothing. We have the need to do something, to check our inboxes and social media, to be productive. Sitting still can be difficult if you haven’t cultivated the habit.

I’ve been learning. In the morning, as my coffee is brewing, I sit. Even for a few minutes, at first, it is instructive. You learn to listen to your thoughts, to be aware of your urges to do something else, to plan and set goals. You learn to watch yourself, but to just sit still and not act on those urges. You learn to be content with stillness.

You learn to savor the quiet. It’s something most of us don’t have, quiet, and it takes some getting used to. When we’re driving our cars or out exercising or eating or working, we have music playing or we talk with people or we have the television on. Quiet can be amazing, though, because it helps us calm down, contemplate, slow down to savor the emptiness.

An empty room, too, is a luxury. I try to empty my room of clutter, so that it’s fairly bare. That leaves only me, and the room is a blank slate ready to be filled with me, my creativity, my silence. I love a spartan room.

Being alone is another pleasure we too often neglect. When we are alone, we go on the Internet or TV to see what else is going on, what others are doing or saying, instead of just being alone. This isolation is a necessary thing, that allows us to find ourselves, to learn to be content with little instead of always wanting more.

Can you practice being alone, being still, being quiet? Just a little at first, then perhaps a bit more. Listen, watch, learn about yourself. Find contentment. Need nothing more.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like winter

Courtesy of Pinterest

The dusting of snow his morning has reminded me that it is actually winter, despite the teaser days of 40 plus degree weather of late. For me winter brings images of cozy flannel pj's, a cup of tea and an engaging book.

Each season I make a wish list of experiences to relish and enjoy. I find it helps me to fully embrace the season and hopefully take me away from my business goal list and household projects.

Looking back at my fall wish list, I see that sanding and staining the wooden bench still lingers untouched, but perhaps another time.

It'd be much easier to wish it away (I much prefer warmer temps) but then, I've come to realize that wishing time away doesn't make for a very rich life.

My winter wish list...
  • Have a pj day - looking for one good snowstorm and an excuse to stay in pjs all day
  • Enjoy my new soup cookbook by experimenting with as many different soups as possible
  • Bring more creativity into my life (something I've been reflecting on for awhile and worthy of its' own blog post so more on that later)
  • Teach yoga once a week - even though this is actually work related, this has been a personal desire as well
  • Plan a special birthday celebration for my hubby (who's hitting the big 5-0).
  • Cook an Indian feast with my friend Sandra (we've been threatening to get together to cook Indian food and drink wine for ages, it's time to make it happen)
  • Try something completely out of my comfort zone
  • Be gentle on myself and let some things simply run their course

What's on your winter wish list? 

I invite you to post below as you may just inspire someone to do or try something to make their winter a bit more beautiful.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Can I get a round of 'spirit fingers' for these gals?

Under the heading of "its never too late"  I was inspired reading about the Sun City Poms.

 As a cheerleader from Middle School through College, the sight of shimmering pom poms and the sound of a marching band always brings a smile to my face.  These young-at-heart gals, ranging in age from 62-78 take that inspiration to a new level. Performing nationally, they defy the notion that women of "a certain age" have to be sedentary and sit on the side lines.

Their website touts them as talented, vibrant and inspirational

They are a no doubt a vibrant example that it's always good to put on something a little sparkly and kick  up your heels.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

We're a "Must Do"

As a perennial list maker, I get very excited about lists, especially those that challenge me to take action. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Six Ways to Blast Belly Fat, Eight Steps to Spiritual Enlighlment, Ten Power Foods.....you get the picture, I'm on it!

Our Jazzercise classes are a Must Do!

That, as my dad would have said, is a no brainer!  We all need exercise every day, so why not choose something that's effective AND fun.  I mean who wants to be bored to death schlepping along on the treadmill?

No Joining Fee, 
No payment for January.  
Just dance, and sweat, and sing along to PitBull and......
Put it on your list today.....or better yet,  just DO it!  

What are you waiting for?  You've got 49 other things on the list to tackle!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good

 During 2011 I participated in my first book club. 

We only read one book for the entire year, so it was a low key, "underachiever's" book club.  And despite the low bar in terms of reading,  I got a monthly dose of inspiration and sharing from my fellow participants.  It was my regular fix of "so I'm not alone in feeling that!"

Our choice was "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Ruben. The experience really did make me happy. I tried many of Gretchen's suggestions and enjoyed her bits of wisdom.

One great nugget was her advice "don't let perfect be the enemy of the good."  Boy did she have my number with that one.   I can tend to be a perfectionist sometimes, except when it comes to ironing, and so often I slide into the mantra, "well if I can't do it perfectly, why bother." 

Gretchen had some great tips about getting exercise, undoubtedly a way to up your happiness quotient  (while reducing road rage as well).

Today I'm 'borrowing' Gretchen's blog post.  I hope you enjoy and also get out and exercise today.

 Learn more about Gretchen and The Happiness Project. 


12 Tips for Getting Regular Exercise -- and the Benefits for Happiness and Fitness.

Exercise is a KEY to happiness. Research shows that people who exercise are healthier, more energetic, think more clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia. They get relief from anxiety and mild depression. They perform better at work.

Also, although it’s tempting to flop down on the couch when you’re feeling exhausted, exercise is actually a great way to boost energy levels. Feeling tired is a reason to exercise, not a reason to skip exercise.
But even when you admit that you’d feel better if you exercised, it can be very hard to adopt the habit. My idea of fun has always been to lie in bed, reading, preferably while also eating a snack – but I’ve managed to keep myself exercising over the years by using all these tricks on myself:

1. Always exercise on Monday. This sets the psychological pattern for the week. Along the same lines…

2. If at all possible, exercise first thing in the morning. As the day wears on, you’ll find more excuses to skip exercising. Get it checked off your list, first thing. It's also a very nice way to start the day; even if nothing else goes right, you've accomplished that.

3. Never skip exercising for two days in a row. You can skip a day, but the next day, you must exercise, no matter how inconvenient. (Lately, I haven't been following this rule, and it has really affected my routine for the worse. I'm going to re-double my commitment to it.)

4. Give yourself credit for the smallest effort. My father always said that all he had to do was put on his running shoes and close the door behind him. Many times, by promising myself I could quit ten minutes after I’d started, I got myself to start – and then found that I didn’t want to quit, after all.

5. Think about context. I thought I disliked weight-training, but in fact, I disliked the guys who hung out in the weight-training area. Are you distressed about the grubby showers in your gym? Do you try to run in the mornings, but recoil from going out in the cold? Examine the factors that might be discouraging you from exercising.

6. Exercise several times a week. If your idea of exercise is to join games of pick-up basketball, you should be playing practically every day. Twice a month isn’t enough.

7. If you don’t have time both to exercise and take a shower, find a way to exercise that doesn’t require you to shower afterward. Each week, I have a very challenging weight-training session, but the format I follow doesn’t make me sweat. (Some of you are saying, “It can’t be challenging if you don’t sweat!” Oh yes, believe me, it is.)

8. Look for affordable ways to make exercising more pleasant or satisfying. Could you upgrade to a nicer or more convenient gym? Buy yourself a new iPod? Work with a trainer? Get a pedometer to keep track of your walking distances? Exercise is a high life priority, so this a worthwhile place to spend some money if that helps.

9. Think of exercise as part of your essential preparation for times you want to be in especially fine form -- whether in performance (to be sharp for an important presentation) or appearance (to look good for a wedding) or mood (to deal with a stressful situation). In college, my roommates and I always made sure to exercise the day of a big party. Studies show that exercise does help.

10. Remember one of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood, courtesy of Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t decide it’s only worth exercising if you can run five miles or if you can bike for an hour. I have a friend who scorns exercise unless she’s training for a marathon -- so she never exercises. Even going for a ten-minute walk is worthwhile. Do what you can.

11. Suit up. Even if you're not sure you're going to exercise, go ahead and put on your exercise clothes. Pack your bag. Put the dog's leash by the door. Get prepared. If you're ready to go, you might find it easier just to go ahead and exercise. Sometimes, a very trivial thing -- like not knowing where your shoes are -- gets in the way.
12. Don’t kid yourself. Paying for a gym membership doesn’t mean you go to the gym. Having been in shape in high school or college doesn’t mean you’re in shape now. Saying that you don’t have time to exercise doesn’t make it true.

People often ask me, “So if I want to be happier, what should I be doing?” and I always say, “The first thing to do is to make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and some exercise.”

I know, that answer doesn’t sound properly transcendent and high-minded on the subject of happiness, but research shows that you’d be wise to start there. And I’ve found that if I’m feeling energetic and well-rested, I find it much easier to follow all my other happiness-inducing resolutions. 

Thanks Gretchen!

PS Our 2012 book is The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters by Sarah Susanka.  Join us the last Tuesday of every month at 10:30 am AFTER you exercise of course.

Monday, January 02, 2012

A bit from Buddha to get you going....

There are two fatal errors that keep great things from coming to life:

1. Not finishing
2. Not starting 


How many times have you told yourself it's not a good time to stet exercising, lose weight, look for a new job, get out of that toxic relationship...fill in the blank.

For some reason we feel we must wait until all the planets are in alignment and the laundry is done (folded and put away no less.). But if we wait for perfect conditions, nothing will happen. 

Beginning makes the conditions perfect.

Start today.