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All posts for the month February, 2013

Past the Challenge Halfway Point…

Published February 28, 2013 by Susan Woodward

We are now nearly at eight weeks of our twelve week Challenge… two thirds of the way through!  I cannot believe how fast the time has gone.  I also cannot believe how much I have accomplished so far…and I look forward to continuing!

Will took our pictures last week at the seven week mark, but before I post that, I will re-post my “Before” picture.  This was me at the very beginning of the Challenge:

susan_woodward_Cirque Challenge Before Pics

Ok…so this is as of last Saturday (Feb. 23):

seven weeks

It’s a start!!!

And speaking of starts, tonight I actually started climbing with my arms!  I pulled myself up a couple of times, using my arms only!

I also tried combining moves on the silks in preparation for my someday-routine.  I did a roll-up and then went into an inverted stag.  I did both moves without falling, and I even held the stag for longer than I have before!

So, my three surprise successes this week are:

1- beginning to climb, even if it is just with my arms!

2- combo moves!

3- getting into a layout five times in a row without falling…and I have the boo-boo to prove it!

Once the twelve weeks is up, I plan to sign up for continuing with silks and Cirque Fit (although I do not know if I will be able to commit to CF twice a week); however, I will be looking to take a Zumba class and swimming at the YMCA (I have to check to see if they have an AARP discount).

The harder I work, the closer I get to that first routine!  I have been playing the music video for “Nothing Else Matters” as my motivator!

Nothing Else Matters

Published February 26, 2013 by Susan Woodward

A whole lot of things have been changing for me…for the better.  Right now, I feel stronger than I have in — well, I can’t even remember when I have felt this strong.   I’m not just talking about physical strength here…that’s coming as I continue through the Cirque du Rochester Challenge.   I mean, I feel like a stronger person overall.

I had the strength of will to quit smoking;

I’ve had a strong determination to change my eating habits;

I’ve had the strength to begin going to the Fitness Center on a regular basis after my aerial arts classes (while I am already in workout clothes and in need of a shower anyway);

I’ve had the strength to walk away from what I know is not good for me, and never will be…

and with strength comes confidence.

I feel more confident at my job, in spite of the strain of the APPR, Common Core Standards, and PARCC national testing looming;

I feel more confident in attempting new moves at silks, in spite of my fear of falling;

I feel more confident in taking some personal risks that I formerly would have shied away from;

I just plain feel more confident and happier as a PERSON…

And nothing else matters.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get to the point where I will be able to complete an aerial silks routine, but I am making that one of my goals.  You know, the ol’ Bucket List.  I will work until I am finally able to fly for just over three minutes.  And I know that three minutes is the target because I have already selected the music I want to use for my someday-routine.   Click below to hear Apocalyptica play a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”:

And so I will continue to work hard to get to the point where I can actually “fly”… these are a couple of tonight’s attempts (thanks, Jen, for playing videographer for me!):

I managed to get into the side plank position…briefly…before plopping out of it.  But I got in by myself for the first time!

The Layout turned out to be a rather painful move to hang in… I guess I have another area of this body that requires strengthening!  I have to hang with the silk tucked into the crease of my…ummm… let’s say upper thigh area.  That led to a pretty nasty bruise.   No pics will be appearing on the Aerial War Wounds page, but this would qualify…ouch!  In spite of that difficulty, I DID actually “climb” out of the move with my arms.  My first climb!!!!  And Will even verifies it as an actual climb in the video!

And finally, my first attempt at an aerial flip.  Well, on the mat anyway!  Will models for us what we will be working toward, and then I gave my first try… and here it is:

As you can see, I have a long way to go before I will get to performing a routine…but I will one day get there.

I will keep getting stronger, physically and emotionally.  I will keep gaining confidence in all that I do so that I will continue to be happier and healthier in the second half of life.

And nothing else matters.

Willisms: “The Easiest Way to Make it Harder…”

Published February 25, 2013 by Susan Woodward

…is to drag my sleep deprived ass onto an elliptical after a crazy hour of Cirque Fit! (But I DID it!)

And where in the world would we Cirque Challengers be without our Willisms?

Will at CF

Meet Will:

Hi, Will!

William D’Ovidio is our trainer and the co-owner (with his wife, Jennifer) of the Aerial Arts of Rochester.

See Will run…actually, it’s hard to see Will run, or hop, or leap as he moves faster than the camera can capture him.  Notice that the others in the picture are not as blurry.

Will likes to see just how hard he can push us.  We have crawled like crabs, leapt like frogs and kangaroos, hopped like rabbits, lifted like dogs at a hydrant, stretched like snakes, and I am right there with my menagerie of animal grunts and other noises as I strive to keep up.

In the middle of each challenge across the floor, he adds things like, “And if you want, you can add a clap to that push-up” or “If you want, you could do that push-up on two fingers”… in other words (to coin Will’s phrase), “The easiest way to make it harder…” and he’ll just fill in the blank for us.

Cirque Fit 1

Meet Susan:

Hi, Susan!

Susan is the confused looking one saying, “You want me to do WHAT??”  half the time in class.  That is her go-to-response when Will utters his Willisms.

Will wants Susan to drag Jennyfer across the room.

See Susan wondering about the exercise, but not just for the initial trip…Susan is thinking ahead about Jennyfer dragging Susan back again!

The easiest way to make this harder…for Jennyfer!!  Pair little Jenn up with Susan!

And that’s how Willisms become our reality every time we enter Cirque Fit!

Cookin’ With Jojo

Published February 23, 2013 by Susan Woodward

What a busy Saturday… Wegman’s tour with Patty to see the best that Weggies has to offer Health-wise, Nutrition class with the girls, Cirque Fit (with Patty, too!!), and then open aerial practice.   I am sore, sore, sore…but in a great way!  While I might have trouble making a fist (achy hands), I know that my hands are stronger than they have probably ever been in my life.  I do not want any of this to end!  Well…maybe the aches and the soreness can go away, but I want to stay committed to being physically active!

The Challenge Ladies have been great!  We are already planning a 5K in June, and there is talk of joining the Dirty Girl 5K in September!  (I’m not exactly sure what that is, but it apparently involves teamwork and obstacle courses…)  I will be researching that one more!

After a grueling workout and with arms like rubber, I left the studio with my granddaughter Jojo in hand to go shopping for dinner ingredients at Trader Joe’s and then head home to cook with my little Munchkin.

She really is a good little cook!

After a hard workout (Will my abs hurt, and so do my ARMS!!!), protein was definitely on the menu.  Patty had whet my appetite with the quinoa salad she made for the Challenge Girls, so I thought about cooking with it.  I was feeling creative, so while Jojo and I were at Trader Joe’s, I concocted a stuffed veggie recipe:

First, I prepared the raw vegetables:

– 3 large green peppers, halved and cleaned for stuffing (so that will make six)

– 1 medium eggplant, halved and hollowed, ready for stuffing (that will give me two)

We (Jojo and I) then mixed in a large bowl:

– 3 cups cooked quinoa

– one 8 oz. package Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Grain Tempeh (crumbled- Jojo had fun doing that part)

– one 10 oz. package Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burgers (crumbled- Jojo broke the burgers into chunks, and I crumbled the chunks for the stuffing)

– the chopped up innards of the raw eggplant

– one 10 oz. jar Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade

After mixing all ingredients well, we stuffed the six pepper halves and the eggplant halves.

Jojo cooking 2

Jojo cooking

It looks a bit like she’s trying to make me an offer I can’t refuse, but after four pics and she kept doing that, I guessed that a smiling picture wasn’t going to be part of the deal today.  She said she wanted to make silly faces.  Ok…so I will publish the silly face.  When you look back on this at 16, Jo, you will thank me for publishing it!

Back to cooking…

After we stuffed with veggies, I poured a bit of  Trader Joe’s low sodium vegetable juice over the top before baking.  Popped it into the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes, so that the veggies were tender.  Voila!  Dinner for the family for a couple of days!

The spices came from the Tapenade, the juice, and the veggie burgers.  No added spices (including no salt).

We had supper ready when her mom came to pick her up after she had been teaching silks at a birthday party.  Protein was on Mommy’s menu, too!

This has been a great family thing, joining the Aerial Arts program.  Once I sign up for classes after the 12 Week Challenge is over, Illy will keep me motivated (as my future teacher, she will kick my ass if I miss class), and we can both eat healthier while cookin’ with Jojo!

What the Hell… I Smell Already Anyway…

Published February 22, 2013 by Susan Woodward

When I got home from Aerial practice, there was coincidentally only one parking spot left in the lot, and it was right in front of the Fitness Center.  My guess it was the Universe saying to me, “Oh, what the hell… you stink already anyway.  You may as well go in and do something.”

So I did an 11:48 mile on the elliptical!

THEN I took a very long, very hot shower!  I feel better, though, because I took an extra step tonight.

And then it took three hours to load a few freaking videos to the internet from my camera!  All the relaxation of my Soul Food at the Art Gallery and the hot shower took a hike as I had choice words for both my computer and my camera tonight.

However, I DO have a finished product as evidence of my progress in the Aerial Arts.  Still a far cry from Cirque du Soleil, but a definite improvement.  As proof that improvements have been made, I shall re-share my first attempt at a roll-up…

This is the 7 Week improvement:

After trying and trying and trying, I finally did the hip key and was able to to it again for posterity!

This move (the inverted stag) I just learned two nights ago… but since I was semi-successful in getting into position, I wanted to get it on video:

Ok, so I fall out of it.  But I did get into the position (sort of).  I just have to remember to keep my supporting leg straight!

Well, after all the video broo-ha-ha and uploading fiascos, I am going to bed!

Soul Food at the Art Gallery

Published February 22, 2013 by Susan Woodward

It took three attempts to visit the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, but I finally made it in!   I really, really wanted to go on Monday because it was my birthday, but when I arrived, the museum was closed to the public.

Boo…hiss.

I came back on Tuesday to find that it was also closed to the public that day as well.

Boo…hiss.

Wednesday I had a lunch date and then watched movies with my son on his day off, so I didn’t even ATTEMPT to show up again.

But Thursday?  SUCCESS!!

My big thing was that I wanted to do something for my soul.  I have been working hard to reformat this body (and it really still needs a LOT of work…).  I have quit smoking, I’m changing my eating habits (that’s a bit on the hard side…), I am exercising (and not only at Aerial Arts, but actually using the fitness center where I live), and working hard to make myself stronger…but I really needed something more to nourish my soul.

One thing I did this week to help with that was to visit my friend and healer, Mimi.  I had a wonderful reiki session with her, and that also helps with the spiritual food.

I really felt called to go to the art gallery, though.  I am in no way, shape, or form any kind of an art “expert”… far from it!   I was thinking that maybe something there was calling to me in some way, begging me to come see it.  I figured that my soul would recognize whatever it was that was calling to me because I wasn’t quite sure if my eyes could do so!

I walked through the various rooms, hoping that something would speak to me and grab my attention.  While there were many interesting pieces, nothing said, “Hey, Sue…cop a seat and pay some attention to me for a bit!”

That was before I got to the far end of the building and could hear what sounded like the Phantom of the Opera (NOT Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version, but the one I imagine from Gaston Leroux’s novel) playing upstairs.  It was haunting and literally drew me up that marble staircase till I found the source.  It was coming from the Italian Baroque Organ in the Fountain Court.

I discovered a young man sitting at a bench, playing this massive 600 pipe organ.  (Ok…I’ll give you the info from the museum flyer):

Italian Baroque Organ

This fully functional instrument, with its 600 pipes and lavishly carved, painted and gilded 22-foot case, not only reflects the art, architecture and science of Baroque Italy, but its musical and religious culture as well.  With the original bellows dating from the late 1700s, this organ combines the technology of the eighteenth century with exquisite artwork, as seen in the crowning depiction of Saint Andrew.  The authentic pipework, keyboard, and case have been restored to their 1770 condition with as few alterations and additions as possible.  That this instrument was so well preserved is a testament to the continuity in Italian organ culture.  As tastes changed throughout the years, organs were enlarged but the original integrity of sound was never compromised.  The result is that visitors to the Memorial Art Gallery are provided with a unique window into eighteenth-century Italy.

The young man at the keyboard was Joel Kumro, who is studying privately with a professor from the Eastman School of Music.  I was so taken by the sound that I had to take a video to capture it…thank goodness I had my camera and it takes movies!

 

I have to apologize to Joel for the first video… I filmed it with my camera sideways, and YouTube would not let me rotate the view.  I will have to see if there is a way to fix that, but I can at least share the music with you!  The first piece is called “Tocata per le levatione” by Fresco Baldi:

Because of an error I made in transferring the videos to my computer from my camera, I ended up making a mess of the second video, and could NOT get it on YouTube.  I managed to save myself by getting it to FaceBook!  (I have to work on being more technologically savvy…).  You have to click on the thumbnail to get to it.  Sorry for the technical difficulties, folks…

This piece is entitled “Christae Alio Modo” and it is also by Fresco Baldi:

Italian Baroque Organ

If all else fails, click here:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200208178502214&set=vb.1084652066&type=2&theater

Stupid video embedding technological mess-ups…   ANYHOW…

The litany of pieces played by Mr. Kumro kept calling me back to the Fountain Court, even after I began wandering around in the other halls nearby.  I decided that it must have been the music calling to me that brought me to the gallery to begin with.  I do not think that I would have been treated to an extended concert like the one I had today on any given day…I was meant to be there today and not earlier in the week.

What made me think that it was the music calling me was a comment that I made to myself while looking around in one of the other rooms.  I looked at a piece and thought, “Huh…this doesn’t resonate with me.”   At that point, the music from the Fountain Court got really loud and higher pitched…and it reminded me of that old Don Knotts movie, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.  I just decided to plant myself on one of the benches in the hall and allow the music to resonate with me.  I noticed a couple of different reactions within my body as I listened.

Tunes that were of the higher pitched, almost gratingly Gothic variety (the best phrase that I could come up with to describe it…and not to be meant derogatory in any way) literally caused the hair on the top of my head to prickle (again, not meant to be derogatory…just an observation).   Wondering if it was just a coincidence, I continued to listen as Mr. Kumro continued his repertoire.

When the music changed to what I can only describe as “churchy” sounding (lower pitch, smoother tones than the other pieces), I noticed a change in the resonance in my body.  I tried to sit as still as possible and just listen… and it seemed to resonate in my upper chest and throat area.

I continued to listen as the songs changed back and forth from the Gothicky to the churchy, and each time the resonance was experienced in the same way.  Top of the head for Gothicky…chest and throat for churchy.

So what did I begin to make of that?  I started thinking about how the singing bowls that Mimi used in the reiki session make me resonate with them.  The various pitches seems to reach different parts of my body, activating different chakras.  That’s what the experience with the Italian Baroque Organ was like… activating my chakras.  In this case, I felt the heart and throat chakras in the “churchy” lower pitched pieces, while my crown chakra literally buzzed with the higher pitched pieces.

Once I equated the organ with the singing bowls, my being there for the performance made much more sense on a synchronistic level.   This was my “soul food” that I had been seeking.  I felt more balanced and recharged as I left…a gift that worked well for going on to my aerial arts practice.

I love how the Universe works.

Finally in an Inverted Position!!

Published February 19, 2013 by Susan Woodward

After last night’s Cirque Fit and subsequent extra workout, I was pumped for tonight’s aerial silks class!  While there may be a lot of moves I cannot yet do because I am either thinking too hard when trying to do them, or I just don’t have the strength yet, there ARE moves that I am able to do…and those are what keep me going.  For me, my successes outweigh my “failures” (if you want to call them that… maybe I can just say “failed attempts that have not materialized into successful moves yet”), and that is HUGE.

A year ago, I never would have imagined that I would even attempt what I am doing.  Circus moves…me?  Really??

Well, guess what!!  HELL, YES!!  I am trying, and I am going to KEEP trying till I get it!!  And I DID learning something new tonight!

Woo Hoo!!  I may not be able to get into a ball position yet, but I managed to do an inverted stag!!!

Inverted Stag Me2

Ok…here I am just flipping back for the first time, preparing to get the leg up in the air…

Inverted Stag Me1

And I did it!!

What I need to do to improve the move is to grab down lower on the silks, and then arch my back more, bringing that leg higher.  But for a first try…pffft!  I am upside down, and I am happy with that!!!

And my arms are killing me right now…time for a bit of ice and rest.

OHHHH… AND I did a roll up all by myself, and I know that Will didn’t help because he was across the room!!  AND I ROLLED OUT OF IT SMOOTHLY!!!!!   No falling and no face plants!  🙂

solo roll up3solo roll up2

I can’t type anymore tonight… even my hands hurt.  But I am feeling GREAT about what we have been able to accomplish so far!!!!!!

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