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Reflections on 2013

Published December 30, 2013 by Susan Woodward

2013 was a year of changes for me… challenges, both physical and emotional, tested me to my limits, and I am still here to talk about it!  In one year, I made significant changes that I have, sadly, let slide a bit as the weather turned colder and I began the new school year.  However, I recognize my backsliding, and I am going to make sure that I do something about it.

I really decided to start posting my challenges online because I wanted to leave my thoughts to my children for the future.  I want them to be able to actually look at pictures of their crazy Mom, watch videos of her trying to make a 50 year old body do aerial arts, and read my introspective thoughts so that they might have an inkling of what goes on under all the red frizz.  It’s a pictorial diary, complete with video clips that they can look back on later, when I am no longer here.  That’s why I put these thoughts out there.  If people read them and are entertained or provoked a bit, then that’s great…but the ones I really want to have access to my thoughts are my kids.

So here are some thoughts about 2013:

JANUARY

Bat Girl

The year started off with a real bang…most of them on the mat as I made my aerial arts “debut”.  My first night on the silks and I was flying!  (sort of).  And I remember my two new best friends… Ibuprofen and Epsom Salts!  I am also reminded of my nemesis that was sent into oblivion… yes, Pall Mall and all his cohorts!  No more tobacco!  I have been smoke-free since January 8 and I will continue to be for life!!

FEBRUARYswimming

In February, I turned 51, and Will D’Ovidio helped me ring in the new life year with 51 push-ups for my birthday!  The most surprising thing, though, is that I actually DID 51 push-ups during that Cirque Fit class!  I was eating better, getting stronger, and feeling a whole lot more optimistic about my future.

MARCH

Jenns 6 InjuriesWell, March brought my Circus dreams to an end with tendonitis and problems with both shoulders.  I held on to the hope that I could return in a few weeks, which turned into months, which were finally crashed and burned with a bout of vertigo.  Although I am not able to get back on the silks, March also brought me to the YMCA.  I worked hard to keep the momentum going!

APRIL

beet juiceApril is when I got the idea to try my first 5K, and so I began training.  I have no ACL in my right knee, so I am more of a power walker than a runner, but that’s okay!  I was off the couch!  I also began juicing as a way to cleanse and detox my body.   The weather was getting warmer, so I was making more regular trips to the Rochester Public Market (THE best place to be on a Saturday morning!).

MAY

2013-05-18 16.32.04 May brought the premier of Ombis: Alien Invasion, my screen debut!  Even though I have never really been a horror movie fan, I have to say that I had a BLAST getting zombified a la Tom Savini School of Make-Up and then slimed by what seemed like GALLONS of green goo!  It was a terrific experience, and I am sooo glad that I was able to be a part of the fun!

JUNE

Hiking and Teacher Rally 020Ask anyone my thoughts on the current state of education, and you’d better be prepared to pull up a seat for a long tirade!  The fiasco of the implementation of the CCSS, APPR, SLOs, PLCs, and a host of other acronyms led me to get involved instead of just bitching about conditions.  I went to Albany along with THOUSANDS of others to let John King and Andrew Cuomo know how we felt!  With all the changes so far in the year, I felt my confidence soaring, and I joined in with another acronymical group: the BATS (The Badass Teachers Association)!    I also completed my first 5K in June!

JULY

Portland Headlight with Ram Island Ledge 4 In July, I decided that I was going to head out all by myself,  I was feeling strong enough and confident enough to just get in the car, drive east till I hit an ocean, and then turn left, driving till I found lighthouses and cheap lobster!  And I DID it!  Not only that, I had no hotel reservations or anything…I trusted that everything would turn out okay.  And that is exactly what happened!  I climbed a mountain, hiked, ran in the ocean, climbed into a lighthouse, took TONS of pictures and managed to find about a dozen lighthouses.  The cheap lobster was pretty terrific, too!

AUGUST

100_0746When my Marine daughter told me that she could not come home from San Diego before her deployment in September, I decided that I was going to go to her!  I managed to pick up a summer tutoring gig that paid enough to cover my air fare, and I got to see my Sarah Bear! Never in my life would I have thought that I would put my feet in both oceans that come in contact with North America within a few weeks of each other!   I also spent a lot of time hiking and taking Nature pictures throughout the month of August.

SEPTEMBER

Fist batThis month was certainly a challenge as I began teaching consultant classes for the first time.  Worries over standardized test results (it was announced that 70% of New York State’s 3rd through 8th graders “failed” the state exams).    I was still feeling confident, still working out, still pumping that blood through those veins…and ready to pump up the BAT action with my voice via phone calls, emails, tweets, and Facebook posts.  For so long, I’d felt sluggish, complacent, and didn’t want to get involved with much of anything.  Thanks to everything I’d been working through, I put that energy to work, and the BATS are working hard to make a positive change in educational reform!

OCTOBER

SeanceI returned to performing in October with the Rochester Landmark Society’s annual Ghost Walk.  I hadn’t performed since Titanic and the One Acts in 2012, and it felt good to do a little bit of acting again.  The best part was that we had an indoor scene on the tour, so we didn’t have to worry about the cold and rain!

NOVEMBER

NaNo logoNovember was National Write a Novel in 30 Days month.  Actually, what was required was to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I’d had The Red Brick Road rattling about in my brain for quite a long time, and I did have a little of it started, so I had a jumping off point.  It was hard as hell keeping up with daily deadlines, trying to make sure that I had the magic number of words so that I could say, “Yes!  I did it!”  Now all I have to do is EDIT it!  But I DO have over 50,000 words!!

DECEMBER

meNearly one year after getting my behind off the couch and actually getting out to DO things, I am still going.  I do have to admit that I have not been to the YMCA recently, but I will be making that change to get back on a healthier track.  Backsliding happens, but NOT ONCE in this year did I pick up a cigarette!  My friend Jeanette and I participated in the It’s a Wonderful Run 5K…in 16 degrees and in the middle of a snow storm!  It was cold as all get out, but we were both dressed in layers (you can see that I look about 150 pounds heavier because of all the layers!) and we survived.  And in January, this body is going to get back out to Bristol to SKI!  I haven’t done that in a couple of years, and I am so looking forward to it!

For me, 2013 was one of my most memorable years!  So many challenges, changes, successes…I feel truly blessed.  Thank you to my friends and family for your support and encouragement, especially to Will D’Ovidio (of Rochester Aerial Arts) and my daughter Illy Welden who got me started and kept me going!

I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!!

Happy New Year to everyone!

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Life After the 12 Week Challenge: Challenging Myself!

Published April 1, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Well the Cirque du Rochester Aerial Arts Challenge has officially come to an end… but this has only been a beginning for me!   I am making drastic changes in my lifestyle, which includes regular exercise, eating healthy (and even a bit more vegetarian due to the rising price of meat), and generally experiencing more in life than I have in a long time!

This week is my spring break from work, so I am working out my new plan.  It works best for me if I write things in my pocket calendar, so I am going through the YMCA schedule and putting in classes that I want to take for the next month, as well as times when the pool is available.   I have my weight and cardio routines already set up, so I just have to plug them into the schedule as well.

Today I worked on the cross trainer for 18 minutes before riding the recumbent bike for another ten.  I managed to reach and maintain my target heart rate for twenty of those minutes… not too bad for someone who quit smoking a pack a day only three months ago!  Because I am still nursing an arm injury before returning to silks next week, I passed on the arm weight machines; however, I did do all the leg, back, and ab machines.   After resting in the hot tub for 15 minutes, I was ready to head out and do today’s errands.

Tomorrow I go through my closet and get rid of clothes that I no longer want or need…especially anything that is now too baggy to wear.   Out it goes!

spice jars

My clothes closet isn’t the only overhaul I am making.  I went through my cupboards as well and got rid of a lot of pre-packaged, processed foods, and replaced them with grains and lentils and a whole bunch of new spices and seeds to experiment with.  My fridge also got a make-over, and it is packed with produce for juicing and cooking.

I bought pretty glass jars so that I could take everything out of the plastic bags and make everything easier to store and identify.  I wished that I hadn’t gotten rid of all those canning jars I’d had when I moved!  But some of these came with pretty pastel colored lids, so I’m okay with them!   These will become new staples in my house, and my daughter is sharing many of her favorite vegetarian recipes so that I can make them at my house.

Planning meals in advance and cooking more in bulk so that they last for several days will help with my busy schedule.  Today I made stuffed colored peppers:

peppers more peppers

Don’t these just scream “Spring!” … and “Eat me!!!”

These colored peppers are stuffed with quinoa, red lentils, veggie “burger”, chopped beet greens, red pepper/eggplant paste, and mashed avocado.  When I put them in the pan, I poured spicy vegetable juice over them.

I dirtied two plates just for these pictures before I baked them!

 

 

I had originally planned on doing a ten-day juice fast, but I think that it might be too much at once on my body… so I am going to do a three day cleanse Wednesday-Friday instead.  I am already juicing once a day, so I have been easing myself into it.  The ten day fast might be better for me once the school year ends in June instead.  That will give my body more time to acclimate to the changes I am already making.

Aerial Silks will continue beginning next week (here’s hoping that my arm will be in good enough shape to handle it), so that will become part of my permanent routine as well.  I do not know how long it will take me to get strong enough to last for a whole performance routine, but I am aiming for some point in this next year!  All the exercise will give me strength, the changes in eating will help with weight loss, and determination will get me to that silks routine!!

 

It’s a Little More Comfy in the Crack…

Published March 19, 2013 by Susan Woodward

…so says Will at Aerial Arts of Rochester!

No, you perverts!  He wasn’t referring to anything untoward… he was commenting on my first attempt at a reverse roll-up!  You have to watch the video to understand his comment, though!

Tonight we learned the reverse roll-up!  I posted my very first try so that you will ultimately get the full effect once I finally do it correctly all by myself (and, hint…I DID do it all by myself on the second, third, and fourth attempts!).   The trick to finishing the position and holding it is getting the silk in the crack between your butt cheeks…an ultimate wedgie that takes on most of my weight.  But Will was right, once I finally got in position; it was a little more comfy in the crack.

Here’s the video:

I always manage to get the silk stuck on my calf… something I have to work on.  But at least I wasn’t screaming my head off this time!

And here is a picture of my third solo!

reverse roll up

 

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!

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