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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:


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!!


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.


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!


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!).


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!


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!


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!


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.


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!


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!


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!!


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!

Following My Bliss: San Diego!

Published August 25, 2013 by Susan Woodward


After making my way to Maine and dipping my toes into the Atlantic Ocean, I really wanted to be able to say that I’d done the same in the Pacific Ocean within the same summer vacation!  When my Marine daughter was not able to come home on leave, I headed to the west coast to make sure I could see her.   So I did it– two oceans in one summer!

I fully believe in the Law of Attraction and that everything always has a way of working out.  When I first learned that my daughter could not come home, I wondered about how I was going to be able to finance a trip out west.  Believe it or not, the opportunity came available the very same day as Sarah’s news.

I got an email that the school district needed someone to tutor the special ed seniors who needed to retake the NYS ELA exam for two weeks…and the pay was enough to cover my plane fare!  I have always believed that the Universe provides for me whenever there is a need…and I needed to get to see my daughter!

100_0746And there she is!  The sun was in our eyes, so we have some squinting going on, but this is us at Mission Beach in San Diego.  I am so happy that I was able to be with her, even if it was only for six days.

This was the only day that week that I had a decent hair day!  😛   I certainly can’t say that same about the rest of the trip!  😀

100_0757While we were at Mission Beach, we went to the midway and rode one of the wild rides…at least wild for me!  Since I had vertigo a few years ago, I have been very shy of amusement park rides, even to the point of avoiding my favorites– roller coasters!  I do miss them because I used to ride coasters with my five kids when they were younger.   It was a leap of faith that my vertigo wouldn’t be activated on this spinning, swinging ride!  Fortunately, I made it through safe and sound, happy that I had not had lunch first!

warriorWhen we went window shopping, the silliness that we used to share started to come out!  🙂  I love how she isn’t afraid to put on masks, hats, or pick up props for photo ops!  This is my warrior…watch out!  Ooh Rah!

margaritasAfter our window shopping excursion, we went for a yummy lunch that included margaritas!  It was so good to spend time with her again…it has been far too long.

And I need to learn how to make that Margarona!  YUM!!

I also got to spend time with Sarah’s boyfriend and his daughter… we had a lot of fun!  We went to the playground, she rode her bike, we went swimming, and we even went to Disneyland!  😀

at the parkFun time at the playground!

with SarahOkay…bad hair day, but it WAS about 100 degrees and blazing sun!

100_0844Waiting for the rides! 100_0787Princess Palace!!!

100_0798And we found some friends!  Rabbit…

100_0797 Eeyore… MickeyAnd even Mickey!!

parade 2Chloe loved the parade, especially when the princesses went by!

Pirate Ship

We even rode a pirate ship…ARGH!!

rideAnd Sarah and I got silly on a spinning ride!

It was a wonderful trip, and I am so grateful that I got so spend time with my Sarah Bear!  It’s hard having one of my children living across the continent, but I have to keep telling myself that it gives me a place to go on vacation!  I miss her greatly, but I am also extremely proud of her service as a United States Marine.  She is not one little lady anyone wants to mess with!

VegasAt last it was time to head back home.  Our stopover was in Las Vegas, so I just HAD to play with the slot machines in the airport!  I didn’t win anything, but my losses only came out to eight dollars.  Not bad for 45 minutes of entertainment in between flights!

When I got my AARP magazine last month, there was an article about seeing the world within one city…Las Vegas.  Where else can you eat lunch in the shade of the Eiffel Tower, followed by a Venetian gondola ride, topped off with an evening in an Egyptian pyramid.  Yup, that’s a trip that I plan to take in the future!!

Viva, Las Vegas!!

And a wonderful visit to Southern California!  🙂


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