I am the self-proclaimed Northern California Pole Dance Ambassador. This blog is about pole dancing, weight loss surgery, health, fitness, aging gracefully, and life-in-general. I had gastric bypass in 2004 and lost 165 pounds. Pole dancing and yoga have helped me keep off the majority of the weight. I have struggled with my weight for my entire life and am on a journey of self-acceptance.
My friend, Andrew, has been inviting me to drag shows for almost a year now. Although I had an interest in going, they were on week nights and I was really trying hard to get back into the early morning gym routine. About six months ago, I finally made it out to WPLJ's in Walnut Creek for the Main Drag on a Thursday night. Oh wow. It was like nothing I had ever witnessed before. Men dressed up as women (and a lot of them looking way better than me) lip syncing to songs while people threw dollars at them.
Then SHE came out to perform. I couldn't even tell you what it was about her that I immediately loved. Her song was awesome and hilarious (something about an 8-mile wide vagina). She was tall, beautiful and had amazing legs. She knew her words and wore really pretty clothes. It wasn't what she looked like or what she sang anyway. I knew I loved her as soon as I saw her.
Stephanie Nicole le Dream.
I had never met a real live drag queen before. After the show, I introduced myself and told her she was my favorite. As is my normal course of business, I took lots of photos and videos, since my camera is never far. I uploaded them to Facebook and added Stephanie as a friend. Turns out that in real life, Stephanie is Jimmy. And Jimmy's mom was my nephew's teacher. Small world. When my sisters and I rode horses in the Brentwood Holiday Parade as the Disney princesses a few years ago...Kati was wearing one of Jimmy's dresses! Totally small world.
So now I am immersed in the drag queen world. I am having so much fun. I also go to Club 1220 in Walnut Creek and watch Holotta's Un-BOYlievable Drag Show on Sundays. Jimmy and Miguel came to Twirly Girls and posed in our calendar with the Men of Twirly Girls. They also came back as Stephanie and Vicodonia to perform for Rita's birthday. They are really good, nice people and I am extremely happy that I finally went to that show! Now I have a whole new set of people to call friends: Stephanie (Jimmy). Brynn. Judy (Jimmy's mom). Vicodonia (Miguel) and Michael. Holotta Tymes (Dale) and Robert. Bobbi Pinn (Jeffrey). Saki (Brian). Mahlae.
I had made a goal (since I don't set resolutions) to volunteer more of my time in the new year. I had been looking at the Bay Area Crisis Nursery, but Jimmy works at the Rainbow Community Center, so I think I will start by seeing if there is something I can do for them. That way, I can kind of have my cake and eat it too because I love the time that I spend with Jimmy. He is so kind and positive and I want to repay him for the joy he brings to my life.
So, here is a video of a recent Stephanie performance (and check out my YouTube page for videos of ALL of the ladies -- http://www.youtube.com/lolorashel). So funny. I love this stuff!
I had all kinds of plans for last weekend. Rita's Twirly Girls party was Friday. Saturday, I took Rita's daughter to Kristin's to decorate a cake for her 80's party that night. Sunday, I was supposed to go to the Santa Baby burlesque workshop at Twirly Girls. Monday, I was off work and planning to do a bunch of things, including going to watch Andrea perform in the Wonka Wonderland burlesque show in Oakland. In between all of that, I needed to run errands, clean the house, get a Christmas tree, blah blah blah, etc. etc. etc., yada, yada yada.
I have been fighting some kind of cold or other illness on and off for a friggin' month. And this weekend, it finally let me know that I was done and needed to rest.
Friday afternoon, my boss needed me to take BART into San Francisco to file something with the court of appeal. So at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, I was frantically rushing into the city. I was nervous because I don't ride BART often, especially not by myself. And I had to park at a station in Oakland, which also makes me nervous. My boss had given me a BART ticket AND a Clipper card so I didn't know the difference or which one I was supposed to use. I have an iPhone (and AT&T), so every time we tried to talk on the phone, we'd get disconnected. I was on a mission because I needed to get back to pick up Rita and Yolanda for Rita's Twirly Girls party that night. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I made it back to Oakland by 4:30, so I got to go straight home and actually ended up about 45 minutes ahead of schedule since that BART station was closer to home than my boss' house. Still...I was scared and sweating the entire time.
I had arranged for Stephanie Nicole and Vicodonia to come perform for Rita's birthday. I knew most of the ladies had probably never seen a drag show, so I wasn't sure how it would go over, but it was a huge hit!! The ladies were super excited and Stephanie and Vicodonia really seemed to enjoy performing for us, even though we were a small group. It was so much fun. Check out a couple of videos:
The FEVER! girls finally got to break out their performance. Ummmm...except we did it at the end of the night, close to midnight and a few of the girls maybe had a few margaritas. It was fun though! And we surprised Rita by ripping off our shirts at the beginning of the song. The performance at Rita's fundraiser will be better! Check out our practice performance here:
I also busted out a very rough draft of what I want to do for Fergie and Slash's Beautiful Dangerous. I was really feeling my illness at this point though. I spent a lot of time on the floor because I kept getting dizzy and almost blacking out. I am going to work on this one though. I like the song and I have some ideas of moves I'd like to incorporate. Here's the video:
I was sweating like a friggin' pig the entire night. I came without my make-up done and I almost couldn't get it done since I couldn't cool off. I finally pulled it together (a little) and Stephanie did my make-up for me. Awesome job!!! I was so excited. I love playing dress up!! But at the end of the night, the sweating stopped and I felt GREAT! So I thought, maybe I was just sweating the illness out and I was better!!
Saturday wasn't too bad. I took Kate to Kristin's and watched her decorate the 80's cake with fondant. Pacman and Rubix Cube. It was really cute. I got off easy -- I mostly laid on the couch and watched. That night was Rita's 80's party at her house. It was a fun night. I felt a little tired but not too sick.
However, Sunday I woke up dizzy and sick. I had to cancel on Santa Baby and all of my errands and items on my to-do list. I laid around the entire day. Monday was much of the same. Rob and I went to get our Christmas tree and I had a doctor's appointment to get an antibiotic.
Monday night, I NEEDED to support Andrea, who signed up to do burlesque pilates (and the subsequent burlesque show) because of me. For some reason, I thought the show started at 9. It didn't start until 10:15 p.m. and our girls got moved to the second half (so they didn't go on until 11 p.m.). But I feel like I held up pretty well. And the girls were so cute!!! The rest of the acts were...hmmm....interesting. You can find their videos on my youtube page. Otherwise, here are the lollipop girls in action:
Today I am feeling better. Maybe it's the meds. It sounds like I have a sinus infection. But I had a fun weekend anyway. I wish I hadn't missed my fun stuff on Sunday and Monday but I am glad to be back on the road to recovery. Next up, printing our calendar and getting it to everyone in time for Christmas!
So, I realize this has been a theme throughout my blog, but I am NOT the "normal" pole dancer. Pole dancing has BLOWN UP in the last couple of years. The dancers who compete are training with aerial circus acts, contortionists and gymnasts.
I can't even do a back bend.
I have a goal to be able to invert by April. It doesn't even have to be a good invert. I just want to be able to go upside down and not fall on my head. I'm working hard to lose weight and get strong. Will that be good enough? If I can't fly through the air with the greatest of ease like the other girls (and boys) do, will I still be happy?
I sure hope so.
I just wanted to write this so I could include a couple of really cool videos from YouTube. Someday...I will be this amazing. Someday!!!!!
P.S. The Twirly Girls calendars will be printed soon! The price is $15 (add $2 for shipping). Please contact me if you are interested in pre-ordering and I will give you an address. All of the proceeds will go to support the National Kidney Foundation on behalf of our very own, Lovely Rita!! We have sample photos on Liquidpulp Photography's fan page on Facebook. Don't miss out...we've had a lot of interest and we're only printing 250 calendars!
A few years ago, I went to S Factor in San Francisco and took one of their intro classes. I had heard some of their instructors on a local radio show. I loved it, but the studio was difficult for me to get to (almost two hours commute each way with city traffic). Flash forward to October of last year … my friend received an e-mail about Twirly Girls Pole Fitness in Pleasanton, California (only about 25 minutes away from my house). My friend, Rita, and I set up a taster class for November and we were signed up for full time classes by December.
How do you learn (pole dancing classes, DVD, Youtube …)?
I take classes one to two times a week with Bel Jeremiah at Twirly Girls, but I also have a pole at home and have a couple of Jamilla Deville’s DVDs. I took one of Jamilla’s workshops at the studio this year. She was so beautiful to watch, a lot of fun, and had great information for those of us just starting out (even though I’m almost a year in, I still consider myself somewhat of a newbie).
What do you like to do when you’re not pole dancing?
I love photography and horseback riding, although I had to give up my horse last year. I am spending a lot of time at the gym lately (to lose some recently-added weight and get stronger for pole dancing). I work for a law firm to pay the bills, but I definitely don’t like to define myself by my job. I love using my blog as an outlet. It started as a pole dancing blog, but I write about health and exercise in there a lot since they are so much a part of my life (I had gastric bypass almost seven years ago and lost 165 pounds).
What is your dream for yourself in pole dancing?
I see videos of the famous pole dancers and envision myself doing everything they do. I recently saw the introduction for Miss Pole Dance Australia 2010 (Felix Cane starts it out). I thought, I want to do ALL OF THAT. Realistically, I may not be able to, but in my mind, I’m already there. I also saw a photo of Jessalynn Medairy at Pole Summer Camp in the Caribbean with Milan Pole Dance Studio. The bend in her back is amazing. Again, in my mind, I look like that. Realistically, not so much! My current dream is to invert within six months. I am spending a lot of time at the gym losing weight and gaining strength to get there.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think most would describe me as a down and dirty rock chick. I like loud, fast rock songs. I am working on slowing things down and being more sensual.
Favorite makeup tip:
I am all about false eyelashes. If I don’t want to spend a lot of time on make up, I put in my purple contacts and false lashes and I’m good to go. Otherwise, on a daily basis, I’ve stopped wearing make up. Only when I want to go out or feel like I have someone to impress (like myself).
Barefoot, sneakers, or platform heels?
I am more comfortable barefoot. I have five or six different platform heels and I’m trying to practice in those, as well. I performed at a dance recital to benefit the National Kidney Foundation Walk in San Francisco earlier this year. The video below is of me practicing in my shoes; I feel clunky and slow. When I did it for real, I went barefoot and felt a lot better about it (although I was still less than six months into dancing, so I am definitely not a professional).
Favorite grip enhancer:
I have Mighty Grip in my bag, but I try not to use anything (and am not yet able to do the tricks where it might be more necessary).
Pole dance move that made you proudest to learn:
Last night, for the first time, I was able to hold myself up for kind of a sad-looking boomerang. I was pretty excited about that.
Pole dance pet peeves:
I make funny faces and do weird things with my hands. While I’m dancing, I don’t always notice it but I see it in the videos, so I’m trying to be more aware of my entire body (and yes, Jennifer, I’ve watched your videos on the subject).
Favorite treatment for bruises and sore muscles:
Rest and an epsom salt bath.
Who would you most like to have in the audience when you pole dance?
No one. I get really, really nervous dancing in front of people. I have a hard time making eye contact and would love to always dance in the dark! I’m a much better dancer if I think no one is looking.
Who is your hero or role model?
I adore my instructor, Bel. She is so supportive and really creates a safe, family-like atmosphere at Twirly Girls. I have often found when you gather a lot of estrogen into one room, you get a lot of cattiness – but Twirly Girls is not like that at all. We are all at different levels and there is no jealousy. Everyone is supportive and we all celebrate our small victories when they happen. I’ve never really witnessed anything like it in my life and I’m excited to be part of this amazing group of ladies. What I love most is that we laugh and have fun while we’re learning.
What are your favorite words of encouragement?
“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right!” Look, I’m a big girl – 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. I GET that I physically won’t be able to do ALL of the moves I want to do. But I am trying not to limit myself right now. I’m setting small goals and hoping I can either get myself there or at least find an acceptable modification for whatever move it is.
Favorite pizza toppings:
Pepperoni and black olives. Sometimes sausage, too.
Cupcakes or ice cream?
CAKE! CAKE! CAKE!! I LOVE CAKE! I’m a foodie. It’s one of my downfalls. And it’s something I have to work to avoid. There is no one bite when it comes to cake. It’s all or nothing. So I try not to have it around much.
Favorite music to pole dance to:
Rock music. Fast and hard. Right now I’m going to start working on a routine to Slash and Fergie’s Beautiful Dangerous.
Weirdest place you’ve ever poled:
My house. Whodathunk I’d ever have a pole in my house?! Oh yeah, and that one time I was in Texas and I tried to turn Neptune’s arm into a pole (didn’t work)!
I don’t really have any … although I’ve really only performed for small audiences at our studio. I just get really nervous and have to force myself to get out there.
Strangest pole dancing question/comment you’ve ever received:
I can’t really think of the strangest but most definitely the most irritating is: So you’re a stripper?! My response is usually: I WISH! If I had the body and moves, I’d be grabbin’ those dollas!
Anything else you’d like to share:
I’d love for everyone to participate in our Twirl Around The World. We are asking for pole dancers to send us their photos and locations so we can add to our album on Facebook! Also, we will be doing another benefit for the National Kidney Foundation next year. If anyone is interested in getting involved, have them add me on Facebook or get in contact through my blog.
We are doing another fundraiser to benefit the National Kidney Foundation (our very own Lovely Rita is a three-time kidney transplant recipient … she wasn’t supposed to live past 20 and she’s about to celebrate her 45th birthday!). Bel would like to get more pole studios involved, so we are asking anyone with a pole studio to get into contact with us if they are interested in coordinating. The fundraiser isn’t until April but we wanted to start early to get other people involved. Lori is a pole dancer filled with enthusiasm for dance, life, and helping her fellow pole dancers. Visit her on her blog!
In the past, people have suggested I try the Couch to 5k program. I've always said no...I don't really enjoy running so why am I going to make something I hate part of my weekly workout routine? I "do" 5k's (or, for Annie, I do the little-more-than-three-miles) with Brazen Racing, but I walk/jog them. If it's a flat course, I can do that in about 45 minutes. If it's really hilly or muddy, then maybe an hour. I am slow. I know I'm slow. I walk slow. I jog slow. I meander. John can do Half Dome in six hours. AJ did it in eight. It took me 13 hours -- both times. John would always try to give me advice to move faster -- put on fast music and just move to the beat. Doesn't work for me. I'm just a sloth. And I'm ok with it. So, any time someone has suggested I run, I'm like, NAW!
I recently had a change of heart. A group of Twirly Girls are planning to do the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco next year (it's the 100th annual). It's a 12k (about 7 miles), and I understand there are some pretty nasty hills. So, I decided I need to learn to move a little faster (hip and back problems are getting better, so it's good timing). We may not run any of it...but I don't want to be the one holding up the group. And I imagine the Couch to 5k program is my best bet for being able to walk/jog a 7 mile hilly course. The program takes you from basically doing nothing to running for a full three miles non-stop. You follow the program three days a week for nine weeks, and it starts you walking for a bit, then jogging for a bit. Then you work up until you are jogging for 30 minutes straight.
I don't set New Years resolutions because I don't want to feel like a failure if I don't meet them. So, this is my goal for January. If I finish that in two months and feel good, I can start working on their 10k program. I will have five months until the Bay to Breakers, so it will give me plenty of time to lose weight and get in shape. It will also help me reach my goal of inverting on the pole by April.
Rita's birthday is coming up and the FEVER! girls have been hard at work learning the dance choreographed by Andrea. I don't know about the other girls, but I am having a blast.
On one hand, I'm super excited. This is totally NOT my style of dance, although I'd LOVE to learn how to be more classical. It's so pretty to watch the ladies who can ebb and flow with the tides of the ocean. I am usually loud and raucous. Seemingly trying to destroy the world.
On the other hand, I hate watching the practice videos. I hate how I walk. What I do with my hands. How I throw my tie around. But I have time to fix all of that. I think mostly I hate how I look like Shrek next to everyone else. I'm stomping around like an ogre while the other ladies are gracefully floating like dainty pixies. There is a point where I get up from the ground by turning over and doing a v-split with my legs. Man, in the moment, I am like, I am almost doing REAL splits!! On the video, it looks like my legs are barely open. :-/
Our initial performance will take place at Rita's birthday party next weekend. The next official performance will be at the Lovely Rita fundraiser in April. So I have a goal to continue practicing my flowy-ness and lose some damn weight. I have been using a new app on my iPhone that helps me track my food and I'm down four pounds so far. If I can just lose 1 pound a week between now and the fundraiser, I'll have lost the majority of what I want to lose.
Here's to the next week of practice for the FEVER! girls and then a happy performance. Happy early birthday, Miss Rita! You are amazing and you deserve to celebrate!
The calendar photo shoot was yesterday. We are so excited. The shoot went really well. The photos look like they're going to be AWESOME! I am working on some funding to pay for the printing of the calendar and I think we're going to make some decent money for the National Kidney Foundation. Current projections are about $3,000 from the calendar alone. We haven't even made it to our fundraiser day in April yet and we're already looking to beat last year's donations!
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who participated. We had 27 Twirly Girls and Boys who were photographed for the calendar. We had an amazing photographer and make-up artist helping us out. We had a lot of fun. And I can't wait to do it again!!!
I know Bel sent an e-mail already and I apologize for overfilling your e-mail boxes, but I just wanted to thank everyone who participated yesterday.
Andrew Fryxell of Liquidpulp Photography very generously donated his time yesterday. If you ever have a need for a photographer, please consider him. http://www.liquidpulp.com/
Anh Thu Tran also generously donated her time to come and do make up for a lot of the girls. She went way above and beyond the call of duty and completely made over a good number of the girls (including myself). I can't thank her enough for helping us. If you are in need of a make up artist, please get in touch with me and I will give you her e-mail address or cell phone. (She's on my friends list on Facebook if you'd like to send her a message now.)
I want to thank Kristin for helping keep everything moving smoothly, posing and making announcements. Thank you to Bel for being so giving of her time and studio (especially now when she has so many Groupon classes taking over her life). Thank you to Rita for being the subject of our fun day and keeping people fed!
I also want to thank all of the girls for coming out with their costumes and great attitudes and posing for the calendar. I'm sure there are some things we could have changed but I thought the day went fairly smoothly and I was very pleased considering that was my first try at a calendar shoot!
Now to the business side of things: We hope that all of our Twirly Girls will be willing to buy and sell calendars. Calendars are going to run $15. If you already know you want one (or ten), please e-mail me and let me know. We are about to choose a printer and we want to make sure we order enough. We are asking that you please drop off the money for the entire order when you pick up your calendars. Although we trust you all, it's easy to lose track of calendars and every dollar we miss is a dollar that we can't give to the National Kidney Foundation. Christmas is coming and it would be a lovely stocking stuffer!!!
Also, if you own a local business or know a local business owner, we are still looking for funding to print the calendar. We are looking for 9 businesses to donate at least $100. We would then print your business card in the back of the calendar. Please let me know if you're interested. The photos should be ready in a couple of weeks and we'd like to have the funding set up by then. Again, the more sponsors we get, the more money we can give directly to the National Kidney Foundation.
Don't forget the Lovely Rita Fundraiser will be April 17th. Another fun day of classes, a dance recital and a silent auction/raffle. If you'd like to donate anything for the silent auction or raffle, please let me know. We are working to get hair and make up set up for those girls who want to participate in the dance recital. Start planning your dances now, ladies. We also plan to have a DJ there to run music. It should be another amazing day.
May 7th is the actual Kidney Walk in San Francisco. It's a 5k down the Embarcadero. We'd love to have other Twirly Girls join us.
A group of Twirly Girls will be doing the 100th annual Bay 2 Breakers on May 15th in San Francisco. Sign up for your Twirly Tuff classes to start getting in shape. It's about a 7 mile walk/jog and there are some tough hills, I hear. If you've never been (like me), then it's something to experience! We will be wearing our Twirly Girls shirts to represent!
On another side note, we are throwing around the idea of doing a pin-up photo shoot at the studio. We'd do a package deal for make up, hair and photos. If this is something you'd be interested in, let me know and I'll start pulling prices together. I am hoping to keep the cost under $100 per person (which is still a great deal for all three services). Start thinking of your costumes now! :-) You don't have to be a Twirly Girl to participate in this event. Might be a nice Valentine's Day gift if we get enough interest!
Thank you again for everyone who participated yesterday!! We had such a fun day! And next year, we'll start planning earlier so expect to start shooting in August or so. ;-)
So, last Friday, Bel puts a note on my FB page: Let's do a Twirly Girls calendar!
Two hours later, I have a photographer lined up and I've sent an e-mail out to the Twirly Girls asking for volunteers.
Less than a week later, we have our date set for the photo shoot, our list of groups and costumes for each month, and a list of possible printers for the calendar.
Don't mess around with me when things need to get done!
I'm REALLY excited about this calendar shoot. This will be part of our fundraiser for the Lovely Rita's National Kidney Foundation 5k walk. I think we should be able to keep the cost of printing the calendar to under $5 per calendar. If we sell even 250 calendars at $10 each, that's already over $1,200 to the National Kidney Foundation! That's over 1/3 of what we made last year and we haven't even gotten to the actual fundraiser day yet with our silent auction and raffle!
I have about 20 girls willing to participate. And Andrew, of Liquidpulp Photography, is graciously donating his time to do the photos. I even have some people offering to help with hair and make up so that we can get dolled up.
I think for January, we will highlight Mama Bel in a winter setting. February will be Valentine's Day. Lots of red and hearts. I already have five girls in that group. March is St. Patty's Day and I think this will be Rita's highlight month...to show off her silly side with all of the awesome green stuff we bought for St. Patty's Day last year. April is Easter. We will have the ladies of Rita's Fever dance in black and white, along with an appearance by the infamous Easter Bunny! May will highlight Doug and the ladies who endure Twirly Tuff. June will be the men of Twirly Girls. They will all show off their "Pole Dancing is Not a Crime" shirts. July will be Independence Day. We have four ladies in this group so far. August will be some of the ladies of the Wednesday night 6:30 p.m. class. We will be in corsets. September is back to school! I have three ladies so far. October will be Halloween. Anyone with an awesome costume that doesn't feel like they fit in anywhere else can wear it here. I have five ladies signed up. November will highlight Marilyn's Tricks Are 4 Chicks class. I know Sam is participating but I'm still waiting to hear from others. December will be the holidays. Mostly, I have ladies wearing Santa Baby costumes. However, Jenelle has stepped up and will wear a white winter princess costume with a blue sash to represent Hanukka.
I am really excited about how quickly this is coming together. I hope the photo shoot goes well and we are able to get this to a printer. If anyone is interested in purchasing the final product, please let me know!
UPDATE: WE ARE LOOKING FOR COMPANIES WILLING TO HELP US PAY FOR THE COST OF PRINTING OUR CALENDAR. WE WOULD GIVE YOUR COMPANY AN ADVERTISING SPOT ON THE CALENDAR. PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU ARE INTERESTED. THIS WILL ALLOW MORE MONEY TO GO TO THE NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION. WE ARE NOT TRYING TO MAKE ANY MONEY FROM THIS CALENDAR -- THE ENTIRE PROFIT WILL BE DONATED.
Earlier this year, most of you may remember Twirly Girls held the Lovely Rita fundraiser to benefit the National Kidney Foundation's 5k walk in San Francisco. [See this blog entry: http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2010/04/lovely-rita-fundraiser-was-huge-success.html.] We're still six months away from the second annual benefit (we are shooting for a Sunday in April), but we want this one to be HUGE. Last year, we were able to raise almost $3,000. This year, let's TRIPLE IT!
So we are calling ALL POLE STUDIOS around the United States (or even world?!) to participate with us. Commit to a day of pole activities and/or open house, silent auction and raffle, bring great press to your pole studio and raise money for a great cause.
If you know a pole dancer, pole studio, newspaper/TV/other media member who can help us get the word out, please contact me (tazzie2010 at yahoo dot com). If you have a business that you'd like to promote and have a product or service you'd like to donate, please let me know as well. Remember, donations are a tax write off!
Twirly Girls is planning to have another day of classes and an open house, silent auction, raffle and dance recital to benefit our very own Lovely Rita and the National Kidney Foundation.
Wednesday night I had a double dose of Twirly Girls...had a great class with the girls. Then I stayed for a taster class with a couple of other friends. I am feeling stronger and doing moves I haven't been able to before. Despite losing some skin on my fingers, I left feeling good! Rita's birthday is coming up and we've been talking about choreographing a dance for a few of us. Cute costumes...fun routine. I left work last night in the BEST mood. I didn't really know why. I'd worked a full day but I'd been chatting with some of the girls about setting up practice times for Rita's dance. Maybe I need upcoming events and projects to keep my mind from wandering into dark territory.
I'm pretty honest with people that I entered a really dark time in the last few months and decided to go back on medication. I'm almost two months in and I really feel like it's making a huge difference in how I feel and interact with other people. Having positive things to look forward to must definitely be helping improve my mood and outlook.
Then this morning as I was driving to work, my mom called. My grandmother's house burned down last night. My mom was there and was able to get herself and my grandma out in time. Apparently one of their dogs -- Annie, their doberman -- woke her up. But another dog, Jake, didn't make it out. They could hear him inside whining but the firefighters wouldn't let my mom go get him. My sister said the firefighters tried to revive him but he didn't make it. It just threw me into a tailspin. I believe my family moved to this house when my mom was around 4 -- so they've been there for almost 50 years. I grew up there! Played in the orchards and irrigation ditches as a kid. Cut apricots to dry for spending money. Canned fruit with my grandma. Mowed the orchards for my grandpa with the riding lawn mower (that's not work, that's just fun!!). My grandfather passed away there a few years ago. I mean, yeah it's just a house. Insurance will replace it. And you can't take our memories away. I am just so grateful that my mom and grandma got out safely.
But I cannot get poor Jake out of my head. I'm sure he was so scared. I just hope he went quickly and didn't feel any pain. He was such a sweet dog. I remember him sitting under the table around the holidays one year...hoping I'd drop something to him (I totally did). I kept calling him the creepy dog because he had these intense (but beautiful) yellow eyes. I hope Jakey is up in heaven running around with Rockie (another dog who passed last year), Apache (a horse they had to put down this year), Coatze (another horse) and Jade (my sister's cat). RIP, Jake. You were a great dog!!!
BRENTWOOD -- A farmhouse was heavily damaged by fire but its residents were able to escape safely thanks to an alert pet and smoke detectors, the East Contra Costa Fire District said.
The one-alarm fire was reported about 12:30 a.m. at a single-story home in the 7000 block of Lone Tree Way. Firefighters arrived to find smoke and flames shooting out of the home, said Battalion Chief Jake Gonzalez.
"It was coming through the windows and doorways," Gonzalez said.
A woman living at the home was awakened by a family dog, Gonzalez said. When she got out of her bedroom, she saw waist-high smoke and the smoke detectors started sounding.
She tried to get a garden hose to put out the fire but soon realized it was too serious and instead went to help her elderly mother out of the house.
Both got out safely and were treated for minor injuries, including smoke inhalation and minor cuts and scrapes, Gonzalez said.
The fire was extinguished within 20 minutes. The dog that alerted the residents survived, but a second family dog died in the fire.
The home sustained major damage and was uninhabitable, but a cost estimate was not available. The cause of the fire, which may have begun in a living room, is under investigation.
Where does that saying even come from? Have you ever seen a sweaty pig? I know I FEEL like a big, fat pig when I sweat. For whatever reason, I associate sweating with being fat. I have always been a sweaty kid. I remember going to see bands play, and my hair would be DRENCHED with sweat (I mostly sweat from my head). Even if I wasn't moving or doing anything. When I was overweight, I couldn't wait to lose the weight because I thought the sweating would suddenly stop. It didn't. My mom said when I was a kid, she'd always be cold, so she'd wrap me up in blankets and she'd look back at me and I'd have beads of sweat forming on my nose.
So I guess nothing has changed. Fat or "skinnier," I sweat. Now I'm on a medication that makes me sweat more. And it makes me feel fat. Even though I've been sweaty my whole life, I still associate sweating with being a fatty. It's embarrassing. People must think I'm always running a fever or maybe I just got done running a half marathon (RIGHT! HAHAHA!!!). Nope, just feeling a little warm (if I'm already like this, I don't even want to know what menopause is going to feel like). It's like my body has a hard time regulating itself (and I've had my thyroid checked...it's fine). Because then I'll get freezing cold because I have wet hair. I just can't win.
I sweat when I get out of the shower and I'm trying to get dressed and put on makeup (on most work days, I no longer bother drying my hair or putting on makeup anymore). When I'm working out. I sweat when it's just vaguely warm outside. I POUR sweat when it's humid (Texas and Hawaii were fun trips this year). I constantly have a waterfall coming down my face. I hate it.
The one positive thing is that it keeps my skin pretty clear. But I still hate sweating. I've heard there are prescriptions to help you sweat less. But I believe they are like roll-on deodorant sticks. And, what am I going to do? Roll-on all over my head? That seems stupid. So I guess I'll continue to bring my little battery operated fans and make sure I have AC available more often than not because I don't see any other simple solutions to this little (big, fat, sweaty) problem.
Occasionally I eat at Panda Express. I have to be careful what I eat there. Too much rice makes me sick. Greasy chow mein does too. Can't have too much fried food because it fills me up fast and then I don't get enough nutrition. But, I still consider a visit to Panda at least a step above Taco Bell or McDonalds (which make me super sick, so I try to avoid completely).
When I'm being "bad," I'll get a meal with fried rice and maybe orange chicken or their new sweet fire chicken, and potstickers. It usually amounts to two or three meals for me (although by the third meal, its usually gross so I generally throw out whatever I haven't eaten after I've reheated it once -- but I'm really weird about microwaving food). When I'm being "good," I just get the potstickers. Sometimes three (one order). Maybe six if I'm really hungry.
Last night was a Panda night. I had Twirly Girls and didn't get home until late again. Since it was my second workout of the day, I figured I'd eat food instead of a protein shake. I knew Rob probably hadn't eaten so I offered to pick something up.
I debated with myself about what I would get. Would I get the whole meal? Yeah, I had worked out twice and could probably swing the calories. But it was late and did I really NEED all of those calories right before bed? So I settled with choosing six potstickers. It would be a full meal, but they just seem healthier than fried rice and fried chicken with sweet sauce all over it.
Then I whipped out my iPhone and Restaurants app.
Holy hell. Potstickers are not low in calories at all. In fact, of all the appetizers (and the REST of their appetizers are heavily fried), they are the HIGHEST in calories. ONE potsticker is 220 calories!! That means when I was eating six of them, I was eating 1,320 calories!!!!! A serving of white rice is 430 calories (not that I can ever eat the entire serving). Chow mein is only 400! Fried rice is 480 calories. Orange chicken is 545 calories. That means, I can have an entire serving of FRIED rice and FRIED orange chicken for 300 LESS calories than potstickers (granted, I KNOW that potstickers are "fried" but I thought they were only flash fried in the wok, not thrown into a greasy fryer). And, honestly, I can't eat the entire serving of rice AND chicken, so I'd eat half (a little over 500 calories for the meal)....but I can down six potstickers without a problem.
I skipped the potstickers and just got one of their small Panda bowls with white rice and chicken.
Luckily, I don't eat at Panda Express often. But it definitely made me realize that I need to re-think what I'm eating and how I'm counting calories. I've pretty much "dieted" my entire life and have always had a pretty good handle about what's going into my face. Or maybe I don't and I just keep telling myself that it's not my own fault that I'm still fat.
After ranting on here, I went to Panda's actual website to see if their nutrition facts matched my iPhone app's stats. Of course they don't. According to Panda, the 220 calories is for the entire order of potstickers, not one potsticker (which actually seems a bit low...I would guess each potsticker to be around 100 calories). Whew. I feel better. Although, their nutrition facts don't match on a lot of other things. Fried rice is 570 not 480. Orange chicken is supposedly 400 not 545. Who knows which is right. I'm sure there are a lot of variables. The calories listed are for a serving size. Do they really scoop one serving size? Probably best to just skip the fast food from now on to be safe.
Last night, I got home kind of late. I helped a friend move after work and got home close to 8 (and normally I try to get in bed by 9 so I can go to the gym the next morning). I also ran by the bank, then needed change so I went by 7-11, where I had to buy something to get said change. They never like to just give you change, so I bought ice cream. I had initially planned to have a protein shake for dinner. But my ice cream called to me. So I ate ice cream for dinner.
Recently, I read some articles about whether it was better to have nothing for breakfast or have a donut. They were expecting you to pick nothing, however the "correct" answer was the donut. The thought process behind it is that it's better to have something sugary in your system in the morning than nothing at all. Breakfast is definitely important. I don't know that a donut would be the best choice for me -- or any other gastric bypass patient -- just because our bodies don't process sugar normally anymore. But it got me thinking about nutrition versus calories.
So last night, should I have eaten my dinner in addition to my ice cream? I was perfectly full and satisfied. I am trying really hard to watch my calorie intake, however I also understand the importance of good nutrition. But if, theoretically, I've spent 2,000 calories on eating junk food all day, should I force myself to eat something more nutritious? I don't eat ice cream for dinner every day -- I couldn't even tell you the last time I ate ice cream for dinner. But I am definitely a snacker/grazer. And I am finding lately that sometimes I will snack all morning at work and not be hungry at lunch. Should I eat my lunch just because it's lunch time? Or should I just be satisfied with the calories I've eaten and save my lunch for another day?
I go through periods of time where I stop watching the news. It's so depressing. The economy is bad. People are killing each other. How often do you hear GOOD NEWS on the news? Almost never. So I turn the TV off.
Recently, I was talking to my aunt from Thailand about the economy and the massacre of the housing industry in the US. The news will flip flop on the issue -- first telling you that the economy is coming back up, then the next day telling you that last summer was the worst for foreclosures in awhile. I've been telling everyone for months that this isn't over yet. Before the downturn started, people had gotten into three, five, even seven year adjustable rate mortgages. We've watched the three years go into the garbage, leaving the five and seven years still to come. It's frustrating.
I lost my condo to foreclosure. It was a difficult decision to let it go. I talked to my CPA and an attorney. Did a lot of soul searching (can't make it an emotional issue). Read a lot of articles. I was so proud of myself -- when the housing market started to drop out, the news made those ARMs sound like dirty, backdoor deals. The people who got into these loans didn't have jobs and just went "stated income/no docs," so they wouldn't have to prove they had income. I had a job. I had "docs." I was a-okay, right?!
Then I pulled out my paperwork to read it. Holy shit. ARM just stands for "adjustable rate mortgage." It was a "tool" being used by homeowners and lenders all over the world to get people into houses they couldn't afford. I guess I vaguely knew I was in one. I did sign the paperwork. I even remember my loan guy saying not to worry because we'd just refi in a few years. Yeah, it didn't quite work out that way.
I started calling my mortgage company months before my rate was due to adjust. I was so proud of myself. I had my paperwork and my numbers and I was going to be one of those proactive homeowners who called the mortgage company first to workout a deal to keep my home.
Guess what? The mortgage company didn't care. I had Countrywide, which was supposed to be the largest holder of these bad mortgages. Bank of America then bought them out. Maybe it was the transition period (although I've heard story after story about non-responsiveness so maybe they were overwhelmed or just didn't care, or maybe since they can write off bad loans on their tax return, there's no incentive to help?), but I couldn't get anyone to help me. The person on the phone would take my number and information. And I wouldn't get a call back. I called. I wrote letters. Nothing.
Then my mortgage adjusted. Initially it went up only a few hundred dollars. But it was scheduled to go up $300 every six months until I died. This is interest only, mind you. They are making thousands of dollars off me every month, and the principal remained untouched. I was living in a one bedroom condo and was paying $2,000 a month to live there (including HOA dues, etc.). I paid more for this condo than my dad paid for his 4 bedroom house in Texas. Just didn't seem right.
A couple of months after the rate adjusted, I received a FedEx from Bank of America. CONGRATULATIONS! They had accepted my request to modify my mortgage! And they had "accepted" my request, at a much higher interest rate, and it was another ARM. Thanks for nothing, idiots.
Anyway, I'll spare you the details of the two years that followed. There were a lot of considerations on which I based my decision (an HOA that hadn't been keeping up with maintenance for one...). In the end, I lost my house. A few years ago, my condo appraised at $265,000. It went to auction for around $65,000. Obama kept talking about helping people keep their homes. Those programs were for people 5% "under water." No mention of those of us who were 70% plus under.
So now the news is trying to blow sunshine up our asses and say the economy is recovering. The very next story will be about how jobs are still being lost at an alarming rate and homes are still being foreclosed upon. While I am grateful to still have a job in this economy (and be able to wear jeans and flip flops to boot), I haven't had a raise in almost four years. My expenses keep going up. But my income doesn't. So I get to stress and budget and keep moving things around to make sure everything gets paid. I know I'm not the only one out there. And I hope that the country really does start to recover soon. I don't even need an excess of money. I'd just like to have enough.
I never really thought that I'd spend as much time in airports as I do. I don't know why. I always wanted to be famous and that would mean lots of travel. But I'm not famous, yet I do see more than my share of airports.
I love them and I hate them. I love them because of the people I get to watch. But they are also the same reason why I hate airports. It all comes down to "hello" and "goodbye." I must have mentioned this a few times while writing my stories for you.
I have great difficulties with saying goodbye. Even as I write this I am experiencing that pounding sensation in my heart. If I am watching such a scene in a movie I am affected so much that I need to sit up and take a few deep breaths. So when faced with a challenge in my life I have been known to go to our local airport and watch people say goodbye. I figure nothing that is happening to me at the time could be as bad as having to say goodbye.
Watching people cling to each other, crying, and holding each other in that last embrace makes me appreciate what I have even more. Seeing them finally pull apart, extending their arms until the tips of their fingers are the last to let go, is an image that stays forefront in my mind throughout the day. On one of my recent business trips, when I arrived at the counter to check in, the woman said, "How are you today?" I replied, "I am missing my wife already and I haven't even said goodbye."
She then looked at my ticket and began to ask, "How long will you...Oh, my God. You will only be gone three days!" We all laughed. My problem was I still had to say goodbye. But I learn from goodbye moments, too.
Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, "I love you. I wish you enough." She in turn said, "Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy."
They kissed and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?"
"Yes, I have," I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So I knew what this man experiencing.
"Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever goodbye?" I asked.
"I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral," he said.
"When you were saying goodbye I heard you say, "I wish you enough. May I ask what that means?"
He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more."When we said 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them," he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.
"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."
My friends got married in Maui on 10/10/10. So, this Twirly Girl grabbed her boy and took a trip! We stayed at the Maui Coast Hotel in Kihei. We did some shopping in Lahaina (found a pole studio there; wish I had gotten the starfish ring!!!) and Makena. Visited Big Beach in Makena (and the ocean ate me up and spit me out, practically naked; we avoided Little Beach, though, which is supposed to be a nude beach). Went to a luau (fun fire show). Drove the Road to Hana (barf...not my favorite...three hours of 5-10 MPH driving on a windy road). Swam in the Seven Pools (FUN!). Visited the Grand Wailea (beautiful hotel). And attended a gorgeous wedding in at Poipu Beach in Makena. Congratulations to Mike and Vanessa! May you have a lifetime of happiness!!
We left knowing all the things we need to go back and do (didn't get to see the crater...wish we had swapped out Hana for that; Rob wanted to do some ziplining and take some helicopter tours). Here are a few photos of our adventures. The entire set can be found on my flickr account:
I was so excited to get back to class at Twirly Girls last night. I had been out for almost two months (needed a mental break from life more than anything else). For the past two months, I have been pretty good about getting up at 5 a.m. for the gym. Spinning (cycling), yoga, lifting weights. I haven't lost much weight but I can already see a little bit of a difference in my dimply thunder thighs and how my pants fit. Unfortunately, when I spin, I get huge thighs. But if they're smooth, huge thighs, I'll take them over the fat encrusted, large thighs I have now.
I guess I thought I was going to come to class, be super strong from two whole months in the gym, be able to climb, invert and do all kinds of tricks. Instead, I felt awkward and slow. My movements felt jerky. And the calluses on my hands were clearly gone because my skin started rubbing off. It's like I am starting pole for the first time ever! It was a bit of a disappointment.
Don't get me wrong, it was great to see the girls again (I missed them a lot and only wish Bel had been there last night because I've missed her a lot too), but I was disappointed in myself. I have determined that I am a very social person and staying home actually only depresses me more. So I need to find a good balance between working-gym-friends/family, because I truly feel like I need to have all three in my life to keep myself healthy and happy. Oh, who am I kidding?! If I won the lottery, I'd drop my job like a hot potato (SORRY, MEL!!!). But still...I currently need to work to pay bills and fund my fun stuff. I need the gym to be healthy. And I need to be social to be happy. Wait. I need to fit rest in there somewhere. I'll get to that later. I'm still working on that whole scheduling thing.
I started physical therapy (through my insurance) on my lower back yesterday. For those who don't know, my journey started in November/December of 2009. My left hip started hurting a lot. I had days where the pain was so bad, I could barely walk. I have had x-rays and an MRI. They can't really find anything wrong -- maybe a small tear where the MRI couldn't "see." I have kept my pain levels manageable by using Keith from Tri-Valley Bodyworks. He is amazing. But still, the pain has lingered somewhat and now my lower back pain is slowly increasing. Not sure if the hip pain was masking the back pain or what. I can usually walk around for about an hour before I have to sit because the pain is so bad. It's especially troublesome because my dad had hip/back pain and just had to have surgery to repair a bulging disc. If he's not careful, he'll be back in for some hardware to repair a compressed disc. I know my sister and a couple of cousins also deal with similar issues, so I am trying to be proactive and avoid surgeries and cortisone shots (which is what the doctors keep offering me). But if my dad is only in his 50's and already having back surgery...what am I facing in my 30's?!
Anyway, I am tight and sore in the L4/L5 area of of my spine (the lower back). The theory is that because I spend so much time doing things bending forward (sitting at a computer all day, spinning, etc.), that walking especially hurts my back because it's the closest thing I do to bending backward. I am very limited in my back bending abilities (and there go my dreams of doing that back bendy thing against the pole!!!). I have been given some stretches to start this week. Next week I get exercises and I have been told to get into pilates reformer training as soon as possible. The hope is that I just need to build my core strength to get the pain to stop. If that doesn't work, then it's on to the specialist's office to talk about more x-rays, MRIs, and, I'm sure, cortisone shots (which I keep declining).
I wonder if I can get Keith, massage and pilates reformer training covered by my insurance? Hmmmmm.... Probably not. :-/
So there ya go. I thought I was going to have an awesome blog today about how I was a star pole student and was back in the saddle. But I'm still a struggling Twirly Girl trying to find her way in life. Rob and I leave for Hawaii next Wednesday so it will be a couple of weeks before I make it to class again. I do have a couple of Jamilla DVDs, so I need to practice my pole at home. But I WILL do tricks some day. It's not a matter of if, just when.
Have Pole, Will Twirl - A Pole Dancer's Search For Motivation
Posted on 20th Sep 2010 @ 6:21 PM
What do you do when you don't have the energy to motivate yourself to do anything? I mean, you work out (You HAVE to, right?! Otherwise, how are you strong enough to do all those cool pole moves?!), go to your job (gotta pay the bills), make dinner (trying to eat healthy, so all of that working out pays off), clean the house (clutter makes us crazy)...but you have NOTHING LEFT. No inspiration for pole even?! Pole is what I love to do, but sometimes I can't even motivate myself to do what I love! Maybe it's the fact that I have to shower with my special soap and not use lotion that day, so it's not always something I can do without planning. Maybe I'm scared I won't nail a move, and then I'll feel discouraged. Maybe I'm not feeling my music or my outfit. Maybe the sun is shining outside or there's a full moon and it's throwing me off. The point is, sometimes I don't even need a reason to feel like I'm not in the right mindset.
I think women especially are expected to do everything. We work (and yes, taking care of your children is a job!). We take care of families and households (my "kids" are my boyfriend and two cats). We are also supposed to go to run all of the house errands, cook, clean, take the kids to their appointments and practices -- oh yeah, and find some time for yourself in there too, will ya?! Then we are supposed to come home, fall into bed and do it all over again tomorrow. What is the point of this life? There is a breaking point.
I am at that point.
I have lost control of my life and I don't even have children to blame it on. I go to the gym in the morning, commute to work, work a full day, come home, go to bed. Rinse and repeat. I haven't been on the pole in a month. I had to take some time off from classes because of commitments I made with my time. I told myself it was no big deal because I can practice at home. I've practiced once. I miss class. I miss my fellow students. I miss my instructor. Yet, I still don't have the time to return (should be back in the next couple of weeks though).
For most of my life I've been able to buck up, wipe the sleep out of my eyes and just make it work. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, or maybe everyone needs to slow down sometime, but I can't pull it together to keep up with my own schedule. Between work, working out, pole and family/friends...something's gotta go (lately, besides pole, it has been family/friends).
Have you had one of those 100 calorie snack packs? Who even thinks twice about 100 calorie packs? 100 calories sounds so small. Those stupid packs are so small. They almost don't seem worth spending 100 calories. Yet at the same time, 100 calories doesn't sound like a lot, does it?
What is the cost of eating 100 calories over your daily allotment every day though? An extra 100 calorie pack doesn't really seem like a big deal. But eating only 100 calories over your limit every day will lead to a 10 pound weight gain at the end of a year.
And a calorie is a calorie when we're talking about going over. Whether I've eaten a carrot, watermelon or candy, if I go over what I should be eating on a daily basis, I'm going to gain. Don't get me wrong. I have always been an "everything in moderation" girl and am now a recently reformed "bread is bad" girl. But I don't know that it necessarily leads to weight gain. Does a bread calorie really carry more weight than a veggie calorie? I don't think so. I just know that I FEEL better when I'm off the sugar and bread.
I've been keeping a careful eye on my daily food intake and usually don't beat myself up if I go over by 100, 200 or even 300 calories. Now I'm going to be a little more strict with myself. There's no point of getting up every morning at the butt crack of dawn for the gym if I'm just going to eat like a little pig and ruin my hard work.
I wear a heart rate monitor when I workout. I obsessively check it to make sure I'm "in the zone." I'm always okay with going "over" the "zone," and can usually burn 600-800 calories in an hour-long spin class. In spin, we try to go between four zones. I had "eyeballed" my zones a long time ago and always based my zones on those estimates. This morning, I sat down to do the math about my "actual" zones. Lots of quotation marks today because, as with a lot of health-related subjects, everything is open to interpretation. So today I started a conversation on Facebook about heart rates and what they mean.
Rather than try to rehash the conversation, I'll post the conversation at the end of this post. You will see some posts from Joy Poulsen. I have always liked Joy's advice. She runs a boot camp company called Inspire Fitness. Check them out on Facebook. And I have already printed the links she sent me and will be figuring out my true max heart rate soon!
Lori MyersI just re-figured out my "max heart rate." Whoops. I'm surprised I haven't fallen over and died!