Friday, January 28, 2011

Girlfriends Unite ~ Balance Challenge #4

In light of spending yesterday at the spa with  friends then walking with another gal pal this morning and preparing for a girls trip to Las Vegas in a couple weeks, I found the below email I received to be spot on. My Balance Challenge #4 is for you to carve out time with your girlfriends. I know, I know, you are booked! We all get busy, with our families, to-do lists, work and life’s details. This upcoming week STOP, call a girlfriend and make some plans.

Cheers to girlfriends and staying healthy!

Did you know that every time you schmooze with a girlfriend you should pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health? In an evening class at Stanford the last lecture was on the mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (Head of Psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf?

Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym. There’s a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged—not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

Unicycle Rose challenges you this his week to do yourself a favor, pick up the horn and plan a walk, coffee date, happy hour, chick flick or (fill in the blank) with your pal. As women, we are indeed very blessed to have each other. Why not toast to our friendships? Evidently it’s very good for our health.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why it’s called spring cleaning

Results are in. Yes! Organizing a drawer took little time and left me with a positive feeling. However, let me be honest, it practically took an Act of Congress to get me to open that cluttered space and then toss, clean and organize. Seriously. I completed three drawers and the shelves in my closet; much less organizing than I’d hoped. Exterminating the clutter bug does make for a more balanced, organized existence; however, the desire and motivation to do it doesn’t come naturally to me. At all.

I guess this is where the challenge came in … and isn’t that what this Balance Challenge business is all about? Pushing oneself out of the old routine with the hopes of living a more balanced life? Well, I did it and came to the conclusion they call it Spring Cleaning because it’s only meant to be done once a year.

Now clean out your drawer!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mrs. Potato Head makes a point

“The body is a unit though it is made up of many parts; and though the parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body. Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12: 12-13, 27

People are born with all different talents and gifts (parts) and together we make up one body of Christ, or like today, a Mrs. Potato Head. At our Women’s Getaway Reunion Luncheon (what else, but a baked potato bar) the ladies were greeted by our special guest, Mrs. Potato Head, and were given a body part; eye, ears, nose, mouth, hands, etc. The center piece on each table was a blank Mrs. Potato Head and everyone had to find an empty spot to place their body part. It took many different parts to complete the adorable spud and the results were an endearing metaphor. Mrs. Potato Head illustrated the point that God gives us different talents to serve Him and he needs all of us to complete his church, or His body. This takes the pressure off of having to be Superwoman, but serving Him with whatever gifts he blessed you with.
At today’s event we supplied the potatoes (I had the job of cleaning, stabbing, wrapping and baking eighty taters – that was a first, and yes, they all fit in my oven), and everyone brought a topping. Lunch was yummy and the slideshow was an excellent reminder of why anyone would want to go on a women’s retreat in the first place; peace, friendship and time alone with the Lord.
This afternoon we shared how God is working in our lives and worshipped together, but my favorite part was when Melanie (our leader and the master mind behind the theme) held up a Mrs. Potato head with only one arm, one ear, mouth and hat. She asked everyone, “Who is this?” She answered, “This is our church when you are not here; incomplete. We need all of you”
Yes, Mrs. Potato Head made her point!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Exterminate the clutter bug ~ Balance Challenge #3

Are you a clutter bug or a neat freak? Pile maker or pile organizer? Do you prefer order or revel in chaos? There is no right or wrong answer. People are different and there is room for everybody in this big world of ours. In light of Balance Challenge #3, I admit I’m out of balance in the organization department because I’m a clutter bug. My house is clean, but please don’t open up a drawer or look in my closet or cupboards. My hidden spaces are embarrassingly messy.

My Balance Challenge this week is to pick one drawer, pile of papers or cupboard and organize it, clean it out, disinfect or do whatever it takes to reset my off-kilter-ness in this part of life. It’s a daunting task to do a lot at once, so I’m starting small. One thing a day. Just one. After a week I expect to feel less disorder in the nooks and crannies of my life.

Yesterday I started with my closet shelves and will attempt to clean a bathroom drawer next. I’m almost afraid to straighten up the kitchen drawer next to the phone, so will put that off until later in the week. Can you relate to hidden disorganization? Jump on board and let’s push ourselves to exterminate the clutter bug hiding inside us.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I have a dream

Not just Martin Luther King had a dream. Dreams are free and this concept stays in my mental back pocket 24/7. My dream to get the commercial part did not come true. Half the fun of the week was to dream that I got the part (that came with a ginormous paycheck) and to mentally donate, indulge, and spend all that money. When God closes a door he opens a window, well in this case, he cracked a window. I received a message from Empowered Peace,  a blog that I follow, and “liked” on Facebook because of its inspiring spiritual messages. Unbeknownst to me, Empowered Peace held a drawing for $100 for those who "liked" it on Facebook. Guess who won? Me! It‘s my prize of the week!
The result of Balance Challenge #2?
Stepping out my comfort zone to be part of the Reader’s Theatre at church was a great experience. We practiced last night and I felt good going into it this morning, although clammy handed and a tad nervous. Because I stepped outta my comfort zone, I made new friends and feel stretched in a good way. I am well-balanced (for now) because I exited the comfort zone. Did you?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Steppin’ outta The Comfort Zone! ~ Balance Challenge #2

Moving through my days, I tend to live in a cycle, not a rut, but a daily cycle (not to be confused with my unicycle). Don’t we all? It’s the rhythm of life also known as The Comfort Zone. We do this to maintain sanity and semblance of a structured life. However, to keep true balance, I think it wise to push ourselves out of The Comfort Zone and into new territory. Not only does trying something new and different shake things up, but new friendship and skills can develop. I know, I know … it is much easier to stay in THE ZONE because it requires courage and effort to actually step out of it. My advice? JUST DO IT.

For example, ever since I was a little kid and wrote to the Mickey Mouse Club inquiring how to be the next Musketeer, I wanted to act. The confidence was never there as an adult to get past the seedling stage. When I was asked to be part of the Reader’s Theatre at church, I declined. I was raised in a traditional church and was not comfortable with a dramatic performance taking place on an altar. However, I have enjoyed watching the Reader’s Theatre and have taken away something valuable from these short skits. With Balance Challenge #2 in mind, when I was asked to be part of the Reader’s Theatre again? This time, I said yes! We had our first run-through last night.
Another step away from my comfort zone was going to the call back for the Big Lots commercial on Tuesday. It was short and sweet. No unicycle riding, only 30 seconds of talking to the camera, with casting directors sitting back on their comfy leather couches judging four of us. I was the only girl in the group. The others were “professional” circus peeps; a giraffe unicyclist, stilts, glittery costumes, seasoned jugglers (I heard the director ask him, “Can you juggle a boar’s head, knife and stuffed animal?” I kid you not!) Me? Still in my jester hat being me and praying for a spirit of confidence and peace; savoring every minute away from The Comfort Zone. I repeated a bible verse that was stuck in my head on the drive down with Overboard: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I depend on that Spirit to empower me and see me through all this new stuff. A favorite part of the call back in Hollywood was having dinner with my darling Nephew Baby Benson (stepping out of The Zone has its perks).

Why not hop on and challenge yourself to break the predictable day-to-day cycle of your life? Try taking a class, driving a different route to work, skipping instead of walking, cooking an exotic dish or doing something that you thought you would never attempt? It can be a big or small step outta The Zone.
But be warned! Leaving your Comfort Zone can lead to a balanced, more exciting life!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Will you cross them for Unicycle Rose?

The phone rang this afternoon and my agent was on the other end! I got called back for a second audition in Hollyweird for the Big Lots Commercial. The first audition was odd because I could barely ride my unicycle in the small room, especially with a sequenced-jester hat on and stupid-elbow-length-red gloves that made my hands slip off the wall. Other folks audtitioning got waaaay into the circus theme; jugglers dressed as clowns and an acrobat with full-body paint. During the audition I talked into the camera, formally introduced Blanche, gave Unicycle Rose a plug and smiled a bunch while sucking-it-in the entire time. Something must have gone right because I’ll return with my Stage Mom, Overboard, to Ross Lacey Casting tomorrow. In true-Overboard fashion she wanted to paint my face like a circus clown and advised me to practice riding in circles. She makes me laugh and I appreciate her enthusiasm and company.

Whether I get the gig or not, the process is exciting. I rode Blanche seven miles the last couple days  to keep the wheel rolling and my balance keen. Will you join me in keeping fingers crossed that things will go well tomorrow?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Am Available

Before I share my take on the first Balance Challenge, listen to this! Yesterday, I went on an audition with Blanche for a Big Lots Commercial. It was a circus-theme casting call (juggling acts, contortionists, acrobats, plate balancers and unicycle riders) so I wore this dorky jester hat and had to ride in a very small room. I am a distance unicycle rider, not a trickster, so that was awkward, and my gut says it did not go well. Still, my fingers are crossed. The upside? My stage mom, Overboard, drove with me and on our way home from Hollywood we went to visit my sister and baby nephew.


About Balance Challenge #1? After going three times to 24 Hour Fatness last week, I realized people populating the rows of Stairmasters, elliptical and treadmill machines want to stay in their private zone, plugged into TV or iPod, and honestly I am no different … unless I meet a friend there and all we do is jabber. I did offer to help someone, and I said hello to new and old faces. Overall it was no different than any other week at the gym. Once, I spotted a Newby in the back row, a mucho-grande older man in a red shirt. I laughed inside as I thought, “Ya, like I’m really gonna hop off this elliptical to run over there, look this old dude in the eye and say, Good job! (Insert wink and thumbs up).” Who does THAT? He would think I was picking him up, or a total freak! Or both. It was never my intention to be that blatant, but I expected to connect more with others.

In winding up this Balance Challenge, I realized that folks don’t want to be bothered and I am laughing at myself that I anticipated being the Welcome Wagon of Family Fatness. My conclusion reminds me of the biggest balance challenge in life; Never lose your sense of humor. I will continue to keep my eyes open for opportunities to encourage others, but I can’t go looking for it. If God’s need me in this arena, I am available. And, if God needs me to be casted as the unicycle rider for a national commercial, then again, I am available.

Balance Challenge #2 coming soon!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

So now, I present to you, BALANCE CHALLENGE #1

My challenge is when I go to the gym this week I pray I find the guts to approach an uneasy New Years Newby and be an encourager. Maybe a simple smile? Or explanation on how to turn a machine on, or find the bravery to say, “Good to see you here, keep it up!”

I would have loved to hear that from a stranger back in my chunkier days. Join me? If you are a regular at a gym and see a New Years Newby, pull up the courage to tell them a positive something … anything. Thumbs up?

Without a doubt, losing weight or getting in shape is many folk’s #1 New Year’s Resolution. I have witnessed this at my gym (that I affectionately call 24 Hour Fatness) every January. It peeves me because it's so packed in there you can’t get the machine you want and there are self-conscious, unsure exercisers everywhere. I have just ignored them and focused on the T.V where Dr. Oz explains how to avoid constipation naturally or Rachel Ray is whipping up some magnificent meal. This is where I am out of balance and self-absorbed. And, 24 Hour Fatness doesn’t thin out (pardon the pun) until March or April. Then, it snaps back to mostly the same faces I have seen for six years, plus some troopers that have sweat through their resolution.

In the past, I have felt sympathy for these awkward folks, but still, I ignore them. I confess, I have been overweight. It sucks. I have struggled with food just like every other female in my family. If you don’t know, food equals love in Italian families and this can get things pretttty messed up in your noggin. Twenty years ago I was thirty-five pounds overweight and being only five feet, one inch, I was in the pit of despair and extra chub (remember Garfield the cartoon cat said, “I am not overweight, I am undertall?) It took years to realign my relationship with food and make exercise part of my life. Still I battle it, as I have gained the typical “seasonal squish” and am committed to work it off.

Now, if you are not a regular gym-goer, don’t despair, Balance Challenge #2 is one that most everyone can relate to. Unless, you are an Obsessive Compulsive Organizer (not me).