Choose Happiness

As Beyonce owned the stage—and the world for a moment—at last Sunday’s Superbowl, I got to thinking about leather, lace, awesomeness, and choices. I am light years from the fierce triple threat, but I too had a moment of Superbowl greatness. Some know the story and others (my very best!) were right there beside me in 1985 as the San Francisco 49ers battled the Miami Dolphins for the title at Superbowl XIX. I was 16 in a torn sweatshirt, nude nylon tights, Reebok high tops, and a ponytail higher than Bob Marley on the Devil’s lettuce. With heavy blue eye shadow and an abundance of sass we danced to a Flashdance mashup at frigid Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto as gusts shot from the north off the Bay piercing though our polyester leotards. Our high school dance team had faired well at state competition that year and we were asked to join an ensemble of dancers in some wholesome choreography sans pyrotechnics, indigo floor lighting with springing trap doors and larger than life video imaging. A diva-inspired power outage was incomprehensible.

I had no business being anywhere near the likes of Joe Montana, Dwight Clark or Dan Marino for that matter. My offensive lineman boyfriend at the time could barely contain his jealousy! We were young and fresh and blissfully unaware of our good fortune. To this day my children love to watch the halftime show with me and snidely comment about how I could have been a fly girl, or at least a back up dancer for Madonna, because “she’s really old”.  Ahhh, coulda, shoulda….

Truth is, I seriously considered studying and building a career in dance. And for all of you snivelers, my aspirations did not include a pole! I have no vocal talent so I would have struggled to find a life better than that of a troubadour in a traveling circus. My parents were pretty definitive about NOT sending me to UC Santa Barbara—the greatest party school on the west coast—to….dance. So, I chose to study Communications and English Literature. Could I have been a Laker girl like Paula or a fly girl on In Living Color like JLo? Doubtful. I do know that I wouldn’t have worked as an English teacher in South San Jose, or a writer in Silicon Valley or a fitness instructor, yoga teacher and trainer. I made a choice and I’m pretty sure it was the right one. Read more of this post

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9/12/2011: Practice Forgiveness for Better Health

As I wrapped Halloween goodie bags for the elderly at a National Charity League meeting on 9/11 with my 13-year-old daughter, she asked if we’d have time to attend mass that evening. We are hardly model churchgoers and—as I’ve mentioned (See Recipe for Change- Less Everyday) —I consider myself at best a “Recovering Catholic” open to the tenets of several faiths. Our children are the product of this open-minded spirituality regardless of their more formal exposure to Catholic teachings their first nine years. For me it is a gift to see them reach for their own spiritual lifeline when it comes to navigating their way through difficult times.

Over the past week we have discussed the 9/11 of ten years ago, when my son and daughter were just two and three; and, as I answered questions and cried tears as I recounted the day—the moment—that we all personally own, I realized that they too need to personally mourn this piece of history that defines their generation. Read more of this post

Ode to Dino: Happy Father’s Day to All You Nerdy Dads!

My dad is 79-years-old and currently traveling through his ancestral home town—Castelvetere— in Northern Italy. My mom, who struggles with arthritis pain and heart issues, decided to take a pass on Dad’s latest inspiration to find his parents’ childhood homes. He found the ancient housing structures still standing on Google Maps and the wheels started spinning. Mom decided to take advantage of a week free from her groovy retired life with Dad and travel with her sister to world-renown Rancho La Puerta Spa in Tecate, Mexico to work on her mind/body/spirit connection and give vegetarian living a whirl. Having my two (dare I say it?) “elderly” parents on different continents is…unsettling. Because of iPhones and time zones my sisters and I have been in touch with Auntie and Mom, but until today, day five, Dad has been incommunicado.

Armed with his brand new iPad, I anticipated at least a quick message on Dad’s first day or two. Turns out the iPad is rendered useless in the mountainous province of Benevento (which translated means “good wind,” significance to come later in this piece) and he’s had to resort to archaic methods to communicate, including dial-up. That’s what my dad gets for jetting off to remote Italian towns in search of Antonellis, Morettis, DiPieros and LaMarcas (yes, I am 100% Italian!). Thinking of my dad farther away than a tap on my Favorites list got me thinking about…me and Dad, back in the day, back at MY ancestral home in Saratoga,CA. Read more of this post

Recipe for Change: Less Everyday

Last week, a friend asked what I’d given up for Lent. Well, since I am more of a “Recovering Catholic” than a Catholic, “I suppose I have given up GUILT this year,” I responded. So far it feels pretty good to not worry about a stray chocolate chip (the year I gave up chocolate), a slipped F-bomb (the year I gave up cussing), or being bitchy (the entire 40 days that I refrained from caffeine).

I’m already solid with workouts since I teach six classes per week and do my best to practice Bikram yoga (http://bikramyogalajolla.com) when possible. I generally eat well and don’t have too nasty of a potty mouth (though some may disagree!). So, in recent years, Lent has been purely about guilt for me, which I suppose is ultimately the objective. I would set my sights too high and invariably fail. Technically, Lent is the 6-week preparation period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday when Christians ready themselves for Holy Week and Easter with prayer, almsgiving, repentance and self-denial. But, for many of us, the religious aspect is lost and Lent is simply relegated to an incentive program to get us moving on a new exercise regimen, diet, or unrealistic deprivation, literally guilting those of us raised on tabernacle wafers and watered down box wine to get to mass, skip the caffeine or sweet-tasting mouthful, and to exclaim “oh, shizer” instead of “oh, shit.” Read more of this post

One Hour or 127 Hours: BE in Every Moment

In Bikram Yoga last Friday I practiced for ninety minutes in 111 degree heat and humidity that could rival the slums of Bombay at high noon. A young, fit Hispanic man practiced next to me and it took about 35 minutes before I noticed that he was positioning himself into the Hatha postures without a left hand and only a partial forearm. I thought about his obvious drive and perseverance as sweat soaked my yoga mat and towel. He didn’t alert the teacher to his disability, and he simply tackled tough two-handed postures like pada hastasana (hand to feet pose) and dhanurasana (floor bow) with a thin fabric band that he fashioned around his forearm and then his foot to secure holds worthy of the ancient discipline. Class was packed, warm rain outside, and I didn’t run into him on my way out as I’d hoped. I would have told him that he inspired me and humbled me and made me vow to never again curse the stubborn postures that haunted and challenged me. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without tears or without pure, embarrassing awe, so chances are I would never have spoken those words that day. I hope to be granted another chance and the courage to speak. Read more of this post

‘American Idol’ Fitness

This week I made my debut on American Idol. Since I possess very little vocal talent, I suppose I should clarify. My awesome pal, Stephanie, called earlier this week with tickets to the American Idol screening in Hollywood, and although my first instinct was to pass (as I have kids to shuttle, homework to supervise, classes to teach and clients to train), I chose to drop everything and drive those hundred miles up the coast to Hollywood in search of one of my all-time idols—Season 10 judge and Aerosmith front man, Steven Tyler.

Four of us 40-something mommies giggled and chatted on the ride up as we played hookie from the minutia of our daily lives. We somehow also managed to create a sign made with bright poster board, colored Sharpies and a funny caricature cut-out of Mr. Tyler’s prominent lips and rockin’ hair. The final product was a work of multi-tasking genius. Colorful and to the point, it read: “Steven Baby…Walk This Way and just Gimme a Kiss!” with a thick arrow pointing down toward the sign holder. We elected our cute blond friend, Maureen, to wield the sign! Needless to say, our plan worked. After waiting outside the studio for hours and making friends with other Idol fans, we were assigned our seats. When the studio usher looked us up and down with her discriminating eye to assess how we’d “read” on camera if it happened to pan over us, she also read our sign. We were clearly not here to see any particular “idol,” we had a higher calling: Steven Tyler! Read more of this post

What’s Your Diet Vice?

Hello Friends,

A few weeks ago I reconnected with my old pal Bobby through his very informative and inspirational website. Bobby and I met 14 years ago in Silicon Valley at a start-up tech company. He took care of the money (thankfully!) and I took care of the marketing communications. Working with young, eager, and energetic innovators, we managed to have a great time in the workplace; and, because we didn’t have children or many responsibilities outside of ourselves, we found plenty of time to stay fit and healthy.

That life may have very well belonged to someone else. Who was that person? Somehow, I worked all day, and then taught group exercise classes at a gym in the evening. I found time to run and compete in races, including a few marathons. I even worked on my strength in the weight room—not Mr. Bluford-style, of course, but I did my share. And, most importantly, I consistently stoked the fires burning at home with the hubby, managed to be a staunch supporter of Girls Night Out with my peeps, and was a smiling presence at all family holidays, births and birthdays. A skilled juggler! Read more of this post