Wisdom Beyond Their Years

As adults, we tend to rely on our elders for advice and knowledge. We know that with age comes wisdom, as people are the sum of their experiences. This isn’t always the case, but I’ve found that it’s true more often than not. It never ceases to amaze me when I encounter someone with wisdom far beyond their years, especially when that person is a young child or teenager. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by not one, but many young people this last weekend, and it reminded me why it’s important to let those voices be heard.

For those of you not familiar with a Bar Mitzvah, this is a Jewish rite of passage as one goes from being a boy to being considered an adult in the Jewish community. For a girl, it is known as a Bat Mitzvah, but it is the same transition as it is for males. Typically, they are 13 years old when this happens. For those going through this process, it can include a year’s worth of studying and preparation as many prayers are learned as well as blessings and passages in Hebrew.

The Bar or Bat Mitzvah leads the congregation during the service and gets to read from the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The portion that they read and study is based on that week’s lesson, as the entire Torah is read during the Jewish year. There is a different lesson to be learned with each portion, so depending on when it will occur during the year will determine what is studied. It is a huge undertaking and even bigger celebration. I celebrated mine…way back when. To this day, I can still remember the passages I had chanted and prayers I had sung.

The one I attended last weekend was a bit different, as it was two young men going through it together. In this case, it is referred to a B’nai Mitzvah. They both took turns leading the service and doing their readings. Each was extremely poised and confident as they went along. I watched each of them and thought how at ease they both seemed as if they spoke and sang in front of large crowds regularly.

Despite the fact that they each studied the same Torah portion, their interpretation of how it related to their lives was as unique as they were. I listened as they spoke from their hearts. Their thoughts were quite profound, and I had to remind myself several times that these young men were only 13 years old. You could tell they’d spent time putting their thoughts into words. It made me realize that wisdom comes from all ages, and we should always open our ears and minds when speaking with others, both young and old.

A tradition following their speeches is for each Bar/Bat Mitzvah to have a private conversation with the rabbi (or rabbis in this case) followed by a blessing from him or her. As I watched the conversation unfold, I listened to the beautiful song being sung by several congregants. I could only see the interaction between the young men and their religious leaders, however I felt touched as I thought back to my own conversation with my rabbi, whom I still hold very dear. I could see the attentiveness with which each Bar Mitzvah showed throughout the discussion, and it was that – a discussion. Each young man took turns responding in unison and individually as they were addressed. I could tell they had something to say, and I knew they were being heard by each other as well as their elders. I sat thinking how I hope they remember this moment just as I have all these years later.

That evening, both families celebrated together with an incredibly fun party complete with a fantastic DJ who had us all dancing and participating in some hilarious games, a casino night complete with roulette, blackjack, and craps tables, a photo booth, cupcake & candy bar, and amazing food and drinks. This was the time for everyone to cut loose and celebrate all the hard work that finally paid off for these young men. This was the first time in a very long time that I had been surrounded by this many young adults and kids. It was so much fun to watch their interaction with family, friends, and even complete strangers. It was a very joy-filled night and one I’m sure we’ll remember for a very long time.

In this day and age, we all forget sometimes that our differences are a good thing. We even overlook a child’s thoughts and ideas simply because of their youth. Many of the most amazing, thought-provoking ideas have come to me from people in their early stages of life. Some have overcome things I hope never to have to experience, while others see things more clearly simply because the burdens of life have yet to influence their outlook on it. I encourage you to stop and take some time to listen, truly listen, to what others have to say. We can all lose our sense of wonder, but a reminder is always out there if we are open to receive it.

Posted in Celebrations, Life Lessons, Random Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Showering Thoughts

A while back I wrote a blog referring to my discovery about brushing my teeth called Short, Sweet, Pointless. Today, thanks to an article I read, I now have a new pondering thought that I’d like to pose to you. While showering, into which category do you fall?

  1. Face the showerhead
  2. Face away from the showerhead
  3. Both face it and face away from it evenly throughout the showering process

Now, when choosing a category, I want you to pick the answer that pertains the majority of your shower. As with most situations, people tend to think that everyone does the same thing. After all, only weird people would do something different, right?! As for me, I face away from the showerhead. It has never made sense to me that one would face it. Doing so makes it hard to breathe unless you’ve somehow eaten some Gillyweed and have grown gills. (Where are my Harry Potter fans?!)

I have further wondered if the choice above is dependent upon the below categories:

  • Gender
  • Length of hair
  • Height in comparison to location of showerhead
  • Water pressure

I don’t really know how I made the decision of which direction to face. I guess it’s like choosing a side of the bed. Why I sleep on that side is a mystery. It’s not as if it is more comfortable than where I normally sleep, yet it feels odd to have the edge of the bed on the other side. I guess what this boils down to is that in the shower I don’t want to drown while in my bed…well…I’m just weird.

Posted in Random Thoughts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Golden End

Many times something comes into our lives and changes it for the better. It fills a part of our soul that has been searching for something meaningful and fulfilling. It is only when your soul is at peace that you can finally let it go. That happened for me this week, as I made the decision to give up my position with Gold’s Gym as a Zumba instructor.

Just for the record, I am still a certified Zumba instructor, and most likely will remain so. The decision to leave Gold’s Gym was simply that my heart just wasn’t in it like it used to be. I didn’t feel it was fair for them to rely on me to be available to sub classes for several reasons. Currently, my commute to and from work is an hour each way. Even if a sub is needed in the evening, without advanced notice, I just can’t make it there in time. Additionally, I’m fairly busy during the week and weekends, so even being free to teach has become quite the challenge. Lastly…well…if I’m being honest, I just got burned out on it.

For those of you who have taken a group fitness class, please know that instructors put in a LOT of work outside class just be prepared for the time you’re with them. For example, many formats get a CD/DVD every quarter for a completely new class that they have to memorize, and they are required to follow it exactly.

Zumba is a bit different. Being a freestyle class, we have no set playlist or choreography. Each song is chosen by each individual instructor and we are solely responsible for the choreography. Imagine listening to a song 50-100 times just to get the choreography down and then teaching it for weeks on end after that while trying to keep a fresh and motivating attitude each time that song is played. Now multiply that times 13-15 songs. That’s what makes up a class.

Additionally, think about all the stress and frustration you deal with in your normal day-to-day lives that can make it difficult at times to find your smile. We instructors put that aside. We have to. We smile through the pain, cheer through the heartache, and motivate each person while sometimes struggling to work through our own challenges. I’m not saying that every instructor has this much weighing on them, nor did I most of the time, but the passion for it has to be there or finding the motivation can lose its luster.

I have met some incredible people over the last almost six years. (WOW! I can’t believe I’ve been teaching for that long!) Of the fellow group fitness instructors I’ve worked with, their endurance, stamina, and positive attitudes are truly inspiring. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to pursue becoming an instructor in the first place. I am forever grateful for the opportunity and don’t regret a single moment. Finally, my Zumba peeps, who put a smile on my face even when going through difficult times personally, have and always will hold a very special place in my heart. It was a privilege and honor to be your instructor as well as your friend. In the end, I simply hope we all continue to dance through life together with a happy soul and smile to share.

Posted in Starting Anew, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Happy Hypothesis

It turns out that my upcoming birthday has a lot in common with the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. You see, in the movie “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” it was asked of Deep Thought, a computer the size of a small city, this very question. After 7 ½ million years, the answer it calculated was, in fact, 42. In fact, even Siri seems to know this.


Coincidentally, on the 22nd of this month I will be turning 42. Because of this, as I do before most birthdays, l have been thinking much about the meaning of life. My answer, just like 42, is simple – be happy.

As my birthday approaches, I realize I have much to be happy about, but am I happy all the time? Of course not!! Like many others, I have my moments of road rage or the need for a good cry. Fortunately for me, being a rubber band, those thoughts tend to be more the exception than the rule.

For me, being happy quite often comes from making others happy. Showing empathy or just listening can mean the world to someone. Sharing a smile seems so simple, but it can completely turn someone’s whole day around. These small acts always seem to come back to me threefold which is why I find them effortless for the most part.

It’s taken some time, but I’m learning to put myself first and to stand up for what I want and need. This has made a world of difference. I used to spend so much time worrying about what others might think as to why I was or was not doing something. The thing is…I don’t owe anyone an explanation for why I do anything. I don’t say this to sound harsh, but I learned from a very funny, yet poignant cartoon something very valuable. People will judge you whatever you do, so do what makes you happy. It’s funny how something so simple can make such an impact on your life.

In the past, I tended to bend over backwards to make others happy only to get nothing in return. Now I remember something I read – “There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump a puddle for you.” This changed my life for the better. Again, coming to this realization has been empowering. Have I lost friendships because of it? A few, but I then quickly realized that friendships only exist if both people have mutual love and respect for each other.

As I enter my 42nd year of life, I hope that I continue to find this type of clarity. I am optimistic that life will continue to get richer and more interesting with each passing year. I look forward to the roots of my friendships growing stronger and deeper while still cultivating new ones at the same time. Finally, I feel I am on the right path to proving my hypothesis. I just refuse to believe that life has any meaning without happiness at its core.

Posted in Life Lessons, Random Thoughts, Starting Anew | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Takes A Village

Life can be a big complicated mess. There is no rulebook and there are no instructions that tell you how to avoid getting hurt or making a mistake 100% of the time. We all live by trial and error. You could say that we all just make things up as we go along. We have no way to know what the future will hold, but many of our decisions are based on what has happened to us in the past. How then do we make it through each day without either feeling defeated or scared? We do so with a little help from our friends.

Think about the close relationships you’ve had over the years. These can range from friendships to marriages and everything in between. How many of them have you asked advice about? I think, for me, it would be safe to say that at one point or another I’ve asked advice about each and every one of them. This means that not only am I the sum of my experiences, but I’m the sum of the advice I’ve received. I have learned that my perspective isn’t always the clearest in each situation, so speaking with someone objective makes a world of difference.

I’m very grateful for those friends and family who are always there to lend an ear as well as some words of wisdom. I also am thankful to those with whom I share a relationship for seeking out advice from those they confide in when needed. What still amazes me is when I get just the right call or text from just the right person at just the right time. I believe that angels come in all shapes and forms, and I’d have to say that’s probably my favorite.

Posted in Divorce, Friendship, Life Lessons, Random Thoughts, Starting Anew | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Balancing the equation

I am not a fan of math. That being said, I see it the same way I see laundry – a necessary evil. There really is no escaping it. It is vital in everything we do. We can’t successfully double a recipe without it. We can’t determine without math which is the better buy when comparing toilet paper. Most of us don’t have jobs where we spend all day writing complex equations on a whiteboard, but our lives are governed by numbers whether we realize it or not.

Each person is represented by a myriad of numbers that define their lives. From the very beginning we are assigned a birthdate that affects how the world views us and how we view the world. Age is a state of mind, but in reality, it’s a number…that’s all.

Our height and weight are defined by numbers.  There is a stigma that has been put on those numbers that can make someone feel inferior, ashamed, or even ridiculed because they are too far in one direction. Again, these are just numbers.

The funny thing is that they’re everywhere, but we’ve gotten so used to it that we may not realize just how many are used to associate us with the world. You have your phone number, social security number, salary, blood pressure…and the list goes on and on. The bottom line is that these numbers are inanimate objects. They only have power over us because we’ve given meaning to each of them. Some of us put more emphasis on one over the other…such as our weight or how quickly we can finish a 5K. Even as I’m typing this, my computer is telling me how many words I’ve written as if something amazing will happen once I reach a certain limit.

There really is no escaping the great numerical overlords, so instead I’m just going to have to live with them the best I can. While some, like my driver’s license number, will always be associated with me, there are some that I can choose to give more or less emphasis to moving forward. Emotions seem to appear as the result of a number changing – tears of joy when welcoming a first child into the world, fear from hearing a shocking test result, or concern over how you will be able to afford to pay your bills when you’ve lost a job and the only income you have is now gone.

There is one truth in math that I do agree with and that’s having a balanced equation. Our plethora of numbers can very easily tip our scale in one direction or the other and instantly cause an imbalance in our lives. Regardless of how far the range can sway, it will usually come back to the middle every so often. I say that it’s time we choose what defines us. Sure the numbers will always be there, but I’ve realized that what’s important can’t be defined numerically but rather felt emotionally. Maybe in the end it’s the results of the numbers that drive our happiness, and I should be glad they’re behind the scenes shaping my life and making me the person I am today and am yet to be.

Posted in Life Lessons, Random Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Couch to an Olympian

There was a time when I was so out of shape I couldn’t jog longer than about 30 seconds without feeling like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. I remember wanting someday to be able to get to the point where I could run a 5K. That goal seemed so unattainable that I never thought it would happen. I’m happy to say that, since that time, I’ve run many 5Ks, and earlier this year completed a half marathon, although I walked the second half due to my knees revolting for putting them through that insanity. For many people who have never considered themselves a runner, there are tools out there that will walk you through going from getting your tushy off your couch to crossing the finish line of one of a number of races. It got me thinking after listening to a podcast during my morning drive the other day if there would be some sort of similar route to allow a “regular person” to go from their couch to being an Olympian.

I would think that the first thing you must consider is what skills do you already have in your athletic arsenal that would get you to the end goal as quickly as possible. Do you already enjoy running? Are you able to leap tall horizontal beams in a single bound? Can you ski the K-12 with a kid on a bike chasing you? If so, you may be closer to the end goal than most.

I started thinking about what events I could work towards without the fear of being laughed at during the Olympic trials. What I found was there were a multitude of ones that I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of competing in that it made me giggle. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Water Polo & Synchronized swimming – Both of these require hours of treading water. That in itself seems so exhausting that I had to take a nap upon this realization.
  2. Fencing – Just the thought of not being able to use the line, “I am not left handed,” (since I am) or not having a competitor who is looking for the six-fingered man would be a total let down.
  3. Sailing – Considering that I still get spooked jumping off a diving board into the deep end and expecting Jaws to attack me from below makes me realize that purposely putting myself in that very situation would not be the wisest decision.
  4. Diving – See #3. Plus, potentially ending my practice or competition with a belly flop or back buster is reason enough to avoid this one altogether.
  5. Cycling (of any sort) – Until they make a bicycle seat made out of a bean bag chair, you won’t catch me on one anytime soon. I think my derriere still hurts from the last time I went for a ride and that was well over a year ago.
  6. Archery – I know my name is spelled with a “y,” but I don’t want to risk forever being called Robyn Hood.

I guess my chance of being a contender in the competitions already in place are quickly dwindling. Here are some fictional Olympic events that I could confidently say would result in me standing atop the highest podium while listening to our amazing national anthem being played:

  1. Pantry Organizing – Ok…so this would really be any organizing event – pantry, drawers, computer files, party plans, etc. I’d probably have a devilish grin on my face the whole time. That should make for some great pics for my Wheaties box debut.
  2. Coloring Inside The Lines – It is my attention to detail that gives me the upper hand in completing this event successfully and leaving my competition in the dust.
  3. Picture Leveling – Considering that my superhero name is “The Level-er,” I have no doubt that few could compete with my ability to ensure that a frame is both level and plumb. This could also morph into desk arrangement, as it is only logical to have everything at 90 degree angles, hence the term “right” angles. Everything else is just wrong.
  4. Random Fact, Movie Line, & Song Lyrics Quoter – If you ask me if I remember what I learned in college, you will find that it is not the book learning that I can easily recall, but rather the little tidbits of useless information that serve no real purpose. Furthermore, I’d have to say that while humans use a small portion of our brain capacity, mine is probably 99% full of this kind of information, some of which is very obscure. The best part about this event is that as you’re competing, you’re adding even more useless knowledge to your collection. Why have they not started this?!?!

So who’s with me? It’s time we put our talents to good use, encourage some patriotism, and win the gold for the USA!!

Posted in Random Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments