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weekly updates
family, Fitness, Happiness, Weekly Update

Blog & Weekly Update July 17, 2017

Learning / EducationalI’m officially 55 years old! When I was thinking about what I wanted to have and to do on my birthday to make it special, I wondered why we only wait until our birthdays to do those special things we always wanted to do – to eat cake, go shopping, celebrate with friends, or go on a trip? Why don’t we live every day that way – or most days? Obviously we have things to do in our lives that cannot be avoided, like paying bills and cleaning toilets, but what if we slice out a portion of a few occasional days doing things we enjoy, surrounded by people who uplift us instead of those who bring us down?

I wanted to share a few of my bucket list items for each day, not just my birthday.

Here’s my bucket list of birthday wishes: Watch the video here:

  1. Have more fun, less heart ache.
  2. Be the crazy lady dancing on the beach. We’ve all seen that woman who’s older – my age – with headphones in her ears, most likely playing the music loud, dancing, wearing a bikini – whether or not she should – and why not? She exudes love, laughter and light. We could all use a littler more of those things, can’t we?
  3. Once in a while have a chocolate croissant and coffee for breakfast
  4. Get those good endorphins going every day – work out more and laugh more
  5. Make my health a priority every day! As a former migraine sufferer, and having had a life-threatening illness, I know the importance of having good health.
  6. Take a cooking class
  7. Read more books
  8. Watch less TV
  9. Worry less about what others think about me, haters are gonna hate – give em something to hate about! Be yourself!
  10. Do more yoga (maybe even take yoga teacher training)
  11. Spend more time with people who appreciate and love me, and less time with those who don’t.
  12. Dance in the rain, dance on the beach, dance in the kitchen, dance when no one is watching, dance when everyone is watching!
  13. Be grateful for three things every day
  14. Watch more sunsets and sunrises
  15. Be more assertive: I was born and raised a people pleaser, so this is work-in-progress. Watch this video to see how I recently made a significant breakthrough: https://youtu.be/O0wIyiMU5bA

 

FitnessOne of the things I wanted to on my birthday was teach a Zumba Fitness class & share my passion for healthy living with others!  The miles of smiles made it all worthwhile!

A post shared by Shemane Nugent (@shemanenugent) on

 

As my friend Alvie Shepherd says, “yes you can!” And yes I did – do a headstand on a paddle board with my friend April looking on in disbelief!
Yes I can!
And…

A post shared by Shemane Nugent (@shemanenugent) on


Yes YOU can do whatever you set your mind to do. There are many examples of people overcoming obstacles, so why not you? Why can’t I do a headstand on a paddleboard at 55 years of age?
What is it that you’ve always wanted to do but hesitated?

 

Got to celebrate my birthday early with my hubby!

A post shared by Shemane Nugent (@shemanenugent) on

Had a GNO (Girl’s Night Out) with some friends at a fabulous french restaurant on my birthday!

A post shared by Shemane Nugent (@shemanenugent) on

My friend April got me this amazing, heartfelt bracelet engraved with the Bible verse Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7

She read my blog about a child I lost, but I always knew would have been named Coco.

Read my blog here: www.ShemaneNugent.Rocks/coco
On the inside of the bracelet, April engraved “Happy Birthday Mom, Love Coco”
I was instantly choked up, and fighting back the tears. Thank you April for such a thoughtful gift!

A post shared by Shemane Nugent (@shemanenugent) on

I received so many amazing gifts!

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Thanks for checking out my weekly recap! I’d love to hear from you! Let me know if you like the updates and what you’d like to see more or less of.

weekly updates
Emotional Wellbeing, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Inspiration, Weekly Update, Wellness

Blog & Weekly Update July 3, 2017

I’m so glad you’re here! Thanks for taking a few minutes to check out some fun & enlightening videos and posts from last week!

Educational In a couple weeks I’ll be turning 55! Rather than feeling disappointed by the numbers, I’m proud that I’ve been able to overcome significant physical and emotional obstacles in my life and, most importantly, feel better than ever! Unlike women (and men) who are hesitant to disclose their age, I don’t mind. In fact, I feel like I’m in my prime. I’ve learned how to be more assertive and speak my truth without being hurtful. When my husband asks me where I want to go for dinner, I say the exact name of the restaurant, rather than, “I don’t care,” and then sulk because he couldn’t read my mind.

You may find it difficult to believe, but I struggled with self-confidence most of my life. Especially as the wife of a rock star, it was always easier to just go along with whatever Ted wanted. Ultimately, I wound up feeling angry until I learned to voice my opinion. You might say I’m a late bloomer since it’s taken me 54 years to figure out how to do that, but I’m getting stronger and wiser every day!

The trials and tribulations we endure not only fortify us, but these setbacks help us acknowledge the people, places and things with which we want to be surrounded. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier to be (almost) 55! And, I’ll admit, this past year has brought some challenges, but also some amazing changes in my life since I found Isagenix! I feel like it’s the fountain of youth!!

Check out this educational article about staying fit and healthy as you age: http://www.isagenixhealth.net/stay-fit-prime/

And what’s the deal with coconut oil? Is it good or bad for you? Here’s an interesting article by Chalene Johnson: http://www.chalenejohnson.com/nutrition/the-coconut-oil-debate-why-you-should-continue-to-use-coconut-oil/

The weight loss and fitness secret you haven’t heard before! Hint: Be selfish! Here’s a video you may have missed from my Motivational Monday segments with Julie Hays:

 

It was so exciting to visit the Isagenix World Headquarters in Phoenix, AZ last week with my friend and business partner April O’Leary!

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Some of the Isagenix executives even came to Ted’s concert! Here we are backstage:

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This is absolutely adorable! Watch how a stray dog walks on stage during a live symphony performance! I’ll bet s/he found a new home after this! http://boingboing.net/2017/06/30/stray-dog-joins-orchestra-on-s.html

If you’ve never heard my podcasts before, check out my favorite interview with Dr. Kapil Gupta about becoming MindLESS, not mindFUL. It changed my life. http://thisrockinlife.libsyn.com/rss

Lyme Epidemic Clock is Tick-Tick-Ticking
Happiness, Health, Nature, Wisdom

Lyme Epidemic Clock is Tick-Tick-Ticking

The two brothers lived to deerhunt. It was a major annual family ritual like no other. Like most of us deerhunters, they lived it year round, always scouting, planning, strategizing, exploring, looking for that perfect backwoods, outback, way-back swampland ambush stand location in our beloved great outdoors.

Their efforts not only paid dividends in the fun, sport, meat, trophy sacred backstrap department, but like pretty much all deerhunters, this aboriginal hands-on conservation lifestyle cleansed their souls and fortified their families’ overall quality of life.

Serious stuff this deerhunting life.

About 20 years ago they celebrated the dream deerhunt when both brothers killed two fine bucks on opening morning. They recall that as they gutted their kills, each deer had more ticks on them than they had seen previously, but they didn’t think much of it.

Turns out both brothers discovered embedded ticks on their bodies the next day, but merely removed them and never gave it a second thought.

Coincidentally, one of the brothers had a nagging flu-like condition at the time and was prescribed a pretty heavy dose of antibiotics, while his brother did not.

Within days, severe headaches and body aches and intense flu-like symptoms rattled the brother that was not prescribed antibiotics, but he just plowed through it not knowing anything about this “rare” and nearly universally misdiagnosed Lyme disease that was ravaging his body.

Horror of horrors, he became increasingly debilitated, weak and sickly until finally a doctor identified Lyme, but it was too late.

Restricted to a wheelchair and basically helpless, his hunting days are over and his condition is irreversible.

The brother that was prescribed antibiotics is just fine.

Thank God the medical community has wised up over the years and Lyme is now much better understood, though still very difficult to accurately diagnose since its symptoms mirror those of so many other illnesses and conditions.

So last week when I extracted a clinging tick off my ear, I was much more prone to pay attention, and though I have encountered ticks most of my fulltime outdoor life, this time it hit me.

Within 24 hours I experienced pounding headaches and body aches like never before and immediately knew my symptoms were lick for lick those of Lyme.

Fortunately our doctor friend is a Lyme specialist and my antibiotic regimen began right away.

I am up in beautiful Wawa, Ontario bear hunting with Rick Dickson and some buddies right now, and am relieved to say that the symptoms are dissipating incrementally nicely each day.

Whew! That was a close one!

So I am here to share with my deerhunting BloodBrothers the reality that 2017 is going down on record as the worse tick year and the worse Lyme year across America.

In my daily outdoor wanderings in Texas and now in Michigan, I have never seen so many damn ticks!

We must be ever vigilant to treat our clothing with bug deterrent and look more carefully for ticks after each day afield.

Lyme is real as a heart attack and comin’ to get ya! It can have devastating health effects and prevention and early accurate diagnosis is critical.

Communicate this health emergency with family, friends and hunting buddies. Ticks are everywhere this year and the little buggers can wreak havoc on us. The clock is tick-tick-ticking!

family, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Relationships, Spiritual, Wisdom

Mother’s Day Lessons


There are many lessons to learn from our own mothers and from other mothers, too. Most importantly, we discover the kind of mother we’d like to be if we were blessed to have children of our own. In my 54 years on this planet, I’ve seen a variety of parenting styles, and even, sadly, lack of parenting. It only makes me appreciate the incredible sacrifices made by my mother, and the lessons I learned from being a mother.

I’m blown away by working women who raise two, three, even more children without a staff and without losing their patience. Certainly, there are times that we all lose our composure. When my son was just a baby and we were on a plane trip, he was cranky and it’s no wonder. It’s not natural for babies to be in confined areas, have their ears pop from the air pressure change and want to be in their comfy cribs rather than surrounded by strangers. My child had to be changed so I created a make-shift diaper station on the floor in the aisle of the 757 jet. During that, um, procedure, my infant decided that was the time to urinate. Let’s just say the people nearby weren’t all that elated. We all try to do the best we can. There’s no foolproof handbook for mothers. Ask four moms how to potty train and you’ll most likely get four different answers.

Many mothers desperately try to shield their children from disappointments and injustices, from hurt feelings and scraped knees. When Rocco was seven years old, I enrolled him in the YMCA swimming program. In my youth, I had been a state champion swimmer and wanted to make sure I passed down that trait. I gave my son a few extra tips and put him in the hands of a competent and successful coach. After a few months of practice, we entered Rocco in a Novice swim meet. It was an opportunity for children who had never swam competitively to learn about the rules and procedures of a swim meet. It was exciting for me as a mother, to watch my son go through the anticipation and excitement leading up to the race. When the kids were called to get on their starting blocks, my stomach did a flip-turn and my heart thumped thunderously in my chest, as if I was the one to swim for the first time. An official called the children to attention with a loud and deafening command that I had heard many times before, “Swimmers, take your mark…” and then came the powerful sound of the starter gun blasting.

The stands were filled with anxious parents and grandparents hoping their kids would be the one to come home with a first place trophy, but there could only be one. Rocco’s reflexes were quick and he attacked the water with the skill and command of an older, more experienced athlete. The joy and elation I felt watching my son follow in my footsteps – or strokes – was both exhilarating and tense.

Was he swimming too fast to keep that pace for two laps?

So many things raced through my mind…

Maybe he should have had eggs instead of cereal for breakfast.

Wow! He could actually win!

Rocco’s drive and determination during his months of practice paid off, big time! Before a couple of kids even made it to the end of the first lap, Rocco finished the second lap and won! To see the smile and joy on his face was priceless. It was an achievement that could give him the confidence to continue swimming, and set him up to succeed in other areas of his life.

The elation, however, was short-lived.

After the race was over, Rocco’s coach and other swimmers congratulated him on his first place win, but when we went to pick up his trophy, we were severely disappointed. Although there was no denying that Rocco finished first, he was not given the first place trophy or any trophy. The reason we were given was quite unfair and unjust.

“Rocco swam too fast and it wasn’t fair to the other children,” said the official in charge.

Instead of coming home with a trophy and the confidence that his hard work paid off, Rocco was given a stack of comic books. Seriously.

Part of me wanted to scream and yell about the injustice of it all (ok, truthfully, I did a little). Here was a child who followed the rules, he had never swam competitively, but just happened to be better than the others. Apparently being too good was unfair to the kid who came in last.

Life isn’t fair…

…is one of the many things I learned from my mother. She taught me how to be kind and compassionate, to give to others when they are in need. I remember visiting my grandfather who had Parkinson’s disease. My mother would take off his shoes and rub his feet. She was and is always available to help a friend move or to plant flowers for someone or to be a cheerleader in the stands at my swim meets. She taught me how to be a mother, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mother and all the moms who give so freely of their time to their children and who constantly remind us of what it means to love unconditionally.

Check out Shemane’s podcast “This Rockin’ Life” available on iTunes http://shemanenugent.rocks/podcast/

Happiness, Inspiration, Success, Wisdom

Dinner with the President

Ted Nugent, President Donald Trump, Shemane Nugent. Official White House Photo By Shealah Craighead

President Trump walked into the Oval Office and we all held our breath. It’s not every day that you get to spend the evening with the president of the United States. With the Secret Service flanking him, our Commander-In-Chief showed off his dazzling smile and did something none of us expected.

He picked up a guitar and started strumming.

The president of rock ‘n roll presents a guitar to the President of the United States. Official White House Photo By Shealah Craighead

My husband, Ted Nugent, and I, were invited by Governor Sarah Palin, along with Kid Rock, his fiancé Audrey, and several of Governor Palin’s friends, including daughter Willow, to have dinner with President Trump.

Official White House Photo By Shealah Craighead

It was truly a monumental moment. President Trump was beyond gracious, giving us a detailed tour of White House grounds, the Oval Office, and even the Lincoln bedroom.

personal tour by President Trump. Photo courtesy Governor Sarah Palin

The dinner was spectacular with lobster salad, lamb, roasted vegetables and Baked Alaska, in honor of Alaska’s former governor Sarah Palin.  President Trump even signed Ted’s menu to auction and raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Waco tonight!

President Trump told us he was grateful for what people like Sarah and Ted did for him when he was campaigning and simply wanted to show his appreciation by inviting Sarah and her friends.

 

 

The conversation was intense and lively, but when my husband started tapping the plate with his fork like he does at home when he really, really likes the food, I gave him one of those don’t you dare looks, and he quickly stopped.

We capped off the night with a tour of the Press Room by Sean Spicer.

 

We topped it off with a nightcap at the Hotel George, in Georgetown.

#crew

 

Coco
Emotional Wellbeing, family, Finding Strength, Happiness

Coco

She would have been 22 years old, but I never mourned her until now. Life gets in the way, you know? I’ve been busy raising my son Rocco, who is now 26, and helped to raise two of my stepchildren, Sasha and Toby, although they were nearly adults when I married their father. Five other step-children came into my life, Fleetwood, Starr, Louisa, Heather and Chantal but we only visit once or twice a year. This morning when I Googled “how to do music.ly” a social media site that marries lip sync and dance, I found a tutorial of a young girl teaching her mother. And I cried. Through the awkwardness and the banter, it is obvious the mother and daughter are very close. Thirty seconds into the eight minute video, the mom cannot contain her pride and hugs the young girl, while her daughter pushes away, smiling. The mother says “I love her. I love her so much! This is my only chance to get to hug her…” Although likely embarrassed, as any teenager teaching a parent how to lip-sync to a rap video would be, it is clear they have fun together. They giggle, and playfully tease each other as the mom tries to learn this new technology and be “hip”. I know…., my son will be embarrassed I used that archaic word.

It was then that suddenly, after more than two decades, I realized I missed her and I never even knew her. I missed having a close sibling for Rocco, and another child of my own. I would have named her Coco, because, yes, I like Chanel, but also because it rhymes with Rocco. I wonder what they would have been like as brother and sister. I wonder what it would have been like to have a daughter I could tease and learn from, and hug. Would she be embarrassed by my selfies, clothing choices and attempts to lip sync and dance? What would she teach me, I wondered.

On those crazy-long information sheets required to fill out at the doctor’s, I have to acknowledge that I have been pregnant twice, but only delivered one child. I have to check the box for ectopic, or tubal pregnancy. It never, ever bothered me until now.

Like many women who’ve had miscarriages, I felt all the symptoms of pregnancy for weeks. It’s hard to deny the hormonal changes that occur in the body; breast tenderness, fatigue, and a sudden aversion to certain foods. I’d endured it all before when I was pregnant with my son. The most important symptom was, of course, my intuition. I knew that there was a tiny human growing inside me. And I knew it was a girl.

On a ski trip with my father, son and husband, Ted, I woke up one morning with incredible pain in my abdomen. I immediately wondered if I had food poisoning. An hour after the initial cramping started, I was bent over in pain. I knocked on my dad’s hotel room door and told him I wasn’t feeling well. My husband was going to drive my son and I home. We had a couple of good ski days already. Maybe I was over-doing it and needed some rest.

It was only thirty minutes into the four-hour drive home that I realized the pain was becoming extraordinarily severe. In fact, I thought I was going to die.

We found a nearby hospital and I was admitted immediately. “I’m pregnant,” I said through sobs. At that moment, I started to realize what was at stake: a life. Maybe two. Hundreds of women still die during pregnancy-related deaths every year in the United States.

The ER doctor said surgery was imminent and urgent and that I would lose one of my fallopian tubes and the fetus, the baby. The human. The soul. While I was being wheeled into the operating room, as if in a movie, Ted and Rocco told me they loved me and they’d be waiting for me.

Was this really happening? The pain subverted my attention from the fact that I would no longer be pregnant. What does that mean? Where does she go? Perhaps I’d never be able to have another child. Maybe I will die.

After the surgery, I woke up in the maternity ward. Couldn’t they find another place for me? I heard women screaming during childbirth, and then..babies crying… The pain prevented me from thinking about it too much.

The phone in my room rang. Although I was still groggy from the procedure, I struggled to answer it. “Is Ted there?” A woman asked. She said she heard that Ted Nugent’s wife was in surgery there and that she was a big fan. I hung up. Seriously?

And then it was over. Life got in the way.

I returned home and went through the motions of raising Rocco, going to Toby’s basketball games and Sasha’s volleyball games, and being my husband’s wife. Years passed and I continued to write the number “2” in the doctor forms inquiring about how many pregnancies I’d had.

I never sulked. I never cried about the life that was lost.

Until now.

Now, I wonder what kind of video tutorials I would have done with Coco. What career path she would have taken.

I miss her.

And I never had a chance to hug her.

5 Tips to Shape Up for Summer
Fitness, Happiness, Inspiration, Nutrition, Wellness

5 Tips to Shape Up for Summer

I hesitated long and hard about posting a photo of myself in a bikini at age 54, but I’ve paid my dues – in the form of sweat equity. I’ve worked hard at getting in – and staying in shape, and I’ve tried just about every diet imaginable. There will be haters who will say I’m not in the best shape, and they’re right, but I’m beyond thrilled that I can fit into a two-piece swimsuit and qualify for an AARP card at the same time!

The truth is, I’ve struggled with my weight nearly all my life – starving myself and wasting money on stupid diets and every imaginable exercise – from step, to Spinning, to slide, to kickboxing, Zumba, yoga and everything in between. All for the sole purpose of looking “ok” in a bikini. Trust me, I knew I’d never be a fitness model, or any type of model, I just didn’t want to embarrass myself if I had to jump in a pool at a party, if that ever happened.

But there’s another reason why I did it.

If you’re interested in my fitness and nutrition tips I’m happy to share. If you want to know what provoked me, read through to the end.

1. Be Selfish. Although I’ve been a group fitness instructor for more than thirty-five years, I can think of an absurd amount of excuses for why I don’t have time to exercise: There is work to do, errands to run, dust bunnies to vacuum, and Netflix shows to watch – (have you seen The OA or The Crown?!) The one thing that people with amazing physiques like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, J-Lo, and other well-chiseled celebrities have in common is that they put in the time – they do the work – a LOT of it. If you really want to get in shape, spend an hour a day, five days a week exercising. At least. Many of us who are parents put the needs of our children first while sacrificing our own health. Of course, I’m not suggesting to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but carving out even a measly few minutes every day for YOU can make a significant change in your body, keep you healthier, happier, and teach your kids about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re an empty-nester, like me, it feels a little strange to put quality self-care at the forefront of your life, especially if you’ve spent twenty, thirty or even forty years taking care of others.

But you need to….

2. Schedule It. Make an appointment with yourself as if you had a doctor’s appointment and would be charged if you failed to show. Schedule time every single day to focus on planning healthy meals, snacks, and exercise. Four minutes a day can be the motivation you need to make significant change in your life. The secret is that four minutes can turn into 10, 20, 30 minutes or more. You have to start somewhere. Make a commitment and stick to it!

What exercises are the best?

3. Do Something, ANYTHING. It doesn’t matter what the exercise is or how well it works for others, if you don’t like to do it, chances are you won’t do it. However, you have to suck it up and do something, anything every day! Get in the gym, swim, bike or dance! Find the thing that makes your heart sing and you’ll do it more often. Make sure you combine these three elements in your weekly fitness regime: strength training, cardiovascular training and stretching. Working out at least 30 minutes a day five days a week is optimal. Obviously, a little more goes along way in this case. Take a look at HIIT Training: High-Intensity Interval Training is short bursts of intense cardiovascular training combined with small pockets of working-recovery, usually strength training, that will sculpt muscles and leave you sweaty in a short period of time. Many professional athletes and celebrities are using HIIT training. Mix it up! Dance, swim, walk, bike, lift weights, play with your kids or your dog. Anything to get moving! It’s important to strike your muscles in different ways to prevent injuries, increase flexibility and maintain cardiovascular fitness, decrease stress and increase bone density. Increase the intensity, duration and frequency with which you work out. Work out harder, longer, or faster!

What about food?

4. Trash the Junk. All the greatest workouts in the world won’t give you a lean and toned body if you’re only eating pop tarts, cheeseburgers and sodas. Fuel your body with superfood nutrition. Having struggled with my weight all my life, I think I have it figured out after 54 years of searching. I’ve gained and lost over one hundred pounds throughout the decades, but finally, I am at a weight with which I am happy. No starving or denying myself either! I have boundless energy, no cravings during that three p.m. lull, and yet I still have ice cream, cake and chips (on occasion). I owe it all to Isagenix. The system has simplified my life, while giving me incredible vitality and made losing that last ten pounds easy. Is the system a magic pill? For me, it sure does seems like it. For the first time in my life, I’m at my goal weight and have tons of energy throughout my day – especially during workouts.

For more information on the products that have changed my life, click on this link.

And finally….

5 Tips to Shape Up for Summer5. Take a Selfie. Take a photo of yourself in just your undies. Is there something you don’t like? Guess who can change that?You can! Find a photo of someone who has a figure that is similar to what you’d like to achieve. Put your selfie next to your goal photo. During the next 30 days, look at the two pictures every morning and whenever you’re hangry (hungry + angry). Imagining the future can be a very potent prescription for positive change! Isagenix has a program called the ISA Body Challenge, which gives you daily motivation and inspiration to stick to your goals and get in shape.

With nearly half of the American population dancing toward obesity, and health-care costs sky-rocketing, staying physically fit isn’t just about looking good, it’s about feeling good, too. We can’t afford to take our health for granted, as those of us who’ve had life-threatening illnesses know.

Why I did it.

Fifteen years ago I was sucking on oxygen, barely able to crawl up a flight of stairs. Looking good in a bikini was not even a consideration. Living through the day, was. Having suffered with pre-emphysema caused by toxic mold exposure, I remember thinking once that I just wanted to be healthy enough to watch my son’s track meet. There was a time when the simple process of getting dressed, leaving the house, driving a car and climbing up outdoor bleachers was unthinkable. Now, I can run up and down the bleachers, and that’s all that really matters. So, now that I think of it, the best part of the bikini photo for me is the smile on my face. If you’re not healthy, you can’t be happy, and that’s really all that matters.

Top of the mountain with my son Rocco and friend Danielle Russo-Slugh
Emotional Wellbeing, family, Happiness, Relationships

One Good Run

As I trudged through the hotel lobby with layers of long johns, two turtlenecks, a wool sweater, ski pants, gloves, helmet and a jacket, feeling like a sweaty Abominable Snowman with cement blocks for boots, I briefly questioned why I go through all this effort just to ski down a snow-capped mountain ten thousand feet above sea level. For those of you who don’t appreciate winter sports, it might seem as though the hours of preparation for snow skiing simply aren’t worth the payoff. The sub-freezing temperatures alone are enough to scare any cowboy.

Having been born and raised in Michigan, however, ice-skating, snowmobiling and skiing are in my blood. Growing up, my brother and I and all the neighborhood kids made igloos, snowmen and had serious snowball fights for hours in single digit temperatures. During the long, cold, depressing winter months in the Winter Water Wonderland, the big thrill was to climb up the side of a nearby bridge and ski down the side of the overpass which lasted a total of fifteen seconds, if you were slow. That’s how I learned to ski.

Your first time on skiis (or a snowboard) probably feels a lot like getting on a bucking bronco. Beyond the physical challenge, it’s just plain scary. Someone can tell you all day long to lean forward and point your skiis or snowboard down the hill and not to sit back in your boots, but when you’re standing on two slippery boards headed for the bottom, your body will think that’s an insane suggestion. Even if you’ve skied for decades, as I have, and you’re feeling pretty confident about your ability, you can get distracted for a second, cross your ski tips and bam! You’re suddenly tumbling down the hill somehow still attached to your skiis and poles, flying down the slope like a drunk Tazmanian Devil.

Now, I’m not intimidated by advanced runs (a black diamond) that are so steep you cannot see the bottom until you look over the edge, but there I was on a groomed Intermediate run (a blue square) taking a nasty spill that would have been hilarious on You Tube. As I laid there with snow down my pants, up my sleeves and all over my face, I actually laughed. A young snowboarder came by and asked if I was okay. I did a quick physical scan: arms and legs worked. I could tell because I felt the pain. “Yes,” I told him. “I’m okay, thanks.” He handed me my goggles that had flown off in the fall. I got up, brushed myself off, grabbed my ego that had suddenly been misplaced and headed down the mountain for more physical and mental anguish. Like any good adrenaline junky, I cannot get enough!

We ski for that one moment when everything comes together and turns the extraordinary effort into complete bliss. The sunshine warms your back as you dance down the slopes, knees close, hips making figure-eights, breathing the cleanest air imaginable. You glide effortlessly on top of the snow, feeling exhilarated, and that is the magic moment when you realize all the trouble is worthwhile. There is an unexplainable chemistry amidst the mountain air and your spirit, like a first kiss with someone special. A physiological reaction hijacks your heart and soul. You cannot imagine doing anything else or being anywhere else.

That’s what happens in one good run.

Hours after my laughable fall, I was lost in the glistening, snow-covered mountains. I ended up at the top of a double black diamond run (extraordinarily difficult) that I doubt Tom Cruise could ski down without stopping at least once. It was the only way down the mountain, so I pointed my skis toward the bottom and prayed to make it down alive. Taking my time, I traversed from one side of the slope to the other as that same young snowboarder who stopped to help me earlier flew by. Seconds later he was tumbling down the steep mountainside. I counted six times but I’m sure it was more. After the snow dust cleared, he laid face down in the snow, not moving. Sliding down toward him, I grabbed his hat that had flown off in his tumble and handed it to him. “You okay,” I asked. He looked up and smiled. “Yeah. Did you see that? It was awesome!”

Apparently there is more than one way to have a good run.

family, Happiness, Inspiration, Wisdom

Gram

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Today my grandmother, Ruth Cowan would have turned 100 years old. Gram, as so many of us lovingly caller her, was truly one of a kind: an electric and buoyant woman who looked into your eyes, into your soul, upon meeting.  Some of my most cherished memories are from our late night conversations. We played cards and talked, ate large bowls of Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and she would listen – really listen.

 

She was the first person I wanted to talk to when I endured seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I couldn’t wait to hear her advice for my most devastating tribulation – when my husband had an affair and a child with another woman. Her answer, however, was unexpected.

“What would you do, Gram?” I asked.

We were at a restaurant and she took her time, chewing her food slowly.

Sixty seconds is a long time to wait when you are eager for an answer, advice.

I waited.  And waited.

And then she finally blurted out, “I’d get a boyfriend!”  And as a second thought she added, “…and a yacht!”

It was hard to be in a sour mood around Gram even in the darkest moments.  She had a way of livening up the room, and the world.  She made it a better place while she was here.  Indeed.

Like most people from the Greatest Generation who endured real hardships like the Great Depression and World War II, she had a moral compass that was always pointed in the right direction.  As a young mother who lost her husband to cancer, she worked two jobs and struggled to make ends meet for her three children.  There were hard times in her life, yet I never saw her without a smile.

One of the things that inspired me most about my grandmother was her ability to live life to the fullest. She entertained at night clubs until she was more than 90 years old, belting out cover songs of the forties, fifties and sixties and playing the piano – although she never learned to read music.

The highlight of every family gathering was watching her play Mama Goes Where Papa Goes, with all of her children and grandchildren singing along. She had a powerful, soulful and authoritative voice that didn’t need a microphone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=v4Q8w_nHDYg&app=desktop

My grandmother taught me to live life to the fullest and dance if no one was watching. At 92 years old, she joined Ted on stage at one of his rock ‘n’ roll concerts. In front of twenty thousand hard-core rock ’n roll fans,  Gram strutted across the stage as if she owned it. She did.

On my desk is a photograph of her laughing.  Whenever I have one of those moments when I’m sad or frustrated, I look at that picture and ask myself, “What would Gram do?”  I hope I make the best of every second in my life and make as many people smile as she did.

Emotional Wellbeing, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Nature, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness, Wisdom

Tearful Yoga

The room was completely dark except for the illuminated “Exit” sign.  As I lay on the floor in a supine position, sweat streamed down the side of my face, arms and legs. Toxins and stress drained from every pore.  It had been fifty-eight minutes of the most strenuous stretching, balancing, and hard-core strength exercises a body can tolerate, but as I lay in my own pool of sweat, I felt elated.  Yep.  Elated.

The instructor, Michael, taught an intense power yoga class which included traditional yoga postures combined with a series of faster paced moves which called for a bit of mental gymnastics.  When a difficult pose ended, another began. There was very little rest. When we were instructed to hold a challenging balance that required muscular strength and stretching limbs and torsos beyond what was once imaginable, my mind played its usual tricks:  leave now and go get a cappuccino…why are you working so hard on a Sunday when you could have slept in and read the paper….there’s a woman at least ten years older than you bending like a pretzel…..c’mon…you can do this, etc…

At times, there was no music, just the sound of the instructor’s voice encouraging us to go deeper into the pose, or take just another “sip” of breath. Serious and seasoned yogis use a diaphragmatic breathing technique that’s supposed to bring attention back to one’s breath, maintaining calm and focus amidst chaos. The mind continually races, however, with thoughts of “I should have worn the black tank top….what am I having for lunch….to…I bet I’ll lose three pounds of sweat from this class…”

While there are many different kinds of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, power, gentle, and everything in between, yoga has evolved from thousands of years ago. Today, yoga is a culture of its own. There are people who do (it) and people who don’t.  You either fall into one category or the other.  There’s little flexibility because many gurus are so serious about their craft. Although I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than thirty-five years as a choreographer, program developer and instructor, I often feel as though I’m out of my league when I attend a yoga class.  It’s a feeling akin to sports fanatics.  You either like to watch games or you don’t.

The yoga culture extends to manners and clothing, as well.  Be prepared to speak in a whispered voice and be cognizant of your space when entering a yoga studio. Smiles are given freely and often, except when walking on someone else’s mat or (gasp!) when a cell phone buzzes. Anger is simply not welcome.

Stretch pants previously reserved for the gym and only the gym are now seen on both hockey moms and dads in and out of yoga studios and worn as a statement; “I can do the splits and I eat kale.”

The lights dimmed with just a hint of radiance from the gorgeous chandelier above me and the music became so loud I couldn’t hear myself or the person inches away from me breathe, or fart, although I’m quite certain that happened to at least one of us during the hour.  It felt like a nightclub scene, but without any alcohol or pick-up lines.

The instructor never demonstrated any moves, and as an intermediate yogi, I was unfamiliar with the sanskrit terminology, so I cheated by looking at those nearby including my son, Rocco, who is currently attending yoga teacher training.  Not realizing we would have to remember sequences, I simply played “follow-the-leader” as I mimicked those around me in the shadows of the dimly-lit room.

At the end of the class, when it was so dark I could only see the ‘Exit’ sign, we laid on our sweaty yoga mats, exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was quiet, with only a faint sound of deep, relaxing sighs.

Then, with the first sound of the piano notes, it started.  I felt a tightening in my throat, and heavier, more intense breathing.The music blasted, but this time with a more peaceful, poetic combination of Gaelic, New Age and classical sounds that both calmed and comforted me.  The volume of the music grew along with its intensity to levels that I felt in my bones. Suddenly, a persuasive, emotional wave took over me and within seconds, tears filled my eyes and streamed down my cheeks.

I began to weep.

Salty tears of elation mixed with my hard-earned sweat.

And it felt so good.

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise