Better Than My Solitude

This quotation jumped out at me when I saw it posted in the ether some time ago… It rings so very true for me.  I couldn’t say whether it is a result of an empathic heart, INFJ tendencies, or the heavily-leaning introverted side of a potentially ambiverted personality. . .

My solitude is my sanity, and there are times when I must shut out all but what my body does involuntarily – my beating heart, and a chest which rises and falls like the tides, my sole companions.

For a long, long time, the thought of anyone in my space bordered on “terrifying.”  It was not specifically a fear of loss, whether to freedom, or privacy, or presence…but more that my soul needed the expanse in which to re-calibrate and recharge.  It felt almost like an affront to my very essence to have someone impede spatially in my life – as if I had no sanctuary my own.

I’m still a lot like a lone wolf, but there is one person with whom I am blessed beyond rhyme and reason to have in my life.  And he…he won me over so much so that his presence challenged my comfort zone…and single-handedly defeated it.

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Holiday 2016 – Lime Crime Diamond Crushers

Wait…WHaAaaAT!?  Where were THESE when I was competitively Ballroom Dancing, dang it?!  

These are the PERFECT, iridescent light catchers (and I’m highly irritated that they’ve come out now…several years too late!)  The names are as sassy as the shades, and I love that they (along with many other companies) are following suit of such brands as Colour Pop and showing swatches on a variety of skin tones.  *LOVE*

Trip

STRIP

FLUKE. . .

I can’t well wear them to the dojo (lest my partner’s gi light up like a Christmas ball) but…I hope other people indulge in the high-wattage glow! 

The Diamond Crushers are meant to layer over lip color, but I’m sure you could use them on your own.  You could also very likely get creative (because…why not?) and use them to reflect light to / from other areas.  Eye gloss, anyone?  

Jiu-Jitsu Humor

I saw this shirt at a recent Jiu-Jitsu competition and was giggling like a fool…

“Nighty night!!!”

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I’m pretty sure there was also one with Cookie Monster choking Oscar – not good for the kids! – but I can’t seem to find a photo!

Sportsmanship Starts Day 1

I had the fortune to attend a Jiu-Jitsu tournament the other day which spanned a wide age group, from young children to adults. Having been a competitive athlete for at least half of my Life, I was taken by the alarming amount of tears I was seeing!  Certainly Jiu-Jitsu is a rough and tumble sport – we aim for submissions, which involve putting our opponents in less-than-comfortable positions.  The goal isn’t to break arms, but you walk such a line by default much of the time.  

I didn’t feel like the majority of the tears were from pain (THANKFULLY!)  With the little kids I was worried about that – I know my Italian mother would never have permitted Martial Arts competition for me early on, lest she hop on the mat and defend her child!  (It’s one of those “she doesn’t know Jiu-Jitsu, but she doesn’t need it” kind of things…) 😉

There were some “I’m-ehausted-is-this-over-yet” tears… There were overwhelmed tears from children trying to hear the impassioned shouts and directions from the sidelines while grappling. But it felt to me that much of the emotion centered around NOT winning.  It wasn’t even losing so much as NOT winning. 

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There is always a level of disappointment when we don’t come out on top.  We train hard and we hope we have the edge…but there is always someone out there to give us a challenge.  I feel like the longer fights were at least more satisfying, where a competitor can internalize how long they lasted.  But the tears came all the same.

What impressed me the most was that amidst an emotionally-charged atmosphere, the kids would respectfully shake hands, trade fist bumps, or hug.

AWESOME.

Seeing young children respect one another and offer support despite the personal disappointments rocked.  It wasn’t about just doing the right thing – neither was it feigned nor forced. I saw some go up to the other afterwards and congratulate them.  They’d fight back those tears and smile and acknowledge the second place.  I was so impressed (and hoped all the adults took notice, as it reminds us how we need to be!)

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Sportsmanship is something that should be instilled early – we aren’t always going to win.  We take it hard because we want to do the best every singe time, we want to dominate, we want to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we are unbeatable…but it won’t happen that way.  Respecting our opponents, appreciating the experience, and taking away the positives and learning is HUGE – when we learn those things at a young age, they stay with us.

The other side of the coin was that the winners weren’t making a fuss at ALL – each one was humble and reserved.  There may have been smiles, but what I saw more of was making sure the other competitor was acknowledged and that there was no display of victory – equally as impressive in my mind. ❤

I like to remind competitors that they are THERE – they are putting themselves out there for the challenge, and working hard.  That alone deserves respect and I, for one, think everyone out there should feel proud whether they are wearing a gold, a silver, or nothing at all – it’s winning or learning and BOTH are positive.

Ladies and Lifting

Everyone has their preferences and tastes…there is NOTHING...absolutely ZERO…wrong with that!  What I will say, however,  is that if you can’t be positive, maybe try not saying anything at all?  You know, just like mum said!

I have seen countless fitness posts on Facebook where people comment quite positively – most of what goes by (at least in my feed!) is rose-colored.  But I see that there are some comments mixed in there leaning to the negative, particularly where one’s figure is concerned.

Why is that?

Now I’m not sure why someone NOT into fitness or lifting or exercise would even frequent a fitness-type page – I can’t imagine why a person would take the time if that wasn’t his or her lifestyle, goal, or…well, INTEREST.  So I’m baffled by the “ugh, that’s too much”s…and the “you look like a man”s…  

Really?

Folks in that industry, or simply with that lifestyle are on the spot when it comes to having the “outer” dissected – and you know what? They work HARD to be in peak physical condition.  So hard, that the average person won’t get there without a serious routine.  So let’s give them a break!  If it isn’t your thing…no worries! But keep it silent – there’s no need to offer words of discouragement, or voice your opinion when it is only intended to hurt.  

And while we are on the topic…ladies CAN lift.  

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Ladies can be GORGEOUS and lift.   

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Not ALL ladies will look the same when they lift! 

We are all composed differently, do different activities, eat differently…

So maybe you see a super chiseled physique and it isn’t your “thing.”  That’s OKAY!  It’s not your goal and no one says you will end up that way if you want to lift!  If you have the desire to get to the gym and do so, there are plenty of ways to do so without bulking or looking “less feminine.”

Many of the figure competitors (who, in my book, are UH-MAZING…and still look quite feminine to me) are striving for something very specific.  They take a comprehensive approach…not just in the gym, but very much OUTSIDE of it – nutrition, sleep and so on.  (Bodybuilding is a whole OTHER category as well, as is fitness, and bikini…) So even if you do lift, you may not be eating optimally for competition, let’s say.  Again, totally OKAY!  All that means is that you aren’t going to whittle your figure into something you aren’t proud of, or happy with.

Everyone’s goals are different.  Look at Marilyn Monroe – never was there more a “woman”!!! She was curvy, sexy, beautiful…a total bombshell and knockout.  So seeing photos of HER lifting ought to give some comfort.  She looks pretty darn drop-dead to ME (and to most of the planet) and she was lifting plenty!

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So don’t be discouraged…whether because you see something that isn’t the ideal shape YOU are looking for, or you think you will end up a certain way.

And don’t be discouraging!  We all have different standards and ideals of beauty, and that’s the wonderful thing about diversity!  Let’s stay positive, and if we can’t, be silent.  Ladies of all kinds can, and DO lift…and they are all fabulous in my book.  

Let’s stay supportive and remember that we all have different goals…and there is nothing…absolutely ZERO…wrong with that!

Supadance #1062

When I was competing in Ballroom, my favorite shoes were, hands down, Supadance.  Some of the other “top” brands that ladies favored just didn’t work for my figure skater feet, and it was honestly a NIGHTMARE trying to fit them – once you find what works, you sort of just stick with it.  I never needed a special width or anything, but if the fit isn’t 100% suited for hours worth of teetering while working your tail off, you have to go with something else – style does not outdo function here!

Danceshopper.com photo

Danceshopper.com photo

I bought many of my shoes, and other paraphernalia, from Danceshopper – they have a pretty substantial selection of apparel, footwear, performance makeup etc.

Danceshopper.com photo

Danceshopper.com photo

 

I think all of the Supadance are a half shank (as really any competitive Ballroom shoe should be – you need the flexibility in the sole in order to point and move properly.) #1062 was probably my favorite style of those offered – the swirling bands and gorgeous upper pattern reminded me a great deal of my work at the time (which was in Product Development as a Fashion Director for a monster of a ladies footwear brand.  Our shoes were super high, incredibly sexy, and without a doubt eye-catching.  Style #1062 has that same sass.) ❤  I’d wear these out in a heartbeat but…SUEDE soles!  

Danceshopper.com photo

Danceshopper.com photo

I always went with an Ultra Slim Stiletto heel (and I think that’s all they offer on this one), or a 3″ Flare – some brands vary in their heel styles, though generally this is the gist:

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As for heel height, I typically wore 2.5″ or 3″ – my 5′ 5.5″ frame had to, for many years, compete with my dance partner’s 6′ 4″ frame so…the suffering WAS necessary.  Tan satin, whichever specific color in this vein was offered, was my choice.  ALWAYS.  While I LOVE the red, and the black, lengthening my lines trumped and color preference or bias I had!  It was worth it.  I believe my toe was a Shape D generally, which always worked nicely for my foot, and kept it from looking heavy.

Danceshopper.com photo

Danceshopper.com photo

#1062 is really stunning. all around – it’s incredibly flattering and flirtatious on, it’s wicked comfortable (speaking personally), and it endures a lot of hard work – I found the quality to be fantastic, especially given how much I was in them!

Many of my own!

Many of my own!

 

 

Embrace the Emptiness

I used to have a n i g h t m a r e of schedule…with work travel, long work days, horrible work hours, training for a competitive sport, competing itself and…heaven forbid!...sleeping…I really didn’t have time to workout.  But for me, that was really rough, because I’m an ultra active person – being fit, healthy and strong matters to me, not only for the physical benefits, but for the mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual.  

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And no, dancing is NOT the kind of workout I mean – it’s wonderful, don’t get me wrong, and it was my competitive sport for many years.  Our routines and competition run-throughs were exhausting…but it was not the level of “exercise” that I needed, or that I was used to.

Growing up, I was on the ice for hours and hours a day, six to seven days a week – morning, afternoon and night.  Didn’t stop for seasons, or holidays…or anything else.  I would squeeze it in before school, and I’d do homework and eat at the rink after school.  It was incredibly intense, and it kept me in the best shape of my Life. While I am no longer a little kid, with ultra-metabolism and that kind of regime, I still manage to workout at least five times a week.  I am incredibly thankful for it.  My days in Fashion pretty much zapped any extra time I might have had – two days of lifting and I was lucky.

It was at the age of 13 my skating coach recommended I start weight lifting.  It was also completely under duress that I stepped into a gym at all but…I fell in love with it. ❤

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Over the course of 23 years of lifting, I’ve recognized just how “social” some places tend to get, though.  I will be the one person smiling and cheerful, while hitting the iron (heavy, with her iPod blaring!)…but I am not there to “socialize.”  I don’t want to hear gossip or drama, or personal business about someone who isn’t a close friend – I’m there to lift, maybe to inspire, and to be inspired.  It is part of my Lifestyle, and I love being there.

That said, because of that “socializing” stuff…I prefer the gym as empty as possible!  The less people, the better (I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you agreed with that!)  It also ties into my post about gym etiquette, because who wants to ask the air if it’s using the machine with the sweaty towels draped over it?  (You know, THAT guy, the one who likes to put dirty towels on several machines at once in effort to commandeer them?  You’ll be standing there a while looking around…until you sit down, that is.  Then “he” will be like a bee to honey!)

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I love my workouts.  I love to inspire, if I have the fortune to do so.  I love to see the friends I do have at the gym.  But I’m not there to sit down with a coffee and chat…so it makes Life easier when the whole place is at my mercy (or yours, if YOU have the good grace of marching in solo! 🙂 ) 

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