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Oprah always made “aha!” moments sound so inspiring and colorful and uplifting, but sometimes an “aha!” moment makes you feel like crap.

My depressing “aha!” moment happened the other day, as I was expressing to a friend my great interest in airplanes:

“The funny thing is, I am obsessed with big planes but I’m actually afraid of flying.”

The enormity of this sentence hit me as soon as the words escaped my mouth. Was I actually talking about Lufthansa and FedEx jets, or was I just exposing a deep, shameful layer of my inner being, that I am obsessed with grand ideas but too much of a scaredy cat to get them off the ground?

After all, “planes” is “plans” with just one extra letter.

The parallels are almost frightening. Take the airplane thing. I love the structure of planes, their sleek design, the technology that allows them to take off and land, to straighten themselves out on a windy day. The choreography of flight patterns, the ballet of metal birds in the clouds, a giant football play sheet in which the Xs and Os are instead 737s and DC-10s.

I learn the lingo, expand my vocabulary, noting that the call sign for U.S. Air is “Cactus” and how the final three steps of an airplane’s arrival are termed “downwind,” “base,” and “final.” My Netflix history shows that I’ve watched documentaries about American Airlines and Air Force One, and I’ve confessed to hiding in a corner in Barnes & Noble, a magazine about commercial airliners between my legs.

But when it comes time for me to fly, I clutch Bryan’s hand as we barrel down the runway and dare not breathe when the plane’s wheels leave the ground. I don’t get sick over flying, but I don’t necessarily enjoy it, either.

I wish I could say I plaster myself against the window and spend every moment in the sky being utterly amazed that, well, I’m in the mother f****n’ sky, but the truth is that I peek out the window with trepidation, afraid that me shifting a few inches to the right will somehow cause the whole aircraft to lurch, and soon we’ll be spiraling out of control through the clouds, all because of my natural desire to fully enjoy the moment of being in flight.

My real-life planes plans are not much different. I think of yoga, how when I was first introduced to it in 2005, I fully immersed myself in all things asana. I subscribed to Yoga Journal, reading each article several times in an effort to memorize the lingo, the Sanskrit that holds the practice together. I attended workshops and master classes, admiring the instructors and their effortless poses, taking notes, itching to become an expert.

I was in love with the details, the schematics. I went to flight school (yoga teacher training). How I loved being around all these seasoned pilots! My fellow students and I talked the talk, stayed up late into the night to share notes and fantasies of flight. We doodled our own flight plans, imaging how one day we’d soar to new heights.

But then when it came time for my test flights, I always felt like I was sputtering and swinging aimlessly between clouds. The feeling of ascending was not as gratifying as I had envisioned. The moment I got my pilot’s license, I already knew deep inside that I didn’t want to fly.

It’s not much different today. I think, I could organize a lunch-hour dance party at my office, I could learn to teach dance to older adults, I could do this training and make movement my second career.

I have surrounded myself with books and blogs and images of dancing, scurrying off to class after class, fascinated with the details, colors, and nuances of movement, painting pictures in my mind of my body as an airplane, a bird, an angel far above this earth. Sometimes during a class I rush across the studio floor and take off, but the flight is never more than an out-and-back.

I feel like somewhere in my notes and doodles and vocabulary there is a flight plan for a trans-Atlantic journey, but the question is whether I’ll ever work up the courage to sit down in the cabin with courage and allow myself to look out that window without fear of falling out of the sky.

Descending into Lhasa, 2006

It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes
And leap…

It’s time to try defying gravity
I think I’ll try defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down.

~ “Defying Gravity,” Wicked

(Note. This post is dedicated to Meg from Spirit Moves Dance, who is already on her way to 35,000 feet and has no intention of lowering her landing gear anytime soon. :-))

I blame my friend Jaime for planting the shopping bug in my head. On Friday during our lunchtime walk, she had mentioned the desire to go shopping that afternoon. The notion excited me as well; I’ve been trying to give my credit card a break since Christmas and so the majority of my purchases these past two months have mostly been for gas and groceries.

It wasn’t until I was walking through Philly yesterday afternoon when I started to get the itch…bad. It was a sunny, mild afternoon…I had just come from a really fun dancehall class + postclass meetup (more on that to come!), the streets were full of dog walkers and musicians and happy shiny people, and I just so happened to be walking down one of the trendiest retail districts in the city…and, before I knew it…BAM!

• My heart skipped a beat when I realized that Athleta was in town. They used to be an online-only retailer, and I only knew about them because I have an Old Navy credit card and all of my coupons are also good for the Gap, Banana Republic, and Athleta. When I went to Athleta’s website, I died. It’s like Lululemon but without the cultish undertones and overly wide-eyed salespeople. Beautiful yoga/dance/sporty wear, beautiful dresses, beautiful scarves and tote bags and everything I want my wardrobe to be. Picture a luxury health and wellness cruise to the Bahamas for a surfing lesson with a stop at St. Maarten for some hiking, followed by an on-ship yoga class, a modern dance party at night, and green smoothies for everyone. This is Athleta. I never bought anything online because I don’t trust sizes until I physically try stuff on. Today was that day. I limited myself to only two items, because–just like a luxury health and wellness cruise to the Bahamas–it’s expensive. I got a lightweight gray jacket that I envision myself wearing on those somewhat-chilly May mornings at the farmers market and The Best Pair of Pants in the World. I used to think L.L. Bean’s Perfect Fit Pants held that title, but they have now met their competition.

• On the left are some duds from City Sports, which I had never been to before either. I tried on a lot of things, and most looked great but, seriously, how many pairs of black yoga capris do I really need? (Even though I swear they all feel different and carry a story of their own, but Bryan will never understand this.) So I skipped the pricey capris and opted for pricey prAna instead; that would be the pair of black pants on the left. But they are full-length pants with a little flowing skirt attached. I saw those pants, and they whispered to me: “5Rhythms.” As did the purple shirt on top, which luckily was on clearance. It’s a relaxed fit, longish lightweight hooded shirt that has the perfect amount of give for a 5Rhythms class. The Toesox are also intended for 5Rhythms, mostly for the classes in Princeton in which the floor is always somewhat slippery. I do own a pair of Gaiam yoga socks, but I felt like the rubber nubs on the Toesox were a bit more durable and hardier.

• The other half of my City Sports loot is on the right, but it’s all swimming stuff: a pair of hand paddles so I can work on my stroke technique, a Lycra cap that won’t tear out my hair, and a nose clip so I can declare myself Geek of the Pool (and do flip turns without inhaling nasty pool water all the time).

• A trip to Center City isn’t complete with a stop at the Rittenhouse Barnes & Noble, where I picked up a new magazine (for me) to give a shot: Spirituality & Health. Something I flipped through but did not buy was this:

You know how there’s always some creepy dude sitting in the corner of B&N flipping through a girly magazine? OMG, I was that guy but my p*rn was a periodical about Boeing 777s. What is my problem?? I can’t help it; I love planes!

• Finally, with nothing in my stomach since a Clif Builder bar at 2 p.m. (and now it was going on 8), I stopped at Fuel for dinner to go. The Hulk juice (spinach, cucumber, lemon, and apple) was a refreshing companion for the train ride back to Jersey, and I devoured the Fuel Stacker panini like a ravenous bear once I got home. It was one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a while: portabello, eggplant, zucchini, squash, tomato, house-made mozzarella, and pesto. The fresh mozzarella was the key ingredient; I’m so used to a slab of deli cheese on my sandwiches that the gooey white blob protruding from the wheat bread was a welcome sight. I urge Fuel to come to the other side of the river soon…this girl can’t afford to always go into the city for a decent sandwich!

Did you indulge in any retail therapy this weekend? Alternatively, tell me what classifies as your Best Pants in the World!

I don’t go on Facebook often because I hate getting sucked into the Facebook time warp, you know, when you go to look at one person’s profile and suddenly three hours have gone by and you’re 11 friends removed from the original person you were searching for, staring at wedding photos of a complete stranger. When you finally come to, it’s like waking up from an eating binge, except instead of being surrounded by discarded food wrappers and empty cookie tins, you’re plagued by the semi-pornographic images and inane wall posts of Jerry and Chris and Freida and Helen and Robert and Steve and Sue and that guy with the weird tattoo and pet chameleon. What the…? Where am I? Who the hell are these people, and why did I spend nearly all of my free evening with them?

However, this past Friday night I learned that YouTube has the same time-suck qualities. It started innocently, with me browsing Tokyo Disney’s website (a normal activity for a Friday night, right?) and seeing that the park’s Enchanted Tiki Room features Stitch. I love Stitch, so I went to YouTube to find a video of the attraction.

I found one, but then out of nowhere I thought, “Hell, I’m on YouTube now; let me search for a video of Southwest’s Shamu plane taking off!” (Like you do.)


And I did. Two and a half hours later, these were the things I had watched on YouTube:

• Southwest’s Shamu One landing and taking off at various U.S. airports.
• A plane landing during a snowstorm in Montana.
• Various videos of planes landing in a crosswind (woah).
• An airplane getting struck by lightning.
• Various videos of approaches and take-offs on difficult/unique runways (e.g., Kai Tak in Hong Kong, Tegucigalpa Honduras Toncontin, Gibraltar, St. Barts, St. Maarten [about 8 separate videos for St. Maarten, because it’s INSANE]).
• Cockpit-cam videos of take-offs and landings.
• The Boeing Dreamlifter taking off and landing.
• Giant-ass planes (e.g., UPS cargo jets, 747s, A380s) taking off and landing.
• Various children dressed as Wall•E for Halloween (+ one dressed as an Axiom hover chair).
• The real-life talking/walking Wall•E at various events.
• Several videos of the before-it-broke Yeti on Expedition Everest (it used to move; now it’s just illuminated with a strobe light).
• A complete POV ride-through of Expedition Everest (even though I have physically been on the ride myself like, 20-something times).
• Spaceship Earth ride-through…with a night-cam!!
• Ride-through of Tokyo DisneySea’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (awesome!).
• Don’t forget the ride-through of Tokyo’s Tower of Terror!
• And Tokyo’s Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek!
• Ride-through of Indiana Jones at Disneyland (half night-cam; half with the attraction’s lights on).
• Behind-the-scenes videos of both the T-Rex and velociraptor from Jurassic Park.
• Video of some dumb kid jumping into the landing zone of the Jurassic Park ride at Islands of Adventure to grab his hat.

I finally broke free from the YouTube bubble slightly past midnight–not good for a girl who was eager to catch up on sleep. I felt disgusted with myself, spending an entire Friday night sitting in an IKEA Poang chair, hunched over a laptop, clicking on links that read “Expedition Everest Yeti Up Close Pics!” and “These Are Some Damn Good Airline Pilots 2!”

The morning after was not as bad…only a few minutes watching cats riding on Roombas, Roombas bumping into sleeping dogs, and a baby riding a Roomba (inspired by watching the “DJ Roomba” episode of Parks and Recreation the previous night).

Now I’m ever-so-curious…What embarrassing/geeky/guilty-pleasure videos have you sought out on YouTube??

I’m a serial cereal eater.

Need proof? Here’s a photo of our cereal cabinet at its peak, taken last summer.

As my husband stated when he posted this photo on Facebook, it’s the “cereal equivalent of the Death Star.”

I start every day with a bowl of Kashi Go Lean, a sprinkle of Kashi Go Lean Crunch (yes, I top cereal with cereal), almond slivers, walnuts, raisins, and (while they’re still relatively cheap) organic strawberries. Every Sunday, I throw together five Ziploc baggies containing all of the above ingredients so they are grab-ready for the upcoming work week.

The cereal junkie's equivalent of a meth lab

Some days, I am not able to eat my beloved bowl of cereal for breakfast because I have to work one-on-one with our department intern, and I don’t think she’d appreciate me spewing almondmilk and fiber twigs all over her computer monitor. Instead, I’ll eat a ProBar or Clif bar, and as much as I love those snacks as well, they are not cereal, and that makes me sad.

Cereal is a big part of my day. When I wake up at 5:30 a.m., one of the first things that goes through my mind is “Can’t wait for breakfast!” Even my afternoon yogurt break involves cereal, because I cannot eat yogurt alone and require a crunchy texture to placate my teeth. They like a workout, I suppose. Currently, Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Multibran serves as my yogurt mix-in. I used to keep a box of Kashi Heart-to-Heart at my desk as the yogurt accompaniment, but I had a tendency to just shove handfuls of it in mouth during stressful times, so I had to opt for something less grabb-y that would fall through my fingers or break apart in my grip. Something packed with a lot of bran (fiber) is also good, because I know better than to binge on that. :-/

Cereal is also a potential dinner option. Some people resort to cereal for dinner when they are pressed for time or cash; for me, it’s because I love it! However, my version of “making a bowl of cereal” is a bit more complicated than it is for most people. If my husband and I both agree to have cereal for dinner, he’s usually done eating his by the time I sit down to start mine. There’s a lot of prep work for a hearty dinnertime bowl of cereal!

Base cereal with two "toppings" of cereal, strawberries, banana, nuts, raisins, and milk!

And who says cereal can’t make for a good dessert? Just last night, after Kashi Go Lean for dinner, I moved on to Go Lean Crunch for dessert. To make it more “desserty,” I added some Reese’s Pieces to the mix. Why not? Remember being 5 and pleading with your mom to eat candy for breakfast and when she said no, you’re all like, “I can’t wait to be a grown up so I can put Reese’s Pieces in my cereal!”? This is what adulthood is about, man.

I love cereal so much that it frequently comes along with me on vacation. Doesn’t your Disney World-bound suitcase include shorts, t-shirts, socks, underwear, a box of Go Lean, baggies of raisins and nuts, a bowl and spoon, and individual packs of rice milk? Up until our most recent trip (at which point I reluctantly switched to transportable protein bars for breakfast), I’d bring all of the above so I could make myself a lovely little bowl of cereal before heading out to the parks. Disney must’ve known I was coming when they installed these handy little cereal nooks into the rooms at the All-Star resorts!

I may or may not have brought my own coffee maker, too

What food/meal are you absolutely nutso about? Also, tell me your favorite cereal toppings! I’m determined to make a grand “Thanksgiving dinner” bowl of cereal that will put traditional holiday meals to shame.

I had an amazing time last weekend just being a kid again.

Two of my favorite people in the world, Emma and Peter, were in town with their 22-month-old daughter Gabriella. She is the textbook definition of “cute kid,” and I’m pretty sure if encyclopedias still existed (remember those things?), you could look up “ideal toddler,” and her picture would be pasted all over the pages.

It was a hot summer afternoon, and Bryan and I spent most of the day soaking up the cuteness that Gabriella had to offer. Of course we spent time chatting with our adult friends, but baby-watching was so much more entertaining than anything on TV.

It was hard for me to keep up with Gabriella’s endless imagination. Who knew that pouring invisible tea and eating plastic crumpets was so fascinating?

At the same time, watching a child’s mind run wild is so humbling. Remember those days when playing with a pot, a wooden spoon, and an old shoebox could last for hours? During our time with Gabriella, we watched her:
• Cook imaginary pancakes and eggs–and if you tried to eat them before blowing on the spoon, her eyes would widen and she’d wave her hands, crying “HOT!”
• Admire a blade of grass and handle it as delicately as a baby praying mantis.
• Contently dig her wet feet deep in a pile of dirt.
• Splash around in a baby pool, completely unaware of the chill of the hose water.
• Discover countless ways to play with plastic cups: throwing them in the pool, wearing them as shoes, filling them up with water and showering herself, tossing plastic ducks into them, wearing a cup as a hat…
• Stop doing whatever she was doing outside to look up at the sky and shout, “PLANE!”

…Which is a perfect segue into how Bryan and I spent the following day–Plane watching!

Even though I have a mortgage and pay taxes, I still like to think of myself as a kid at heart. Gabriella does the happy dance when an airplane engine roars overhead–and so do I!

Bryan, fully aware of my childlike obsession with big, loud flying things, drove me last Sunday over the bridge to Pennsylvania for some real plane watching. I’ve written here before about watching planes land from Red Bank Battlefield, but that is nothing compared to being right next to the airport.

Our first stop was Fort Mifflin, an historic site from the Revolutionary War era, that just so happens to be located right next to Philadelphia International Airport.

I nearly peed myself when we first drove up to the place. I get so excited when I see planes close up! As we were driving, a jet flew right over our car, and I scrambled like a starstruck fan trying to snap a picture of a celebrity. It reminded me of being in Los Angeles, when Bryan and I were driving in LAX territory and planes zoomed directly over the highway.

We hung around Fort Mifflin for a while, snapping fun photos of plane after plane descending into the airport. We didn’t bother paying admission and actually going inside the Fort; just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we have to pretend to be interested in historical stuff. We were there for the planes!

Flapjacks, the fearless flying lobster.

Things got even better when Bryan told me that if we drove to the other side of the airport, we could see planes taking off. I had no idea the public could get so close to the airport and that a magical access road surrounded the entire place. Him telling me this reminded me of when my parents would say, “Hey, let’s go to Clementon Lake Amusement Park tonight!” REALLY?!?!?!

Turns out we weren’t the only ones parked next to the airport. We saw several other people there for fishing, biking, (illegal) motorbike racing, and some older guy driving his convertible around the loop, over and over again.

I plastered myself against the chain-link fence and watched planes race down the runway. I swear, no matter how technologically advanced our society gets, there is still something jaw-dropping and amazing about metal tubes with wings flying through the sky, transporting 100, 200+ people across the ocean. (As Louis CK says, “You’re sitting in a chair…in the sky.”)

Moments like this remind me that age really is just a number. I may not be able to occupy myself for 20 minutes with invisible eggs and a child-size frying pan, but I can stare up at the sky for hours, pointing at the metal birds above, shouting, “PLANE!”

There is no better time for early-morning walks than this time of year. Each morning the sun rises a smidgen sooner, and there is something so satisfying about standing in the bathroom at 5:20 a.m., brushing my teeth in the faint glow of the sky starting to illuminate without the need to flip on the light. The sun is my beacon, and as soon as it starts to rise, I feel like an anxious kid who needs to get outside an plaaaaay already.

I have been sleeping past my normal wake time this week and thus haven’t had a chance to fit in a walk with all of my other morning prep rituals, but yesterday (and today) I was up in time. However, once I was up and stretching and preparing my lunch and stirring the coconut milk creamer in my coffee, I decided to switch things up and leave the house for work 30 minutes early and stop at a nearby park, to do my walk immediately before going into the office. That way, instead of going right from sitting in my car to sitting at my desk, I could come into the office fresh from a sunny walk!

Yesterday morning was just the epitome of a beautiful spring day. Temps in the low 60s, white puffy clouds among a bright blue sky, birds chirping, planes descending into the nearby airport, and cows (regular one, not those punkish Scottish Highland ones) from the adjacent farm mooing. A quick 20-minute walk in surroundings like that–plus my coffee and a bowl of Kashi Go Lean with fresh strawberries at my desk–was a great way to start the work day. (Note: I did the same routine today but it was overcast and not as Disney-esque. And I needed a jacket.)

Speaking of walking, I recently realized that I am obsessed with watching other people walk. Like, really watch them walk. I don’t know if it’s the dancer in me, the fact that I practice yoga and understand the art of good posture, or that I have so many issues myself with my feet and hips, but when I’m walking around the mall or downtown or behind someone at work on their way to the bathroom, my eyes immediately zone into their feet, hips, and back, and not in a “Wowee-wow-wow, look at those Shakira hips!” way but in a “Wow, those high heels are making your ankles collapse in, and your shoulders are all hunched up by your ears! You’re going to be in so much pain when you get older!” way (says the wise, knowledgeable 30-year-old).

Maybe in my former lifetime I was a salesperson at a specialty running store and watched people’s gaits for a living and determined whether they were pronators, supinators, or neutrals. But seriously, I love looking at feet. (I recently declared to my husband that I should have been a podiatrist…to which I responded, “Ahh, nevermind. Then I’d have to clip old people’s toenails.”)

I was horrified last weekend when we were walking through town and I noticed a woman in front of us wearing those damn Shape-Ups. With each step she took, the woman’s ankles were completely rolling in. It was so significant that even my husband, who doesn’t care in the least about other people’s biomechanics, noticed. Just another reason why I think Shape-Ups are the Devil’s sneakers.

All the time, I see people running with the most awkward strides and foot motions, and I feel the need to comment (to myself, of course. Or my husband). One time we passed a guy with a knee  jutting out, his foot all floppy, and his torso all loosey-goosey. “How is it that he’s not in physical therapy every day?!” I asked incredulously. “Just wait!”

On the flip side, my heart flutters when I see someone with perfect posture and balance. Take the famous yoga teacher Angela Farmer:

She was a presenter when I was at Kripalu; I didn’t take any of her classes, but just passing her in the hallway was satisfying enough for me. Angela was as poised as a Greek goddess, her body practically floating down the corridors. Even the way she lifted her hands at the cafeteria buffet was a dance, each finger curling and extending with the most graceful act of mindfulness. It wasn’t pretentious either—not the least bit of “holier than thou” attitude. It was pure elegance and total body awareness. I never once spoke with her, but man, I totally want to be like Angela when I grow up!

I try hard to maintain a steady posture and stance when walking (forget sitting…I turn into a slumped sack of potatoes when proofreading),

Slumped over like a pug with poor posture

to the point where several people have asked me “Are you a dancer?” in non-dance settings, including on the weight floor at the gym and in a pizza shop when I was 13.   I had always taken pride in being asked that, even as recently as last year, when I wasn’t taking technique classes anymore but I guess still maintained that “look.” So I was devastated when, after I first busted my hip last year, my yoga teacher watched me walk across the room and told me I have a limp. ?!&$*&@&!! Now *I* was the one with the goofy-looking gait! And then, during my physical therapy sessions, my PT noticed that I tended to walk with my hips shifted to one side. Who am I?!?!?

It is reassuring, then, that one of my coworkers in the marketing department, who works specifically with PT textbooks and several on gait analysis, told me that no one has a perfect gait (except maybe Angela Farmer). There are a million factors that contribute to gait (toes, ankles, knees, hips, core, shoulders, so on and so forth) and when just one is “off,” there goes the picture-perfect anatomical model who walks with everything in line. What that means is that even in my dancing heyday I was never perfect, I’m not perfect now, and I never will be. Even so, that won’t stop me from being overly curious and fascinated with other people’s bodies and the way they carry them. And I’ll never stop hating Shape-Ups.

About the Author

Name: Jennifer

Location: Greater Philadelphia Area

Blog Mission:
SHARE my practice experience in conscious dance and yoga,

EXPAND my network of like-minded individuals,

FULFILL my desire to work with words in a more creative and community-building capacity;

FLOW and GROW with the world around me!

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