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I usually go to bed on Saturday night feeling guilty about all the errands/chores I never got to and all that I’ll need to cram into Sunday, but ya know what? NOT THIS WEEKEND.

It was 60-something degrees this Saturday, a rarity in the Northeast in January. After a few days of an “Arctic blast” in the region–complete with snow on Thursday morning–this kind of meteorological surprise was permission for anyone with Christmas decorations still up in their house (::cough::me::cough::) to just let it go. Tree in the living room, stockings still hanging? Let ’em stay…I’m going outside to play!

Inspired by Meg from Spirit Moves Dance, yesterday I gave myself permission to:

• Wake up naturally, without an alarm clock.

• Do yoga in my pajamas for an hour.

• Cut back on the chaturangas in the yoga podcast when my sore scapula began speaking to me.

• Feel ever-so-content standing in a super-steady and grounded dancer pose, even if my lifted leg doesn’t go as high as it did 5 years ago.

• Add not just almond butter but pumpkin butter, raisins, prunes, banana, and a handful of Kashi GoLean Crunch to my bowl of oatmeal.

• Sit on the computer for two hours, but do so writing meaningful blog posts.

• Download Foursquare on my new BlackBerry, use it to check into a handful of places, decide that I hate the application/concept, but then later reconsider its usefulness (i.e., to remember what I did/where I went over the course of time, because my memory sucks).

• Go on a long and leisurely 5-mile walk with Bryan, occasionally bumping into him as I stared skyward to look at planes.

• Decide to take the “long way” on our walk home, because it was just that nice outside.

• Stop at the Pooch Park to watch strangers’ dogs frolic and romp, secretly hoping someone would come along with a pug. (We’re satisfied with the two puggles we saw, though.)

• See the giant orange sun set on one side of the sky as the nearly full moon began to glow on the other.

• Go to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner, even though I swear every dish must have bacon fat folded into it, considering their calorie counts. (Roasted veggie salad = Amazing, and probably not so bad if you get the dressing on the side.)

• Ask my dining companion for one of his pizza crusts to fulfill my need for some kind of carb to accompany said salad.

• Use my new BlackBerry for entertainment/diversion when waiting for a table at CPK, even though minutes earlier I had blasted society for being so obsessed with their smartphones.

• Spend an hour at a music store that’s going out of business listening to/selecting discounted CDs (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides soundtrack, Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, Radio Retaliation [Thievery Corporation], Empires, Automatic [VNV Nation] <— thanks to Meg for introducing them to me!!).

• Get frozen yogurt in January from our favorite self-serve place.

Honestly, that last one is the most accurate barometer of them all. If I’m OK eating a frozen treat in the middle of winter…yeah, it’s probably a good day.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I always feel like I do a bajillion more things in the summer than I ever do any other time of year. In the winter, my calendar will experience weeks of nothingness; on the contrary, ever since Independence Day, my weekends have been full of here-there-and-everywhere, punctuated by a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

I already wrote about the emotional afternoon I spent saying farewell to my family’s Philly rowhome; well, right before I danced in the living room, I was actually dancing across the city in West Philadelphia, at an afternoon 5Rhythms class.

Dancing the 5 Rhythms right before embarking on an emotionally taxing adventure was a good decision. It got me past the junky layer of my mind to a place of stillness and mindfulness. I really needed that, especially because I had to drive across the city to get to my aunt’s place. I am not the most experienced out-of-state driver and get really nervous when I have to take new and unfamiliar roads. That afternoon I had to take three of my most dreaded highways; it was the great Nervous Driving Trifecta. Thankfully, 2.5 hours of 5Rhythms beforehand stripped away my outer terror, and I made it just fine.

That same evening, I met up with my former coworker Sara for a summer evening dinner of Cuban food at Casona. I was touched when she agreed to order a guacamole appetizer whose cilantro status was uncertain. Sara hates cilantro but loves guac, and she totally put her taste buds on the line. It was such a bold move! Our entrees were both awesome, as was the milky cake dessert (tres leches) we shared afterward.

Sara's just happy the iffy cilantro experience is over.

Vegetable paella, which I managed to split into four separate meals.

We strolled the main drag for a while and ended up having to stop at my parents’ house to use the bathroom. Weird! Then Sara gave me some corn from her family farm because she knows I love corn.

Saluting a corn statue in the Magic Kingdom

As everyone else headed to the beach for the holiday, Bryan and I spent July 3 at our fake shore, Red Bank Battlefield Park, which borders the Delaware River. Not exactly the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s relaxing, peaceful, and a place where shellfish don’t feel threatened.

On Independence Day, Bryan pretended he didn’t know me during joined me for a walk around Cooper River. I was wearing my new weighted vest from Reebok, which pretty much looks like a bulletproof Kevlar vest. It looks silly, but Cooper River Park is home to work-out weirdos. A weighted vest is nothing next to a 200-pound dude walking around on a 90-degree day in one those trashbag-like sweatsuits.

Of course, the evening ended with fireworks. It was a ridiculously long show of nearly 30 minutes, but it was nice to see a fireworks display that didn’t reduce me to tears like Wishes at the Magic Kingdom does.

Post-Wishes "I'm-so-sad-it's-over" face

Speaking of pyrotechnics, one of the games I like to play during the summer is the “Thunder or Fireworks?” game (and actually, with our house being so close to the airport, some nights it’s the “Thunder, Fireworks, or Descending Airplane?” game). Well, this past Friday night, it was definitely THUNDER. I usually like summer t-storms, but Friday’s felt like the apocalypse, and it wreaked havoc on the area. The onslaught of rain closed down my only two routes home from work, and I ended up being stuck at the office until 7:30.

By the time Saturday rolled around, (aside from tree limbs scattered all over the neighborhood) you’d never know there was a problem. I set out on a long and sweaty walk to the farmer’s market and was blasted with sun and humidity. And then I took the long way home, because I get overambitious like that.

That’s why when Bryan and I hit the road to go down to Atlantic City for the night, Starbucks was one of our first stops on the boardwalk. We had tickets for a 9 p.m. comedy show, and there was no way I could stay awake without the help of the green siren.

Caffeine queen!

We don’t gamble or anything, but I love the energetic atmosphere of Atlantic City. I am oddly fascinated with casinos and the people within, everyone from the gray-haired grandmas in velour tracksuits to, well, young adult hipsters in their velour tracksuits. Greasy, grimy, glamorous, glitzy … AC has it all!

Dolled up weirdo in orthopedic walking sandals, because I respect my feet!

Sculpture of couple playing tag on beach that looks like dancers at the right angle

Mr. and Mrs. Shades

After admiring the ocean for a while, we drove over to the marina area of the city. We were seeing Jim Gaffigan (of Hot Pockets fame) at the Borgata. We were hoping he’d resurrect his manatee bit, but his new sea creature to ridicule was the whale. But at least he ended with a Hot Pockets extended remix.

When we set out to go home, I couldn’t help staring with fascination at the sparkling city behind us. I think it’s so cool that the casinos are always “on”! It’s like a whole separate universe just an hour away from home.

Not my picture, but you get the point. Photo credit: NJ.com

Sunday was all about the walking. I walked about a mile to a local coffee shop to meet up with Old Lady Friend Carrol, then walked 4 miles two towns over for an arts and crafts festival, then walked another 2 miles around the actual show. It was in the 90s, and I was hot, but I like when I can combine outdoor activity and exercise. You don’t get to see guys like this at the gym:

Tater the happy pug

At the festival, I was excited to see that the vendor (At-the-Beach America) from whom Bryan and I bought matching lobster t-shirts last year was now selling the same print on tank tops, and in black. When Bryan saw that I had bought a new color, he insisted on getting the black version, too. 🙂

Wearing our original shirts at a Phillies game. The Kanji symbol means "Happiness."

The weekend wrapped up with a stop at Sprinkles Kiwi, a self-serve frozen yogurt joint. Bryan and I call it “Sprinkles” because that was its original name when it opened, but due to copyright issues it later changed to “Kiwi.” Whatever. For us, it will always and forever be Sprinkles. Our tradition is to take our dessert around the corner and sit on the bench outside Cranky’s handbag boutique. It has become “our” bench, and only a handful of times it has already been taken (which totally throws us off). See those buildings in the reflection? When we first started our Sprinkles visits, those buildings weren’t even there! (And how appropriate that I’m sitting right under the Cranky’s logo? ‘Cause usually that’s what I am before being placated by the sweetness of Sprinkles.)

Bryan's base flavor: cookies 'n' cream; Mine: vanilla & peanut butter. Favorite toppings: Reese's Pieces, mochi (me), sprinkles (duh!)

More to come this summer, including kayaking, more 5Rhythms and yoga, another drum circle of two, and a kundalini workshop!

I had a family obligation yesterday morning that had me dressed in business attire and stuck in an office for 2 hours with another 2 hours on the road, which is torture in itself but even moreso when the sunny sky and warm temps made yesterday one of The Most Beautiful Days in the World. On the drive home, sitting in the car in my black pants and black blazer, I fidgeted like a kid before recess, declaring that all I wanted to do was change into my play clothes and frolic outside! All the usual demands of the weekend–laundry, cleaning, sorting through a week’s worth of mail–automatically switch to “low priority” when Mother Nature gives us a beaut like yesterday. I spend so much time in the winter complaining about the dark and cold that I feel like I have to take advantage of every awesome day that comes our way.

After grabbing lunch at one of my favorite juice and burrito cafes (no burrito juice, however) and changing out of my stuffy office attire, Bryan and I headed to Red Bank Battlefield, which I’ve written about on here before. It’s one of our favorite “nice day” places to hang out, a sprawling park on the edge of the Delaware River, directly across from Philadelphia International Airport (perfect for plane watching!).

A new plane every 90 seconds!

Obligatory couple shot.

Pre-pubescent goose and parent. Hasn't reached the "God, Mom, you're so embarrassing" stage yet.

Canada geese. You're so darn cute when you're little, but then you get older and we hate you.

Sun and skyline.

Vrksasana break!

While we were walking around the park, we noticed a wedding party posing for photographs. They couldn’t have chosen a better day to get hitched (especially since the world didn’t end, as predicted).


We toted along some blankets, chairs, books, and magazines for some quality riverside reading time. Bryan prepped the space…

…and then I promptly fell asleep. I had been awake since 5:15 and was dragging at that point. I always feel the urge to nap but rarely actually follow through with it. Yesterday was an exception: I conked out for close to an hour but was delighted to do so under a big tree and wearing a tank top without being chilly. This is the stuff I dream about from November through April.

Bryan likes to put lobsters on me while sleeping.

Days like yesterday are my fuel. They revive my engine, bring light into my heart, and make me focus on the positive. They remind me of all the good things I’ve been wanting to write about and share, stuff like:

The mind and body studio in my gym is my secret getaway spot when the urge to dance calls. Every now and then, like this past Friday, I’ll be minding my own business, lifting weights, swinging a kettlebell, or stretching, and something on my iPod comes on that just hits me in the solar plexus, and suddenly my body says, “Dance! I must dance! Get thee to a wide open space and move, please!” It’s almost like a sickness, like a feeling of nausea that you know must exit soon, but not as gross. Just very urgent, and you know that if you hold it in, you’re going to feel (psychological) discomfort for the rest of the day. Luckily, my gym’s yoga studio was free that Friday afternoon, and I was able to sneak inside, pump up the volume on my iPod, and just dannnnnce. Twenty-five minutes later, I emerged a little sweatier and very satisfied.

I am actually, like, 95% “cool” with my yoga teacher’s languaging. I tend to be very critical about what teachers say in class and how they say it (I can’t help it; I’m like the Larry David of yoga students), and if something irritates me too much for too long, I’ll turn to a podcast for class instead, like the one teacher who said “really” in almost every sentence (“Really feel your sitz bones pressing into the ground,” “Really lengthen the breath,” “Really press those feet into the mat and really feel alive”). But the teacher I go to now, aside from some “blossoming like a lotus” stuff she starts off with every now and then, is very mindful about her choice of words and what she says to the class. For example, there is a pregnant woman in the class, and as the teacher is showing her modifications she says, “Now, as the baby grows, you’re going to have to adjust your legs like this…” Notice it’s “as the baby grows,” not “as you get bigger.” Yeah, yeah, it’s the same thing, but I’m a semantics freak (and a woman), so I know how choice of words can make a huge difference. The teacher is also very careful not to showcase certain students; meaning, if someone goes into a perfect Bird of Paradise or scorpion, the teacher doesn’t blurt out, “Everyone, look at Heather! See, that’s how it should be done,” making those less flexible or with limitations feel inferior.

My Fake Mom Carrol and her (real) daughter went to Kripalu this weekend for an R&R. Knowing how much I love the place, she sent me an e-mail yesterday (“Hi from Kripalu”) describing her afternoon yoga class, deep (emotionally and physically) massage, big changes, fresh whipped mango sauce, and a neti pot workshop. “Love carrol ( you are here in my heart and spirit can you feel it)?”, she closed. Instead of feeling jealous about her getaway, her e-mail made me so happy for her. Her daughter melted my heart, too. She tagged me on this photo she posted to Facebook:

"This one's for you, Jen!", Vee wrote from Kripalu.

I’ve switched up my morning meditation a bit. Instead of sitting down and starting right away with a mudra meditation, I do 5 minutes of nadi shodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing), finish with solely right-nostril breathing (it’s the “solar” side; it’s a good early-morning energizer), and then do whatever mudra feels appropriate. Meditation is A LOT easier after opening the lungs and waking up those brain cells!

This past weekend was full of excitement–opening day of our local farmers market, a trip to Philly for a 5Rhythms class, and an up-close-and-personal encounter with some Scottish Highland hairy cows…and I think they’re somehow all connected, too!

The 5Rhythms class was a big deal for me; it was my first class outside of my “regular” circle of dancers and at a new location as well. Up until this weekend, I had only been attending two meetups in New Jersey, both of which I am a “founding” member–there from the beginning. I feel established at those classes; everything is familiar, I see most of the same faces each month. But there is a class in Philly that I had yet to attend, and up until yesterday I was afraid to go. I don’t know the “regulars” there. I am still kind of nervous driving over the bridge to get to the studio. I wasn’t sure I’d fit in with the already-established tribe.

I kind of feared that my experience at this new and unfamiliar place would be like the batch of early-season strawberries I bought on Saturday at the farmers market:

…that everyone else would be all cool and unique and awesome, and I’d be lil’ old Jen, standing out like a sore thumb, trying so hard to be perfect.

People filtered into the room. We all kind of kept to ourselves, staring at the floor, stretching here and there. Some people greeted each other with a hug. But then the music came on, and the batch of semi-awkward strawberries gradually began to look more and more like a cohesive group.

As it turned out, not all of the dancing strawberries were strangers either. One of fellows there has also been to the Jersey classes, and I had danced with two of the women previously at the Biodanza workshop. Berry buddies! I dance to rock ‘n’ roll music with one of the more withdrawn-looking students, and suddenly there is a connection. We thrash around like ecstatic punk rockers and we so slowly break out into smiles. It’s funny, because we both looked so resistant to letting go even though our bodies were saying BE FREEEEEEEE! At the end of the song, our faces finally flash genuine smiles. We are exhausted. And alive! During a moment of Lyrical, suddenly Jersey guy and I are engaged in a kind of theatrical pas de deux. Some of the exchanges we do are so eloquently executed, it looks like they have been choreographed. How we do not crash into each other is amazing. We are keenly aware of each other’s moves and presence, and the give and take of our motions looks anything but spontaneous.

He is much older than I, and at the end of class he comments how he is always amazed about 5Rhythms’ magic in getting his everyday aches and pains to disappear. I echo his sentiment, noting that dancing 5Rhythms is one of the only forms of exercise that takes my mind off my bum hip. I can walk around the shiniest lake on the most beautiful day in the world, admiring the baby geese, the blue sky, the smiling babies in strollers, but still, with each step, my brain is saying, “Hip. Hip. Hip. Hip.” Even on my best days in yoga, I still have to think below the belt every time I rise into Warrior. But when I’m fully immersed in dancing–when the music, my breath, my heartbeat, my brainwaves–are all in sync, there is freedom. (OK, yeah, so my calves are super-sore for the next two days, but that’s a good kind of hurt.)

By the end of class, despite our ages and races and backgrounds, we all sit there together, glowing, looking very much the same. We’ve just shifted into a bit of a different perspective:

If only I had an easier time approaching new things, like a curious puppy. Here I am, nervous about dancing with new people in a different studio, when this weekend, while at my mother-in-law’s house, we took the family dogs for a walk past a Scottish Highland hairy cow farm.

Talk about new and strange.

Gomukha-WTF?!

In typical Jen fashion, I cautiously approached the fence but stayed on alert in case I needed to dash away and save myself from being impaled. They reminded me of bulls, and the way they let that unkempt hair of their hide their eyes was so devious-punk-rocker. I’m sure they were wearing chains and Metallica tattoos under all that fur. They probably just stole a car, too.

The dogs, however, were fascinated. Pippi sat down in front of the fence as though she were watching TV:

I could learn a lot from these dogs. New 5Rhythms classmates, hairy cows, misshapen strawberries…that’s what this world is–hairy, scary, weird, and wild.

Just gotta approach it with a lil’ trust and love.

Emma, the fearless Weimaraner.

This weekend has been themed a bit around discomfort, but in positive sense (for the most part, aside from my aching back). As in, unease in taking risks, breaking out of “safe” zone, stepping out of your comfortable boundaries. Like in yoga, when we’re chilling in Warrior I and realize we can perhaps bend the front leg a little more and sink further into the stretch. Little baby steps outside of our “I feel jusssst fine” mentality.

For example, on Friday night I went to the gym for my usual 30 minutes of swimming. However, that night I decided on a whim that instead of swimming to the wall, stopping, putting my feet down, turning around, and pushing off again, I was going to try something different and do an open turn every time I hit the wall. An open turn is an easier alternative to the wall flip as a means to keep swimming rather than stop–even for a few seconds–to switch directions. You approach the wall underwater, push off with your hands to give you the force to turn your body around, and then push off the wall with your feet.

After just a few minutes of doing this, I was really feeling it. I was never one to linger at the wall before, but it’s amazing how having your feet on the ground for just a few seconds is a generous mini-break. Take those few moments out of the equation, and my heart was PUMPING. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to go back to my “normal” way of doing it, but there’s was also a part of me that was determined to flow past the initial fear. Sure enough, maybe about 10 minutes into the session, I was still feeling it but I had reached a new level of OK-ness. My brain switched from OMGWTF#(*#*&!!Imgonnadrown! to “Uff, this is a tough workout, but I feel strong!” Even crazier, when I glanced at the clock and saw I had been swimming for 31 minutes, I honestly wanted to keep on going, even though I usually wrap things up at the half-hour mark. So I continued for another 10 minutes. I was utterly exhausted when I finished, but it was such an accomplishment to try something new, kinda scary, and be cool with it in the end.

My other big foray into the New & Scary was the “Introduction to the Spirit World” workshop I attended with a friend on Saturday. To be honest, neither of us had a genuine, heartfelt interest in the subject matter; it was more of a skeptic, eyebrow-raising curiosity that led us to the event. The flier promised techniques to help us raise our vibration, connect with our spirit guides, and communicate with said guides through visualization. The program was also BYOC. That’s bring-your-own-crystal, BTW. Although I am used to meditating and have certainly felt shifts of energy and vibrations, especially after very powerful dancing practices, the rest of this program material was wayyyy out of my comfort zone. My intentions were probably 20% based on curiosity and 80% more of a dubious investigative journalist approach. An embedded blogger, maybe?

I didn’t have any crystals on hand, but my friend’s fiance had an entire dusty box stashed under their bed, and I borrowed an amethyst from the treasure chest. We didn’t spend too much time focusing on crystals, and the most we did with them was hold them in our hands while we tried to connect with our spirits. I can’t say I necessarily felt anything different, but I still gotta give crystals some credit–they do emit higher frequencies of energy. I mean, for my 5th grade science fair project, my dad helped me get a transistor radio to play, powered by nothing but crystals and some metal wires and stuff. The instructor also explained that crystals–in the form of salt–is what makes us feel so cleansed after a day at the beach in the ocean. The salt purifies our bodies, removes negative energy, and makes our bodies more open and receptive to positive energy, to connect with our source. Now, I’m not ready to go out buy a quartz tower and make my husband turn our office into an official “crystal room,” but I don’t see the harm in wearing crystal pendants or earrings. It certainly can’t hurt.

However, the majority of the workshop–the talk about the spirit guides–really made me antsy. Although I kind of understood the statement, “You are a spirit first, having a human experience,” I wasn‘t so sure about the other spirits who are supposedly surrounding me. “You are not permitted to walk alone on this planet,” the instructor said, who paused every now and then while talking, looking a bit distracted, explaining to us that she was listening to her spirit guides and that she didn’t mean to be rude. At one point, as she was gesturing with her hands, she give a little giggle, apologized, and explained that she had just accidentally poked her spirit in the eye. She told happy stories of being guided through difficult situations by her spirit guides and not-so-happy stories, like the time her spirit guide of five years decided to move on and essentially “broke up” with her. We took time to sit in stillness, increase our vibration, and try to connect with our spirit guides. Some people in the room had done this before and described feeling, say, a man on one side and a woman on the other. I experienced what I usually experience during meditation–a feeling of warmth and expansion. My palms and arms were pleasantly warm, and my body felt a bit like it was a balloon being gently filled with air. I felt it in my hands the most; they were resting palm-up on my lap, and during the deepest part of meditation, it felt as though my fingers were growing like wild plants, each digit growing and growing like Freddy Kruger claws but with the appearance of tree roots.

The instructor went around the room, her hands waving in front us like she was washing an invisible window. She praised the “regulars” for their amazing energy and clear chakras. My friend’s energy was deemed questionable. And when the instructor approached me to tune my chakras, she grew very concerned that I could not relax. It was true–we had been sitting in metal folding chairs for more than an hour, and my hip and lower back were killing me. (I hope she knew it was hip bothering me and not my first chakra!) She poked and prodded me, asked how old I was, and urged me to have a session with her. Yikes! I felt like the yoga newcomer who couldn’t even master child’s pose while everyone else in the class is up in handstand. Even the other first-timer at the program, who at first complained about not being able to feel or see or understand anything spiritual or energetic, by the end of class was describing being surrounded by four spirit guides–and was able to name them, nonetheless! My friend didn’t see any spirit guides but she did have a pretty intense emotional release that simply fascinated the other attendees and instructor. I, however, was the “special” student, who had to move to the floor because her legs hurt and who didn’t have any releases or presentations from spiritual sidekicks. But I’m OK with that, because I did have a nice meditative experience, enjoyed that brief feeling of expansion and lightness, and was happy for my friend for being able to get rid of emotional gunk that had been buried in her heart.

Lastly, I did something today that I never thought would happen: I willingly decided NOT to attend a 5Rhythms class. The decision was not an easy one, because I have attended every class at this particular location since its inception in November; I am a regular! But it’s an hour drive away, gas prices are getting ghastly, and, um, I actually listened to my body. This whole week my body has felt totally out of whack since I took a 2-mile walk in new (and now returned) sneakers. I’m not just talking about an achy lower back; it has felt like someone tried to twist my entire top half off like a bottle cap. I’ve felt crooked in downdogs, my shoulder felt weird when I swam on Friday, and my hip has been acting up again. So instead of dancing like a wild woman for two hours at 5Rhythms today, I RSVP’d “No” on the group website and texted my massage therapist in a panic: “R U available for an hour today? Please?!?!?!” Luckily she had an open slot, and thank gosh I took it: She took one look at my naked back and said I was totally off kilter. Everything on my left side was completely torqued, from my neck down to my hips.

So, as it turns out, sometimes the comfort zone is a good place to be, and finding the willpower to refrain from plowing ahead is the challenge. I was at my edge this morning and really didn’t want to creep any further off the precipice by delving into a high-intensity dance practice. Saying “no” to 5Rhythms and attending to my body first, asking for comfort, was my “discomfort” zone. And I’m glad I went there.

CHAOS was the start of my Friday night. I had planned to leave work early, go to the gym, and be home at a decent hour for dinner with my husband. Instead, I hung around the office much later than anticipated, getting sucked into the world of blogs, Facebook, and all things technological. By the time I finally disconnected, it was too late for the gym and I was very bent out of shape about my time management and ability to balance computer and off-screen time, which, by the time I came home, spiraled into a complete meltdown about how I suck at life and don’t have time to even read a book or fold and put away the laundry sitting in the basket upstairs, whereas VeganAsana somehow manages to be a college dean, professor, mother of several children, yoga teacher in training, and regular blogger, Twitterer, and social media contributor. (Oh Lorin, how I envy your life management!) After much of the tell-tale signs of CHAOS (crying, sobbing, waving fist in the air), my husband finally talked me down into LYRICAL, encouraging me to go for a walk outside with him. A side-by-side walk with Bryan is always therapeutic (especially when he cracks me up by describing a certain flower’s odor as “a cross between urine and fish”), and by the time we reached the creek at the far end of our neighborhood, I was finally approaching STILLNESS.

(Side note: As a result of the meltdown, I took Erin’s advice and signed up for the Chopra Center’s 21-Day Spring Meditation Challenge to try and soothe my nerves. In addition, I’m also seriously considering enrolling in one of those Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs. As much as I totally GET mindfulness and its importance, sometimes I just really stink at implementing it!)

FLOWING was my Saturday afternoon, spent on the rowing (flowing?) machine at the gym, followed by strength training. As long as my hip isn’t bothering me, the erg is one of my favorite pieces of gym equipment; actually, one of the only machines I feel comfortable using (elliptical, StairMaster, and recumbent bikes are out; treadmill is iffy; stationary bike is OK). It’s easy to get into a “flowing” kind of groove on the rowing machine, and it seriously works nearly every muscle! Also, I find strength training to be very mind-centering, especially if I’m listening to inspiring music. Sometimes I leave the weight floor as focused as I am after a yoga class!

Saturday evening was very much CHAOS, starting with an overnight train fire that completely threw off our plans to get into Philly for karaoke that night. (Just to clarify: We weren’t on that train; the fire occurred the night before.) Timetables were helter skelter, our friends’ station was completely shut down, and then once we finally got into the city, the escalator underground halted to a standstill and freaked everyone out. To make matters even more chaotic, it was POURING BUCKETS, like, some of worst rain our area has gotten in years. We had umbrellas, but after walking the 8 blocks to our destination through flooded intersections, we were soaked! CHAOS!

However, once we were settled in our little private karaoke room for six, the evening was more STACCATO than anything. Exchange of good food (except for the gizzards and hearts) and drinks, having fun with friends, and holding up the microphone with confidence. My hits of the night were Ludacris (“My Chick Bad”), Tiffany (“I Think We’re Alone Now”), half of Sir Mix-a-Lot (“Baby Got Back”), some of Lady Gaga (“Alejandro”), and Black Eyed Peas (“Boom Boom Pow”).

Belting out “I Think We’re Alone Now” by my childhood idol, Tiffany!

Bryan and Sara duet to “Love Shack.”

Trying to sing Sir Mix-a-Lot with Sara’s “back” in my face!

Sara and Amanda go all out with “Thriller.”

After two hours of STACCATO, it was back to the CHAOS outside again, this time with lightning! Back at our house, we settled into a nice LYRICAL atmosphere, with pizza, dry clothes, and cartoons.

Sunday afternoon was my actual 5Rhythms class: 2 hours of Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness! My kinda new, found-through-social-networking friend Susan is warming up to the 5Rhythms, so she joined me for the 45-minute drive to class, which was a nice FLOWING experience. We have a lot in common, so we talked non-stop to and from. Sunday afternoon classes are somewhat difficult for me (I always feel sleepy?), but one of my favorite moments was during CHAOS, when I started doing really wild, jarring movements on the dance studio barre, tendus and degages that were out of control, as if saying, “Take that, ballet!” I also had a great STACCATO “duet” with one of the other students, Phil, whose moves are as wacky and out-there as mine; we look like pantomime actors engaged in some kind of dance dialogue.

After class I reluctantly headed over to the supermarket, usually a practice in CHAOS. However, this time I brought my iPod and listened to some trancey drumming music the whole time, and it totally helped keep me in a state of FLOWING. My surroundings were still CHAOS (especially that dreaded deli section!), but by focusing on the music and my own specific actions, the experience became almost a practice in meditation.

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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