I’m not going to lie. After chickening out 23 years ago, I was nervous and spent a day deep breathing in anticipation of my first hang gliding lesson. Every moment was spent convincing myself there was no reason to be anxious.
To my delight, the instructions for hang gliding sounded exactly like a yoga practice so I started to believe I could do it.
After strapping your harness onto the glider, you lay in a prone position that turned out to be the cobra pose with hands on the bar, elbows pulled into the body, legs extended, toes pointed, and back bent.
You pick a focal point in the distance. In yoga practice and meditation we call this the drishti. Throughout the flight you keep your eyes focused on this distant point.
You must breath and relax. The instructor would even cue breath before you started running off the edge of the dune.
My first flight went exactly right but then I crashed on the next two. My second landing was much worse than the first. When I lamented in frustration to my instructor that I’m a yoga teacher and I should be able to do this, he was obviously perplexed, “But with yoga you don’t have wings strapped to your back and go off a 200-foot sand dune.”
People may believe that yoga is separate from the rest of your life, but the consciousness, breathing, and awareness are meant to enter every moment of your day. I try to not to leave my yoga on my mat. Besides, both physically and mentally, hang gliding was exactly the same as yoga. I was too tense, kept a furious grip on the bar, and kept forgetting my focal point. When I looked down, I went down hard.
Another instructor was called over to assist. He insisted I use only two fingers to hold the bar so I would know I wasn’t in control. He picked a new, closer focal point and forbid me to anything but run and stare at that dune with the trees. His instructions worked. I flew gently and gracefully landed on my feet.
Success. I felt a difference during my next run. My yoga was with me for my victory flight.
This week I was overcome with the idea of plugging in my “record player”. My record collection lays boxed up in the closet in my home office. For the past ten years (tomorrow!) we have owned our current house, I have never connected the turntable.
At one point in my life I was going to buy at least two dozen needles so that I could listen to my albums for the rest of my life, but I never did. I worried how long my one and only needle would last. How could I live without listening to them?
Today I went down to the basement and found the turntable packaged in the original box. I always saved the boxes because my stereo was my most cherished possession. When I graduated from college I used my graduation money to buy the system. I remember my aunt chastising me for this decision. Did she not understand? I had been a college D.J. from my second week on campus. I worked my way up to be Station Manager. I couldn’t live without the music even if I had to find a way to live without my radio station.
I hooked up the turntable. What would be first? Fingering through my collection I stumbled upon The Costello Show’s King of America. Yes, yes! Brilliant Mistake. No better way to start. I’m listening to the album right now, a real album!
Records came in crazy colors. I even found a cut-out from a box of cereal which became a square-shaped record. A box could play music!
Oh how I still love it!
Music has always played a major chord in my life. Lately the bands from 20 years ago are reuniting. It’s only proper to pull out the old albums too.
While on vacation last week watching dolphins by the Golden Gate Bridge, my family saw a young man climb onto the top of a pillar and plank while his friends took pictures. They were laughing and gathered around to see the results. I imagined him level with the underside of the Bridge. One of the boys strummed a ukulele and you could tell they were enjoying a good time together.
When my husband returned to work a photo was waiting for him. While he was gone a colleague was photographed planking on his empty desk with our family portrait on his back.
A few days later, I was pumping gas in our Town Center as a young woman was planking on a wall while a friend posed on the perpendicular side behind her. Again I imagined the shot. Her friend was most surely crouching on her back. The girls gathered around smiling and laughing to see the result on the camera.
I was surprised some claim planking has been around for a decade with different names, “Lying Down Game”. Others say “planking” started in the UK in 2008. Regardless, the trend has been travelling around the world for a while. Most of these poses require core strength.
The week before HP7 a friend brazenly embraced owling with a photo on Facebook. That was the first I heard of the craze. At the time, a search brought up only two entries.
A few days ago The Washington Post ran a story on Leisure Diving. This reminded me of jumping in our backyard pool as a child. We would spend hours leaping high in all sorts of poses trying to outdo each other. Now they are wearing clothes with props but the idea is the same. We didn’t have digital cameras to share the results instantly, but I’m sure we would have if we did.
Because it’s fun.
In the Post article, I learned some people are also batting. Since I love our neighborhood bats each night when they come out at dusk and eat the mosquitoes and gnats in my backyard, we had to give it a try. We couldn’t let all these crazes pass by this summer without participating at least once.
Although some of the photos might be taken to show off, what I have witnessed were social events. These are friends getting a little goofy. As long as it’s not dangerous, it’s all good. One man fell to his death in Australia in May so there are unsafe extremes.
Can you do it? That would be crazy! Who’ll take your picture?
The American Council On Exercise recently did a study on hula hooping, but the information which caught my eye concerned kickboxing. When compared to power yoga, aerobics, Nia, pilates, and even these very popular “boot camp” programs, kickboxing stands out as the best exercise for getting your heart rate up and burning calories.
Although I practice yoga for the stretching, muscle tone, and other more spiritual benefits, my desire to hit and kick the bags has consumed me for more than two years. I thought I’d been imagining the intensity of the full body workout from kickboxing. Apparently I’m not.
When someone says, “I feel like kicking something.” I say, “Come to the gym and do just that.” As a side benefit, you might be able to fend for yourself if attacked. We don’t practice knocking out someone’s knee then kicking them in the head for nothing. Double tap!
The one most important piece of advice is to find something you like doing, something you look forward to doing. If it’s the hula hoop then go for it! All exercise is good.
When I was a little girl of about 5 years old, my Aunt Dorothy would stand me up on tables to sing the latest pop songs to her friends at parties. Since I knew every word, I was their entertainment. I remember their delight as they told me I would be a singer.
Later on many of these same people thought I would sing in the church choir but my deep voice was never welcomed during recitals as a child or the choir as an adult. One time when a group was supposed to sing a modern pop song during church, the rest barely sung and I carried the tune. Afterwards someone commented that it was unfortunate that I was the only one who really wanted to sing since everyone else’s higher voices would have been better.
Throughout the years I always backed down when it came to singing. I’d say ”I have a deep voice.” or “I can’t sing.” My innocent happiness when singing had been whittled away by others.
Out of the clear blue someone recently told me that more than a couple of women with my voice would ruin a choir. Since I wasn’t even saying I wanted to be in the choir, I didn’t know why this had to be emphasized to me.
Despite all the negativity about my deep voice throughout the years, I sing every day. A teacher’s aide recently noted that I must talk with a bluetooth because she sees me moving my lips in the car and she didn’t think I was singing. I let her believe it was a bluetooth. Since I had my first child 13 years ago, I’ve sung every night at bedtime. There’s always a song in the car, in the shower, in my heart.
But can I sing? Recently I found my maracas in the back of the closet and decided to turn on the video camera and record myself. My head was cut off so I raised the lens and did it again. Here’s my quick rendition of Linkin Park’s “The Little Things Give You Away”:
When my youngest son came home, I made him watch it in order to tell me if I should be embarrassed and take it down from YouTube. He thought it was not embarrassing and also thought I was really sad during the sad parts. My older son also said it was great and he didn’t know I could sing so well. As a third check, my husband blurted out “And you told me you couldn’t sing when we first dated.” He thought it was good even though he didn’t understand what it was doing on YouTube.
As their three opinions are the only ones that truly matter to me, I finally think I might not sound too bad. Today I heard my oldest son telling a complete stranger in a waiting room that I was a singer. Of all the things I do, this is how he decided to describe me but he undoubtedly has heard me more than anyone in the world.
Of course we can all sing. But whether we think it is good or not is truly in the ear of the beholder. Making this video has restored some of my childhood love of singing which had been beaten down over the years and sent into hiding.
Remember what made you happy as a child. If something brings you joy, it is joy. Don’t listen to the chorus.
Three years ago the Silver Spring Zombie Walk was started by a few local bloggers who decided to invite the readers to show up as zombies. Since I wanted to see the turnout inspired by these blogs and I always enjoy a fun time, my husband and I doned some white powder and makeup and ventured back to our old Silver Spring neighborhood. Doing our best to appear to be the walking undead, we dragged our legs along and observed. Much to our delight, everyone was friendly, talked, and a great camaraderie grew. We were immediately part of the group even though we didn’t know anyone. The spontaneous gathering attracted between 100-200 people.
With big crowds lining the route this year, the 3rd annual event grew to over 2,000. If you’ve experienced the Zombie Walk, you know the reasons why. If you see the pictures and wonder why anyone would ever do this, here’s what’s going on! The Silver Spring Zombie Walk mixes interactive theater, creativity, community, and straight-up fun for a out-of-the-ordinary escapade.
Community. People come to meet friends and see their costumes/makeup. Almost everyone walks with someone they know. The main focus is being together to share the smiles and laughs. This is something you definitely talk about around the water cooler or over the backyard fence. This year, while looking for one group of friends, I lost track of my other friends. I found myself completely alone and the Zombie Walk had started. After looking around at the crowd, I realized I’d be fine by myself because everyone in this massive crowd was in this together. You become part of a broader community.
Creativity.Dressing and pretending to be a zombie allows participants to express themselves creatively. Being a zombie goes beyond a typical Halloween costume because you need a personality too. If you don’t perform on stage or act in some capacity, you most likely don’t have many imaginative outlets in your daily life. Being a zombie allows innovative commentary about our society, our flaws, and our icons. Santa, Yogi, Superman, and Politician Zombies populate the wonderful craziness of this pretend world.
Breaking The Norms. In society we share expectations of how we all should behave. Stepping outside these learned behaviors is a treat. During the zombie walk, our norms are disregarded which results in an exciting, unstructured event. The freedom to growl, scream, and flail at strangers is certainly an attraction, but seeing others behave as zombies is just as thrilling.
Interactive Theater. The Zombie Walk is a live, free, ad lib show. This year a Zombie Hunter walked with a working chainsaw protruding through an unsuspecting zombie. A pretend policeman used his club to defend the innocent crowd. A very authentic looking Jesus attempted to bless and save lost zombie souls. If you are a zombie, each step brings an opportunity to act. These on-the-spot performances are a rare occurrence worth experiencing. When in college I did gorilla theater to create awareness about Apartheid, so I’ve always loved spontaneous theater.
Spontaneity. During the first zombie walk, almost everyone in Silver Spring was unsuspecting. The blogs informed their readers but the general population was unaware. The unsuspecting reacted. Managers locked business doors and everyone moved away from the windows. A lone security guard bravely ran toward his office building doors to lock out the chaos. One woman in a restaurant window was visibly shaken. This year the event had regional newspaper coverage and WTOP was even given traffic advisories to avoid the area during the Walk. People at outside restaurant tables had obviously planned their ring-side perch. Only one woman reacted unfavorably to the knife through my head as we walked to the event early in the evening. Although a more institutionalized and planned event can quash some of the radical uniqueness, individual behavior can always bring it back.
Escapism. If people go to see zombie movies as a form of escapism, then a live zombie walk has to be even better. When you are at a zombie walk you escape in much the same way as when you see a movie, except you are the movie. Whether zombies snarl at you when you are standing on the sidewalk or you actively participate by defending yourself from zombies or you scrape by as the undead, you are automatically participating. When bystanders hold up their phones to take a picture and the zombies react, they are brought into the performance. With so many hundreds of zombies, it’s difficult not to begin to imagine the situation is real, or could be real, while the movie rolls all around you.
Shared Experience. A professional photographer commented, “I wish they would all put down their phones so I can get a picture.” Because of the great excitement and fun, people constantly took pictures and video. Even a police officer blocking an intersection for the Walk had a gigantic smile on his face as he snapped photos nonstop with his phone. You could tell he was having the best time on duty. The Zombie Walk is not something you can keep to yourself.
It’s impossible to have this much fun and keep it a secret. Step into the zombie world and live.
Riding in a Zorb is a wild rebirth of an experience.
Last year when my husband and I were watching the Amazing Race, the contestants raced down a hill with Zorbs in New Zealand. We knew we’d jump at a chance to try. After firming up our vacation plans with our friends to go to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, my husband and I were dual-laptop researching the area and he turned his screen toward me with his find. “The Zorb! How close?” I asked. “IN Pigeon Forge.” Woah, baby!
After hiking along cascading streams and then to the top of amazing waterfall in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, our group was hot and wanted to cool off. Ranging in age from 8 to 48, the nine of us couldn’t wait to ride in a giant ball.
For years I played with my sons designing Marble Raceways and dropping balls down plastic chutes. At the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, one exhibit has balls travelling around on metal tracks. Maybe because I love roller coasters, I always stare fascinated by the motion of gravity, trying to imagine what it would feel like to be on those tracks. This was my chance to be IN A BALL as it free falls, twisting, turning, reversing down a zig-zag trail on the side of a mountain.
So what’s it really like? You start by diving in arms first through a small tunnel. You are zipped in twice for the inner and outer balls. The ride is too brief, only 40 seconds. The sensations were just as I imagined and I laughed the whole way down. Water in the Zorb allows your body to shift from side to side, back and forth. Sort of like body surfing on a wave but with much more motion and sloshing. You are at the mercy of your weight and gravity then wind up falling backwards. If the zippered opening rips across your back, you need to shift your body to another side or pay a raw red consequence. You get out by slipping feet first out of the hole with all the water, which resembles my vision of birth a little too closely. We all felt a weird birthing moment at the end.
The price for our group was $33 each. That’s a steep cost for such a quick experience but we all were glad we did the Zorb. It’s just one of those things you HAVE to do in your life because you CAN! We all tried the water version, Zydro. The other version is Zorbit, which allows you to experience weightlessness and g-force. My arm was in a sling and I’m still trying to decide if I would have strapped myself in for the dry rollover version if it wasn’t.
Maybe I have an addiction to balls but you want to ride the Zorb, even if it’s just once in your life!
Along the way I've discovered a love for blogging. First for my local community with RockvilleCentral.com and almost immediately with TryingNotToBNeg.com because I needed to express my thoughts beyond Rockville, MD.
My company, Online and In Person works with businesses, organizations and individuals to build community and improve communications. I also share Yoga Online and In Person as a 200-hour registered yoga teacher (RYT) on my way to being a 500-hour RYT! I love to teach beginners, power sequences, and chair yoga!
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