I Want to Be the Official Prilosec Zumba Student

Prilosec has this really cool sponsorship opportunity that is going on where they will sponsor ANYTHING!  Me, I’ve asked to become the official Zumba student for a year.  Zumba classes, Zumba certification as a Zumba gold instructor would be covered!

As many of you know, this has become one of the two new passions in my world.  I started it while between jobs, and fell in love.  Somewhere along the way I started to lose weight – yeah!  Bonus.  As I’ve trained, I’ve come to realize that I really enjoy this beyond just me.  I’m loving the class, the people, and the chance to somehow inspire me and others at the same time.

Nope- it’s certainly not typical to see someone my size dancing samba, tango, merengue and more…Along with that Allison’s worked with me for modifications where I just physically can’t do all the high jumping.  Zumba has a certification process for teaching seniors, people like me who are out of shape but want to work on it and I want to learn more about this offering.  I think knowing more about the mechanics of what to modify and why would be beneficial to me, but also to the next “Staci” that comes along in class.

So please take a moment and register to vote for me!  I need all the help and support I can get – thanks!

Anything You Want In The World

You can have it all
Anything you want you can make it yours
Anything you want in the world
Anything you want in the world

Nothing too big or small
Anything you want you can make it yours
Anything you want in the world
Anything you want in the world
-Shakira

So it’s finally official like and all that – I’m on staff permanently at Vermont Works for Women.  I’ll be getting to do a little bit of everything – office and systems support, IT troubleshooting and server maintenance, copy queen, chief plant waterer, website wizard and development demigoddess.

I am completely thrilled to have landed here. 

About four years ago I was first introduced to the work of Vermont Works for Women through Leadership Champlain.  Our small group had had a horrific start to the community project process and were about a month behind where we should have been.  We scrapped the original group, and started to look at what we would choose next.  Nothing excited us like that first one.  In the middle of the meeting,  Jason Williams called someone he knew from the Next Gen committee.  Suddenly we had Tiff Bluemle on speaker phone in our meeting, and the energy was palpable. 

The group was ready to rock and roll.  (Mostly…we did have a few more bumps to overcome along the way.).  None of us could have predicted what happened next.  What started as a simple check what’s out there in the US and collect us some best practices became a passion.  For some, bordering on obsession.  Soon we had an inventory of transitional jobs programs in many states across the US and a web of contacts that was stunning.  A business plan.  A logo.  A name for a program.  FRESH.  (Females Re Entering Society Holistically.)  We were on a tear. 

One thing lead to another and suddenly we had a 200 page document. 

All the way through we were meeting with incredible staff members, program participants and graduates, local allies and partners. 

I speak for myself when I say that I found a piece of passion I thought had long since passed and would not be found again.  With each passing day, there was more confidence, more presence, more drive. 

Fast forward three years and now I am working with that very team that so inspired me.  The transitional jobs program is no longer a dream or a thought on paper, but reality.  The FRESH concept, alive and well and training women in weatherization and solar tracker panel installation. 

It’s a FRESH start for me!

The Luck O’The Irish

St. Patrick’s Day has always been a bit zooey in my world.  Every year, from kindergarten on, my mother sent me in to school on St. Patrick’s Day wearing…ORANGE. 

When I was a little kid – I didn’t get it so much.  My friends were all in green.  They laughed at the kid in the orange sweater.  For a while, I really didn’t like it.  Somewhere along the way, it became just another symbol in my head of, “Yup, I’m not just a normal kid.  Never mind what you think!”  It also opened the doors for some great religion and political discussions along they way.  It became a source of pride and a bit of a wry smile day for me each year. 

I’m certainly far from saying that I think the “orange” side of Ireland versus the “green” side or the protestants versus the Catholics are right.  Both sides have valid points, both sides can be very pigheaded and wrong.  Today I wear the orange mostly as a tip o the hat to some of the zanier, fun memories of my mom and dad.  I grew up in a house with a protestant mom and a catholic dad.  

My house was, politely stated, far from the normal, and made me who I am today.  On the bad days – yeah, let’s just say that there were some, and they affected me.  Depression runs in the family.  The naming of the elephant in the room – none of us could be called fit or trim.  It’s a battle I struggle with daily now.

But on the good days, my god the fun loving, humor, sarcasm, rock’n’roll parents taught me how to hold my own opinion and to be an individual.  Fiesty, stubborn, passionate, curious and independent, they helped make me who I am.

So if you see me in orange on St. Patty’s Day, know that I’m not anti-Irish, not Dutch, not French.  I’m just reminding myself of the good things that made me who I am today.

Zumba, Stereotypes and Me

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the changes over the past 3-4 months.  Within about a week, I started a temporary job as interim development director at Vermont Works for Women and attending Zumba classes. 

Given how many women attend Zumba classes, that might not seem like a terrible unusual thing.  It was more the timing and the irony that is amusing now looking backwards.

I was coming out of one of the most mentally mixed up periods in my life.  Not just a little, but that midlife brain scramble that had me questionning everything.  I had quit a job, we had a long-term guest at the house, I’d started therapy.  I wasn’t sure from day to day what life would bring, or if I would be okay.  I had no clue how long it would be before I found another job – before I wanted to work again – before I felt like I really could “get it right.”

Seemingly out of the blue, a call came from one of those people I tell people unabashedly that I have a Mutual Admiration Society with, asking if I wanted to help out their organization, their development director had just resigned.

Okay, scratching my head, “Can I do this?” I took the position.  I had a lot to learn – grantwriting is a key element to this position.  But – I had a lot to bring.  I’m good with computers, databases.  What I wasn’t expecting as part of this package deal was how quickly I would start to see another work culture and style.

Visionary.  Supportive.  Grouded.  Compassionate.  Fun-loving.  Hard-charging.  All in the same day in the same space.  I found myself questionning reality for a while about this.  Was it just cause I was the newbie in a small workplace?

As I said, about the same time I started there, I took up and followed a friend off to Zumba.  I took that first class with her and wondered if there was room and space for the fat girl in the back who was having fun, but definitely out of shape.  I hated the mirrors in the class room.  I hated the skinny folk that made it look so damn easy.  I hated the gods who made Latin footwork so complicated.  And yet…

I loved that sense of fun.  The smiles on the women’s faces in the room.  The fact that I seemed to be the only one judging the fat chick!  The music rocked my world, and I found myself dancing in the car at stoplights.  First one class a week, then two.  (Now it’s often 4!)

I got downright pissed when bronchitis interrupted my workouts.  I had just gotten on a roll when I had to stop.  But, the other side of it?  I wanted more!  More Zumba baby!  I signed up for the local master class and retreat.  What was I thinking?  I KNEW that there was no way I’d survive that weekend.  Four master classes and one night dance.  And strip hop?  No way was I removing any clothes, but I wanted to see THAT class.

The weekend came and went.  I made a ton of new friends.  Discovered that indeed I COULD do Zumba.  That I loved it, the people teaching it, the people in the classes.  That you don’t take clothes off in strip hop – it’s more about the dance, the sass and the chair!  That although I am out of shape, these people would support me in doing this – whatever I wanted to do.

The crossover?  While at work I was hearing about empowering women.  About empowering young girls.  Work about body image.  Not sexualizing women.  And here I was feeling empowered by work, emboldened by Zumba.  I was getting my sass back.  Why – because it was okay to feel sexy as a woman again – EVEN when I don’t feel sexy per se.  I feel sexier.  I want to grove, shimmey and shake.  While I might not want a 6 year old to dance like the classes I’ve been going to – it has truly been a releasing event to discover that it really doesn’t matter what size a woman is – Zero or 30 – we all pretty much have the same battles.  I’m learning to have fun again!

So a shout out to the amazing group of women that are in my world now – I’m not sure where we are headed, but I am SOOOOOOO glad we’re heading there together.

Starting Anew

Time to peel the next layer of the onion.  It might stink around here for a bit – but the spice added to life with each additional layer. Magnifico!

It is time to not just be seen (in photos and sheer size) – but to again have a voice, an opinion and feelings. 

That said….here goes.

What do I want more of? 

  • More physical exercise and work out.  Someone to be there with me while I am doing it and someone to at least more actively support and help in it.  It is a major challenge.  Personally – it hurts, I’m fat, I look ridiculous and feel like a faker at the gym.  Mentally – I’m not FIT and can’t do even half of what I could or want to.  Without some initial encouragement in some form – I will give up on it and by extension me.  This will and is sure to release some of the emotions and old fears inside of me.  And for those of you who know me – that scares the piss out of me!
  • I want to lose about 100 lbs so I can get back into taekwon do.  That kind of work out was wonderful for me.
  • I want more Zumba!  I know I’m that fat girl in the back – but it was fun, liberating, and just plain made me enjoy sweating.  Not an easy task.  Must get around the I can’t dance and I am fat screaming in my head!
  • I want more time with Geoff where its okay to feel….sensual, alive, happy, sad, whatever the case may be.
  • I want more people in my world like the Groves, Sue, Tiff, Chris, Susie where there is a mutual respect and admiration society going on.  Where people really are genuine in their appreciation of the other’s work, and wanting them to succeed as well.
  • Spirituality/religion.  I miss those connections to old friends. The chance to make new ones, as well.  Most importantly – the connection to something larger than myself with others who share the same (yet sometimes different) beliefs.

What do I need to let go of? 

  • The constant fear that “you’ll” leave me and the corollary that drama needs to exist for you to need me.
  • The waggling finger of mom that I have so carefully preserved that even 7 years after she has passed, there’s a waggle and her voice.
  • Being the best at something.  Sometimes Okay is really just okay. And good can still be fun.  Best often means obsessing and no longer having the joy in it.
  • Not saying “NO” – need to learn those gut check moments where I want to say no, but am afraid that you’ll not like/need/be proud of me if I don’t.
  • Excuses.

What things did I take on that hurt me? 

  • Weight.  Don’t come close to me.  Don’t ask me to.  Don’t look at me.
  • Trying to get it all done for jobs without asking for help.  I am Superwoman hear me roar.  Never mind that eventually at the end of getting it all done I am so drained you have to scrape me off the floor with a spatula.
  • Food: egads is that a feeling?  QUICK!  Gimme a slice of bread and butter.  Lots of feelings – the whole bag of chips.  Need to be numb – let’s get McDonald’s.  We’ll just say we were running late.

Well – enough for this morning. Off to wake the boy up and send him out hunting.

Autumn

I saw a quote today “Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.”  I’m hoping that is true for psychological states as well as flora.

The light outside is fading earlier each day and the days are getting shorter.  This weekend, Halloween comes.  The night where the veil between the living and the dead, the physical and the spiritual is lifted, and for a moment, all things are possible.

It’s a time of reflection.  The communitygives thanks for the harvest and for the days of summer now fading into a distant memory.  It is a time to find the light inside.

I recently left a job where I was doing things that individually I loved, but together formed an overwhelming sense of “should” and “must” rather than can and want to.  For the first time since I was out of college, I have no paying job to get up and go to in the morning.  Instead, I now look to myself as my job. 

Saturday evening, I will don my Halloween costume and hand out  the candy.  But when it is all said and done, and the doorbell stops ringing, it will be time to look at the year behind and the year ahead. 

What do I want more of?  What do I need to let go of?  What things did I take on that hurt me?  What things made life better? 

I look forward to more time to write, more time to read, more time to swim.  More time with Geoff, used better than playing computer games on two separate floors of the house.  I’ve spent all this time taking care of everyone else.  It’s my turn now.