Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Game-Changers, Extreme Workouts, and the "Macho-ing" of , well, EVERYTHING

10 years ago I was in a touring production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."  We toured to schools around L.A., performing for students.  There were 7 of us in the cast, plus 2 stage managers.  I had just discovered I was pregnant for the second time, and had HORRIBLE morning sickness.  To the point where I kept an air sickness bag backstage, just in case. Luckily it never came to that.
After our last performance we all went out for lunch, during which the 2 stage managers revealed they were guinea pigs for a new workout program called "Slim in 6." We chatted a bit, and then I promptly forgot about it.
Fast-forward 2 years: I was now a full-time SAHM with a 1 year-old and a 3 1/2 year old who'd just been diagnosed with autism.  Hubby was on tour this time, but, unlike me, he had to be in San Diego for 3 months.  Although I had a membership to the Y, the babysitters there were wussy and my daughter was a screamer, so I needed to find a home workout program. I remembered working out to Kathy Smith tapes a few years earlier & enjoying them, so I googled her. Turns out she had a new, multi-workout program through a company called Beachbody.  I'd never heard of them, but I liked her, so I ordered it.  And enjoyed it very much.  A few months later I ordered Yoga Booty Ballet, again from Beachbody, and then Slim Series.  Which, lo and behold, was the follow-up to Slim in 6, the program my Shakespeare buddies had done.
I faithfully logged all my workouts on the web site, joined chat rooms, and happily got sucked into All Things Beachbody.

Over the years I've tried various programs.  Some more successfully than others.  Power 90 was dull, as much as I loved Tony Horton's sense of humor.  I tried P90X multiple times, and kept hurting  myself until I finally packed it in, packed it up, and sold it on Amazon.  Insanity was just that, especially with my knees and, um, inability to find a sports bra strong enough (even my Enell didn't do the job!) Chalene Extreme bothered me because the emphasis wasn't on getting strong, it was on losing weight and "looking fabulous in that tank top!"  Because that's the ONLY reason women work out, right?

I still have Slim Series, Slim in 6, and YBB. And some of  my older Kathy Smith DVDs, as well.  I keep returning to them.  Because I enjoy them, and they work.  PART of the reason I work out is, yes, to look good.  And when I did YBB/Slim Series back in 2005 I was in FANTASTIC shape. PLUS, I could lift both kids without struggle.

I like Beachbody.  I think they put out good products.  And there's no denying that P90X changed DVD workouts for good.  Until it came along, most workout DVDs were marketed toward women and featured smiling, leotard-clad, chirpy instructors.  (WHY they think we liked that is STILL beyond me.  Sure the workouts were often great, but the presentation was severely lacking).  P90X, with it's warehouse atmosphere, dim-but-effective lighting, and extreme exercises, was geared toward the guys first and foremost.  It even started chipping away at the idea that yoga isn't for men by including a 90-minute, ultra-intense power yoga workout.
Insanity followed that theme.  Instead of a warehouse, it's a high school gymnasium, where participants proudly show off their puddles of sweat (Um, like, gross?) and the infomercial places an actor in their midst, playing the guy who isn't giving it his all and, as a result, is asked to LEAVE!

And there's the rub.  The most popular workouts now on Beachbody are P90X, Insanity, and all their sequels.  And that's fine.  I have NO quarrel with anyone who does the workouts & enjoys them.  But these are the programs (along with Shakeology) that are getting ALL the attention.
The other day on Twitter, Debbie Siebers (who created S in 6 and SS) was asked why she wasn't at Disneyland with the rest of the Beachbody folks. Apparently there was some big Beachbody blowout with the creators, head honchos, instructors, etc.  Turns out she wasn't invited. Her DVDs are still popular, they still sell, 10 years on.  There are others like me, who keep returning to her workouts because we enjoy them. There's no jumping around, no jerky movements, but the ol' heart rate still gets up there, and the muscles pop out.
Which makes me wonder if Beachbody is abandoning the instructors who helped them become successful in their early years in order to focus on the popular kids.
Between this and "The Biggest Loser," in which sweet Bob has become cranky, yelly Bob, I have to wonder about the future of the fitness industry.  Particularly as the general population ages.  When I was teaching Pilates, many of my clients were older, while others were people coming off of injuries.  They liked my classes because they could actually do them.  I always gave modifications. I didn't force anyone to do anything that went beyond the land of challenging and across the border into painful/damaging. And I always felt badly because, while they paid the same rates as everyone else at the gym, their class options were severely limited.

I worry that this emphasis on pushing oneself to the extreme is not only going to cause multiple injuries, but is leaving a big segment of the population behind.  And many of those who are left are the ones who most need to move.  Folks with arthritis, or, like me, can't jump around the way they used to.  People who are too self-conscious for the gym, or simply don't have the stamina for the extreme workouts and wonder why they should even bother since they can't do it anyway. Why is Beachbody (seemingly) discouraging the majority of us from working out?

We've gone from one extreme to another, it seems.  From those cheery, smiling women encouraging us to "go for the burn" to shirtless, 9-packed dudes whipping us into a frenzy and not letting up until we've vomited out our Shakeology breakfast.
Let me be clear: I have nothing against Shaun T (who's flippin' ADORABLE, btw) or Tony Horton.  In fact, Tony's Ho Ala Ke Keno workout is one of the best I've ever done, and they don't even use weights! And, as I've said, I love his goofball-ness.  I would TOTALLY hang out with him! And the women in P90X and Insanity are badass!
I just believe there need to be alternatives to the 6-day-per-week-, all-out programs.  And since Beachbody is a leader in the home fitness industry, they have a real opportunity here to make programs that are accessible to everyone.  Hell, they don't even have to create them, they already have them!  But those programs are being shunted off to the side.  If you ask me, that's short-sighted, and not great marketing.

I was looking  at a Rachel Cosgrove DVD set online the other day, and couldn't help but notice that the set-up was almost identical to P90X.  Which made a me a bit wary. I like her. Her workouts are tough, but you can go at your own pace.  And she emphasizes strength for women, which not a lot of trainers do. I hope her DVD series, which is her first-ever, isn't going to change all of that. I hope she doesn't feel pressured to become a female Tony Horton.  That she is allowed to be who she is.  There's only one Tony Horton, and only one Rachel Cosgrove. Why should they have to be clones?

As always, feel free to disagree.  This is simply my opinion, and my own frustration.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Should I or Shouldn't I?

First of all, let me just say that the sucky thing about being a caregiver is that after everyone has recovered and gone back to their Regularly Scheduled Lives (work, school, etc.), there's no one around to care for the caregiver when she gets whatever it is that laid them low.
Not that I expect my kids to take care of me.  But the weekend is nearly here, and Hubby is gonna be doing the bulk of the childcare.  And maybe bringing me some soup/tea/juice/whatever.
Luckily I don't seem to have the same flu he and WG had.  I'm just a little achy and tired and sore-throaty. Hopefully it won't develop into more.  And my equilibrium is off.  Even more so than usual, which is saying something!  :)

I wonder if it's possible to check into a hotel and be placed in a medically induced coma for 2 or 3 days?  OK, possible, yes.  Ethical...

Anyway, on to the main point of my post.  There is a full-time job opening for a theater teacher at a community college near WG's school.  It's EXACTLY the type of job I wanted before I had kids.

BEFORE I had kids.  Now I'm not so sure.  Because it would mean hiring someone else to take care of them.  Someone who would probably end up spending more time with them than I would.
There's nothing wrong with that.  I think it's important to be able to have that choice.  But because of the high cost of child care, too many people (especially moms) DON'T have the choice.

But what choice do I want to make?

I was what was called, back in the 80's, a latchkey kid.  My parents both worked, so, when we were old enough, my brother and I were given keys to the house and sometimes came home before our parents did.  There were many who made dire predictions about us Latchkey-ers: We would become hoodlums, or anti-social, or overly-clingy and dependent.  We'd never have stable relationships due to a lack of apron-and-pearl-wearing, vacuuming-in-high-heels, cookie-baking, stay-at-home moms.
Who really only existed in 1950's sitcoms, but that didn't stop the pundits from pontificating.
But the truth was, both of us were busy with afterschool activities, and often didn't get home until 7 or 8 at night.  I turned out OK, and my brother is one of the REALLY Good Guys.

The fact is, I always thought I WOULD work full time once I had kids.
But that was Before Autism.
Before I spent all my time with them, and realized I can communicate better with them than anyone else, despite their limited or utter lack of speech.  Before I understood that I know and understand them better than anyone else.  Before I realized not only how much they need me, but how much I need to be with them.

Don't get me wrong, I LOOOOOVE that they're in school full time now, lol!  And I'm certainly not averse to having someone come in and be with them a few hours a week (as I wrote about in a previous post), or sending them (pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease) to day camp for a few weeks in the summer.
But it has FINALLY dawned on me that I've been asking the wrong question.  It's not "HOW will I take care of my kids while working full time," but "WHO will take care of my kids IF I'm working full time?"

I suppose I'm also not quite as ambitious as I used to be.  Sure, I still fantasize about being on Broadway, or jetting over to the U.K to appear on the West End or at the National, or filming an episode of "Doctor Who" or "Sherlock."  But that's just what it is; A fantasy.  I don't expect it to happen, and I'm not working towards it. The truth is, I'd be happy to be a part of the local theater scene (like Hubby is), if I can ever stay awake past 9 again.
20 years ago I had it all planned out: I'd teach theater at a college or university during the year, and appear in summer stock every summer.  If a husband and kids came along, great! But they wouldn't interfere with my plans.
I didn't understand it when friends and colleagues stopped appearing in shows and focused on teaching and, occasionally, directing, instead.  After all, many of them had spouses who were perfectly able to take care of the kids.  It never dawned on me that they actually WANTED to spend more time with their kids, and that NOT doing 8 shows a week would allow for that.
Ah, youthful folly!
I guess you could call it Karma (who can be kind), a Life Lesson, or simply Growing Up, but I'm now one of those folks.

These days my ideal is teaching part-time at a college or university, doing a show here and there when I'm able, and making my priority my family.
It's who I am NOW.  It may not be who I am in another 10 or 20 years, and it's certainly not whom anyone else should feel forced to be.

I'll apply for the job.  And we'll see what happens.  But it's good to know that the choice is MINE.  And I know how very, very lucky I am to HAVE a choice.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Listening to Brilliance

There's a new radio production of Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" being broadcast on BBC4 Extra.  And because of the BBC iPlayer, those of us who don't live in the U.K. can still listen in.  Granted, it's at odd times here in our neck of the woods (the first episode aired at 7:30 AM PST on Saturday, and the remaining 5 episodes will air at 11:00 AM), but all of it will be available as a podcast starting Friday.
The cast includes some of my personal favorites: Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, Sophie Okonedo,  David Harewood, Romoloa Garai, Anthonly Head, Bernard Cribbins...
And Neil Gaiman makes a few cameos, as well.
I LOVE his imagination, and the way his mind works!  The first book I read of his was in college, "Good Omens," which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, and it remains one of my favorite books of all time. I drove my roommate crazy, because I stayed up all hours reading it and laughing.

And, yes, I follow him on Twitter.
Because I am a dork.

Also in college, I "discovered" the music of Robyn Hitchcock, who turned 60 last week.  The two of them remind me of one another, creatively.  Both so imaginative, and they make you think.

Oh, and they both have a great sense of humor.  :)

I follow Robyn Hitchcock on Twitter, as well.

And in other genius news, the third season of "Sherlock" began filming Monday (huzzah!) AAAAAANNNNDDDD...
Everyone has signed on for season 4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'll also throw in the fact that the 50th anniversary episode of "Doctor Who" has been written, cast, and is, I believe, in pre-production.

Whew!  That's a lot of good stuff coming down the pike!

Meanwhile, back on the home front, Hubby returned Monday from the Epic Climbing Trip and immediately fell ill.  WG went back to school today, LG was coughing this morning (yikes!), and I'm freakin' EXHAUSTED!  This past week (and a half) has left me seriously wishing we lived in a single-level home. Taking care of the "patients," checking on them, bringing them soup and juice and such.  I've been up and down those 3 flights of stairs so many times I could probably run a marathon at this point!

Times like this make me glad I'm not working full time, or even as much as I had been.  I would have been screwed.

I told Hubby that when he's feeling better I'm gonna do something fun.  He keeps apologizing for getting sick, which is just silly!  It's not like he did it on purpose!  The poor guy was sick as a dog on his birthday, fer cryin' out loud!
Luckily his fever is gone and he is on the mend.

And I get to go to yoga, finally!!!!!!!!

Anyway, gonna go listen to today's installment of "Neverwhere."
On my headphones.
So I can drown out the sound of the snoring pooch, which I keep thinking is my phone vibrating.

Have a good one!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stress, Guilt, Worry, Blah Blah Blah...

WG hurt her foot the other day while we were at the pool.  Not sure how, exactly.  She must have hit the inside of her heel as she was coming up the stairs.  She was limping yesterday morning, so we kept her home from school.
After LG got home we went to the park.  Her heel was, well, healing.  But once there, she lay down on the bench, like all her energy had drained out of her.  We let LG swing for a bit, then went home.
Where she proceeded to puke her guts (and lunch) out, all over her bed.  I put her now feverish little body in the tub and cleaned up her room.  After her bath she went downstairs with Hubby, to the nice cool (previously frigid) living room and fell asleep.
Needless to say, she stayed home from school today.  My mom looked after her until I came home from teaching my class.  Her fever was nearly 102, so I put her in the tub again and changed her sheets.

She's now had a fever for about 28 hours.  Being the type I am, I called the doctor's office. They told me what I already knew: That she has a virus, and to let her sleep, and make sure she drinks plenty of fluids.  What I DIDN'T know is that we're not supposed to give her Tylenol or Advil unless her fever is ABOVE 102.

My poor little baby is already doing everything she needs to. She's sleeping, resting, and drinking her water.  She also climbs into my lap periodically for cuddles, which are a vital part of recovery. Her poor little face is red, and she's got a runny nose.  She's so tired and unhappy, but she's not crying.

Hubby is getting ready for his birthday camping/climbing trip with his buddies.  He turns 44 on Tuesday, although he still looks like he's 18. Of course, I've been stressing myself out about it.  But I have to take a step back and tell myself to Chill.  Stress, at this point, will only make me sick, and I'm no good to anyone if I get sick. Plus, well, who wants to get sick?!?! Not this chick!

I must say I'm doing a better job, at least today, of NOT feeling guilty.  Kids sometimes hurt themselves.  They get sick.  Then they get over it.  It's no one's fault, and it's not a crisis.

But I'm staying close to home, and looking forward to next week, when eveyone is (hopefully) healthy, hearty, hale, and home.

I am SUCH a Jewish mother!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Family Ties

My mom is in town.  And my in-laws are home after being in Hawaii for 2 months (I know, rough, lol!). So it's basically been an explosion of family after 2 months of relative (har har!) peace.I keep trying to remind myself that it's all good.  But living with a whole bunch of other people, in their house, where they make the rules, can be...challenging. Particularly when there are very few boundaries, both physically and emotionally. Part of our living space (and LG's bedroom) is also my father-in-law's office.  WG's room is right over my in-laws' bedroom, and sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night and plays.  Which does NOT make them happy, lol!
But the hardest part is the continuous "advice."  About our kids, how they behave, and what we "should" be doing.  Needless to say, I do not take kindly to it, and I've started to let them know that.  Politely, of course. Hubby tells me not to take it personally, but how can I not?  If anyone implies that I'm doing something "wrong" as a mom, simply because it's different from what they would do, my hackles immediately rise. None of them, after all, have raised a child with autism (let alone 2). None of them have been stay-at-home parents. None of them have faced the same kind of challenges Hubby and I face.  Not that they were challenge-free, theirs were just different.
My kids are not lazy, not "too stubborn" to learn, etc.  They have definite difficulties.  The fact is, WG may never speak.  Ever.  And trying to force more and more programs on her without proper screenings first, or bombarding her when she's at home with "Say "Mama!'" is NOT going to help!  Telling MY son that he can't take Elmo with him on the car ride to school is NOT OK.  He's MY SON, not yours.  I get to say whether or not Elmo comes with us, NOT YOU.

I understand that they have raised/are raising kids.  Kids I happen to like.  I like one of them so much that I married him and had kids of my own with him.  But times and circumstances have changed drastically since my husband was a child, and it's vital that others understand that, as our kids' parents, Hubby and I have the final say.  Sometimes, as hard as it is, stepping back and staying quiet is the best thing to do. If they misbehave or they do something they shouldn't, their parents will deal with it.

I appreciate it very much when they babysit. I appreciate that they keep an eye on them.  It's a big house, and I can only be in one place at a time. I DON'T appreciate the guilt trips that go along with it, or the assumption that they can then take over my role, or tell me how to be a mom.

I grew up feeling as if I were under surveillance, knowing that anything I said or did could either be ruthlessly criticized or end up in a newspaper column or book, without any say so from me.  I had very little control over my life.  I refuse to live that way again.  I will obey the rules of the house as best I can (it's not always easy when they are continuously changing), but I will not walk around on eggshells or shut myself up in my bedroom for fear of doing something "wrong."  Not anymore.  Not ever again.

Yesterday I went to an open house around the corner.  It's a lovely place, reasonably priced, and would be PERFECT for us.  If only we had credit good enough to get a decent loan.  After the short-sale of our townhouse, it's going to be a while before that happens. But a girl can dream, right?
And I WAS dreaming.  About having our own place again. About both kids having their own rooms, that are THEIRS, without other people going in and out to get stuff out of storage or work on the computer (or trying to take their room away after they've been in it for months, which happened with WG). As they move into their teenage years, privacy is going to become more and more important.  I hope we can get a place sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, we will get along as best we can, and save some money.

And I'll keep going to yoga class, which is the main thing saving my sanity right now, lol!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tap Your Troubles Away

Yesterday I had a private phone session for EFT.  It was a basic, taking-me-through-the-steps- session, and it was VERY cool!
I'd been EXTREMELY anxious all weekend.  At levels I haven't experienced in over a decade.  Part of it was working myself into a frenzy over the Sequester, wondering how the budget cuts will affect my kids' special ed programs.  Funding for special ed is like a Sword of Damocles: You live in constant fear that the rope will be cut & it's gonna fall on you, taking your head clean off. And for someone like me, who's got a great gift for Worst Case Scenario Thinking, it's a prime breeding ground  for Panic.
But after my session yesterday I felt so calm and, well, the best word I can think of is CLEAR.  Like I'd gone into my own brain and swept away the cobwebs.  At least, some of them.  We ARE talking about 43 years of clutter, so it's gonna take a while to get to it all.
The feeling stayed with me for the rest of the day.  And I also found myself NOT overeating.  Which is also a big part of the program, but I didn't expect it to kick in right away.  :)

Hubby was at a theater function last night (the show he was in last fall won an award!), so it was me and the kids.  I managed to get a quick workout in, without them destroying anything.  In fact, they hung out with me while I did my workout. And then...


Seriously, it was like someone flipped a switch and out came 2 adorable, happy Mr. Hydes!  They were giggling and jumping and running and throwing and NOT SLEEPING!
They finally fell asleep at around 10:30, after many rounds of me going up & down stairs, tucking them (back) in, turning the light off (again), and much cajoling & pleading on my part.

Finally, I saw a goose on the field at LG's school the other day, and got very excited.  Because we used to see geese and ducks every day at our old place, and now we hardly ever see them.  I miss my feathered friends, even though they only loved me for my bread. I think I need to get to the shores of the Bay more.  It's not like it's far.

Or...maybe I need more of a life?


I think I'll make it more of a habit to get close to the water on a regular basis.  I miss it.  And we have the Bay on one side, the ocean on the other, and even a gigantic reservoir.  It's not as if we're in the desert here! I grew up right by the ocean, and have always felt more comfortable near the water.  Time I took advantage.

And if there happened to be some water fowl hanging around, and I just happened to have a loaf of bread on me...