47andfearless











{January 31, 2013}   Namaste? Nuh-uh. Namago home.

I’d admired an aerial silks performer at the Bristol Renaissance Faire last summer and later became intrigued with an aerial silks class offered at Milwaukee Community Circus after interviewing founder Geoff Marsh for a magazine story. The classes are held in Walker’s Point, which is a bit of a hike from our house, so I couldn’t see how to fit the class into my schedule.

Then I came across a beginner aerial yoga class at Reaching Treetops Yoga in Waukesha, much closer to home. Aerial yoga is not the same as aerial silks, but it has similarities. Students use silk hammocks (instead of silk ribbons) hung from the ceiling as they work their way through a routine of yoga poses (rather than artistic poses.)

On the yoga studio’s website, I found this quote about aerial yoga from a student: “Not only is it fun, it feels good! My body doesn’t bend like this on the floor, but it’s a whole other story in the air. Surprisingly (I) didn’t feel dizzy but did get some color into my face after this pose.”

I’m not particularly flexible, so the woman’s experience alleviated one of my concerns. Plus, she said it would be fun and feel good. Why not?

Well, let me count the ways why aerial yoga is not for me. (It may not be for me, but, like pizza with anchovies, plenty of people enjoy it. The studio has a waiting list for this class. So don’t take my experience as condemnation of the class, instructor or yoga in general.)

Reason 1: It’s easier said than done. Of the six women in the hour-long session, two of us were first-timers. The instructor sometimes used Sanskrit (?) terms to refer to particular poses. Instead of trying to understand what she was saying, I watched other students and tried to duplicate their moves. I could do some of the simpler poses. But the more complicated ones had me shaking my head and laughing. (At one point I asked, “Are you sure this is a beginner class?”)

The instructor checked each student’s pose, offering suggestions and encouragement. “You can do this. Just roll your hip,” she told me. It sounded easy, but there was a lot more involved than a mere hip roll. I eventually got that pose, but it wasn’t pretty. My progress was slow, but I wasn’t ready to give up. That is until I tried the pose I’m calling the “inversion.”

Reason 2: I don’t like being upside down and never have. As a kid, I didn’t hang from the monkey bars by my knees like my friends. I couldn’t do cartwheels, handstands or back bends. As I got older, I quickly discovered I hated amusement rides that “looped the loop” and despised those that would pause the car at the top, hanging it upside down for a few moments before continuing on. Too bad I didn’t remember that when I signed up for this class.

The instructor talked us through the “inversion.” For this pose, the hammock is placed low on the back with a hand gripping each side of the hammock near the hips. One leans back so one’s head nears the floor with one leg stretched behind. The other leg is brought forward with knee bent and that ankle is wrapped around the silk. For someone with my lack of coordination, this is a feat in itself.

But we were not finished with this pose yet. Next, the instructor said, “Now take your hands and place them on the mat.” WHAT? I thought, “No way!” (Apparently I didn’t think it; I said it out loud.)

Hearing me, the instructor came over and steadied me, and at her urging, I reluctantly released my white-knuckle grip on the fabric and put my hands on the mat. I was hanging upside down…on purpose. I didn’t feel euphoric or relaxed or Zen-like, but I did it and didn’t die. That’s a major accomplishment in my book.

When we switched to perform the same pose with the opposite leg, I waited for the instructor to tell me to move my hands to the mat. But I think she was waiting for me to do it by myself. So it didn’t happen. And I’m fine with that.

Reason 3: It made me light-headed and nauseous. The class started at 6 p.m., and I chose not to eat dinner beforehand. It was a good move. The woman next to me, who said she had eaten at 5 p.m., had to stop after the “inversion” because she felt she was going to vomit.

I wore long sleeves as recommended, but the exertion (and fear?) had cranked up my body temperature. When I became light-headed, I took a quick break to grab my water bottle. The light-headedness, accompanied by nausea, persisted through our cool-down. I don’t know if it was my empty stomach, getting overheated, hanging up-side down or a combination of those things, but it took a few hours for my stomach to get back to normal.

Reason 4: It did not feel good. As we were leaving class, a fellow student who had finished her third lesson told me she didn’t feel well after any of the sessions. But she was looking forward to her next one. Perhaps four is the charm?

Unfortunately for me, the rest of my body was not as quick to recover as my stomach. For the next few days, I had pain in places I’ve never felt before. I Googled muscle anatomy diagrams to try to identify some of the sore spots. Was the pain along the top of my shoulder joint my rotator cuff? Were the tender areas between my lower ribs the intercostals or obliques? I don’t know.

Although the pain in my body diminished as the week wore on, my feeling of dread increased as the next aerial yoga session approached. Did I want to be a trouper and try again? Would it “click” for me after another lesson? Or three? Or 12?

Namaste, schnamaste. I decided I didn’t want to find out. I canceled reservations for the half dozen sessions I’d scheduled before my first lesson. I’m happy I tried it, but happier I’ll never have to do it again.

Is there an experience you’re glad you had but never want to repeat? I’d love to hear about it.

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My friend Jen, who has two children close in age to mine, and I were enjoying a coffee date in December when the conversation turned to new things we could do together. (Learn more about my project to try 47 new things in a year here.)

Jen and I ran the Dirty Girl Mud Run together in August, and she has agreed to do a polar plunge with me next month. On her own, she has gone skydiving, dove off a cliff into a river and tried a lot of other things that make her much more adventurous than I am.

She asked, “Have you ever been arrested?”

“What? No!” I replied.

“Me neither,” she said with disappointment in her voice. I don’t recall the exact wording, but she continued on to say something like, “I wonder what minor offense we can do to get arrested? We should get mug shots.” Umm, did I mention she has a wild streak?

Thankfully, the conversation moved on…to tattoos and piercings. I have one tattoo and a few ear piercings. She has more of each and was looking to increase that number. Did I want to join her?

My first thought was piercing my eyebrow, because I like that look. But I worried I’d catch the ring on everything. With a little encouragement from Jen, I decide on piercing my nose.

Several weeks later, Jen and I headed to Starship Tattoo in Milwaukee, where Steve was the trained and certified body piercer on staff.

For me, the process was easy. Steve discussed the procedure and proper after-care, wore gloves, used antiseptic to clean the area and used sealed packaged tools and jewelry–all good practices for a person who’s putting holes in your body. Inserting the teeny-tiny gemstone stud into my nose was a piece of cake. It took seconds and was nearly painless.

julie pierce

Jen got an orbital—a ring threaded through two holes in her ear. It took a bit longer, and from her reaction, it hurt a helluva lot. But she was happy with the outcome, which I think looks really cool.

jen with orbital

The most fun part of this experience? Buying “non-piercing” rings while we were there. The package, with an old Halloween Express $3.99 price tag still on it, read: “Be Cool * Have Fun * Impress Your Friends”.

fake rings

Gosh, who doesn’t want to do that? How could I resist?

When I returned home, I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption: “Yikes! What did Jen talk me into?”

Y

But my Facebook friends were too savvy to fall for that.

My children were not. So a little later, when the boys came home from school, this is how I greeted them.

for boys

The 5-year-old asked, “What are those? Why are you wearing them? You look weird.”

Following a few steps behind, the 8-year-old took one look and said, “Wow. I like it!” He was disappointed when I took them off and showed him they weren’t real. He wanted to try one on until he realized, “Oh, Mom! You had one of these in your nose. Yuk!”

Before Doug came home from work, I put a ring back on my lower lip. When he walked in the door, I continued making dinner as I greeted him and asked him about his day. He glared at me and didn’t say a word. I said, “Well, Jen and I might have gotten a little carried away.”

He replied, “Yeah, carried away…” as he shot me a dark look. He was not happy. When I took the lip ring off, his mood brightened considerably and he said, “I was wondering if it was fake.” Hmm… The glare he first gave me told me otherwise. He doesn’t get the appeal of piercing my nose, but he has accepted it.

J

It’s been a few days, and I forget I have the piercing most of the time. And should I decide I don’t like it in the first few months, I can remove the stud and the hole should close up quickly. But if I decide I do like it, that might mean more piercings in the future. I know Jen is ready for more. But I don’t think my husband is.

What fun, silly or adventurous things have you done recently?



{January 11, 2013}   Something Sparkly? Sign Me Up!

As a young girl, I was fascinated with all things sparkly, jewelry in particular. I haven’t changed much in that respect. So my mom knew I couldn’t resist when she invited me to join her for a jewelry making class at Midwest Beads in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

This class, Earrings Galore, was taught by Alice Lauber, the store’s owner. Of the eight women in our session, I was the only newbie. Most had taken several previous classes and had a better idea of what they were doing. I didn’t know a headpin from a bobby pin.

If you don’t know either, a headpin is pretty much what it sounds like: a pin with a small, flat head on it. Beads are threaded on the headpin and the head keeps them from falling off. The end without the head is cut and bent to form a loop, which can be attached to an ear wire or earring post.

Headpins are considered “findings,” the collective term that describes the metal parts used to make jewelry. Other examples of findings are eye pins, jump rings, links, spacers, clasps, bead caps, bead frames, ear wires and earring posts.

Tools at each of our work areas included: round-nose pliers for forming loops, chain-nose pliers for bending wire and closing jump rings, wire cutters for cutting headpins and wire, and crimpers for closing clasps.

The beads and findings for each pair of earrings were ready in individual plastic bags. Pair by pair, Alice skillfully demonstrated each step of assembling the earrings, offering one-on-one guidance to those who needed it (mostly me.)

She moved quickly, so we could complete five pairs in two hours. There were no pauses for me to catch up or take many photos while we worked. Along the way, Alice introduced new items available at her store, showed different ways to use some the findings we had in hand, and offered variations on the earring designs. It was a great blend of jewelry making basics and creative inspiration. (Our class was one of many paid classes the store offers, but there also are free beginner classes that include materials.)

The most impressive part of my experience occurred after the class. I wanted earrings to go with a dress I planned to wear to my husband’s Christmas party. When I mentioned it to Alice, she took a look at the purple velvet dress I’d brought along and said, “Follow me.”

We walked to one of the store’s many tables of beads and she pointed out different ones until I chose a few I loved. She asked a question or two, suggested cool matte silver findings, added extra beads where I asked and put together a modern-looking drop earring in about three minutes. She asked if I wanted to make the matching one. With the new, but rudimentary, skills I’d acquired in class, I surely could do it. But it would be time-consuming. Alice, on the other hand, had the second earring complete in less than two minutes, and I had a custom jewelry to match my dress for about $8. Amazing!

My mom and I spent another half hour browsing the huge inventory at Midwest Beads, and I imagine it would be easy to lose a whole day there. There is so much to drool over: millions of beads made of all types of materials in styles from old-fashioned to modern to classic, plus crystals, cabochons, kits and completed jewelry for inspiration. While I lingered over displays of gorgeous fused glass beads, my mom found the items she needed to create earrings to match a necklace her mother handed down to her.

I left with five pretty pairs of earrings I’d made myself, cool earrings for the party, and the enthusiasm to try my hand at a few more pairs when I got home. It was a fun learning experience and a great way to share my love of all things sparkly with Mom!

Want to know more about my 47 and fearless project? Read my first post.



{January 9, 2013}   Cool Kite Flight

I don’t like being cold, so I’m not a big fan of many winter activities in Wisconsin. That puts any of the many polar plunge events in the state way outside my comfort zone.

With below-freezing temperatures on New Year’s Day, I couldn’t bring myself to strip down to a swimsuit at Bradford Beach and plunge into Lake Michigan like hundreds of people who participated in the Polar Bear Plunge this year. (I’m putting off that kind of bone-chilling adventure until February or March when I plan to do one of these chilly dips.)

Instead, my husband and I bundled up the boys and headed to Veterans Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront for the Cool Fool Kite Festival. Gift of Wings, a store aimed at kite and aviation enthusiasts, has organized this winter kite fest for 26 years, but it was our family’s first time participating.

The day was bright and sunny, but with the temperature that morning hovering around 20°, we dressed in long underwear, boots, coats, scarves, hats and gloves, then I tucked a couple hand warmers in my pockets just in case. (Did I mention I’m not a fan of cold weather?)

When we arrived around noon, we discovered our oldest had been more interested in remembering his hand-held video game than his gloves. So I handed over mine and immediately opened the hand warmers. Crisis averted.

There were quite a few kites of varying colors and sizes already in the air, dipping, diving and spinning circles. The wind speed was fluctuating between 5 and 15 mph, which was just enough to get the boys’ dragon and doggy kites off the ground. I’d forgotten how enjoyable it is to see kites take flight and tug on their lines to keep them aloft. The boys had fun while the breeze lasted, but it soon died down and with it, the boys’ enthusiasm.

That was our cue to warm up with free hot chocolate, coffee and snacks from the friendly folks at Caribou Coffee. (A big thank you to them…I don’t think I’d have lasted much longer without the piping-hot coffee!)

It’s amazing how hot chocolate and cookies gave a second wind to our boys. Because soon they were eager to watch a family of ice artists engineer an igloo and penguins from huge chunks of ice. While the kids moved on to chipping away at a sample ice block, I kept my hands wrapped around my coffee cup and asked the carvers about their craft, the crystal-clear ice that was their canvas, and the tools they used. (A household iron? Who’d have guessed? It helps shape the ice and give it a smooth, clear finish.) It’s a skill that takes talent…and a predilection for the cold.

By the time my coffee had cooled, my feet were beginning to feel like blocks of ice, too. So we started for home, colder but wiser. (Next time, double-check that everyone has gloves!)

Want to know more about my 47 and fearless project? Check out my first post here.



It’s exactly three months until my birthday and the deadline for my 47 and fearless project. (What? It’s not marked on your calendar? You’re not counting down the days? Inconceivable!)

If you’ve noticed my lack of blog posts in the past two months, you’d guess I’m way behind schedule.

Though I am, it’s not as bad as it looks. I’ve been trying new things; I just haven’t been making the time to write about them. I hope to do that soon or at least post some photos.

My plan is to blog about my most recent experiences first and then catch up on the older ones when I can.

Here are a few things you can expect to learn about:

–Flying kites in frigid weather at the Cool Fool Kite Festival on Milwaukee’s Lakefront

–Making five pairs of awesome earrings at a beading class with my mom

–Being hypnotized to break a bad habit

–Designing a Cub Scout float for a local Christmas parade

That said, I still need to kick into high gear if I’m going to complete this project on time. On tap are two winter activities that will be firsts for me (if I go through with them) and take me way outside my comfort zone: a polar plunge and downhill skiing.

If you have ideas for other new things I can try in the first three months of 2013, please share them.

In the meantime:

new year

Happy New Year!



et cetera