When it rains…

Of course you know the saying, “When it rains, it pours.” That certainly has applied to Spring 2019 in eastern Ontario, and in this case, it applies to this blog. It’s been a long time since I posted anything and now I’ve got two posts in two days. What can I say? “The muse has awoken.”

My last post, “Thankful for a little push” included a guest blog post from my colleague Lori Straus. I’d sent an essay to Lori for her blog, and I am posting it here.

My focus in the past few months has been working on my certification as an Essentrics® instructor, which has kept me from doing a lot of writing. However that program does help my writing business too. It’s not always an even balance, but it is a good balance, and an important one for me.

Here’s the post I sent to Lori. I’m back on the writing/fitness journey. Thanks for coming along.

How does Essentrics® help my writing business?

Your first question might be, “What is Essentrics®?” The answer: a fitness program designed to re-balance the body through simultaneous stretching and strengthening all of the muscles and rebalancing the joints. Now, your second question: “How does this fitness program fit your writing business?”

Essentrics® not only rebalances my body; it rebalances my work, and by extension, my life.

It gets me out in the world

Writing is a solitary occupation. Most freelance writers work alone either at home or in an office they’ve set up. Some might do some writing in a café or library so they’re around other people but still working, writing, alone. Being in a group fitness class ends that isolation. It balances the need for solitude and quiet with the need for social interaction and some noise. Writing is also a sedentary activity.  So the passive activity has to be balanced with something more active. Some writers run; others bike; some go to a gym for a workout. I do Essentrics®. I do it at home on my own; I lead three or four classes a week and I try to take a class once a week. If you want to try it, look on the Essentrics® website to find a class near you, or check out the videos on the site to try the exercises at home. So what is it about Essentrics® that I love so much?

It keeps me moving

Although I try to get up and move around, taking regular breaks while I’m working, the truth is that I can wind up sitting for waaaaayyyy too long. Sound familiar? My problem is that I have fibromyalgia, a syndrome of muscular fatigue and pain that is often centred in my lower back and hips. It is occasionally in my neck, shoulders and upper arms. Sitting for too long is not good for any of this. In fact pain can set in fairly quickly. Doing the Essentrics® exercises, even if it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes, goes a long way to stretch and strengthen those muscles and reduce the pain. My classes are 30-60 minutes in length, so that really gets things moving. Many days are actually pain-free, but only if I do the exercises. Some of the women in my classes also have fibromyalgia or sciatica and they tell me that that the exercises help. Getting together with others to exercise is important to me. It’s hard to motivate yourself to exercise alone. That’s why I teach: I have to show up. No excuses. Anything done with friends is always better and many of my students have become friends.

I feel better

Once I have done my class and enjoyed some social time I am in a better mood emotionally and I feel better physically. I’m ready to get down to work. I can concentrate better and my writing comes more easily.

When you balance physical exercise with the mental exercise of writing, it is all positive. Check out Essentrics® for yourself and see if this program works for you. You can check out my website to see some videos and testimonials. Whatever you do, keep moving so that you can re-balance your work, and your life.

Thankful for a little push

My Eccentric (Essentrics®) journey has had a few bumps in the road. My freelance writing has been stalled. Sometimes you need a nudge to get you going again. I’m lucky to have friends and colleagues in both areas who have given me that little push.

One of my colleagues in the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), Lori Straus, is a copywriter, editor, and German to English translator who somehow still finds time to write fiction under her family name,  Lori Wolf-Heffner.

Recently Lori asked if  anyone in our group would like to do some cross-posting on our blogs. I jumped at the chance, especially as I’d been, to say the least, lax at keeping up with this blog.

We decided to write about how our other passions, dance for her, Essentrics for me, help us with life lessons, including our writing. I am posting Lori’s essay here. I’ll post my essay in a separate post.

I thank Lori very much for getting me back to writing. Once you’ve read our pieces here, hop over to her websites and check out her other writing.

I’ll have more posted here starting next week, so thanks for hanging in there and please do check back.

Here’s Lori’s essay, “Life Lessons From Dance: Learning to Laugh”

“Sunrise, sunset…sunrise, sunset…swiftly go the days…” That’s what I recall singing near the end of a community production of Fiddler on the Roof in 1994. The chorus stood around the family, who was forced to flee their home. Every member in the chorus, including me, held a real, lit tea light as they sang. It was magical. I even got to stand downstage (i.e., “at the front”), where the whole audience could see me. The scene probably acted as a beautiful life lesson for how an entire team of people, many strangers at the outset, could create such a somber, sad, but hopeful moment in such a moving musical.

Except for me.

Life Lessons Aren’t Always about Teamwork

That song will never remain a solemn song in my head: While I was singing it on stage in a 2,000-seat theatre, my breath blew out my candle. I tried to sing while my chest wanted to convulse in laughter. Whoever stood next to me—was it my sister?—saw the snuffed-out candle and also had to suppress her laughter. I believe the guy I was dating saw it, too. It was the fight of a lifetime to hold on to the somber façade we had created with the other cast members. Once we got offstage, I probably snorted as my laughter burst out of me.

I succeeded in the audition for Fiddler on the Roof in part because I had become a decent dancer after studying the art for over ten years. Dancing teaches you a lot of skills: how to take feedback, compete, practice, look after your body, deal with disappointment…and how to keep going through the mistakes and laugh about them afterwards.

Keep Smiling, Even When You’re Down to Your Last Failsafe

When you look at the bottom of a tap shoe, you’ll see that each tap is held on by screws: four on the heel tap and three on the toe tap. When I was 12 or so, I performed a tap dance at competition. I no longer remember if it was a trio or a group, but others danced with me.

During the routine, two of the three screws on one of my toe taps came out, leaving my tap spinning. For up to three minutes, I kept smiling as I repeatedly swung the tap back under my shoe. Unfortunately, this was before smartphones, so this feat of feet was never caught on camera.

It had to have brought my group’s mark down: unsecured costume pieces do that. But I also couldn’t help it. After the dance, we all laughed about it. We even wondered how that could have happened: I had started out with three screws in my tap!

Whether you’re presenting on an important topic, having a serious talk with a family member, or working on your New Years’ goal of taking better care of yourself, keep smiling. Smile on the inside if showing it will give the wrong impression, but smile because it will relax and centre you and ultimately help you move forward.

The Last Count

I’ve performed hundreds of times on stage, and I always knew I would never manage a long streak of performances without any errors. Shakespeare said life is but a stage. However, if dance has taught me anything, it’s that the stage is life. And I hope that whenever life becomes too serious for me, that someone else will accidentally blow out the candle and make me laugh.

Thanks, Lori. My essay, “How Essentrics® Fits with my Writing Business” will be my next blog post. Please keep checking back for more posts: most from me, but I hope to have other guest bloggers too.