October 25, 2012

Ticketybook Club - Wild

Do you have to get lost to find yourself? Sometimes, yes.

Naively unprepared, alone, and burdened by an incredibly heavy pack and constantly injured feet, Cheryl Strayed set out from the Mojave Desert and, aside from a detour to avoid an excessively snowed-in section, followed the Pacific Crest Trail all the way to the Bridge of the Gods at the Oregon/Washington border; 1100 miles in total.

Mourning the loss of her mother, grieving the break-up of her marriage, and trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, Strayed endured the incredible mental and physical challenges of the journey, yet kept going, even when faced with the sudden reality of having to hike a section practically barefoot. The story that she tells is sad and funny, self-destructive and healing, tragic and inspiring. 

The story is so beautifully written, and with such exacting detail, that from the moment she steps into the bush for the first time, I felt like I was on the trail with her. And I think I found a little of myself while reading it, too.

October 20, 2012

Falling for Flavour Recipe Contest

Ever since the Falling for Flavour Recipe Contest was announced, I have been dreaming about this baby. It doesn't just mix, blend and frappe...no, this sucker COOKS your food, too. Can you believe it? 

Needless to say, I have to have it, much in the same way I need water and oxygen*.

Please stop by the contest page, peruse the entries, and vote for my Tuscan Vegetable Soup. If I could hand out samples, I would, but you'll just have to trust me; it's good. 

The entry with the most votes will be declared the big winner and one lucky blogger (me, please) will receive that beautiful Cuisinart love-machine.  

C'mon. Make my blender dreams come true...

*I don't know that I would actually die, but I can't imagine living another day without it.

October 16, 2012

Ticketybook Club - Every Day

Once in a while, a book will cross my lap and will be so familiar to me as if I had written it myself. The characters easily speak the words that are stuck on the tip of my tongue, their inner dialogue echos mine, and they make the mistakes that I have made (with exactly as little grace and as many dire consequences as I). 

In Every Day, I first saw myself almost right away. I won't say which character, but I was there, and when I recognized it, I cried. Right there in the Starbucks, clutching my tablet with both hands; I cried. And I cried again and again and again at the end.   

Had this not been a book meant for young adults, I may have felt just slightly less foolish connecting in the way that I did, but then again, maybe not. We are, after all, just a big bunch of 16 year olds pretending to be "grown up", aren't we? 

The story centers around A, a soul that begins each day in a different body. A wakes up as someone new every single day. He (or she?) opens his (her?) eyes and discovers that himself (herself?) inhabiting the body of, for example, a jock, a depressed teenage girl, a princess, a nerd, or a burn-out. It's up to A to seamlessly slip into his host's life; accessing memories, picking up on clues, and interacting with friends and family.

That alone is a fabulous premise for a book, but imagine what happens when a love interest enters the mix. How can you make someone love you, when you take a new form every day? Is looking past the form and loving only the soul even possible?

Read it and see.

PS - Fans of The Infinite Playlist of Nick and Norah will recognize David Levithan's name. 

October 10, 2012

Spin to Win

It's hard to believe that just a year ago, I had never taught a single group fitness class. 12 months and dozens and dozens of Group Power classes later, I'm an old pro. Well, half of that is true.

Last month, I took the leap and became a certified Spinning instructor. I have been a regular on the spin bike for almost 3 years, so it seemed like a logical step for me. (Logical, but still scary.) I took my training at the Rady JCC with a fellow Group Power instructor, studied hard, and aced the exam. A couple of weeks later, my card was in my hands and I took off running spinning! 

The best part for me (besides making people sweat like fiends) has been choosing music, making playlists, and figuring out the moves. Unlike Group Power, which uses its own music and choreography, Spinning instructors are free to do their own thing. It's great for me because I get to put my own personal stamp on my classes, and it's great for the participants because they can get a new experience with each class that they go to.

And I get to wear cool padded shorts! ;-)

October 9, 2012

Power to the People - Oct 2012

To keep the program fresh, every three months, BTS (Body Training Systems) "launches" a new Group Power release. To prepare, instructors, including yours truly, have to learn an hour of  brand new material - 10 songs' worth of squats, lunges, curls, presses, lifts and rows, all carefully arranged into a dizzying number of patterns and combinations.

We receive the new music and choreography about a month before the big launch day, but, inevitably, life gets in the way and we all end up cramming in the last two or three days. Granted, the more of these I've had to learn, the easier it has been to learn them. My first two releases were brutal to memorize, but now that I have learned a few study tricks, I can pick things up pretty quickly. (Interesting to note: my best memorizing is done in the car, so I spend hours driving and sitting in parking lots with the cd player on continual repeat.)

This weekend was the official launch of the October 2012 program. As with all new releases, we "team-taught", which always takes a little of the pressure off. With two instructors leading the class, each of us is responsible for only 5 of the 10 tracks. Then, once some of the pressure is off and we've each had a chance to run through the whole class at least once (three times, in my case), we're on our own to prepare ourselves for solo teaching all 10 tracks. (For some of us, that's the next day!)

The funny thing is, even with all of the pressure and stress we have going into it, launch weekend is always a lot of fun because it's one of the only times that all of us instructors get to work together as a team. Plus, we get to act silly and give away prizes. And wear matching outfits.

If my hands hadn't been so full, I would have taken a few pictures of the classes. Instead, I will leave you with the Group Power 2012 trailer. It's just a little taste, but it should give you some idea of what we do...

October 1, 2012

Take a Bow

When my mom was in town at the end of August, the Mascot dragged us out to Heartland Archery in Transcona. After my initial "ecch" over all the hunting stuff, we signed up for an hour on the range. Once we had figured out dominant eyes and bow strength, and signed our waivers, we were good to go.

I hadn't shot an arrow since my days at camp, and I had never used a compound bow, but it didn't take long to get the hang of it. After a couple flubs, I was consistantly hitting the targets...well, the paper...but that's something.

And the Mascot did a pretty good job, too. Fresh from a session at camp that included archery lessons, he jumped right in and started shooting, and even had "helpful" tips for us as we went along. (#1 - Oma, quit hitting your arm.)

When we left, they gave us each a voucher for a complimentary visit. I won't be giving Katniss Everdeen a run for her money, nor will I be asked to join any roving bands of Merry Men, but that shouldn't stop me from shooting a few arrows, right? Besides, how can you argue with "free"?