Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Challenge Yourself!

Sometimes, it's easy to just be...and that's OK. But other times, it's good to challenge yourself. Step out of your comfort zone. Try something that you will almost surely fail at a few times before you finally get it.

While I've been enjoying my time in Maine, without the normal concerns of my daily life, I have been "stepping out there" a bit, trying new things. Like writing a book--something I've never done before. And hula hooping.

Jonni did some research on Rockland before we ever left home, and she found a community center that offered yoga and other exercise classes. Since we do yoga twice a week at her house (we miss you JC!), we thought we'd continue that while in Maine. But then Jonni found a hula hooping class on Monday nights, and we mutually decided it would be lots of fun. We were right!

Our teacher, Maria, is a "Mainer" who lived in Wisconsin for several years then returned. She discovered hooping and took to it like a duck to water, losing 25 pounds without even trying. That was enough information for us to really get on board in a hurry!

Maria, like most hoop fanatics, makes her own hula hoops. We learned that the bigger the hoop, the less you have to work. If you use a smaller hoop, you have to work harder to keep it going. It's a great cardio workout, plus it strengthens your body's core. It's good for digestion, too, as it is like a little mini massage on your belly.

The first Monday night, it was just Jonni and I in the class. We got to know Maria and just had fun getting the hang of hooping after so many years. The first challenge was to hoop in the opposite direction of our dominant direction. It's like being right handed and trying to write a whole term paper with your left hand. There's nothing natural about it.

Jonni bought a hoop, and we took it home, with the intent of hooping every day until the next class. I did it a few times, as did she, but not nearly as much as we had both intended to. But I managed to practice hooping in my non-domniant direction, and it really did get easier for me over time.

The next week, Brownie was in town, so we took her to class with us. She showed us both up. It's like she has been hooping all her life!

And last night, we added a fourth person to the mix: Jonni's college roommate, Jane, who came to spend a few days with us this week. Jane just started hooping and never stopped the entire class!

Maria will teach us little tricks and techniques, then put some great music on and let us "freestyle," putting our little tricks together into a cohesive routine. The more we all did it, the better we became. I'd start out trying to do something over and over and over, with my hoop flying across the gym or crashing to the floor around my feet. But suddenly, I'd get it. And I'd try it again, and get it again! I felt such a sense of accomplishment! She's a great teacher, and has made our introduction to hooping so much fun. Check out her "Hoop ME" website.

Hooping has become really popular with the alternative music crowd. You see it at concerts alot, and alot of times the musicians will hoop as part of their act. Hooping has actually become a big part of music festivals.

What I like about it is that you need one piece of equipment: the hula hoop. You can wear just about anything, so no special attire is required. Although, alot of hoopers do like to wear flashy outfits, and that just makes me happy!

After getting a good bit of writing done last week, I took the weekend off to play and enjoy Maine. Yes, we have been eating WELL, but healthy. So many of the restaurants here serve organic foods, and most are locally grown. Also, gluten-free foods are easier to find here, and since I'm attempting to do a gluten-free diet this month, that's good news for me. Since I tend to post photos of my food on facebook frequently, Nicole asked if I was actually writing a cookbook while I'm here! Others have asked if I'm really writing a book at all, because all I tend to put on FB is about thing things we're doing and what we're eating. There's just not alot to say or show about writing, other than this is where I sat and wrote one day last week:

So, I don't write 24 hours a day. I've got to stop and eat. And when I do, I make sure it's something good! Jonni had been telling me about the famous Owl's Head burgers, so last week we drove to the Owl's Head General Store for one of their famous hamburgers...
I ate mine without the bun and honestly, didn't feel like I missed out on a thing because the burger was just that good!

Jonni's birthday was Saturday, and we spent the day going to Portland to pick up her college roommate, Jane, from the airport. I got up early and put up decorations around our little cottage to surprise Jonni when she woke up.

Brownie and I prepared a breakfast of quiche, orange juice and coffee. Jonni had her own special cup that I found at the Goodwill in Rockland.
Saturday night, we ate a wonderful meal at Suzuki Japanese restaurant in Rockland with Brownie's husband's cousin, Scott, his wife, Heidi and their son, Martin.
We ate lunch Sunday at a restaurant on the waterfront (called The Waterfront!) in Camden. I ate a wonderful warm spinach salad with smoked duck while overlooking the most beautiful harbor. (The photo below was taken Thursday evening before the rain rolled in on Friday.)

After lunch, we enjoyed a ride up to Lincolnville for a wine pairing at Cellardoor Wineries, located in an refurbished old barn that is simply breathtaking.

We ended the day with a birthday gift Jonni gave to US--a concert at the Strand Theatre in Rockland by Shemekia Copeland. Jonni made a great video at the concert that's worth watching:

I have been able to slow down a good bit here, and really take in the beauty of this season in Maine. The forsythia is blooming everywhere and looks like yellow fire brushing across the landscape.
I've never seen as many tulips in one area in my life, and they are blooming everywhere.
It's easy to find beautiful things to look at, enjoy and savor by simply taking a walk around the yard of our little cottage.

My challenge to all of you who read this blog is to challenge yourself to do something out of your comfort zone...and to stop and see the beauty that's just under your nose. May you find joy in both!

Blessings to all who read this!


  1. What fun "ya'll" have been to have in class! I am going to miss you ladies so much~your enthusiasm has been inspiring!

  2. Susan, Continue to enjoy the beauty of nature. Maine is such a beautiful place with many 'sites' to see, it is a place like no other. Thank God you have had the opportunity to experience this beauty and peace. Blessings on continued inspirations for writing and living.

  3. All cool! Great places to go, see and be!