Thursday, May 29, 2014

Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller

I am reading Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller. 

My husband urged me to read it months ago and I started to, but then I put it down.  However, the other day, I had an overwhelming sense that the Lord really wanted me to read it and to read one other book that my husband has suggested to me over the past year.  I felt a great sense of conviction that I should pay more attention to the suggestions my husband makes about books because they might not be random, they might be what the Lord uses to answer my questions or give me wisdom and guidance. (I know that seems obvious and basic, but I needed to be reminded of that.)

So now I am reading the book again and I am more than halfway through.  It's a great book for anyone, even people who don't actually have jobs that pay.  Keller makes a case to prove that we were all created to work and work is supposed to be a blessing to us and to others, even though we still have to deal with the consequences of doing our work in a fallen world. 

It has been great timing for me since I have started working again and I have recently felt very strongly that I am not just working. I am actually fulfilling a personal calling to teach fitness classes. If I had listened to my husband and read the book months ago, I may have been able to process everything I have been going through faster than I have. But, nevertheless, the Lord is faithful and I am reading and processing it all now.  It is really shaping the way I see all the work I do, even the mundane things I do at home. I highly recommend this book!

""No task is too small a vessel to hold the immense dignity of work given by God." -Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor    

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bodypump Certification Process- Update

I have been hired by a gym (to teach Bodypump)!

But I am not certified to teach Bodypump yet. I still need to film myself teaching Bodypump 89 in full and pass that to get certified.

So for now, I am using the certifications I already have (AFAA, Silver Sneakers, etc.) to sub freestyle classes at the gym. (I already teach freestyle classes at another gym, too.) And I am team-teaching Bodypump classes with two other Bodypump instructors during their classes.

Once I am certified, I can sub Bodypump classes for the regular instructors at my new gym and hopefully, someday, get my own Bodypump class on their schedule, too. 

I know sounds like I am teaching a lot. I am!  I haven't been able to do my own workouts in weeks because I am exercising so much at work I need to rest when I can.  But I love what I am doing for workouts at work. I teach various cardio formats including kickboxing, step aerobics, etc. and I teach freestyle barbell classes and even Senior's strength classes in addition to the Bodypump team-teaching. 

I have taught a few tracks from 89 during three different, live Bodypump classes at this point. The only track I haven't taught yet is the warmup (just because the regular teachers have been doing that to open the class.) But I am scheduled to teach the warmup, squats, and chest in a Bodypump class next week. By the time I am scheduled to film in June, I will have been able to practice every track in the entire release at least once in front of a live class, some tracks more than once. 

I feel very fortunate. The Bodypump instructors I am working with both have a lot of experience and they have already been able to help me correct a few key things I was doing wrong. One big thing I was doing was forward flexing my hips at the end of each squat. The past few classes I have been keeping my hips subtly back at the top of each squat so as to keep the tension in my legs through the whole track.  It makes a big difference in the intensity of the squat track because I am no longer resting in between each squat.  It's difficult to unlearn old habits!

I filmed myself teaching my freestyle barbell class last week and it was very eye-opening.  I have already made so many changes in the way I say and do things in classes since seeing and hearing myself on film.  Filming is definitely such a helpful exercise to submit yourself to. 

I love my job (or jobs, now, I guess, since I work at two places now).  I will still enjoy freestyle classes. I relish the ability to create my own choreography. But every time I team-teach (or even just take) an official Bodypump class, I fall more and more in love with the workouts. They are so challenging! I am very excited about this Bodypump journey!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014 vs. Memorial Day 2012

Today is Memorial Day 2014.  On my way home from team-teaching a Bodypump class this morning, it occurred to me that exactly two years ago today this is what I looked like.


The photo above was taken on Memorial Day 2012. This is what I look like today, Memorial Day 2014.


I've been singing to the Lord all day today, keeping the worship music loud while I have been cleaning house, thanking Him for all He has done to restore my body in just two years.

Not that my body is so perfect now or anything.  I just see the picture at the top and remember how heavy and tender I was the day that photo was taken. My legs were so weak. My core was totally shot. I'm not sure, but I think I was carrying eighty more pounds than I am now and I was still recovering from a difficult pregnancy and an intense natural birth.

Thanks be to God, I am so much healthier and stronger than I was two years ago. If you are interested, you can read about my weight-loss journey here.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not much ashamed by my body in first picture.  I just use the photos to mark the difference in my health and wellness (and strength) and thank God.

When I look at the first picture, I mostly just see the tiny, beautiful baby in my arms. She was so little her legs still curled up on themselves. She looks like this now.

I also notice how much my two other daughters have grown up in two years, too. Here are recent photos of them.

That's two years of laughter, peace, health, some shrinking, yes, but mostly, two years of growing. We've all grown so much in so many ways since then.  I have much to be thankful for. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Joy Still Suprises

My nine year old daughter was out watering our vegetable garden when she came inside the house with a clump of dark soil in between her pointer finger and thumb. She stuck it up in my face, too close for me to actually focus on it, so I had to guide her hand back to a distance where I could see it. Wonder and joy were all over her face. Half-asking, half-declaring, she said, half to me, half to herself, "Isn't it beautiful?"

When I saw the moss and heard the way she said the word "beautiful," I immediately thought of CS Lewis' biscuit tin.  Many of you know, I have taken it into my head to read all of CS Lewis' books this year.  I have all these quotes in my head that float around like leaves and sometimes they collect themselves in bunches when something happens to me and that's what happened when my daughter brought this thimbleful of moss into the house.

In his book Surprised By Joy, Lewis describes his first recognition of beauty during his childhood. "Once in those very early days my brother brought into the nursery the lid of a biscuit tin which he had covered with moss and garnished with twigs and flowers so as to make it a toy garden... That was the first beauty I ever knew."

The memory of that biscuit tin would come back to him later in life. He says, "As I stood beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day there suddenly arose in me without warning, and as if from a depth of not years but of centuries, the memory of that earlier morning at the Old House when my brother had brought his toy garden into the nursery. It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton's 'enormous bliss' of Eden comes somewhere near it. It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what?... before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had ceased. It had only taken a moment of time; and in a certain sense everything else that had ever happened to me was insignificant in comparison." Lewis names that sensational longing "joy" and says it is the "unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction."

Lewis explores this idea of desire in some of his other writings. In Mere Christianity, he is famously quoted as saying, "If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing."
In The Weight of Glory, Lewis says, "...we remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy. But is there any reason to suppose that reality offers any satisfaction to it? ...A man's physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man's hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same way, though I do not believe (I wish I did) that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will."

In the same work, Lewis later says, "We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.  At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in."

That's what nature often does for me. It stirs up a desire in me for the world beyond this one. I've had quite a few transcendent experiences while in nature, so I was glad that my daughter recognized beauty in and felt wonder over this magnificent little pile of dirt and plant life. I am encouraged that she is showing a capacity for joy, even if that joy begins to produce in her a deep, persistent, bitter-sweet longing that can't be satisfied.  Like Lewis, like me, like all of us, my daughter, all my children, will have to long for it as long as they live.  They will also have to seek to find.  But being in touch with that longing is "more desirable than any other satisfaction." It can drive us to pursue the Creator if we let it. And if we find Him, we find it all.  

We've planted that pile of moss and clover in a tiny clay pot my daughter made herself.  It's a hobby of hers to make things from clay and she's quite good at it. Since then, she's made several other tiny clay pots that she plans to fill with more moss and miniature plants.  They're collecting now on my kitchen window sill where they get indirect sunlight and where we hope they may survive and even thrive indoors if we are very lucky. I get to water them with drops from my fingertips whenever I am done washing dishes.  In doing so, I am reminded of my daughter, the beauty that is growing in her, the beauty she is capable of creating. I also get to wonder at the beauty found in even these tiniest of green plants and of course, that stirs up in me that ancient longing nothing in this world can satisfy. After reading so many of his books, Lewis has started to feel like an old friend.  And I think he would laugh to know that joy still delights to surprise us with piles of moss plucked up by little children from the garden. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I was offered a job subbing Bodypump!

This morning, I went to a local gym for a job interview/ audition for a position on their staff that will allow me to train as a Bodypump instructor and I was offered the job!

When I told my sister that I was going in for the interview and audition a few days ago, she asked, naturally, "Are they interviewing a lot of people?"  Her question made me laugh out loud because that is when I realized that I was the only one being interviewed.  And I had the interview because I had called the gym and asked if they needed an instructor and I had kept calling until I got the interview.

Thankfully, my new boss was glad I had done this and she complimented my persistence in seeking out the job. She said to look up her favorite quote by Woodrow Wilson and I think I found it.

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

I am definitely persistent! When I get an idea in my head that won't go away, I usually take that as a sign that the Lord wants the idea to be there.  I am pretty constantly praying and committing my plans to God, so I feel confident He will make His will abundantly clear one way or another. 

On the way home from the interview/ audition, this song came on and when I heard the lyrics, I just sang my heart out.

The lyrics say-

King of Heaven in humility, I bow
As Your love
In wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
You make me brave
You called me out beyond the shore into the waves

I definitely felt so humble and thankful to have the opportunity, like the Lord was really for me and sending another wave of His love crashing over me.  He has sent many waves of love over my life this past year and a half!

It has been His great love that helped me lose over seventy pounds, rediscover that really love exercise, rediscover that I really love teaching group fitness classes, and discover that the job is more than an idea I had, but something the Lord actually means for me to do. That belief, more than anything, makes me go for it, be brave like the song says, and work really hard at it.

Next, I am looking forward to getting experience team teaching with an instructor who has been teaching Bodypump since release #46, if I remember what she said right.  I will be filming my assessment video within the next few weeks! I'll keep you posted on my Bodypump journey as it goes.

If you are reading this and you love Bodypump, too, please feel free to comment. I'd love to know who you are and where you are from and get to know other Bodypump lovers out there.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Bodypump 89's Cool Down Song- Radioactive

As many of you know, I just passed my Bodypump Initial Training and I have been learning the whole of Bodypump 89 so that I can film my assessment video.

I pretty much know all the songs on the release inside and out at this point.  The cool down song, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, is a favorite now. Every time I hear it I have the impulse to get down into a child's pose.

(I guess this is what I have to look forward to with Bodypump?  Whenever I hear Burn by Ellie Goulding I break into cold, anxious sweats and rub my quads.)  

But have you seen Radioactive's music video?  It has people trapped in a basement and a teddy bear with red laser-beam eyes fighting other stuffed animals.  I know, I know, it's just a typical music video these days.

But here's an intriguing explanation of the video frame by frame and I wanted to share it.

I don't know if Imagine Dragons approves of this interpretation of their video, but I am a big fan of Jesus, so I like it, personally.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

There Was Only One Lion

I have posted here on my blog over the years about some of the dreams I have had.

For instance, here's a post from 2010 about a nightmare that ended with the light of Jesus' face shining down on me.

Here's another post from a few months later about an encounter with a seductive demon. After I woke up, God led me to go outside at dawn to have a beautiful encounter with Him through song.

Even though my nightmares often lead to powerful, beautiful, inspirational encounters with God over the years, they usually always started with dark, sinister experiences with demons or satanic figures. I would have rather not had those experiences, so I always felt like my dreams were essentially a curse, like they were a place where Satan ruled in life, and I often question God about them. Until yesterday, I was under the assumption that the Lord had only just begun to show up in my dreams since the more recent ones have been almost totally pleasant and even heavenly.  

But there is a breathtaking passage in The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis that the Lord has used to change my mind about my dreams. The main character, Shasta, pities himself for all the terrors he has faced in his life like me pitying myself for all the nightmares.  He gives an account of all the dark, terrifying experiences he's been through to Aslan, the Christlike-figure in the story.  And Shasta and the reader is totally surprised and inspired by Aslan's response.

Here's the portion of the story I am talking about.

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the Tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since had had anything to eat.

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.

“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.

“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two lions the first night, and …”

“There was only one, but he was swift of foot.”

“How do you know?”

“I was the lion.”

And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

I have read all the Narnia stories and I remember reading and loving and even weeping over this particular portion of The Horse and His Boy, but I had forgotten all about it until yesterday when I read it on my friend's blog

After I read her blog post that included this passage, I shared my dream with her. When she read my post, she said kindly, "I need dreams like that!"  To that, I told her, "I think we all do!"  Then she said my dream was "very refreshing."  And to that I said, "It is.  Such a gift. They are all gifts. Even the bad ones led me to understand what evils were in my life..." And that's when it hit me.

In the middle of my conversation with my friend, I saw a picture in my head of a lion running through the night, through my nightmares, back and forth, chasing me through all the nightmares I've ever had.  He had been there the whole time, running so ferociously that I misunderstood his intent.  But I realized all at once that the lion, THE LION, had only ever been driving me through my nightmares, out of the darkness and into light.

Years ago, I would have terrible dreams where I was molested by demons in my sleep.  Those experiences were terrifying, traumatic, and I questioned God, "How can you let this happen to me if you love me and if I belong to You?"  My husband and I sought counsel from our pastors several times over my nightmares and dreams.  Over the years, they counseled us, encouraged us, and taught us about spiritual warfare. At the beginning of it all, we really had no idea there even was such a thing.  They met us at church, came to our house, prayed with us, prayed for us, really battled for us spiritually. 

But I had begun to see over time that those terrible dreams actually revealed truth to me. For instance, I came to realize that the demons were attaining access to my soul because I had the sin of lust in my life. That disgusted me and I let the Lord make me more chaste. And it was not just lust.  In response to the images given to me in dreams, I have made certain changes in my habits like refraining from watching movies that have sexual content in them because they seemed to cause nightmares. Some of the dreams revealed pride and I started feeling more grace and love toward people and I have been able to treat them with more esteem.  So as terrible as those dreams were to experience, I had started thinking it was, after all, perhaps somehow better to know what was happening when I chose to sin, so that I could make changes. 

It's not as if I am saying I have conquered every sin, but my daily habits are more holy than they used to be. I have started to want God to be comfortable in my presence and to be set apart and prepared for fellowship with Him at any moment. So I realized in a moment yesterday that Satan never even once ruled my nightmares like I thought.  He was only ever there because I was doing something that allowed them to be there and when I changed, He lost his power.  The Lion of Judah has always been the ruler of my life and He used my dreams to show me things I needed to know.

Once, I actually had a dream where the sky over my backyard was the color of lapis lazuli and I knew something significant was going on.  I looked and saw the Lion of Judah quietly, peacefully resting next to my vegetable garden, as if He often spent time in that exact place. It was amazing. (I often think of that when I am sitting in my backyard.) I wanted to go to Him. I knew that I was welcome and that I would be safe with Him, even though He was a Lion.  But as I enthusiastically went to throw open my window and dive out into my yard because it would be the quickest, most direct way to get to Jesus, a cat, Satan, jumped up from below and showed himself right outside my window. He smirked and stalked around.  I had to stop from opening the window.  That's when I realized Satan was just wearing a Garfield costume, trying to be as tough as the Lion, and I almost laughed at him. I went to open the window anyway, until he hissed at me, baring hundreds of needle-sharp, silver teeth. I jumped back.  That's when I woke up, devastated I hadn't made it to the Lion.  I think now that even then the Lord was trying to tell me He was the king, done running, just waiting to receive me once I was free of the sin that kept me from Him.

There was only ever one lion.  And because God changed my perspective yesterday using the quote and my conversation with my friend, I no longer call myself unfortunate. The Lord only ever chased me through my nightmares because I needed to get away from the dangerous sin that was in my life. And He only ever terrified me in my dreams so that I would run, fast as I could, through the darkness and into the marvelous light.  It took years, I tell you, but I think I may be coming through it all since my dreams have been so very beautiful lately.  I may share more of the bright ones here in future posts.  Now if only I could have that dream with the Lion again because I think I might actually have a chance to make it out of the window next time! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I woke up to a dream where I was being clutched by a very childlike, but very strong, very nervous, anxious, even fidgety demon.  I immediately thought, "How interesting, since I have had such a poor, fitful night of sleep tonight."  I prayed to the Lord that He would make the demon go away.

That's when the spirit let go of me immediately apparently. There was a definite release. It was as if whatever was holding onto me just wafted away like dust into the air.  Of course, I realized it wasn't my authority that made that happen. I was thankful.

A moment later, I was straight up on my feet, next to my bed, staring out into the deep heaven of stars above my house. My bedroom ceiling had disappeared and I was singing with full gusto, unashamedly, "Majesty!  Worship His Majesty! Unto Jesus be all glory, honor, and praise!"  It was the strangest thing, since I didn't remember choosing to stand up or even choosing the song I was singing.

As I sang, heavenly hosts began surrounding me and started singing along. For a moment, I was uncomfortable, but then I realized they were angels and I didn't need to be afraid.  I remember being surprised that they knew the song because it was kind of modern, right? (Maybe it isn't, but that's what I was thinking.) And I was surprised I knew the song as well as I did, because I haven't even thought of that particular song in years.

Actually, side note: When I woke up from the dream, I couldn't remember which song I had been singing in the dream and I had to think about it for a few days.  I actually prayed that the Holy Spirit would remind me which song it was since I was so distracted and He could do that, you know, being real and alive.  "Majesty!" popped into my head a few seconds later as I was washing dishes. I haven't even been conscious of that song in years, so I have become convinced that that is the song I was singing in the dream. And it fits the way I remember the song in the dream. I took some deep breaths and I was really belting out the verses like you have to to sing this song.

Anyway, my voice was totally sure of every single lyric and note. I was surprised by this, since it isn't like that in real life. Even when I really try and remember the words to songs and even when I really think I know certain songs, I still mess up often.  But in my dream, it was like my spirit was singing and it could just totally bypass the need to barter with my brain for memory. That was pretty cool.

As I worshiped, I became aware that one of the angels right next to me had put his hand on or near the small of my back because it touched me and that freaked me out for the briefest moment.  The angel had also leaned in close so that our voices overlapped.  But, I realized it was quite healing to be touched by a pure, angelic presence, especially after I had probably been man-handled by a demon during the night if all this wasn't just in my head.  I noticed there were angels on my other side, too, very close. More and more were gathering all around me then, getting closer together, putting their arms around one another and singing louder and louder.

I could hear myself in the middle of them and I was surprised at how clear my voice was because it's never like that in real life.  I was also able to listen to their voices around me and there was just no doubting they were angels by the quality of the sound. I relished that for the moment.  I have friends who have heard angels singing and I always wondered how it was they were so sure they had heard angels. Now I knew there's just no doubting when you hear them.  It is a glorious sound! And I was singing, too!

That's when I woke up to my husband's alarm. 

This was a few days ago, but the dream continues to encourage me. 

I am encouraged for a few reasons, in particular:

First, I have been plagued with terrible nightmares through most of my adult life, so the beautiful turn my dreams are taking is a testimony to the work of the Lord in my life (and in my mind). He has been dealing with some very deep issues in my spirit the past few years and on the deepest levels, I am just not the same person I used to be. 

I'm also encouraged that angels make themselves comfortable in my presence when I worship.  And, wonder of wonders, I was made comfortable in theirs.

They know our songs.  Or maybe it's us that know their songs. Either way, that's just awesome!

I also realize that I have unseen allies who are quick to surround me when my heart is set on the things of God. I am pretty sure the Bible lends credence to that, but the experience of it was pretty encouraging.

And finally, I am thrilled because I think I really will enjoy Heaven after all. I will have to be there forever and we are said to worship there all the time. Worship was fun! As if I was made for it.

If these dreams aren't actual visions, they are still quite powerful pictures of the spiritual realities I believe in in the deepest parts of my mind. I'm a rational person so I do try and view my experiences critically.

The nightmares I used to have would sometimes come to my mind during the day and they would set off inner terror and it was like the stench of death and decay would fill my soul, even fill the room I was in.

But these heavenly dreams also have a potency about them. They are like pure oil. They come to mind and it's like I am anointed on my head all over again and the fragrance is poured out, stirred up, and set off as I move around the room. The fragrance comforts and strengthens my heart. 

I have been so energized by this dream when it comes to mind, it's just incredible. I am here to testify, the Lord redeems everything! Look what all He's done with one poor night's sleep! 

I Passed Bodypump Initial Training- Now What?

Now that I have passed my Bodypump Initial Training, I have been learning the choreography and counts for all the tracks on the release and perfecting my transitions and scripts for each track. To me, the hardest parts are the transitions.

Saying all that must be said while adjusting my own weights while out of breath from the previous tracks while demonstrating the moves that need to be demonstrated and doing all of this in approx. thirty seconds seems like it is going to be the hardest part.

I went through Bodypump 89 in my home gym with weights yesterday and I timed myself.  It took me sixty-six minutes, so I really have to speed up my transitions if I am ever going to get through an actual Bodypump class with actual people in an hour. And I know that doesn't include class set up and take down time, either.

So I made note cards just for my transitions. That way, I can focus on those words in particular and try and nail them.  I just want to be able to go on auto-pilot during the transitions. I definitely want to connect with and coach my class, but after looking at my time, I think I will have to save most of the connecting and coaching for the actual workout time.

And I was beginning to think I might actually be "fit enough" to teach Bodypump class well and I could start to relax a little, you know?  ;)  But when I timed myself yesterday, trying to move as fast as possible through all the material without stopping while using role model weight, etc. It was an enlightening experience-

I realized that I still have plenty of room for improvement in my personal fitness. The fitter I am, the more I know my material, the easier those transitions will be. This job is not going to be easy! 

Marking Personal Growth and Development

Norah's been taking the dirty clothes down to the laundry room, sorting them, and then wearing the empty basket on her head on the way back up the stairs for years now.  In the middle of chores this morning, Norah comes to the kitchen to tell me how she can tell she is a lot taller than she used to be. "This basket used to come down to my knees." 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

I had a great Mother's Day 2014.

I got up, read my Bible, and drank my coffee. Then I headed off to church early because I was volunteering in the nursery during the first service.  We didn't have any groceries, so I went through the Dunkin Doughnuts drive through for a sandwich. 

Dwayne was supposed to get the kids ready and meet me at church for the second service. Well, he went above and beyond that.  He got the kids ready right after I left, took them through the drive through at Dunkin, and they all went together and got my van detailed and my oil changed while they ate.  I was totally surprised and I have to say, it was just about the nicest present not to have to clean up all those broken goldfish crackers myself! 

After church, we drove both cars over to Panera Bread for lunch. We still hadn't gone to the grocery store.  From there, Dwayne took the little girls home and I took our oldest daughter to the garden and grocery stores.  My nine year old wants to tend the vegetable garden this year, so I gave her a lot of input as we chose plants.  She is maturing so much lately.  We had a very pleasant afternoon together.
When we got home from the stores, she took the plants right to the garden and laid them out and finished clearing the ground of weeds while I handled the groceries inside.

After that, I got some old clothes on and worked in the flower beds that line the front and side of our home and helped my daughters plant the vegetables.  In addition to the strawberries that come back year after year, we now have carrots, onions, chives, cilantro, mint, heirloom, big boy, and plum tomatoes, yellow and red peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkins of all sizes, and some flowers like marigolds because my four year old really wants flowers in the garden, too.

While we worked in the gardens, my husband cut the grass, started a fire in the fire pit, and heated the grill.  He cooked burgers and dogs for dinner and sliced a cold watermelon.  Then we made Smores on the fire pit.

After that, we all bathed and hung out for a very little while before bed.  In all, it was a terrific Mother's Day.  I felt blessed all day to be a mom of three girls. As I was driving around town listening to Norah talk away, while I was helping Avril plant her flower seeds, and while I was holding Adele in my lap as she ate her Smore (and covered my legs and arms with melted marshmallow), I was very aware of how blessed I am and I was thankful to be a mom on Mother's Day.  And today I woke up with fresh eyes and a renewed perspective on my job as a mom.

My husband asked the girls at lunch what they liked best about me as a mom and in one way or another, they all answered the same way- they like the food I cook, they like that I feed them consistently, etc.  But my husband really blessed me with his answer to his own question. He said, "We all enjoy a lot of peace in our lives because you work hard keeping things in order." Funny he would say that on a day when we had to eat out twice because I hadn't gotten any groceries yet and when the van had gotten so messy that he actually noticed and took care of it for me. But I was really blessed.  What I do doesn't go unnoticed and that will definitely make it easier to load and unload the laundry machine again today.    

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Rare, Precious Artifact

I have been keeping this bookmark in my One Year Bible. Because it's there, I see it everyday. To be honest, I am not sure where it came from or whether it was originally given to me rather than given to one of my siblings. Nonetheless, the Lord uses it to remind me that He has been faithful to me since I was a child.  

At some point in adolescence, I looked around and became convinced that my own faith and early experiences with Christ were inferior to those of my friends who got to go to church more often. That lie kept me at a dangerous distance from the God who was wooing me, that distance allowed sin in my life to become full grown, and that sin gave Satan a lot of power to devastate.  This bookmark is a rare, precious artifact to me, proving that God's presence and His word were there with me in my earliest years, even my earliest years that are quite bereft of Sunday School picnics and Easter photos. 

Now I know that the truth is my faith was always precious to God.  He saw my love and enthusiasm for Jesus when I was at church, as often as I got to go.  He loved me tenderly even in my ignorance and sin.  When I doubted Him and strayed from the path He was leading me down, He was the shepherd who left the ninety-nine and sought me until I was safely back in the fold. He was willing to clear totally new paths for me to get to Him. 

As I grew into womanhood, He showed me that He was also the faithful lover, loving me with a pure love like Hosea loved Gomer. He taught me to savor His pure, wholesome love and love Him back. 

And, in recent adulthood, He has been the vine-dresser pruning, painfully at times, the sin that took root early in my life.  Sins that used to dominate my life have disappeared and the good things He planted long ago have started to flourish and bear fruit instead.  

So this bookmark often serves to remind me of all the ways that God brought me through real inner and outer hells of my past and that He is still carrying me on.        

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Excellence of Les Mills Programming

When I was considering why I am so drawn to Les Mills and when I was asked why I would ever want to do "someone else's choreography," the quote below came to mind.

"In the abundance of counselors, there is victory."  Proverbs 11:14

Another version of the same quote says, "In the abundance of counselors, there is safety."

Another says, "...there is success."

I think all three versions of the quote apply.

I am still just a novice at teaching group fitness. But even if I weren't, even if I had degrees, training, and experience, I would still only be one person. There is much to be gained from the wisdom of others.

As I pursue my Bodypump certification, I look forward to benefiting from the counsel and community of so many knowledgeable, talented people as I go forward. 

I enjoy my freestyle classes, choosing my own music, coming up with my choreography, etc. Those classes will only benefit from what I am learning about form, counting, cuing and coaching from Les Mills.

Of course, I do my best. I think my freestyle classes are awesome. ;)

But I am realistic and what I can create probably isn't as good, or safe, or effective as what a company like Les Mills with all the people and resources at their disposal can create. 

So many people put so much goes into designing their workouts, they really end up so excellent.

This video explains what goes into filming the workouts and there are a few comments that hint at how much work goes into designing the workouts themselves- well, that's the part that really excites me, benefiting from the abundance of counsel provided by this company.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bodypump Initial Training- I Passed! Part 3

The second day of initial training we all agreed to start a half hour early in the hopes that we could also finish early. 

We started with a game called the caterpillar drill and then we went outside to run. We were told to run (not a sprint, but not a jog) the length of a basketball court, back and forth, touching the ground before we headed back, for about five minutes.  

Then we went back inside and we did our first presentations of the day on the second track we were assigned.  We didn't do the warmup since the run functioned as the warmup and we didn't do the abs or cool down at the end, but we did do most of the release. I think that was the third time that weekend.

For my second track, I had Bodypump 89, Track 8- Shoulders. Someone else in my group was assigned the same track as well, so we both presented at the same time.  The other lady presenting took three participants and faced one way; I took the other three participants and faced the other way. There was only one mic, so we both went without.  I felt a little uncomfortable because I was afraid I'd be talking/ yelling over someone else, but once I was told to get started, I just went for it, coached the heck out of my little group, and tried to forget about everything else that was going on in the room. 

After that, we gathered around again, heard our trainer's assessments of our latest presentations, and reviewed our latest videos and pictures.

I did alright. My form was good on some things, off on one thing in particular. I wasn't standing in SET position during the rotator-raises. My feet were way too wide.

Next, our trainer, Evelyn, explained the certification process, then lectured us about the different layers of coaching and told us what layers we'd need to demonstrate to earn a pass. 

We went to lunch and while in line at a coffee shop, I took this picture of my palm.  I was developing some awesome callouses from using the bar all weekend without gloves. I still have them. I'm proud of them.

When we came back from lunch, we were lectured on the three types of participants and how to make the workout connect to each of them and Evelyn also talked to us about how to put everything together to create fitness magic.

Finally, we were given a little time to study again before we presented our track one last time, the same track we had already presented once that day.

This time, Evelyn put on the mic and took us through the warmup. After that, each person came up for their assigned track and then, when we were all done presenting, Evelyn came back up and took us through the abs and cool down, so it was a whole Bodypump 89 class.  Doing the entire release was a nice way to finish the weekend.

After that, we discussed what we each had learned and what we thought we would need to work on, etc. Then Evelyn showed us the Les Mills greeting, read us the purpose statement, and welcomed us to the tribe.  That was a neat, emotional experience and I teared up, but none of my tears actually fell, thankfully.

Then we were asked to clean up and stay in our spot until Evelyn had a chance to come around and give us our final assessment and talk to each of us.

When she came up to me, she said, "Awesome job," handed me my papers, and said a few others things.  But I was so nervous, I don't remember everything else she said!  I just nodded a lot. I thanked her and complimented her before she left because she really did inspire me with her strength, technique, beauty, and wit.  I don't think the fact that I had passed really sunk in until she walked away and I looked down and saw the check mark next to the Pass (3/3 Yes). At that point, it sunk in and I actually kissed that part of the paper quietly and teared up again.

Next, I took a photo and posted it to Facebook, of course.  I wanted my husband to see it and everyone who knew I was on this journey to see it, too.  I don't have very many friends who actually do Bodypump like me.  But I have a lot of supportive people in my life who are so encouraging to me.

Like I have explained on previous posts, the gym where I teach doesn't have the license to teach Bodypump, so all along, I have known I will have to start working with another gym that does have the license to earn my certification. So if I ever earn my certification and get my own class, I will be working for two gyms at that point, one where I will keep teaching freestyle classes and one where I can teach official Bodypump classes.  A lot of my coworkers already teach for more than one gym, so I know it's a common thing.

On the way home, I listened to the album Tides by Bethel Music.  When the song Ascend came on, the lyrics really moved me.  I felt like the Lord was giving me permission to pursue excellence in Bodypump and work as hard as I will need and want to in order to do well, but I also felt like the Holy Spirit was encouraging me, "Ascend to the hill of the Lord.  Keep clean hands. Keep your heart pure- then you will see God." I agreed. I told God in prayer that I wanted to pursue His will for my life (which I think includes Bodypump), but more than anything, I want to pursue Him, just Him.  His presence is important thing to me. Years ago, He promised to be with me on my fitness journey.  And He has been faithful to get me healthy.

It started raining about an hour later and then it stopped pretty quickly and the sun came out.  The interstate I was driving on curved and when it straightened out again, I was astounded by a huge rainbow filling the sky in front of me.  Light filled my car and the colors of the rainbow were radiant.  I had to pull over to see without getting in an accident. So I pulled over and I jumped out and tried to get a picture.  The rainbow was so big, I couldn't get it all in one photo, so I had to take two!

The photos don't capture the glory.  The rainbow felt much closer, larger than life, even intimidating, kind of like what it might be to actually stand in God's presence. I've always been told that Heaven is filled with light and that God's throne is surrounded with rainbows, so I took this as a clear sign that God was telling me that I am headed in the right direction, right to center of His will for my life, but more importantly, right to the hill of the Lord, right to Him. The rainbow was also sign to me that He is still with me on this journey and like I said years ago, I don't want to do anything without Him

My Sweet Adele is Two

Our youngest girl, Adele, recently turned two.  Her favorite words are as follows:

"Daddy home!" = she says this when we get home and her dad's car is in the driveway or when he comes through the door.

"Guppie" = this means she wants goldfish crackers.

"Wawa" = she wants a drink. It usually must be milk. I've tried explaining that "wawa" is water, but she doesn't seem to care.

"Cars" = she wants to watch a movie, any movie. It doesn't have to actually be Cars 1 or 2.   

In the pic above, she's watching a movie.

I just love how sweet she sits there. I love her little toes, chubby wrists, and elbows.

I really enjoy her right now. After three kids, I think two is one of my favorite ages. 

She's a joy to have around, even if she's is jumping up and down, trying to get her way.

We are trying lots of new things, learning boundaries, reading picture books, practicing new words, and perfecting animals sounds.   

And after three, I know it goes by fast, so I am trying to savor every moment. 


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bodypump Initial Training- I Passed! Part 2

We started the first day of training with a Masterclass of Bodypump 89. We joined the gym's regular Bodypump class that was scheduled for that time of the morning, so the room was full of people.  Someone standing near me asked what a Materclass was and I realized I wasn't 100% sure I understood what I Masterclass was. I didn't know if it meant that you did all the tracks from the same release or if it has to do with the instructors being experts. As enthusiastic as I am about Bodypump, I keep realizing I am still quite a novice. But now, I've Googled it, so I think a Masterclass is one taught by at least one master trainer and that's certainly what my trainer was.

Her name is Evelyn.  She taught with the gym's regularly scheduled Bodypump instructor, doing a few tracks and then letting the regular instructor coach a few. Of course, Evelyn demonstrated excellent cuing and what looked to me like perfect form. She had great control of really, really heavy weight. I think she did the entire squat track with 66 lbs. on her bar. It was inspirational to see a beautiful woman be so strong.

I enjoy Bodypump more than just about anything, so I was just jazzed to be there like Guy on Galaxy Quest. I was doing Bodypump with a master, looking forward to a whole weekend of Bodypump with a master. (There have been several days when I have wanted to do Bodypump more than once in a day or two days in a row, but in an attempt to give my body a healthy break between weight lifting, I have refrained.  I was actually glad that I would have all the Bodypump I wanted for once.)

We sat through a lecture about the Five Key Elements. A lot of light bulbs came on for me. I've been going to fitness classes on and off since I was a teenager, teaching for some years now, if you add them all up, and all at once I understood why some fitness classes I teach or attend totally flop and others are transcendent. It became clear to me that if I master the basics, I may be able to create transcendent fitness experiences for my participants.  

Then Evelyn lectured about technique and we all practiced some of the most common exercises using the bars with regular weight as Evelyn came around and watched and coached us on our form.  At one point, she said, "Beautiful!" and patted my back.  I about died. I was so encouraged. Anytime I put my bar down, I was making notes about the correct targets like bringing the bar to "mid-chest" or "nipple line" in the chest press, so that I would remember them and I could start practicing them myself and assimilating them into my coaching. A lot of light bulbs came on during this segment for me, too. I made some significant connections about human anatomy and muscular function from the technique lecture and practice. I realized I was doing some exercises wrong in some of the current freestyle, group fitness classes I teach. I felt like I had learned so much from that portion of the weekend alone that it was worth all the expense and trouble already. 

We had thirty minutes for lunch. I went out to my Jeep, opened the back, and tailgated in the sunshine. I listened to a song, one that wasn't on the release, just to have a mental and emotional break, and I texted my husband.  I told him I felt like I was in the right place, like Les Mills was a group where I would fit in, where I would be inspired and equipped to just keep growing in knowledge and in skill. My husband believes in me more than anyone and he wasn't the least bit surprised a few months ago when I told him I thought I was discovering a life's calling to teach group fitness.  We shared the joy for a few minutes then it was time to go back.  

After lunch, we had more lecture, this time about learning choreography, if I remember correctly.  I didn't get a photo of the schedules, so I can't be sure I am remembering everything correctly, but I think this is how the first day went. Then we had some time to practice alone before we did our first presentation.

While the other participants presented their tracks, the rest of us were asked to do the tracks along with them as if we were the Bodypump class. So we all ended up doing most of the release for a second time that day. We were asked to use role model weights on the track we would be presenting, but we did not have to use heavy weights on the others. I used moderately heavy weights, because I felt strong enough and I enjoy feeling the resistance.

I presented the lunge track. I knew everyone else was probably using moderate weights as I would have been if it wasn't my track to present and I knew everyone probably didn't really want to lunge anymore, but I tried to pull them into the lunge track right along with me.  Evelyn filmed and photographed portions of each of our presentations and when she wasn't filming, she was watching and taking notes on our assessment forms that we had to print and bring to training.

We had a short break and then we all sat in a close circle and listened to Evelyn's assessments on each of us and we watched the videos on her ipad. I learned a lot from what she said to me and from what she said to other people, too.

I did well with my choreography and counting and Evelyn said I even got into coaching a little. I had practiced a lot at home and I think that paid off.  I made a significant self-discovery during this portion of the day. Evelyn said I did well using my voice and the way she stressed that word stuck with me and made some lights come on in my mind.  I had actually been self conscious because I yelled at the end of the lunge track, but Evelyn and everyone else in the group seemed to think that it was totally appropriate that I lost control a little and yelled since that part of the track was really intense and quite painful. I think what I realized in that moment was that even though I can't sing or I read out loud well or deliver speeches, I do have the ability to perform using my voice in a group fitness context. Then I realized I can practice and learn how to use my voice even better as the years go by. In this setting, I am actually already quite a competent performer using my voice, just in a different way.  Like a singer at a concert or a speaker at a lecture hall, I can also use my voice in a group fitness class to communicate emotion and inspire and educate and entertain and I can get better and better with practice. That was really enlightening and empowering for me personally because I have always envied those who have singing, public reading, and speaking gifts.

I saw from the video of myself that I lean forward under the weight of my bar when I fatigue in the lunges.  Over the course of the two days, I also realized I need to keep my front knee from going forward and I need to drop my back knee straight down under my hip. I need to keep a slight bend in my front knee. I was locking it out at the top of the lunge to rest for a brief second between each lunge. And I need to keep my back straight up and down instead of leaning forward under the weight of the bar. So I plan to lighten my weight until I've gotten my form right then add weight back on in increments. My legs are strong, but my muscles have memorized the wrong motion, so I have to start all over and relearn it.  If I remember it right, Evelyn said it takes something like 2,000 reps to put a move into muscle memory and more than twice that many, something like 5,000 reps, to unlearn a move you've learn incorrectly.


5,000 lunges.

And I have two legs!

There was more lecture about the layers of coaching. We were given homework to work on our script and we got out at a decent hour. The sun was still pretty high in the sky, but I was beat.  When my loving husband texted me to see if I was okay, I didn't send him any words, I just sent him a picture of the stiff drink I was having at that exact moment. Seriously. Here's a screen shot of our funny little exchange.  

I ordered a big, juicy burger and steamed veggies from the grill and drank my rum runner at the bar while they cooked my food.   I don't usually even want to drink alcohol, but I think my body was so drained that I was craving the sugars in it.  Since it was a two minute walk back to the hotel from the bar/ grill, I knew I would be fine. But I didn't even feel the effects of the alcohol. I think my body just burned it right up like wine poured on a hot skillet when I am making a sauce. My quads really just wanted to be alone once my food came, so I asked the waitress to bag it up and I took my dinner back to the room and ate there where no one could smell me.

After I ate dinner, I decided to seize the day and walk down to Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower, less than ten minutes walk from my hotel.  It was a glorious evening, warm, sunny with a little breeze. 

I purchased some souvenirs for my kids in shop across the street from Pilgrim Memorial State Park, including some post cards to show them the sights that I had seen and an authentic looking copy of the Mayflower Compact. I got them each a piece of strawberry salt water taffy.  I also got one chocolate-pecan truffle for myself from a little chocolate shop right in front of my hotel.        

When I got back to my room, I felt that I could not listen to my track or look at my notes yet.  So I went for a swim to loosen my muscles. My legs felt like they were turning to granite and not in the sense that they were strong and solid, but in the sense that they weren't moving anymore.  It was nice to swim around in the warm water, especially without kids. Not that I don't like going to the pool with my kids. But being alone, I realized that swimming is almost always pretty stressful now since I am always keeping them from drowning themselves or each other or teaching them to swim the whole time.  I went back to my room, showered, got into my pjs, organized my stuff for day two, stretched, used my foam roller on my legs, set the alarms again, then laid down with my iphone, my notebook, and my choreography notes to review the track I would be presenting on the next day- shoulders.

We were supposed to work on our script that night, organizing it, and making sure we had layer one and layer two teaching cues in the correct order, but I had already painstakingly written and practiced my script at home days before. Even though I didn't really know what a script was at that point or that I was making one, when I was studying my tracks leading up to this weekend, I knew I just wanted to make sure I was saying everything I needed to say at the most appropriate times, etc. so I wrote it all down and then rewrote it again and then again in the notebook I brought from home.  So, needless to say, I didn't have as much work to do on my script that evening.  I reviewed what I had already written a few times and I was satisfied that it couldn't really be improved that much more. I kept it quite simple. I only had layer one and two coaching cues in it. I was planning to leave the rest for silence or for any organic things that might come to mind while I was actually doing the track with participants.  Laying in bed, I played my music and went through my very basic script once or twice. I had it memorized. Then I played the video of my track and I must have fallen asleep halfway through it because I woke up during the cool down.  I decided I could call it a night. I felt confident that I knew my material well enough that I could just sleep.

I'll have to end here and make this a three-part post.  Bear with me, you all, I have a lot I am trying to process and a lot I want to write down so I won't forget any detail. After having had this blog since 2009-10,  I can already look back see how I have changed as a person and I can even track how one thing in my life has lead to another.  Sometimes I look at old blog posts and think, "Wow. That woman doesn't even exist anymore." and I find I am talking about myself. It can be embarrassing when I see that I wrote things I no longer think or believe.  But it is also very rewarding and actually builds my faith and hope in the future since I know I am still on a journey and I am still changing even now. Ten years from now, perhaps, when I have proper form in my sleep, it will be fun and rewarding to look back at this post and see that I didn't even know how to lunge at one point. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

His Two Cents - A Tribute

(Posts labeled His Two Cents are written by my husband, Dwayne.)

This week my siblings and I get to celebrate both parents, Mom on Mother’s Day and Dad on his birthday. With the knowledge that I can never do justice to the amount of honor they deserve, I offer the following tribute.

My Mother- the love and affection she gives is second to none. From the beginning she chose to enter motherhood and to excel at it. Taking the task of raising us as her central role and giving herself to that task wholeheartedly. She was the mom that planned the extra snack when she knew we would need it, or wrapped our sodas so they stayed cold until lunch. Capable of squeezing a nickel into two dimes she taught us the value of things we have and the responsibility to care for it. Even today, in everything she consumes she is thinking of others, evidenced by the large stack of magazine and newspaper clippings that made her think of us. Though her strength of mind may waver at times, in her very soul is a woman who lives poured out to others, except perhaps when it comes to leftovers on your plate.

My Father- the strength of our family. His mostly quiet, stoic manner hints at a man of men. Strong, regimented, intelligent, capable yet kind, patient and caring, he is thoughtful of situations in a way that values the individuals involved. He too lives serving others, pouring out his generosity on those around him with no expectation of power over that person. He is a wealth of knowledge yet never imposing his views, or even interjecting them into a situation. He watches and prays and loves unconditionally.

Together- they are known for the joy they share, the consistency they give, and the love they bring to any situation. They are true servants of God, praying together, serving together, giving together.

God could have put my soul in any family, but He put us together. Sometimes I forget that my mom and dad are individuals with struggles and pains, loves and passions. Maybe that’s because selfishly I think of them only as examples placed here for my own benefit. Maybe it’s because they are so good at living for the sake of others that it’s natural to feel that way. Either way, so many of the core ideals I have deep in my psyche are directly from their examples. Many of those ideals I have not emulated, but the knowledge is there… the example is there… the picture of Christ is there.

Thank you both for the lives you gave us, the foundations you laid. Thank you for your daily prayers for us during good times or bad. Words can’t express the love that I have for you and yet that seems just a dim reflection of the love you have for us. I don’t know what it’s like to confront the waning part of life, but I can imagine that this week it’s particularly potent. And though we expect many more years of magazine clippings and “I’m fine” phone calls, know that you have run well. You have and are making a difference. Thank you.

Bodypump Initial Training- I Passed! Part 1- To Be Continued

I passed Bodypump Initial Training!

Here's a recap of my experience, if you are interested.

On Friday afternoon, I drove from where I live in Connecticut to Plymouth, Massachusetts, about three hours away, and I settled into my hotel room at the Raddison on Plymouth Harbour.

I brought my essential oil Peace and Calming and my diffuser and I set that up right away. I am sensitive to hotel room smells. Not that the room smelled, but I knew running the diffuser would take care of that if it did and it would also help me breath deeply and relax on a night when I was really anxious.  (Sorry for the blurry picture.) 

After I settled into my room, I went back out. First, I typed the address of the training facility into my navigation system and I drove there, just to make sure I knew the way,I knew where I would park, and I could find the entrance to the building.

After that was settled, I went out for dinner. I wasn't really thinking, so I chose sushi.  I know!  I rarely get to go out to eat at restaurants, so I was just thinking about getting what I like the most.  In retrospect, sushi could have been a really bad decision. I've never had bad sushi personally, but if it had been bad, it would not have been good the night before a day when I needed to be at Bodypump training. However, thankfully, it worked out.

I found a sushi place with good reviews online, but I didn't want to sit in a dark, fancy restaurant alone, so I ordered two spicy tuna rolls to go.  I also didn't feel like driving all the way back to my room before I ate raw fish. (I was thinking that clearly, at least.) So I spotted a apparently nice, but casual pizza place nearby that wasn't crowded and well lit. So decided to take my little container of sushi in there and order one hot slice. (I figured I needed the carbohydrates, so pizza would work in my favor.)  So that's how I ended up having pizza and sushi at the same time while studying my Bodypump music and notes and watching a Red Socks game while in Massachusetts with a few die hard fans, mostly employees, who were in the pizza parlor with me. It was kind of amazing.

I got back to the hotel around eight p.m.  My little girls picked me a bouquet of flowers from our yard and put it in a little vase with a love note when I left. The vase traveled with me in my Jeep's cup holder until I set that up on my hotel room's desk. This would be the first night I had spent entirely alone in about a decade, maybe longer.  I have always had my husband or my kids with me.  So this vase of flowers was a nice reminder that even though I was on my own for the next two days, I was not alone.


I brought my mat and I did some relaxing yoga in my pajamas before I went to sleep, probably around 10pm. I was pretty wound up, so this helped me relax (a little).  I also knew I would be expecting a lot from my body in the next forty eight hours so it would be good to stretch.

I got up a few hours before I had to be at training, 5:30am. I set the alarm on my phone, the one in my room, and I had the hotel give me a wake up call. I wanted to cover my bases.

I brought some other comforts from home- a polka-dotted blanket my kids wrap up in to watch their cartoons. It smells like them.



But it was nice to cover up with right next to the air conditioner in my hotel room.

And I brought my One Year Bible so I could keep my ritual of reading it every morning while having coffee.  I just used the coffee and coffee maker in my hotel room. It was terrible coffee, but I am not coffee snob and the hotel provided real cups, so it was quite comforting. 

Side note: On the drive to Massachusetts the day before, I prayed a lot. I told the Lord how much it meant to me to pass the training and I asked him if He would give me confidence enough to know I would pass so I could go in to the training with real strength and courage, but He didn't give me assurance that I'd pass. I felt like the Holy Spirit said that should preform for the eyes of God more than for the Les Mills trainer who would be assessing me that weekend. I agreed with Him on that. Further, I felt like the Holy Spirit said that whether or not I pass, I could still please God by doing my best. He would watching and that should be success enough for me, especially if I did my best and He approved. 

Well, the next morning I got up and like I planned, I read from that day's portion of the One Year Bible.  These were some of the verses I read, "And they said to him, 'Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.' And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord.”  Judges 18

Notice the priest did not give them assurance they would succeed.  He just assured them God was watching. It was a confirmation that I really had heard from God the day before and this experience with the word of God in the early hours of that day really boosted my confidence for what was coming.

Next, I got dressed and packed up my stuff for the day.

I took a cooler for the parts of my lunch that needed to stay cold- baby carrots, chicken salad, fresh greens, hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, hummus. I shopped and prepared all this at home the day before I left and I brought it in an even larger cooler in my car.

I also took a little box for all the other food- pitas, granola, extra protein powder and aminos that I wanted to have on hand. I left that in the car.

I packed a carry-in bag with waters and two plastic bottles- one with a serving of dry aminos and another with dry protein powder in the bottom.  All I would have to is add some water and drink. I also took my Bodypump notes, laptop with the video of the release on it, my iphone with the music and video in case the laptop wasn't working for some reason, a notebook for taking notes by hand, a case of pens and pencils, chapstick, tissues, cranberries, almonds, etc.

I also took two small nylon bags, one with three changes of clothes, underwear, and socks, the other bag empty so I could put the sweaty clothes in it when I took them off. Note: I didn't end up needing that many changes of clothes.  I only ended up needing two sets of clothes per day, but that was me.

Here's an obligatory selfie from morning one before I left.

Live, Life, Believe was the name of the gym where the training was being held.  It was located inside one of the buildings in a large, industrial complex that has been nicely renovated for businesses.  It was one of the nicest gyms I have ever seen.  The employees were all friendly and encouraging.  One of them has lost over a hundred pounds doing and teaching Bodypump, so I was really inspired by her since I am on a similar journey.  I didn't loose that much weight, but Bodypump helped me lose seventy pounds and it is changing my life.  The Les Mills spirit was alive in that facility and really palpable there. 

The group exercise room, where I spent most of my time, was really aesthetically pleasing.  It had large windows that let it lots of natural light and at least one of the walls was antique, exposed brick.  The floor was rustic, thick wood probably original to the building, but polished smooth and safe for group fitness classes.

This facility also had smart bars. Even though I am a Bodypump devote and I've done it at home with Beachbody DVDs for over a year and attended classes a local gym, it was my first time using them. The smart bars definitely make the short transitions in between songs much easier to accomplish. I would love to use one, but if the gym where I end up teaching (hopefully someday) doesn't have smart bars, I think I will just use what my participants use. That way, my transitions are naturally long enough to accommodate whatever equipment they have and I can model the right form with the same equipment my participants will be using.

One side note about the smart bar- when it's empty without the weights- it kind of reminds me of the weapons the goa'uld use on Stargate.  Have any other Bodypump/ sci-fi fans noticed this? I chuckled to myself as I carried it around.

Note: I'm back home writing this, back to reality.  My kids need breakfast and I need to take some Ibuprofen for my sore muscles, so I will have to end this post now.  But I will continue it soon.  I will definitely give more details about the actual training and not just my personal experiences and observations and side notes. This blog is my personal journal of sorts, though, so I like to include the personal stuff for my own sake. That way, I don't forget any of the details that are important to me.  See you back here soon!