Power Struggle

God and I are in a power struggle. So far God’s up, three to zip.

First, it was Herb’s diagnosis with mold toxicity- a disease that was dormant in his body for years and triggered by a perfect storm of unfortunate misdiagnosis, bad meds and a horrible condo rental in Costa Rica.  His pneumonia in January signaled an abrupt change in our world, providing a new opportunity for education and adjustment that we’d just as soon have avoided.

Then came the systematic dismantling of our home and forced exodus to squatting in a hotel for a month.  

Like two Hobo’s we carried our clothing in sacks, bad food, and longed for the comfort and safety of a place that was our own.

Soon the day came when we could move back home.  The remodeling had not yet begun but the mold tests had come back negative which meant we could move home, even if our house was still torn apart and our furniture, neatly stacked in piles to provide a pathway from kitchen to bathroom, made us feel like hoarders.

It didn’t matter because we were home and we had a kitchen and we had a shower and most of all, we had a bedroom- our last refuge, where, at the end of the day, we could fall into bed, watch tv, rest, and simply be together.

The simple things are magnified when your life is a shit storm.

Three days after we’d moved back, on a sunny Wednesday morning, a swift and fierce gust of wind uprooted our neighbors 120-foot Oak tree, toppling it with all the force of a train, onto our house and through the roof of our bedroom.  I kid you not.  A fucking tree came straight through the roof of our bedroom.

I was in the back of the house when I heard the crash.

I was sure a transformer had blown because there was no storm outside to warrant the thunder.  I went out back to check on my dog Jack and we just looked at each other.  I looked around the backyard.  All good. That was strange, I thought, as I turned to go back inside.

When I glanced towards the front of the house, the front window was completely dark, blocked by branches, of course. Stunned, I opened the front door to discover my home buried beneath this giant tree.  I was also surrounded by curious and concerned neighbors who’d gathered due to the crash.  It was a neighbor, in fact, that pointed to the roof; I’d walked outside before discovering the damage to the bedroom.

Somehow, I’d missed the air thick with dust, the door blown off its hinges, the mangled metal air vent, and the gaping skylight created by the limb which now pierced our roof.

The bed, our last oasis, was destroyed.

I was in shock. I only managed the necessary tasks with the insurance company, etc. because the situation was so surreal.  But by Friday I’d come out of the ether and was in an extremely hateful mood.  I was angry and indignant and begging someone to knock the chip off my shoulder just so I’d have the excuse to clock them.

I cussed and swore at stupid drivers on the road.  I glared at strangers in the grocery store.  I flipped off a bus driver and honked at an old person.  

I was rude to a friend of mine on the phone.  This was entirely too much to handle and God was an asshole.

Later, I got a text from the friend who I’d been rude to.  This is what it said:

” I attended a charity event last night (to support orphaned kids/families in Rwanda, because of the genocide that occurred there several years ago), and heard a story about a Rwandan woman who watched her husband, kids, and entire family murdered. She was raped, had her teeth macheted from her mouth and barely fought back to life and lived. An American dental surgeon came to her village, and when he “restored her smile” with new teeth, she told him she couldn’t wait to go to the village where that savage lived, and smile at him, to show he could take everything that mattered to her, but he couldn’t take her smile.”

This got my attention.  Nothing like a well-timed (and meaning) text put your indulgent insolence into perspective.

A tree fell on my house.  It did not fall on me, my kids, or my husband.  I woke up on a Wednesday morning, a tree fell on my house and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to prevent it.  Random shit happens.  Lack of control and vulnerability is what scared me and made me angry, not the damn tree.

By this time in my life, you’d have thought I’d learned that control is mostly a myth, highly susceptible to abuse and always overrated.

So what do you do when God gives you a swift kick in the pants to remind you? You can tell him to GFH, or you can exhale, let it go, and, yes, even smile.

I’m pretty sure that’s what God was doing when he heard me tell HIM to GFH, anyway.

Like he doesn’t hear that all the time anyway, right?

Sunday The Right Way

It was a bright Sunday morning, the sun was shining bright in the Winter sky, and best of all, Herb woke up feeling better than he had in weeks. This was reason enough to make a plan for an outing, a field trip! (Back story: on our recent trip to Costa Rica, Herb contracted pneumonia which had the expected detrimental effect.)

We were both excited to enjoy a Sunday together, and, as we’d been recent shut ins, get the hell out of the house.

Cindy Cart, one of my clients, had generously shared tickets to an exhibit at the Nelson Atkins Art Gallery where she works. Another client had just reported that this unusual exhibit was fabulous and a must see, so I was eager to go and Herb, feeling so much better, was easy to coax. So after our morning ritual of coffee together in bed, we jumped in the shower, and, all smiles and unicorns, set out for our Sunday morning adventure.

We’d planned to get to the gallery as it opened at 10. Imagine our surprise when we drove up just minutes after it opened and the line for parking snaked all the way down the west edge of the building. Wow, we thought, it sure is great to see all these people out at the Nelson. So much for our unique idea.

What we hadn’t realized was that it was a special day at the gallery to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Families of all ages crowded the Bloch wing to enjoy a program full of free exhibitions, dancing, tea tasting, and music. The energy and excitement was contagious…. but we did secretly have concerns that we might not get into the exhibit we came to see (or rather, hear): Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff.

When we presented our tickets to get in, we were pleasantly surprised that most people were otherwise engaged in the special events of the day; there were only four or five other people in the exhibit. We were curious about what we’d heard about the installation but still did not know what to expect. All we’d heard was that it was a sound exhibit and wonderful. True, it turns out, on both accounts.

When first entering the exhibit, there is the usual explanation of the artists’ intention and hope for the observer. Janet Cardiff, a Canadian artist has created an interactive space where the visitor literally steps inside a piece of music. Her thought is that people need a way to connect and experience presence, in this case, through music, for emotional fulfillment and release.

Surrounded by forty separate speakers, each one filled by a single voice, we were literally immersed in the astounding beauty of the music. The piece, (Alium Nunquam Habui, written by 16th-century composer Thomas Tallis) is sung in Latin, in a capella; the clarity of the notes both breathtaking and somber.

We had the option to sit in the center of the speakers where we could hear the piece in unison, surrounded by the power of forty magnificent voices joined together in song. Or we could walk slowly around during the piece, pausing in front of a single speaker or group of five speakers, hearing the clear, often awe-inspiring voice of a single tenor, soprano or child singing their individual part.

The effect for us was just what the artist intended; we were impacted emotionally, not only by the beauty of the music itself, but by the metaphor for what is possible when individuals gather with a common theme. The effect was an immediate presence- to the music, the moment, and the miracle of the human voice. The result was not only powerful, but transcendent.

When I looked up the meaning of the word Motet, it read, “a motet is a mainly vocal musical composition, of highly varied form and style, a piece of music in several parts with words, from the late medieval era to the present.”

Further, it was thought at the time that the motet, “was not to be celebrated in the presence of common people, because they do not notice its subtlety, nor are they delighted in hearing it, but in the presence of the educated and of those who are seeking out subtleties in the arts.”

When many of us are feeling agitated, angry or simply depressed by our current political climate, the Forty Part Motet is a potent reminder of our capacity as human beings to come together to create something good, shared, beautiful and profound. Standing in the center of that circle of separate voices, one doesn’t hear disparity or separation: instead, we hear the splendor and glory of co-operation, unity and shared effort.

Aristotle’s statement, “The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts,” has been debated by mathematicians, psychologists and philosophers; but in the end it is our interpretation that matters most.

The Forty Part Motet asks us to consider our individual gifts and how they can serve the larger score. Now seems to be an excellent time to decide what it is we want as a country and decipher a way to unite to create something we want all want to listen to and more importantly, something that we’re proud to sing.

GOALS: Overrated or Necessary

The Problem with Discipline

It’s that time of year when we tend to get riled up and set all sorts of lofty goals for ourselves. In layman’s terms this is called New Year’s Resolutions… in my industry it’s more like a False Positive- a brief jump in gym attendance due to this sudden burst of inspiration; inspiration that peters out sometime between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s.

If it sounds like I am being judgmental, I am not. I’m just as vulnerable as the next person (perhaps more so) to the allure of making promises to myself that I do not keep. My Dad would have called this ‘putting the cart before the horse’ or ‘stepping in it because you weren’t looking’ or, if he were alive now, perhaps, ‘texting while driving,’ none of which are safe or productive.

The issue isn’t the very real desire we have to improve ourselves…I would hate to consider a world where we didn’t. The issue is more about where that thought originates.

WHY do we want to lose weight, stop smoking, eat better, exercise more, sleep better and be kinder to our spouse? Probably because we think we’d feel better, be healthier and happier of course. And we probably would.

Then WHY do so many of us feel so miserable when we fail to follow through? What derails our sudden genius; unwinds our enthusiasm, undermines our fortitude?  Why can’t we, as my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Myers directed, “finish what we begin?” The problem is discipline.

noun dis·ci·pline \ˈdi-sə-plən\

1. Punishment- suffering, pain or loss that serves as retribution
2. Instruction- a direction calling of compliance
3. Training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
4. Orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
4. A rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, further defines the word. ” Given that several meanings of discipline deal with study, governing one’s behavior, and instruction, one might assume that the word’s first meaning in English had to do with education. In fact, the earliest known use of discipline appears to be punishment related; it first was used in the 13th century to refer to chastisement of a religious nature, such as self flagellation.”

Talk about a buzz kill. It’s no wonder we have an issue following through if is this is where our motivation is seated.

In lieu of getting all preachy here, what the hell are we thinking? Is this a cultural phenomenon? Fall out from the Puritan Ethic?

Is it generational – as a Boomer am I doomed to constant self criticism and recrimination? Or is it simply about being human? Do dogs feel guilty when they overeat or forget to take out the trash? I know cats don’t.

One thing’s for sure, this approach ain’t much fun, so it’s probably NOT gonna get done.

So what CAN we do to motivate ourselves to do the things that do indeed make us healthier, happier and kinder to our loved ones?  How do we align what we say we WANT with what we DO?

We just stop. And be still. And look within ourselves to examine what it is we truly want. This may sound simple, but it’s not easy.

Being a terrier by nature, I have an innate disdain for slowing down and introspection. (Squirrel!)

My inherent anxiety often presents itself in manic overwork, over scheduling, over functioning, and over indulging! – all in the guise of “achievement.”

Down deep I know that instead of helping me reach my goals, this busyness is simply a distracting way to soothe my unease. Just because I get shit done doesn’t mean I am present to my deepest desires.

This is ironic because it’s in stillness that we can discover what it is we truly want.  Perhaps we may also learn that it doesn’t have to be so damned hard.

When I was around fourteen and had done something errant that warranted a serious sit down with my Father, I pleaded with him, trying to excuse my behavior (and subsequent grounding) by saying, “Dad! You just don’t understand! Times have changed! What you expect isn’t reality any more! It doesn’t apply! You just need to accept it!” He took me gently by the shoulders, turned me towards him and said,  “Tina, times may have changed, but kids have not.”  And then he grounded me, (I could never win an argument with that man.)

This lesson still resonates for me because it reminds me of my responsibility to myself and others. It’s tempting in these tumultuous, crazy, unstable times to forget that one thing remains constant: our ability to choose.

We have the right to choose to be healthy. We have the right to choose to be loving. We have the right to choose to be kind. And we can choose to be happy.  We deserve to be happy. That IS the buried treasure of being human; but reclaiming it beneath the bullshit requires excavation.  The sitting still kind; the hard kind.

When I realize that it’s not about THE goal, or the DISCIPLINE, or even THE timing of the outcome, but being true to my core beliefs, life’s complexities fade to the background and I can see more clearly. I can see that it’s a process not a place; that it takes practice and mindfulness and connection to other people around me.

It takes risking, asking for help, accepting it and finally, letting go.  Having faith is difficult, but it is the key to all possibility.

Today I’m choosing to create my life from a different perspective.  I don’t want to jump to the conclusion that my life, (with all ‘s messy terrier detours and distractions), makes me a failure or less deserving or simply less than.  I’m giving myself and break- hell, I’m giving myself a boost, just by knowing, not hoping, that I still have the power to choose the life I want.

The path we take is the path we make. I’m here to help you. Will you help me?

What are you agreeing to and how does it serve you

tina hike bcI want you to ask yourself what you are agreeing to and how does that serve you.

If you are a current or former member of T School, I am pretty sure you were motivated to join that program as you were unsatisfied the way something was going in your world and wanted support to make those changes.

That might have been wanting to lose a few pounds, have more energy, or take a stand for your self by improving your health, vitality, and ability to be present for your loved ones.

Whatever it was, you cared enough about that change to invest in this program and become part of this community.  Now here it is, almost two-thirds of the way into it and you may have forgotten what the big deal was anyway.

You may have thought the first 21 days were your challenge, but this is the true challenge: continuing when it’s no longer a defined endgame- when it’s real life and decidedly NOT sexy to remember why you began.

Herb and I recently returned from a very interesting adventure in Canada,  The trip turned out nothing like we’d planned and we found ourselves bored and restless.  It rained so there wasn’t much outdoor activity to be had and you can only stare lovingly into your partner’s eyes so long before you go nuts…. and nuts is exactly what we went.

bacon marysWe ate hamburgers and yam fries and drank Bloody Mary’s with bacon on top.  We ate fish and chips (worth it!) and drank beer and wine (what!  we never drink beer and wine!) and got so deep in our cups one night we told our waiter in Vancouver it was our 30th Wedding Anniversary to get a special dessert.

30 th anniversaryI remember after that particular day/night of debauchery, Herb reaching over to me in the morning and saying. “How are you feeling this morning?” to which I replied in a voice unrecognizable to humans, “Well how the hell do you think I feel?”

So the question is, what did I agree to and how did it serve me?   I think you might know the answer.

I was served all right: OVER SERVED.  But those choices had not one thing to do with serving me, my goals, my health or my sense of well being.

liquor vs food (2)

So why do we do this to ourselves?  We say one thing and we do the other.

Of course, if I had the answer to that, I’d have shared it with you by now in
T School!

The short answer is we’re all human.  We are creatures of habits- even when some of them turn out to be inconsistent with what we say we want for ourselves.

But we’re looking for PROGRESS here, not necessarily PERFECTION, right?

As someone who has made the same changes in her life as she is asking you to make, I know it’s a matter of PRACTICE to become healthier in our choices.  It’s not automatic and our progress is never linear.   But I also know, for all my F-ups along the way, I have actually learned a different way of eating, moving and living in the process, AND achieved my fitness and fat loss goals along the way.

If you ask anyone that’s been through this program more than once, the choices you make do change over time.  It really does become less and less of a chore to eat well and move more.  In fact, the penalty for looking the other way is a resounding wake up call;  how bad does it feel to feel so awful when you know what it’s like to feel really good.

i feel fat todayOkay, I can hear some of you now…. “yeah, but I never felt good and I don’t feel that bad now- I just feel fat.”  

Well, then there’s that.  And for most of us, like it or not, feeling fat is probably the reason we got into T School in the first place.

And if we look a little deeper, that feeling is just the icing on the cake (sorry, I had to go there).  The real issues we have with food just go so much deeper don’t they?  Why else would continue to repeat the same habits that keep us stuck and unhappy?

Those are questions we are addressing as we move into our third trimester of T School. Getting sugar out of your house and your body was the first step towards ridding yourself of your cravings and creating more room for choice.  It was also designed to quiet that nagging assaulting voice in your head for feeling powerless over your cravings.

And guess what.  You did it.

Now it’s time to look at what drives you backward AND what moves you forward.    How can we overcome the persistent pull to regress, make excuses and then judge ourselves?

Coming home.  When it comes down to it, our bodies and our health are the only home we’ve got.

So, what are we agreeing to and how does it serve us?  That’s the question.   That’s everything.

Why I Went to Rehab for my Summer Vacation

To say it’s been an interesting year is an understatement.  

It started off okay, but took a serious detour when I had my left hip replaced for the third (and hopefully last) time.

It seems my body doesn’t like foreign objects; a fact born out by the fact that the cup in my acetabulum, secured by bolts during my second procedure, had once again shimmied out of place, leaving me in pain, frustrated and pissed off.

When I tell people about this, the question is always the same:  What happened?  Why isn’t this working?

I’ve seen fear in the faces of others who’ve had their own hips replaced, and confused judgement in those who suppose I must have done something stupid to incur such bad luck.  I don’t blame them; I’ve wondered the same things myself.  But the bottom line is simple:  my bones were just too hard (aka scarred from previous bone on bone friction) to hold the cup securely in place.

Yes, He really is old enough to be my doctor!

So what do you do?  You get a new (highly recommended) surgeon, try a different surgical approach, incorporate a new regimen of supplementation that you help enhances bone receptivity, and install a new prosthesis.  

Most of all you cross your fingers and hope like hell the third time really is the charm.

And you follow directions.  You see your doctor for follow up appointments.  You’re religious about your physical therapy.  You walk and squat and log every damn clam shell on your way back to recovery. And if you’re very lucky, you have a fabulous partner and wonderful co-workers, clients and friends who support you and encourage you every step of the way.

You begin to see that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and you prepare for your much-anticipated return to work.

You’re excited and laughing and having a blast teaching your first Pilates mat class back at work and twenty minutes into it, doing the most unassuming movement, you dislocate your brand new hip.

And the pain is worse than anything you’ve ever experienced, including childbirth, and your body goes into shock and shakes wildly as you get carried out on a stretcher by the EMT’s,  grateful that it’s the only time this has ever happened at your studio and it’s you (and not someone else).

Pretty, right? They put my hip back in! Yeah!

Pretty, right? They put my hip back in! Yeah!

It took a few people in the ER to pop that sucker back in place (don’t worry, they put me under), and I felt immediate relief to be out of that pain.  But the event later proved to leave a lasting impression, one of fear, apprehension and low-level depression.  It’s no fun when you can’t trust your body, especially when you’ve used that body for most of your life to teach, inspire and, oh yeah, make a living.

So, being the terrier that I am, I doubled down on my PT.  I backed off all other exercises and focused on the minute and precise movements prescribed to strengthen the muscles that would hold my hip in place.  And I walked.  I walked a lot.  And the more I walked, the better I felt and the more I walked the more grateful I became.

That’s when I decided to go to rehab.  In Colorado.

We left for Basalt, (a town located between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, Colorado) on my 57th birthday.  We planned to stay for five weeks, an opportunity that had long been only a dream of mine.  And now that dream took on expanded meaning- this would be my time to push myself beyond the limitations of my post hip replacement thinking: I wanted and needed to feel like I could conquer mountains! And so I came and put my self in rehab.


Signing in at the top of Castle Peak in 2008.

There are fifty-two peaks in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet.  I’d climbed my first 14’er, Castle Peak, several years ago with Herb, who, having lived in Colorado for a time, had climbed many of them himself.  He became my guide and pushed me to get over my fear of heights and later just fear of fatigue.  He challenged me to change my thinking about what I was capable of mentally and physically.  It was part of our courtship really, and I developed a deep respect and admiration for him on those hikes and climbs.

But as frightened as I was back then, this year was worse.  I was secretly afraid I would fail.  Would my hip have the stability, strength and endurance to do this? I was terrified to find out.

But I was here and the mountains were here and it was time to simply do.


As it turns out, tromping around these mountains almost every day has been the best (extended) rehab my hip could have.  Together, Herb and I have logged hundreds of miles and thousands of feet of elevation and, despite a few hairy moments when we got off a trail or two, nature has proved once again to be the ultimate teacher and healer.

When I look up and see those big peaks and begin hiking up towards them, I feel nervous and excited and a little apprehensive.  But I also feel grounded and happy. As corny as it sounds, nature puts my life in perspective.

And when you finally get to the top and you look around at all that magnificent, powerful, steadfast beauty, thinking just kind of stops and for a moment, you simply ARE …. and that’s the kind of rehab I like.


JUSTINThank you to Lisa, Britt and my entire team for being so awesome that I could take this time and not worry about the studio.  Thank you, Herb, for making me laugh and understanding when I was shitty (once).  Thank you, Chuck and Doris, for being amazing mentors and friends and for proving that folks can still be happily married after fifty years.

And thanks to my doc and Justin and Biago at Elite PT for getting me to the point that I could walk and hike and heal.  It’s good to go to rehab, but it’s even better to get back home