A Strong Woman

blog pix Dec 3

The disassembled brass and steel floor lamp came with an instructional sheet and diagram. Pretty simple, as these things go – not like assembling a cabinet.

*Attach middle tube to shade assembly. Turn clockwise.

*Attach bottom tube to middle tube. Turn counterclockwise.

*Attach bottom tube to base. Turn clockwise.

*Remove sticky backer from felt pad and attach to underside of base.

The issue? The damn thing is heavy, especially the base.

You’re wondering if this blog has morphed into one called Fix it, Build it, Paint It. No. Calm your mind with a bite of Israeli cauliflower steak with labneh and read on for clarity.

The large box sat in the living room for a few days, the lamp contents visible but in pieces. I was on a home improvement jag. I had just finished serving as project manager for several renovation tasks in my townhouse beginning with the installation of new flooring on the first floor. Natural maple everywhere except the kitchen, which is now a stunner with stone-look Italian porcelain in a frame pattern.

Then I had all the walls painted. The new floors and paint encouraged me to throw out three pieces of furniture. I decided to replace them with new items that looked and functioned better.

I’m on a budget so everything had to be “build it yourself.”  My son had tackled the entryway bench and two bookshelves and assembling a cabinet was next on his list.

I thought that the least I could do was to put together the floor lamp. Perhaps the project would take my mind off my dating dry spell.

The reality of putting that lamp together brought home the issue of strength and independence. After a lifetime of start and stop exercise regimens from yoga to running to Jane Fonda tapes, I finally found my magic combination of strength building and cardio.  I’ve been working out consistently with a personal trainer and a swim coach two times a week and doing the solo work on most other days.

The result: despite two herniated discs and a “vulnerable” knee, I have become pretty strong for a 60 something woman.

Strength: It’s something everyone needs to accomplish practical living tasks and to prevent injury when carrying out those tasks. Being strong is even more important when you’re divorced and no longer can rely on a husband for the heavy lifting tasks. During my post-divorce journey, I find that independence is fueled by mental and physical strength – and vice versa.

So, when I faced down the lamp instructions, I called to my newish muscles as well as my proud independent self to step up to the job.

The assembly was a little tricky and awkward due to having to balance the 30-pound solid steel base but I refused to give up (praying that I hadn’t stripped the tubes when screwing them into each other).  Voila! Mission accomplished. The light even works.

I felt great: the Wonder Woman of light assembly!

I could add this to my slowly growing list of independent, strength-fueled accomplishments: lifting and moving the wood dining room table with my son, who looked duly surprised when I was able to carry my half of the load; effortlessly carrying for 20 minutes what once felt like an extremely heavy portable “backpack” chair; easily transporting 3 heavy bags of groceries at once.

I highly recommend strength and other physical training for all humans but especially for previously married singletons. Be strong. As Pink said, “I like feeling strong. It keeps my mental floor higher.”

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.










Extreme Motivators for Exercise

blog post exercise

Exercise is important to me and for inspiration, I rely on a number of motivators and role models. I also have some unusual extreme motivators. Why do I call them extreme? Because the imagined scenarios that encourage me to exercise reflect extreme situations.

Confused? Let’s enjoy some herby barley salad with mushrooms while I explain.

First, let’s talk about typical motivators. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, one of the strongest incentives for exercise is looking good. Improved health is another top reason to engage in physical activity. Related to this, you may have a particular medical condition or issue that responds well to exercise. Activity can make you feel better, relieve stiffness and pain (love those endorphins), sleep better, improve your sex life, and even encourage you to eat better.

All of these benefits inspire me to move. If I need extra inspiration, I might think about 80-year-old bodybuilder Ernestine Shepherd. I like the fact that she started exercising at the not so tender age of 56 and worked hard enough to make it into the 2011 Guinness book of world records as the world’s oldest competitive female bodybuilder. Just check out her impressive physique and you’ll find it hard to slouch away from the gym when you’re due for a workout.

Then there’s 66-year-old pole dancer Greta Pontarelli who is a five-time world pole art master’s champion and a former competitor on America Ninja Warriors. And no, it’s not that kind of pole dancing. Check it out.

As Pontarelli says on her Facebook page, she wants to use her art form “to empower others to believe in themselves and to become the best that they can become…and to not let age or any limitation stand in the way of our dreams.”

All fine and good, you’re thinking, but what are the extreme motivators? Dear readers, these are the worst-case scenarios you see in movies and might experience in real life.

For example, after watching a film in which the main character is hanging on to the edge of a building by the sheer strength of his upper body, I vowed to work on pull-ups. This can be a hard exercise for women so I’m focusing on baby steps. I just “hang out” so to speak for a few seconds from a pull-up bar. Eventually I hope to actually pull my body weight up. Because you never know when you might need to hang from a building in order to escape a bad guy or a fire.

And what if you’re in a boat that capsizes? This worst-case scenario was one of the reasons I started taking swimming lessons. Some might be motivated to improve their swimming technique in order to outswim sharks.

Another scenario: attempted mugging or assault. It’s important to know how to punch and in fact, one of my favorite exercises is boxing. I haven’t done it in awhile but it’s not only good for self defense but it’s also a terrific workout and stress reliever. I’ve never tried kickboxing but I think it would work equally as well.

What if you’re in a situation where a harmful gas is released? That aerobic capacity you’ve acquired from swimming could give you enough breath holding power to get out of the vicinity of the toxic fumes.

Tornado coming? Use those strong arms to pull up the door to the underground safe room.

Is the plane you’re on about to make an emergency landing? If you like to sit in the emergency exit row, prepare to use your upper body strength to open the door.

Forced to walk a tightrope by an evil time-traveling sorcerer? Practice those balancing exercises.

Encounter a sketchy drunk who starts following you? Engage those lower body exercise-enhanced and super strong quads to run like the wind.

You get the idea. Just don’t start getting paranoid that all of these worst-case scenarios are going to actually happen. To excel at extreme motivation, you have to walk a fine line between motivation and crippling fear. I know you can do it if you want to.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating and maybe, happy extreme motivation exercising.