How an aerials class made me a better writer

If you’ve never taken an aerials class, I highly recommend it. Not because it’s fun (although it can be) and not because it’s easy (it’s absolutely not), but because it requires a certain mindset. You’re probably thinking, “But aerials is so physical! What crappy metaphor is this lady pushing?” Just hear me out, and I promise, NO METAPHORS!

My introduction to aerials started in 2013 when I met a woman who ran an aerials and Pilates studio. She was offering a summer camp for kids, and my little ones were perfect candidates. At the end of the camp, my daughter was hooked. She’d found her jam! And I was excited that she’d discovered a hobby that combined movement and was a performance art.

We began attending shows in our area, and every time, I was entranced. The aerialists moved so effortlessly, bending and contorting, doing drops, and spinning through the air. I was simultaneously excited for my daughter, but also jealous. I wanted to do aerials! I wanted to choreograph a routine, I wanted to experience the rush that I was certain those aerialists felt when they were flying. I needed aerials in my life!

Eventually, I convinced myself I could do it. In 2016 I started with a few private lessons, splitting the hour with my daughter, but had to quit when I became pregnant. Fast forward to 2017, after a miscarriage then the birth of my third child (a medically necessary C-section), and I was back at it.

This time I enrolled in an introductory class that promised to be for beginners. Ha! Hahahahahahaha!!! It was awful. It was the absolute worst. Most of my peers appeared to be either cross-fit fanatics or warlocks who had enchanted the equipment to do their bidding. They hopped onto the hoop with no apparent effort. They climbed with silks without breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, I was flailing. All of the confidence I has mustered from my earlier achievements dissipated into thin air.

After two classes, I quit the series, but not before nearly breaking down crying during my last session. I felt ashamed, and I felt it viscerally. Logically, I knew that the only barrier between me and an aerials career was a lot of hard work and probably some serious strength training, but what kept me from staying in that class had little to do with my physical limitations.

My head told me I was a fraud, that I couldn’t do it, and I listened. I listened to all the reasons why I should quit. “Shouldn’t you spend more time on your freelance business?” “You can’t afford these classes anyway.” “You have a gym membership you never use – what are you doing here?” I felt like someone had punched me in the gut, only it was me and I’d done it with a few synaptic fires from my brain.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I decided to hop back on some equipment during open gym with my daughter. It took a few attempts, but I was able to engage some muscle memory (and some actual muscles made stronger thanks to some dedicated  training) and made a few advances up the silks. Three to be exact. And with each advance, I ignored the voice in my head telling me I would fail, and instead pushed through the doubt and climbed towards victory! Ok, it was really NBD, but to me it sparked a revelation.

Anything I do can be sabotaged by, well…me. When I sit down to write an article or work on a chapter of my book, I can either let the flow take over me, knowing that I have the ability to make progress, or I can let impostor syndrome kick into high gear and knock me down a few pegs. It’s really that simple.

I’m a damn good writer, if I do say so myself, and I could probably be an equally skilled aerialist. Like aerials, writing is about engaging muscle memory, taking each moment at face value and fully engaging, not worrying about the next and the next and the next. Because the words do come, like each part of a choreographed aerials performance. And the process is really where the excitement happens anyway.

(P.S. I lied – this whole thing has been a metaphor #sorrynotsorry)

Until next time…

XOXO

M

Waffle or Spaghetti: How Defining Your Workstyle Doesn’t Really Matter

So…

I planned to write a really thorough blog post for you, and guess what? My week didn’t go as planned, and I am stream-of-consciousness writing this as my husband reviews a grant request I wrote while holding our 7 month old who is wearing only a diaper. Soon, we will take our family of five out for a quick and hopefully healthy dinner before we visit my parents, then attend a free outdoor concert. Life is fun!

So here’s what I had planned to write. I wanted to tell you about the two most common types of work styles I’ve noticed among my friends and family – Waffle and Spaghetti. Do you see where I’m going with this? Yeah, you do. Anyhoo, I always thought of myself as 99% Waffle. You know, I keep my work life and home life separate. I keep specific syrup squares for self-care and exercise. I do not let the syrup for any of my squares seep into strange territory. On the flip side, you have the Spaghetti monster (yes, I said it, monster!) Spaghetti monsters are happy to let all the different aspects of their life overlap, getting work sauce on home sauce on social sauce. And they friggin love it! Or at least they can handle it.

In the past, I’ve been adamantly anti-Spaghetti and very pro-Waffle (there’s an amazing joke in there, btw). When I was working from home, I couldn’t let myself be distracted by a request for cereal, let alone put off completing a task so that I could enjoy a family moment. Nope, lock me in the bedroom and call me Kathy Bates, I needed everything to have a definitive beginning and end. My husband is a different story.

My husband has this magical ability to skip from grading papers (he’s a history professor….a HOT one!) to kicking around the soccer ball with our middle kid, to cleaning up whatever disgusting present one of our fur-babies has left on the floor for us to find by surprise. He doesn’t ever say something like, “I have GOT to get back to writing that piece!” or “I just need some time to wrap up some emails” or other lame commentary.

office-space-yeah-about-that
The Bobs are definitely Waffles
He just goes with the flow, and gets everything finished, and I’ve never understood it! Is he a warlock? How does he get everything DONE?!

Well, I’m here to tell you that after a few weeks of doing regular writing, and (finally!) creating my website, and networking with other AMAZING work-from-home moms, I’ve become a Spaghetti monster. I just can’t Waffle anymore! Not only is it unrealistic for us right now (it’s summer, everyone is home, and we genuinely want to spend time together), it’s also not as effective as I once thought. Truly, I can get just as much accomplished by going with the flow because THE FLOW has ups and downs that allow for creative time, and mommy time, and cleaning time, and self-care time. You know, all the times.

That being said, once everyone goes back to school and work, and we get the littlest Lejman into some part-time preschool, I might go back to being more Waffly. Who’s to say? And if you find that you’re more Waffle or more Spaghetti, and what you’re doing is working for you, great! But if it’s leaving you feeling uptight and stressed out, you might give some thought to trying a different approach. It’s possible that you’re trying to be all Spaghetti about life, when you have a little Waffle inside of you screaming for blocks of syrup, all lined up in neat little rows. Or, you could a buttoned up, whole wheat, organic blueberry Waffle that really just wants to get loose and squirmy and all covered in tomatoes. I’m not here to judge.

I’m here to tell you there is no secret or magical formula for success. You get to define what success looks like to you, and you get to rock your true, authentic self. And seriously, either way – CARBS!!!  Carbs are delicious and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Until next time…

XOXO,

M

P.S. My only regret is that I couldn’t work in a chicken and waffles joke on this one and that’s a shame. Shoot me an email if you’re up for the task!

M-W-F 10a-2p