Ninja Warrior Needs Motivation

Another morning, another single digit temperature reading, sometimes minus.  The alarm clock goes off and I ask myself, “do I really want to do this? Do I really have to do this?”  I think about the amount of clothing I have to put on (starting from skin-panties, bra, insulation tights under thermal-windbreaker tights, long sleeved top, another thermal long-sleeved top, wind-breaker jacket, fleece hat, neck gaiter/Buff, gloves, socks, sneakers, ice trax, knee band, petroleum jelly on my face and lips and Garmin watch and sunglasses if the sun is up)–ugh, getting dressed alone should be worth a mile. I reflect on summer days, less than 5 minutes of dressing and out the door!

This Brooklyn Ninja Warrior is starting to loose her edge. Her f@#ks are becoming “fudges” or “fiddlesticks.” That my long-injured hamstring has been acting up does not help the cause.

I know that once I am dressed and out the door I will run.  I will run slow (my pace has been about a minute and a half slower during the last couple of weeks) and I will hate the wind on my face and feeling my fingers get numb, but I will run.

However, I do appreciate seeing the smooth snow on the river, ducks and geese waking from a frosty sleep, hearing the crunch of the dry snow under my feet and hearing various birds (mostly magpies) wondering why humans are out running in the cold, with neither feathers nor fur, if they have a choice of being someplace warm.

I need motivation, inspiration.  I signed up for an indoor triathlon (my first) so I started to swim and forgot how relaxing a good swim could be.  The pool is warm, but I still have to walk through the cold to get there.  And, I think the dreadmill would be a tedious, boring, less enjoyable option (and it would mean joining a gym. I cannot bring myself to paying about 80 bucks a month in Calgary when I was paying only 10 at Planet Fitness in Brooklyn and the gym was practically across the street.  Even on the coldest of days a couple of good f@#ks at the wind would get you there fine. With the gym distances in Calgary, you would need a whole lotta f@#ks to do the same job).

What do you do to stay motivated to run during long winters? What are other options besides the dreadmill? What are your warmest running clothing to wear–what do you swear by?

Coda: I just got back from spending a long weekend in Puerto Vallarta. Thought I would be remotivated/rejuvenated to run in the cold.  But no…



New Age-Group Category

It was my birthday.  It was a significant one.  Every year I always say to myself, “I am going to plan something significant. Maybe a trip somewhere with a group of friends, a fun party, spa day, group burlesque or pole class, something.” And every year my birthday comes around and I am all, “meh.”

Being the oldest child I always had the biggest birthday parties growing up.  My father would change the bulbs of the chandelier over the dining room table to 5 different colors.  My mother would make a huge pot of rice and peas and curry goat. We would go to Woolworths in downtown Brooklyn and buy a paper table cloth with matching plates and cups as well as balloons and streamers.  And, of course, a glittery Happy Birthday crown.  Although my mother is a great baker, my parents would always purchase my birthday cake from the baker–white frosting, angel cake with pineapple filling. It was always decorated in pink, my name and “Happy Birthday” written in red goop and adorned with pink plastic flowers.  I loved to lick the frosting off those flowers.

My birthdays were all kinds of fun with relatives, neighbors, school friends and the like.  The dad and his grown-men counterparts would retreat to the living room to drink gin and listen to Soul Makossa while mom and friends would chill in or near the kitchen chatting about children (while we were right there), while we ran up and down the hallway of our 12th floor apartment.  We also had parakeets–Christine and Greenie–who would share in the festivities with loud chatter and sometimes flying the hallway with the kids. Now, as an adult, these kinds of birthday parties are long behind me.  I have had the occasional surprise party, but usually my birthdays are low-key with a celebration at a bar with drinks and maybe cake.

The main difference this birthday was being in a new city with new friends.  Me being not a big planner to begin with I would have not clue about where I would want to go (restaurant/bar-wise). However, I am very lucky to have social friends who enjoy an excuse to have a party so there was a fun gathering in my honor with delicious coconut cake and all.


IMG_4445Yummy Coconut Cake and Cheezies in the background! 

There was music, dancing and the Canadian version of Cheetos called Cheezies. This was serendipitous as crunchy Cheetos are my favorite party snack food.  I never buy them for myself but will park my self next to a bowl of them at a children’s party.  As far as the difference between Cheezies and Cheetos, they taste slightly different, Cheezies are a little more robust in size and flavor, but I love them both.

Another birthday came and went.  I am in a new decade and a new running age group. Once I get over the shock of seeing the numbers on races forms and on my bib, I will be good. It’s all good, I just now will have to change my running stride so that I cover my age with my hand while running! Just kidding…


IMG_4443The rare selfie, but it is my birthday!


Rob Brezney’s first horoscope of the New Year beckoned me to, “let your freak flag fly” and continued, “be your most unique eccentric self; show off your idiosyncrasies with uninhibited pride.”  I think this is a perfect mantra for me for 2018, which is also a significant birthday year.  Much of the horoscope this week resonated with me and how I want to enter this period of my life.

So, anyone who knows me well–family and close friends–knows I love to be naked.  “Jenn, are you wearing anything?” is how my close friend/neighbor responds to my “who” when she knocks on my door.  You don’t have to tell me twice to skinny dip or go topless on the beach. I love the feeling of air, sun, water, etc. on my skin–as much skin as possible. While I have not yet visited a nudist establishment, it is not off my list, it just has not yet crossed my path (nor my path crossed it).

I also love to read, it is a part of my job and it is also a part of what I like to do for pleasure.  I get great joy out of the smell of books; I love the fresh-off-the-press smell of new books and the musty smell of old ones. Whenever I get a new or new-to-me book, the first thing I do when I open it is to take a deep whiff of the scent even before I read the front or back copy or look at the cover art.  I love that I have a couple of bookshelves full of books (punctuated by random chotskies). Naked Girls Reading (NGR) presented me with the opportunity to try do combine two of my loves.  Naked Girls Reading (different link) is a global movement started by a burlesque dancer in Chicago.  It is a way of combining smart and sexy in safe spaces and now has chapters from Adelaide to Warsaw.

Back in November I wrote about my Calgary adventures and volunteering for NGR. Well, after volunteering, I became intrigued to read myself.  Because of the adventure getting there I thought I’d wait until I had a “ride and die” to accompany me, but my ride and die options (my Calgary community is slowly growing) all happened to be out of town.  So public transport it was again, however less eventful than the first time probably because I knew where I was going.

I entered the venue and went upstairs (the “undressing” room) to meet the other readers and prepare for the show.  I met a couple of the other ladies; all but one were NGR virgins like myself.  There was a nervous energy in the room as we put on make-up, did hair and disrobed.  Including our fearless leader Keely Kamikaze, the founder of the NGR Calgary chapter, the there were five readers and an emcee.  The theme was “fantasy” to be interpreted by the reader.  I read from Octavia Butler‘s Fledgling, and here is the preamble I included as to why I chose this work,

Zeine came across Octavia Butler’s work when she saw Ms. Butler read at the Brooklyn Museum in 2005, a year before her untimely death in 2006.  When Zeine first started reading this autographed copy, she got creeped out by the the vampire feedings and put it down. She did not pick it up again until more than a decade later to read for NGR and now could not put it down.

 BTW, my stage name is Zeine Bruja, I’ll write about the name at some point, but not now ;).
Getting ready to read.  My niece is not around so I had to do my own make up.
Like any show, we arrived early, did sound check and waited for the crowd to arrive.  The sound check also included directions about disrobing, mike placement and book holding.  Readers enter the stage area with a robe, dress, cape–anything that allows for a reveal of the body.  The emcee make the introduction, the reader disrobes, places the garment on a chair and either sits or stands to read.  To me, it felt like any other performance I have done except I was naked in front of a room full of strangers.  Once I took off my dress and started to read, it was no longer obvious to me that I was naked and I felt that the audience responded to me, as a reader, as they would have had I had on clothing; there was very little if anything that seemed voyeuristic about the audience; several of the readers were there with their family, partners and spouses.   It was an intimate space because of the acceptance and openness of the audience and had very little to do with sex, which is often equated with nudity.
I read twice, first from chapter 1 and then from chapter 3.  I did not want to read to far into the book so as to ruin the story should someone from the audience want to read the book themselves.  Keely sends out a reading list to audience members who sign up for it.
My autographed copy! 
At the end of the show, the readers and emcee gathered for photos, both robed and unrobed and even did a nude group hug–we were all psyched about our performance–post-performance high.  When I dressed and came downstairs to leave, I received many complements on my reading (I read with my  teacher voice), the choice of book, and even my accent (I sometimes forget that I have a CaribBrooklyn accent).
Returning to Brezney,  “I propose that we revive [your flying freak flag] for your use in 2018. I suspect the coming months will be a favorable time for you to cultivate your quirks and trust your unusual impulses. You should give yourself maximum freedom to explore pioneering ideas and maverick inclinations. Paradoxically, doing so will lead to stabilizing and enduring improvements in your life.” I heeded this call and I would say that 2018 and especially my birthday month and significant birthday year are off to a great start!
NGR (1)

Cross-Country Skiing

A part of this embracing winter means trying winter things.  Things that require snow or ice in order to be winter things.  So, last week my friend and I headed to Canmore to do cross-country skiing.

We texted each other in the morning, the “it’s really cold but if you want to go, I’ll go” kind of text.  I checked my phone and saw that it was minus 2 degreesF/-19 degreesC. Yikes.  I looked to see how cold it was the day before when I did another ice mascara run, it was slightly balmier at 5degreesF/-15degreesC.  Not wanting to wuss out I replied that I ran yesterday in the cold so I could probably ski today.

We drove from Calgary to Canmore, about an hour. We passed several ranches with cows all fluffed up for the winter.  It was overcast so the landscape was relatively monochrome, deadgrass brown, greyish-white snow and muted-green conifers.  Although the colors were muted, it was still lovely as the landscape was wide and the mountains–the three sisters–slowly appeared through the cold snowy air.

My friend had taken one lesson in x-country skiing and I tried it once in college, eons ago, so we were both novices.  However, she has gone a couple of more times that I since her first lesson.

The first challenge was putting on the skis.  My shoes were supposed to just click in somehow but I was not having any success.  It reminds me of trying to clip bicycle shoes onto the pedal in spinning class, even when I think I am clipped in my foot slips off and the pedal licks me back in my calf.  I finally figured out how to get my skis on and now it was time to ski.  It looks easy, there are tracks to follow.  I got on the track and after a slow start I got a slight rhythm going.  I was smooth (but slow) sailing until I reached a patch were the tracks disappeared.  The snow was flat and I lost footing and there was my first wipe-out.  Falling down was easy, but getting up was another story.  After waving my skiis around like knitting needles, I managed to pull myself upright.

Going downhill was scary at first (fear of falling) but became easier with each hill. Uphill, however, posed another challenge.  If I kept a good rhythm I would make it up.  However, if it was a longer hill and I lost rhythm or stopped I would find myself slowly drifting downhill backwards and unable to stop.  I would drift back to the start of the uphill and have to do it all over again.  So I quickly learned to suck it up and get my a$$ to the apex before breathing again.

Once I got the hang of the cross-country skiing, it became more enjoyable.  Not that I was not enjoying myself from the beginning, but it is more fun to stay upright on the skis rather than on my knees or butt and trying to navigate getting up.  I did not yet have that lesson about getting up gracefully on skiis.

I was gliding down a nice gentle downhill, gaining speed as I went along but gaining too much speed, so much that I felt like I was going to crash into my friend (I also did not yet have the lesson about stopping or braking on skiis).  So rather than crash I fell into the ditch. The snow was softer and deeper there so I found myself getting deeper in the snow as I struggled to get back on the trail.  As I was doing this a robust Canadian woman and her child, going in the opposite direction, offered to help.  She was trying to instruct me to lay my skiis together and then tilt up.  I didn’t quite understand at first so did some odd yoga moves and managed to right myself.  She was impressed with my flexibility (made me feel good about my years of flex classes at Body and Pole) and then showed me what she was trying to explain to me.  I now know how to get up on skiis.

We finished the trail and now for the final challenge of removing the skiis.  I saw how other skiis were released, so I pressed and pulled in the effort to release my boots.  My friend’s skiis had a thingy to pull up, I had what looked like a similar thingy but mine’s would not budge.  So she ran into the rental shop to ask for help.  She mentioned that as soon as she started to say, “my friend is stuck on her skiis…” the rental shop dude responded, “you need to twist the white thing.” So I twisted and voila, I was freed.

I now had ski legs.  I still felt like I was gliding as we walked towards the car.  My shoulders felt tired, a good tired, cross country skiing was a decent, relaxing workout.  On the drive home we saw a large black wolf running along the side of the road.  It seemed very focused and determined to get someplace.  Maybe cross country skiing???