The Rewards of Persistence.

Last night, I took a 90-minute flamenco technique class.   Much to my surprise I found my cardio has vastly improved.  Sure, I was pouring sweat, and my face and arms and legs were probably the same pink color as my skirt.  But I was never out of breath, and, even better, there was no one muscle group that felt strained or over-used.   I felt uniformly fatigued, but in a good way.  I got home and did a brief EBAS session while JC and I watched our secret vice, Big Brother.

This morning was a different story.   I went to EBAS class, and it was great - as always.   Then ballet started, and I felt so exhausted.   Wrung out.   Both my body and my head.  It was as if the captain of my brain-ship was drunk at the wheel.   Everything was a struggle - pointing my feet, sliding through the floor, keeping my pelvis aligned.   I was aware throughout that my shoulders and arm muscles were in a world of aching fatigue.   It wasn't until we got to the center and did jumps, that suddenly my brain switched out of neutral and into drive.

I planned to swim today after classes.   It has been on my schedule all week.   And I kept putting it off.    I ran errands.   I did some shopping.  I gorged myself on crunchy almond butter.  I drank coffee.   I took a nap.   I decluttered my music scores.   Lunchtime turned to afternoon, which turned to evening.

At 7:30 I finally went down.   I thought about how good it would feel to be able to say I met my fitness goals this week.   My plan for this swim was to go for 30 laps without stopping or putting my feet down, then another 20.  And if I had anything left in me, to keep going.

The water was cold, but I plunged in.   For the first ten laps, Sabotage (my inner slacker) tried to murmur sweet nothings about how hard I had already worked today, and why don't we just call it a night?   But I went for 50 laps (2500 feet), almost without stopping, only pausing to adjust my mask.   I put my feet down maybe five times.   Of those 50 laps, 5 were the hated backstroke.

This swim was a struggle, physically, and mentally.   I made myself keep going.   The sun was going down, but there was enough light to paint the inside of the pool in shades of aqua and green ombre.

After 50 laps, I stretched out, feeling like I was pretty much done.   Then I thought I would do a couple of laps of backstroke.   I aligned my sights on Goliath, a big pine tree that keeps me centered in the pool (instead of veering off sideways into stairs).

Did I mention how very much I dislike backstroke?

Heading into the other direction, back into the deep end, there wasn't any one tree to align myself with, so I settled on the gap between two shorter trees.   And then, a few strokes into the lap, the most amazing thing happened...

The full moon came up and was framed in that gap.   It seemed like the entire world went held its breath in that moment,  still, hushed and reverent, as I pulled myself through the water, and looked up at that golden moon cradled in the silhouettes of the trees.

I love swimming.   Swimming makes me feel strong.   Swimming makes me feel alive.   Swimming lets me exist solely in the moment that I am gliding through the water.  Swimming makes me feel at peace and in love with the Universe when I am out of the water.   All the anxieties, all the pettiness, all the trivialities, just melt away, and what is left is happiness.

I am so glad I stayed the course.   I would not have had that golden moment this evening, otherwise.

I did ten laps of backstroke, gazing up at the moon on each return lap.   Then I pulled myself out of the water, toweled off, and smiled all the way up The Hill.


Postscript:  I am in bed now, writing on my laptop, listening to Bach... and marvelling that it took me until 10pm tonight to remember that I could take two ibuprofen to alleviate the aching I have felt all day.   Ahhhh.   Sometimes I am such an airhead, I amaze me.

Project 333 - Part Three, Finalizing my Decisions!

After much deliberation, I have worked out my selections for the upcoming Project 333 Challenge.  I am eager to start - except that the start of my new capsule wardrobe, is also the end of my summer.

I am always sad to see summer's end.   Everyone gets so excited about fall, and I'm standing around like Rat, in The Wind in the Willows - wistful and wondering why everybody is in such a hurry to move on.   There is so much to enjoy right now!

But I digress.

Here is my capsule, most of which remains the same as outlined in my previous post.   I have made a few changes.

Summing up my previous post:

My capsule wardrobe does not include shoes, bags, accessories, dance/workout gear, undergarments, or event wear - or extreme cold weather gear (extreme cold weather for me = >30F)

My capsule wardrobe does have to function across a temperature variance,  that usually goes from the high 80's to the low 30's.   For this reason, I have expanded my capsule to 40 items.

My color palette is almost entirely neutral:  Black, White, Olive, Grey, Blush-Pink, and Dark Tan.   

My themes are:   Bond Girl, 007, Safari, Indiana Jones, Cinema Italiano, Fetish, and the aesthetics of Wolford and Agent Provocateur.

Here are my 40 items:

My capsule is comprised of:
3 Leather Jackets (the black can double as a leather blouse or blazer)
3 Other Jackets and Blazers
1 Zip-up Cardigan (doubles as a regular sweater)
1 Short-sleeve jacket (doubles as a top)
1 Leather Vest (doubles as a top)
8 Long-Sleeve Tops
6 Short-Sleeve Tops
3 Sleeveless Tops (The dragon top doubles as a vest)
1 Dress
6 Skirts
6 Pairs of Jeans
1 Pair of Pants

What changed from the previous post?   For starters, I removed the olive bodysuit.   It isn't, and never has been, a stand-alone item.  I plan to wear it underneath other garments that need a cami-type of layer, such as the olive short-sleeve jacket top, or the zip-up cardigan.  

I replaced the olive bodysuit with a creamy white, short-sleeve, mock-neck top.   I plan to use the white long-sleeve shirt from the previous post, as dance/workout wear.

I also removed both pairs of shorts, and replaced them with the white skirt and the white jeans.

I am leaving the olive skirt and the olive skinnies for a future capsule.   

With regards to the pieces I chose, I asked myself the following questions:   Can I make at least three outfits out of each piece?   Does each piece fall in with the themes I list above?   Yes, and yes.

I don't have to ask if I love each piece, because these are all favorites!

When I look at my capsule, I feel very good about my choices.   I think I have covered pretty much every contingency for this fall.   The one exception will be the Florida trip.   If the temperatures are forecast to be over 85F, I plan to pull out some shorts to wear then.  Otherwise, I plan on wearing jeans.

This capsule is not set in stone.  I am giving myself to Labor Day to make any changes.  Still, I'm very happy with what I have here, and I am looking forward to mid-September!

One Week Into My Fitness Regimen...


A week ago yesterday, I wrote out a list of short-term fitness goals, to be worked on from now through the end of Labor Day Weekend.  These objectives are to help me achieve my longer-term goals for Fall 2015.  

There were three factors this week that hampered my good intentions:   bad weather (which cut into my pool time), a clogged ear (not from swimming, surprisingly), and plain, old-fashioned 'Not-Enough-Hours-In-The-Day'.  

Here is my list, how I did, and some tweaks I propose to make for myself:

1.   To take three ballet classes/weekly, at least one of them a level two.   COMPLETED!   Yes!  I did this, and the level two class was a fast one!   He would give the combination once, and then start the music.   Once I relaxed and focused, I found myself up for the mental challenge, even if I could not always manage the speed at which we did the exercises.

2.   To continue taking the EBAS class, 1 day/week    COMPLETED! 

3.   To do three EBAS sessions at home/week, plus added time on splits, based on what I've learned in class.      INCOMPLETE.  I only did this twice on my own.   Between having a clogged ear, and having bitten off more than I could chew in terms of other activities and commitments, I did not get in that third session, let alone splits.

4.   I need to set up a playlist for my EBAS sessions.  COMPLETED!   I wound up creating a sort of 'ultimate playlist' for myself  - all of my favorite songs off of every album I own.   So far it is six hours long, and I have been enjoying it immensely in my car, at home, and while stretching.

5.  To spend three 30-minute sessions/week focusing on flamenco armwork and bulerias.  INCOMPLETE.   This did not happen, and I am revisiting my goals list.  

6.  To swim three times a week, at least 110 laps, which is just over a mile (5550 feet).   INCOMPLETEWe had thunderstorms and rain throughout the week.   On top of that, I got some water in my ear while coloring my hair, and it took several days for my ear to clear out and become right again.

7.   Make arrangements with an indoor pool facility to begin after Labor Day Weekend, when my condo's pool closes.   INCOMPLETE.   But not for lack of trying.  I went by Seaventures, which is around the corner from my place, which teaches kids' swim classes, and scuba certs.    I had emailed them at the end of June, and was told that they offer lap times from 11am-2pm Tuesday-Sundays, with a $5 drop-in.   When I went in, they shut me down before I could even get past "laps".   While I realize this is probably because they are on some sort of fall schedule, the man was quite brusque.  The encounter felt unfriendly.  I am currently researching other facilities, and I have been pointed towards something called US Masters, which I didn't know anything about, before.   

Once again, I am reminded there is a reason for everything, and oft-times, a momentary disappointment leads to new and exciting things.   I am going to try a US Masters swim group, but it may be next year before I do so.

Project 333 Phase Two: Selecting My Clothing Items

I have been working on clothing choices for my upcoming Project 333 challenge, which will stretch from September 14th to December 7th.

My capsule wardrobe does not include shoes, bags, accessories, dance/workout gear, undergarments, or event wear.

My capsule wardrobe does have to function across a transitional twelve-week period, in subtropical Georgia.  At this time of year, we usually see days in the high 80's, all the way down to the first freeze of winter. I am also planning at least one side trip to Florida.   Because of the temperature variance, I have expanded my capsule to 40 items.

My color palette is almost entirely neutral:  Black, White, Olive, Grey, Blush-Pink, and Dark Tan.   I intend to use my accessories - scarves, bags, shoes, jewelry, hats, gloves - to provide color.

I don't have any set style descriptors.  Instead, I simply have a list of themes that I love:  Bond Girl, 007, Safari, Indiana Jones, Cinema Italiano, Fetish (can it just be 2011 again, please?).   I also adore the aesthetic of Wolford (and the quality).   I'm always combing their site for ideas.  I really wish they would do another online lookbook.

At this time I have settled on 37 items that I am certain of.   I plan to talk about the individual pieces at length in future posts, why I chose them, what makes them favorites, how I plan to wear them.

Here are my choices so far:

3 leather toppers.  Black, blush pink, and gray, in varying thicknesses.  The black jacket is a very thin leather, thin enough that I could wear it as a blouse, something I have never tried.  

Other Jackets/Blazers.  An ivory safari-esque jacket, a ladylike black blazer, and a futuristic-looking moto blazer, also in black.   

16 Tops.   An assortment of stretch knitwear, and button-downs in black and white.   Ideally, I would like to add a white, short-sleeved top or bodysuit, and a pink top or bodysuit to match the blush pink jacket.

2 Pairs of Shorts.  Both linen, in olive and black.   

5 skirts, all black.  

6 Pairs of Pants & Jeans.    Five pairs of jeans, and one pair of black pants.

A Dress.


      A Vest.  

In the days that it has taken me to write this post, I've assembled some items that I am considering adding.   But now I find I am re-thinking some of my original choices, as well...

Here are the items that I am either re-thinking, or considering adding to my capsule... 

Rethinking:  Olive tank bodysuit:   This goes beautifully with my taupe-grey leather jacket, but I can't really wear it as a stand-alone piece, because it is a little low-cut.  I am a busty gal.  I don't want my outfit to be all about mah bosoms, ya know?   This bodysuit may be relegated to the undergarments category.

Rethinking:  Olive short-sleeve jacket top:  I didn't picture it above, but it has been on my list from the start.  It is a little too big to wear alone as a top (the armholes are too low, and give a nice view of my bra + sideboob).  I always wear something underneath it, either a cami or an outerwear top.   I am wondering if this top will have as much versatility as I would like.  I'm going to try it on with my other capsule items, snap some pictures and decide.   

I really do love these olives and taupe-grey-brown colors.   They pair beautifully with black, and I always feel like these colors give me feline-eyes.  Meow.

Considering:  Olive Skirt +  Olive Skinnies (not pictured):   These finish off my olive/khaki color capsule.   The skirt is super-casual - and, maddeningly, has to be ironed.   With starch.   This is the best I am able to get it.   And yet, I really love it.   It has a matching grosgrain ribbon belt, not pictures (because I couldn't find it).   I also have a pair of coated olive skinnies - however, I gained weight this summer, and I am not happy with how they look, although they still fit well.  I've taken a few pounds off already, but the skinnies may have to wait until the next capsule.

Considering:  White Skirt +  White Skinnies:  I am still deciding on these.   I love them both, and I think the white would go beautifully with the blush colors.   The skirt is cotton, with a beautiful sheen, so perhaps that is best saved for spring and summer seasons.   Or  I may include both pieces to start, and do a mid-season swap to the olive.   Or cut out some black pieces?   Decisions, decisions.

Let me note that the belt-loops are coming off of this skirt.   It took me several wears to realize they were bothering me.  I feel that no loops = a cleaner line.

Considering: Black Long-sleeve Top:   I haven't worn this all spring or summer, but it's been a favorite for three years now.  I wore it Friday evening to go out, and the love is back.   I may put this into my capsule and cut another black top.

Considering:  Blush Top:   As noted above, I want to add a blush-pink top to my closet.   I found one today, at a thrift shop!   I am undecided.   It has the Wolford aesthetic that I love, but it doesn't quite go with my blush leather jacket.   If I find a better match in a blush top, this one will move to dancewear, where it will be put to very good use. 

Considering:  White Top:   As noted above, I want to add a white top to my closet.   I found this top today at the same shop as the blush one.   It was a little too casual, I thought, but I love the neckline.   It has a really nice wide ballet neck.  If I find a better white top this fall, then this will move to dancewear.  

So here I am, with three weeks left to make changes, cuts, and tweaks.   I am very happy with my progress on this project so far.   What do you think of my first Project 333?   I would love your input!

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