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June 2013

Two Hundred Fifty Seven.

I’ll never forget the day I met up with my friends Margaret and Tim in Paris. After Mags and I finished our degrees in Glasgow, we did a bit of travelling together. They started before me and I met them in Paris at our hotel, so they had been there one day longer than I.

First of all, when I arrived, I was horrified to find that our room was on the top (or at least second from the top) floor of the hotel (of course) and that there was no elevator (of course). Rather, there was a set of stairs so narrow and so steep and so spiral-y that by the time we got up there, I was sweaty, out of breath, and never wanted to leave again.

After a quick survey of the room, Margaret took a step toward me, her face serious.

“So, that door leads to the bathroom. It’s a bit – uh – different.”

I consider myself well versed in very strange and downright disgusting bathrooms, but I definitely wasn’t prepared to see what I saw when I opened the door.

“What the fu…where’s the rest of it?”

“I guess it’s a common thing here?” Mags shrugged.

It was a mini bathtub.

I can’t find a photo of a similar bathtub, so for the remainder of this post, it’s going to seem like I made this shit up, but I swear to you, it was like a normal sized bathtub, only cut in half.

“At least there’s a way to wash.” I sighed. Could be worse.

“Just be really careful when you go to squat/sit down in it. It’s slippery.”

Great.

Guys, if you can avoid it (clearly you can, because clearly I made this shit up), I recommend staying away from mini bathtubs. You go to sit and you slide with a “whoooops,” your bum hitting ice cold porcelain and scaring the shit out of you. Then, if you’re anything like me, the size of your bum blocks any water from really getting to the drain because the fucking bathtub is so small, so you spend your entire “bath” (because let’s not insult real baths by calling it a bath) trying not to overflow the bathtub.

So that was fun.

That was the week(ish) I learned that I don’t like miniature bathtubs.

xA

P.S. I swear that damn bathtub existed.

P.P.S. If you can find me a photo of what I’m talking about and/or tell me a story of your own personal experience with a horrible mini bathtub, I will be a better friend to you.

P.P.P.S. Give me a break today. I’m tired.

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Two Hundred Fifty Six.

A couple nights ago, I was with my BFF Jo at the gym for a weight-training workout. She wanted to start with a prolonged chunk of time on the elliptical, which I was cool with.

It’s been a while since I just stayed on an elliptical machine for 30 minutes. Okay, not a crazy long time, but at least a month or two.

606_29835_P

Wow, it’s boring, hey?

After about five minutes, I was so over it.

So I decided to switch my iPod over to my Zumba® class playlist to practice my choreography.

If you’re wondering how one practices Zumba® choreography while they are on an elliptical, I can tell you that it involves a lot of bouncing in place while your legs move, and a lot of very animated arm movements. I tend to use my arms to represent both my arms and where my legs should be moving. I know, it sounds weird and confusing, but I swear it makes perfect sense to me.

So I went for it. I started to run-dance my way through my playlist, getting completely caught up in what I was doing, flinging my arms around, throwing punches, flexing my muscles, the whole bit.

Then I happened to glance over to my right…where another girl on the elliptical was looking at me like this:

tumblr_inline_mfdsoqRLc71ry4qim

I glanced to my left and noticed a security camera.

Well, shit.

Did I stop? No. Did I tone it down? A little.

Lesson learned: Andrea, sometimes you’re in a public place. This isn’t your car, after all.

xA

Two Hundred Fifty Five.

Yesterday, I was telling my mom a story while we were both sitting on the couch, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a hot air balloon go by. I essentially turned five years old. My sentence went something like this.

“Yeah, I saw on the news that – A BALLOON! A BALLOON!”

And the rest of the conversation was lost.

Here’s the story of one of the coolest days of my childhood (and maybe my life).

My brother and I were eating breakfast one morning. I remember that it was still pretty early because we were rocking matching pyjamas that our maternal grandma made us. We had a few sets – adorable pants and button-up shirt combos, just like kids in the movies wear.

We spotted a beautiful rainbow hot air balloon through our back window.

“WHOA! Look at that, Mom! TOO COOL!”

My mom looked outside, her face a mixture of wonder and concern.

“It looks awfully close.” she said.

And she was right.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that the hot air balloon was drifting straight into our neighbourhood. Literally. As it got closer and closer to the ground, it became clear that the hot air balloon was going to LAND.

Rainbow

I can’t even remember if my brother and I put on shoes. We took off running out through the backyard and down about half a block to the intersection just behind our house. The balloon floated down to the ground – taking what felt like forever – until the giant basket hit the street. I couldn’t believe how immense the entire thing was. Up in the sky, they look like toys – like you could reach out to one, grab it, and put it in your pocket. This balloon was so gigantic that our excitement was quickly met with intimidation. I was vibrating with anticipation, my cheeks sore from the giant grin on my face.

I don’t know if it was an emergency landing or what. What I do know is that as soon as the basket hit the ground, the man from the balloon jumped out of it and jogged away so as not to be enveloped by yards and yards of rainbow balloon.

Guys, I’ve gotta tell you, I don’t know if any guy has ever seemed as cool as the balloon guy. He honestly might as well have been an astronaut (i.e., the coolest people ever). I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open in awe as he jogged away. What a hero, I thought to myself, that man flew a balloon.

That was the day I learned that sometimes magic happens.

xA

Two Hundred Fifty Four.

When I was in my early years of elementary, I had a friend named Amy.

We were pretty tight – maybe even best friends (to whatever extent you can be when you’re like, six and you only have like, two friends anyway*) – so I played at her house a lot and vice versa. But there was one day that kind of changed everything for me.

You could say it was a friendship deal breaker, only that wasn’t a trendy phrase when I was in grade one.

Amy and I were playing in her room when she decided to get her adorable little hamster, whose name I forget (and I actually feel bad that I forget his name because he was sooo cute), out of his cage. We played with him for a while, petting him and giving him a few minutes of running time in his hamster ball, but then she said, “Okay, we need to feed him.”

I thought, “Okay, cool, I guess _______ likes snacks. Who doesn’t?” and nodded my head in agreement.

The hamster ate one snack, but then he was done. Good. Satisfied. Belly full.

Great, he’s happy; let’s move on and keep playing.

“Why won’t he eat more?” Amy asked me, annoyed.

“He’s full.” I said matter of factly.

“No, I want him to pretend to be my baby and I’m feeding him.” Amy was determined.

“He’s full.” I said again, worried.

Amy proceeded to force feed her hamster at least six more cookies while I looked on in horror. She pressed them into his mouth until he somehow choked them down. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t know what to do. The hamster very clearly did not want to eat. He was so anxious and distressed about what was happening that he pooped all over the floor.

I was horrified. I felt sick. I wanted to go home.

“Stop it, that’s enough.”

“Yeah,” Amy said, irritated, “He pooped all over. So gross.”

She put the hamster back in his cage, her face scrunched into a frown.

I honestly don’t remember playing with Amy after that day. I might have, but I’m fairly certain we grew apart not long after that.

Lesson learned: Good people don’t willingly hurt animals.

xA

P.S. We may have also grown apart after Amy ruined my birthday party by being obnoxious and slamming her disgusting, dirty rubber toy lizard into my birthday cake. She took “Lizzie” everywhere. I don’t even want to think about how contaminated he was.

P.P.S. It may have also been after Amy’s ultra-religious mother told my mom that my brother and I were going to hell because we didn’t have Jesus in our lives.

Hmm…

*Maybe you had a million friends when you were six and I was just unpopular. GOOD FOR YOU.

Two Hundred Fifty Three.

I was totally going to write about something else today, but sometimes the most important lessons in life just walk up to you and smack you in the face. What can I say?

I was having a totally normal morning and then this happened to me:

 

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt. I couldn’t tell if my day had just been made or destroyed. But then I really let it sink in, you know? And then I realized my day was definitely made.

Because today, June 26, 2013, is the day I learned that I am DEFINITELY a better hip hop dancer than Vanilla Ice.

(Sorry, buddy.)

xA

Two Hundred Fifty Two.

So on Sunday I did something I never really saw myself doing.

It’s not something I would have even deemed safe if not for my crazy (loveable) dermatologist telling me to.

“Yeah, yeah! Just wait 10 days and snip them off! It’s easy!”

I removed my own stitches.

The first one came out like a dream: one cut with very tiny scissors and it basically fell out of my foot. The second one, though, put up a fight. The battle involved me, my tiny scissors, a pair of tweezers, and a lot of wincing and loud-talking to myself about stuff that is not stitches.

It was a bit of a harrowing experience.

I can tell you this much: I learned two things that day.

  1. Removing stitches is slightly trickier than my dermatologist made it sound.
  2. I now feel like I’ve earned some sort of degree. So if you need a medical opinion on something, I’m totally comfortable with that.

xA

Two Hundred Fifty One.

Speaking of my love of Pilates, which I mentioned yesterday, here’s a funny story.

SIDENOTE: Sometimes my “funny” stories were awful when they happened, but funny to look back on. This one was instantly funny.

Okay, so on Friday I was having a pretty chill day. My original plans were to be in Canmore all weekend, but then the Southern Alberta floods hit, so I stayed in Edmonton. I decided that I would go down to my basement and try out a Pilates DVD I’ve had for years. I used to do it every single day while I was living in Glasgow, and hadn’t looked at it since, but in the meantime, I’ve been doing Reformer Pilates classes for the last year, so I figured I’d have a handle on it.

The DVD went great. It was a simple, but effective, work out. But then I got cocky.

I decided since I was already down on the mat, I was gonna try some stuff I had never attempted on a mat. See, in Reformer Pilates, you’re on a machine that helps keep you balanced, offsets your weight, and generally helps with a lot of body delicacies like back problems (which I am FULL OF). That doesn’t mean it’s easy, and it doesn’t mean you don’t strengthen your core. If anything, I’m about to be an example of the opposite.

My Pilates instructor Erin is laughing and shaking her head right now. I can feel it. She’s already heard this story. You should have seen the look on her face when I told her. (Hi, Erin! Don’t I make you like, crazy proud?!)

I started with a roll over prep and roll over. Here’s a video if you want a frame of reference:

 

For the record, this is something I’ve never been able to do. Like, not since I was a kid. In teenagerdom and adulthood, I’ve had such a weak lower back, it’s been impossible. But thanks to the last year, I did it no problem.

Holy shit, I thought to myself, I am a Pilates MASTER.

My error in judgement happened sometime while I was basking in the glory of doing a roll over. I’m not gonna pretend I didn’t get carried away. Why would I be writing about this if I didn’t? What’s the fun in that?

Since I was clearly excelling beyond my own expectations, I decided to kick it up a notch.

I bet I can do a jackknife, I told myself.

Here’s the jackknife:

 

Again, I do these on a Reformer all the time. They’re one of my favourite things to do because they stretch out your back like crazy and it feels so so good. But I’ve never done one on a mat. I knew I needed to use like, all of my abdominal strength to get up there, so I really engaged and prepared.

All right, Beça, I said to myself out loud, you can do this.

SIDENOTE: Yes, I do actually last name myself. Like, all the time. No, I am not a sports coach.

1…..2……3…..!

Guys, to say that I did it is an understatement. I did the jackknife, but I did it so hard that I got to the top way too fast and with way too much gusto, felt super victorious for approximately half a second, and then came crashing down.

Only I didn’t really crash down so much as over.

My legs went over my head, hit the dresser behind my head, and then slammed over to one side onto the ground with a BANG louder than I would have imagined my legs would make. Basically, I folded my body in half.

Before the final BANG, I had already started laughing. It would take about four hours for me to notice the stiffness in my neck and a good 24 hours for the goose egg and bruise to appear on my spine.

I am a Pilates MASTER!

Lesson learned: There are times in life during which you will be certain that you are, in fact, living in some sort of twisted, Truman Show type movie, and you just can’t see the cameras.

What? That’s it. I can’t prove I’m not. But I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said, “Who DOES this shit?!” to myself.

xA

P.S. You can still donate to the Alberta flood victims. Looking at the clean-up that is starting in Calgary now, it’s evident they are going to need it. Not just in Calgary, but everywhere. (Also, you can donate $5 at a time via text message if you’re with Rogers or Telus. With Rogers (and Fido), text “ABHELP” to 4664; with Telus, text “REDCROSS” to 30333.)

Two Hundred Fifty.

“Yeah, you should totally try it – it’s a lot of fun!”

In January 2012, I was down in the dumps, over-stressed, overweight, and trying to look for a way to get active again. I was tired of not working out and not feeling active and healthy, but I couldn’t bear the thought of spending every morning on a treadmill or elliptical. I wanted to do something fun. I heard about Zumba and decided to sign up for some classes after a couple of my friends told me I’d love it.

I was crazy scared to go to my first class, but my friends were right: it was a lot of fun. I loved the music and the moves, even though I wasn’t great at them at first. I decided this was something I could stick to, so I kept going.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve felt like a dancer. That might sound really strange, but it’s just always something I’ve felt, like down in my soul. Maybe part of it is in my blood – my mom was a gymnast and dancer for many years. As recently as a few years ago, I’d watch shows on TV like So You Think You Can Dance, and I’d be like, yeah, I’ve got that rhythm, I feel the music, I could do that.

But I just never did it because I was scared.

After a few months of small studio classes, I was confident enough to join a gym and start attending larger Zumba classes as well. It wasn’t long before some of the amazing instructors started coming up to me after class and saying, “You’ve got mad rhythm – you should become a Zumba instructor!”

I was floored. It wasn’t something I would have ever considered. I didn’t think I was nearly good enough or in strong enough shape to teach. But I had so much fun when I was at Zumba class and felt so happy while I was doing it that I thought what the hell? And I signed up for certification.

IMG_2138
Zumba B1 certification – with Ricardo Marmitte (the instructor).

After what was one of the most exhausting and sweaty days of my life, I had done it. I had become a certified Zumba instructor. And while going into the day, I wasn’t sure if I’d actually want to teach right away, by the time I was leaving, I was fired up. I wanted to start right then and there.

IMG_2140
Official.

Yesterday, I celebrated one year since starting what has been one of the wildest rides I’ve ever been on.

You may be sitting there thinking, “Big deal – you became a Zumba instructor,” but in the last year, my entire life has changed. And most of those changes have, in some way or another, been sparked by Zumba.

I mean, never in a million years did I ever think I would teach Zumba to 500 (!!) people at one time, but that happened, last November.

Groovin' for the Cure, November 2012.
Groovin’ for the Cure, November 2012.

Then again, never in a million years did I think I would become a fitness instructor, period. Like, dorky, overweight, super self-conscious me? Not a chance in hell.

Zumba opened up a lot of doors for me. It gave me confidence, got me in shape,  and introduced me to an absolutely incredible social circle of positive, encouraging, and inspiring women (and men). It gave me license to shake my bum in front of strangers, dance like nobody is watching, and really just let go on a daily basis. It helped be de-stress, laugh more often, and sleep better. It helped me connect more strongly to my cultural roots through music and dance. It encouraged me to try all sorts of new things I’ve also fallen in love with, like running, climbing, lifting weights, and Pilates. It helped me clear my mind so that I am more able to focus on my biggest passion in life: writing.

It helped me say goodbye to 100lbs and counting, something I’m still trying to wrap my head around on the daily.

Sept. 2011 vs. May 2013.
Sept. 2011 vs. May 2013.

If some weirdo stranger (or Future Andrea, like in that one episode of New Girl with Future Nick) had walked up to me on the street a year and a half ago when I was preparing to go to my first Zumba class and told me that all of this was going to happen, I would have told them to go to hell or check themselves into psychiatric care. But if I’ve learned anything since then – and I think I’ve learned a lot – it’s that anything is possible.

I’m not saying it’s gonna be Zumba for everyone, but when you find that thing you connect with that makes you happy, holy shit, DO IT.

Happy one-year Anniversary, Zumba!

xA

Two Hundred Forty Nine.

To really appreciate today’s life lesson, you need to read the last wee bit of yesterday’s post

Are you really too lazy to click over?

Okay, fine – I’m gonna help you out.

That was the day I learned – you guessed it – to answer my mom when she called me, lest she have a full-on call-the-FBI-freakout.

EXCEPT

(I’m a Libra – there’s always an exception to the rule, y’all.)

I had found it. The perfect hiding spot.

(No, I wasn’t sitting on the toilet, smart ass. My mom had totally learned to check there for me every time I went “missing.”)

I was in the linen closet.

You might think, “DUH, Andrea: that’s the easiest hiding spot ever,” but it had never really occurred to me. You see, it was pretty jam-packed. I had never seen the possibility before.

But on this particular day, I had a stroke of genius, I guess. I moved some of the folded towels and bed sheets up to a higher shelf and I crawled into the closet, leaning back on all of the fluffy linens, my feet pressed against the inside wall of the closet, my knees crunched against the underside of the shelf above me.

WHAT!

How had I never done this before? I mean (A) I was in a closet, which gave me an immediate advantage, (B) I was on linens – linens, people! – and (C) should I suddenly realize that I really had to pee, I was right next to the bathroom. Everything about this was right. Hell, I could have fallen asleep in there. I think I almost did at one point.

The thing that kept me awake was my own smug satisfaction. My mom was once again calling out my name and I was 100% out of sight. She would never find me here. I was, without a doubt, the best hider in the history of Hide and Seek. Sucker.

My hubris was my downfall, of course. My mom got into the hallway where the closet was and called my name. And I couldn’t help myself. I started to giggle and how much she sucked at this game.

“Andrea?” my mom called again, trying to place the source of the giggling.

I knew I had been found. It was good while it lasted. I threw open the closet door and rolled onto the floor in a fit of laughter.

Best. Hide and Seek. Ever.

So, the lesson here is that you should always answer your mom when she’s calling you, except when you’re totally kicking her ass at Hide and Seek.

xA

P.S. Just so you know – in case you haven’t played much Hide and Seek – once you’ve found the perfect hiding spot, it’s all over. You get one moment of glory, because after that, everyone’s gonna check the perfect spot first, every single time. I learned that the hard way.

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