A Day in the Life of an Admissions Traveler

I may spend most of my time talking about fitness and wellness on this blog, but I spend most of my time working as the associate director of admissions at Washington College.

My work is divided into three parts: territory manager, supervisor, and communications manager. I thought it might be fun to share a day in the life of one of my work hats: territory manager.

I got the idea for this when I met a fellow Marylander at Garden of the Gods. She noticed me taking a picture of Gus (our goose mascot), and asked what I was doing. I told her I recruited for a small, private liberal arts college in Maryland. That’s when I found out that she grew up near College Park! As she walked away, I heard her remark to her travel companion that ‘it would be cool to travel around and recruit students.’

Well, yes and no. Mostly, yes. Let me explain. It’s a pretty high-energy, high-demanding job. On the plus side, we get to share enthusiasm for a ‘product’ we love: education. We get to share excitement for our institution, and help students realize their interests and future possibilities. Those parts are great. The business side of the job, and the actual recruitment can be overwhelming.

For fun (I mean, like I think push-ups are fun), I’ll share a sample day from my recent trip to Colorado. My territory includes the center of the U.S., and mostly I travel to Colorado and Texas. What does that mean? I plan targeted trips to visit high schools, attend college fairs, and meet with interested students and school counselors. I share the #wacluv.

A Day in the Life of an Admissions Traveler:

4:45 a.m. – wake up time! Stretches and a little wake-up yoga.
5:20 a.m. – shower time, get ready, eat breakfast (apple and banana, keeping it light)
6:00 a.m. – on the road – 1:15 hour drive this morning (everything in CO is so far apart)

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My travel uniform – all the maroon and black things!

7:35 a.m. – arrive at the first school, set-up for a college fair
8:05 – 9:45 a.m. – College Fair for one school, all high school grades – good conversations about IB credits, applications, questions about majors, atheltics, and clubs.

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A typical fair set-up – banner, poster stands, all the brochures, Gus.

10:00 a.m. – Starbucks run! #NationalCoffeeDay Then on to the next school, 30 min. drive
11:00 a.m. – School #2 of the day. Great visit with the school counselor. No students this time!
11:45 a.m. – Drive to the next school, 45 minutes plus a little traffic. Nibble some of my mixed nut concoction and all the water in the car. Colorado is both dry and at a higher elevation, so water consumption is a JOB.
1:00 p.m. – School #3, final school, of the day. We have a current student from this school, so I met with all 3 of the counselors, shared updates. One student met with me this time. Great conversation about double majoring, prepping a visit to campus, and service opportunities.
2:00 p.m. – Head to my next hotel (#4 of this trip) to check-in and get my stuff together for the evening college fair.
3:00 p.m. – WORKOUT time! I usually like to workout in the morning, but with late-night college fairs combined with early morning drives and meetings with schools, the late afternoon works best for me. I do a 2-mile treadmill run and finish with some TurboKick moves/practice. I just did an extra training for Turbo and am SO excited to share the new moves with my students!

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Even sporting the #wacluv during my workout!

4:00 p.m. – Shower, clean-up, get ready to leave for the evening college fair. 50 minute drive.
5:30 p.m. – Arrive, park at the county football stadium and grab the bus to the school – the fair organizers asked us to please consider parking far away and catching a bus to the fair, so the parents and students could park at the school, where there is limited parking. For our ‘trouble,’ we received gift cards (I took a Starbucks one thank youuuuuu).
5:45 p.m. – Arrive at the school, set-up my table. Head to dinner – they’ve catered Noodles & Company

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Another fair set-up! Oh my! Note the bleachers in EVERY one of my college fair tables – oh the joys of being at the end of the alphabet and usually in the back gym…

6:20 p.m. – Head to my table and get ready for the fair to start at 6:30
6:30 – 8:00 p.m. – College Fair! I met with lots of interested students. We have a current student from the host school on campus, so it was nice to meet some of her former classmates. Lots of questions about theatre, premedical studies, psychology, biology, and political science. Most of the students (about 20) who approached my table asked for the ‘overview’ which is essentially our elevator speech. In this area, I always refer to our map and show aerial photos of campus – this gets a huge response for people used to seeing mountains in the skyline. Overall, a good fair for us!
8:15 p.m. – Catch the bus back to the parking lot and prep for the drive home. Only 45 minutes going this direction. Chat with the husband (thanks to bluetooth) on the way home.
9:00 p.m. – Re-organize my college items to prep for the next day of visits. Enter all of the
information cards that students completed at the fair in our data system. Lay out clothes
for the next day. Work on a few communications items, also work on items for the upcoming Oktoberfest event for Colchester. A little bit of writing in the bullet journal. Put on the movie Deep Impact (oh, sweet baby Elijah Wood) in the background for fun noise. Cry a little (stupid movie).

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I carry my high school visit items in my WAC bag, and my college fair stuff in a backpack.

10:30 p.m. – BEDTIME. Have to get up at 4:45 again the next day!

So, this is just a series of events for one day — but it’s pretty much the way most of my days in Colorado go — it’s a pretty intense week. Not shown – all the prep work done before getting here – knowing which schools to visit, examining all of the data to determine where to go/who to meet, etc. Following all of my visits, I send a handwritten note to students and a thank you to both the school counselors and the registrar or assistant in the office, the person who makes the schedule. Depending on the nature of the conversation with the students, I might also prep a small package of additional information or goodies to share.

There we have it! This is how I spend a typical day ‘on the road.’

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #17

Happy Coffee Talk Tuesday! Welcome to the weekly chat where I spill my guts and try not to spill my coffee. That would be very sad.

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Hello from Colorado! One of my favorite things about admissions fall travel is working from coffee shops. I usually gravitate toward Starbucks because they are everywhere and convenient. I just love working while being surrounded by other busy-bodies and the delicious smell of java.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m on day 4 of a 10-day work trip in the beautiful state of Colorado. Why am I here? In case we’re only connected via the fitness world, I’ll let you know that my full-time job at the moment is working for Washington College as the associate director of admissions — I manage the middle of the country ‘territory’ meaning that I make meaningful connections with families and students, looking for the next class (ummmm Class of 2021 y’all) of eager, enthusiastic, bright, talented students. And Colorado is a great place to do this! I love, love, love this territory.

While I’m on the road, I visit various high schools, attend college nights and meet 1:1 with students and counselors. It’s a high-energy job with lots of details, communication, follow-up, and organization. This is year 9 for me! dramatic pause.

This is a neat week to be in Colorado – hundreds of out-of-state colleges flock to the area for the special events — we have TEN college fairs this week (most recruiters attend all the events) on top of whatever other visits we plan individually. Most of the high schools I’m visiting have told me that 120+ schools have scheduled to meet with their students this week. It’s great because there is SO MUCH energy and focus dedicated to college search and the students are super prepped and ready to meet with us.

If we were having coffee today, I’d walk you through a day in the life of an admissions road warrior — but will refrain from sharing the details in this post. Look for a post on this later in the week! I’m sure you’ll be biting your nails in sweet anticipation.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’ve gotten to be a pro at making the most of my time on the road recruiting. My first year, it was such a blur. I had a HUGE territory that first year (we had 5 counselors at the time, now we have 12, such a difference), and definitely did not pay attention to me. Now, I know that I have to keep myself in good health and happy/recharged in order to do the best job and be the best representative for my institution.

What does that involve? Out here in CO, that means I spend time outside. I absolutely love to hike, and there is no shortage of opportunity to do that here. I’ve visited this area 5 times before, and each time I try to find a new place to explore. This year, I finally made it to Garden of the Gods. I will absolutely revisit my favorite trail in Boulder (at the Flatirons), itching to be outside for a hike. It takes some major organization and planning to fit in all the details on such a busy schedule. But for me, this is so worth it. I also find that I have fun things/experiences to share with the students that I meet, if I understand their area a little more.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that this territory involves lots of driving — I visit the city of Denver, then head to Colorado Springs, up to Ft. Collins and Boulder, over to Aspen, and everywhere in between that funky triangle. I will travel close to 750-800 miles in these 10 days.

I’m a total pro at traveling. I’m SO excited this year to be completely addicted to a new podcast, thanks to the recommendation of a colleague. I’m listening to Sounds of the Trail, which follows thru-hikers trekking across the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. It’s so well done. I love all the topics, and have completely fallen in love with the cast of characters (um, real people). It reminds me so much of my Appalachian Trail hikes, and makes me crave getting back on the trail. I’ve already warned my dear husband to prepare for ALL THE HIKING. I highly recommend this podcast. It makes all the miles so easy to traverse.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you oops sorry for jeopardizing the conversation! I want to hear what you’re doing today/this week — what’s on your mind?

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #16

Happy Coffee Talk Tuesday! Welcome to the weekly chat where I spill my guts and try not to spill my coffee. That would be very sad.

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If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m a BIG fan of sports this week! Did you know that Dunkin gives free coffee (medium) if your local sports team WINS?! Yay football!!!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m gearing up for a 10-day work travel adventure. It’s both exciting and hard to leave. I love my time in Colorado – it’s very productive, but also exhausting. I’ll spend 10 days and travel to 12 cities between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs (and even out to Aspen). I love it, and wouldn’t trade my territory for the world. I’ll get a week at home, and then it’s Oktoberfest and Harvest Home events, then I’m back on the ‘road’ to Texas for 4 days in Houston and 2 days in Memphis. Whew!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that for the first time in EIGHT years, my travel does not include the National Conference for admissions/counseling. Most of my team is going, but I’m not this year. I made a conscious decision to scale back in my extracurricular professional work this year — I’m no longer a leader on the President’s Council for my regional group, so I thought maybe I’d sit this conference out. Instead, I’m attending a marketing/communications focused conference/workshop in Memphis. It’s a good move for me.

If we were having coffee today, I’d probably say not attending the national conference and scaling back my leadership duties is a sign of Millennial Burnout. Specifically, millennial woman burnout. We tend to get involved, say YES to everything, because we think this task, no that task will lead us to a brighter future. But, what happens is we get so stuck in the weeds, stuck on the yes train, that we lose sight of our career options, and end up not working toward anything at all. And I find myself stuck as a ‘task master’ in my office. No one knows how to do that? Let’s ask Aundra. I love and hate it. I want to do my part to help the team succeed, but sometimes it’s nice to say YOU, it’s your turn. I have a hard time letting go, but that’s one of the professional goals I’ve set this year. It’s all to avoid the burnout, even though I think I’m already circling the drain.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that there have been some CHANGES in the small world. First, Google. Did you notice the change in their iconic logo? Me neither.

Speaking of changes, are you ready for this one? A variety of finger-pointing articles have declared that maybe there are 13 signs of the zodiac, not 12. Now, look, I’m not really into astrology, but it’s always fun to read a horoscope or learn more about personalities based on someone’s birthday. I’ve long identified as a Gemini. Maybe that’s not the case anymore; I might be a Taurus. Truthfully, I think we can find qualities of ourselves in all of the signs, but I’ve spent the past 30 years thinking I’m a Gemini. Here are the ‘new’ zodiac dates/charts. And here’s an article that might get you thinking about the whole proposal.

If we were having coffee today, I’d end on a weird note with an article that has me intrigued this week – Signs an Employee Should be Fired. As a supervisor, I’m always looking for great tips, ways to motivate people, keep them engaged and active. This article caught my attention because it takes more of a negative approach – things not to do. Combine this with the previously-mentioned burnout article, and this just-published article on high demands and expectations, and I’m even more uncertain and confused, especially as a supervisor/mentor. We’re practically pushing new/first-level professionals to act in ways that should get them fired. I’ve long talked about the crazy sense of entitlement and inability to do something that ‘isn’t my job’ among new hires, but maybe we’re helping create that culture (not reassigning blame, some of that is on the individual/professional). Just something on my mind a LOT lately.

What’s in your cup this week?

 

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #15

Happy Coffee Talk Tuesday! Welcome to the weekly chat where I spill my guts and try not to spill my coffee. That would be very sad.

Starting the day with Evergrain!

Starting the day with Evergrain!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that we had a really fun weekend. I started Friday night with some yoga by the water at Clovelly Vineyard — my first visit here! What a great location. On Saturday, I taught a Zumba class and then we left for Hagerstown to visit Johnny’s aunt. We did some shopping, ate delicious food, and hiked at Cunningham Falls. So awesome!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I rode my bike for the first time yesterday post-surgery. It’s crazy how many activities tug at your abdomen. My route includes a couple of inclines, so it was definitely an interesting challenge. I can’t wait to do it again!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m ready to start running again! I’m going to take it slow, maybe just one day this week, and add on with the days and the mileage as I go. I’ve rekindled my love for running this summer, so I’m looking forward to getting back to the pavement.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that most of the articles that have caught my attention this week are related to work schedule, productivity, motivation, and even email culture. I have supervisory tasks on my creative brain — working to find the best ways to keep workers motivated, productive, creative, and happy. (Of course I have asked them their preferred styles).

On the same side, it’s hard to empower people while also reminding them to be respectful. Happy to hear any tips from fellow managers! Tasks I’ve mastered — I love managing tasks. People are much more dynamic. I’ve been a supervisor for years, but this is the first time I have 4 people on my team, plus a student intern and a team of 15 students.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that as a professional, it’s awesomesauce when you see other people taking flight with something you created. I’m a creator — I like to fill space with something new. I like developing things from thin air. When someone else takes that initiative, that creative piece and makes it their own or pushes it up even more — that’s gold to me. I love watching my ideas get lifted and used for the greater good.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that we’re taking our one year anniversary pictures this week! We have taken engagement and wedding photos with the fabulous Chelsea Fluharty and I’m so excited to take ONE YEAR HUSBAND and WIFE photos. I can’t believe it’s almost been a year!!!!!

What’s on your mind this week?

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #14

Happy Coffee Talk Tuesday! Welcome to the weekly chat where I spill my guts and try not to spill my coffee. That would be very sad. FullSizeRender (22) I love that first cup of coffee in the morning. You know, I read an article that claimed you shouldn’t drink coffee first thing — it should be part of your later morning routine, should you elect to drink it. Even more important than the actual drinking of the coffee is the smelling of the coffee — it awakens the senses first. Who knew?

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m teaching all of my classes this week! It’s probably a little soon, but I’m eager and have lots of stir-crazy people ready for classes. A little-known fact – classes aren’t a workout for instructors! So, my workouts are still on hold, sort of, but I’m happy to help other people get their workouts.

On the same note, if we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’ve been to a Yin Yoga class, and a Hot Yoga class, and I just signed up for another one this week. I’m not 100%, but as I’ve been telling people, I don’t think I’ll ever get to that 100% point.

Let me back up — I’m looking at a ‘new normal’ — I’m not going to try to ‘get where I was before surgery’ because maybe that’s unrealistic. Now that I’ve had surgery and have experienced unplanned down time working out, maybe this is a chance to mix things up. I might run more, do more yoga, lift differently, etc. I want to change my workouts to my new normal, and work toward this new vision of myself (not quite version, that seems too strong).

If we were having coffee today, I’d finally share the awesome book that was recommended to me. It’s called The Go-Giver, and it’s life changing. I applied ONE of the five rules and have already seen results. I’m excited to see what happens when I’m able to coach myself to complete all 5. It’s one of those books that you have to be ready to read. I think someone picking it up half-heartedly would likely scoff at it, not understand the full ability of the concepts. But this was the perfect time for me to read this book.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I received another book recommendation (and I believe this is strongly related to that one rule I applied from the previous book) from an unexpected source. I’m in the middle of reading a just-for-fun book, but once I complete it, I’ll be diving head-first into this new book recommendation. I already purchased it!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’ve been deeply reading a lot about productivity and motivation. As a supervisor for 4 people now, I’m constantly looking at new ways to help encourage prioritization, push deadlines without being pushy, and motivating people based on their strengths (and the needs of the institution). This is powerful stuff.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you we’re making great progress on the kitchen this week! We had to stop for a little while based on work/life schedules, but we’re moving ahead with the next phase now. So exciting! We’re hoping to be completed by next spring, at the latest. Because so many people ask, YES we can still cook, we have a sink in the very large laundry room that we use, and we have a large dining room table that serves as a place for prep and eating. We eat every day! haha.

Let’s go conquer this Tuesday!

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Fitness Friday #62: Booty Blaster Challenge

It’s a new month, so it’s time for a new online fitness challenge! I love creating and sharing these challenges — especially because people can participate from anywhere.

This month, we’re hosting a Back to School Booty Blaster Challenge! It’s 10 days (11 with extra credit) of moves, with the idea to perform 30 reps of the day’s move.

The goal with these online challenges is to introduce new moves, to shake up the fitness routine. These are not meant to be your only workout of the day — they can compliment your workout plan. It’s best if you warm up before performing any of these moves, and give yourself some time to stretch after the challenge!

How to participate: Check out the moves, join the facebook event, and plan to try 30 reps of the day’s move, starting September 5.

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30 reps each

September 5 – Plie squats
September 6 – Single leg deadlifts
September 7 – Sumo squat calf raises
September 8 – Single leg glute bridges
September 9 – Fire hydrants (with optional leg extension)
September 10 – Bear plank leg lifts
September 11 – Rainbows
Septmeber 12 – Curtsy lunges (optional kick)
September 13 – Standing rainbows
September 14 – Squat to sumo
September 15 – Extra credit: curtsy lunges, plie squats, sumo squat calf raise

Videos of each move will be posted in the facebook group. Can’t wait to share another challenge with everyone!

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #13

Happy Coffee Talk Tuesday! Welcome to the weekly chat where I spill my guts and try not to spill my coffee. That would be very sad.

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Today’s coffee brought to you by pumpkin and peaches. Because it’s not the end of summer until pumpkin everything crowds the peaches.

Happy Tuesday! If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I broke down and purchased a glorious bag of WaWa pumpkin coffee this weekend. And then another bag of Archer Farms pumpkin coffee, to keep things even. Tis the season!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that, already, it’s been a week of strange news and hopeful news. What is it about Mondays? Like, can we all agree to spread the news evenly throughout the week? I woke up thinking today was Thursday, no joke, because it seems like it’s been a full week.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I successfully taught 4 classes last week (including a special ab challenge class) with minimal pain. I’m grateful to have this week off teaching (College policy – first week of classes), but think I’ll be ready to dive back in next week.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that my own workouts will probably take at least another week, before I’m ready to push myself (I’m more than ready to get back to teaching, but that doesn’t include pushing myself). I did sign up for a Hot Yin Yoga class tonight, and depending on how that goes, I might sign up for my usual Saturday hot yoga class, too. Lifting and running, not quite ready yet. (but I did manage eka pada II last night, and the start of a straight leg approach headstand).

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I finished my great new book! The story proved cheesy, but the messages and lessons were genuine. It was recommended to me by someone who interviewed for a position in my office and did not end up receiving it — but gave great book recommendations. I think there’s always something to learn from situations like that. I’ve served on nearly 3 dozen hiring groups and try to take away a lesson, something, from each of them.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I chopped off lots of hair! It felt heavy, and there’s something about having shorter hair that makes me feel better. I also just love a cute little ponytail.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that we spontaneously went to Annapolis (it’s been awhile!) for a date night on Friday– complete with a dinner at Lemongrass, a trip to Target, and a trip to Whole Foods. My kind of night! I love dates with my husband.

Speaking of dates, if we were having coffee today, I’d tell you we’re getting dangerously close to our ONE YEAR wedding anniversary! It will also be our 3 year dating anniversary and our 2 year engagement anniversary. We’re pretty much in love with October 31. We just booked a trip to Charlotte, NC, a new adventure city for both of us, to celebrate. Can’t wait!

More on my mind, but that’s all I’ve got to share today! Drink all the coffees!

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Fitness Friday #61: When You Can’t Workout

So, you get injured. You’re sidelined. Or maybe you have unexpected surgery (or even expected). You have a baby. SOMETHING in your life changes.

And you can’t workout.

But you love to workout.

What do you do?

First, you get sad or angry, especially if you spend most of your ‘free time’ working out, thinking about working out, dreaming about working out, helping other people, motivating other people. Then, you do something irrational or silly (eat a pint of ice cream, unfollow fitness celebrities, unfriend negative people).

Then, you focus and get back in the game.

Maybe it’s not a workout game, but there ARE other things you can do (WHO KNEW) when you can’t workout.

Here’s a list of things I’ve been doing:

  1. Read books. Reading is SO FUN. Just don’t read books about working out at first. You might throw them.
  2. Meditate. Again, hard at first. But what about exercising the mind? I even made a mala to aid my meditation. And it’s been pretty awesome. Even spending some time alone reflecting can be great. But don’t let it become a pity party.
  3. Clean up your eats. Fun fact: when you’re not as active,  you don’t need as much to eat. And you’re not as hungry. Pros: hangry isn’t a thing!!! Cons: food is delicious and you can’t eat all of it suddenly. I’m eating 1.5-2 meals a day right now, and it’s more than enough for me. (Related: I accidentally meal prepped like a regular week, so now I have SOMUCHFOOD and it’s funny).
  4. Learn something new. I haven’t gotten to this stage yet, but this is a grand time to pick up a new interest or hobby.
  5. Do something you ordinarily can’t do. Like, when I was teaching ALLTHEDAYS after work, I couldn’t come home and make dinner, or we’d be eating at 8:30 and that’s almost bedtime. So, since I’m not teaching (trying 4 classes this week!), I can cook dinner for us. It’s fun! I missed cooking.
  6. Organize things. Ok, this shows up on my list for everything. I love organizing things! I can’t lift more than a ‘gallon of milk’ (which SADLY weighs less than my cat, she’s heartbroken I’m sure), but I sure can direct the hubs to move things and sift through boxes. Or lift things awkwardly and slowly.
  7. Direct energy toward projects you’ve neglected. I have the tendency to get involved in a lot. And this is a great time to throw some energy toward those initiatives (related: want to buy a fall share from Colchester Farm? We’re taking new members NOW!).

Any tips to share from fellow workout lovers/instructors who find themselves unable to workout?

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My beautiful mala! Handmade, by me!

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #12

Happy Coffee Talk Tuesday! Welcome to the weekly chat where I spill my guts and try not to spill my coffee. That would be very sad.

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Today’s post is brought to you by Worcester Preparatory School! Not really, but it’s one of my favorite schools to visit. I’m sad it’s not part of my territory anymore!

I’ve said it once/a million times, but boy, what a difference a week makes. Since last week’s weird events, I’m back at work, and am attempting to teach 4 of my usual 11 classes.

Don’t worry — I’m stubborn, but I’m a smart lady, too. I won’t push myself this week. Next week, we aren’t allowed to lead any fitness classes, so this is a good ‘test’ week before diving back into the mix on September 5.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that September 5 sounds like a FAR away time, but it’s in like 2 weeks, not even. How? Don’t get me wrong, I love all things fall – the crisp air, apples, pumpkin everything, scarves, cute jackets, boots — the long list of favorites. But summer seems to have slipped by this year. I guess that happens.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that last week was a big learning week in my world. I learned some unfortunate things about friendship, some great things about having a reliable and loyal husband, and some tough things about my identity and how I see myself/my place in the world. It was hard. I didn’t expect my emotions to get the best of me last week, especially since I know myself as a very strong human who can tolerate a lot of pain.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’ve started a new book, recommended to me by a very unexpected source. It’s amazing. I can’t wait to share ideas from it, and start implementing them in my own practices.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that this is a new week, and I’m always excited at the possibilities of a new week.

Cheers to you!

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Fitness Friday #60: Then & Now

I used to call this ‘before & after’ but I’m learning to shift my language to ‘then & now.’ There isn’t really an ‘after’ when it comes to fitness and wellness, because you’re always changing and expanding your knowledge and understanding.

Most of this learning has come from a deepened yoga practice. When I first started practicing, it was all about ‘nailing’ the moves (and in some cases, I still host those sentiments). Now, I’m learning that it’s more about being aware, focusing, creating space in the body, and quieting the mind.

Most of these ‘then and now’ photos were taken 1-2 years apart. I want to focus on more than just the physical differences. There’s been a lot of learning, growth, and understanding between shots.

I don’t practice each of these moves every day, or even every week, so the ‘now’ pieces might be from the last month or couple of months.

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I don’t practice this one regularly, but I feel the difference now and can better understand why the one on the left looks like I’m having a hard time holding it.

When I first started practicing, I was told that ‘crow is the gateway to arm balances.’ I so wish I could go back to that moment and disregard that information. Not being able to get into crow well at first discouraged me from practicing arm balances. I had it in my mind that I had to balance in crow before all other poses. This is not the case! I found better balance in eight-legged pose and side balances and those became my gateway to confidence. When I revisit crow now, it comes more easily.

My next challenge is to move from crow to firefly.

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Backbends have always come easily to me. I practiced these a lot as a kid, just because it felt fun (which is really entertaining to think about, because as an adult I’ve had to fight hard against upside-down fears).

I love the backbend in camel and playing with variations. There’s always room for growth with this posture. Even in the ‘now’ picture, I can see that I have to work on pushing my hips forward.

My next challenge is to continue pushing my hips forward and walk the hands toward the knees.

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This one is subtle. Side planks can be a fierce tool in a yogi’s physical development. Through my daily practice, I’ve learned to position the resting foot above (or below) the knee, not directly on the knee. I’ve also learned that the balance and strength are greater when the balancing arm is not directly below the shoulder, but at a slightly obtuse angle from the body.

My next challenge is to create space in the back and grab that resting foot from behind with my free arm on top.

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I love the openness felt in half moon pose. I love adding this to flows, and use it frequently in my PiYo classes. Thanks to regular studio practice (with an instructor), I’ve started practicing binds in this posture.

It’s very challenging to balance on one foot while grabbing the free leg and wrapping the second arm around the body. I’ve had to learn trust (falling forward several times) and to concentrate on the breath while working through this bind.

My next challenge with this is to practice on the other side (guilty).

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I’m probably most proud of my headstand progress this year. It’s a ‘cool’ posture, but I’m mostly proud that I’ve truly conquered my upside-down fears. It has taken time (these photos are 2 years apart), but I’ve managed to control the breath, take my time, and focus on engaging the core to keep the legs lifted.

My next challenge is to keep working on variations on entering and exiting this posture.

I love tracking my progress! Previously, I worked under a ‘pose and snap’ model, and now I end up using a screenshot of my bigger practice. Now, I’m very interested in flow, how to get into and out of certain movements and how everything connects and ‘unlocks’ the next level.

And sometimes, life throws you unexpected setbacks, and you have to prepare yourself for physical challenges. Fortunately, my situation is temporary, but I know I’ll have a ton of hard work ahead of me to build back what I’ve worked so diligently to gain this summer.

I’m sure I’ll continue to grow within my practice, and I look forward to understanding even more.

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