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Monday, December 30, 2013

My Fav Year 2013

I have mentioned that I lived in England for a few years.  This Christmas, in a fit of nostalgia, I sat down and watched the Queen's annual Christmas message, in which she meditated on the past year and set the tone for the new year.  New Year's is always a time for reflection and resolution.  If the Queen can do it, so can the Mermaid.

I try to keep my "real" life and this blog separated, but since it's the end of the year, I hope you'll indulge my Mermaid musings.

At the beginning of this year, I sat down to devise a resolution for 2013 -- something I could stick to.  At that point, I had had major surgery in 2011 and 2012, I was feeling out of shape, and I felt like my knee would never stop aching.  Honestly, I just wanted to get through the year without having knee surgery.  Rather than resolving to exercise or diet, I came up with the "Moment of Fav" (which I've shared with my Facebook friends throughout this year).  Without losing my trademark cynicism, I resolved to find and savor a moment of "Favvulosity" every day in 2013.  No, I haven't forgotten how to spell -- Fav is like "Fab," only better.  Every day, no matter how tired or grumpy or cranky I might be, I found one thing that made me smile (basically, I took time to reflect on how great my life really is).  For the first time, I stuck to my resolution.

I looked back through all my Moments of Fav from 2013 and there are definitely some themes:

- Starting this blog and watching it grow (over 3300 views as of year end)
- Savoring time with family and friends
- Making time to take care of myself
- Cooking for my friends and family
- Celebrating my friends' accomplishments (and my own)
- Enjoying a play, movie, book or TV show
- Food p*rn
- The relief of the completion of repairs to my parents' Sandy-damaged house
- Enjoying my cats 

- Reconnecting with old friends (and surviving my milestone college reunion)
- Celebrating those who triumph over adversity 
- The random things you see on the NY subway

- Enjoying a good cuppa 
- Travelling
- Making jam
- Taking the time to enjoy a beautiful sunny day (or a snowstorm)

The big moment of Fav as the year ends is that my friend Miss C is on the mend after taking a nasty spill over her bike handlebars last Friday -- very grateful that she was wearing a bike helmet (and very thankful for the daily updates from her hubby GKH).

I think there is something to this positivity -- by being more positive, I actually started taking better care of myself, eating better, exercising, etc.  Without sounding like a Weight Watchers ad, I can see the physical results so far:

Last year 

Last Month
Same favvulous me, fewer chins, and my knees and back are less achy.  I'm happier and more "present", and I'm enjoying the journey.

For 2014, I am still working on my resolutions -- I am going to discontinue the daily Moment of Fav, but I will note occasional Moments of Fav when the mood strikes me.  I will make sure life continues to be favvulous (and I have a few new water adventures in the works for 2014).

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mermaid at the Movies -- Channeling my Inner Esther Williams

It's Christmas week -- Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!  Good New York Jew that I am, I spent yesterday indulging an old holiday tradition -- a movie and Chinese food with my folks.  I have been lucky enough to spend recent Christmases with friends, enjoying delicious feasts (in NYC, the UK and even California).  This year, I wanted to have a low key holiday and I really wanted to go to the movies.  Luckily, my parents were game.  We went to see American Hustle (very good, but didn't live up to the hype, in my opinion -- but I loved all the seventies hair styles and period details) and had nice big bowls of noodle soup and some dumplings at a very frenetic Chinese restaurant on the East Side.  Chatting up the staff in Mandarin helped us get a better table, at least.  It was a good day, but the reality of a teeming Manhattan movie theater did not live up to my childhood nostalgia.  I think I'll go back to Christmas dinner with friends next year (and watch some videos on Boxing Day).

I am working this week, but I still have a chance to catch up on some movies at home, so I started thinking about water-themed movies (while trying to avoid obvious choices like Splash and The Little Mermaid).  There are not that many movies depicting water exercise.  A friend mentioned Lost in Translation (one of my favorite movies).  I forgot about this scene of Bill Murray swimming in the Park Hyatt Tokyo.  The underwater view of the class is pretty great.  Bill Murray gets in on the action in this deleted scene.

I also thought about this scene from Cocoon, in which Hume Cronyn, Wilford Brimley and Don Ameche are rejuvenated with the help of alien pods in the swimming pool.

Those guys are pretty great divers (or else the editing of the stunt men is very good).

But then I decided to go back to the source and discovered this great set of Esther Williams DVDs on Amazon (you can also stream some of these online via Netflix, Amazon Video, etc.).  Nothing beats a classic.  Esther Williams passed away earlier this year at the age of 91.  She was a championship swimmer and became the queen of the Hollywood water musical extravaganza (there are a bunch of great clips from her films here).

Yes, some of these films are very dated.  Looking back, however, I love that all the women are very athletic without looking starved (they look healthy and athletic but still a little curvy).  The bathing suits are very retro-glam, and it makes me want to put on a flowery swim cap and sign up for synchronized swimming lessons.  Williams married Fernando Lamas (her co-star in several films, including Dangerous When Wet).  Dangerous When Wet also features a sequence with two animated co-stars (Tom and Jerry).

This sequence from Easy to Love puts the Go Go's to shame.

I leave you with this Oscar-winning song from Neptune's Daughter (partially filmed at Weeki Wachee in Florida), featuring Esther, a surprisingly hot young Ricardo Montalban, Betty Garrett and Red Skelton.  Skelton is pretending to be a South American polo player, hence the strange accent (don't ask).

A holiday classic (it probably wasn't that cold in Southern California, but suspend your disbelief and enjoy!).


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

For the Dogs

A quickie on this snowy morning.   Spotted this video of a dog who opted to stand in the pool rather than swimming with her pals. 

Perhaps she is following the Mermaid's lead and doing aqua yoga!  Never be afraid to march (or paddle) to the beat of your own drum!!


Monday, December 16, 2013

The Mermaid S'Wets With the Boys

The winter has gotten off to an early and cold start here in NYC.  I have been busy at work (which is normal for this time of year) and the pool at Equinox was closed around Thanksgiving for cleaning and maintenance.   I have also been baking up a storm and may have actually consumed my weight in butter over the past two weeks (well, not really, but I perfected a couple of holiday cookie recipes).  I feel like I am living in my giant purple down puffer coat (happy and warm, but looking vaguely like Barney the dinosaur as I trundle around in the ice and snow).  Luckily, I tried a great new class about a week ago -- S'Wet, taught by the fabulous Jenni Lynn.

Jenni teaches a Sunday morning water exercise class at Equinox on Lexington and 63rd.  It is kind of a hybrid of aerobics, interval training, stretching and toning, with some yoga and pilates elements in the mix.  I really enjoyed the class, so I talked to Jenni about the blog and she invited me to try her S'Wet class, which meets at various locations, including the JCC, NY Health and Racquet Club,  Equinox and Asphalt Green Battery Park City.  I tried the Saturday afternoon class at Yorkshire Towers (305 East 86th Street, just east of Second Avenue).

I have mentioned that I grew up on the East Side.  One of my grade school friends lived in Yorkshire Towers, and I have vivid memories of swimming in the pool there as a kid.  The decor is a little bit updated, but the pool is still great -- big and nicely heated.  There are locker facilities and a sauna in the adjacent gym.

In the year or so that I have been doing water exercise, the Saturday S'Wet class was a first for me.  I was the only woman in the class!  Lucky Mermaid, working out with these nice blokes -- including Jenni's lovely and supportive boyfriend.  The Wednesday night class at Yorkshire Towers apparently has more of a mix of men and women.

S'Wet is a mix of high intensity interval training and plyometrics.  We started by running back and forth from the shallow end of the pool to the deep end.  I have been doing deep water running for awhile, but this is the first time I tried running in the deep end without a flotation belt.  I didn't sink, but I also had a little trouble propelling myself forward in the deep water (ironically, I have no problem moving in Deep Water Running class when I am supposed to be running in place).  We did a variety of exercises in the shallow and deep water using kickboards and buoyancy bells.  My favorite deep water exercise involved stretching my arms out (with the bells) and swinging my legs back and forth like the pendulum on a clock.  The class was challenging -- I found it a little hard to keep up (but not because I was the only girl!).

We finished the class with some aqua boxing using my favorite new water toy -- Aqquatix Combat Gloves.  Great for working out some stress.

You put your hand through the hole and grab onto the bar at the bottom of the glove.  It's a little hard to visualize, but you can check out Jenni's S'Wet page on Facebook for lots of great photos of the class.  

The class was challenging (so much so that I woke up at 5 a.m. the next morning because every muscle in my body was a bit sore -- good pain).  I will definitely try it again.  Jenni is an energetic and positive teacher (and a champion of water fitness) and the class was lots of fun.   You can contact Jenni through her website for information about class fees (for some of the clubs, the class is open to members; you can pay by the class at Yorkshire Towers and Asphalt Green).