A big city can swallow you up if you aren’t careful and it’s understandable for your tender side to stay hidden. But if you decide to leave for a smaller town, make sure to unearth your soul and take it with you.
As I move closer to leaving Los Angeles, a place I’ve called home for over two decades, I guess it’s only natural to look back at many of the experiences that have helped to shape my ideas and beliefs. I want to share some of those with you and perhaps offer a few insights.
On friendship in LA:
“Find your tribe first.”
I always wondered if it was the weather, the traffic or the celebrities prancing around that kept many people distracted from forming intimate relationships. They say keep your friends close, but your enemies closer, and in this town, the “enemies” aka, “pretenders” seem much more interested in cultivating relationships – that is of course, as long as it fits their agendas. Finding solid friendships in a town that asks you to be real only once you get into character doesn’t exactly create a trusting environment.
Advice on friendships: As you navigate around the superficialities of a big city, try finding your tribe first, and not after you’re able to drop names and what you might or might not be able to do for someone. You’ll attract takers, not givers.
On dating in LA:
“When did Hello, become such a threatening word?”
More times than I care to remember, while shopping in a grocery store, I’d make eye contact with a gentleman and say hello, only to have him look away. I couldn’t have kale salad lodged in my teeth every time, so what was it? My goodness, I only said hello. I didn’t want to marry him. Distracted or unhappy or narcissistic people miss out on the fun, yet fleeting moments in our daily routines.
Advice on dating: Socrates said, “Know thy self” and he might have added, “Know your value and know your worth.” Have complete faith in yourself and keep saying, hello. Eventually, if you’re willing to let your faith shine, a special someone will shine right back at you, whether in a grocery store or putting gas in your car. And then, just maybe, your hello, will be returned.
On Team sports in LA:
“Choose your team wisely.”
Another love of mine is softball. I wanted to play with both men and women, so I joined a co-ed softball league. I never knew that this league was referred to as the “beer league” which would have put me off from the beginning. And true to that title, the very first team I joined seemed much more interested in drinking than playing. From the start, it seemed a bit odd to me the so-called captain never encouraged us to get to the field early so we could throw the ball around or even have someone at home plate hitting grounders and flies to us. Instead, the women on the team who obviously either socialized or played together previously would huddle before each game always excluding me, so I’d gravitate towards the men. They weren’t much better, but at least they acknowledged me, and didn’t shut me out.
Advice on choosing to play with others: Have confidence in your capabilities and what you bring to the table. Then if the team you choose doesn’t feel right, find a team that welcomes you. And this is what I finally did. My new team is encouraging, we all high-five each other regularly, and everyone isinterested in playing the game and winning. Even my hitting improved, so much so that the umpire took notice and remarked, “Look at you, you’re all grown up now!” And then he began calling me, “Slugger.”
On teaching Pilates in LA:
“Don’t be afraid to ‘divorce’ your students.”
Teaching the Pilates method in a town that’s filled with type A personalities, and where everything needs to be fixed or changed immediately, a thoughtful and methodical approach to Pilates often goes unappreciated. One day, a client came to me and raised her arms out to the sides so I could see a pair of non-toned arms, and said, “I’m going to be in a wedding next weekend, I need you to make my arms look like yours.” Even though I tried to explain that if she wanted permanent change for the body, not to mention for her mind and spirit, she’d have to be willing to put the hard work in. Well, she didn’t last long, and unfortunately, those who aren’t capable of committing to the work, will prove to be more trouble than they’re worth.
Advice on teaching: Be willing to forego a full roster to maintain space for those who want to be dedicated and don’t have commitment issues. And practice and more practice until you, yourself, know the work backwards and forwards. If you don’t understand a concept, ask someone you respect to explain it to you, and if that person doesn’t have time for you, move onto another. Stay curious, keep learning and wanting to make an impact. When you remain interested in the Pilates method, your clients will remain interested in you.
A question I’ve often asked myself: “Was this LA chapter of my life worth all the time, effort, sweat, worry, tears and sacrifice that I put into it?”
A very long pause…
Yes, it was. Los Angeles gave me the opportunity to grow in ways I could not have anticipated, and though I endured many disappointments and rejections, both professionally and personally, I was able develop my craft at a time when people only knew to ask, “What’s Pilates?” And as the Pilates method became known and accepted in the fitness industry, Los Angeles gave me the chance to freely develop my technique and style, which I continue to teach today.
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