This was the one “act” that completely scared me: standing up in front of a bunch of strangers in a classroom-like setting NAKED while holding poses for 15-20 minutes at a time. Yep, all the feelings you’d expect were coming up for me but…that’s also what intrigued me to do it. I wanted to know…How would it feel to be that vulnerable? To be starred at for that length of time? Would I learn to love my body more or would I freak-out, cause a commotion and run the other way? And honestly, if I can’t do it at FORTY, when would I do it…at Fifty? Sixty? Besides, it’s a classy, safe environment. I knew it would be okay. What I didn’t prepare for…getting my period. Oh yes, I’m going there! I was on the second day of my menstrual cycle, not feeling good in my body and trying to figure out how to hide my tampon string (I ended up cutting it!) I was nervous, uncomfortable and just wanted to get it over with.
I arrived at the location and decided to make the most of it. After all, it’s not often I get to be called a “model” so I mine-as-well live up to my professional title (this is what I kept telling myself to feel better). I entered the elevator along with some of the “students” and all I kept thinking was…THESE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SEE ME NAKED IN TEN MINUTES!!! We made our way to the classroom, I entered first, cause you know, I’m the model and was greeted by Simon, the organizer. The class was a FIVE-HOUR Anatomy Workshop & Sketch Drawing Class. Yes, FIVE-LONG-ASS-HOURS! Now, I had imagined the class would have a proper stage in which I would stand, some incredible dimmers and a spotlight with perhaps a smoke machine with a wind-blowing fan for my hair (upstairs not downstairs!)…but no, this classroom had none of that. It was a very cold, office-like setting with unflattering florescent lights (think hospital waiting room) and cheap, portable seats (seriously, some had to sit on a piano bench).
The first two hours were considered the “lecture” whereas the instructor would occasionally ask me to stand up on a very, unstable cube-like piece of furniture (covered by a blanket), which if I wasn’t careful, I could fall into one of the holes. He would then point to a few body parts, describing how they are similar to a baseball or whatever analogy he was using, and then I’d sit back down. And the class was packed; thirty-three strangers were going to see parts of me that not even my closest friends/family would ever see. At one awkward point, while standing on the unstable pedestal, the instructor’s head was right at my private region, in which he pointed and said, “and here’s the pubis…” and all I kept thinking was THANK GOD I left that landing-strip!!!!
I started to relax after that wonderful moment. I realized the only way to truly feel comfortable in this scenario would be to imagine everyone else NAKED, too! And listen, I had plenty of time to fill in the details. I kept myself so entertained that I would catch myself cracking up in the middle of his lecture. (and yes, I was imagining mr. lecturer naked, as well).
After the two-long hours, it was time to start posing like the naked model I was! The room was configured in a circle and I was to stand in the center and hold 3-4 poses for 15-20 minutes at a time. At this point, I was so comfortable being naked, I was cracking jokes, finger-pointing to the students, looking them in the eyes, peaking at their work…I mean, I just didn’t feel exposed at all. The only time I was reminded I was without clothes was when I looked down and saw my thighs…then I thought, oh right, I’m not wearing anything!
But the whole “being starred at” was really no big deal. I wasn’t looked at like a sexual being at all. I was just a model posing so they could sketch my figure. And that was it. It wasn’t like walking down the street in New York City where every corner some guy is undressing me with his eyes and making inappropriate sexual comments. In this setting, I was respected. And the shocking part was…I didn’t feel vulnerable at all. I felt empowered. To be here…at age Forty, openly exposing all of myself…even when I didn’t “look” my best (feeling the extra puffiness from my cycle)…none of it mattered. I just felt free.
I snapped pictures at some of the artists’ work but I didn’t feel any connection to the woman they were sketching. It was strictly their interpretation of this figure (me) and I didn’t take any offense either way. I just observed. And by the end of it, I respected them, as well.
Once 5 o’clock came, I was ready to put my clothes on and leave. Five hours is a long time to observe your insecurities, your weakness, your humor, your strengths, your imagination, your daydreams. I felt full, satisfied…but I couldn’t quite articulate why…until now.
I realized if you were to ask my younger-self what I would be doing at age Forty…I would have never, ever predicted this as my life. And that really thrilled me! Because if you are truly living with integrity, and a sense of self-awareness, you must allow yourself to vier off-path and start blazing your own trails. And that’s me. A trailblazer. The fun and the excitement of life is in the moments, the details, the darkness, the unknown, the surprises, the joys…all of it. And just when you think you’ll be the most scared…you surprise yourself and actually feel the most confident.
I don’t think I’d ever do this type of “modeling” again, but hey, you never know with me. I’m a rebel; I cut strings off of tampons and pose nude while strangers point at my “Mount Majesty” (found this gem on #BuzzFeed.) You just never know what the future holds for me…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. #thisismyforty #nudemodel #artclass #anatomy #nyc #brave #vulnerable #sketchclass #meetup #women
After watching the most amazing 80's TV-movie ever made in the history of the world, Nadia...My dream at eight-years old was to be Nadia Comaneci. I know...I had a lot of dreams, as a kid...but didn't we all?
So, the other day, as I walked in the giant, blue gymnasium at Chelsea Piers, I was instantly taken back to when I was that little girl. And the crazy part was...all the memories of being a kid were flashing back. And what a gift it was to be running, jumping, and SKIPPING (yep, you read that right) along side my eight-year old self. I was giddy with excitement!
We started as a pretty big group and after the warm-up, we were then split into smaller groups: beginners and advanced. Although I have a strong yoga practice, I certainly wasn't confident going to the "advanced" group. I needed to ease my way back in. After all, the memories may be back but I'm still in a 40-year old body! The first thing we did was handstands into somersaults.
Truth: I am usually afraid to kick up into a handstand in a yoga class out of fear I may hit someone or fall over onto the hardwood floor. But on this floor, I felt safe. There were springs underneath and plenty of space if I did happen to fall. Awesome, I thought. I am conquering two fears. The next thing on the agenda was a handstand and fall onto two blue mats (prep for handsprings). As soon as I did my hop, skip and flip onto the mats... I instantly relived all the times I used to do this onto my mothers big, king-sized WATERBED!!! And I started giggling.
And that's pretty much how the night went: another awesome trick; another memory, another giggle, and so on. Occasionally I would peek at what the "advanced" crew was up to and actually started thinking, maybe I can do that! After the 90-minute time travel session, I made my way to the exit doors when I heard a male announcer's voice in my head..."And introducing, one of the oldest athletes to be competing as a Gymnast in the Olympics... Charlene Lite!!!!!" Applause, applause, applause!!! Hey... You never know!
#thisismyforty #chelseapiers #gymnastics #childhood#childhooddreams
I've never been good at team sports and especially ones that included... (get your minds out of the gutter!) BALLS! All through school, I was never chosen first for any team and I don't think I was ever properly taught how to hit a softball. And whenever someone would ask me to play, I would always reply, "I'm just not that kind of girl." But secretly...I always wished I was. I always wanted to be that girl who hits the ball out of the park and was genuinely awesome at every sport...all the while staying feminine.
So, yesterday, I walked in Chelsea Piers and headed straight for the batting cages. "I'm here to hit some balls..." I said. "Ok, how many tokens?" "Tokens? This is for adults, right?" The man behind the desk smiles and nods his head, Yes. I chose three tokens which gave me a total of 30 pitches. I asked for any last minute advice seeing as I don't remember hitting an actual softball/baseball EVER...he said, "Make sure you stand in the box next to the base." Ok, I thought. I can do this. I picked out my helmet and a bat and put my first token in the machine. I was genuinely nervous; heart-racing, palms sweaty. It was conjuring up the same feelings I had when I walked into Planned Parenthood or when I knocked on my neighbors doors to introduce myself or when I went to an AA meeting. Why was I feeling the same when all were entirely different scenarios?
My first pitch comes....I swing and I miss. Second one....nope, missed that one, too. Cut to pitch TEN aaaaannnnd...I missed again. Maybe this is something I can't learn. But, I remember what my juggling coach said, "No one ever fails." So, I put my second token in...And by pitch 6...I HIT ONE!!!!! I was so excited, jumping up and down that I missed pitch 7! By my third token, I actually hit THREE balls!!! I couldn't believe it! I ran out and bought another token. Last ten pitches, I hit FIVE balls! FIVE!!! I walked away on a high. You just don't know what you're capable of until you try. Maybe I am becoming that kind of girl after all.
#thisismyforty #battingcages #chelseapiers #nyc #tomboy #watchout
Last night, in the wretched heat, I decided to stop by a free event hosted at Greenly Square Park. When I arrived, I immediately giggled because from the outside looking in... there were a bunch of people singing and dancing wearing funny colored headphones, but you couldn't hear what they were listening to: hence, SILENT CLUBBING.
I waited in a small line for my colored headphones. I had to give my credit card just in case I decided to leave without returning them, which would cost $100. I was told there were three DJs/stations you could choose: 80s & 90s; R&B Hip Hop; and Top 40. Awesome! This was my kind of dance party! I started with 80s & 90s station (BLUE colored) and was very satisfied with my choice. I made my way into the center of the crowd and became instant buddies with my BLUE-colored crew reciting the lyrics to BBD's, "Poison." We were all on FIRE, literally and figuratively as it was so incredible hot last night, the sweat beads that were falling from my forehead burned my eyes.
Once the RED-colored crew began singing louder, I quickly changed my station and ohhhhh-yessss..."Uptown Funk" was playing and I had to join them and sing. Bright neon-necklaces were being passed around and I was making friends everywhere. I was thoroughly impressed with how big the crowd got. People were everywhere! And the best part, we couldn't stop singing and dancing. It was a blast. After about forty minutes, I just couldn't bare the heat. I danced my way out of the crowd and retuned my lovely colored-headphones. As I made my way home, I couldn't stop thinking how spontaneous the evening was. That on an unexpected Saturday evening, fifty random New Yorkers bonded over colored-headphones, music, summer heat and pure, electric-neon FUN!
#thisismyforty#silentclubbingnyc #nyc #bbd #posion #uptownfunk #dance #summernyc #silentclubbing #silentdisco #quietevents
Last night I performed in my first, ever Burlesque show. It was held at the Slipper Room in the Lower East Side but in my head, I was performing at the Los Angeles Forum in front of thousands and thousands of people, along side Janet 'Miss Jackson' if your nasty!
Oh yes, this one was for my teenage self who used to pause those amazing Janet music videos and try to figure out all the choreography. And truthfully, it was for my inner Rockstar, the girl I dreamed of becoming! And at age Forty, I got to sass it up on stage with some fringe on my hips, belly-showcasing, thigh-high revealing, busty-bra top exposing attire! I embraced every inch of my God-given, womanly, curvaceous, bootylicious body. And that's what a Burlesque show is all about. I, along with these beautiful ladies, have been rehearsing for a few weeks before last nights big performance.
I didn't initially want anyone to come but last minute, I invited my good friend, Nikki for support (and to snap pictures). When I heard her scream my name, I almost teared up! Can you imagine?!? Crying in a Burlesque show?!? But there's something to being fully seen for all that you are: the sweet and innocent; the fun and light-hearted; the deep and vulnerable; the strong and sexy...And to have people in your life who support that, who truly allow you to be you...is something special. It didn't matter what I was wearing, or what I was doing...what mattered was the spark it brought out of me.
So, wherever you on this journey, embrace that beautiful body of yours, honor your past and where it's brought you and remember...you, too can shake your inner Rockstar, no matter your age or status or body-shape!
#thisismyforty #burlesque #slipperroomnyc #janetjackson #sexy #nyc #newyorkschoolofburlesque#livealifeyoulove #missforty
A few weeks ago, after announcing to my students that I was doing this challenge, Dante (pictured above) approached me after class revealing he is also turning forty this year and wanted to know what other fearless acts were on my list. "Well, I've always wanted to Swing Dance at Lincoln Center!" Dante smiles, "You know, I used to teach Swing in college for years!" Of course, you did. And that's how this perfect evening began.
I didn't purchase a ticket, which I realized when I got there was there was a big mistake as it was SOLD OUT! It also happened to be the last night of the season. Just as I was texting Dante this news, a beautiful, decked-out-in-full-swing-attire woman motioned me to come over. Introducing, Pam...my new swing bestie. Pam explained her boyfriend wasn't able to come so she would gladly sell me her ticket for a discounted price (which included coat check, as they don't allow you to bring anything on the dance floor). "Wonderful!" I said.
Pam has been coming to A Midsummer Night Swing since it began 27 years ago! Right away, she took me under her wing, introducing me to all the regulars and was genuinely excited that I was a newbie. Dante arrives, and we all set out for the dance floor.
We danced and twirled and laughed and twisted and bopped and mopped (new dance?!) and eventually...got tired. There were old couples and young couples and same-sex couples and even an older woman in a wheelchair bopping to the beat. It was an infectious New York City evening, to say the least.
As I walked away, I felt a reassuring sense that there's so much more to life than I even imagined. And I've only just begun to scratch the surface.
I had this one written down...I want to try on wedding dresses. I want to feel what it's like to see my reflection as a Bride-to-be. But every time I went past a bridal shop, I chickened out. I was afraid. Getting married and having a family is something that I really want and I don't have it...yet. And I knew if I went through the process of "trying" this role out, I would be confronted with some emotional stuff that I may not be ready to share. I feared it would emphasize that big, fat elephant in the room: YOU'RE NOT GETTING MARRIED!! WHO ARE YOU TO BE TRYING WEDDING DRESSES ON? But, this experience is teaching me I am someone who steps up to fear and says, "Excuse me, thanks for guarding that door, but I'm going in anyway!"
So last week, I walked into a bridal store and headed straight for the big, white dresses. As I browsed the aisles, I was inundated with thoughts: This doesn't feel like me....Why do I need to be in white anyway...Do I really want to be in a traditional gown? I realized the little girl in me and the woman I am were meeting for the first time. And we didn't agree. The fantasy that I had garnered was for the twenty-something girl that I no longer was. It was for a girl who didn't take the risks I took; who didn't travel and explore places on her own; and who wasn't comfortable in the unknown.
I realized at that moment the fantasy of my wedding gown was attached to a very, out-of-date version of myself. And all the time I kept this fantasy alive in my head, I NEVER, EVER imagined I would feel differently. Because the truth is...I am not traditional. I am comfortable being on my own and happy living a life I continually co-create and love. And the other truth is...I do sometimes feel sad about not having that "traditional" married/family life that I want. And I'm finally okay with that. It's what makes me a beautiful, vulnerable, real 40-year-old woman. I never did try on a wedding dress, but I made peace with that little girl and assured her, I can take over now. And when the moment is revealed, I'll choose what's "fitting" for me.
Bryant Park is a mecca of deliciously fun activities for the summer. Besides outdoor movies on the big lawn, there's a reading room; board games (including my favorite, Sorry!); ping-pong; dance and fitness classes and... FREE JUGGLING LESSONS. Can you guess which one I chose? Truth be told, I've never been known to have good hand-to-ball coordination so the question was: Can I be taught how to juggle, even when I suck at everything else that includes balls (NO PUNS INTENDED!)
Right away, I spot a tall, pony-tailed gentleman with a bucket of toys. There's balls; sticks; and fake chickens (no joke) in all kinds of bright colors. "Can you teach me how to juggle?" I ask. He picks up two balls and says, "Let me see you try.” After a minute of my two-ball approach, he interrupts… “You want to look up at the balls not your hands. Trust your hands will be there. After awhile, your brain starts to get it and you don't have to think about it. You'll start catching." Really? "How long will it take?” I shout (not sure why as he’s right in front of me) "It usually takes an hour and you’ll get it…and in few minutes, we’ll add another ball.” What? Only an hour? And I can juggle THREE balls at a time? This guy is a GENUIS! “But wait!” I shout back. “What if I can’t…” He quickly replies, “You can't fail. Nobody’s ever failed.” I love his philosophy. Alright…I can DO this. And sure enough, within a fifteen minutes, I’m catching without even trying. He comes by and adds a third ball. “Now just get used to throwing the first two, don’t bother catching, and only catch the last ball.” As more time passes, more people are coming in. There’s kid jugglers, adults, teenagers, old men without shoes…all of us…on the terrace of Bryant Park, just juggling away! And it’s FUN. And relaxing. And people are friendly.
When I leave, my new juggler friends are offering compliments and high-fives, and they ask...see you next week? I shout, ABSOLUTELY! Consensus: You CAN teach an old cougar new tricks (I know I'm not old; it's just funny!) #thisismyforty #bryantpark #juggler #summer #cougar#makingfriends
I'm halfway through my commitment of 40 days, and I am realizing something that I did not plan on when I thought of this challenge. I need time....to refuel; to think; to live; to breathe; to allow these experiences to settle in. I have been pushing myself everyday to come up with something new and courageous and live my life to the fullest. And I need time to process it all.
Something is definitely getting stirred up in me and I don't want to miss it because I'm moving on to the next "act." So, for the next half of this challenge, I will continue to post and share but I am letting go of the pressure to do it everyday. Because this is my life...and I can't have an authentic experience if I'm not being true to myself. And today, I just want to stare outside this big window, read my book, drink coffee, daydream...and just be.
So there I was, relaxing at Washington Square Park after just talking with my good friend, April about how I need a day to relax and not think about doing another fearless act when...this guy walks by me with a small camera crew and a sign that says: "Truth or Dare, Me." Hmmm, I thought. What has the universe just given me? So, I follow him.
He's enters the dog park and proceeds to kneel down and act like a dog. He chases the ball and runs around with the other dogs but truthfully, I didn't find him convincing. He was more concerned with not getting too dirty to really get into character. You call THIS daring?!? Try the 19 ACTS I've been doing, BUDDY!! (I'm thinking this...of course). So, I ask the cameraman, "Excuse me, what's going on?" "Oh, people can Truth or Dare, Daniel...would you like to play?" "ABSOLUTELY!" I say. So, I ask Daniel, Truth or Dare and he picks, Truth... Complaining that after that "dare" he's tired. HA! As I'm searching for a question, he says, "Let me ask you... Truth or Dare." With one hand on my hip, I say with confidence: DARE. "You have to kiss a stranger on the cheek!" "No problem!" Let's see...let me find a handsome, preferably 6'1 or taller, single, entrepreneurial, adventurous, kind-hearted, spiritual yet masculine gentleman... NOW THERE'S MY CHALLENGE!
I'm screening the park for guys... No, he looks like he hasn't showered in days; No, he's with a girl; NO, he's picking from the garbage, gross!!! I find one... Reading an actual book, and he looks European and well-mannered. I ask him, "Hi, I was just dared to walk up to a stranger and kiss him on the cheek and I choose you! Do you mind?" He laughs uncontrollably (nervous?). He nods so I go in, make it a good one and say, thanks! He smiles, the camera crew smiles and Daniel is just standing there probably thinking...I should have dared her to kiss me!!! Oh well... Use your dares wisely, my friends.
#thisismyforty #truthordare #single#washingtonsquarepark #kissme #nyc #dogpark
These blog posts are part of my #40daysoffearlessacts Challenge. When I turned Forty on June 6th of this year, I decided to STEP-UP my life and created a "40 Days of Fearless Acts" challenge. Follow along as I step out of my comfort zone, do things that scare me, that I've never done before and/or are just plain silly and make me laugh!