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Cozying up to the Great Unknown


Beautiful Hamsters,

Did that greeting surprise you? You’re not a hamster now are you? And it’s not likely you’re greeted like one very often. But there you are. That wasn’t so bad though now was it? No worse than discovering that you’re having an egg for breakfast because there’s no milk left for cereal, or that the job you wanted doesn’t want you in a way that you’re forced to look elsewhere so that in ten years you end up living in Missouri instead of New York. Less noise. More Elk.

The truth is, despite our best laid plans-a lot of stuff, almost daily, is very much dancing to it’s own beat. A beat that we don’t choose and will just have to work with, or around.

Now I’m not proposing you should let life move you around without trying to organize it in a way that suits you. I’ve seen people so tired of having their plans thwarted or unsupported they virtually give up on trying to make things happen because they are too afraid that things just wont work out. This approach results in making your world very small so that you have as few decisions to make as possible, and even then, sometimes they’re out of the kind of corn chips and salsa you like at the store. Or your dealer leaves town.

I’m afraid the answer im suggesting to this is more difficult and requires a lot more fortitude and resilience than just getting your way all the time or giving up and getting your way none of the time by not trying to do anything. Please note that both of those plans still have you in total control. I believe that the terrible truth is that you’re “kind of” in control, and that you can get your way part of the time-you just don’t know which part that is going to be. And yes, that particular formula can be very very frustrating. Or exciting and surprising. Or both.

And since you don’t know which part of what you are going for is likely to get results, my advice is that you stack the deck heavily in favor of getting things you really really want.and try not to waste time on the rest. You know the expression “be careful what you wish for”? Well do be careful because if you’re wishing momentarily for something second tier, you might get it instead of something you might really want more.

I’ll give an example so I don’t just sound like a finger wagging school marm. Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic on the interstate and you are in your car thinking though all the different ways you could do damage to the drivers in front of you, and maybe the person who cut you off, or perhaps the one who is driving up your tailpipe. You think about the clever things you could say to them if only you had the chance to make them feel appropriately humble.

And then, as if heaven sent, the woman in the blue sedan with the smug smile and ‘I’ve got kids in soccer and no time to wait for traffic’ driving style cuts you off again, and this time she’s close enough, and her window is open! This is your day. You shout the things you were dreaming of. You show her every hand gesture you have ever learned since elementary school! She looks shocked that someone has broken her calm sea of entitlement. You feel great!

But how great? And for how long? Forget any kind of guilt you might experience later about giving soccer mom something to think about. Let’s say you don’t feel any. But really, what did we gain here? And what else could you have been trying to get for yourselves while you were figuring out if the names you called her would describe your feelings accurately?

Could you have learned something important about yourself in that time that would have had longer term effects? Could you have spent that time figuring out something about life you never understood before like whether or not shooting an arrow on horseback is more effective than just shooting one standing still? Could you have been composing a poem for your wife that would ultimately save your marriage? Or was your big proud mouth-off on the interstate the thing you most want in the world? For more than just the ten minutes before, and five minutes during, that is.

Now I’m not judging you at all. Nor have I got this thing down to an art in my own life. Believe me. But I am working on focusing on what I Want vs what I want, because the thing I know for sure is that I have no idea what I’m going to get, and I wont get everything I want, but that I’m somewhat more likely to get the things I try to have so I’d better have those straight.

I am coming to see life’s wins and gifts sort of like the things you receive from a Christmas list you write, or a wedding registry –the shorter and more realistic the list, the more likely you are to get any one thing on it. So if you find yourself focusing time and energy on things like “I wish I was taller” or “I wish the line was shorter” think about what wishes you could be focused on that might satisfy you more-and longer.

Thanks for reading,

Alexandra Florio
Beautiful Fitness

The new networking


Beautiful Readers,

I have always found the idea of social networking icky overall unless it is completely above board. Above board as in, “hi, my name’s Alix, nice party huh? Would you mind if I told you about something I’d like you to spend money on?”. Especially in it’s smoothest, most social form, networking seems totally disingenuous to me like the business equivilent of air kissing.

I mean business is business and social is social, right? So when did this crossover thing “networking” become normal? It makes people who might just want to get to know you as a person, wary, and forces people who want to buy what you’ve got listen to innocuous social chatter when they might prefer to just know what you have to sell.

And yet here we are. And it’s unlikely my eye rolling is going to change anything (and makes me seem rude at parties), but perhaps there is a solution, and last night I was introduced to one that seemed appropriate and charming.

The annual Wellesley College alumni association meeting is a dry affair involving someone at the podium talking about the usual roster of alums’ awe inspiring achievements and humbly acknowledged victories followed by an assorted cookie platter and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

In the past I have always wondered what to talk about in the hang-out portion of this event. I think about wellness a lot and tend to believe it has applications to many different topics-plus it’s one of the few things I feel I can really contribute to any conversation-maybe im just getting to be a wonky wellness bore and should do more reading so i have other things to talk about–but an evening without fitness or alternative medicine would be rare for me in any social environment.

But yet, I feel self conscious when I end up as conspicuous wellness guru at these kinds of events– but whats a woman to do? Folks ask me stuff once they know what I think about all day. And people love to talk with me about their own experiences with fitness and wellness – which I thoroughly enjoy. And those conversations often lead to things that connect directly to my company no matter how hard I try to keep the conversation strictly academic.

And sometimes these conversations even lead to sales. As in, she says ” I don’t know, I’m having trouble sleeping, and I’m feeling really stiff, and slightly depressed, and somewhat stuck in my life right now.” at this moment I am blinded by the bright lights and loud buzzer on the sign flashing ‘YOGA’ above the speaker’s head.

But in my little world-Yoga equals Beth (the very best, most professional yoga instructor I have ever had the pleasure of learning from-with a suburb sense of humor to boot), and Beth works for us, and next thing I know I’m waxing poetic about how the answer to the woman’s concern is Beth, and since Beth costs money and I get some of that money, I may also be closing a sale. Drat! Or hooray? I’m not always sure.

I guess the bottom line is- I wish I could do this stuff for free. Healing arts, right? Sounds like something that should be free doesn’t it? But unfortunately my landlord doesn’t work in the healing arts and nor does Beth’s. And Time Warner Cable doesn’t work in the healing arts and there’s no special healing arts card to use at the supermarket.

But I think the Wellesley Alum meeting handled the networking issue beautifully this year. After electing officials to do things alumnae do-the President of the group asked if anyone had an event they wanted to promote or a business they wanted to talk about. And a handful of us did! And talked about them. And that was that. And it felt great.

An opportunity for such a frank disclosure of what pays the bills for you can really make all the difference. Several people approached me right afterwards to tell me about their favorite trainer or how tai chi had changed their lives, a couple people asked for cards and a couple people gave me theirs. And then the party started in earnest.

I was free to talk about anything I wanted without people wondering what I was up to. I waxed poetic about my love of allergy shots (they work and they are often covered by insurance) Talked about guys (de rigeur) asked about a volunteer thing coming up, and had a discussion with someone about hosting a wellness themed event for alums. Hooray for the freedom to swim between the wellness stuff I love and also happen to get paid for, and all other kinds of topics I care about, without all the awkward ‘I hope they don’t think this is just a sales pitch’ pauses in between!

And for those of you who might feel uncomfortable with ambiguous networking opportunities, like I do — my best advice is just go for it at your soonest opportunity. Announce to the largest group you can find as soon as you are comfortable- what you do to bring home the bacon, and then be free to mix and mingle, with no angle, and no raised eyebrows, about anything you please.

Thanks, again, for reading,

Alexandra (yes, that’s right, it’s long for Alix, and I’m starting to like it more) Florio
President; Beautiful Fitness