Thursday, June 28, 2012

Secrets to a New You

Secrets to a New You

The best place to look for a new you, is the old you!  Take out the scrapbook, the old yearbook, pictures from vacations and travels.  Look at you—aren’t you wonderful?  

Looks change, clothes change, the people around us may change.  But there is a special essence there that is just you, every step of your life.   

So to “re”-new yourself, a great place to start is to remind yourself of those things that have always been at the core of you.  Were you the naughty daredevil?  What have you done lately that pushes the boundaries?  Were you sassy?  How about letting your inner sassy out in dancing or writing?  Were you curious?  How are you satisfying your curiosity?

We all get in ruts, mostly just in our minds.  So taking a small action to get out of our rut, to get back in touch with our special self can blossom in ways you can’t predict.  Challenge yourself to make a small change outside of your normal routine each day for two weeks.  Think small but interesting. 

Here are some ideas to get you started: Take a different path to work.  Talk to a child.  Draw a picture.  Sing a song.  Skip.  Tell a joke.  Bring someone flowers.  Pick up trash. Call an old friend.  Rescue a dog or cat. Read a new magazine.  Take a day off from media. Eat a food you never thought you’d try. Rearrange the furniture.  Invite all your co-workers for ice cream cones. Shop somewhere new.

Think of those pictures of you as a youth.  What would she say to you today?  What small changes is she suggesting to you? Listen well. 

You just might find the new you, all over again!

Anne Kelly, President of active & casual plus size apparel 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review of Intimates

Fashion writer and long-time Junonia friend and customer, Helaine Williams writes for the Arkansas Gazette about Junonia’s newest underwear offering, the Surefit Seamless Bra and panty.  She did a wear test of them and filed her comments.  “The soft control bra offer a V-shaped detail at center front, a three-hook adjustable back; a 1 inch stay-put chest band.  The brief, a lighter version of standard-issue seamless briefs features a 1-inch stay-put waistband.  Both are offered in white, and in fabric aptly described as “a highly durable wicking bland that feels like washable silk.”  Sizes run from 1X to 5X but the sizing is different from standard Junonia sizing: both pieces do run small. Junonia recommends ordering a larger size if your body measurements are on the higher end of the range for a given size.  I would recommend going up at least one size, period.”    

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fourth is the Loneliest Place in the Olympic Trials

Fourth is the Loneliest Place in the Olympic Trials

The track and field trials started  this past weekend and the performances were amazing.  But a rare tie for 3rd in the women’s 100 meters has officials in a tizzy.   US Track and Field officials found out they didn’t have a rule for how to break this tie, because only 3 can go on to the Olympics!   Luckily the two athletes involved are team mates with the same coach and hopefully each of them will find a spot in one the event s they are running. 

Allyson Felix is world champion and Olympic Silver Medalist at the 200meters.   Unless something astounding  happens she will likely make the 200 team.   But her teammate, Jeneba Tarmoh, who tied with her in the 100 is also running the 200!  This would be Jeneba’s first Olympics.  

The women’s 200 is Saturday June 30th so stay posted!  Exciting!  The Officials will have to decide who gets the third slot in the women’s 100 by July 1st, so let’s hope they both qualify!  Because fourth doesn’t go to the Olympics.

You MUST Fail.

You MUST Fail.
 You can’t get anywhere without failing.  What?  Can that be right?

What worthwhile things have you ever learned that didn’t require failing first, and usually often?
  •  How did you learn to walk?  By falling.
  • How did you learn to speak a foreign language?  By making a fool of yourself.
  • How did you learn to sew?  By ripping out seam after seam.
  • How did you learn to love?  By hurting the person you love, apologizing and trying again.
  • How do you get stronger?  By pushing your muscle to the failure point.

 As we get older, we fail less, but only because we are not a child any longer, needing to learn almost everything, and all at once!  We also become good at applying past failures to new tasks.  But learning, growing, leading, being curious requires that we stay open to the possibility of failure along the way. 

I love the quote from business guru Tom Peters who said, “If you haven’t been fired at least once your life, you aren’t trying hard enough.”

There is no shame in failing.  The shame would be to waste our talents for fear of failing.

“You always pass failure on the way to success.”  Mickey Rooney

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Escape with Your Date and Get Physical!

Escape with Your Date and Get Physical!
Another movie and dinner out?  Nice enough, but it can become oh so boring.  The next time he says, “What do you want to see?” you can say, “Let’s get physical!”    Here are some ideas people of different physical abilities can do together –and have fun doing it.

Lost.  Put on your walking shoes and enough money in your pocket for a taxi ride home, plus one extra penny.  Walk to the corner and flip the penny, heads go right, tails go left.  Flip at every corner until you are somewhere you have never been before.  You’ll be amazed at your own neighborhood.   If you like this game, try it when you are travelling, too!

Climbing walls. A hot trend is indoor climbing clubs.  Although the incredibly fit tend to congregate here, it’s for everybody.  You don’t need to go high, you can go sideways, too!  And remember, safety is #1 with anyone going high belted in so they can’t fall.  Take a private lesson together to learn the tips and tricks, then give it a try.  Once you have the basic techniques, it is about balance and figuring out the best way to get from A to B. You can each pick a route that suits. You’ll feel like a kid again! 

Rent a Segway. The Segway tours around town are really growing!  Rent one and see your town in an entirely new way.  They give you a helmet, instruction, a guide, and off you go!

Dance the Night Away.  You don’t need to be a pro to get on the floor and dance.  Many clubs offer instruction at the beginning of the night, and you can then practice all night long.  So many types of dance to choose from: Salsa has a simple step and is so sexy.  Irish dancing will have you laughing all night with friendly people.  Waltz and feel like Anna in the King and I.  Remember, you don’t need to look like dancing with the Stars, but you will feel like a star in the arms of your partner.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More Tennis Talk with Ed

This is a continuation of an earlier blog post. Anne spoke with her brother, Ed Kelly, about his passion: Tennis. Ed is a healthcare administrator by day, but nights and weekends, tennis is his passion.  He is a long-time teacher and coach and is a certified tennis instructor, USPTA Level 1.

Anne:  So I’m thinking about getting out my old racquet (putting on new strings) and finding a court.  What else should I do to get ready?
Ed:  When I hear from a new student, the first thing we talk about is where they are with their fitness.   Rope jumping is a great way to get into tennis fitness as well as running stairs and hills.  Tennis is aerobic and anaerobic (with [long rallies] and without oxygen [quick moves]).
Another importance is stretching.  After you have warmed up for 15-20 minutes you can use Therabands tied to a doorknob, and slowly imitate a swing with resistance, both forehand and backhand.
You can also strengthen your forearms by using a pole and a bucket.  Bore a hole in the middle of the two foot pole, run a rope through the hole and tie to the handle of a bucket and put some water or weights into the bucket.  Roll it up and down with your elbows tucked close to your sides. This really builds your forearm muscles which are key to tennis.
The USTA website also has tons of links for other exercises specific to tennis.

Anne:  Do you recommend lessons right away, or later, after you have some experience?
Ed:  I absolutely recommend lessons right away.  Take a few lessons to make sure your mechanics are OK.  This will get you to the end point in solid fashion in the shortest time.
I also suggest private lessons.  More expensive but you get MUCH more tennis per dollar that semi-private or group lessons.  In the end, much efficient use of your dollars.

Anne: How do I find a teacher?
Ed:  Get a senior pro (they are definitely worth the money) that has been formally trained and certified (United States Professional  Tennis Association – look your potential instructor up!, and make sure they have had experience at your level.
What I know now compared to what I knew when I started teaching is apples and oranges.  You want a reputable pro so ask around.  At your club, ask the people at the reception desk – they will know which instructors are the real deal.  Use the above USPTA website’s “find a pro” locator as a starting point.  They rate the pros from 3-1, with 1 being the highest qualification level.  This assures you they have passed written, oral and practical tests.
Come prepared with questions.
Interview your potential instructor and come prepared with questions.

Make sure you also find a tennis facility that is convenient to your home or work.  That is the most important factor to staying with it while you learn.

Anne:  I’m concerned about getting committed to a coach I might not like.
Ed:  Almost all coaches will offer a first session that is either a free introductory lesson, or a lower cost, or a short lesson. These are called “meet and greets” and happen all the time.  Take advantage of this.  You want to really like your pro.  Scout the facilities, too.  You want a nice place to play. Make sure they have the activities that you want (camps, social events, etc.)

Anne:  Isn’t it really expensive?
Ed:  Tennis does not have to be an expensive sport.  Lessons will usually cost about the same as a personal trainer.  Many coaches will meet you at a public court, and some clubs don’t require membership to take lessons.  Ask around.  But find the best pro you can.  There are some phenomenal coaches out there.  Some are probably better psychologists than tennis pros, because it is such a mental game.

Anne:  What about injuries?
Ed:  I worked at an orthopedic group and they were really looking forward to the active baby boomers getting older—lots of future injuries!  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Tennis is not terribly hard, but it is not terribly easy.
Good tennis instructors can also refer to a personal trainer.  What I’ve seen is that people get the bug and rush into it.  “This is the sport for me, now I have time, money, and a friend who has played for years. “  They get frustrated when they get their first injury.  They associate it with tennis.  They simply weren’t well prepared.  Like many sports, tennis requires strength, flexibility and endurance.

Anne:  So how can a beginner minimize and manage any injuries?
Ed:  Good equipment makes a difference.  Get good shoes and use fresh strings that absorb the shock.  A good racquet is important.  Any good store will give you loaners to try out.  Don’t walk into that first lesson just off the street.  Do some strength and flexibility work in the weeks before you start.
The United States Tennis Association has great information on training, fitness and most everything related to tennis:

Most people don’t prepare themselves-- but those that do have fun!  And that’s what it is all about!  I ask every person I coach at the end of each session, “Did you have fun?”  

Anne: How do I find people to play with?
Ed:  The best part of tennis is that it is so social.  You meet many people from all walks of life.  A good pro knows how to help you find players at your level to play with.  Parks and Rec have leagues.  Last night the courts near my house were packed, there are leagues everywhere.  The web makes it so easy.  For example, I have an app. that shows all the tennis courts by zip code.

Anne: What if I can’t find people to play with all the time?
Ed:  With tennis, you can even play by yourself!
I have a book in the works I’m calling “Ten Minute Tennis.”   With just you and a wall, you can cover every shot in tennis.

Anne:  How do I get better?
Ed:  Eventually you’ll develop a group of friends and you’ll want to “play up” with someone a little better than you to get better.  There are also creative ways to level the field with players of varying ability.  For example, the better player spots some points, to make the game competitive.
Also try doubles tennis.  It is much less demanding than singles. Match up sides so those with higher rankings play with teammates with lower rankings so everyone can play.  It’s a lot of fun that way.

When I finished school, I played at one of the courts where the top players in my area were hanging out.  They were good! They were former Division I players and they got to know each other in Open tournaments.  I said to myself, I’m not as good as them and wont be able to break into their practice group - they were hammering the ball!  But I got to know one of them.  He said, “Want to go get some food?”  He said he’d hit with me one on one and “I’ll see if you can hang with me, because the other guys are kind of picky.”   We had a good session and he said it’s all about helping each other.  The upshot is that I played with them for 4-5 years and I got a multi-state ranking as mentioned above.  I can’t tell you how much it helped. We did all kinds of drills for hours.  The best part is that they were down to earth, hard working guys who were passionate about tennis.  It was just great.

So find a group of friends you enjoy.  It’s mainly finding a good personality fit that makes it so much fun.

Also, just go play.  Forget about work, go out to eat after, and just have fun!  Knowing a friend is going to meet you at the court is a great motivator to getting there!  You can’t let them down.  It is rare that you feel 100% when you hit, everyone has injuries they watch or are having a bad day, but once you get there, the fun starts.

Tennis is for everyone.  At its core it is a simple, fun, and social game.

Ed says “My joy and passion is getting people into the game.  It’s a sport for a lifetime.   I look forward to hitting balls with my grandkids.” My tagline for coaching is “Make it Fun!”

Friday, June 8, 2012

Celebrate the Transition from Spring to Summer

This year’s long extended spring feels luxurious.  So how to celebrate the longer days, the softer air, the birds returning to nest?  Something intensely natural seems to be in order.

  • Get thee to a park.  Research has shown that being in a natural environment is a sure-fire stress-reducer.   People who get outdoors are also stronger advocates for the environment.  There are probably local parks you’ve been driving by day after day.  Stop in for a walk, or a brisk sit on a bench.  Celebrate with 10 minutes of concentrated quiet and see what you notice.
  • The longest day.  Get up at the crack of dawn and don’t come inside until sundown on the solstice, June 21th.  Interestingly, you’ll have to look up the LONGEST day of the year in your location because it varies!  Whatever day you pick, make it memorable, post it to your facebook page, involve your friends, make it a special day of transition from spring to summer.  
  • Plant something.  If you don’t have a garden of your own, volunteer at a community garden, or help a teacher introduce her kids to gardening.  How about a pot on your deck, or herbs on the windowsill?  Helping something grow is just so satisfying.
  • Start Fresh.  Just as birds re-build their nests each season, there is a natural urge to start anew each spring.  Time to de-clutter?  Time to re-connect with an old friend?  Time to heal an old wound?  Time to apply to a school?  

 ~Anne Kelly, President of active & casual plus size apparel

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gardening with Anne

I’m not a very serious gardener, but I love it more each year.  I love watching things come back in the spring bigger and stronger than the year before.  Sometimes, I mourn the loss of a friend from last year, like the bright yellow columbines that just didn’t show up this year!  But then a red one suddenly appeared, although I’m sure I didn’t plant it last year.  

I’m no Martha Stewart, but I have accumulated some things that work for me:

  • Wear comfy, stretchy and dirt-friendly clothes.  Click here for my picks from Junonia.  I just can’t keep myself clean when I garden, so why fight it?  
  • Always wear gloves.
  • Get a trowel and a pruning shears that you really love—you’ll use them a lot.  Do not let anyone else borrow them!
  • Plant flowers where you will see them.  The best thing I did a few years ago was to incorporate flower planters when we had to build walls along the driveway.  Every time I come or go I get to enjoy the garden!    Our butterfly “garden” is a real mess, but my husband can see it from his computer desk.  He often gives me the report of the animals that have visited.
  • Move your plants around.  I’ve learned to pay attention to where a plant is happy.  If it’s not happy, I move it to a different micro-climate.  I just moved a dianthus across the driveway.  It wasn’t flowering, and now it’s bursting out, with just a tad more sunshine each day.  Makes me happy. 
  • Share!  When your plants are happy they grow, and pretty soon you are over grown!  Plant shares are a marvelous trend.  Look them up in your town—or start one with your neighbors.  This year I challenged myself buy no new plants.  It’s been fun to share and swap and move things around.  
  • Stop to smell the flowers.  There is always something that needs to be done in a garden, but remember to occasionally step into your garden without a trowel in hand.  Just look, listen, smell, and enjoy.  I have a plaque in my garden from my dad, a great potato gardener, that says something like:  ”You are never closer to heaven than when you are in your garden.”

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tennis Talk with Ed

Anne spoke with her brother, Ed Kelly, about his passion: Tennis.
Ed is a healthcare administrator by day, but nights and weekends, tennis is his passion.  He is a long-time teacher and coach and is a certified tennis instructor, USPTA Level 1.

Anne:  I’ve been hearing about these larger tennis balls that people are playing with.  They slow the game down so you can learn to hit the ball the correct way as the ball speed is significantly slower.  The idea is to get longer rallies going and focusing on your technique.
Ed:  Yes, I have played with them myself.  A bigger ball is easier to see and doesn’t move as fast.  It makes for a “slow motion” type of tennis game.  Especially for someone starting out, or getting back into the sport, it is a great way to learn and re-learn the game.   It assists with the eye/hand coordination.   It’s also great for people who are injured or have limited mobility.  The ball has about the same weight, but it reacts more to the air (topspin and underspin are more pronounced).  It’s a lot of fun.

Anne:  What can a person do to slow the game down with regular balls?
Ed:   Use a short court game.  The service line (or, the middle, horizontal line of the court) becomes the baseline.   Service is underhand.  It’s a great game for kids and for adults.  I picked up this strategy watching the pros at Indian Wells, CA.  When they are warming up, they start rallying in the middle of the court, to get the feel for the ball.  That’s what it’s all about, getting a feel for how it comes at you, the trajectory, the spin.   By slowing down the game, either with the big ball or a short court, people master the basics of body mechanics much more quickly.  You are forced to hit lightly and the have the time to think about what you are doing and what to do.  Remember to watch the ball hit the strings.  Most people look up or away at the moment of impact resulting in mishits and “framings” (hitting the frame of the racquet).  The short court game also works on the drop shot game.  It’s a touch game rather than a power game.

Anne:  Why are body mechanics so important?
Ed:  Students often ask: What do I have to do to get the outcome I want?  The know what they want to do yet the outcome is often frustrating.  That’s the challenge for beginners.  How to get beyond that challenge and have that “aha” moment.  It will come, guaranteed, with a little tenaciousness and proper body positioning relative to the ball.
The short court teaches you that if I want to hit down the line I have to turn my shoulder parallel to the sidelines, and the same thing for a backhand down the line.   Look at the pros, watch the shoulders, they turn their shoulders EVERY time.  Their feet may be open or closed stance but they must turn their shoulders every time to cleanly strike the ball. That’s what short court helps with.  You can focus on the mechanics.  When practicing, you can only work on (and think about) one thing at a time.  When working on my groundstrokes, just like the pros, I’m often only thinking about turning my shoulders.  Once that feels smooth, ask your partner to move you back from short court to ¾ ways back.  Continue to hit at ½ pace.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of correct body positioning relative to the ball.  By turning the shoulders, every time, you:

  • Ensure proper racquet preparation
  • Hitting the ball cleanly and early
  • Go to (after!) the ball; it does not come to you (and you hit the ball late or get jammed)

If you turn your shoulders every time, it all happens naturally.  If you turn you can lean into the ball hitting it early, textbook style and the ball goes where you want it to go.  Pretty soon you you’re getting into the groove (It WILL happen for everyone).  It’s a great feeling like when you first ride that bike without training wheels. Later, this control and mastery = FUN!

Keep it up and then, when you can then hit under pressure, Zut alors!  Powerful stuff.

That’s what the short court teaches.  

Once you get grooved over several hitting sessions at ½ to ¾ speed and you want to challenge yourself and see where you truly stand, try my “Z” drill.

Anne:  What’s a “Z” drill?
Ed:  It’s a very simple drill for two players-but it is not necessarily easy to do.  You must be patient.
One person hits down the line and the other hits cross court. Simple, right? Not always so.
Start this on a short court to get a feel and go as slowly as you can.  You are barely tapping the ball.  If you hit the ball late, the ball will go out or off to the side.  (BTW, players who hit late often have trouble with tennis elbow. Hit it early and you will not likely have tennis elbow.)
Work your way into this drill and slowly drop back to the baseline.  The emphasis is CONTROL of the ball.  Get into the rhythm - stay ahead of the ball – this is a rhythmic drill.  Once you get the flow, it’s a lot of fun (and you’ll be puffing in no time – this is a GREAT workout) and is directly transferable to matches.  Changing the direction of the ball is key to match play.  Make your opponent run!

Key to this drill and to match play: do NOT beat yourself.  Reduce unforced errors as much as possible even if you have to “shovel” the ball and in an ugly fashion over the net one more time than your opponent!  Former top ten player Brad Gilbert made quite a career by “winning ugly” (also the same name of his book).  He simply did not beat himself and drove his opponents nuts.

Anne:  How important is being able to hit a ball really hard?
Ed:  This is way down the priority list.
In tennis it has been proven at every level for decades, the priorities are:

  1. Consistency
  2. Getting the Ball Deep
  3. Placement
  4. Pace

Story: I was in Hawaii on vacation and was at beautiful resort with some nice tennis courts.  I had at the time a ranking of 29 in the Open Division of the Pacific Northwest region (WA, OR, AK, WY, ID).
I met up with a 65 year-old who recently won the national grass court championships.
He asked me if I wanted to “play a few sets.”  I said sure. I thought to myself this is a mismatch.  Yeah, he has great control f the ball I’m sure but I can hit the ball the ball a ton, I’m also consistent and I have a 125+ MPH serve.
Upshot: we split sets.  This guy used my heat of shots to his advantage.  He did not have the speed but his hands were unreal.  I had a lot of winners but any easy or semi-easy ball was a passing shot by me or a topspin lob that landed (consistently) within a few feet of the baseline.  I was humbled.
I had a newfound appreciation for consistency and not being oneself.  This guy did not have big guns and was not quick around the court but he RARELY had an unforced error.  His consistency became a weapon and weighed on me as we played more games.  I felt I had to play beyond my level to beat him which caused me to make unforced errors.

Stay tuned for more from Ed!