“Deep inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Let go of anything that happened earlier today. Let go of any thoughts and focus on your breath. Bring your attention right here, right now.”
That’s me, teaching a Pilates class at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. While I instruct participants to do this, I am doing the same. I am releasing the exhausting day at my full-time job and the rushed car ride to the gym. With a few deep breaths, I relieve my usual pre-class jitters and the guilt of leaving my puppy at home for another few hours. Then, my attention stays on cuing an exercise and the individuals in the class. Being a Pilates instructor might be my new Part Time “Work” but teaching doesn’t feel like work (hence the quotation marks).
When I started listening to country last summer, I would actually roll up the windows in my car. With some prodding and persistence from my country-music-listening boyfriend and former roommate, I started singing along and put FM 106.1 on my presets. Now, I sing an off-key version of Chicken Fried at a stop light while a man on a motorcyle watches. Yes, I like country music.
Week One 2011 Along with the other resolutioners, I was excited about a lifestyle change that would make 2011 the best year yet. I firmly stated: I, Ali Webster, will not be stressed at work.
Week Two 2011 Resolutioners were boasting about thirty-minute workouts, healthy dinners and no confrontations with their spouse for 14 days straight. I was holding strong too as I upheld my resolution: I, Ali Webster, am not stressed at work.
Week Three 2011 The gym was empty while frozen pizza sales and cases of domestic violence increased. I also hung my head in defeat: I, Ali Webster, am totally stressed at work.
Reflecting on my already-out-the-window resolution, I wondered how I expected myself not to become stressed at work for an entire year. On the walk between my car and the office building, I decided, Today I will not be stressed at work. With this mantra in mind, 365 mountainous days were simplified into one grain-of-salt day so that I could maintain my perspective, focus, and a normal blood pressure for eight whole hours.
Just over two months ago, I promised that the Fourth Time’s a Charm and that I would actually complete the WAC group fitness instructor program this time around.
I’m proud to report that I prepared for, showed up, and stayed awake for seven out of the eight classes. When I was rear-ended on my way to the third class, I cursed the Pilates gods who seemed to have a vendetta against me. Never mind the $1,000 of damage to my precious 2005 Honda Accord, the bigger tragedy was that I missed class while I waited for the police.
Be a Piece of the Solution was inspired by a lovely lady named Judy Shanley, whose personal strength and courage along with a few doses of medicine from Dr. Jeff Engelman at Massachusetts General Hospital have enabled her to live with stage four lung cancer for two years. On Friday, September 16th, Dr. Engelman will visit Milwaukee to thank the organization for their donations towards lung cancer research and treatment. One of the originators of Be a Piece of the Solution, Sally Lautmann, says, “Our project is more than just a Friday night party, but a concept that we hope you will help us share with the world.”
With social media, information and ideas become viral with a click of a mouse or tap on an iPad. While Judy has been travelling between Wisconsin and Massachusetts, her story is transcending state and international borders. The message is going beyond her immediate family, friends and congregation. By harnessing the contagious nature of social media, the people who have chosen to Be a Piece of the Solution will soon be a part of a movement that began as a Facebook event…
That you can send, like, share, tweet, post. You can Be a Piece of the Solution, too.
As you know, I’m an expert towel folder and locker distributer at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. While these are both highly sought after skills, I think that Professional Fitness Instructor would look a lot sweeter on my LinkedIn profile.
Shortly after I conjured up this idea, a class for Personal Trainers started. Here’s what happened:
- I signed up.
- I went to the first class.
- I didn’t do my assigned homework so I ditched the second class.
Round Two: A class for Yoga Instructors started.
- I signed up.
- I missed the first class.
- I begged the leader to let me attend the second class.
- I was intimidated by the expertise of the instructor and other participants and did not make it to the third class.
For the past year and a half, I’ve woken up at 4:35 AM one day a week. On these early mornings, I pull on some black workout pants in the dark and drive to the Wisconsin Athletic Club. As I stand behind the front desk, I say the smiley-est, bright-eyed “good morning” I can muster at 5:58 AM to the first member walking through the automatic doors. While I ask if she has a locker preference, I’m wondering how tired I look, if my name tag is on right-side up and how disheveled my hair is after that sprint across the parking lot.
My responsibilities are simple: fold towels, check in members, hand out locker keys, clean women’s locker room, make coffee. As employees, we are supposed to ask each member “Do you have a locker preference?” and use their name when they check in and check out. I’ve taken my responsibilities pretty seriously. I hate standing around with no towels to fold. I recognized how pleased people were when I actually remembered their name and/or their locker number, so I took this as a challenge of my memory. And with a six day hiatus between shifts, this is no easy task.
Like clockwork, the “regulars” arrive and request their preferred locker. There are people who want the same exact locker every day and those that never care. There are people who are always smiling and those who barely have their eyes opened. There are people who make small talk and the people that are talking on their phones. There are people who are rushing to get through their workout and those who are leisurely looking at the paper or getting coffee.
Today is my birthday. I’m twenty-five. I’d like to thank my parents and siblings for tolerating my shenanigans for the past two and a half decades.
A birthday is the most exciting day of the year in the life of a Facebook user. Grade school classmates, co-workers, high school friends, random people I’ve only interacted with once (or twice), my mom’s friends, college acquaintances , and a few cousins will fill my email inbox with notifications from Facebook. I will feel appreciated and loved by the people saying “Happy Birthday, Ali!” and “Miss Webster, have a great bday.” My bestest of friends (and potential stalkers) will wish me a happy birthday on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, via text message, email and possibly create a YouTube video in my honor…
Women of HR. Just the name itself sounds so empowering. Women. They’re cool. Human Resources. Yep, pretty cool too. So as I review the posts, the comments and the list of contributors, I realize that this is a seriously cool community of ladies annnnd gentlemen.
The post topics vary from exploring gender stereotypes, to important HR issues to stories of self-discovery. I am most inspired by the courage of writers who outline a heavy topic or share a personal incident. But within this community, there is no fear of crickets because there is always more than one comment. These comments are thoughtful and encouraging, often expanding on the point of the writer. There is also no fear of ridicule because the individuals can honestly & respectfully agree or disagree with one another.
Tami Sweeney and I struck up a conversation about social media at a Brewer’s tailgate. I told her about my year long adventure as community manager of social media recruiting for my client. In response, she shared her rather traumatic story of breaking Facebook etiquette rules in front of her mortified daughter. She said to me, “Ali, I need your help with my business.”
Tami is the owner of Life Productions, a video production firm that specializes in marketing videos for businesses, schools and non-profit organizations. With business partner, Louise Berg, the firm showcases their portfolio on YouTube and receives numerous recommendations from former and current clients on LinkedIn. After reviewing this Milwaukee, Wisconsin based company’s social media presence, I responded “Tami, you don’t need me for anything.”
Other organizations can learn from Life Productions’ example: