Three careers and a lifetime, that’s how long it’s taken to be where I am today. To know who I am and actually like who I am. It takes dedication, desire and fearlessness on a daily basis. And it wasn't until my mid-80's that I really began to make this shift.
From the time I could walk and talk, the word "challenge" has instinctually been my mantra. To this day, that mantra is what makes me who I am. Once you face a challenge, you can begin to accept it, and if you don’t face a challenge then you’ve lost an opportunity to take a chance. You've lost something that could alter your life’s journey and may never have that chance again.
Practicing yoga, dancing Tango, flying on a trapeze and jumping rope — none of it was planned and yet somehow, these things found me much later in my life. These practices have been among the most rewarding challenges of my existence on this planet.
Trapeze catapulted me into writing lyrics, music and blogs. Tango catapulted me into composing tangos. And although I didn't have a clue that yoga was also waiting out there for me, there it was, the day my friend Scarlett dragged me to a class at the Hollywood YMCA.
It was crowded, hot and my reaction was instantly negative. But after a short dialogue from the teacher and just five minutes of meditation, by the time I was in my first Downward Dog my body stopped as if to say, “Wait a minute, I think I’m actually liking this ... ”
My body was responding without too much pain or difficulty, and needless to say that class was the beginning of an incredibly gorgeous, powerful journey that I'm still on, and will continue for the many years that await me.
I’m not going away anytime soon.
I found that in yoga, the time spent in between each pose is the real essence of the practice. I do yoga to live, and I live to do yoga. I know my life going forward depends on my yoga practice.
Practicing 45 minutes of yoga is how I greet the day, every day. It oils every muscle and strengthens my body and mind, allowing my spirit to breathe. Yes, there are many other ways to exercise the body, but in my opinion, none are as all-encompassing as yoga.
If you do go to the gym (which is not my exercise of choice), you are still doing something for you, your body, and your mind. You might be tired afterward but you’re bound to say to yourself, “I did something good for me and my best friend.”
Your body is indeed your best friend and a fabulous partner at that. It also needs to be charged! Don’t ever say, "I don’t have time." That’s a lie. Not having time is a poor excuse that prevents you from feeling better and living longer. And I am living proof.
I also love to jump rope in the mornings, too. I find that this practice stimulates my entire body and I would rather die, than miss a single day of this! The secret is start slow and jump for one minute, then two, and so on. Eventually, if you're as possessed as I am, you'll go for a full six minutes! I assure you that you'll be amazed at the improvement in your overall stamina.
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that jumping rope can be damaging to your body. I’ve been jumping rope two years and have experienced absolutely no pain. Think about what this can do for your cardiovascular system — pumping fresh blood and oxygen to your heart and lungs. Don’t be timid, just give it a try. I guarantee you'll lead a longer, healthier life.
For me, yoga, tango and jump rope are a fantastic trio! It’s never been just one thing that changed my life, but rather, continuing to find new ways of improving the amazing journey I’ve been on for 92 years.
At birth you were given an amazing instrument — your body. It’s the only one you’ll ever get in this life, so love it, respect and honor it. Listen to it — it has a voice and wants to be heard. Pay attention and be aware of all the possibilities. I'm more aware than ever, but that wisdom just comes with time and practice.
When you spend your years living and loving what you do, you'll find that you're more open to every opportunity that is waiting out there for you. You are the essence of life. We are all one person, just in different form.
Love what you do and love yourself. Take it from me, a regular, dedicated yoga practice is the key to a long and healthy life. It’s worth every breath you take. And while you're doing that, remember to have fun. Because if you don't have fun, then that's no fun at all.
Photos by Cat Doran, Adam Sheridan-Taylor and courtesy of the author